Monday, January 15, 2018

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Picture courtesy of Pexels
There has been a lot of talk lately in the SLP world about how to do "mixed therapy": therapy when you have artic, language, and fluency students in the same group. It takes some getting used to, but it can be done. After you do it for a while, it will come naturally to you and you should have no big problems. But that's not what this post is about.
Just as you have to tap into your creativity to work with mixed groups, you can work with more than one objective with your language students. Very often, it happens by accident with me. I don't have plans to work on a couple of objectives during an activity, it just happens. Those "aha moments" are quite inspiring.

Be familiar with your students' objectives

Obviously, it's very important to know what each student's objectives are. It's okay to have it written in front of you to refer back to. If a student has 10 objectives, you definitely will want to have them written down, but the issue of 10 objectives will be saved for another day. Refer to those objectives often, daily if necessary. That will make working seamlessly on more than 1 objective a lot easier.

Don't force it

Now that you have your students' objectives in your head, it's time to get to work. It's important not to force it. Be natural with the mesh of objectives. If the objectives aren't remotely related, don't attempt to work on them at the same time. You can work on one objective at a time.

Some examples

The other day I was working with a student on beginning inferences. She read a passage and identified the keywords. As she was doing that, it occurred to me that she was working on describing at the same time. So, I pulled down my "Desi" (the name for my EET beads), reviewed them with her, and pulled in her describing objective with the inferencing. 
Thanks to The Speech Owl for her No Print Receptive and Expressive Language-Winter Edition
With my students who are working on "wh" questions and yes/no questions, it's pretty simple. Just turn the "wh" question into a yes/no question, and you have it! For example: If you're reading a story and you ask "Where did Steve go?" following the answer, you could ask "Did Steve go to the store?" You can ask for verification of how he/she answered with the yes/no question. Or, if the student has difficulty answering the "wh" question, turn it into a yes/no question then ask the "wh" question again. 

Those are just 2 ways to pull in more than one objective. The main thing is to become familiar with your students' objectives. From then on, it's a piece of cake! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Mid-Year Reward Check

Now that we’re at the midway point in the school year, it’s time to evaluate how my plan of “no prize box” is working out.

Decisions, Decisions

At first, my students were absolutely horrified at the thought of not earning prizes. It didn’t take long for them to get used to it, though. I struggled with what to use instead of a prize box or “treasure chest”. I thought about not using anything, but how was I going to reward the students for bringing back their homework with a parent signature? Would my success rate with homework dramatically decrease if I didn’t reward them?

The answer was "new school" mixed with "old school"!

One of my schools is pretty heavy into technology. Most, if not every class, is using Dojo, so it seemed like a no-brainer. My only problem was how to modify it to work for me.
Honestly, I wasn’t 100% sure how I was going to use it when I started. The students would be rewarded for earning a determined amount of points (according to how many students are in the group), but what would the reward be? I thought about a couple of different things: a small party (having the group make something), or letting them take data for the other group members. That last one didn’t sound like too much of a reward, and I’m not really big on bringing in food because of all of the allergies. So, those 2 things were scratched off my list. I decided to “throwback” to my earlier days and let the groups have a “free day” when they reach their points. The students have to decide as a group what game they want to play. With the groups who have had a free day, there have been 1 or 2 from whom I still needed to get a little bit of data, so we did very quick 10-responses and had a free day. The students absolutely love it! There’s still speech & language going on, they just don’t know it.

The Specifics

Here's how it works: Instead of putting in each child's name, I put in their group time as their name.
If a student brings their homework back signed, the group gets 2 points; if the folder is returned but not signed, the group gets 1 point; if the homework wasn't returned, no points are rewarded. At the end of the session, as long as the student has followed procedures, another point is awarded to each student.
If hallway procedures are not followed, the group can have a point taken away.
There are a lot of other features on Class Dojo, but these are the only ones I use.  At this point, every group has had a free day and are well on their way to their 2nd one. 
The students are keeping very close track of their points, and some groups have already chosen their next game! The treasure chest is hidden away in the closet where I plan on keeping it. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Keys to Modifying Therapy Activities

PIcture courtesy of Pexels
Wow! Has it really been 4 months since my last post? Thank you for not forgetting about me, and for reading this post. This year has been crazy busy for me, both professionally and personally. I hope to write more this year!

I've been thinking a lot about modifications during therapy, and how it really doesn't come naturally. It's a skill that takes a lot of time to develop.

A Poor observation score is sometimes the best thing that could happen

As a young SLP, one of the most difficult things for me was to know when and how to modify activities for students. I trudged through a session without any modifications, sure that a light would eventually go off and the poor child would suddenly “get it”. During an observation, I was going through a list with a Kindergartner. I don’t remember the specifics, but I knew in my heart this activity was too difficult for this child. When I received the feedback from my special ed director, it wasn’t good. In fact, it was far less than good. It was downright awful. I went in that afternoon to see her, and she said she was expecting me. She sat me down and said, “it was too hard for her.” What could I say? I knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was speaking the truth. We brainstormed, and I left her office being more determined than I think I had ever been up to that point in my life. When I left her office, I was embarrassed but realized that she had just given me a very special gift: the gift of knowing when to modify activities.

It’s our professional responsibility to modify activities according to our students’ needs

I make products that are specific to students on my caseload. I’m assuming other SLPs who are also TpT authors do the same thing. It is my expectation that buyers of my products will modify them to fit their own needs. As an example: I bought a winter concept package that included a flip book. Some of the pages included concepts that were too difficult for a particular student. I simply left out those pages. The result was a somewhat “mini” flip-book that the student could take home and review with the parents without frustration.

