February 25, 2016

Activity of the Week: 2/22/16

This week has been another exciting time for speech and language classes.  Since I am working with an A&M graduate student clinician, I am trying to show her a nice range of activities to offer her current and future students/clients.  This week's activity theme is using the iPad to target goals!  I love using my iPad because the technology really seems to motivate students to work towards their targeted goals.  I showed her a variety of apps that I utilize when I use the iPad for therapy.  I will include links to the app store for all the apps I mention in this post for those interested.  I hope to offer future app reviews in upcoming blog posts. 

Here's a sneak peek at some of the apps and activities we did together on the iPad:

1. The Social Express : It used to be an app only and I have version 1.0 but now it is an app and website version 2.0 and is now subscription based.  I love the first version and am considering a subscription while school is in session.  I can only report on version 1 and that I and my student love the characters and activities.  I hope to report back about version 2.0 once I subscribe, which will probably be at the beginning of the school year for Fall 2016.

2. Articulation Station : In app purchases, This is by Smarty Bee Speech and I love it. It was probably one of the first apps I purchased as a graduate SLP clinician.  I use it constantly for my articulation students and it just keeps getting better and better.  There is another app that is for an articulation screener and I love using it as well. It offers the ability to record and track data for performance evaluation.

3.  Buddy Bear (Associations) : $14.99, by Linguisystems. The Buddy Bear apps for autism are some of the best out there.  They are interesting, engaging, and they target a variety of skills.  This version targets object categories/connections/associations.  Such as "Buddy Bear has a toothbrush. What goes with toothbrush? (toothpaste), etc.)

4. Language Adventures : $24.99, by Smarty Ears, they make a lot of different speech and language apps.  This one is great for targeting vocabulary and comprehension. Antonyms, synonyms, multiple-meaning words, inferencing, and -WH questions in three varying levels, this app is a great board-game based activity. Each level sticks to a fun school theme such as playground, cafeteria, and classroom themed questions. The questions that are read out loud are clear and understandable and are repeatable if needed.

5. /R/ Intensive : $19.99, by Smarty Ears.  If you have a student working on /r/ variations, this is a nice app that targets words, phrases, and sentences with different productions such as /ar/, /ear/, /ire/, /rl/, /or/, /er/, etc.). It also has the ability for students to record their production for self analysis and 3 buttons to keep data: green, orange, and red.

6.  Buddy Bear (Yes/No questions): $14.99, by Linguisystems. This is a great app for teaching students how to appropriately and consistently answer yes and no questions with an engaging story/theme.

7.  Articulation Scenes : By Smarty Ears.  Another great articulation app that targets words, phrases, sentences, reading, and conversational speech with a find the hidden picture, matching, and reading practice to engage students in practicing their targeted sounds in a multitude of activities. I will say this, that the app is great... when it works.  Too often my students click the targeted word or picture to have credit for finding it and the app never gives recognition, the touch response of the app is a bit wonky.  Can cause some students to become frustrated!

8.  QuickType : $1.99, This is an AAC app that I use for one of my students who is non-verbal and on the autism spectrum. I typically use a symbol and text based app but my current student is very proficient at typing out what he wants.  The app is cheap, has a simple design, has a yes/no option, and speaks what is typed.  Perfect to suit my needs!

Hope you enjoyed this tour of apps I use. There are a lot more than this, but this is a good first start.  Know that I fully funded the cost of every app I mentioned myself so I do not have any kind of monetary agreement or contract to endorse these apps for personal gain.  I simply try things out to see what works and what is simple and effective to use.

I have the luxury of using multiple iPads.  2 are ones I own and have used personal funds to purchase, and 1 is funded and owned by my school system (thanks MCSS!).  Sometimes students share 1 iPad between them and sometimes they get their own iPad to work on separately, it just depends on what task/goal we are targeting.  How do you use iPads in your classroom or for therapy?  Hope you enjoyed my information!

February 23, 2016

I have a new graduate student...Now what?

So... exciting news for me... I took on my first graduate student this semester! Wow, it's kind of a shock for me too.  I had always promised myself that I would wait until I'd been out of school for approximately ~5 years before taking on a student, but the local university contacted my school system in a desperate need for a supervisor and I happily said 'yes.'

When I was an (online) student, I was in charge of securing my own externships, which was extremely difficulty and frustrating, but I was lucky that there were some opportunities and, more importantly, people who stepped in to lend a helping hand to mentor me and allow me to graduate in time.  I figured that any way that I could 'pay it forward' to others, I would any chance I could get.

