Words, Pictures, Sentences, or All of the Above on Articulation Cards?

Picture of 3 cards with a picture of a coin; 1 with no label, 1 with the word "coin", and 1 with "coin" in a sentence.
I need to preface this post by saying this is completely my preference. To each his own when it comes to what we prefer in our therapy rooms! When it comes to articulation therapy, what do you prefer: words, pictures, or all of the above on your articulation cards?

A Feeling of Independence

Personally, I prefer the picture with a word. I've used Super Duper's cards for most of my career, at least since the company is been in existence. I appreciate the target sound being in red ink. I use that to talk about where in the word the target is. An added plus is that it helps the student with their reading. We will tap out the word like they learned in the classroom to determine which position their sound is. With the /r/, we look at the letter before the 'r' to determine if they should anchor their tongues for a beautiful vocalic /r/.  For homework with the older students, many times I will have them write the words they didn't produce correctly and take that home for homework. When the word is on the card they can copy it onto the homework sheet. This gives them a bit of a feeling of independence and doesn't make them feel less than adequate because I don't have to spell the word for them.

Avoiding "Robot Speech"

Once the student is on the sentence level, I don't want dependence on a written sentence. I want spontaneous responses in the student's own voice. I use Smarty Ears Articulate It! with my Quick Speech students. When they are on the sentence level I don't change the level; I want them to make up the sentence. If the student is not a fluent reader, having the written sentence under the picture may hinder the sentence being spontaneous. Likewise, if the student is a non-reader, there may also be some difficulty with being able to repeat sentences. I tell the student to say the sentence "like it's one big long word" to avoid "robot speech".

When a younger student first begins on the sentence level, I will say, "Tell me something about a _____." If the target word isn't used, then I will model their sentence and insert the target word. It usually only takes a couple of trials for the concept to be understood. Then if the word is left out of the sentence I will say, "I didn't hear _____" and the sentence is produced using the target. This is how I've done it for years and it works for me.

Where Repeating Sentences Appears

After the student is proficient at making up his own sentences I will throw in having him repeat sentences after me. This works especially well with my /r/ students. I have a book that I had to buy for undergrad that has sentences for every sound and every combination of sounds. The /r/ section includes sentences with multiple /r/ and /w/ sounds within a sentence. Once they are proficient with those I know we can almost say the sound is mastered.

I have friends who will begin the sentence level by generating the sentences for them at first; that's what works for them. Just to test this out, I had a student say his own sentences during Quick Speech. When he said his own sentences he averaged just above 90% accuracy. When I used the sentences provided by Smarty Ears, it dropped to around 75% accuracy.

As I said: To each his own! It's not that one is right and one is not right, it's what works best for us. Which is your preference: words, pictures, sentences, or all of the above on articulation cards?
Pinterest Pin with purple background & 3 articulation cards with the words "What's your preference for artic cards?" under. Title of blog post is in white on a framed green chalkboard background under the purple.
  • Get a full run-down on the steps I use during articulation therapy in this post.
  • Mommy Speech Therapy explains her process in this blog post.
  • Caroline Bowen explains Traditional Therapy in this article; she includes a slideshow for further demonstration.
  • Speech and Language Kids provides suggestions for choosing the appropriate speech therapy process here.

Decisions, Decisions: Dot Day or Pirate Day?

Pictures of the book covers

Oh, decisions, decisions. Which to concentrate on during therapy in September: Dot Day or Pirate Day? Here's the dilemma: International Dot Day is 15 September and International Talk Like a Pirate Day is 19 September. See what I'm talking about? They are only 4 days apart.

What is this "Dot Day"?

The art teacher at one of my schools brought attention to Dot Day a couple of years ago. (Dot Day started in 2009.) I made a quick game and a homework sheet and that was it. I decided to expand the activities by making a book companion to the book The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds.  This is a sweet book about a little girl who doesn't think she can draw. A teacher encourages her by taking the paper that she jabbed the marker on and told her to sign it. When the little girl sees the paper in a frame over her desk, the little girl is determined. She makes dots; a lot of dots. At the school art show, she showcases her dots. A little boy gives her a compliment and then says he can't draw a straight line with a ruler. (That's exactly what I tell people!) She gives him a piece of paper and has him draw a line...then tells him to sign it.

This book companion consists of comprehension questions (with a choice of 2 pictures to use as cues if needed), yes/no questions, sequencing (with the option to have the child take a black-line copy home for retelling), categories (round or not round), negation, unscramble sentences, 2 sheets for describing, an open-ended game, and homework.
2 piles of cards (1 yes/no and 1 "wh"?) on a table
Comprehension questions. The yes/no questions correspond with the 'wh' questions.

