April 18, 2014

Friday Funny

For your Easter enjoyment:

22 Worst Easter Bunnies of All Time! Nightmares! The full list can be viewed here...if you dare.

Have a blessed weekend!

April 07, 2014

Using Rubrics to Track Data

rubrics are an efficient way to track student data 

Raise your hand if you have a student or two on your caseload who has more than one speech goal. Raise your other hand if you have students who have really extensive goals which require you to track many different elements. I'm talking multiple speech sound errors, including various story grammar elements in a story retell task, or using language functionally in different ways (i.e. asking questions, answering questions, and using greetings).

We all have these sorts of goals we address every week. Tracking data on so many different aspects of communication can get messy. None of us have the time to constantly round up several data sheets or log notes for every student every time we update their progress. How can SLPs quickly and efficiently track student data in a way that measures their true progress and still makes sense?

Rubrics. Rubrics are the answer! *cue angelic music* Rubrics are an efficient way to track and score goals which contain many components, and also measure student progress over time. They are also an excellent way to give students more credit for the progress they are making, or measuring the amount of prompts/cues that are required for success.

So what kind of communication goals benefit from using rubrics? Well let's see, I have used rubrics at some point for each of the following goals: MLU, AAC, story retell, articulation, wh-questions, functional communication, vocabulary, semantics, phonological processes, and fluency. So, really, rubrics are appropriate to use with any speech goal and can help you determine the course of instructions (i.e. increasing complexity of speech targets or fading prompts).

Create Rubrics in 3 Easy Steps:

1)   Determine the elements of your goal that need to be measured (i.e. steps to mastering an articulation goal). This could be the same as your short-term objectives, or might be in-between steps for reaching the ultimate goal.

2)   Set performance levels and assign points to each level. I like to set 3-5 criterion levels (generally, they are: not yet demonstrating, approximate, and proficient).

3)   Include descriptions/examples in your rubric cells of what would qualify for that score rating.

There are three things I like to keep in mind when I am creating my speech therapy rubrics:

1)   Include a score for each element of your rubric.

2)   Keep it simple – Just say no to 150-point rubrics! Your criterion must be clear and easy for others to interpret. If your student moves away and a new SLP inherits his goal/rubric, you want them to be able to continue using it with the same reliability.

3)   Allow yourself to score several weeks’ worth of data on one piece of paper. I don’t like rubrics that take up a whole page for each data point. That bulks up my student folders too much when I have to print off a new sheet every other week. Plus then I still have multiple sheets to sort through when it comes to writing progress reports. Not to mention the printing/environmental costs.

If you'd like to start using rubrics in your own speech therapy room, I've already done the work for you: here are 21 rubrics all bundled together. The packet includes instructions and scoring examples, as well as blank rubrics ready to print and use. So go ahead, try rubrics out for yourself! I bet you won't go back :)

Abby typed the word rubric 18 times in this post.

April 01, 2014

Easter Egg Matchups

I found these cute foam Easter eggs at the Target Dollar Spot a few weeks ago (8-pack for $1), and I have been (impatiently) waiting for April to roll around so I could debut my activity idea!

The foam eggs were pre-cut into halves, which naturally led to some matching activities. I used some clear packing tape to make pockets on each half of the eggs. Cut one piece about an inch longer than the second piece, then match them up sticky sides together. The longer piece will overlap the shorter piece and will be used to attach the "pockets" to the eggs.

Here's how we used these in therapy:

This student was working on final consonant deletion. So we matched up words that have the same phoneme at the end, then practiced making sentences with those words.

matching up opposite pairs

For my articulation students, we played a matching game with our phoneme pictures.

Some students matched up community helpers with their related objects or tools.

And others matched up rhyming words. We practiced making lots of sentences with our targets throughout the day.

This was a fun activity, and we'll be using up until Easter. Let me know if you try it!

Abby's Mom made her a bunny birthday cake when she was younger because her birthday is around the same time. :)

March 24, 2014

Using Marble Runs in Speech Therapy

Marble runs are versatile, super fun, and can be used to target multiple communication goals.

When I was working in a private pediatric setting in Texas, we had a giant marble maze in one corner of the common therapy area. And the kids went bonkers over it! It was a great reward at the end of our sessions, and almost every kiddo asked to use it each day. As time went on, I began incorporating it into my therapy, because marble runs have plenty of opportunities for speech and language practice!

Since leaving that clinic, I have missed having a marble run in my bag of tricks. Luckily, I acquired a small table-top sized one over spring break, and let me tell you, EVERY student I worked with today wanted to use it! Here's a rundown of the many ways you can use marble runs in your speech therapy sessions.

