Monday, August 17, 2015

Back to School with Student Folders!

Hi Friends!

I cannot believe we're back to school and halfway through August already! Time is flying by so fast...my own little one just started 2 year old church preschool!

For the past year since we moved back home to GA, I've been working at an inpatient/outpatient hospital. While I loved working there and sharpening my skills in the areas of adults and swallowing, I really, really, really missed the schools. So when the opportunity to go back in the local school system where I was raised came up, I jumped on it! I'm now in an elementary school for Pre-K through 5th grade, and much of my caseload is once again Autism. I'm so, so excited to be back where I know I belong!

Anyway, with the schools comes student folders and data sheets. A few years ago when I was in the schools, I created some new sheets for student folders to help me get to know them better, help them identify their speech and language goals, and help them progress monitor their own goals. (Plus, this looks really good to administrators conducting your evaluations, hint hint!) Here are a few examples below:


I send this one home for the parents to fill out. It's a great way to open communication with the parents and show them how you're interested in their child!


Every single child should know why they come to speech and what they work on. Whether it is answering questions, a specific articulation sound, social skills, etc. For my kiddos who can write, this is what they use so they are reminded of why they come to speech. We always need to keep the goals in mind, so they can take ownership in their learning! There's nothing worse than an administrator asking a student what they are working on in speech, and the student answering "Candy Land!" (At the very least, they should say "We're using Candy Land to motivate me to practice my /l/!"


Speaking of ownership, the kids also need to be able to keep track of their own data. They need to be able to tell whether they got a sound correct or incorrect and always be working to improve their accuracy. On this sheet, I give each student a marker, and we color up to the percentage they got correct that day. They love to see the graph go up, and hate for it to go down! (Yes, I even make my Kindergartners do this, with some help!)

You can download a copy of the worksheets I made for my student folders in my TPT store by clicking the link below. Enjoy, and have an awesome school year!



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to Pray for SLPs (and other educational providers)

Hey Yall!

For many of us, the 2015-2016 school year has begun. For me, this means I'm back as a "speech teacher" in a public elementary school, and it also means my almost 2-year old has begun pre-school at the church.

I have to admit, I was more emotional that I would have guessed about my baby girl being old enough to go to pre-school. Much of it was the thought that she is growing up. And growing up fast. But if I'm being honest, a lot of it was fear. I've been blessed to have family keep her during the day the last two years. So other than an occasional babysitter (who has always been a close friend of the family), this is the first time I've ever had to send my baby girl off to be influenced by someone who isn't family. And let me tell you: it's scary. I've often said "I never knew fear until I became a parent," and it's true! Even in a church environment, where I know the other children, know the teacher, and know the curriculum, the thought of my child being influenced by the words, attitudes, body language, actions, and beliefs of someone is definitely a scary thought. But thankfully, the Word reminds us that we don't have to live in fear. We don't have to worry. We don't have to walk this life alone. Instead, we are to cast our cares on the Lord. We are to make our worries and requests known. And then, we are to trust.

I always make a point to pray for teachers (myself included) at the beginning of school each year. But this year, as a parent, I'm committing to praying daily for my daughter's teacher and for all the other teachers around me. In doing this, I jotted down the different areas I need to pray about for myself, as well as my other SLP friends. I'm sure you'll see that most (if not all) of these areas of prayer will work for all other educational providers as well!



1. Pray for Our Protection: In today's fallen world, we hear stories far too often about violence in schools. Pray every day that teachers and other school personnel will have a hedge of protection surrounding them each and every day.

2. Pray for Our Energy: Despite everyone believing school personnel has it easy by getting off early each day and having summer's off, they don't. Teaching is hard work. Working with children and completing mounds of paperwork each week is hard work. There are days where energy is scarce. Pray the Lord will breathe new life into teachers when their energy is low.

3. Pray for Our Patience: Patience is a virtue. And when you've heard your name 42 times, gotten a new task every time you've checked your email that day, and can't get a child to make just one correct /r/ production, patience is hard to come by. Pray for patience to flow abundantly around the school, between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, and students and students!

4. Pray for Our Caseloads: Every child on an educator's caseload is important. Every. Single. One. And not every child is from the perfect background. Not every child learns easily. Not every child has food to eat. Pray for the children in the schools. Pray their needs will be both recognized and met.