Colored Mandala on paper with pictures, list of words,  and instructions
This is an example of the homework sheet for later developing sounds (although I included /k,g/ and /f/for those students who would be able to complete this sheet). There is a different set of homework sheets for early developing sounds.

 Turning "Pirate Day" into "Pirate Week"

All SLPs know about Talk Like a Pirate Day. It's been going on since 2002.  There is a lot of therapy material on TpT with a pirate theme. I bought a book during a book fair, Rufus Goes to Sea (by Kim T. Griswell), that is about a pig named Rufus who wants to be a pirate. The captain of the ship keeps telling him he can't be a pirate until he realizes Rufus has a book.

This book companion includes comprehension questions with 2 pictures to use as visual cues if needed, yes/no questions, worksheets (for what doesn't belong, negation, categorizing and using simple sentences, following directions using positional concepts, 2 sheets for describing, and regular/irregular past tense verbs), a pirate search & find for homework with a suggested word list (for /f,v,k,g,l,r,s/, sh-ch-j, and blends),homework sheets for earlier developing sounds (final consonant deletion, /p,b,m/, /t,d,n/, /h/, /w/, and a blank sheet for your convenience), retelling using story elements, and a fun pirate game (ideal if you have a "popper" but you can also use a bean bag or any soft item that the students can throw!).
Search and find worksheet in a green and yellow frame
Search & Finds are a favorite in my TpT Store. I included one in this packet for later developing sounds. (I also included /k,g/ and /f/ in this one just in case you have students working on those sounds who may be able to complete the sheet.) There is another set of homework sheets for early developing sounds.
Pictures of pirates arranged in circles on a wall with a popper and a ball in place. The pirates have numbers on them.
Fun popper game! Don't have a popper? Use a bean bag or another soft object that can be thrown!

The Decision

Dot Day or Pirate Day? Here's what I'm going to do: The week before Dot Day we'll work on The Dot. The week after, Rufus Goes to Sea. It may take more than 1 week to get through Rufus and that's okay. The students really don't mind a pirate theme for 2 weeks!
picture of 2 books on the top with the title of the blog post on the bottom. Green chalkboard background with brown frame.
Need more ideas?
This blog post has a dot project for preschoolers.
Official merchandise for Dot Day can be found here.
Over 50 activities for Pirate Day can be found here.

My New System For Organizing My TpT Materials

picture of clear plastic boxes on shelves
There's a lot of talk this time of year of how everyone organizes their TpT materials. I keep looking for better ways to store everything. I've reorganized my materials quite a few times, but I really like my new system for organizing my TpT Materials.

At the end of last school year, I decided enough was enough and I purged. Gone are materials that I had when I first started working as a school-based SLP over 30 years ago. With all of the great materials offered through TpT, a lot of my things were just so outdated. I figured if I hadn't used them in a few years they weren't worth keeping. Was it hard? You betcha, but it felt so great to clean that stuff out!

Before I even knew anything about TpT, I kept my homemade materials in clear plastic boxes and notebooks.
2 big plastic boxes on a shelf
As my TpT materials grew, I put most things in notebooks.
Notebooks with labels on the spine sitting on a shelf
I also started using bins from the dollar store. I put packets in gallon freezer bags and had a bin for each month.
Different color plastic bins on shelves
Using bins, my shelves were somewhat organized but some of the bins were stuffed full.
I've planned around monthly themes pretty much my whole career (it's so much easier to plan that way!) so notebooks and bins fit my needs...until I started buying and downloading cards. Off I went to Michaels to buy these containers:
Plastic containers on shelves
Apparently, these containers are a hot commodity now. My Instagram feed blew up with SLPs trying to find them on sale. They weren't that easy to find a few years ago when I discovered them so I'm not surprised they were hard to find. These containers are absolutely fantastic for cards. Each container has 16 cases that are the perfect size for cards.
Top view of a plastic card container with labels on each card container.
I organized each container by seasonal activities. I put a label on each individual case so I can just look at the top of the case to see what cards are in the container.
Top View of card containers with a label on the individual container

When I purged last spring, I also purged these boxes. I had a lot of cards that I downloaded as freebies that I didn't have any use for, so they were "filed". I didn't get rid of the boxes or containers, just the contents.

