April 30, 2013

Word Cloud Creations

fun ways to use word clouds in the speech room

This week I discovered my new favorite thing: using word clouds for speech goals! If you've heard of Wordle before, this is similar. But I had problems getting Wordle to work on my Mac, so a Google search for alternatives led me to ABCya - and it's great! It's geared towards kids, easy to use, and creates your word clouds in fun colors and fonts. (FYI, the entire ABCya website is great fun and full of awesome reading and math activities for K-5 kids)

As opposed to Wordle, which makes more frequently used words appear larger, ABCya makes the first word you type into the list the largest word in the cloud. After you finish typing your list, you can play around with fonts and colors and layout. You can also save and print your creations. (Quick Tip: if printing be sure to change the colors to black on white.)

So what did we make with our word clouds? I'll show ya!

Articulation Practice Clouds: We made the target phoneme the largest, with practice words surrounding it. For some students working on carryover, I typed words they produced correctly in conversation into the word cloud to show them how awesome they are doing! *BONUS: print for built-in take home practice!*

Narrative Language Story Clouds: We typed the name of the story in first, with those story grammar elements surrounding it. Now when they retell the story, this serves as a visual reminder of what needs to be included. Sometimes we colored or crossed off the elements as we talked about them.

Word Clouds for Language Goals: This one we typed in a category first, then students needed to name as many items as they could think of that would fit into that category.

Describing Word Clouds: We typed in a noun and thought of describing words that were appropriate for that noun. Which led to...

...students thinking of kind words to describe the friends in their group! I love it!

Leave a Comment: How will you be using word clouds in your speech room?

April 28, 2013

Setting Professional Goals

"What are your long-term and short-term professional goals?"

This question always seems to come up during job interviews. Fresh out of graduating with my master's degree, my answer was "...to complete my Clinical Fellowship and obtain my ASHA CCCs."

Check! Thankfully I met that goal a couple years ago :)

The education agency I work for has us set personal goals and write an Individual Professional Development Plan every couple years. I have been completing my self-assessment this week and have spent time reflecting on where I am at as a professional and where I'd like to see my career as a speech-pathologist go. It has been challenging for me to figure out what my Long Term goals are as an SLP, but I've come up with a couple things.

As SLPs we are continually expanding our knowledge base. Many people don't realize how broad the SLP scope of practice is. We do way more than just "fix Rs" :) One of my long term goals has become

I love, love, love articulation therapy. Have a tricky R kiddo? Send them my way! Lateral S? No problem! Perhaps articulation will become my specialty area, but working in the schools requires us to be knowledgable in many areas. Unfortunately, I don't have much experience with AAC or fluency. I would really like to expand my knowledge and skills set in those two areas in particular.

I'm a true believer that supervisors can make a world of difference in the overall experience students have. In grad school I was gung-ho set on becoming a medical SLP. All I wanted to do was complete swallow studies. But then I experienced my school practicum and my supervisor was amazing and so helpful and the whole experience was just so. much. fun. From that point on I wanted to work with children.

My clinical fellowship supervisor went the other way. My supervisor had a baby two months after I joined the staff at her private practice. When she came back from maternity leave, her baby came with her and the success of the clinic and her patients no longer seemed to be her priority. It was a stressful time, but I grew a ton as a new SLP during that experience. There's a lot more to the story, and I won't go into details, but my supervisor was what ultimately led me to leave that position. She also inspired me to someday become a supervisor who provides freshly-hatched-out-of-grad-school SLPs with an amazing CF experience.

If all these previous goals come to fruition, I believe it will lead me to become a leader within the community of SLPs I work with at my current job. The education agency employs a couple hundred speech pathologists and a few of those serve as lead SLPs helping advocate and problem-solve for the profession, determine professional development opportunities for the group, and work to train other speech pathologists who are new to the agency. Down the road, I hope my knowledge and skills (see LTG #1) grow to the point where I could feel comfortable serving as a lead SLP.


Now that my long-term goals are written down (and exposed for the world to see!), hopefully I'll be able to come back and update these with checkmarks once completed.

Leave a Comment: Have you set professional goals? What would you like to accomplish?

