May 25, 2015

2015 Summer Reading List

working towards my goal of 35 books in 2015

I don't know about you, but one of the things I most like to do in my free time is read. Mysteries, fiction, memoirs, thrillers, love stories, young adult, brain long as it has interesting characters and a good plot I like it. Here's what I'm hoping to get through this summer.

1. Something Classic: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

Jane Austen's witty comedy of manners that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues.

2. Something Mysterious: The Secret Keeper (Kate Morton)

During a summer party at the family farm, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and sees her mother speak to him. Soon, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

3. Something Best-Selling: The Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived with her husband; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...

4. Something Autobiographical: I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai)

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at point-blank range for speaking out for her right to an education. Few expected her to survive. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate. I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

5. Something Mindless for the Beach: Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse #3) (Charlaine Harris)

Things between cocktail waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently (apart from the small matter of him being undead) until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill's sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. When she finally catches up with the errant vampire, he is in big trouble and caught in an act of serious betrayal. This raises serious doubts as to whether she should save him or start sharpening a few stakes of her own...

6. Something Thrilling: Sphere (Michael Crichton)

A group of American scientists are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defines their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship of phenomenal dimensions, apparently, undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old...

7. Something Funny: Dad is Fat (Jim Gaffigan)

In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffican expresses all the joys and horrers of life with five young children-- everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers' communication skills ("they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news"), to the eating habits of four year olds ("there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor").

8. Something Young Adult: Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver)

For popular high school senior Samantha Kingston, February 12 -- "Cupid Day" -- should be one big party, a day of valentines and roses and the privileges that come with being at the top of the social pyramid. And it is...until she dies in a terrible accident that night. However, she still wakes up the next morning. In fact, Sam lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.

9. Something Nonfiction: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Scloot)

Henrietta Lacks is known to present-day scientists for her cells from cervical cancer. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells were taken without her knowledge and still live decades after her death. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb's effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks was buried in an unmarked grave. The dark history of experimentation on African Americans helped lead to the birth of bioethics, and legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of.

10. Something Work-Related: Out of My Mind (Sharon M. Draper)

Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom - the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she's determined to let everyone know it - somehow. Readers will come to know a brilliant mind and a brave spirit who will change forever how they look at anyone with a disability.

What's on your summer reading list? Any good book recommendations?

May 22, 2015

Friday Funny

This was me yesterday:

Woohoo! Only two Fridays left in the school year! Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend everyone :)

May 18, 2015

5 Tips to Finish the School Year Strong

you can survive the crazy hectic end to the school year

We've almost made it! I don't need to remind you that the end of the school year brings schedule interruptions, a large number of meetings, tons of paperwork, and general chaos. We all seem to struggle just to keep our heads above water. Here are some tips I've learned through the years to help manage the "summer-break-can't-come-soon-enough" madness.

1) Remain flexible.
There are always interruptions in our schedules this time of the year. Classes go on field trips. Band and choir students have performances and extra practices. The district SLP meeting gets rescheduled for next week. We can't control everything around us, so it's important to remain flexible and calm. For your sake and everyone else's.

2) Create and use to-do lists.
It feels so satisfying to cross off even the tiniest most minuscule of tasks. "Make to-do list." CHECK! "Schedule so-and-so's transition meeting." CHECK! "Create and post summer break countdown calendar." CHECK CHECK!

3) Make a playlist to keep you energized and inspired while you work.
I can't say enough about how music helps put me in a good mood. Get your groove on while you write 55 progress reports. Shake your booty while you take inventory of your materials. Inspire yourself when you wake up to a day with five IEP meetings scheduled. Need help getting started? These are my jams for the last few weeks of school.

4) Complete some spring cleaning.
Last week I organized and sorted through two months of papers that had piled up on my desk. It felt GREAT! Take some time during the last couple weeks of work to organize your files, clean off (and backup!) your flash drives. Organize the materials you've been using this school year, and maybe consider getting rid of ones you haven't been using lately. Tidying up the work spaces and materials we use also helps clean up the clutter in our minds.

