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?

Monday, May 4, 2015

What's In Your Cart Linky Party {Teacher Appreciation 2015 Edition}

Hi friends!

I know I'm a little late to this party, but better late than never, right? I'm linking up with my friend j Jenna from Speech Room News to show you what's in my cart for the 2015 TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale!




The Sale starts Tuesday, May 5th, and ends Wednesday night at midnight. So get your carts ready...I know I am!

First, here are a few of my items that I recommend you take a gander at:


 My Year-Round Sequences Bundle includes 5 different sequence products: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Year-Round Sequence activities, bundled together at a discounted price!



My May Book Club Bundle includes 4 great books to get you through May, and even well into summer!

Ok, so here's a look at the items in my cart:


Jenna's Print-N-Go Preschool Summer Packet looks amazing. I can't wait to hand them out to my parents!


Who doesn't need Grammar activities? Jenn's Beach Grammer is going to fit in wonderfully with my Ocean theme for June!


I have several kiddos with Apraxia on my caseload right now, and finding materials for them isn't easy. So Kate's Apraxia Activity packet looks amazing!


Felice's Flip Books are adorable...And they'll be so easy to tote in and out of my daycares!


Since I work on WH Questions every day of my life, I've gotta have these adorable scenes from Kristin!


And finally, these Speaking and Writing Prompts from Nicole look incredible....and look like exactly what my students need!

What's in your cart? Is there something great I'm missing...let me know!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Verb Quest! {An App Review}

Hey Friends!

Have any wizard fans on your caseload? Smarty Ears has an app called Verb Quest that has a wizard-theme....it's perfect motivation for all my Potter fans! You can read my review of the app below. Disclaimer: Smarty Ears provided me with a copy of the app for review, but no other compensation was provided. The following opinions are all mine. :)




When you first enter the app, you'll need to add users. You can add players individually, or you can import already created players from the TRC (Therapy Report Center).


Under the settings tab, you can modify settings such as whether or not to display a hint, whether or not to increase levels, etc.


You can also select or deselect certain sentences from each level.


Once you add the players, you can adjust the activity level for each player based on their ability level. There are 20 different levels for the students to play!


You can select which levels each player will play. You can select more than one level at a time! You can also play with up to 5 students at a time, or you can play with an individual student alone.


The students are presented with a sentence prompt, and they choose the correct word to fill in the blank.



Once they correctly fill in the blank, they are asked if they want to repeat the sentence back and be recorded. You can record their voice, or you can skip this part and move on to the next prompt. (Hint: You can also disable the recording prompt-I do, because I don't have time for each kiddo to ask to record themselves after each turn!)


Once they have completed 10 correctly without hints, they can move on to the next level, or continuing practicing the same level.



Under Report Cards, you can view a student's awards, or check out their progress reports.


Students earn different wands for each level they master! My kiddos adore this!


You can view progress reports by session...


And by level! You can also share progress reports via email!

Overall, Verb Quest is another awesome app by Smarty Ears. Verbs are really important. SO important that I work on them every single day with almost every single student. Verb Quest breathed new life into our therapy sessions where we target verbs. It's fun, motivating, and educational. Who could ask for more?!?!

You can read more about Verb Quest HERE.

Verb Quest sells for $19.99 in the iTunes app store. You can see it HERE.

What are your thoughts on Verb Quest???


Monday, April 6, 2015

Phonological Awareness Lab {An App Review}

Happy Monday!

I'm back today with another great app from Smarty Ears! Disclaimer: Smarty Ears provided me with a copy of the app for review, but all opinions expressed below are solely mine. :)

The App of the Day is the Phonological Awareness Lab App!



When you enter the app. you can choose the Support tab to learn more about the app, view video tutorials, rate the app, and much more! Smarty Ears has a wonderful support team that are always willing to help!


When you select a scientist from the main menu, you can add or remove players. (You can also import players from the Therapy Report Center.) This is also where you go to select which players you wish to play the game. You can select up to 5 players to play at one time.


After you select your players, you can choose which activity you wish to play. There are 4 different types of games to choose from:


The Science Experiment activity has the students count out how many words are in the given sentence. The student taps the dropper for each word in the sentence. Then, they tap the beaker to "enter" their answer.


If their answer is correct, the beaker turns green. If their response is incorrect, the beaker turns red. I LOVE this game for my students who are learning to repeat sentences. This is a great pre-cursor to having them say the sentences because it teaches them to listen intently to every. single. word.


