Life is a Balancing Act as a School SLP

Finding Balance as a School SLP

I have a rare blood type that only 3% of the population has.  I'm AB+.  The Red Cross calls me often to donate my "rare blood."  I put it on my to do list and schedule a time.  Sometimes I can end up making it to the appointment and actually donating.  I've had other times where I show up and there has been over an hour wait even with an appointment.  I've had to leave and not donate because my life is in a crazy balancing act right now and I had to leave to get to the next items on my list.  Then I feel guilty.

My typical to do list in the afternoon includes hockey, soccer, or baseball practice, hockey, soccer, or baseball games, school activities for my boys, orthodontist or doctor appointments for my boys, homework, making dinner that has some sort of nutritional value, and then maybe picking up a bit before going to bed and starting all over.  Sometimes the dinner might not be that nutritional or my little people are late to an appointment, practice, or game.  Then I feel guilty.



My work life is also a huge balancing act.  I've got two schools this year and both schools have heavy schedules of students.  At my private school I am in charge of setting up all of the service plan/IEP meetings, evaluation meetings, and other special education meetings.  This is for students with some pretty complex needs.  Setting up meetings has never been my strong suit, and this year has been a huge challenge for me.  Coordinating the school psychologist, teacher consultant, resource room teacher, general education teacher, principal, and all ancillary staff is highly overwhelming at times.  Sometimes someone is missed in the meeting scheduling, or an email is missed, I'm late for a meeting because of traveling, or I am missing students. Then I feel guilty.

Because of all of the stress with my work and home schedules, I decided that I needed to focus on my own health a bit more.  So, on top of everything else, I have started waking up at the early awful ungodly hour of 4:40 in the morning so that I can make it to a 5:15 boot camp at least three days a week. When else am I going to go work out?  There are mornings when my alarm goes off and I press snooze.  5 times.  I miss my class.  Then I feel guilty.

Finding Balance as a School SLP
People talk about type A personalities and how they are ultra organized and motivated.  I admire these people.  I want to be these people.  But, I feel like I'm more like my blood type: AB+.  People compliment me on being organized but I know it is just a facade.  My planner is super organized but a lot of times I don't feel like my brain matches that organization.  I am just one missed glance at my schedule or planner away from everything toppling over.


Why am I telling you all of this?  I'm telling you this because I want you to know that we all have a hard time balancing it all!  Our Instagram or Facebook accounts may look like we have it all together.  Perfect activities planned for each session.  Perfectly organized materials and files.  Materials personally made for each student.  A lot of times it's a facade.  I may post a picture that looks perfect, but know that behind the scenes there was a lot that was not perfect that day.  I may have had the perfect activity that was made for a specific student, but the rest of my caseload played the memory game.  Again.

I love my life that I have created.  I love my family, my friends, my students, my job, even my 5:15 boot camp class!  But I know that there has to be a balance.  Finding that balance is tough, but I will keep trying.  I also know that it is ok if some things fall out of balance.


Summer Articulation and Language Calendars

Summer Speech Therapy Carryover Activities: A linky of activities to have your speech and language students do to prevent the summer slide.

I am joining up with the other Frenzied SLPs to bring you summer speech therapy carryover activities.  Today, I am sharing my updated 2018 Summer Speech and Language Calendars with you!

These summer speech and language calendars are exactly what you need to send home for busy families over your summer break.  The calendar pack includes both articulation and language calendars with activities for each day of the month.  June-August included.

Every year I update my Summer Speech and Language Calendars.  These are so easy to prep and send home with students for the summer for a little extra practice.  Parents appreciate the ease of use.  Simply put it on the refrigerator and practice an activity every day.  Each activity takes less that 5 minutes, but allows for the student to think about their sound every day.

There are two sets of calendars included in this packet...

Articulation
These summer speech and language calendars are exactly what you need to send home for busy families over your summer break.  The calendar pack includes both articulation and language calendars with activities for each day of the month.  June-August included.

These calendars come in black and white and color versions.  There is an activity on each day, and a small icon for students to color in after they have completed an activity.




Language
These summer speech and language calendars are exactly what you need to send home for busy families over your summer break.  The calendar pack includes both articulation and language calendars with activities for each day of the month.  June-August included.

As with the articulation calendars, there is a different activity for each day.  Students color in an icon after they have finished the activity.  Language skills included in this packet: categorization, describing, story telling, analogies, idioms, synonyms, antonyms, plural nouns, past tense verbs, auditory comprehension for sentences, auditory memory, calendar vocabulary (yesterday, today, tomorrow, etc.).


 There is also a letter to parents and a communication log for each area (articulation & language).



These summer speech and language calendars are exactly what you need to send home for busy families over your summer break.  The calendar pack includes both articulation and language calendars with activities for each day of the month.  June-August included.

They are also a part of a bundle of articulation and language calendars for the entire year that you can get HERE.