5) Reflect on the year you've had.
Think about some of the positives that you've experienced this year. Were you able to dismiss any students from therapy? Great! Did that 2nd grade student finally produce vocalic /r/ after months or years of practice? Celebrate those successes! Also, be sure to identify any ways you'd like to improve next year. Set professional and personal goals that you'd like to accomplish. Strive to grow and build upon your practice.

Finally, some lessons learned from movies to help get you through:

Self-explanatory. Applicable to so many situations.

Didn't the school year just start like, um, 20 minutes ago? Think about all you've accomplished this school year. Countless meetings, dozens of IEPs written, too many evaluations, thousands of minutes spent helping our students improve their communication skills, times you helped a parent see what their child can do. It's easy to get caught up in the mundane aspects of our jobs and become weighed down by everything that needs to get done. Take time during your last couple weeks of school to look around at all you've accomplished during the past nine months.

Soon, summer break will be here. You will be able to do whatever your pretty little heart desires. Want to read by the pool all afternoon? "As you wish." Sleep until 10:30? Go for it. Midnight showing of the latest summer blockbuster? I'll meet you there. We've been dedicated to our job for nine months, put in countless hours of work on our own time, and spent our personal money buying materials and supplies for our students. We've earned summer break. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just make it through these last couple weeks and you will finally have some free time to enjoy as you wish.

Abby has 12 work days left until summer break!

May 15, 2015

Friday Funny

Three Fridays left for me!! You will laugh your butt off at these "Kids Who Outsmarted Their Teachers"! Sometimes I wonder if these are actually real, but I still think they're hilarious either way. Warning: NSFW

Enjoy your weekend!

May 13, 2015

Chicken Soup for the SLP Soul {Funny Edition}

a reminder that being an SLP has its funny moments too

The Dabbling Speechie hosted a great blog hop a couple months ago in which SLP Bloggers wrote about moments that touched them as an SLP. This time, we're writing about the moments that have made us laugh. It's easy to get caught up in the paperwork, constant meetings, and ever-growing caseloads. But it's also good for the soul to reflect on the times when our jobs are entertaining and fun. One of the best moments I've experienced:

In 2013 my caseload consisted largely of preschoolers at a PreK-1st grade elementary school. I was doing a short-term intervention with a preschool boy whose mom was also one of the teachers in the building. One day she came up to me at work and said her son had told her he had been working on cuss words in speech! I couldn't believe it! I thought back to what we had been targeting the previous day and it soon made sense. This little boy was fronting his /k/ and /g/ phonemes and we had been working on /k/ that day. Words that have the letter K = /k/ words = /ks/ words!

What's been a funny moment in your practice lately? I bet those moments happen more than you think. Comment below!

Abby is looking forward to returning to a preschool caseload next year. Those little ones are always cracking her up!

May 12, 2015

No-Prep Speech Therapy Activities

quick & minimal-prep activities for the busy SLP

Tis the season - for high stakes standardized testing! My district has spent the past five weeks completing state assessments followed by MAP testing. (Too much testing! But that's a whole different post...) Now, with the end of the school year quickly approaching, we're looking at special activities, field trips, music programs, awards banquets, and class events. What does this mean for me? Reduced time with students, modified schedules, proctoring tests, and trying to fit in make-up therapy sessions. Time is limited. What's an SLP to do?

Here are my top 10 favorite go-to activities when prep time is short and I still want to make the most of time with my students. The majority of these things are always ready and I can just grab-and-go.

For PreK-2nd grade:
1. Magnet Wands/Dot Pages - easy to complete while practicing any therapy goal; dot pages can turn into colorful works of art for students to take home
Recommendation: Chipper Chat

2. Flash Cards: not just for drill - play a matching game, hide cards around the room for students to find, students keep the cards if they say their target correctly and SLP keeps the cards if they don't, etc.

3. iPad Apps - kids will willingly do the same activity on the iPad that they refused to do with flash cards five minutes ago
Recommendations: Toca Boca, Lego Junior Create & Cruise, My PlayHome

4. Marble Maze - great fun for following directions, reviewing basic concepts, and building language skills

5. Board Games - who doesn't love adding in a little competition to therapy?!
Recommendations: Candy Land, Cariboo, Pop the Pig

6. Garbage Pails - pick one up at the dollar store; it's so satisfying for students to "throw away" cards or objects they have completed

7. Speech/Language Path - walk down the path and collect articulation targets, or story elements, or build sentences as you go

8. Picture Books - so many options available and you can always incorporate speech and language goals
Recommendation: wordless picture books; use book companions

9. Bubbles - they are my secret trick to get shy preschoolers to interact with me
Recommendation: buy Billion Bubbles solution - it lives up to its name!