I work with an awesome Special Ed Teacher who puts my organization skills to shame. I thought I was pretty organized, but she's peer-pressured me into upping my game! Enter: more plastic containers and the need to really get my materials organized in a prettier way. I told my principal I "Bartonized" my room (since the teacher's last name is Barton).  I'm quite pleased with the end result.
Shelves with plastic boxes and notebooks
These 12x12 plastic scrapbook storage cases are perfect for holding materials by themes. I just put them in the case, made labels for the front indicating the theme, and printed out a list of items in each case. When I'm looking for something, I don't have to open each case and rummage through it; the contents of the case are on the top.

As you can tell, I have plenty of space to add more boxes if I need to. Moving everything to the scrapbook cases gave me more room on my shelves. There's going to be a time when I don't have the whole classroom at this school, so I'm trying to think ahead and plan for not having all of the storage space I have right now.

So far I really like my new system for organizing my TpT items. Everything is together by theme/month so planning is much faster. Now I need to start organizing my cabinets!
picture of clear plastic boxes on shelves with "Organizing TpT Materials" below picture.

It's Time to Brush Up On Your Therapy Skills...Especially For /r/

image of paint brushes with title in words
Photo by RhondaK Native Florida Folk Artist on Unsplash
Back to School. Are you excited or just hoping to get through it? The students in my school system just finished their first week of school. It just didn't seem like the beginning of the school year to me. I slept great the night before and ran on autopilot with my morning routine. I got to school and did what I needed to do: wrote out class lists and got my rechecks for 1st & 2nd grades ready, among other things. Now it's time to brush up on my therapy skills...especially for /r/.

Just Like Riding a Bike

Oh, that /r/. The bain of our existence as school-based SLPs. Once you have a routine and a plan, it's just like riding a bike: you get back into it and before long you're back in the groove.

5 Tips for Grappling the Elusive "R"

I had the pleasure of getting out of my comfort zone and participating in a Facebook Live Session with Brooke from Simply Speaking SLT. Brooke is a New Zealander, so talking with her was interesting and very easy on the ears. My topic was 5 Tips for Grappling the Elusive "R".  I shared 5 things I've learned to correct production of /r/. Brooke was fantastic at putting me at ease and by when it was time to go "live" I felt like I had a new friend. I think you can tell there were a lot of laughs!
We had a bit of a snafu after a few minutes, so we had to complete the session in 2 parts. Brooke started this wonderful series a few months ago; she completes one/month. You'll definitely want to check out her Facebook Page and watch past (and future) shows. Oh, and definitely watch the second part of my session for more tips that maybe you didn't know about! I'm keeping my freebie up until August 15, 2018. Just click here and you should go right to it. 

I wrote a couple of posts about how I go about working on /r/ with my students and I had been meaning to get around to posting a video. The Facebook Live was perfect timing and allowed me to talk about my procedures/techniques in greater detail. 

You may be excited about back to school, or it may seem like you didn't even have a break. Either way, July &  August means it's time to brush up my therapy skills...especially for /r/! 
Image of paintbrushes with words "time to brush up on your therapy skills" underneath.
Like this post? Pin this picture to a board!
Are you looking for even more tips for working on /r/? Try these posts:

If You Had The Worst Day of Your Life

Picture of a smoking gun with the words "Don't be scared. Be Prepared" above it.
Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius from Pexels
Do you know what you would do if you had the worst day of your life? I'm not talking about the day when you wake up to the dog vomiting (or peeing), the baby won't eat, your teenager throws a fit because his/her hair isn't perfect or that outfit isn't washed, then you get a speeding ticket on the way to work, etc. You get the picture. No, I'm talking about a truly horrible day: a day when your school ends up on national news. A day when the unthinkable happens: someone comes to your school and opens fire.
I need to preface this post by saying that I have never had to live through the worst day of my life & I hope that I never have to. I am not an expert on this situation; I only wanted to pass on some take aways that I had from Active Shooter Training provided by our local Sheriff's Department.

A Change in Attitude and Emotions

How sad is it that school employees even have to go to this training? I have to admit, I was not happy that I had to spend my first morning back after summer vacation going to Active Shooter Training. As the morning progressed, my emotions changed. I started taking notes to pass on key points that were made just in case anyone doesn't have that training. I took pictures of slides so I wouldn't forget anything or misquote what was said. (I'm sure I looked like quite the nerd doing this, or that the officers providing the training thought I was texting.)

