To Screen or Not to Screen

The SLPs in my school system were given a choice this year: Mass Screen all Kinders or just go purely on referrals. There was no question in my mind which one I would choose. In my 31 years as an SLP (29 in the schools), I've done it both ways. It's been my experience that kids fall through the cracks when you depend on referrals from professionals not trained in speech/language.
By the end of the 2nd week of school, all of my Kinders had been screened, and all of my 1st & 2nd Graders who were on my recheck list had been rescreened. I made my schedules and saw my students for the first time.
The key is organization. I just can't stress this enough. Before I began screening, I got class lists from the office. Since the students' information wasn't in the computer yet, I went to each Kindergarten class and got birthdates off of the teachers' folders. Our Kindergartens run on a staggered schedule for the first 2 weeks, so I screened the students when they were there. Since they left at 12:00, I had the afternoons to review the screenings and put the results on my forms as well as putting the results on a form for the teacher.
(The forms below are part of  my Editable Forms for Back to School  (only $1!) in my TpT STore.) (For a larger view, click on the image.)
I even had time to get the results on the forms I send home to notify parents.

As I recorded the results on a form by class, I filled out the form for next year's rechecks. Doing that saves me time at the end of the year. I have a folder on my laptop desktop titled with the next year's date, so all I have to do is open it at the beginning of next year to know what to do.
Recording the information in a couple of different places may seem redundant, but it's a kind of  a check and balance for me. There are times when I find things that need to be changed. For example: I may have originally written that a student should be screened at the beginning of next year, but then change it to a rescreen during the current year.
I have some wonderful Kindergarten teachers at both of my schools. If I hadn't screened, I could see 1 of 2 things happening: 1) students wouldn't be referred, or 2) the teachers would be hounding me to screen students in their class.
(I call 1 of my schools my "new/old school": I was at this school for 3 years, then I was transferred to another school for 2 years. I had the opportunity to go back to the school & I jumped at it...this is my 2nd year back at the school, thus being my "new/old school".)
Case in point: I talked to a 5th grader today who misarticulated her /r/. She said she had been at that school since 2nd grade (which was the first  year I wasn't there). Since she wasn't there in First Grade, she wasn't on the recheck list I left for the new SLP. Apparently the teachers didn't see the need to refer her to the SLP, so she fell through the cracks.
So, yeah. Given the choice to screen or go on referrals, I'll go with screening every time.
Do you have a choice as to whether or not to administer mass screenings? What do/would you do?

App Review: Speecharoo Funny Directions

The following is an app review. The views are my own. I received this app from the developer in return expressing my opinions.  Links (in dark red) are provided for your convenience. Want to see larger pictures? Just click on one and scroll through!
Speecharoo Funny Directions is an app that will have your students laughing as they follow directions.

Appreciated Features:
  This app had all of my kids who used it laughing. I used it with children with autism and intellectually disabled students. Every one of them laughed at the antics of the objects in the directions.

 Four different scenes with 3 levels for each scene.
Slow, clear directions. My students weren't rushed to find the object.

 After 3 failed attempts, the target object wiggles as a cue. 

 Work on common daily vocabulary in 4 different settings. (You can also see an example of all 3 levels in the pictures below. Click on a picture to see a larger view.)

  Ability to turn off the voice in order to target following written directions.
 Gives you the results after each 10 attempts. Also, the student pops balloons  that come out of the kangaroo's pouch after each set.
What I would like to see:
✋ The ability to save data, and a continuation of data for the entire session, not just for each set.

✋I didn't use the app for following written directions, but I do have a concern about the font and the size of the font that was used. This is not a deal-breaker for me, though. 

Additional Comments:
My kids absolutely loved this app! Not only did they love it, but I did as well. As previously mentioned, they laughed at the animations following their correct response. 

The progression between each level of difficulty was very appropriate.

The app was developed by 2 SLPs who definitely knew what they were doing!

 I was very surprised when I saw the price. It's very affordable...I expected it to be quite a bit more expensive!

Funny Directions by Speecharoo Apps  is available for purchase for $2.99. To view in iTunes, click here.

Joining the Frenzied SLPs to Talk About Data + a Freebie!