10. Building Blocks - fun for all ages and you can target almost any speech/language goal

For 3rd-8th grade:
1. Magnet Wands/Dot Pages - these provide numerous practice opportunities and it's just so satisfying to use the magnet and collect all those colorful chips
Recommendations: free 100 challenges by Peachie Speechie

2. Barrier Games - so many language opportunities here; also great for carryover of articulation skills

3. QR Codes - students adore scanning those magical pixelated boxes
Recommendations: QR inference cards; SpeechBook from Speech Bubble SLP

4. Dry Erase Board: students love drawing on these. Draw Venn diagrams for compare/contrast activities, create word webs with vocabulary words

5. Hangman - you can easily incorporate academic vocabulary terms or spelling words

6. Board Games - serve as an excellent tool to make mundane therapy activities more fun
Recommendations: Jenga, Don't Spill the Beans, Connect 4, Guess Who, Apples to Apples Jr.

7. Write on the Table - use dry erase markers or paint pens; easy way to "keep points" for any activity. Students are blown away that they get to draw on the table!

8. iPad Apps - apps are super motivating, and with structure and guidance they really do serve as helpful therapy tools.
Recommendations: Bluster, Story Wheel, Classify It!, World's Worst Pet, Phonics Studio

9. Interactive Websites - because anything involving technology can't possibly be work, right? ;)
Recommendations: Make Beliefs Comix, Scholastic Story Starters, Newsela, Readworks

10. YouTube - pair with graphic organizers to discuss story elements, sequence events, make inferences/predictions, etc.
Recommendations: Simon's Cat videos; Speech Tube from Speech Room News

What are your go-to no prep activities when you're short on time? Any recommendations for high school grades?

May 09, 2015

Gift Ideas for New SLP Graduates

experienced SLPs provide gift ideas for new SLP graduates

It's the most wonderful time of year for SLP graduate students - GRADUATION!! The jam-packed schedules, difficult coursework, comprehensive exams, and clinical field placements are behind them and they are ready to officially enter the work force as Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellows! It's such an exciting time!!

Help them celebrate all their hard work and accomplishments with these gift ideas:

1) external portable battery charger

This is the one I have and it is awesome. It fits in my purse and works great for charging a phone or iPad or two on the go. If your iPad battery runs low while at work, you're not stuck tethered to the wall while boosting the battery back up.

2) personalized SLP items

The new graduate has put in about 6 years of hard work to earn his/her credentials. It's time to show them off! If you're crafty, try making a personalized clipboard or note pad (or order from Etsy if you're not crafty!), or the Peachie Speechie has some amazingly cute t-shirt and coffee mug designs.

3) massage/spa or mani/pedi

Earning that master's degree in speech-language pathology is an intense and highly stressful couple of years. New graduates could use some pampering!

4) a large tote bag

SLPs have lots of fun materials they like to use to make therapy enjoyable for their clients. Add in a few student files, a clipboard, iPad or laptop, etc. and you've got a whole lot to carry around. Especially if you're an SLP who travels between buildings or does home-based therapy. I highly recommend the Land's End extra large zip-top canvas tote bag. It's durable, a perfect size, and zips closed so nothing precious falls out.

5) glass water bottle

SLPs need to stay hydrated while running around between classrooms and meetings and using their voices all day. I love my glass water bottle because I can add lemon or put green tea in it and the bottle doesn't absorb flavors. Plus I think these bottles with the wooden tops are so beautiful, and they're really sturdy!

6) gift cards

Not sure which population the new SLP will be working with? You can't go wrong with gift cards. I would highly suggest an iTunes gift card, a gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers, or Super Duper.

7) Finally, some therapy materials to get their toolbox started! From the Schoolhouse Talk shop I recommend:

Speech-Language Therapy Rubrics - to make data collection and progress monitoring a breeze!