5. Pray for Our Compassion: When you're exhausted, annoyed, angry, or frustrated, sometimes compassion is hard to muster up. When the child in your classroom is pushing your buttons, pray for compassion. When another teacher is hard to work with, pray for compassion. When a parent isn't doing what you want them to do, pray for compassion.

6. Pray for Our Wisdom: Everything in education is not black and white. There is not a process in place for everything. There will be things that happen that we don't always have an answer for. In these times, pray for wisdom that can only come from HIM. Pray He will lead and guide you down the correct path. Always.

7. Pray for Our Unconditional Love: Let's face it. Some people are easier to love than others. Some children are easier to love than others. In these situations, pray God will show you how He loves. Pray for God to give you the love for His children that He has for them. Pray He will show you the way.

8. Pray for Our Creativity: The amount of creativity needed each day for our jobs is astronomical. There are days where the creativity flows. There are other days when it runs dry. In the moments when you are frustrated and feel inadequate, remember God gifted you with qualities He wanted you to have. He gave you the ability. Pray He strengthens your spiritual gifts during these times.

9. Pray for Our Curriculum: In this day and time, there are somethings things we are asked to teach, or things we are told NOT to teach, that go directly against our faith. In these situations, pray He will provide a way for us to stand firm in our beliefs and share His message anyway. Pray that we will not conform to the world, but to always be a light for HIM.

10. Pray for Our Families: While educators are at school teaching, or at home planning, or at school decorating over the summer, or on the phone with parents at night, they still have spouses and children of their own. Sometimes, it is difficult to pour all of your soul into your students at school and find the energy at home to give your family your best as well. Pray for understanding from family members. But also pray that educators will understand the need for balance, and that they will strive to give their families their best, just like they do for each and every student that they will also come to love as their own.

If you need reminders like me, I made a quick downloadable FREEBIE with these 10 areas to pray for, as well as corresponding bible verses for each one. You can find it here:







Will you join me in praying daily for our school staff, ourselves included?

In Him,




Yes No Barn {An App Review}

Happy Tuesday, Friends!


I'm back today with another app review from my peeps over at Smarty Ears! This is by far one of the most used apps on my iPad right now: Yes/No Barn!



When you first open the app, you can add players by clicking "Add New". You can select up to 5 players at a time to play the game! You can also import students from TRC if you already have them added.



From the home screen, you can also change the settings. You can choose which types of questions are asked, whether or not to display the text, audio feedback, languages, and more!


Once you have selected your players and begin the game, yes/no questions are given. The student simply needs to choose "no" or "yes" to the question.


If the student answers correctly, they can receive both auditory and visual reinforcement! If they choose an incorrect response, they will be prompted to try again.


When you're finished with the game, simply click "Done" in the upper right corner. You can then choose which student's report card you'd like to see.


If you'd like to share the student's report card, you can! All you have to do is prove you're a teacher and not a student by answering a simple math problem. (I love this safety net!)


Once you've proven you are who you say you are, you can choose whether you want to email, print or open the report card in another program.

A few notes: I love the simplicity of this app. I have so many students with Autism working on answering questions with an answer instead of repeating the question. I love that this app provides a visual for the students to use to choose an answer. I also love that you can practice vocabulary with the app as well. (Is this a chair? NO. What is it? IT'S A BABY."


Yes/No Barn is available in iTunes for $5.99. It's definitely worth it! You can find it at the link below:


Do you use Yes/No Barn? What do you think?



Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dog Collar Rhyming...a Forever Freebie!

Happy Monday, Friends!

It was a super busy crazy weekend for us, so I got very little therapy planning done! When these weekends happen, I'm so thankful I have go-to therapy activities already prepped and ready to pull out of my arsenal at the last minute.

Anyway, I happened upon an oldie-but-goodie freebie this past week that I used for the first time with many of my kiddos....and it was a big hit! I currently have tons of kids working on phonological awareness and rhyming, and who doesn't love dogs? So this was perfect for them. For some kids, we played a game with the game board and penalty cards. For others, I used the cards as flash cards. And for some kids, I turned the cards over, and we played a matching game.



You can download Dog Collar Rhyming from my TPT Store below. If you do, please remember to leave some feedback love!








This set also goes great with my "In the Doghouse" Social Scenarios Packet. You can find it below: 



Hope you enjoy!




Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Summer-Time Sing-a-Long....Speech-Style!

Hi Friends!

While many of you are just beginning your summer vacations, I'm still planning for the weeks of summer therapy at the outpatient hospital clinic where I work. Here in South GA, it's hot. Really hot. I want to be outside (in the pool) enjoying summer, and so do the kids. They've just finished school, and just about the last place they want to be is inside doing speech therapy drills. So I'm having to be creative with my therapy to keep them excited and engaged. For the month of June, we're doing everything beach-themed. (More on those activities coming to the blog soon). For many of my younger kiddos though, I use lots of toys and lots of music. Lots and lots of music. In keeping with the summer theme, I thought I'd show you several of my favorites right now to elicit all kinds of speech and language while celebrating summer! Click on the pictures below to see the Youtube song...and while you'e there, you may want to subscribe to several of these channels....they're awesome!




  • Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun-Performed by Barney & Friends

  • 5 Little Ducks-Performed by Little Baby Bum

  • How's the Weather-by Super Simple Songs

  • Ice Cream Song-by Little Baby Bum

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive-Performed by Little Baby Bum

  • Great Big Ocean, by GiggleBellies

  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game-Performed by Mother Goose Club

  • 5 Little Speckled Frogs-Performed by

  • Under the Sea (Sing-A-Long Version) by Disney

  • Frozen in Summer-by Disney



Do you have any other songs you love to sing in Summer? I'd love to hear!




Monday, June 8, 2015

Speech Buddies {A Product Review}

Hi Peeps!

I hope your week is off to a great start! I'm here today with a new product review: Speech Buddies!

Over the past few years, the Speech Buddies company has made quite a splash into the World of Speech Pathology. Though I had heard many different thoughts and opinions, I had not tried the product out for myself. I'm currently working at an inpatient/outpatient hospital, and I had several kiddos on my caseload who were real zingers in artic therapy. It seemed I had tried just about everything, and I was willing to give just about anything a go! One of the kiddos, a 3rd grade "r" student, had been in speech at school and had been coming to the clinic for quite some time, with little progress. His mom had heard about Speech Buddies and asked my opinion. I don't like to give an opinion on something I haven't experienced for myself, so I told her I'd give them a try.

Disclaimer: Speech Buddies provided me with a Speech Buddies toolkit; however, no other compensation was provided. The following opinions are all mine. 

When my Speech Buddies kit came in the mail, I have to admit, I liked the way they were packaged. I spend a large portion of my day traveling around to different day cares. This means I have to take what I need with me, and hauling things that are big and bulky is just not my style. I really appreciated the small, sturdy case the Speech Buddies are housed in and the box they are packaged in. Definitely a plus for me.






When I agreed to review the product, I mentioned that I needed time to do my research. I didn't want to rush a review, but rather wanted to take my time to try them on a variety of students. For the past 5 months, I've been using the Speech Buddies on 6 different patients. One patient for /sh/, one for /s/, one for /ch/, one for /l/, and two patients for /r/ (disinfected in between, of course!)

This is what I've found:

Patient #1: A 7 y/o male working on /s/. Initial examination revealed patient had a frontal lisp on /s/ in all positions, including blends. After 9 weeks of using the /s/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient had corrected all /s/ errors at the connected speech level, and was discharged from speech therapy.

Patient #2: A 8 y/o male working on /sh/. Initial examination revealed patient produced /s/ for /sh/ and was at the time, not stimulable for correct /sh/ production in isolation. After 12 weeks of using the /sh/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient had corrected all /sh/ errors at the sentence level, and is now working on carrying over correct placement into conversation (with minimal errors at this time).

Patient #3: A 6 y/o male working on /ch/. Initial examination revealed patient had a lateralized /ch/ sound, which sounded extremely "slushy." Parent reported patient lateralized /sh/ and /s/ previously, but had corrected those sounds in a previous speech therapy environment. After 10 weeks of using the /ch/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient is able to correctly produce /ch/ at the word level with 70% accuracy.

Patient #4: A 5 y/o female working on /l/. Initial examination revealed patient produced /w/ for /l/ and was not stimulable for /l/ in isolation. After 3 weeks of using the /l/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient was able to produce /l/ in all positions of words. She is currently working on /l/ at the sentence level with 75% accuracy.