One of the first things the first officer said was this really should be called "Active Attack", not "Active Shooter", since not all events involve guns. There have been killings through the use of vehicles. A USA Today article lists 15 incidents of vehicular killings through the world. These occurred both in the USA, Canada, and Europe.
In any attack, we have 3 options: Run, Hide, or Fight. There has been no definitive profile in these attackers; there are some similarities between some of them but there is also some variance. Mental illness is one commonality, but we all know how often mental illness goes untreated. Instead of a profile, risk factors have been identified:
Slide with a list of 5 risk factors

Believe it or not, schools are not the #1 place for mass attacks, commerce is more likely almost twice as much. Schools are the #2, followed by outdoors. 45% of attackers have no connection with the location of the attack.
In one of the videos we watched, when police arrived on the scene of the attack they stepped over victims. Their #1 priority when arriving on the scene is to stop the attack. In determining who dies, a couple of factors were outlined: How quickly law enforcement arrives and target availability. Our local law enforcement timed how long it would take them to arrive to any of our schools: they have it just under 3 minutes. If I'm not mistaken, the average time in the USA is 5 minutes. Who is going to buy the police time? We are. Our job in this situation is to buy them the time to get there. Law Enforcement is not going to be the first on the scene. We're already there and it's our responsibility to keep our kids safe until they arrive.

Buy Law Enforcement Time to Arrive on the Scene

Throughout the training the officers stressed the importance of knowing your surroundings and running through your plan should an attack happen.  They stressed that if you can, run. Try to bring anyone you can, but if they slow you down by resisting leave them behind. We don't know how we will react when we are put in that situation and chances are we want to help as much as we can.  But we have to help ourselves first. If you're trapped and can't leave, barricade the door with anything you can find. If you make it hard for the attacker to enter, he'll leave. My SRO said that the attacker knows he only has a very few minutes before police arrive and he/she isn't going to waste time trying to get into a room. If you can't run and there's nothing to use as a barrier, then hide. Fight if you can, but if you are going to fight, be committed.
We listened to a 9-1-1 call from Columbine High School. This staff member was truly under diress as she talked to the operator. She did what she thought she should during the incident; she tried to keep her students safe but was unsuccessful. The shooter was right outside of her door when she called and she didn't feel it was safe to go to the door to lock it or to try to barricade the door. They were trapped and they paid the ultimate price for it. She tried, but she hadn't had training for that situation. That is why having this training is so important.

Get to the 3rd Stage Quickly By Being Prepared

There are 3 stages of disaster response: Denial, Deliberation, and Decisive Moment. The officer cited a book by Amanda Ripley: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes- and Why.  (not an affiliate link)
Denial: How many times do we hear/see something and it takes a few seconds for it to register? How many times do we try to dismiss what we heard as something else? My son was at an outdoor music festival over the summer. One of the rappers thought it was a good idea to use gunshots as part of his show. My son said he heard one shot and thought "okay, that was just one." But then he heard more. He said he looked around and realized it was part of the show but a lot of people hit the dirt. Fortunately it was part of the show and wasn't real.
We were shown a video clip of The Station Nightclub Fire. This happened in 2003 and was caused by a stage manager using pyrotechnics as part of the show. The result was that the stage curtains caught on fire and the whole place was ablaze in 5 minutes. In the video you can see the curtains catch on fire but people are still standing around, thinking it was part of the show. Once they realize it isn't, they left the way they came in because they didn't know there were other exits. A diagram of the building shows there were other exits that could have been used. One wasn't used because it was blocked. Biggest takeaway from this: If you have even an iota of thought that what you hear is gunshots, treat it as such. If you have any thought that what you see or hear isn't right, treat it that way and get the heck out.
Deliberation: This is when you need to shift your emotion from fear to anger. When we're afraid, we freeze. But when we're mad, we act. Once we realize that what we hear/see is putting us in danger, we need to act. We need to get angry. Once we are able to shift to that emotion, we're able to do what we need to do to survive.
The officer compared the human brain and "puppy dog brain". The human brain is conditioned for flight, fright, freeze whereas the puppy dog brain reaction is fight, flight, feed, reproduce.  The main idea here is that it is an innate reaction when we are faced with a situation to run, freeze, or be frightened. If you put a dog in a situation where he is cornered, he will try to run but if he can't, he will fight. No one teaches a dog to do any of those things; they are innate behaviors. This relates to an active attacker in the way that we have to rehearse in our mind (if not physically) what we would do if we are put in this situation. If we have no pre-programmed responses, we react on impulse. If we freeze our heart rate increases which will keep the brain from doing its job. It won't be able to flip through the scenarios we have in our memory bank for a reaction.
Decisive Moment: Avoid/Deny/Defend suggest that we have to get through the first 2 stages quickly to get to this moment when we act. It is imperative to do that to survive.