This month the Frenzied SLPs have invited us to talk about Data Collection.
Data collection. Some of us are more diligent about it than others. Me? I take data a lot. Probably too much. But, being a visual person, I have to see that chart that shows the kids how they're doing.
I'm pretty much a no-frills kind of person when it comes to data collection.  By that I mean that I don't use Data Tracker Pro on a regular basis...I only use it for Quick Speech because we were told we had to, but then at the end of the year we were told we didn't have to. In my 30+ years, I've tried all sorts of forms, but I felt like all I was doing was shuffling papers. Then I met an SLP (If you're reading this, Traci- - - HI!) who showed me labels. And my data collecting became so much easier.  This video is from a previous post, but it explains how I use labels for data collecting:
For students working on articulation, I use the graph above (from Super Duper) so that they will be accountable for their progress.
Since I write my criteria for my artic kids in terms of how many missed words they are allowed  in a 5 minute conversation sample, I needed a different kind of graph.
Now those students who are in the carry-over phase can monitor how well they did that therapy session. If you can use it, please click on the chart to be taken to a google docs where you can download it. For some reason, if you open it in Google Docs it doesn't all fit on the page, so download it to Word!
Want to see if something else would work better for you? Visit a Frenzied SLP and you'll find a whole "slew" of 'em!


TpT is having an extra special SALE for 1 day only! That's right, on 19 August (that's Wednesday!), you can save on items that you forgot to get during the Back To School Sale!
SLPrunner is hosting a linky party...just in case you're at a loss as to what you can't live without!
A few things that are new in my store:
These are adorable books about aliens who love underpants. I have a combined packet for both books at a reduced price, or you can buy them separately. Packet includes describing activities, games, homework, comprehension, quantitative concepts, compare/contrast, and vocabulary. 
(If you purchased "Aliens Love Underpants" prior to 06/26/2015, please email me or leave a message on this post so I can contact you!)
A Penguin on Vacation?
Another companion packet, another adorable book! Categorizing, interactive activity for producing complete sentences, sequencing (can be used with Cariboo!), Find it/write it/say it are all included.
I had a space on the wall at both of my schools that needed something. I wrote positive adjectives to describe my students, and made a set of horizontal and vertical words to accommodate different sizes of space.

Now for what I use a lot during therapy:
Summer Interactive Books Back to School Interactive Books  Fall Interactive Books  Spring Interactive Books
Speech Universe's Interactive Books are wonderful! She's been making them for a long time, so she's quite the expert! 
A Dab of Speech and Language for the YEAR {A Growing Bundle}
Speech is Sweet has worked really hard on this growing bundle! I use these a lot during my 5 minute days. The kids love using the daubers and can work on them independently while I'm working with other students.
Structured Sentence Building {black & white}
Another huge staple in my therapy room is from Queen's Speech. It's a perfect way to work on making complete sentences and answering "wh" questions.

Visit SLPrunner to get more ideas of how to increase your therapy skills.
More Love for Back to School
Today (Monday) is the final day to enter my giveaway. You can find the post here.

2 Weeks Down and Ready to Go!

2 weeks down, 7 more until:
I really do love my job, and I laughed a lot this past week, so I'm not ready to retire...yet! I'm looking forward to this Fall Break because to kick it off, I get to spend the weekend with my sisters & sisters-in-law (we usually end up with 6-8 of us going). Every year we rent a cabin in the mountains and "hole-up" for the weekend. No husbands, no kids; just us girls. We laugh, we fuss, we eat, we drink, we watch football; we have a wonderful time. This year, we're starting off a day earlier than usual; it always seems like we just get there and it's time to pack up and leave.
But first, I've gotta get through 7 weeks. I saw my students for the first time on Wed. & Thurs. at both of my schools. I have 5 dismissals to do at 1 school, and 2 at the other. (Thank you, whoever came up with the "karla technique"!!!) This past week and a half I screened and took about 10 minutes to do a schedule. I thought I was going to hit a snag with scheduling at my mountain school, but the "scheduling gods" were on my side & I ended up not having to rearrange. I sent out permissions for Quick Speech, received them all back at 1 school, got the data collection/homework sheets ready, and saw one of the students on Friday.
A former co-worker (Hi, Sarah!) messaged me last week asking for a recommendation to use for that first day in therapy. She wanted something for the kids to understand why they are in Speech/Language. I forwarded a few suggestions to her, and then decided to use Natalie Snyder's Speech Language Therapy Student Goal Display Freebie for myself.

It's amazing that after 30 years I can still be surprised at what I take for granted. Before the students completed their sheets, I went over my wall display to help them think about why they come to speech/language:
(This can be found for free in my TpT Store.  I made the "Story Retell" darker for better visibility. I just added a Voice and Fluency page.)
My students also learned a few new vocabulary words by reviewing the We are Speech Wall Decor. (I re-did the "S" and the letters for the "E" to make them more visible.)