So now I have a student, and since this is my first experience with this process, I'd like to share some of the things I have done to really assist this process for me AND my graduate clinician.
I started with one of the best resources I could find by the Speech Bubble: Student and Supervisor SLP Organization Binder. After I printed out all of my goodies, my clinician and I sat together to review the contents and make edits to suit our situation and timeline.

Next, once we figured out what kind of schedule she would operate from, I took a look at which students she would be interacting with the most frequently and prepared an IEP at a glance binder for her to review the students profile pages and annual goals.

Another helpful resource that I shared with my student is another item that I use quite frequently. Actually, there are 2 of them. Right now, schools are all about the Common Core Standards (CCS).  Some handy resources includes the following: The Common Core Reference Binder by Speechy Musings and the K-5 Common Core Standards Supporting IEP Goals by Nicole Allison.  We also want to make sure we are effectively using evidence-based practices and another handy reference is the Evidence-Based Practice Guide by Carissa Ten Hoeve.  I sure wish these resources were around when I was a graduate student!

I also shared with her my personal, professional SLP portfolio binder (by Nicole Allison on TPT).  Inside it references my teaching and therapy style, approach to paperwork and logistics, and samples of my work. That way she could see how I present myself to my administrators to better assist them (and her) in understanding how I operate my classroom and manage therapy.

I hope these links and resources have been helpful to you if you are considering the option of taking on a new student clinician.  I know that I wanted to help mentor others in the ways that I got as a student and it feels very enriching and rewarding to help another grow professionally, clinically, and personally.  

February 20, 2016

Activity of the Week: 2/15/16

This was an exciting week!  This week with my special forces self-contained students we continued to address and discuss the color pink (mainly continued from Valentine's Day).  Here is a great moment where we used Speech Room News' great vocabulary books targeting "pink" vocabulary.  We matched, labeled, created sentence strips (The _____ is pink.), followed directions, attended, and described all the items and objects with this book.  We even used a TechTalk at times to match and label for some of my non-verbal students. 

For my other grade levels, we pulled out one of my favorite items, Pirate Talk by SuperDuper, Inc.  This is a great game to play because the goal isn't to get to a finish line so there's no urgency to rush.  The game comes with its own language cards to target multiple goals, but here we are using it with a fluency student who is working on stuttering modification techniques.  We are using Mega Fluency Packet resources to practice techniques for smooth speech.  Each turn requires that a student practice their skill and once they have performed to their and my satisfaction, they get a turn at the game.  The student with the most gold at the end of the session wins!

I hesitate to play games in my classroom because I never want students to think that that is all we will do... in other words, if someone asked them "What did you do today in speech/language class?" I would never want them to respond with, "Play games."  I ALWAYS stress that if we play games in therapy, it is to make the WORK FUN.  Also, it is never about winning, it is about having fun together.  Nothing is more frustrating when students get mad about not winning.  I do not give prizes to the winner.  We just congratulate them and if there is enough time, try to play another round in attempts to have another student win.  Remember, we play games to make the work FUN.  If we forget what our purpose and goal is, then I usually skip games for quite a while.  In this case, I had not offered a game since before Christmas, so I felt that we had earned the privilege.  Every clinician is different, so you will always do what you think is best for your classroom! 

Valentine's Day Craftivity

One of my favorite holidays is Valentine's Day! For my self-contained special needs classrooms, we can cover a variety of concepts with a fun craft such as:

*Colors: pink, red, white
*Shapes: hearts, circles
*Vocabulary: paint, glue, tinsel, sponge brushes
*Sequencing the story/book
*Concepts: prepositional locations "on top" "under" "next to" and "over"
*-WH questions

First, we began by reading an adorable book, Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Scott Campbell.  I LOVE THIS BOOK!  I was unfamiliar with it and our awesome school librarian suggested it.  At first, I was a bit nervous about reading a book about a zombie to the students for fear that he might scare them, but they seemed to love the story and pictures.  Most of the students were actually familiar with zombies from their experiences playing the game MineCraft.

The story is about an adorable but lonely zombie named Mortimer.  After we finished listening about Mortimer's search for undead love, we went out to our craft tables to make a valentine hand print heart to take home as a gift to family members.  Normally I have SmartySymbol labels for everything we use, but this was kind of a spur-of-the-moment craft idea so I just had to run with what I had.