*Basic Concepts: talk about the colors of the marbles and the maze pieces; the number of marbles being used; count the marbles at the bottom of the maze; discuss the shape of the marbles; construct different shapes out of the maze; talk about which marbles were first and last; are the marbles going fast or slow?

*Emerging Language Skills: Marble mazes are excellent because there is a definite start and a definite end, and it doesn't take long for the marbles to reach the bottom. You will have lots of chances to elicit "ready...set..." and wait for your student to yell "GO!". Marble runs are also the perfect opportunity for students to practice requests: more, please, my turn, more marbles, all gone

*Turn-Taking and Pronouns: Some of my preschoolers have a behavior goal for turn-taking. Marble runs are perfect practice for this. We also get tons of opportunities to practice pronouns: my turn, your turn, we go at the same time, his turn, you do it, etc.

*Prepositions: up, down, around, bottom, top, inside, through, first, last - they're all covered here!

*Following Directions: You can instruct your kiddos how to build the marble maze, or have them practice telling each other directions. Since the maze pieces are different colors and shapes (curved, straight, wheeled, etc), it's perfect for adding describing words to your sentences: "Put the curved red piece on top of the short purple piece."

*Articulation: I have my articulation students practice their target sounds a designated number of times before they can shoot a marble down the run. Or they earn the marbles as we practice and enjoy sending them all down at once :)

Marble runs are a versatile and FUN addition to my speech therapy supplies. I hope you get great use out of them too!

(Note: The small size I have is perfect for me to carry with as I travel between buildings, but the bigger sets include additional exciting pieces such as rotating wheels. If you have the budget and the space, I'd spring for a larger set.)

Abby assembled her marble maze as soon as she got home from the store, and played with it by herself :)

March 22, 2014

Love It & List It - Fave Technology

my top 4 favorite forms of technology for use in speech therapy

I'm linking up with Speech Room News again this month for her Love It & List It link-up. This month's topic is favorite technology. Here's what I use and love in my speech room.

1) iPad

I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, because the iPad and apps are EVERYWHERE, but it is truly the number one piece of technology I use every day. Obviously there are tons of apps out there which are great for use in the speech room, but the iPad goes way beyond apps too.

It's a timer.
It's a search engine.
It's a tv.
It's a library.
It's a fun game.
It's a writing tool.
It's a flash drive.
It's a scanner.

It's all that and more. I am so fortunate that my employer also sees its value and is willing to provide me with one. Now, if only I could triple the amount of memory available :)


BTW, I was supplied a case with attached bluetooth keyboard by my employer, which is great for writing reports on the go, but I'm looking for something less clunky sans keyboard for everyday use. What's your favorite iPad case? Let me know in the comments please.

2) Boardmaker Plus

Need a visual schedule for a student? Boardmaker. Need a token board to keep a student on task? Boardmaker. Need pages for a communication device? Boardmaker. Need a sheet of words containing target speech sounds for progress monitoring? Boardmaker. Need to write a social story? Boardmaker. It's such a versatile tool, and I use it all the time. Be sure to check out Boardmaker Share and Boardmaker Achieve to download ready-made activities from other users! Again, I am so very grateful to have this provided to me by my employer.

3) Voice Recorders

The top two I use are Quick Voice (on the iPad) and Audacity (on my laptop). They are both free to download, and perfect for taking language samples, screening a student, and recording story retell trials. I like Audacity on my MacBook Pro because I can turn it on and then tilt the screen down until almost closed so the student isn't distracted by the recording. However, I'm almost always working with students in their classroom or in the hallway and don't drag my laptop along, so I use Quick Voice on the iPad the most. Check it out!

4) Social Media

This isn't really something I use directly in therapy, but social media is definitely something that affects the activities I'm doing in therapy! Pinterest is overflowing with amazing therapy ideas! I have connected with a whole bunch of SLPs on Twitter and love using it to find information about current research and upcoming events. But my favorite right now is Instagram. It's such a great tool for connecting and interacting with other SLPs and I find a ton of great ideas from the creative people I interact with. I don't know what I'd do without these tools!

Schoolhouse Talk on Instagram
Schoolhouse Talk on Pinterest
Schoolhouse Talk on Twitter
Schoolhouse Talk on Facebook

So there you have it! My favorite technology tools for speech. What do you like to use? Go check out what other tools SLPs are using!

Abby wishes there were 30 hours in a day so she could catch up on everything.