April 18, 2013

Conference Summary: Building Social Relationships

highlights from a social skills conference presented by Scott Bellini

On April 4-5 I was fortunate to be able to attend a conference presented by Scott Bellini regarding Teaching Social Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Mr. Bellini is an assistant professor in the Department of Counseling & Educational Psychology and Clinic Director of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism at Indiana University. This was a great presentation that was attended by speech-language pathologists, social workers, special education teachers and consultants, general education teachers, and school psychologists. This will be a long post, but there was just so. much. great information presented. I wanted to use this blog post as a way for me to hash through and review the information presented. The following information focuses mainly on the evidence-based strategies Mr. Bellini discussed.

Social Skills are defined as socially acceptable learned behaviors. These skills are important because they bring about positive responses from others when we interact. It is important to remember that children with ASD want to form meaningful relationships but may not have the skills to do so. A lack of such skills can result in anxiety and social isolation, poor academics, substance abuse, and even suicide in extreme cases. Also remember, however, that social skills are not just for students with ASD, and should be taught in every environment a child enters.

Social skills refers to behaviors, but social cognition is related to considering viewpoints, understanding humor, compromising, interpreting and inferring intentions of others, maintaining topic of conversation, and analyzing social situations. In social interactions, we are continually taking the perspectives of others. Children with ASD may know you have a different perspective, but can have difficulty figuring out what that perspective is. This especially comes into play when predicting what happens next in social situations because you have to attend to relevent cues around you and have prior knowledge about the individuals you are interacting with. Children with ASD may be over-attentive and have difficulty attending to more than one environmental factor at a time. This is huge! Without attention, you will not have learning!

Children can have difficulty in skill acquisition (or learning the skills they don't have) as well as skill performance (using the trained skills they have). When training skill acquisition, the best instruction stays within the zone of proximal development. The ZPD (Vygotsky ring a bell?) is the range of skills between what a child is able to do independently, and the skills the child can do with support.

A big portion of the information was about evidence-based and proven strategies to promote skill acquisition and performance. Strategies such as peer mentors, video modeling, social narratives, and prompting.

Social Narratives:
*A strategy for teaching specific social skills or concepts by presenting in the form of a story.
*Combine social narratives with behavioral rehearsal (role-playing) for maximum effectiveness. Doing so targets both "thinking" and "doing"

*Prompts are support and assistance that is provided to help the student experience success.
*Prompts can be physical, modeling, verbal, gestural, or natural.
*Use the least supportive prompt necessary to ensure success.
*Prompt attention prior to prompting behavior. Your student needs to be attending to the situation in order to perform the appropriate response.
*Fade your prompts as quickly as possible. The easiest way to do this is to pair a more supportive prompt with a less supportive prompt, then fade away the more supportive prompt.

Peer Mentors:
*Peer mentors should be similar age, be socially competent, and have a history of neutral or positive interactions with your student.
*Peer mentors are taught to appropriately initiate/respond to their peer with ASD before any structured interactions occur. Using peer mentors allows skills to be taught in a more natural setting.
*Adults facilitate the play, but are not directly a part of the interactions. This results in significantly reduced prompts to the child with ASD.
*Also select "generalization peers" to see how play skills and interactions transfer to other children.

Video Modeling and Video Self-Modeling:
*This is a highly effective strategy due to the strength of visual cues vs. auditory cues for students with ASD.
*Record your student participating in social interactions. You can provide prompts and instructions to the student while recording, but then edit those out so that the final video the student watches is him/her performing the desired behavior successfully. Think about it - athletic teams have been studying videos for a long time!
*Videos should be 1-2 minutes in length or student won't retain information in memory.
*Keep it POSITIVE and focus on SUCCESS!

There were some big ideas that stuck out to me throughout the conference. Ideas that made me think and double-think about my own strategies:

*Students with ASD can experience a fear response when asked to make eye contact. Since the conference I have found myself wanting to prompt eye contact, but catch it and prompt the student's attention instead. Mr. Bellini suggested teaching students to look at facial expressions or body language as a whole, and save eye contact for initiating and ending turns. He recommended maintaining eye contact not be a goal in and of itself.

*Peer mentors. When I grab students from a preschool or kindergarten classroom, there are always classmates (not students of mine) who beg me to take them too. Once in a while I oblige, but now I have an even better reason to do so. I'm excited to get parent permission for a few select peers to be involved in our social interactions, so that my students with ASD can receive fewer prompts from me, and so their skills can be targeted in a much more natural interaction.

