December 11, 2012

Speech Snowmen

 fun snowman craft that incorporates speech/language practice

Here in Iowa we finally got our first snowfall of the season! Well, it was just a dusting and it was all melted by noon that day, but it was still exciting for me! I love having snow around for Christmas, but it's alright by me if it melts away come January :)

Back home where I grew up in Minnesota they got 15 inches of snow last weekend! I can't wait to go home to MN in a couple weeks and play!

This week, to celebrate the upcoming winter season, in my speech room my students are making Speech Snowmen! I found the idea here, but modified it so it could be a quicker craft with fewer pieces to cut out and assemble.

After the first couple snowman, I ended up making pre-cut scarves, hats, and noses so my students didn't have to spend time figuring out how to cut them. All about efficiency and speed when you only have 15-20 minutes to introduce, assemble, and complete the activity while also working in plenty of speech/language practice.

I love how they turned out! My students were so creative - one of them even decided it was sunny where his snowman was and he made a "melting snowman" :D

Here's how we incorporated our speech goals into this activity:

Language: practice following directions; answering wh-questions about winter; sequencing (how to build a snowman, first/next/last, etc.); address winter vocabulary; name categories and items in categories (winter clothing, seasons, snowy activities, etc.); body parts; concepts big/medium/small/top/middle/bottom; practice answering by forming complete sentences; requesting the parts they need to complete their snowman; etc.

Articulation: earn cotton balls by producing accurate speech sounds; use best speech while discussing snowmen/winter or any of the above language activities

Fluency: use easy speech strategies while requesting/naming parts/talking about winter

AAC: create board naming parts of snowman so student can request what he needs

Leave a Comment: What winter activities do you have planned?

December 06, 2012

Behavior Management

motivate and reward your students

There are so many different ways to motivate your students and curb defiant behavior before it becomes a problem. Most SLPs I know use some sort of sticker/prize box system. And I am no different :)

First of all, I make my expectations known from the beginning. The first session of the year with my students I go over my "speech room rules". I keep them taped to the table to serve as a reminder throughout the year. My rules are simple: 1) listen with your ears; 2) watch me with your eyes; 3) no interrupting while others are talking. Sometimes I use that last picture to remind them to always be talking with their best speech/language skills.

If my students follow all these rules during their session, then they earn a sticker. I let them choose their own sticker sheets at the beginning of the year. I got most of these from I keep them in a word document on my computer and can easily print off more as I need them. My students get to put on one or two stickers every time they come to see me, and when the sheet is filled up, they get to pick a prize from my prize box. I keep the box full of pencils, toy cars, plastic bracelets/rings, bubbles, and other small trinkets from the dollar store. I never put in candy - just personal preference.

Another thing I started this year was a bonus prize jar (idea from here). Students who achieve an goal in their session, have an exceptionally great attitude, try their best, or do something kind get their name put in the jar.

Every two-three weeks I pick out a name and that person can choose their prize. They almost always choose to pick a prize out of the prize box. I really need to stock up that box again!

So there it is. Quick and easy - these methods do not take more than a minute at the end of a session to complete.

Leave a Comment: How do you motivate and reward your students?

November 21, 2012

Good Reads

 A roundup of good articles I have read lately

Through Twitter, Pinterest, and different blogs I read, I have found a lot of good resources and articles related to speech pathology. Here is a quick roundup of some of my favorite articles I have read lately.

Those of us who work in the education setting have been said for a long time that reading to your preschool children (and younger!) is SUCH an important activity for brain development. This article, based on a study done in Pennsylvania, shows that such early reading exposure impacts brain development even into the teenage years. Cool!

Here is a wonderful list of apps for education, organized by subject area and price. There are THOUSANDS of apps on this list!

This article summarizes an intense summer fluency program at my Alma Mater - the University of Iowa! I was a part of this program during my masters program. It really is such a great offering for summer speech practice.

Finally, this short video is a TED Talk by Faith Jegede. In just five-and-a-half minutes she speaks a heartwarming message about her two brothers who have autism and how they have helped her to think about life differently. It is such a great video to watch and I highly recommend it to all.

November 12, 2012

As Easy as a Bucket

A simple reinforcer for any activity

I wanted to share one of the easiest reinforcers I have found. It works with many ages, and can be used for a large variety of activities. It's a bucket. That's it!

I found this trash can at the dollar store and have been using it for about 4 years now. When I am working with a student using flash cards, articulation cards, or small objects, I simply have them "throw away" the card/object after we are finished using it.  Or they collect the cards they articulate correctly and try to toss them into the bucket (without the lid) and see how far away they can still make tosses.

They love it! I think the swinging top has a lot to do with the "fun factor". It's kind of silly how simple this is, but I feel I got a big bang for my buck with this trash can. I highly recommend it!

Leave a Comment: What quick and easy reinforcement activities do you use?

November 08, 2012

WH-Question Monsters

A quick and easy card game to target WH-questions

Whew! The past two weeks have been craaaazzyy busy! I had to update/print graphs and complete progress reports, two days of conferences, and wacky sugar-high kids due to Halloween! Things settled down this week a bit so I was able to update a couple more downloads for my students...

