Friday, December 20, 2013

The Weekly Wrap-Up: Christmas, Sequencing, and M&Ms!

Hi Everyone!

I can't believe we're just a few days away from Christmas! This year has flown by! We were very busy at school this week. We used my Christmas TPT products to tackle all kinds of goals while enjoying holiday fun. And when it got hard to focus and we were feeling a little "grinchy," we took our Grinch Pills! Check out the pics below: 

We worked on sequencing this week with activities such as decorating Christmas trees, making snowmen, making hot chocolate, baking cookies, and making Smores. Since it's hard to carry around a Christmas tree for all my groups to decorate and since it's impossible to make a snowman in Florida (although some of the sandmen on the beach have been adorable!), we decorated a Christmas tree by coloring and made a snowman by putting together pre-made pieces. (That's why improv is important, people!)

We also read Turkey Claus, the sequel to Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano. The kids LOVED how the story had the same characters and continued their story!

We made a Venn Diagram to compare Turkey Trouble to Turkey Claus...the kids LOVED it!

Finally, when we were just so distracted or ornery, we took some "Grinch Pills" to cheer us up. Yay for M&Ms. :) Boo for weight gain. :(

Overall, it was a wonderful week-before-Christmas at school. We finished up the week with Pajama Day. The kids looked so adorable in their little Christmas pj's! What were you all up to this week?

Happy Christmas Break!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Story Grammar Marker App {An App Review}

Happy Friday!

Who's ready for the weekend?!?!?! THIS GIRL!

I'm so excited to review the Story Grammar Marker app for you today. As you all know, I'm a HUGE SGM fan. I use it with almost all of my therapy groups, and all of the companion packets I make for Teachers Pay Teachers are geared to work with SGM as well. I've said before that I've been so lucky to have taken every training on SGM that has been offered in my area. A common question at the trainings was always "Is there an app for this?" So when the SGM app came out, I was so excited!!! My friends at MindWing concepts provided me with a copy of the app for review, but no other compensation was provided.

Below are pictures of the app in use with the book Pierre the Penguin, by Jean Marzollo. This book works perfectly with SGM. You can see my companion packet here:

When you first open the app, you get this screen. It let's the students know that they are going to practice being a reporter and telling stories. I love the reference to the news. I tell my students that when reporters on TV tell a story, they have to tell the entire story in the correct order, or the listeners will be confused!

The next screen gives you options of what to do next. The pencil icon gets you started on your story. The paper icon takes you through a tutorial to learn the app. The character icon provides you with information about SGM and Mindwing concepts. And the microphone icon takes you to student profiles and saved stories.

When you click on the pencil icon to get started with your story, you are taken to a screen that looks like blank notebook paper with tabs on the bottom. Click on the Individual Story Icons tab, and you can choose which icon(s) to add to your paper.

From the story page, you can click an icon that looks like gears in the top right corner to change your settings. Add a security pin to the app to protect student information and work, decide whether you want the sound turned on or off, and read the intellectual property rights from the settings icon.

If you click on the Stages of Story Development tab at the bottom of the page, you will see all five developmental stages. I love that this reference is here on the app, so I don't have to have my SGM notebook or posters with me if I need to reference them. I also like how the necessary icons are highlighted for each stage of development. It also works as a great visual for your students to see where they are and where they need to be.

You can always record, play, and/or save your work by clicking the "Save" tab on the bottom right of the screen.
When you save a story, it will ask you the student's name. This makes finding stories students have told in the past very easy. Also, you can make an audio recording of the student's retell. I LOVE this feature. When you are analyzing a student's story retell for macro and micro structure, it is crucial to have a recording of their retell. Audio recordings are best so you can replay them until you are finished analyzing the data. I'm so happy this feature is included on the app so I don't have to record their retells on my cell phone anymore!

Here, you can see that the student "Whitney" told a story called "Breaking News" on 12/13/15. You can make up a new title to each story, or it shows the title "Breaking News." For the particular Pierre the Penguin story, my students loved the "Reporter" theme even more because Pierre the Penguin is based on a true story. After the students were finished reporting their stories, we pulled up actual news videos and newspaper articles on Pierre and compared and contrasted their audio recordings to those of real-live newspeople! 