*I am so, so excited to begin incorporating video modeling into my social skills interventions! Students seeing themselves successfully interact with peers is such a powerful tool! I am convinced it can be the difference in students acquiring skills and performing skills successfully at a faster rate. And is not to be solely used for students with ASD either. Video modeling and video self-modeling can be used to make differences in the performances of students with trouble behaviors, reading fluency and comprehension, articulation errors, selective mutism, and more. Good stuff!

This post doesn't even begin to cover everything that we learned from Scott Bellini. If you'd like to read more about Mr. Bellini's systematic program for training social interaction skills, check out his book. If you ever get the chance to hear him present his research and methods in the area of Social Communication, I highly recommend you take advantage. I can't wait to get started implementing the strategies I learned!

Big thank you and high five to the Heartland Area Education Agency for bringing in Scott Bellini to educate us in the area of Social Communication!

Click here to read a Chirpstory highlighting all the information from the 2-day conference, including teaching emotions and perspective taking, additional strategies, and training students to self-monitor their skills.

April 16, 2013

Toca Boca Hair Salon for Artic?!

did you know Toca Boca Hair Salon targets numerous S and SH words?

I had a student playing Toca Boca Hair Salon as a reward for finishing his work this afternoon and I realized it would be a great app for students targeting S and SH words! Just in the couple minutes we were using the app we talked about all these words:

I'm sure there are more! All the Toca Boca apps are wonderful for creativity, imagination, and learning. I've picked up as many as I can when they go free, but they are well worth the price if you don't want to wait. Toca Boca Hair Salon is currently $1.99 in the app store.

Leave a Comment: What is your favorite Toca Boca app?
I can't get enough of Toca Band!

April 13, 2013

Heard in the Speech Room

An actual conversation from a group of 4/5 year olds playing Hi Ho Cherry-O today:

First Preschooler: "I have ten cherries on my tree."
Second Preschooler: "I have ten fingers and ten toes and two thumbs and two pinkies!"
Third Preschooler: "I like Spiderman!"

Um, loved the participation, but let's work on those conversational skills a bit more!

April 12, 2013

Appy Hour: Multiple Choice Articulation

a review of Multiple Choice Articulation from Erik X. Raj

Have you seen or used Erik X. Raj's new iPad app: Multiple Choice Articulation? It's a fun new resource for targeting S, Z, R, L, SH, CH, TH in the initial/medial/final positions as well as S, R, L blends.

The Concept:
Multiple Choice Articulation is a fun way to practice target sounds in words, sentences, and carryover into conversation. Students are presented with a "Would you rather..." question and two choices. Usually the question and the choices contain a few words that include the target phonemes. Then students tell which option they would choose and why.

What's Great:
The app provides lots of awesome models of target speech sounds. You can choose to have the questions read aloud or read them to your students themselves. If your students are readers, they can read the questions to each other, providing even more opportunities to practice their sounds. Words containing target phonemes are presented in bold.

There are such fun questions in the app! Lots of them really make students use their imagination. Some of the choices are sort of disgusting (*see above). That isn't necessarily bad, but first grade boys certainly got a kick out of them!

Another thing I loved about the app was the great exposure to descriptive sentences that contain lots of detail words. This prompted longer answers from my students.

My students loved pushing the "Hear an Answer" button to see if their answer matched the example, which was great because they got that extra auditory input of correct models while listening. Some of them started giving themselves a point if their answers matched!

Things I Love:
+ This app is fun, fun, fun! It's also hilarious, thought-provoking, and sometimes gross! You've been warned!
+ The app is straight-forward and simple, user-friendly, and super easy to use.
+ Multiple Choice Articulation is great for targeting sounds in sentences and assisting in carryover of target phonemes into conversation. It can also be used for students working on forming correct sentences and other language skills. Answers lead to follow-up questions from other students, and even "debates" over which answer seems better. This app would be amazingly awesome for your fluency students working on using their fluency strategies in conversation!
+ The questions and answer choices elicit very entertaining conversations. This app could be used to prompt a student during a conversation sample.
+ I loved that students needed to also tell why they chose a particular answer. Even my Kindergarteners blew me away with their reasoning!
+ No in-app purchases or ads to accidentally click on!!

