Friday, June 28, 2013

Guest Post: Five Things I Wish I'd Known as a New SLP {by Katie of Let's Grow Speech}

Our final guest post of the week was written by Katie Pedersen.  Katie is a full-time mommy, part-time school speech-language pathologist. She has spent most of her time at the secondary school level, and currently works as her district’s assistive technology specialist. She loves living in a beautiful little valley amid the mountains of Utah with her husband and three children, and going on outings with her family. Her newest adventure is sharing her passion for speech-language development with parents and other SLPs on her website, Let’s Grow Speech.  You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

I’m so excited to be joining Carrie for her Blog Birthday! She is a party animal with all of her giveaways this week. It’s so much fun being an SLP. We all remember what it was like to be a newbie, though, trying to figure out the ropes of our profession. There is definitely a learning curve, and I think every SLP would agree that he/she is still learning. For all of you recent graduates, clinical fellows, and maybe even some experienced SLPs, here are the top 5 things I wish I had known as a new SLP: 

1.  Use visuals and other multi-sensory approaches
One of the best things I learned as a new SLP was the importance of using visual supports and other multi-sensory approaches in therapy. Visuals are an excellent way to support learning. Concepts stick with students better when they are paired with a visual, tactile, or auditory cue. I recently shared one of my favorite visual supports for scaffolding narrative interventions. I also use visuals to encourage articulation skills with my sound association cards.

For my students with autism, I encourage the use of visual schedules and reinforcers to provide structure and foster independence. I have even implemented some of these strategies with my preschool daughter to help with her morning routine and managing iPad time. My poor kiddos always have their mom using therapy techniques on them at home :)

2. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
You are surrounded by experienced professionals. Use them as a resource. One of my best mentors was a special education language arts teacher. I used a push-in model during her resource English class. We had a room full of unmotivated high schoolers who were supposed to be reading novels and writing essays, but who would’ve rather been playing video games or sleeping on their desks. I learned so much as I watched this teacher carefully select literature that would appeal to this group and scaffold writing assignments so they didn’t even realize they were writing  5-paragraph essays until they were done. After I had done a vocabulary or narrative activity with the class, I would return for my next session to find her reinforcing the concepts I had taught earlier in the week. It was brilliant! Some teachers are more willing to work with you than others, but don’t be afraid to suggest a more collaborative approach to therapy. I know it is not always feasible or best to use this type of push-in model, but there is always something to learn and to be learned between professionals. Many teachers just don’t understand what we do in our closet space and this is our chance to show them.

3.  Take meaningful data
Ah, data. I still don’t think I am a pro at this, but I have definitely learned a few things along the way. For my first few years, I frequently switched my approach to keeping data. Some worked better than others, but none of them were super efficient. I would spend hours transferring plus and minus signs from piles of sticky notes to therapy logs, and then when it was time for progress reports, I spent hours transferring information from therapy logs into progress reports. Luckily I had all the time in the world to stay at work until 6pm every night! I most recently discovered an organized, visual way to monitor progress using Excel spreadsheets, but then my coworker shared an awesome datatracker app she downloaded from Super Duper that essentially does the same thing with even less paperwork! It is $1.99 and well worth every cent. She is even able to email progress to parents as needed.

So when should you take data? I also struggled with this one. I like to approach therapy sessions with the “I do, we do, you do” model. First, I teach and model the target concept. Then, we practice the concept together. Finally, I have the student demonstrate his proficiency with the concept. This is when I take data.  

4.  Make sure the student knows the goal for each therapy session.
Give the what and the why at the beginning of each session. Identify your goal for the session and give the student a reason to accomplish it. Will it help him to communicate better with his friends? Will it help him to write an A+ book report that he can be proud of?  When the student is struggling with motivation, you can remind him why you are doing what you doing. Too often I would go through therapy without giving my students a reason to care.

5.  Have fun and be creative
One reason I love being a speech-language pathologist is because I can get away with doing silly, unexpected things. I can guarantee that you will have your student’s full attention if you show up dressed as a Dumbledore for your Harry Potter unit (yes, I actually did this) or be sitting under the table when they show up for their social skills group. Use technology if you have it. Teachers Pay Teachers is a goldmine for motivating activities to use in therapy. Let your students know that you are enjoying therapy and they will enjoy it too!

So… what do you wish you’d known as a new SLP? 


Thank you, thank you, Katie!  This is great information for new (and even experienced) SLPs! I know I'm continually striving for a better/more efficient means of data collection!  Katie also donated one of her Let's Grow Articulation books for my BIG giveaway!  You will definitely want to check out these amazing resources!

Book of the Week: Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark (updated)

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links to for your convenience.