Patient #5: A 9 y/o male working on /r/. Initial evaluation revealed patient was not stimulable for a correct production of /r/ in any position, including vocalic /r/ sounds. This patient had previously been taught the retroflexed /r/ approach in speech therapy in school, although it did not sound or look "natural." After 12 weeks of using the /r/ Speech Buddy for placement, the patient continues to have "groping" tongue movements that do not look or sound natural for /r/. This is the case with or without the Speech Buddy. I am currently now teaching the Bunched /r/ production, which is also proving to be difficult with this tricky little guy!


Patient #6: A 7 y/o female working on /r/. Initial evaluation revealed incorrect production in all positions. Patient was stimulable for correct production with vocalic /er/ and /ar/. After 16 weeks using the /r/ Speech Buddy for placement practice, the patient is now producing /r/ correctly in all positions of words, including r-blends and all vocalic /r/ sounds, at the phrase and short sentence level with 75% accuracy.

Overall Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • The Speech Buddies are well-packaged and easy to tote along wherever you go.
  • Many kiddos respond well to a tactile cue for artic placement. 
  • The Speech Buddies are perceived as "cool" to kids, and seemed to make them more interested in placement practice of their sounds. 
  • The instruction guide has good directions and pictures to show how to position the speech buddies. 
  • The online videos are helpful for making sure you get the correct placement. 
  • Speech Buddies can be used along with the iPad apps I use regularly for artic drills, such as Articulation Station Pro, from Little Bee Speech. (This means there is very little to carry around to different clients). 
Cons: 

  • Speech Buddies are expensive, especially when you're living on an SLP  budget. Most SLPs don't get money from their schools or job sites, and if they do, it's minimal. Also, many of the parents of my clients just simply would not be able to afford them. 
  • Speech Buddies must be thoroughly cleaned in between each client. Although having a Speech Buddy for each client would be ideal, this is simply not possible due to the cost. 
  • Speech Buddies are not an instant, "quick fix" for most clients. 

Some final notes:

My experience with Speech Buddies is just that: my experience. Based on everything I've read and others I've talked to, there are a lot of different experiences and opinions out there. They work great for some clients and not so great for others. Where I found them most helpful was in teaching the proper placement for clients who were not already stimulable for the sound in isolation. They served as a tactile cue and provided a little more detail than a simple tongue depressor.

I was very careful to use them and remove them often so my clients did not become too reliant on them for correct production. (We practiced 10 words with them, and then 10 words without them).

Finally, Speech Buddies are NOT a replacement for traditional speech therapy with a certified SLP, and should never be considered as such. As a trained SLP, I sat with my clients to ensure the correct placement and monitored their productions. I would not feel comfortable with any of my patients using Speech Buddies at home for the first time without the help on an SLP. Having said that, I am always looking for ways to encourage parent involvement and practice at home, so if a client is interested in purchasing Speech Buddies for home, they are willing to let me (or another certified SLP) assist in getting started, and they are continuing to consult with an SLP for guidance, I'm all for it!

If you're interested in purchasing your own Speech Buddy tools or learning more about their products, you can check out their website HERE.

Do you have any experience with Speech Buddies? What has your experience been?



Thursday, May 14, 2015

RtI/MTSS/SBLT/ESE....OMG!

Hi Peeps!

Happy Speech & Hearing Month! I'm loving all the extra-special "speechie" activities going on this month in celebration of the profession we all love. So I was extra excited when Jen from Speech Language Literacy Lab put together a blog hop about RtI!

As many of you know, last June I transitioned from years in the school system into an inpatient/outpatient hospital back in my home town. As you can imagine, there are some MAJOR differences in the schools and hospitals, but I'm so thankful for my background as an SLP in the schools with my current job, because it helps me communicate with my patients' SLPs in the schools. Many of them are going through RtI now, and many more I am referring to the county RtI team as 3 year olds, who are getting ready to start in the public school system. I'm thankful of my background knowledge with schools, IEPs, and RtI, because it enables better communication between me and the school therapists, and helps me walk the parents through the process on our end as well. 