Link up with your summer speech and language activities here:


St. Patrick's Day Articulation

St. Patrick's Day Articulation Activity

Is your caseload bursting with articulation students like mine is?   It has been years since I have had this many articulation students, and frankly, I was getting a little sick of my activities that I had!  You can only play memory or Go Fish so many times, you know?  What my students don't get sick of is bingo dabbers and markers.  I swear, I can pull out a pack of markers or dabbers and I am a superhero!  Because of this, I decided to make a set of articulation pages for my students to color or dab.  St. Patrick's Day Articulation was born!

This set of no-prep articulation pages includes the following sounds all in the initial position of words:
B, Ch, D, F, G, H, J, K, L, L-Blends, M, N, P, R, R-Blends, S, S-Blends, Sh, T, Th, V, W, Y, and Z


So, how does this work?
Students can use their marker or dabber to color in the Leprechaun's gold after they say their word a number of times.  If you have your student say each word 5 times, you will get 70 productions from this one page.  Imagine if you have them say it 10 times!  
St. Patrick's Day Articulation Activity

If you have some gold coins, you can also have students earn their gold by saying the words and then covering them up with the real coins.
St. Patrick's Day Articulation Activity

I included a blank sheet so that you can also fill in your own words if you would like.

St. Patrick's Day Articulation Activity

St. Patrick's Day Articulation Activity

4 Fun Ways to Use Snowmen in Speech and Language Therapy

Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!

Winter is in full swing here in Michigan!  It has been cold and snowy and we are only a few weeks into winter. This has been my view on my way to work (not bad, right?):

Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!


My kids all love to build snowmen when they play in the snow, and I've found a few ways to incorporate snowmen into my speech and language therapy too!

1) FLOOF!
Over the winter break, I saw a new (to me) type of clay/sand called Floof.  This is such a great product!  I decided to purchase the snowman kit for my students to create and describe.  It has been so much fun!!!
Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!

Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!


2) Drawing
A really easy way to incorporate snowmen is with a simple marker and piece of paper.  I start with the three snowballs drawn out and copied.  You can also have your students draw the snowballs and work on the concepts of small, medium, large, top, bottom, and  middle.  Then I give directions such as "give the snowman a red scarf before you give the snowman a pink hat."  There are lots of directions that can be worked on in this activity.
Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!

Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!


3) Snowmen Snowflakes
Another way to use snowmen in therapy is with these cute snowmen snowflakes.  They are actually super easy to make.  We used them in articulation practice by writing the students speech words on each of the snowmen.
Fold square paper into a triangle.

Draw snowmen on two outside corners.

Cut out snowmen- don't cut the bottoms!

Add extra cuts to decorate.

Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!
Write articulation words on snowmen.

4)Snowmen Books
I have also used a few snowmen books in therapy.  My favorites are Snowmen at Night, Sneezy the Snowman, and The Biggest, Best Snowman.
Using snowmen in speech therapy is a great way to engage students in the winter months!

There are still a few weeks of winter, so I hope these snowman activities can help get you through!  I personally can't wait until spring though!!!

Little Stories for Speech, Language & Literacy {App Review} and GIVEAWAY!

Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!

I am always looking for activities that I can use to target both articulation and language goals, so when I came across this app, I had to try it out!  Little Stories for Speech, Language, and Literacy is an app by the great people over at Little bee Speech that is available for the iPad only at the iTunes store.

How To Use This App
Little stories are exactly that...little stories.  They are exactly 100-words long.  You can select each story based on:
Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!
All pictures from Little Stories Pro
  • Phonemic Targets: /l/, l blends, /r/, r blends, /s/, s blends, and th 
  • Story Title: alphabetized selections 
  • Themes: working as a team, having compassion for others, following instructions, etc.
  • Reading Level: level A ages 6.5-7.5, level B ages 7-8.5, or level C ages 8-9.5
There are 82 different stories to choose from, so you will have plenty of stories to use with your students.

Once you select the story, you will have the option to record your student reading the story.  This recording can be saved and scored for reading fluency.  I can also see this being used for recording speech fluency too.  There is also an option for having the story read out loud to your student.  You can scroll down to read along.  At the bottom of the story is a button to click to check comprehension.
Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!

When you click the Check Comprehension button, you will have four different options:
Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!
  • Story Retell- Record the student retelling the story in their own words.  You can then score this story based on story structure (orientation, complication, action, resolution, ending) or expressive language (nouns & pronouns, verbs, adjectives & adverbs, prepositions, delivery).
Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!

  • Sequencing- Students drag the statements to the correct order.
Little Stories App Review.  This a great speech and language app that allow you to focus on retell, sequencing, and wh-questions with 6-10 year old students.  You can find stories based on phonemic target too!
  • WH Questions- Students answer who, what, where, when, and how questions regarding the story.  You can have the student attempt to answer the question without a choice of answers and then check their answer, or you can go right to four multiple choice answers and have your student choose.                                                                                                                                          I think the multiple choice are really easy for the students to figure out without really comprehending the story.  There is only one option with the characters names or other information, so it is very easy to choose because of heavy context clues.  I really like to have the students try to answer without the choices first.  ***I have spoken with the app developers about the WH questions, and they have let me know that on the next update, there will be more difficult WH questions.