Basketball Bonanza! {freebies + activity roundup}

a round-up of basketball-themed activities, apps, books, and games for your speech room

It's tournament time! The NCAA men's basketball tournament is here (and the women's tournament is just around the corner)! Now, I don't follow basketball. At all. But I still filled out a bracket. I have just as good a chance as anybody, right? Who's going to win it all?! No idea. I picked Florida, but my husband says that won't happen. All I know is that the team I root for didn't even make the tournament. There's always next year! You can have some basketball fun in your speech room with my newest freebie!
Basketball Bonanza

This year I have a versatile activity with a basketball theme - Basketball Bonanza! This one has eight cards for each of the following phonemes: CH/SH (together), R, S, L, K/G (together), F (48 cards total).

There are also bonus and penalty cards included to make things more interesting. All the target words are basketball-themed, so besides great articulation practice, you can also use them to target vocabulary, expanding expressive language, or creating sentences.

Activity Ideas:
Spread the cards out on the floor, then toss beanbags onto the cards. Whichever one it lands on is the target students practice. Look out for the bonus points or missed shot cards! You can also play it on the table top, shuffle in the foil cards, and have students draw a card to practice. They can keep their card if they answer correctly, but have to put it back if their production isn't accurate. Whatever you do, have fun!

Download Basketball Bonanza for free here.

Speech Sound Word Brackets

I also have another basketball-themed activity! I made these speech phoneme word brackets last year, and they are a hit! The full packet targets 21 different speech sounds, but you can download the P, B, M, H brackets for FREE! Please leave feedback and follow my shop if you download :)

Now, onto the basketball apps, books, and games roundup!

Basketball Activity Roundup

Free Apple Apps:
Arcade Hoops Basketball (by Skyworks) - Just like the arcade games; make as many baskets as you can before the clock runs out.

 US Basketball HD (by YOMEN, Inc.) - Choose American landmarks to play at. Try to make as many baskets as you can before time runs out. Bonus points for hitting airplanes, blimps, and birds.

 Slam Dunk Basketball (by VisualDreams) - Score as many points as you can; earn bonus points for various tricks. I'm terrible at this game, but I can't stop trying to beat my score.

 Slam Dunk King (by PikPok) - Earn points for as many slam dunks as you can get in the given time, while swatting away the bombs. Unlock new tricks to score more points.

Free Android Apps:
Basketball Shot (by Top Casual Games) - just like the arcade games

Basketball Shots 3D (by Creative Mobile Games) - pretty realistic looking; try to make baskets from designated spots on the court.

Books (ages 3-5):

Books (ages 5+):
The Best of Everything Basketball Book - learn facts and history about the sport through the years

Salt in His Shoes - written by Michael Jordan's mom and sister; the story tells how Michael Jordan dreamed of becoming a basketball star and overcame obstacles to do so. The illustrations are also great.

Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk - Jimmy's pet boa is at it again, this time on the basketball court.

J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet - learn history, vocabulary, and facts about basketball as you read your way through the alphabet
Games and Toys:
Over-the-Door Hoop - great for a quick reward at the end of a session. Or incorporate goal practice in before they can take a shot.

Table-Top Basketball - this mini version is perfect for therapy on-the-go.


I'm linking up with Speechie Freebies this week! Click on over to their blog and grab a whole lot of other free downloads. Enjoy!

Abby learned that basketball was not the sport for her in 4th grade when she stole the ball from her own teammate without realizing it.

March 21, 2014

Friday Funny

This gif is from an amazingly entertaining tumblr called "What Should We Call SLP". If you haven't seen it before, I highly suggest you do. You can check out the original post here.

When you cue a child with a frontal lisp to "hide your tongue".

March 17, 2014

"S...Peachy" Feedback {linky party}

rewarding people for leaving great feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Someone is going to get LUCKY today if they left great feedback in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop! This feedback linky party is hosted by Nicole at Allison's Speech Peeps. Click on over her way to see who else is giving away freebies.

I really enjoy reading each and every bit of feedback that is left on product pages. Truly great feedback helps me learn what my buyers like, which activities are useful, and even ideas to help me improve the activities I make. So make sure you leave detailed feedback, even on free items.

This month, I'm thanking two people for their kind feedback: one on a paid product, and one on a free product.

#1: Story Grammar Prompts - I'm so grateful for all the kind words Speech Universe had to say about the usefulness of my Story Grammar Prompts.


#2: Progress Report Templates - I'm so thrilled Vickye L. is getting great use from my Progress Report Templates for Speech Therapy.

Speech Universe and Vickye L, thank you so much for your wonderful feedback! Please email me at schoolhousetalkslp@gmail.com with your choice of a product from my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. Congratulations!

If you didn't win here, you may be the lucky one at a different blog. But you HAVE TO leave helpful feedback on TpT to be considered. Now enjoy your St. Patrick's Day!

Abby is feeling lucky to be on Spring Break today!