How to work on commenting with "I see..."

How many times have you had this problem?  You have worked hard on requesting with a student who is using an AAC device or picture communication book, and they are requesting up a storm!  Not a problem really, right?  Well, what if they could do even more with their communication?  How about the next step which would be commenting!  How great is it to give a child a way to comment on their world, and not just request in it?

A friend of mine posted this video in an AAC group, and I thought it was great. This You Tube channel called TheDadLab has so many great ideas for exploring with young children!

My initial thought was, "I see blue water all over the floor!"  These little cuties are having a great time exploring a small area, and I can really see how this would be great, but I also saw a huge mess of blue water on my carpet thanks to some of my more enthusiastic friends.

I decided to try something similar, but using beans.  I know that this could still cause a mess, but vacuuming up a few beans is much easier than cleaning up a big blue stain on the carpet in my office!  I took a clear glass baking dish and poured enough beans inside to cover the entire bottom.  I then took a piece of paper with pictures printed on it and placed it under the glass dish.  I then took a clear plastic cup that I cut down in size and cleared a space in the beans for the cup.  My students were able to move the cup around and see what was hiding underneath the beans!

Using books is a great way to work on "I see..."  Board books work well when focusing on commenting. They are durable and will withstand use from my most enthusiastic friends.  I like to pull out an activity page with icons that represent pictures in the book.

I found this picture viewer when I moved into my speech room years ago.  It is great for going through a bunch of pictures, and engages my students more than just flipping through the pictures with our hands.  They love pulling down the tray to change the pictures!

One more way I like to work on "I see" is with an iPad app called Peekaboo Barn.  This app is really cute and engaging!  I made visual icons to represent everything that pops up in the app.  The students tap on the barn door to reveal who is behind the doors (look for a later post on how to use this for "I hear").

I should also say that even though the "I see" icon looks like it is always present on my sentence strip, I actually move it back to the same spot in their books every time they make an exchange.  I keep it on the same page as their "I want" icons, so they do have to learn some discrimination for these tasks.

I hope you can use some of these tips and work on commenting with your students!

Sharing Kindness Freebie: A Frenzied SLPs Blog Hop

This week, the Frenzied SLPs are bringing you a blog hop full of freebies with a kindness theme.

I have a lot of students working on following directions, so I made a little following directions activity to share with you.  You can grab this freebie HERE.

There are three pages of directions: One-Step, Simple Two-Step, and Complex Two-Step.

My students loved following directions with this cute picture!

I hope you enjoy this freebie, and that it helps spread a tiny bit of kindness to you and your students! Please follow along this blog hop to grab more of the Frenzied SLPs kindness freebies.

How to make a bright and inspirational SLP canvas set!

I went to Michaels this weekend, and got really inspired to create.  I went a little overboard with the canvas purchases!  I'm making a set of pretty flower pictures for my front entrance area, and I also went to work on a fun, inspirational set of SLP canvases!

These are the flower pictures I finished!
I am going to give you a tutorial on how to make this set, and will also provide you with the inspirational posters for FREE!

First, you can grab the posters HERE.  For this canvas project, I suggest printing with a laser printer.  I sent mine to the Fed Ex Print Shop (formerly Kinkos) and paid $2.00 to have the PDF printed.  If you use an inkjet printer, the ink will smear with the Mod Podge that you will be using.

If you don't want to create canvas prints of your own, you can print them on any kind of printer and put them in 8x10 frames.  Then, you are done!  You don't need the rest of this tutorial- enjoy your prints!

If you want to create the canvas prints, follow these directions:

What you will need:

  • Inspirational SLP posters
  • Mod Podge (I like the matte finish)
  • Black acryic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • (3) 8x10 canvas
  • A roller or other device to smooth out the picture onto the canvas.
  • A book or box that will fit into the back of your canvas to make rolling and smoothing out your picture a little easier.

How to make these:

1.  Print pictures on a laser printer.

2.  Cut off the white portions of the picture so that you have a perfect 8x10 print.  (It is ok if you cut out a tiny bit smaller- you will be painting the canvas, and it will blend in.

3.  Paint the edges and a small border on your canvas using the black paint.  Then let dry.

4.  Cover the entire canvas with Mod Podge.  I like to use a sponge brush to do this.  Then, paint the back of your picture with Mod Podge.  Cover the entire back of the picture.

5.  Place the picture onto the canvas (Mod Podge to Mod Podge sides together).

6.  Smooth out the picture.  This is where the book behind the canvas comes into play.  You will want something you can press against.  You want to try to push all of the air bubbles out of the image.  I also use a roller to smooth it out even more.  You can press on the front and the back of the picture.

7.  Cover the entire area with Mod Podge. You will be painting over the image.  Don't worry- it will dry clear!

8.  Let it dry, and then you will have a great canvas to hang up and enjoy!

Pair by Nature

This week, I found a great app that is **FREE for a limited time!**  I'm not sure how long it will be free, so go grab it if you can.
The app is called Pair by Nature and is geared toward the preschool crowd.  I can see myself using it with some of my students with developmental delays also.