  • Story Talk- This section guides student through some conversation about the story.

This app gives you the ability to track data on your students.  you can select or add a student in order to keep track of data that you have collected in any of these areas.


Within the story, there is also an option for flashcards.  You can look at sight words or words that focus on the phoneme you were targeting.


What Do I Think?
This is a great app to target a variety of skills in your speech and language groups.  I can definitely see the advantages to using this in your mixed groups.  The stories are simple and engaging.  I love all of the different ways of tracking data.  

The current price for this app is $41.99.  This is 30% off of the regular price of $59.99.  This price will change back on February 1, so grab the deal while you can.

**You can also enter to win a FREE copy of this app by going over to my Instagram post and commenting.**
This giveaway will run from 1/24 - 1/28/2018.  Winner will be announced on 1/29/2018.

I was provided with a copy of this app by the developer for the purpose of this review.  I was not compensated in any way.  The opinions and comments about this app are my own.


Speech and Language Homework Calendars


Are you looking for an easy way to send home activities for your speech and language students to practice their skills?  I have been using these calendars for years now, and have had great responses from my students and their parents!  I have a set of articulation calendars and a set of language calendars.  Both sets are updated every calendar year as well as at back to school time.  There are color versions of the calendars as well as black and white for a low ink option.  If you have access to color printing at your school, I suggest using the color versions- they are bright and fun!  The black and white versions are fun too, and students can color the pages themselves.

ARTICULATION

In the articulation calendars, students are asked to find a variety words that start with their sound and use their sound in connected speech in a variety of activities.  Here are some examples of daily activities included on the articulation calendars:

Each day on the calendar has a small icon in the corner that students can color in when they complete the task.


LANGUAGE


In the language calendars, students are asked to answer questions that focus on categorization, describing, story telling, analogies, idioms, synonyms, antonyms, plural nouns, past tense verbs, auditory comprehension for sentences, auditory memory, calendar vocabulary (yesterday, today, tomorrow, etc.).  Here are some examples of activities in the language calendars:
COMMUNICATION LOGS
In each set of calendars, there is also a parent letter and communication log that can be sent home.  The parent letter describes how to use the calendars.  The communication log gives parents a chance to let you know what went well and what the student needed help with.


These calendars are available at my TpT store in a BUNDLE or you can purchase the articulation or language calendars separately.


Organizing Your Speech and Language Caseload Files

Now that you are all settled into your new speech and language room, you'll have to find out who you are supposed to be seeing with all of those well-organized materials.

The first thing you'll need to do is either print off a caseload list from whatever your caseload manager/IEP program is on your computer or maybe your special services department will print one for you.  Either way, you need to get your hands on this information.  Once you have your list, you are ready to go!

Here are the steps for organizing those students:

1.  Find their files.  The previous SLP should have left you all of the files for your students.  This should contain at least the latest IEP.  It may contain previous testing and testing protocols as well as notes on the student.  I like to organize these files using recycled pieces of paper from the teacher workroom.  I fold the paper in half so that the white side is facing out.  Then, I place the reports/IEPs/other information into that folded half-sheet.  On the folded edge of the paper, I write the information about what is contained in that section.

2.  Make a hanging file for each student.  I love to use those sticky file tabs from Post-It. Use your caseload checklist to make sure you have every student's file accounted for.  Place your student files into each slot.  This drawer will be so organized that you will want to show it off!


3.  Make a working file for each student.  This file is completely separate from your file with all of the IEPs and testing.  This is what you will use on a daily basis with your students.  In my daily file folders, I like to keep a copy of the goal sheet and a data sheet.  The goal sheet on the left makes it super easy to reference goals while I am working with students to make sure we are on the right track during sessions.  I write the name of the student on the file tab in pencil so I can easily change it if I find out that the student goes by a different name than their legal name (ie., Nick instead of Nicholas).  I also use this space to indicate which day (or days) of the week I see the student.  I write this in pencil with a simple M T W Th F next to the student's name.  I use pencil so that I can easily use this file for a couple years and just change the day of the week each year.




4.  Make a separate hanging file holder to store your daily working files.  I like to have a hanging file for each day of the week.  Then, after my schedule is made, I place the daily folder into the hanging file for the day of the week that I see the student (don't worry, you'll get to your scheduling soon).


Now you are ready to schedule those students.  We'll get into that in a different post.  Hope you can use some of my tips for organizing those files!

**Sorry this is so late in posting this school year!  Navigating a new school takes my time and energy away from my blog, so this is super late, but hopefully relevant for anyone who is newly stepping into a building mid school year, or for you to bookmark for next year. :)