January 30, 2013

Good Reads

another round-up of great articles from the internetz

This article came from a study published by my Alma Mater - the University of Iowa (go Hawkeyes!). Researchers found that varied practice words -- ones that are more varied in the number of consonants, but still teach the same rules as traditional phonics instruction -- results in greater generalization to novel words and non-words by children!
“Variability was good for the low-performing students, it was good for the high-performing students. It was good for the boys, it was good for the girls. It was good for the words, it was good for the non-words,” Apfelbaum says. “Among the students who struggled the most, the kids who weren’t exposed to variation didn’t show any learning at all, while the kids who were exposed to variation did.” 

Another great read I found is this one from Parents.com. The article gives some easy and quick activity ideas for boosting language skills for children with Down Syndrome. These ideas grow with the child from babbling to reading. But really, these are great tips for any child! My favorite idea: Rainbow of Learning :)

The last article I want to share today is about teaching children manners. Sometimes I feel this skill just isn't taught to children anymore. What I love about this article is that it explains what types of manners would be appropriate to teach at various ages -- from sharing as babies and toddlers, to email/text/social media manners for teens.  I'm going to print this one off and have a few copies on hand to send home with parents if they bring up concerns regarding this topic.

Leave a Comment: Any good reads you've found lately?

January 23, 2013

SLP Philosophy

January can be such a difficult month to stay focused on the job. We're coming off the busyness of the holiday season, fresh from a well-deserved and much-needed holiday break (if you work in a school setting), and, where I'm located, it's COLD outside. Students seem antsy and off-task, meetings are plentiful, and the end of the school year seems too. far. away.

A friend and fellow SLP shared this Speech-Language Pathologist Philosophy on Facebook the other day, and I really liked it and wanted to share it.

I felt re-energized thinking about my job after reading this. I even printed off a copy and hung it up at work. It is beautifully written by Kellie Coldiron Ellis. I hope it helps you remain focused at your job and remember why speech pathology is such a great profession!

Leave a Comment: What helps you stay motivated on the job?

January 22, 2013

Speech Path

 A road-themed activity my students loved!

Brrrrr! It has been so cold in Iowa the past couple days. Temps below zero overnight and single-digit highs. At least we got a little snow on Sunday because if it's this cold, I would rather there be snow on the ground. Call me crazy.

I was sitting by the fireplace wearing two long-sleeve shirts, fuzzy socks, and snuggling under a blanket trying to stay warm last night when I came across this story-telling path on Pinterest, I immediately loved the idea and knew it was something I could modify and apply with my students who are working on all sorts of different goals.

I took a long piece of bulletin board paper and drew a path down the middle. At one end I wrote START and at the other end I wrote STOP, because I have a lot of students who are working on their /s/ sound.

All of my students were intrigued with our new activity as soon as they walked into the room. And the nice thing about this is that it is open-ended and easy to modify with students of all abilities and goal areas.

*Like the original post, this path is a great idea for addressing story telling, oral narrative skills, and identifying story grammar elements. I set the visual story grammar reminders along the road, students proceeded down the path and collected the elements as they listened to the story, and then at the end of the road they needed to use those visuals to retell the story.

*Sentence Production: I had three piles of cards - People/Animals, Actions, and Locations - and students collected the cards as they walked down the path. At the end of the road they had to use the three cards to make a sentence.

*WH-Questions: I placed WH-questions along the road for students to answer as they traveled down the road.

*For my students working on their phonemes at the single word level, I placed cards with their target sound all along the path. As they walked, they picked up a card and produced the word. If they missed on, they had to start over! For some students I also added point values to the cards. The farther they got down the path, the more points they racked up.

*For students working at the sentence level, we placed three cards with their target sound along the road. Once they collected the cards they used all three of them in one sentence.

*Draw a smooth, straight road, and a curvy, bumpy road. Students practice their easy onset speech on the smooth road, and address bumpy speech on the other path.

Leave a Comment: What is your favorite story to use for story retelling?

January 18, 2013

Guided Access Tutorial

my new favorite iPad feature available with iOS 6

I've heard stories about people who are using the iPad with a kiddo, and the student just wants to play games instead of learning from the amazing app that his teacher/speech therapist/parent has opened. So the student presses the home button and closes out the app. Of course, this absolutely never happens with the students I am working with. No way! We are fully engaged and participating 100% of the time (in my dreams!)

And I've heard of students activating in-app purchases or advertisements while using the iPad. Can you imagine?! In case this has ever happened to you -- and I'm SO GLAD I have not had to deal with any of these issues (can you smell the sarcasm?) -- then Guided Access is the answer to your problems.

Guided Access allows the user to keep just one app running on the iPad by disabling the home button, and lets you control which features of the app can be used.


*Guided Access can be enabled in Settings. If you are in General, click on Accessibility and Guided Access can be seen towards the bottom. Make sure the toggle switch for Guided Access is turned ON. Now the feature is always enabled and ready to use any time you are using the iPad.

Once you are in the app you want, triple click the home button to enable Guided Access. From there, you can draw circles around the buttons or features of the app you do not want the child to be able to access. You can also turn off screen rotation and turn off the touch screen. Tap Start to begin.

See the shaded area in the upper left corner?
If my student taps there, nothing will happen
Now your student can't exit out of the app or tap any of the features you drew boxes around, and time won't be wasted chasing after a student who got out of his chair and ran away while you tried to exit out of the advertisement he clicked on. To turn Guided Access off, just triple-click the home button again (you'll have to enter your passcode).