As I said above, when law enforcement arrives their first priority is to stop the attack. If there are wounded and you are safe, know what to do to help them. Homeland Security has an initiative called Stop the Bleed. It's purpose is training so that survivors will know how to help those victims who are bleeding until medical help arrives.

How to Stop the Attack

The biggest way to stop an attack is identify the attacker before the killing begins. How do we do that if there is no definitive profile? Several "commonalities" have been identified:

As educators we have to pay attention. We have to report what we observe and see to our supervisors and to proper authorities. If we watch and observe we have time to catch a probable attacker in one of their 5 phases:
Fantasy: They will share their feelings with others but it is often dismissed as "crazy talk"
Planning: typically very hate filled; he will describe intricate intentions
Preparation: This is the phase in which they can be caught. They will gather items and intelligence
Approach: They will be physically on the property before the attack. This is the "smallest but greatest" window of opportunity to stop the attack.
Implementation: Our only solution at this point is to ADD (avoid, deny, defend).

I am probably the least observant person there is on the face of the earth. We were strongly encouraged to always be aware of what's going on around us. This training really opened my eyes wide to what I need to do to survive and to make sure my colleagues and students survive. It's frightening to think that I may be put in that situation some day, but the officer told us "Don't be scared, be prepared".

What the Heck is Going On?

The officer cited books by Dave Grossman as an offering to why attacks on our schools are happening. We all know kids whose parents aren't parenting, they're "friending". They allow their children to play violent video games. As a child's brain matures, what goes in is programming their brain. It is helping to develop the moral code in that child. I found this quote by Dave Grossman in his book On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Contact in War and Peace: "90% reduction in violence among boys who had video games and tv removed." (Goodreads- not an affiliate link) Another quote (also from Goodreads): "if we drill our children on mass murder simulators, that too will be a reflexive, autopilot skill that is available to them at some tragic moment of truth." I have a friend who told me that at her school in another state, they do the simulation drills. We all think it can't happen to us but looking at Columbine,  Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Virginia Tech we have to realize that it could happen to any of us at any time. I'm not sure if the officer was quoting Dave Grossman when he said this, but it is a scary thought: "We have just scratched the surface of violence in this country."

Again, how sad is it that we have to have a personal plan in place for survival when we are at school? Sad, but this is a reality that we all have to be prepared for if you had the worst day of your life.
HUGE shout-out to the Blount County (Tn.) Sheriff's Department for providing this amazing training to the educators of the school system. 

This post in no way takes the place of training by the proper officials. If your school system/facility does not offer training, I would highly encourage you to recommend that your supervisor contact local authorities for proper training.

Can I Get a Summer Do-Over?

Scrabble tiles that spell out "summer" in the sand next to sunglasses
Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels
One look at the date tells me I need to start getting in gear. I have to start getting in the right mindset for back to school. Some years I'm ready; this year I'm not. Can I get a Summer do-over? I'm just telling myself: 6 more years and then every day will be a summer day...unless I decide to go part-time, but that's a post for another day.

Don't cut your break short

I do a lot of "self-talk", you know, trying to psych myself up for the new year. I try not to think about it until I need to. When classroom teachers are in their rooms getting them all spruced up for fresh smiling faces, I'm saying "I'm not going to think about it." You'll rarely find me in one of my rooms before the first-day that teachers are back. Summers are too short....life is too short! I may stay a little late to do things (Who am I kidding? I'm out of the building at the first chance!) but I'm not going to go out to a school on my summer break. Things will get done when they get done. And somehow they always do.
Open planner to July
Everyone is different, but here are some things I do to get ready before I walk into school that first day:

  1. Fill out my planner with IEP due dates. Not only that, but I pencil in when they are tentatively planned for the whole year. It keeps me from scrambling from month-to-month. In addition to that, I pencil in when I will send the IEP notices. You can't be too organized!
  2. Check my email daily. I don't have my school email on my phone and I don't check it daily (or even weekly) during the summer. If you worked for a business or corporation, would they require you to check your email while you're on vacation? Some may, but I bet the majority don't. So why do we feel the need to be in constant contact with our school systems?
  3. Go to bed at my normal school time. Yes it's still light out and yes I'd rather be staying up but I've got to get my body back on school time. School systems tend to frown on afternoon naps.
  4. Eat lunch at 11:00. Seriously. No more eating when I feel like it.
  5. Start looking at my caseload and looking over goals. I'll be at a different elementary school and will be adding a high school so I start familiarizing myself with goals a few days before going back. It will click better when I'm able to put a face with a name and goals.
  6. Clean out my bag. You know, that big school bag that was tossed in the closet when I got home the last day of school. Time to pull it out and purge. 