What I have planned for next week:
I'll be probing my artic students to determine exactly where they are with their progress, and we'll play Big John. Kind of disgusting, but they really like it!
I'm not sure at this point what we're going to do for the last part of the week, but I'm not stressing out about it...I have a whole cabinet of games to choose from! It'll be down to business the next week.
I'm anxious to get started with EET with my language groups. I just received another kit last week, so now I have one for each school which will save me a lot of carrying back and forth.
My younger language kids who are working on producing complete sentences and answering wh? will be using Speech Universe's Summer Interactive Books (since it's technically still summer).  
Summer Interactive Books                 
I'll pull some other things out, as well as use some apps for this week. I like to slide into my weekly planning so I'm not so stressed out!
What do you do that first week of therapy?

Surviving the First Week: Check Off Your To-Do List!

The Frenzied SLPs have graciously allowed SLP Bloggers to participate in their blog hop! I'm in the middle of the 3rd week of school for teachers already (the kids are in their 2nd week), so my to-do list is already checked off. Here's what I did:
What about scheduling? I don't even think about it until midway through the first week that the kids are back. That way the specials' classes (art, music, p.e., guidance, library) are settled, and the special ed teachers have their schedules. The first week and a half of school is when I do my rechecks and mass screenings on the Kindergarten classes. I usually start seeing kids mid-week of the 2nd week of school. The first few sessions consist of checking progress with my students & more than likely pulling a game out of the cabinet to reduce the planning factor!
How does my list compare with yours?

Monday Re-Post: It's a Dream Job + Scheduling

This post was originally published on 08/24/2014.
I just finished half of a week of therapy with no glitches in my schedule.  Honestly, when I hear about other SLPs  having such a hard time with scheduling, I just shake my head.  Now, you have to remember, I have an absolute dream job.  Yes, even after my 9th year in this school system, I can still say that.  The reason is that, even though I have over 60 students on my caseload, I don't see that many. (I see a little more than half of my caseload for services.) My school system has chosen to contract for the medicaid students' speech/language therapy.  What does that mean?  I do the paperwork that goes along with the IEP Process, and the contract company does the evaluating and conducts the therapy.  They send us their evaluation reports, and, this year, they will do their own progress reports.  We plug the information from their reports into our online IEP program and hold the meetings.  There are times when there are a few tweaks we have to make:  we write the IEP as if we are going to see the student in therapy.  If the student's medicaid should term, we would pick them up immediately so there is not a disruption of services.
When I worked in a different state, we did our own medicaid billing, and it really wasn't that bad. We had a form on the computer, so we just had to plug in our information.  We each had around 55 students on our caseload, and we could see them in a group of no more than 6.  The contract company for my current (and final!) school system sees the students individually, and will make up their sessions if either the SLP/SLPA or student is absent.  This allows the School SLPs to see their students in smaller groups, which, as everyone knows, means faster progress.  Isn't it our goal to get them in and get them out as quickly as possible?
I'm telling you all of this so you can understand that I may have different circumstances when creating a schedule.  As I explained in a post titled, That "S" WordI give the teachers the following form:
(This form is included in my Editable Forms for Back to School found in my TpT Store for $1.)
I used the same form this year, and blocked off time for S-Team.  At my MWF school, every single one of the teachers blocked off the morning times, and I was still able to get a schedule in 10 minutes. (I plugged my special ed students & walk-ins during the mornings.)  Well, about 15-20 if you want to count the extra time I had to take when one of my teachers didn't mark off his specials, and of course that was the time I picked!  My T/Th school took just about the same amount of time.
The reason I talked about the medicaid students in the beginning of this post was to let you know that I didn't have that many students to schedule.  That being said, last year, when I had a school for 3 days that should be a 5 day school, I still didn't have any difficulty with my schedule.  
Here are the keys to almost stress-free scheduling:
*  Don't look at the schedule requests until everybody's are in.
*  You know you have students who have to be put in the schedule first.  I always have special ed students who have certain times they can be pulled, and you have to work around OT and/or PT.
*  5th grade students have priority since their academic demands are the greatest, followed by 4th, then 3rd.  
That's basically it.  I schedule the students in the same classroom for the same time so as not to interrupt the teacher more than is necessary.  Last year (at my overloaded school) I had a couple of groups that had 5 students. I've really gotten spoiled with my current school system:  there was a time when I was used to having 4-5 in almost every group; now, I don't like to have 4 in a group...I think that's too many!
How do you schedule your students?  Do you think this would work for you?
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