Anyway, I wrote the following post a few years back when I was working in the schools...and even though I'm now in the hospital, most of it still applies! I still use the same materials to work with my kiddos each week! Enjoy :)

How many of you are dealing with RtI (Response to Intervention) as part of your jobs? Well if you haven’t heard, RtI is now being referred to as MTSS (Multi-Tiered Support System), because, you know, once we learn an acronym, the natural thing to do is change it! Believe it or not, SBLT is not a tasty sandwich!  SBLT stands for School-Based Leadership Team, which is just what we call my school team that gets together to discuss school data and those struggling students requiring help from the intervention (RtI/MTSS) team.  I’m sure your school has a different name for this team.  

Anyway, since it looks like RtI/MTSS is here to stay and is becoming a large part of our SLP responsibilities, I thought I’d do a post on information on RtI/MTSS from my point of view! I realize that every state, and every county, and many times every school is different in how they go about RtI. This has been part of the problem in implementing it. In my particular county, they have realized the inconsistency and are working to develop a more consistent protocol.  A small group of SLPs, me included, developed an RtI Workgroup.  We meet once a month or so to work on a system for SLPs to help implement RtI.  Through our research, we learned that many teachers did not understand the role of the SLP.  If they don’t know what we do, they don’t request our help.  Because of this, we developed a PowerPoint to share during a staff meeting to explain what we do and how we can help. 

We also discovered that many classroom teachers are asked to implement interventions for students, many of which are language-based interventions, but they don’t know where to begin.  They know their student has delays, but they aren’t sure what intervention(s) to put in place.  This is where the SLP comes in!  In my particular school, I am part of the SBLT (School-Based Leadership Team) where we discuss struggling students and their needs.  We discuss when to begin the RtI process and if there is a need for the SLP to be involved in the process as a consultant.  Before we as SLPs got involved in the SBLT, we would all of a sudden receive consent to evaluate a student that we had never heard of before.  Even worse, we would hear about a student who was in Tier 3 of RtI and was not making any progress.  It was then that we decided that the SLPs might could (and should) help.  Now, when a struggling student is brought before the SBLT, we make sure to rule out any language difficulties when we first initiate RtI.  If there are no language concerns, we back out of that case.  If there are language concerns, we address these in the interventions and make suggestions for possible interventions to use.  Most of all, we make sure to let the teachers know that we are here to help them if they need help.  We don’t actually implement the interventions ourselves, but we show them where to turn.

Now might be a good time to make a couple of acknowledgements.  First, I acknowledge that being involved with these kids who are not “technically” on our caseloads means more work for the SLP. However, what it comes down to is that it is best for the kids. Second, I acknowledge that there are some SLPs out there who are doing a whole lot more than simply suggesting language-based interventions.  In GA where I’m from, the SLPs are actually seeing the kids in RtI and implementing their interventions along with kids on their caseloads. Thus, they are seeing the kids as if they are on their caseloads, but not being allowed to count them in their numbers. I am also sure that there are other SLPs out there who are doing other things that are not necessarily “in their job descriptions.”  However, this is what we do. We wear many hats.   We do what is best for our kids.  We may not be able to do everything, but we do everything we can. Whatever your role in RtI may be, I encourage you to get involved in helping suggest language-based interventions for your classroom teachers.  Another very important part of what our RtI Workgroup is working on is a book of interventions (and progress monitoring tools) to give our SLPs for the different strands of language.  This way, when a student is struggling with, say, syntax, they can flip to the syntax section and have at their fingertips an array of interventions and progress monitoring templates to give to the teachers.  It is crucial that the classroom teachers know we are there to be team players and assist them when we can.

In conclusion, I wanted to suggest a few interventions we have been using with students going though RtI/MTSS:
1. Story Grammar Marker by Mindwing Concepts, Inc. (See my previous blog posts on my love for SGM!) (Picture from mindwingconcepts.com)



2.       Bridge to Vocabulary by Judy Montgomery-a personal favorite of mine. Very easy to create progress-monitoring templates for. (picture from Amazon.com)


 

3.       RtI In Action by Roth, Paul, Adamczyk, & Dougherty (picture from Amazon.com)





4.       FCRR-Florida Center for Reading Research(picture from fcrr.org)



5.       Language Lab by Wiechmann, Rudebusch, & Kuhles  and sold by Super Duper Publications (Picture from superduperinc.com)

 

I am very interested in hearing from you on this issue.  How are you involved with the RtI/MTSS process in your school? What questions do you have about RtI/MTSS? Do you have any interventions that you have found have really worked?