Right around this time last year, I posted about one of my favorite books to use in speech/language therapy sessions - "The Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark" by Ken Geist and Julia Gorton.

If you missed it, I created a quick open ended reinforcement game that can be used with any target...

...Click HERE to be taken to last year's post so you can download this FREE updated activity!

This year in some of my groups, we used the fish from my Feed the Penguin Bilabial Sounds freebie, but this time, we fed the fish to the shark!

Boy was that a hit!  I think the kids liked feeding the shark WAY more than they liked feeding the penguin!  (Watch out for those fingers!!!).  You can find the shark printable at Making Learning Fun.  I printed on gray construction paper, cut out the mouth, and attached to a tissue box.  I also attached a staple to the fish tails so the kids could go fishing for their words.

You can see the staple here...I deleted the original picture :(

This book never gets old for me or my students!  Do you use this book too?  What are your favorite activities to accompany the book?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Facebook Giveaways Night 4 Recap

The fourth night of Photo Trivia is OVER!  I hope you had fun tonight (I know I did)!  In case you missed it...

#1.  For a copy of Practicing Pragmatics:  Table Manners Social Skills Game & Activities by Twin Sisters Speech and Language Therapy, what in the world is this???

The correct answer is The Logan ProxTalker!  Congratulations to Jayne W. for getting it right!

#2.  For a copy of Sailing Through Summer by Teach Speech 365, what game is this from?

Yup, that's a lid from "Lids 'n Lizards!"  Kudos to Sue B. for getting this one right!

#3.  Last, for a copy of it, name this app...

Lorraine T. knew that this screenshot was from Question Builder by Mobile Education Store!

#4.  For your choice of products from my TPT store, what product is this from?

This is from the title page of "Summer Themed Preschool Speech & Language Pack."  Congrats to Lorraine T!

I hope you guys are having fun with these contests!  :)  Congratulations to the winners!

***These giveaways already happened and winners were announced. Please do not enter here on the blog***

App Review: Prepositions Journey

This year I have had a TON of kids who are working on prepositions.  Waaayy more than usual and I'm not sure why.  With that being the case, I wish this app had been released sooner!  

Prepositions Journey is the latest app by Virtual Speech Center.  This app was designed by a certified speech and language pathologist and targets comprehension and use of early/common prepositions in a fun, motivating way.

Getting Started:

From the menu screen, you can tap the "Info" button to review a description of Prepositions Journey.  From this tab you can also view more apps by Virtual Speech Center, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up to receive newsletters via email.

You can choose/adjust your settings by tapping "Settings."  Settings include:  Enable Audio, User Alternate Count, Automatic Paging, Random Paging, and Correct/Incorrect Sound.

Once your settings are configured and you are ready to begin, tap the "Start" icon to add/select students.

For each student, you will select target(s).  The app will remember your selections the next time you play, but you can easily change them if you need to modify.  You can also select from three different settings/categories:  Lake Camping, Island, and City.

The prepositions targeted in this app (receptive and expressive) include:

  • Above
  • Behind
  • Below
  • Beside
  • Between
  • Far
  • In
  • In front
  • In the back
  • In the middle
  • Near
  • Next to
  • On
  • On the left
  • On the right
  • On the side
  • Out
  • Outside
  • Over
  • Under

You can choose any/all of the prepositions above to work on receptive understanding.  For receptive tasks, students will hear a description and have to touch the correct illustration.  Here are some sample of receptive targets:

"Show me the rabbit below the hammock."

Scene from "Lake Camping"
"Show me the fox above the umbrella."

Scene from "Island"

"Show me the squirrel between the stop signs."

Scene from "City"
*Receptive targets will automatically tally correct/incorrect responses!

*Notice the "Record" and "Play" buttons?  You can easily make receptive identification of prepositions an expressive activity as well by having students describe the correct and/or incorrect responses.  You can record the child's responses and play back to monitor for carryover of articulation/voice/fluency.

You can choose any/all of the prepositions listed above for practicing use of prepositions to describe location.  For expressive tasks, students are asked to describe the location of an animal.  Here are some examples of expressive targets:

"Where is the squirrel?"

Scene from "Lake Camping"

"Where is the rabbit?"

Scene from "City"
*The target preposition for the picture above was "In the middle."

"Where is the fox?"

Scene from "Island"

*With the expressive targets, you can also record and replay a student's responses.  This is great for allowing a child to compare their own use of prepositions and overall syntax with an adult model!

*During expressive tasks, the clinician will use the check and "x" buttons to mark responses as correct/incorrect.

Back on the Home Page, you will notice a "Reports" button.  When you click this, you will be able to view data from your sessions.  You can view data by activity or by date.