It's over too soon

I really do love my job and have no idea what I would do if I wasn't an SLP. The kids are still making me laugh and most days I can't wait to get to school. I'm just really enjoying my freedom this summer. I've read, binge-watched some shows, written on my blogs a bit, and have really enjoyed being still at times and watching the world go by. As they say, all good things must come to an end...but why does it have to be so soon? What I wouldn't give for a summer do-over!

Here are some tips for after you get back to school: The Beginning of the School Year: You've Got This!
This post offers more tips just for teachers.
Happy Teacher Happy Kids gives some great advice for new (and not-so-new) teachers.
Education to the Core included input from teachers across the nation in The Best Back to School Tips from Teachers.

{Frenzied SLPs} Summer Speech Therapy Carryover Activities

I'm teaming up with my Frenzied SLP Friends to talk about what to send home with your kids for summer.

A Confession

Can I be honest? I rarely send anything home. I don't send something to every student I see. I will send a packet home if the parent requests it, or if I have concerns about the student losing what skills he had before the break. I find that some of my kids will actually progress over the summer if they just get a break. I think we work so hard on the sound during the year that when their brains get a break from working on it something clicks and they correct it on their own.

Taking the Easy Way Out

For those students who receive a packet, I use LessonPix. Once I get my pictures in the tray, it takes all of about 10-15 minutes to get a packet together.  For those sounds that I made packets for last year, it's just a matter of printing and putting in a folder or big envelope.
Sample of what is included in a homework packet made with LessonPix
If you're not using LessonPix, you're really missing out! It's very affordable (only $36/year) and very user-friendly. The customer service is bar-none. I use it to print out pictures of words my students had trouble with during the session. I can search for the picture during therapy, save it in the tray and make a sheet for them to take home for practice in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. **Please be advised that LessonPix is for personal use only and may not be used for commercial products.**
Need more ideas for summer packets? Visit the links below!

Using Children's Books for Therapy: Story Retell

Retelling stories is listed as a common core standard as early as Kindergarten. With our language disabled students, we can't just jump in, tell a story, and expect the students to turn around and retell the story to us. So where do I start working with this skill?

Learning the Elements

As with the previous posts when I discussed auditory comprehension and articulation, I read the whole book first. I use Story Builder from Super Duper to teach my students the story elements. I explain to them that to tell a story, you have to have each of these elements or else the story won't make sense.
Before I even read a book, I spend some time making sure they know what each element means. Story Builder comes with a script to use to aid in teaching the elements. I used it at first but then came up with my own words and my own way to teach the elements.
Once the students have a decent grasp on each element, I read a book. Even if my students don't have sequencing as a goal, we will go through the sequences of the book since that will help with retell. Again, book companions are a great way to work on this skill.

3-Step Process

I use a "3-step process". Step 1: The students match the story element with the name of the element.
Step 2: The students draw pictures from the story for each element. Pictures are used for each element to give them a visual cue.
  Step 3: Depending on the age, the student can either draw the story element under each name or write the element.
I have the student, no matter which step they're on, take the paper home and go over it with their parent. Most of the books I use can be found on YouTube so the parent will be familiar with it. 

Be Patient

The student is not going to go through the 3 steps overnight. I have some younger students who have not made it past the first step after working on it for a year. I have some students who can go right to step 3. I would suggest beginning with step 1 to make sure that the student understands what each element is. 
The goal is for the student be able to retell a story and create their own story by having the visuals in their head. As we all know, this could translate into writing success. Our language disabled students need as many visuals as they can get, as well as repetition. Taking your time to teach the story elements is definitely of value for your students. 

Knowing Where to Start

I've started using the Test of Narrative Language-2 (Ronald B. Gillam and Nils A. Pearson) to determine exactly where a student is with these skills. That gives me a good idea of what skills the student already has and what to focus on during therapy sessions.
How do you work with this target? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this; leave them in the comments!

Using Children's Books for Therapy: Articulation

Using children's books for language therapy is pretty easy, right? What about articulation? When I first starting using books during therapy (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I felt like I was "wasting time" with my artic kids. As my therapy evolved, I've tried different things and now I feel pretty good about the time I spend reading a book to those students.