Body language is a big indicator of when to modify activities

How do you know when it’s necessary to modify an activity? Watch the child. He may not come out and tell you, but if you watch him, you’ll get the information you need. It’s okay to begin with something that you know is too difficult, you just have to realize the frustration point and then modify. The child may show disinterest, he may appear as if he isn’t paying attention. He may begin to get “antsy”, or you may see it in his eyes. There are still times when I have a “crier”; that tells me that I pushed too hard. All you can do at that point is simply back off.

Keep modifying until the child has some success

It’s true that a lot of knowing when and how to modify takes experience. It also takes a lot of trial and error. I don’t know of anyone who started in the field being an expert on modifying activities. Don’t get discouraged if a child doesn’t pick up on a concept right away. Just watch him and change what you’re doing until he has some success. Then you have your starting place! Sit back, relax, and most of all, have fun!

Monday, September 4, 2017

{Repost} App Review: Idioms by Grade + A Giveaway!

The following is an app review. The views are my own. I received this app without cost for expressing my opinions. Links (in dark red) are provided for your convenience. Want to see larger pictures? Just click on one and scroll through!

This app consists of 10 idioms within each grade level. Grade levels include Kindergarten through 8th Grade, with 7th & 8thgrades combined.
The idioms are listed, so the SLP can choose what idiom(s) to target. Once the idiom is chosen, a new screen will come up.
This screen allows the SLP/student to read the idiom being used in context, as well as a definition of the idiom. By clicking on the speaker at the bottom of the screen, the idiom, as well as how it can be used in context, is read to the student.
What I would like to see:
More idioms!
The option to view pictures to depict the idioms

Additional Comments:
When I first opened the app, I was a bit disappointed; however, upon using it I found it could have great value. You are restricted by only having 10 idioms per grade level.
At $2.99, the price seems a little high; however, the website states that this is only a "first build" and implies that it will expand. Also, on the website, you can request a code for a free long as 60 codes haven't already been given out.

How I used the app:
With a 4th grader, a student & I role-played the context in which the idiom was used. He read the definition, then was asked to use the idiom in a sentence. This proved to be more difficult for him that I thought it would be. Another idea would be to have your student use GoldCountry SLP’s Draw to Learn Idiomswhich is exactly what I am planning on doing next time I use this app.

     Idioms by Grade is available for purchase for $2.99. To view in iTunes, click here.

Now for the Giveaway! Ram from Idioms by Grade reached out to me and provided 5 codes for the app! 5 people will be chosen through Rafflecopter to receive a free code. Just follow the instructions below, but complete before Midnight (EST) on 09/11/2017!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 28, 2017

Therapy Room Challenge: Making it Functional

The Frenzied SLPs have challenged each other to a room makeover. I have the same rooms I've had for the last 3 years at 1 school, so I just mixed some things up a bit this year. I challenged myself to only have things on my wall that are functional...things I use in therapy.
The alcove in the entrance to my room
Right as you come into my room, I have sort of an alcove. Pretty much wasted space, to be perfectly honest. On the left side of the picture (on the wall), I put this up:
This is part of the Wall Decor in my store. The picture didn't pick up the letters very well.
The first day of Speech, we took a tour of the Speech Room. We looked at each word and talked about them. This is on the wall on the other side:
This is also part of my Wall Decor product.
We went through each area of Speech/Language and the students identified what they are working on.
This is what the front boards looked like.
The front board in my room now.
I have almost a whole classroom. I say "almost" because I partitioned part of the room off with cabinets; the PTO and other people store things behind them.  It was a bit challenging to make sure everything on the wall has some functional use.
The left part of the board
For the past couple of years, I had the calendar on the white part of the board and had washi tape sectioning off each part. I had a heck of a time getting that tape off the board! I moved the calendar over to the bulletin board, and made the squares. To hold each of the days of the week and the numbers, I used Stikki Clips so I can slide them right in the clip. (I got the idea from one of the Kindergarten teachers.) This is the space where I had my reinforcement  board for the past few years. You should have seen the students' faces when I told them the board (and the prize box) is gone. They don't seem to miss it, though, now that we're into therapy.
A space for a writing
Right next to the calendar, I have a white board that can be used for writing. That is, after I get the rest of the nastiness off the board. Next to that, I have my chevron "Speech & Language Chevron Banner" (It's FREE, and there are different styles!) This was the 1 thing that doesn't have a purpose, other than filling up some space with some color.
Artic Ladder
Again, poor picture, but this is an artic ladder that I made with the phases of artic the students move through, from isolation (at the bottom) to Carry-Over at the top. I have clothespins with their initials on them so they (and I) will remember which one is theirs.
You can see the cabinets I used as a partition. Many of the students comment on the PTO's Christmas Tree that you can see in the back corner.
The other wall with boards
The picture above has my desk to the right of the orange cabinet and a window.
A flag is a must!
I have "3 Things for a Good /r/" to remind the students who are working on production of /r/ using /i/ as a starter to "Move your tongue slowly and smoothly", "Don't let your mouth move", and "Hold on to your E". I also have the simplified steps to retelling a story for my younger students.
On this whiteboard, I have a smaller version of the retell visuals 

and a small version of the Story Mapping for older students. I also have my EET beads hanging up. 

I wanted to keep things simple and not have my room too cluttered. I've seen rooms that are over-done with all of the cutesy things you could ever imagine, but they were so distracting. I wanted "inviting" but not "distracting".  And, for my older students, I didn't want the room to look too "babified". Now if I could just keep my tables cleared off!

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