Triangles of Meaning - help students visualize those tricky vocabulary concepts

Articulation Puzzles - interactive speech sound practice for little ones

From other sellers:

Visuals for Vocabulary - These are in constant use in my therapy room. Great tools to help me explain vocabulary concepts with my students.

Language Loops - I use these constantly! The vocabulary is just the right level, and my students even request to use these!

Articulation Cans - A versatile tool for articulation therapy which doubles as a language tool and therapy room decor!

Go see what gifts other SLPs are recommending over at All Y'all Need. A million congratulations to the Class of 2015! You did it! Go celebrate! #treatyoself

May 07, 2015

Triangles of Meaning {vocabulary activities)

a visual tool to make connections between word meanings

The majority of the students on my 3rd-8th grade caseload this year have an IEP goal related to vocabulary. We have spent a lot of time working on synonyms, antonyms, and multiple meaning words in an effort to help their speaking and writing skills become more advanced.

Visuals always seem to assist students to make sense of what we are talking about, and I found myself drawing this over and over again to show students a word might have more than one antonym:

This simple visual has really helped my students throughout this school year, so I decided to make something a little more permanent.

This packet contains 42 pages of hands-on activities to practice word relationships.

The Sorting Mats come in a variety of colors, and students use the Word Tiles to arrange sets of words on the mats so the relationships match the triangle. There are two levels of Word Tiles included.

Next, are the Task Cards! Again, two levels of difficulty are included. Students show understanding of word relationships by filling in the missing words on the triangles.

Finally, there are also Color by Relationship Mystery Patterns! Students read the pair of words in each box, decide how the words are related (synonyms, antonyms, or no relationship), then color the box according to the key to reveal the mystery pattern. There are five different patterns included, and each page provides 100 pairs of words to practice.

Download Triangles of Meaning in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop! Also, I'm giving away a copy to one of you! Enter in the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Abby had a fun Cinco de Mayo fiesta last night.

May 03, 2015

What's In My Cart {TPT Site-Wide Sale}

treat yo'self to a site-wide mega sale!

We've reached that point in the year where we all get swamped with piles of paperwork and progress reports, try to schedule therapy sessions around field trips, hold back to back to back to back transition meetings, and still try to keep therapy fun and exciting for our students. We all can hardly wait for summer break to arrive! You know what? YOU deserve to treat yo'self!

Teachers Pay Teachers is treating Teachers (and SLPs!) with an Appreciation Sale on May 5-6! Get ready to stock up on new materials to keep your students engaged for the rest of the school year, summer, and beyond. These site-wide sales are the BEST time to empty your wish list because most stores are 20% off, AND you can treat yo'self extra 10% with the promo code: ThankYou

I'm going to showcase some of the items I can't wait to pick up during the sale, but first let me highlight a couple items from the Schoolhouse Talk shop:

Triangles of Meaning includes activities which target word relationships through visual sets of antonyms and synonyms to help students make connection between vocabulary words. You and your students will love the color by relationship mystery pictures!

Your students will be masters at making predictions after using the leveled activities in Spoiler Alert!

I adore how these Articulation Puzzle Mats turned out, and your students will adore practicing their sounds as they put them together!

The entire Schoolhouse Talk shop will be 20% off during the sale.

I'm definitely going to take advantage of 28% off prices by buying these items:

1. Secret Messages for Main Idea - by Teach Speech 365

Each reading passage in this packet includes a secret number, and after students identify the main idea for the passage, it tells them which letter to put in that number box. The holiday elves edition was fun for my students so I know these will also be a hit.

2. Spring Cut & Paste Articulation - by Mia McDaniel

I have never been disappointed by anything I've purchased from Mia's store. I could really use more articulation products to get me through the rest of the school year, and I know my students will have fun with these. Plus, you can't beat print-and-go activities!

3. /S, L, R/ Blend Flip Books - by The Dabbling Speechie

I've seen the CH, SH, J edition of these flip books and they are FANTASTIC! I can't wait to add this one to my materials. The graphics are so eye catching, and it includes multiple levels of complexity as well as writing and picture scenes (great for carryover!).

If you need additional assistance in figuring out what to stock up on, be sure to check out the Best of SLPs on TPT Summer Catalog.

You can also see what others are stocking up on by clicking through the linky over at Speech Room News.

Happy Shopping!!