Most students really enjoyed the sensory portion of this craft in using sponge paint brushes to place the paint on their hands.  We talked about how it felt, if it tickled or felt tingly and what the paint felt like (wet, smooth, sticky).  It was great for following directions because the students had to "stamp" one hand first (we talked about left vs. right) and then overlap in the middle and stamp with their other hand.  When we stamped with pink, each student got to excitedly say "here goes pink!" and repeat the process with the red.  Lots of clinical and teacher modeling, repetition, and guidance to make this a fun and easy and QUICK craft that the students really seemed to enjoy.  We finished the project by taking some heart tinsel (another great sensory material, they loved how it felt and we talked about the textures, shiny and smooth) and made a loop so the valentine could be hung up for display. 

I also have an exciting announcement... I'll be opening up my own TeachersPayTeachers store to offer free and very low-cost materials, especially fun book companions that can help you target different areas when using a book.  Here is a sneak preview of my first listing, which will be free for everyone! I hope you will like it.  Stay tuned for more as I grow this new project into something amazing. 

February 8, 2016

Activity of the Week: 2/8/16

What a week it will be!  We are making some companion crafts to go along with one of my favorite activities, the Expanding Expression Tool.  This is a fabulous visual and tactile took that was made by a speech-language pathologist to assist in getting children to expand their language output, either via written, oral, or other means.  In order to get students to really think about what the color-coded system means, I came across a fun craftivity on TPT by Teaching Resource Resort

My students really seemed to enjoy the hands-on approach to learning this system.  Once we had our review pages colored, each student used a wooden craft stick, some glue, some circle punched colors, and markers and made their own "caterpillar." 

We also used a great resource from Creative Communicators on reminders for what each colored ball means. 

After we had our caterpillars assembled, we reviewed the story we read last week, the Paddington Bear Treasuries, and each student picked an item or character from the chapter we read to describe in detail using the EET kit.  We got some great language expansions with this activity! Not only did we tie the approach to our theme from last week with some nice reviews of previously learned information, we got to hone our skills even deeper and stronger with this craft. I highly recommend it! Now, as we progress through the semester, each student will have their own personal visual to use as a reference for future activities!

February 2, 2016

Activity of the Week: 2/1/16

This week I am offering two types of activities depending on which students I am working with.  I serve two self-contained special needs classrooms as well as grades 4-6 with students who have language, articulation, fluency, or voice needs.

For the self-contained classrooms, we are reading There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose by Lucille Colandro.  I have plenty of visual supports such as a picture chart, lady puppet, picture cards, yes/no question board, -WH questions, to name a few.  Most of the resources came from TPT seller Speech Room News, and I highly recommend Jenna Rayburn's products because they are polished, well made, researched, cost effective, and motivating. We loved reading the story and enacting the actions by placing the pictures on the re-tell board, feed the puppet picture cards of each item, and engage in a variety of language-based activities themed off the book. Perfect for Valentine's Day!

For my other students, we are reading stories from the Paddington Bear series.  I like this book because it is slightly below the reading level of most of my students; however, I do that deliberately because I want my students to focus more on the metalinguistic strategies I am teaching them. Some of the materials I am using to do this are Reading Strategies by Elementary Lesson Plans. We target inferencing, visualizing, relating the text to other text/ourselves, predicting, answering -WH questions, and more. I also utilize The Speech Bubble's 'Any Book' No-Prep Book Companion resource to target writing sentences, sequencing, grammar, and comparing/contrasting literary elements. I promised students that I'd bring in my Paddington Bear from my childhood that a family friend made for me as a baby.  They loved seeing my version and we all did verbal comparisons of how my bear looked versus the story version.

How do you data?

One of the hardest things to consistently do as a busy SLP is manage the various paperwork elements that are required in education.  While it might seem laborious, taking details therapy notes (or SOAP notes, if so inclined) is crucial in order to reflect progress (or lack thereof) at annual IEP reviews, billing, and other meetings.  My students are in the 4th-6th grades are I have them graph their performances so it promotes ownership of their goals and I've found that having them do this task also helps to motivate them.  We have candid discussions about "how to get my dot to go higher" on the graph.  Here is a version of my data sheet, I include the student's name, goals, a place to track data, and a place for notes where I can indicate what we did/activity, what kind of cues/prompts I used, how the student's behavior was that session, and anything else I think is important.  

I learned during externships and by communicating with other SLPs that there is no one true way to take data. Everyone has their own methods, so I took little pieces of this and that from my clinical graduate placements and came up with my own style.

There are other resources to find helpful data sheets so you don't have to reinvent the wheel:
Speaking of Speech
Marisa McGrorty from TPT
Stefania Cipriani from TPT