The preschool student I made my Yes/No Monsters for has met his goal for yes/no questions and we are moving on to WH-questions! Almost every time he comes to speech he requests the "monster game", so I updated the cards to target WH-questions.

These cards target when, where, and what questions, along with functions of objects, and some basic identifying information (i.e. "What is your name?", "Where do you live?", and "What are your parents' names?"). I believe students should be able to answer basic information early on in case they were to unfortunately find themselves separated from their parents at any time.
These cards are intended to be used with students age 3+. I use them with my 3, 4, and 5 year old preschoolers. If they need additional prompting, it is easy to give them two or three multiple choice options to answer the questions. I will be adding to these questions as I need to, and will update the download as I go, so keep checking back.

Download your free WH-Monsters cards here! Please leave me a comment or become a follower if you do!

October 21, 2012

Data Keeping

One of the things I really struggled with last year, which was my first year working as a school speech pathologist, was organizing my student data. My caseload had quadrupled compared to what it was at my previous job (at a private pediatric outpatient clinic), and the world of IEPs, quarterly progress reports, and parent-teacher conferences was all new to me. My method of data-tracking has evolved many times throughout the past few years.

At the pediatric clinic, we had to write daily SOAP notes, so I kept track of all my data for each patient's session each day all on one notepad. After I was done writing my SOAP notes, I shredded each paper. This method carried over into my first month in the school setting last year. It didn't last long:

I don't recommend this.
*Names are fictional*

Suffice to say, it was a bit chaotic, unorganized, and messy for the school setting. I had to keep track of all my papers, then sort through them in order to make progress notes, or to look up a student's progress in order to complete IEPs, etc.

2) So I moved on to using the Log of Services page that was in the online IEP program my school district used. Each student had their own form to track data on, but a new form needed to be started each month. I quickly got sick of filling out new forms for my students each month and again having multiple sheets to keep track of for each student.

3) Finally I designed my own data form:

At the top of the sheet is room to write the student's goals they are working on. And at the bottom I write the times their sessions are scheduled. Each morning, I pull out the forms for all the students I will see that day, in the order I will see them. I keep the rest of my forms inside my clipboard.

In the state I work in, we are required to graph student data on the web IEP system at least every two weeks. I can quickly glance at a student's data sheet at the end of every week or two and enter in their current data.

I love this system. It works great for me. All my data for one student is in one place. I can quickly plan ahead for the next session by writing activities on the next line, and each sheet holds many weeks' worth of data. I usually only need two sheets for a whole year for one student.

This is what works for me, it may not be best for you. But if you are interested, you can download a copy of my data sheet here. Hope you find it helpful :)

Leave a Comment: What are your helpful hints for tracking student data?

October 16, 2012

Online Interactive Story Starters

I was reading a newsletter from Scholastic today and they had a link to their new online Story Starters. I checked them out and they are fantastic! A quick interactive online game to use for targeting story telling, conversation starters, sentence formation, fluency, and generalizing articulation skills.

Students get to choose the theme they want to have: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or Scrambled. You also get to select the grade level of your students. Then (this is the fun part) students get to "spin" the wheels to come up with the elements of their story.

If there is an element that you want to change, you can then spin the wheel and change just that part of the story starter. Then, the student needs to complete what the prompt says. In my example, I needed to write a one-sentence postcard about a dark bird who goes on a safari. Students can also choose to draw a picture to complete their creation!  

**Disclaimer: I am not an artist!
After they are finished, the creation can be printed (great to show parents what we worked on!) or downloaded.

My only complaint is I wish the wheels had pictures and words on them instead of just words because I work with preschool and early elementary students and lots of them still need those visual supports. But I love that students get the chance to create their own picture at the end!

What an awesome and {{FREE}} resource! I can't wait to use it with my students tomorrow.

Leave a Comment: What are some of your favorite online resources for your students?

October 10, 2012

Yes/No Monsters

Fun MONSTER cards to practice Yes/No questions

The other day I was working with a student on yes/no questions, and could just NOT think of any good questions off the top of my head! So I decided my first attempt at creating my own therapy materials would be a set of yes/no question cards.

I found these graphics from Cupcake Cutiees on and decided to give this card set a monster theme for the current season. These monsters are seriously adorable!

This set includes 24 question cards, and a playing mat with the yes/no answers.

There are many ways to use the cards. I have held them up so my students can't see them and they simply "pick a card, any card". Sometimes that element of being able to choose what's next, or the suspense of not knowing what card they will get is all it takes for students to be motivated to participate. The second page of the pdf can be used as a mat where students can place the cards on the correct answer.
The yes/no cards can also be cut apart and the student holds up the correct answer, or the cards can be glued to popsicle sticks. My students had a lot of fun and really got into the game when they were raising yes/no popsicle sticks.

These questions are appropriate and straight-forward enough for my Preschool and Kindergarten students who are working on answering questions. You can download your FREE copy of this activity here. Please leave me a comment or become a follower if you download! Enjoy!

October 09, 2012

Look What I Made!

I adore decorating my door for the seasons. Thanks (again) to Pinterest, here's what I came up with for the month of October...