The app will generate a report that includes the date/time, the target, and a percentage.  You can print the report if you have AirPrint capabilities or email the report to yourself/parent for printing.

And there you have Prepositions Journey!  Here's what I think:

The Pros:
  • Prepositions are a huge area of focus for my population!  This app is a motivating way for students to learn these concepts.
  • The ability to target both receptive understanding and expressive use of prepositions in one app is fantastic!
  • Data collection and report generation are two must have features in any app geared for use in therapy sessions!
  • The graphics are adorable and the kids enjoy the settings and the animal characters.
  • You can record responses so that students can hear their responses.  This allows you to use the app for expanded purposes (e.g., articulation carryover, fluency practice, etc.).
Changes I would like to see in an update:
  • Some of the picture targets were a bit unclear to my students.  For example, when the squirrel was in the backpack, they weren't sure if she was actually in the backpack or standing on the backpack.
  • Many of VSC's apps have built in reinforcement and I was expecting Prepositions Journey to have it as well, but no such luck.  (For some of you this might be considered a "Pro," but my kids really work for the reinforcements!).

The bottom line:
Prepositions Journey is a great app for targeting prepositions in both receptive and expressive contexts.  The app is colorful and engaging to students, meaning increased motivation!  Because you can record student responses, you can use this app for a wide range of purposes, including carryover of articulation, fluency, and voice strategies.  Prepositions Journey is another winner for Virtual Speech Center!  Prepositions Journey sells for $9.99 in iTunes.

Do you work on prepositions a lot in your therapy sessions?  Do you find yourself working on receptive or expressive more frequently?

Disclaimer: Although I was provided with a copy of this app for the purpose of this review, the opinions expressed are mine alone.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Facebook Giveaways Night 3 Recap

Here's a recap of tonight's Photo Trivia contest

#1.  For a copy of Summer Camp Expressive Language by Jen of Speech Universe, name this book!

The answer, "Don't Wake Up the Bear!" was guessed by Rachael D.

#2.  For a copy of "Splish, Splash, Splat" Storybook Companion by Speech All the Time, name that game...

Jenn B. correctly identified this game at "Tell Tale Fairy Tales" by Blue Orange Games!

#3.  For your choice of products from my TPT store, name this item:

This picture is from "Snappy Snapshots" and was guessed by Jenn B.

#4.  For a code for the app, name this app...

This screenshot is from Phono Learning Center by Smarty Ears apps!  Congratulations to Stephanie R. for guessing correctly!

#5.  For a copy of "Stoplight Emotions:  Speech Therapy, Social Skills, Autism" by Speech2U, which test is this from?

The CELF-4 was guessed by Courtney F!

Congratulation to the winners!

***These giveaways already happened and winners were announced. Please do not enter here on the blog***

Speech & Language Summer Homework for Preschoolers

Today is my last day of school!  WAHOOOOOO!!!

For the last few weeks, I've been working hard getting a packet of materials ready to send home to the parents who have asked for summer homework.  I'm guessing this may be a little late to be of use to many of you right now, but there's always next year, right?

Here's what you get...

Receptive Language Activities:

  • Vocabulary Comprehension
  • “Who” Questions
  • “What” Questions
  • Following Directions on the Farm
  • Zoo Animal Riddles

Expressive Language Activities:

  • Expressive Vocabulary
  • Expressive Vocabulary – Categories & Associations
  • Plurals
  • Sentence Form:  Subject +Is +Verb +Ing
  • Pronouns His & Her
  • Prepositions & “Where” Questions

Whole Language Activities:

  • Making Fruit Salad
  • Memory Game
  • Imagination Chair
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Sequencing Activity

Articulation Activities: **

  • Games for Sound Practice

**For articulation activities, you will need to include sound specific words from another source (e.g., Webber Jumbo Artic Book or  

You can access the packet HERE in my TPT store.

Guest Post: Tiered Vocabulary Instruction in Middle School {by Jess of Figuratively Speeching}

Today's guest post is brought to you by Jess from Figuratively Speeching. Jess has been a Speech-Language Pathologist for 18 years, graduating with her Masters Degree in 1995. She has worked in private practice, a private special education school, as a contractor, and in a public school district. She loves her career and spends a lot of time creating her own materials. 

I don’t know about you, but with the implementation of common core, high stakes testing, and teachers complaining about you pulling their students out of class, justifying my services to teachers and administrators has become an almost daily part of my job. The principal stopped me one day to say, ”Teachers are complaining that you are pulling students out of their classes and they want to know what you are teaching their students. How are they supposed to make up the work they miss? You need to do their classwork with them and make sure they don’t miss important concepts.” I am not a classroom teacer, nor am I an aide. My groups consist of three to five students from at least two different classes, and at times, three different grades, so you can guess the thoughts running through my head, “How will I do their classwork and work on the prerequisite strategies my students need to be able to learn their vocabulary, comprehend multiple step directions, retain information, improve grammatical skills, work on fluency and articulation…. ?” My mind was spinning out of control!