In the Decoding Room, students work on blending both sounds and syllables.


The students listen to the sounds or syllables and choose the picture that best matches the sounds or syllables they heard!


The Rhyming Compound has three different activities for the students to play:



In Rhyming Identification, the students are presented with 3 words and asked if the words rhyme or not.


In Rhyming Selection, the students are given a word and then asked to choose which of three words rhyme with the target.


In Rhyming Match, the students are asked to identify four words that rhyme.


Finally, in Syllable X-Ray, students are asked to tap the picture that has the same number of syllables as the number of dots shown on the left.



After you're finished playing, you can view your students data for each session in the Report Center. You can share this information with parents via email, or print to keep in the students' folders.

Overall, I use this app more than any other app in my app arsenal! I have SO many students working on phonological awareness, syllables, repeating sentences, etc. My kiddos love that it has a scientist theme as well!

You can read more about the Phonological Awareness Lab app HERE.

Phonological Awareness Lab sells in the iTunes store for $13.99. You can see it HERE

Do you use Phonological Awareness Lab in your therapy sessions? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Minimal Pairs Academy {An App Review}

Happy Wednesday, Friends!

If you're like me, you're counting down the weeks/days/hours til Spring Break! We can't wait to have a few extra days off, but we're still hard at work until then!

I currently have LOTS of little ones working on phonological processes. We've been using Smarty Ears' Minimal Pairs Academy app to target phonological process and speech errors for several weeks, and my patients are loving it! You can read my review of the Minimal Pairs Academic app below. Disclaimer: Smarty Ears provided me with a copy of the app to review, but no other compensation was provided. The opinions expressed below are all mine. :)

 

When you open the app, you can choose to enter the Report Cards door to see data or the Minimal Pairs Academy door to start working. You can also tweak the settings, add a new student, or contact Smarty Ears for support from this page.



Under the Settings tab, you can choose to display the word, display the written target, and select/deselect specific minimal pairs for each activity. I love this feature!


To add a new student, simply click "Add New Student" from the from page, and enter in their name, date of birth, grade, and any applicable notes. You can also add an avatar photo or a real photo of them if you choose!


After adding a student, you can choose the goals you want to target. There are 22 phonological processes to choose from. If you tap the phonological process once, it selects it as a goal. If you tap it twice, it labels it as 'mastered.' (This is a great way to keep track of how far the students have come!) You also choose how to target the goal here (through auditory bombardment, auditory discrimination, production, phrase completion, or you can choose all of them!) Once you've added your students, you can select up to four students to work at the same time.


Here's an example of Auditory Bombardment. The student touches the card that is named.



Here's an example of Auditory Discrimination. The student chooses which picture matches the picture that was named. 


This is an example of Production. The student says the word with the target sound. The therapist or the student can keep data for each production.


Here's an example of Phrase Completion. The student chooses which word fits into the sentence. Then, they can practice saying the entire phrase/sentence.


If the student chooses the incorrect card, they see "Try Again" across the screen!

 When you enter into the Report Card door, you can see the data for each student.This gives you information on the date, process targeted, session duration, accuracy, how many participants were in the group (I love this feature), the task type, and their number correct with and without cues.


You also have the option to see each process in a graph form. This. Is. Awesome!


Finally, you can see the statistics, which include the total number of sessions, the total number of minutes, processes worked on, and processes mastered!

You can email, print, or open the data in TRC (Therapy Report Center). This is a great way to communicate data with parents!

What I Love:

  • I love the different options for data presentation.
  • I love that the data includes how many students were in the group. This has been valuable in determining whether or not a student does better in a small group or alone. 
  • I love that there are so many phonological processes available to target
  • I love that the app uses the Cycles Approach (Evidence Based)
  • I love that there are auditory discrimination and bombardment options, especially for my really young patients
  • I love that I can take this with me to homes, day cares, clinics, or classrooms, and don't have to take countless piles of cards for every phonological process I need to target that day
What I'd like to see in a future update: 
  • I'd like to see an added reinforcement game or sticker page to keep the students motivated. This isn't a huge deal, but definitely something the kiddos look forward to. 
Minimal Pairs Academy sells in the iTunes store for $19.99. Click HERE to see it now!


Do you use the Minimal Pairs Academy app in your therapy room? How do your kiddos like it?