I think this is such a great feature to have on the iPad, and I use it a lot with my students:
*for students who are very impulsive in tapping all over the screen
*for preschoolers and non-readers who don't always know what they are accessing on the screen
*for use with apps that have easily-accessible ads in one spot the entire time

SUCH A GREAT FEATURE! Hope you have a wonderful and rejuvenating weekend!

Leave a Comment: What do you have going on this weekend?

January 15, 2013

Good Find: Squishy Ball

one of my favorite toys to use with students of all ages

Target Dollar Aisle: one of the best places for inexpensive activities/games/toys/supplies. Last year I found these squishy balls there for $1 each and I have loved them ever since. I am able to use these with students of all ages, from early intervention to high school. And I have fun with them too! Here are some quick ideas for how to use them in therapy.

*Practice /s/ and /sh/ ('squishy'); /l/ ('ball', 'please'); /k/ and /ch/ ('catch'); /th/ ('throw')...and more!

*Target increasing utterance length and making requests with little ones
*Compare/contrast the two balls to each other
*I have two preschoolers who are nonverbal and working on total communication/signs. They light up when I pull these out of my bag. We use the squishy balls to work on signs for 'more', 'please', 'ball, and 'thanks'.

*describing words: squishy, spiky, green, orange, soft, smooth, up, down, fast, slow, high, low, etc;
*action words: throw, toss, catch, grab, squish, give, take, etc.

*Play hot potato with groups - students answer when they catch the ball
*Practice target articulation phonemes while tossing ball back and forth
*Have a competition to see how many consecutive catches can be made. Try to set new records!
*I even have a student who despises these toys. I simply set one next to me on the table if she is having a hard time staying on task and she jumps right back to work!

Bonus: When you squeeze the orange one the eyes pop!

Leave a Comment: What are your go-to quick therapy activities?

January 12, 2013

Appy Hour: Make Dice

review of one of my favorite apps: Make Dice

I'm starting a new regular feature here on Schoolhouse Talk: Appy Hour. These posts will feature my most favorite apps that get used constantly in therapy. Apps that make my job easier. Apps that are customizable or can be used with a variety of students. Apps that my students also love using. Lots of the apps I use I have discovered through word of mouth, so I hope I can help fellow educators find some useful tools as well. First feature:

I love love love Make Dice! I have been using it for about a year now with students of all ages and all goal areas. There is a free 'Lite' version and a paid full version ($2.99). I have the Lite version.

*Create custom dice with words/numbers/etc. for use as you see fit.


At the bottom of the screen are your controls to roll the dice, create or add new dice, and change settings. Shake the dice by pressing the circle arrow or moving the iPad. I prefer the iPad stays flat on the table and students push the button instead of moving the iPad.

Press and hold dice to change to a different one. Press the plus sign to add a new dice. You can use up to six dice on the table at one time.

It's also easy to create new dice. On the edit dice screen you can enter the words or numbers you want on the dice, give the dice a name, and change the color.

Settings Menu

The settings menu allows you to edit the dice list, adjust the table color, and turn on/off sounds. In the full version you can also turn on/off accelerometer, which I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think it has something to do with how the dice move when you shake.


the list of dice I have created

*Articulation Goals: I have made a lot of dice for different phonemes my students work on. I color code them by phoneme so I can quickly find the one I am looking for. Select a phoneme die and a number die. The number tells the student how many times to say the word.

say the word "skip" three times with your good snake sound

*Language Goals: Create dice full of categories, antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning words, etc. A number die tells how many items in a category the student needs to name. It can be challenging to think of six different salty foods, but we like challenges!

name three different sports

*Fluency Goals: roll the number dice; have students to say that many words/sentences using their easy speech strategies.

Enable Guided Access when using this app. There are ads at the top of the screen that often get pushed, but with Guided Access the ads can be blocked (still appear on the screen though). Also, be sure to turn off the screen rotation, otherwise any bumps to table result in dice shaking.

*Can be used with a variety of goal.
*It is easy to use and new dice can be made quickly during speech sessions if necessary.
*My students love it. They especially like pushing the button approximately 93 times in a row trying to really get the dice rolling :)
*No more dice rolling off the table onto the floor!
*In full version you can add pictures to dice (I think this could be worth the price of the full app itself as it opens up a whole new world of possible uses, especially for using with non-readers).

*The app comes pre-loaded with some couple/personal dice for making decisions, which cannot be deleted (But next time I can't decide if I'm sorry or if my husband is sorry, I know where to turn!)
*Any bumps to the table or iPad cause the dice to roll which can interrupt a student's turn, but this feature can be turned off by enabling Guided Access.
*Ads are on screen constantly and are easily pushed, but can be disabled with Guided Access. (Seriously, Guided Access is such a great feature that comes with the iOS 6 upgrade - if you aren't using it you should be! Tutorial coming SOON.)

Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. I simply love this product. The statements are my own opinion.

Leave a Comment: How would you use this app in your own therapy sessions?

*P.S. My husband thought of the Appy Hour name and designed the logo - isn't he so creative?!

January 08, 2013

Good Find: Hopping Frogs

inexpensive (and fun!) dollar store reinforcement activity

Happy 2013!

I was at the dollar store a couple weeks ago stocking up my prize bucket and came across this hopping frogs game that I knew would be a perfect reinforcer for my students. It comes with 12 frogs of different colors and a little plastic pond.

The concept is simple: push down on the little frog's tail, aim, and let go, launching it through the air and hopefully into the pond.

My students love it! They like to "earn" their frogs by completing their therapy tasks, then compete against each other or against me to see who can get the most frogs to jump into the pond. Easy, cheap, and fun! My kind of reinforcer.

Leave a Comment: What is your favorite resource for inexpensive therapy activities?
I *heart* the dollar store!