When I first began working in the Middle School, I realized that pull out sessions, while wonderful and intensive and giving me the ability to hone in on their specific skills, did not allow me much opportunity to collaborate with teachers. I began pushing in to the three grade level self-contained classrooms so I could see the topics and vocabulary introduced and then work on those skills in therapy. But, at annual reviews, vocabulary testing did not show as much progress. Why not? I did not address much in the way of Tier 2 words, those words that are not academic core vocabulary words that teachers need worked on for their high stakes testing and to show improvement over the course of the year for themselves. Our testing does not typically include those tier 3 words. If you don’t know about tiered vocabulary, here is a link to an article that will explain it.

What now? While I still pushed into the classroom, my sessions incorporated the concepts taught, but not necessarily the vocabulary. For instance, I love the 6th grade social studies curriculum, learning about the ancient civilizations. There are so many ways we can address our goals while helping students retain information from their classes. While my student learned about Mesopotamia, I taught them Tier 2 words my students would need to know to be able to respond to questions on tests, such as analyze, classify, compare, contrast, discuss, evaluate, explain, illustrate, justify…. You can find a packet with those words and more on my freebie tab here. We worked on comparing and contrasting information, how society today compared to Mesopotamian society, responded to questions from nonfiction articles, made flip books with vocabulary, etc. Here is a template of a flipbook I created:

As the children moved onto each new culture, we reviewed new material and compared it to previous cultures. It was a lot of fun. The students remembered information from all of the different societies, I addressed my goals, the teachers were happy that I could show them that we worked on material related to their classwork, and my principal came in to observe and was thrilled with my lesson. Annual review time came about, and lo and behold, there was progress in all areas. Tier 2 vocabulary had been addressed, I was able to incorporate academic work, and I could show progress in all areas, not just vocabulary.

Now, just because I incorporate curriculum content does not mean that I do not want my speech sessions to be fun. Here are three activities that I incorporated into my sessions:

1. Scattergories: Have students work alone or in pairs for this activity. For fun, I use the original game rules, where you pick a letter (I wrote out letters on index cards, folded them, put them in a container, and then picked a letter from there) and each student or pair has to write down items from as many categories as they can with the letter chosen. This can be tough, depending on the categories chosen, but I like it for word retrieval, vocabulary, as well as creative thinking. Another way I have used this game is to have the ten categories include topics from their classwork. In the middle school, I like to use their science and social studies curriculum.

2. Create-your-own Books: I love being crafty, but my Middle and High schoolers roll their eyes at me if I suggest making something even remotely crafty with them. They do like making different types of books that incorporate their curriculum. Flip books are one example of books I use with them. They are wonderful for vocabulary, but you can also use them for sequencing information about a topic or the steps required for an activity, grammar, and so many more ways. See the above picture for an example of how I make a flip book.

3. Jeopardy-like games: This has always been one of my favorite games to do with students. It is a quick way to assess their knowledge of vocabulary and other topics, and my students always love to compete against each other. You can make it as high-tech (power-point) or low tech (index cards on a magnetic board or library pockets mounted on poster board with questions in the pockets) as you would like. Keeping track of data is easy with game formats like these, and the questions can be presented throughout the unit to demonstrate progress.

~ Jess

Thank you Jess! You can follow Jess on her blog, Figuratively Speeching, on Facebook, and on TPT.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Facebook Giveaways Night 2 Recap

On the Facebook page tonight, we had another round of Photo Trivia!  Here's the recap:

#1.  For a copy of Dragon Spatial Concepts by Figuratively Speeching, name this book...

And Julie F. correctly guessed "The Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark."

#2.  For Font Snob Fun by All Y'All Need, name this TPT product (of mine).

The answer to this one...Mouse Gets the Cheese: A Following Directions Activity, which was guessed by Teach Speech 365.

#3.  For your choice of product from my TPT store, name the test that this image is from.

Courtney F. correctly guessed the "Goldman Fristoe Test of Articulation - 2."

#4.  For a code for the app, name the app from which this screenshot was taken:

The answer?  Describe with Art by Virtual Speech Center was correctly guessed by Melissa H.

Thanks to those of you who played and congratulations to the winners!  I'm having fun with these contests!!! What do you think?

***These giveaways already happened and winners were announced. Please do not enter here on the
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