Once you add an SGM icon to your story board, the icon moves until you click on it or add another icon. When you click on the icon, you are able to describe the icon with including pictures, drawings, and/or text. Here, we added a picture of a penguin and typed his name to describe the character of the story.

You can also import photos from your photo library. This is especially great for when you are doing a story retell as a follow-up activity to something the students did. For instance, a few weeks ago when my Pre-K students took a field trip to Publix and watched a cake being decorated, we took pictures of each step and imported those exact pictures into the app to sequence the steps of cake decorating!

Here, a student is working on her character description for Pierre.

Here, a student is working on illustrating the kick-off.

This is our final story braid for Pierre the Penguin:

Main Character: Pierre the Penguin
Setting: The California Academy of Sciences Museum in California
Initiating Event/Kickoff-Pierre lost his feathers and was too cold to swim.
Internal Response/Feelings: Pierre was cold, and he was sad and scared because the other penguins brayed at him.
Plan: Pam the aquatic biologist wanted to help keep Pierre warm.
Action Bead/Attempt One: First, she tried a heater.
Action Bead/Attempt Two: Second, the vet prescribed pills.
Action Bead/Attempt Three: Last, Pam made Pierre a wetsuit.
Direct Consequence/Tie-Up: Pierre was warm and began to swim again. His feathers eventually grew back.
Resolution: Pierre was warm and so happy that he built a nest with his best friend!

Final Thoughts:
As an SLP, we are never in the same place for very long. I see students all over the school and private kids all over the county. I am forever packing backs and lugging materials everywhere. (See my previous post on The Crazy Bag Lady!). The iPad has made a huge difference in how many materials I have to haul around. Not to mention that the students love anything technological! While I always use Braidy and/or the story braids to introduce SGM, the SGM app has become an invaluable tool when working on story retell. If you're using SGM and don't have the app, it's definitely one to add to your wish list. It currently sells in the iTunes app store for $19.99 and it's worth every penny!

Have you used the SGM app yet? What did you think? How are you using it?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Crazy Bag Lady

Have you ever heard the reference to wearing many different hats? Well if you're an SLP like me, I'm a woman of many different bags! I change directions so many times a day, and inevitably, I grab a different bag just about each time! I'm always being asked how I juggle everything. The answer is a massive amount of organization (and a little bit of OCD.) So I thought I'd let you guys see my daily schedule by showing you my different bags! (And for my family, this is an explanation of why I ask for new bags every year for Christmas!)

My day starts at 5:00 am, but all of my bags are packed the night before. I wake up, jump in the shower, feed the baby, put the baby back to sleep, dry my hair while checking my social media accounts, get dressed, grab all my bags, and am out the door by 6:15 (6:30 here lately.) Before I leave, I put the milk bag and diaper bag on the table for my husband, who takes the baby to our wonderful sitter (the grandmother!) All the other bags go with me.

  The milk bag is packed the night before and stays in the fridge. It houses pre-made bottles and a container of extra milk. Also has a frozen cold pack thingy.

 Halle Jane's diaper bag also gets re-stocked each night. I try to keep it ready to go so my husband only has to grab it and go. (Some days it still gets forgotten!) It always has diapers, wipes, diaper cream, extra clothes, bibs, pacis, teething toys, socks, and burp cloths. Babies need a lot of stuff. 

  Can't leave home without my purse. I love this bag (Charming Charlie's), but I regularly refer to it as the "black hole." There are things that have gone in that just do not ever come out. They are seen one minute, and never heard from again the next. But, it mostly houses my wallet, my checkbook, my husband's checkbook, my make-up bag (see below), a brush, Tylenol, band-aids, my coupon bag (see below), my sun glass case, about 3 hair-clips, around 42 paperclips, approximately 11 pens, and chapstick.

 Ok, so I try to never leave home without the makeup already on. But let's face it. I have a 3 month old. I'm sleep-deprived. I'm lucky if I leave home with my clothes on. Whether or not I already have makeup on, I rarely leave home without the makeup bag. You never know when you need to freshen up, or when you'll get peas thrown at your face during feeding therapy. It includes powder, blush, foundation (which I never wear), q-tips, lipstick, eye shadow, eye liner, mascara, an eyebrow pencil, and chapstick. (Are you seeing a pattern here???)

