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. :)

Describing the Composition of Items: What is it Made Of?

I love working on describing with my language students.  It is a great way to help organize their language.  My go-to for working on describing is the Expanding Expression Tool (EET).  It is an awesome visual representation to use with my students.  One of the parts of this tool that my students always get stuck on though is composition- what is it made of.  This just doesn't seem to be something that is in their prior knowledge.  I wanted to make a little activity to help my students with this, and came up with a sorting and describing activity.


This packet contains 8 different materials mats with 24 clipart items and 24 real photograph items to sort.  
8 different material mats

Clipart items

Real photograph items 
One thing that my students who are working on describing have is formulating a complete sentence to describe items.  I created a sentence starter mat to help formulate these sentences.  You can use the item cards from the mats to create the sentences.


I always like to have a little something to send home to students, so I also created four worksheets to go along with this describing activity.  There are two materials sorting pages and two sentence creation pages.

You can get What is it Made Of? HERE.

I have had some good results with my students using this activity.  They are able to see that there are many different materials that an item could be made of.  I hope you and your students will enjoy this activity too!

Auditory Halloween- Sentences, Stories, and Riddles!


I am always looking for fun auditory activities for my students.  I love it when a theme can be fit into it too.  Halloween is a perfect theme to target auditory activities!  My students love anything Halloween related.
I created this packet well over two years ago but never wrote about it.  I want to share more about it with you now.  This has been a hit with my language students and I hope yours will love the activities too!

There are five activities included in this packet:

Auditory Memory for Sentences:  In this activity, students are asked to repeat a sentence exactly as it is read to them.  Sentences are 10-14 syllables long.  If the students get the sentence correct, they can move a game piece on the game board provided.


Haunted House Riddles: In this activity, you read the clues out loud, and the students guess what the Halloween item is.  If they get it correct, they can put their card in their "haunted house."  My students love guessing the items and then getting to hold onto the cards.


Auditory Memory for Halloween Stories:  There are 12 stories included in this packet.  Each story is 2-3 sentences in length.  There are three comprehension questions following each story.  There is also a simple picture for each story.



Halloween Story Retelling:  In this activity, a short story is read to students and they are asked to retell the story.  There are no picture cues for these stories, they are purely auditory.  There is a rubric provided for scoring the story retell.






Organizing Materials in a School Speech and Language Room


So, now you have found your new room at your new school.  It may look like this:


Ok, so maybe you won't have 20 boxes of items sitting around, but you may have 20 boxes of things to go through in your cupboards!  Depending on who was in your room before you, there may be a treasure trove of items to find.  I inherited my first speech room from an SLP who was there for over 30 years.  At the same school.  30 years!  Needless to say, she had a LOT of materials that she didn't take with her when she retired.  Some of these items were great, while some left something to be desired.  I didn't really need a set of dittos (you know, the purple looking mimeographed papers) from 1975.  I'm not saying that something from that time frame might not be useable, but the pictures are sometimes really hard to decipher for my students, and sometimes inappropriate too.

So, what do you do?

1) Sort materials.  Go through your cabinets, bookshelves, boxes, etc. and make piles of items.  I like to organize by topic.  Put all of your articulation items in a pile.  WH question materials in another pile.  Vocabulary items in another pile.  You get the picture.  It will take some time, but trust me, you will appreciate it later.  This will not only organize you, but you will get a better picture of what is actually in your new speech room.

2) Purge. (a bit) What I mean by this is go through and throw away those old dittos that you know you will never use.  As a new SLP, I wouldn't throw away all materials though.  Just because it is old doesn't mean it may not be of use to you.  If you question whether you may use something.  Keep it.  Next year you can do this again and get rid of anything you truly never touched.

3) Make a donate box.  Sometimes when I am going through my items I find duplicates of things that I either already have or things that there are just duplicates of.  I put these items in a box to share with my fellow SLPs in my department.  You could also try to share with any SLP groups you are a part of.  Make sure you have permission from your district if you are trying to sell any materials.  If you sell the items you could use the money to purchase new therapy materials.  Again, just make sure you have permission to do this, it may be district property.

4) Organize materials on your shelves.  Now you are at a place where you can take all of those lovely piles of therapy materials and place them on your shelves, in cabinets, drawers, or pretty much wherever you can find a spot.  I like to label my cabinets with my trusty label maker when I move to a new place just so I can find everything easily.


I organize my shelves by topic.  Now that I have organized my items on the tables, all I have to do is place them on the shelves and label the category.




I like to keep all of my games handy.  This year I used the top of a file cabinet next to my kidney shaped table to house all of my games.  This makes them easy to reach when I am pulling materials.


I also like to keep all of my articulation cards close at hand.  Unfortunately, when I moved in, I wasn't really left with a lot of those.  I left all of my old cards at my last office because they were purchased for that particular school.  I loved those cards, and I'll have to replace them soon.

Now you should have all of your materials in place, and you can move on to figuring out your caseload.  I'll help you navigate that next week.





Navigating a New School as an SLP- What to do First



I am embarking on a new journey.  At least it feels like that!  I am leaving the comfort of a school that I have been a part of for ten years and going to another school in my same district.  With this change comes some anxiety.  I have to meet a new staff and get to know all new students.  I also have to figure out the culture of the school.  But first, I have to find my room!



This is the first of a series that I am going to do that will chronicle my navigation to a new school and caseload.  This will be helpful for new grads venturing into their first job as well as seasoned veterans that may be switching things up a bit.