Suggestions for Future Updates:
- Questions targeting additional phonemes.
- Possibly include some picture prompts. My students didn't mind that there were no pictures as the interesting conversations were enough to keep them entertained. However, gross pictures to go with the gross choices might trigger even more conversation - and more silliness!
- I always appreciate a scoring option.
- Minor detail, but I'd include the option to stop playback of the Hear an Answer feature. There were a few times where impulsive students pressed that button and we'd need to listen to the entire answer before moving on. I began muting the iPad if that button was bumped before we were ready.
- The biggest update I'd like to see is a recording feature. My students love recording themselves in other articulation apps and then going back to listen if they were using their correct phonemes or not. I would appreciate a record button even more than pictures or a scoring feature.

Bottom Line:
Multiple Choice Articulation is a great resource to add to any SLP's iPad! It is currently $9.99 and available for iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Find it in the App Store. Also, be sure to read Erik's speech pathology blog. He has such creative and fun ideas, and tons of useful information!

Disclaimer: Erik X. Raj was super cool and kindly provided me with a copy of Multiple Choice Articulation. All statements and opinions are my own. 

Leave a Comment: Would you rather smell a stinky diaper or a smelly armpit?

Friday Funny

Have a fabulous weekend everyone!!

April 09, 2013

Good Finds: Spring Speech Sale Edition

a review of wonderful speech materials I've recently purchased

Did you pick up any great materials during the recent Spring Speech sale on Teachers Pay Teachers? I couldn't wait to sort through the goodies on my wishlist and take advantage of the discounts. Here's what I picked up:

Who Are You? ($1.50 from Queen's Speech)

This resource will be perfect for targeting receptive and expressive language skills that my preschoolers are working so hard to improve. The packet includes cards that have 'clues'. Read the clues and see if your students can guess what you are describing.

There are also individual cards with just the pictures on them for students to use as their answers or to play a matching game. Other cards show the animal/insect and have questions prompting the student to think of some great ways to describe that animal + a describing mat for this task. Finally, BINGO cards are included to make the learning extra fun! I am definitely prepping this packet tomorrow so I can use it ASAP with my students!

Candy Land Phonology ($5.50 from Speech Room News)

I don't know about you, but my kiddos are constantly requesting we play Candy Land. I've been looking for more phonology resources and this is perfect!

The set has cards targeting final consonant deletion, fronting, multisyllabic words, cluster reduction, and stopping. I have students working on all of these phonological processes! Jenna also includes a set of cards targeting /p, b, m/ phonemes - perfect for those common preschool speech sounds!  This is definitely a resource that is a bang for your buck and a great activity to have in any preschool SLP's room.

Rescue the Princess Game (FREE! from Figuratively Speeching)

Perfect. Super awesome fun for my preschool/elementary students. This {FREEBIE} includes a game board and what doesn't belong cards. She also includes blank cards to make your own activity and lots of ideas for using this packet for different goal areas. There is a full (paid) version also available in her TpT store. My students are going to adore this one!

Super Mario Speech Therapy Games (FREE! from Peachie Speechie)

I cannot believe this packet is FREE! Peachie Speechie is pretty generous with this one. I don't know a kid who doesn't love Mario, and I suspect my students are going to go bonkers over these activities!

This generous packet includes an open-ended board game, question conversation starters, articulation cards targeting initial/medial/final /r, l, s/ (plus blank cards to create your own!), plus cards and pictures to target the use of adjectives, verbs, and making comparisons. So excited to use this resource!

PLUS: This week is my birthday and to celebrate I'm throwing a sale! All materials in my TpT store will be 15% off Thursday April 11th - Sunday April 14th! The following products are included in the sale:

BONUS: IF I reach 100 TpT followers before Thursday, I'll bump up the sale to 20% off! Spread the word to save more money!

update: I'm at 99 followers! So close!
update (April 10th): 101 followers! The 20% sale is on!!

April 06, 2013

Guest Post on Practically Speeching

Today I am guest posting over on Practically Speeching!

Click on over to her great blog and find out about some apps to help you teach narrative language and story grammar skills. Have a great weekend!

April 05, 2013

April 04, 2013

ASHA Practice Portal

check out ASHA's new center for all things SLP/AuD

ASHA recently launched their Practice Portal, which they describe as "...one-stop access to resources to guide evidence-based decision-making on select clinical and professional issues."

There is a section of the website for Speech-Language Pathologist and a section for Audiologists. The site includes ready-made handouts, evidence maps to guide you in making evidence-based decisions, tools for clinical practice, and discussions about current topics and professional issues.

I'm excited for all these resources to be in one easy-to-find place! The beta site is still in trial mode, but is available on desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Try it out for yourself and send ASHA feedback about what you think :D