 Next up is the laptop bag. This is by far the most important, the heaviest, and the most jam-packed of all my bags. It is inevitably the reason for my daily back-aches. It contains my laptop, charging cord, iPad, iPad charger, a bunch of computer manuals and cds I never took out, my planner, several pens, even more paperclips, student folders for evals I bring home to write but rarely do, and 5-15 books for started-but- unfinished TPT products.

 This is the lunch bag. I always pack this the night before, although I'm not sure why. I rarely eat my lunch during the school day. I'm so busy that I mostly eat in the car at 2:35 on the way to pick up the little one. It includes a coke zero, water bottle, sandwich or leftovers from the night before, a breakfast bar or oatmeal pack, some kind of fruit cup, and a bite-sized piece of chocolate.

Next up is the coupon bag. This is normally housed in either my purse or the floorboard of my car. I started couponing a few years ago, and I really enjoy it. It's like a puzzle or challenge for me to pay as little as possible for something. It's a mathematical exercise for me and less money and a full pantry for my husband. I spend about 3 hours a week on coupons, and I never go into a store without the coupon bag. 

 I get to school around 6:45. Teachers have to be there at 7:05, and we leave at 2:35. This is my school therapy bag. I see some kids in my room, and others I see in various crevices around the school. (By the time I get 5 kindergarten kids all the way across the school to my room, half of the session is up.) I throw my books, games, activities, stickers, and treasure box items into this bag at the beginning of the day, and I unpack it every afternoon.

I leave school at 2:35 and one day a week, I head to see private clients. For my private kids, I take stuff from school as well as from home. I pack this bag during the day on the day-of, and unpack it when I get back to school the next day. This week, we're talking about farm animals. It includes pig, horse, cow, and sheep stuffed animals, 5 farm books, a few TPT products, and my iPad for animal sounds.

On the day I have private therapy, my husband picks baby up and brings her home around 6:00. I spend two hours with her and then she's off to bed. This is why I only see private kids one day a week. On non-private therapy days, I get to grandma's about 3:15, visit for a minute, and get home around 4:00. I walk the dogs, and the baby watches the daily Sesame Street episode while I iron my clothes for the next day, cook dinner, pick up the house, wash bottles, make formula, feed the dogs, make my lunch for the next day, and pack my bags. Then I bathe baby and dress her for bed. Husband comes home and we eat dinner and play with the baby. Then she has her bottle and is normally asleep by 7:30-8:00.

After baby is asleep, I wash more bottles, clean the kitchen, walk the dogs again, watch an episode of something with the husband while checking email and then get myself ready for bed. I then spend about two hours blogging, making TPT materials, and/or social media marketing (which I try to keep some kind of grasp on throughout the day). Then, absolutely exhausted, I fall asleep around 10:30-11:00.

Baby wakes up around 3:00 am to eat, and then I'm back asleep until 5:00, when the new day begins. And this doesn't even include incidentals, like getting my car serviced. Since about every moment of every work day is planned out, you can imagine how much I do not like hiccups or schedule changes!

Gosh. I just got tired writing all of that. And it's 11:00 pm. Right on schedule.

Good night, friends!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Weekly Wrap-up: Thanksgiving History and the Great American Teach-In!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We spent the week in GA, and it was sooo hard to leave! I've been so busy this past week updating some older items in my TPT store and adding new items in preparation for the big Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale. Because of that, I never got around to posting my weekly wrap-up for the week before Thanksgiving break, so here it is!

  We used my Pilgrim game as quick reinforcement!

 I had my students work on comparing and contrasting Pilgrims and Native Americans. They had so much fun and learned a lot too!

 We worked on perspective taking and writing with my History of Thanksgiving packet. The students had to imagine what it would be like to be a Pilgrim or a Native American seeing each other for the first time!

 Thursday was the Great American Teach In! In addition to tons of great speakers, the police department landed a helicopter in our PE field! The students were able to ask questions to the pilots, and see it take off again as well!

Finally, I found a little time to start decorating my classroom for Christmas. 
I still have lots to do, but I love bringing out new holiday books!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!