Love it!

October 04, 2012

We All Fit Together

It has been such a busy couple of weeks collecting baseline data on my students, attending new staff trainings, organizing files, and completing the SIX speech referrals I have already had this year, that I haven't had much time to put together a post about my getting-to-know-you activity I did with my speech students this year.

Pinterest is so inspiring. I found so many great activity ideas to use to get to know my students that I had a tough time narrowing it down to just one or two that would be quick. Most of my sessions are 15-20 minutes this year, and I didn't want to spend a whole session just completing one getting-to-know-you activity.

When I saw this idea I decided puzzles was the theme I wanted to go with, and then I found this download on Sub Hub and knew it would work perfectly.
I photocopied the puzzle piece onto coordinating colors, and let students pick the color they wanted their piece to be. Then I asked students to color a picture of themselves doing one of their favorite activities. While they were coloring, I talked about what is expected of them in the speech room and discussed their speech goals so they would understand why they come to speech - it's not just about playing games! ;)

I was floored by their creativity! I work with Preschool, Kindergarten, and First Grade students, and I absolutely loved the adorable drawings they made. Some of my faves:

To save time, I cut out the puzzle pieces after school and taped them together into a giant puzzle.

When my students came to their next session they were excited to find where their piece was located in the puzzle. I also used my cricut and cut out puzzle-shaped letters for the sign "we all fit together". I love how the colors pop against the black cardstock, and love how the whole thing came together.

Leave a Comment: How do you get to know your students?

September 24, 2012

More Scheduling

Here's a quick document I put together this morning to let teachers know what times I have scheduled their students.

You can download your own copy here. Please leave a comment if you do!

September 21, 2012

Scheduling: Update

I learned how to import frames and borders into Word documents today, so to practice I updated my speech scheduling document.

Click this link to download your free copy!

Friday Funny

I love shoes. I think they can really make an outfit. But I don't like spending much money on them, and sometimes in a store I have to ask myself if I really need this new pair of shoes. Now this handy flow chart will make it easy for me to decide!

Thanks, internet, for making my life easier!

September 19, 2012

Speech Scheduling Made (relatively) Easy

As a student, the beginning of each school year comes with lots of exciting things. Shopping for a new outfit to wear on the first day of school, checking off the supplies on the classroom supply list, etc. Picking out folders was my favorite - what other children of the 90s out there can remember Lisa Frank school supplies?! I secretly was excited at the end of each summer when the class lists were posted. Summer always seemed to last too long, and I was always excited for school to start again. I was a huge nerd.

As a school employee, the beginning of each school year has a bit of a different feel. Yes, all the newness and excitement radiating from the students is a bit contagious, but mostly we long for summer break to start all over again. And as a school-based speech-language pathologist, the beginning of school means scheduling. Bleh. I am somewhat fortunate this year as I only (only!) have 44 students and two buildings to worry about. I know some SLPs whose caseloads are pushing 70 students or have 3-4 buildings to schedule in the same 5-day school week.

Last year was my first year working in the school setting, and scheduling my 53 students at 2 different buildings was such a big source of stress last year. I had at least two different excel spreadsheets, class lists, a list of how I was going to group the students together, and a 5-day calendar all on my desk at once. I think it took me a whole work week just to get the schedule to fit. It was a nightmare! 

I was determined to complete my schedule differently this year. Somewhere over the summer I read the idea of using Post-It notes for scheduling, and I thought it was genius! So here is how I completed my scheduling this year...

A couple weeks ago I gave each teacher a slip of paper that listed the students in their classroom who have speech services along with the minutes required each week for services, and asked them to attach a copy of their class schedule or list the times that will NOT work to pull students.

Click here to download your own copy of these forms. I had more of my personal information on the slips I gave to teachers, but modified the document for general use for the purposes of this upload.

Once most of the teacher slips had been returned, I was ready to get scheduling! First, I organized my Post-Its by grade: preschoolers off campus got orange, preschoolers on campus got blue, Kindergarten got green, and 1st grade got pink. I wrote administrative/lunch/regular meetings on purple notes. Each student got a Post-It with their name/grade/teacher, how many minutes of therapy they were required each week, and the times the teacher had said were okay to pull the student. If a student was to be seen twice a week, they got two Post-Its with their name.

Then I made a giant 5-day schedule, divided into 20-minute increments (mostly for a guideline - it would be unrealistic to be able to fit my students perfectly into the designated time slots). A white board would work really well too, but I don't have one in my room.

From there, I went to town sticking Post-Its into time slots that worked based on the times teachers had given me. I didn't need to keep referring to an excel spreadsheet to see teacher times or look back at old emails - everything I needed was right on the Post It. If a time didn't work, or if I needed to move a student to a different time, I could just pull off the Post It and move it to a different spot.

Scheduling was still a bit tedious since these students are all new to me, but it only took me one day to finalize my schedule this year. Woohoo! Of course, I just know it's not actually final, and that conflicts and additions are bound to arise. But I think this was a pretty great system to use this year and I will more than likely tackle the project the same way in the future.

Leave a Comment: What tips do you have for making scheduling easier?