Putting the words in a natural context

I'm guilty of being so wrapped up in getting through those 28 Super Duper cards and getting my data that I overlook the importance of the students knowing what words have their targets. Using books puts the words in contexts so they can identify the words with the target and it makes working on that skill more natural.

When I read a book, I make sure I read extremely slowly while still adding emotion. (You don't want the students to fall asleep while reading!) I also stress the target sounds as much as possible. I've found that there are times when students have no idea what words contain their targets. I think it's important that students be able to identify words with their sounds.

Data...and all I did was read a book!

When I begin a new book, I may do one of three things:
1)  I may have the student count on their fingers how many times they hear their sounds, one page at a time. This takes a little bit of coordination on my part...I have to be able to count the sounds without letting them know I'm counting. (It gets a little hairy when I have 2 or more students working on different sounds.) Sometimes I'll make a game out of it: I will have the students count; whoever has the correct number gets a point. If no one has the right number, I get a point. The one with the most points is the winner. Following each page, I'll re-read the page and we'll count together. This reinforces the words they counted or didn't count.
2) I'll read the whole book with the target sounds emphasized. I'll give the student a sheet and he will make a mark each time he hears his sound. At the end of the book, I'll count how many he had. Then I'll tell him how many he should have had. This requires counting the sounds prior to the session. I put the sound along with the number on a sticky note & place it on the front cover of the book.
Click on the picture for a bigger view.
I use a very simple form. There are 25 boxes/line with 4 lines so it's quick & easy to count the tallies. Just in case the book has more than 100 words for a sound, I put another slightly separate 100 boxes just below the first 100.  After the book has been read, I write how many words they counted over how many there actually are. Then a quick tap on the calculator & I have something to put in for data for that day. And all I did was a read a book!!!
To download your own copy, click here.
3) During 5 minute days, instead of using auditory bombardment for the listening station, I will record the book on my iPad. (I use the free QuickVoice app) When the student is at the listening station, he listens for words with his sound in the book. The books have to meet very specific criteria: they can't take more than 5 minutes to read, so the listening works perfectly into the listening station.

The quick & easy way to plan...

I love using book companions (I happen to have quite a few in my TpT store!) because the planning is so easy. I always play a game, whether it is a competitive or cooperative game, and I always have homework. Do you have to have a book companion? Absolutely not. Before there was such a thing as book companions or TpT I would choose a game that had roughly the same theme as the book. I would do the same thing with homework. But...having book companions is a really quick way to pull what I need. Most weeks all I have to do is pull out the companion, make copies for the homework, and I'm all set.

Let the carry-over begin!

I used to get all stressed out if I didn't finish activities for a book in a week, but I'm beginning to realize that it's better to take things slow and really let the book sink in. Let the words that contain the students' target sounds sink in and allow that carry-over to occur. And I've realized that if it takes one group longer than others, it's really okay. That's where the book companions come in handy...I can stay on a book longer with a group and then go ahead and start on another book or another activity with other groups.

If you aren't using books during articulation therapy, now is the right time to start! It makes therapy sessions fun and in my opinion more meaningful to the student. If you already use books I hope this post will give you an idea or two to use.
I'm always open to new ideas, so if you have any leave a comment or email me!