I found out on the last day of the school year (June) that I was going to be moved this year.  This left me with little time to say any goodbyes.  I feel like there is a lot still unsaid to both students and staff.  I have decided to write a little note to my previous students wishing them well for the new year, and letting them know that I think they will love the next person coming in- I did mentor her after all! :)
I was invited to the principal's house at my old school after our first official day back for a bbq to be able to say goodbye to everyone.  I think it is good to get some closure and to maintain contact with all of the staff that I had great relationships with for the last ten years.

So, what to do now, you ask?  Here is a list of things to do before you even see your new room.
1.  Make Contact- This summer I made contact with my new principal to introduce myself by email.  I left my cell phone number in the email, and let her know I would be excited to talk with her before the school year starts.  She called me over the summer, and we had a good chat.  I told her that I was excited about my new adventure.

2.  Find the New School- This may seem like a no-brainer, but figure out where your new school is so that you know where you are going!  Best to not be late when you set up a time to meet.

3.  Set Up a Time to Meet- It is two weeks before my official first day back (three weeks until students start) and I contacted my new principal to set up a time to meet her and get a tour of the school.  I was able to meet the secretary and principal and get a glimpse of my new room.  While I was there, we even met about a new student I am receiving from out of state.

4.  Shop For Supplies- Ok, so this one isn't really necessary at this point, but who can resist the great sales right now? 50 cents for a 24 pack of Crayolas?  That's awesome!  I like to grab all of my basic speech room supplies now before they get too picked over.  So far I have my crayons, markers, glue sticks, pencils, pens, sharpies, and these really cute crayon boxes that I'm not quite sure what I am going to do with yet, but were too cute to pass up!

Next week I will be moving my things into my new room.  I'll get a picture to share with you, and also let you know what I do when I move into new digs.




6 Ways to use Paper Bags in Speech and Language Therapy


Looking for a cheap, easy to use therapy material?  How about paper bags?  I love using paper bags for a variety of activities.  Here are some simple ways I have incorporated paper bags into my therapy sessions.

1.  Puppets
My students love to use puppets to "eat" their articulation cards or other target cards.  They also love to use them to tell stories.  Making puppets from paper bags is a great, inexpensive way to engage your students in a variety of activities!  You can easily make a puppet to match any book or story that you are using.  Be creative- your kids will love it!

I made these monster puppets with my son this week.  They were so easy to make!  We used a little paint, glue, and card stock with our paper bags.



I found the idea for these cute monsters from this pin:
Paper Bag Monster Puppets

2. Describe It To Me
This activity is also super easy.  I throw a bunch of items into a bag.  My students reach in and grab something (no peeking!) to describe.  The students remove the object and then describe it using a variety of descriptors.  This is a great way to incorporate your Expanding Expression Tool (EET) with describing real objects.  Sometimes I will even get really small, cheap objects that the students can keep if they give me a description using all of the beads on the EET.


3. What is in the bag?
This is a great activity to work on a student's deductive reasoning skills.  I put an object into the bag (students do not see- again, no peeking).  Students need to ask questions about my object.  This is similar to the game Headbanz.


4. Categories
Place pictures of categories on the bag and collect items or pictures to place in each category.  I used pictures from my Category Sorting activity.  I like to put a piece of Velcro on each bag so that I can interchange the categories without having to get a new bag each time.


5. Collect in a bag
Put any kind of card into the bag.  My students love to decorate a bag and then collect their cards.


6. Paper bag books
You can use two paper bags to make a book that will have two pockets.  Simply fold two bags in half and then put the two openings touching each other to make two pockets for a book.  Staple together, and done!  You have a paper bag book that you can use to target a variety of goals.  I used this one to put some of my new sequencing cards in for a student to take home.


I have also made these Articulation Paper Bag Books.  These are so fun to make with students and send home!


Here is a link to a freebie that contains blank frames to use on your paper bags, as well as labels for What is in the bag? and Describe It To Me.

Have fun using your paper bags!

Social Detective: Intermediate {App Review}



I was approached to review The Social Detective Intermediate app which was created by Social Skill Builder in collaboration with Pamela Crooke and Michelle Garcia Winner. This app is a follow up to the Social Detective: Beginner app, and is geared toward ages 7+.  It is meant to be a companion to the You are a Social Detective book by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.  The creators describe the app by stating that it "focuses on decoding the thoughts and emotions of people students interact with day to day.  Using this information, students will make smart guesses to predict what those people might do or say next."   I had two students who were working on better understanding and reading of others thoughts and emotions, so it was perfect timing!  

This app begins with choosing an avatar for your student.  Then, the app guides you to a page with "detective equipment."  

The notebook allows students to practice being a social decoder using video clips.  They make smart guesses on the thoughts, emotions, and guesses that the characters in each video are experiencing.  There is a pretest of 42 questions.  These questions ask about the characters:
  • thoughts

  • feelings

  • making "smart guesses" 

There is then a snapshot of all of the thoughts and feelings of the character after the questions have been answered.  


The flashlight allows students to practice being a social detective by identifying what is seen or heard by a character.  


They help the character make a smart guess ad figure out what others are thinking.  
It also allows students to predict what the character will do next.
This portion of the app also has videos that students will watch to answer the same types of questions as the pretest above.  After the student correctly answers three questions, the video will continue, to show what happens next.

What did I think about the app:
I thought this was a great way to practice social understanding.  The videos provide nice opportunities for students to utilize their social thinking skills.  My students were engaged in the videos which encouraged them to really think about their answers.  I like that there are a large amount of videos to provide practice for my students.  I would love to see some more added that could include more school situations with older elementary to middle school students.

You can purchase this app at the app store (iPad only) here: Social Detective Intermediate for $24.99.  
You can also purchase this app as part of a bundle which includes Social Detective Beginner here: Social Detective Bundle for $39.99.

Disclaimer: A copy of this app was provided to me for my review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions are mine.