Using Children's Books During Therapy: Auditory Comprehension

Shown: Dinosaurs Love Underpants (Claire Freedman and Ben Cort)
Do you want to use children's books during therapy but aren't sure of how to start? Or, do you use books but want new ideas? Here's a run-down of how I use books to target auditory comprehension and how I keep data.
Read the book all the way through. Then, go back and re-read, asking the students comprehension questions as you read. I have some students who are on the "line/sentence" level and some who are on the whole book level. For the students on the "line/sentence" level, I read a line/sentence that contains the answer, then ask the question. If they answer correctly, tally. If they don't, I re-read the line/sentence and emphasize the answer. If it's correct: "R", if not, I will either direct them to look at the picture on the page or give them a choice of 2 pictures to answer. If correct, "C", if not, dash. I use this data collection system on all levels of comprehension. My data for a session may look something like this:
///R/   /C//-
This is my personal preference: Once the student achieves an average of 80% accuracy, I will move on to reading a page and then asking the comprehension questions for that page. Again, I use the same data collection system as before. For my readers, if the answer is not correct we will look back at the content of the page for the correct answer. 
Again, once the student achieves an average of 80%, I move on to reading the whole book, using the same data collection system. And, as in the page level, if the answer is not correct we will look for the correct answer in the book. 
To keep track of data, I came up with a form:
You can download a copy of the form by clicking here.
Since I keep my data through Google Forms, I thought it would be easier to just make the form on Google Sheets. An added plus to putting the data on a Sheet is that it averages for me! In the picture below, you can see where I averaged the student's performance after we finished each book. The average is in green.
Made with Google Sheets
Our language impaired students require repetition, repetition, repetition. I used to use a book for 1 week and then move on to another book. I found that after just 1 reading of the book, most of my students weren't "getting it". Now I spend 2-4 weeks on a book. I take things slower and make sure the students know the book inside and out before moving on. I was a little concerned that there might be some boredom on their part, but with different activities centered around the theme of the book alleviates the boredom. 
To make sure the questions are the same, I use comprehension questions included in book companions. (I just happen to have some in my TpT store!) That way, I'm not comparing apples to oranges when I'm taking data. Yes, they've heard the questions before and the answers have been discussed, but isn't that what our LI kids need?
How does this compare to how you work on auditory comprehension and "wh" questions? I'd love to hear from you and get ideas, so leave comments below!

Jumping on the Disc Bandwagon

I saw a Facebook Post where someone  posted a YouTube clip about using disc notebooks. I thought I had a great idea to use the disc system for my therapy notebook, but then a friend mentioned she used it for her data notebook and I knew that was where the idea originally came from!
This is my notebook at the beginning of the year:

I used this notebook to keep attendance records, individual data sheets, as well as any other loose paper I wanted to file at the end of the year. I also had a plastic folder where I kept the labels that I use for data collection.
This is the notebook and the folder I used to use.
My idea was that I could combine those 2 into just 1 folder using the disc system.

I did a little bit of research and decided to use the Arc system from Staples. My main reason was that another brand was quite a bit more expensive and didn’t appear to be a much better quality than the Arc. I ordered the punch and a couple packages of 1 ½ inch discs from Amazon then waited for everything to come in. The punch was the last thing to arrive and it actually came to my house a few days before I expected it.
My therapy notebook now:

I researched and ordered during Spring Break, so I was excited to get to school that Monday and see how it would all come together. I almost went by the school after my punch came in to get a jump on it, but I held back.
I used pieces of cardstock paper to divide my sessions and used tabs to write the time of each session. The tabs are reusable, which I found out when I put one in the wrong place and thought I had to take it off to fix it. I forgot that I can very easily take the cardstock out and move it where I wanted it. (Creature of habit!) I wrote on the tabs because you can’t run them through the printer. I suppose I could have made labels for them with a label maker to make them look nicer, but I’m the only one who sees them so it really doesn’t matter.

Cardstock dividers with labels
I took the plastic folders that I previously used to hold my data labels, trimmed them down to a regular sized paper, and punched holes at the top of them. I put one side of the trimmed folder in the back of the notebook to keep some loose papers. Even though the holes are now at the top instead of the side, the papers are staying in the folder.

The paper shown is from Small Talk SLP's Apraxia: Sound Blending in Syllables.
Now I have all of the students' papers in 1 notebook. It's not bulky at all. I could take the label sheet out for each therapy session, but I haven't needed to. I just keep it in the notebook and take my data. One nice thing about this system is that the notebook doesn't have to be open for me to take the data, I just flip the pages to the current session's data sheet.
I keep each student's individual data in the notebook. When the sheet of labels is full, I transfer the labels to each student's individual sheet.

Attendance sheets are kept in the same notebook.

Progress charts are also in the notebook.
As you can see, I have quite a bit in the notebook! As I complete each session, I just flip over to the next session and the datasheet is on top. It's not too bulky to be uncomfortable, and I'm not switching from one book to the other at the end of the day to complete attendance.
Comparison of the sizes of my old notebook (left) vs. the new (right).
There are some really cute covers out there that are available for purchase, but the rings are on the side. The lady in the video suggested using plastic placemats from the dollar store, so I tried them and it works! The only drawback to buying covers/pages that have already been punched is that I’m a lefty. That comes with its own challenges, but since I punched the tops of the pages the discs are on the top and aren’t in my way when I write. Hopefully, the disc companies will catch on to this and will begin to offer more in the way of top-loading items, especially with covers.

How about you? Are on the disc bandwagon with your planner, data notebook, or something else? Comment below...I'm always looking for some great ideas! 
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