This app is really simple and engaging.  With this app, students can learn about logically related items.  It also helps them to develop visual perception skills, cognitive skills, and language skills.  The app developer, Step by Step describes that "children will engage in simple activities, such as matching, pairing, ordering, grouping, and sorting. This allows them to practice essential skills, such as: categorization, conceptualization, generalization, abstraction, memory, language, math, visual perception, fine motor, accuracy, attention, and focus. They will learn about shapes, colors, animals, fruit, vegetables, clothing, tools, vehicles, furniture, professions, toys, etc., — all while playing."

When you begin the app, you can select the user by clicking the smiley face icon.  Then, you can select the lesson that you would like to target.  There are 20 different lessons to choose from.  I started with #1 which had the student matching animals to the food they eat.

Here are examples of two other lessons available:

I like this app because I can keep data on each student that utilizes the app.

There are also fun add-ons such as coloring pages, 

a sticker book,
and a memory game.

I think this app is great for my students, and think that you will like it too!

Articulation Therapy Ideas

Do you ever have days where you know exactly what you need to target, but are just looking for a different way to do it?  I know I have had many days like that, especially when working on articulation.  My first year in the schools, I know that I was so frustrated with the monotony (to me at the time) of working on articulation, that I wasn't sure I even wanted to do the job anymore!  With my crazy caseload now, I have gotten over the feeling that articulation work is monotonous, and now embrace the time I have with my students working on articulation.  We can have so much fun together!

So, you may ask, how did I get over the feeling of monotony?  Well, I made a deal with myself that I would try to change things up.  I would take items that I already had and use them as reinforcing activities during articulation work.  Here are ten activities that really work for me:

1.  Go Fishin- This is a game that I had in my speech room, and every time I had it out for my preschool population, my older students would see it and want to play too.  So, I changed it into a way to use it for articulation work.   I wrote numbers on the bottom of each fish, so that each time my students catch a fish, they have to say their word or sentence that many number of times.  If I could do this again, I would start with higher numbers (I did 1-4) to get more productions.

2.  Making Progressive Sentences-  My kids think this is hysterical.  We start with one articulation card and make a sentence.  "I see a soccer player."  Then, we add a card and add to our sentence.  "I see a soccer player eating a sandwich."  Then, we add even more! "I see a soccer player eating a sandwich with Santa."

3.  Chipper Chat- This is my one go to item that is fun for all ages.  My students LOVE to pick up the chips with the magnetic wand.  Students roll the dice and say their word or sentence the number of times on the dice. Then, they get chips to put on their board.  When they fill up the board, they can take the chips off. Sometimes, I have students start with all of the chips on the board and take that number of chips off the board.
I use the set from Super Duper Inc., but there are lots of different magnet chip boards that you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you don't buy the Chipper Chat set, you can find a bingo magnet and chips at a store like Wal-Mart or Target.  I have even seen them at the dollar store occasionally.

4.  Paper Clips on Articulation Cards- This works great with the chipper chat magnet wands.  Just put paper clips on your articulation cards, and the kids can go fishing for cards.  I like to put the cards face down so that the cards are a "surprise" each time.

5.  Memory-  Ok, I'm sorry, but really, my kids of all ages still LOVE to play memory!  I try not to play it too often so it doesn't wear out it's welcome though.

6. Paper Bag- Put cards in a paper bag and pull them out.  Try to guess what you will get before you pull it out.  If you guess correctly, you get to keep it.  First person to guess all of their cards correctly wins.  Some kids have a really eerie ability to do this!

7.  A Good Book- I love to take a good book out for students and try to find words that start with their sound.  I pull out a piece of paper and we write down all of the words that have their sound.  I love when I can have them bring books from class for this so that they may think about those words again during reading groups with their teacher.

8. Categories!  I have students pick a word from their articulation cards and tell me the category of the item.  We create piles of different categories and see how many different piles we can make. Students have to say their word in a sentence, "A sandwich is an food."  I love this activity because students get both articulation and language benefits.

9.  Guess the Item- I describe the articulation word to the student and see if they can guess the word I am describing.

10.  Articulation Recall- We roll the dice to see how many cards the student has to recall.  I then present that number of words to the student and give them a moment to memorize them.  Then, we flip them over face down and see if the student can recall each word before flipping it back.

There you have it!  Whether you are just starting out or a seasoned veteran, hopefully some of these ideas will help you to cut the monotony and put more fun in your articulation sessions.

Be the Change...

I originally wrote this post for Felice over at The Dabbling Speechie as part of her Monday Motto series.  I thought that with the start of school this week for myself and a lot of you, it may be a good time to share this post here.

"Be the change you want to see in the world."  -Mahatma Gahndi

Working as a school based speech-language pathologist can be really hard sometimes.  Our caseloads are huge, the students have so many different and diverse needs, and the paperwork (oh, the paperwork)!  But, seeing my kids make gains in any of their goal areas just makes my day all the better.

Getting kids to make gains in their goal areas is change.  We help make changes every day.  Nothing gives me more joy that hearing from a former student or parent that I helped make a change for the better in someone's life.

Another difficult part about working in the schools is at times it gets a little negative.  Teachers and staff are overworked, and at times under appreciated.  This can lead to some negativity.  I have heard people say that they won't go into the teachers lounge because it is too negative.  I haven't heard this at just one school, but rather, at every school I have worked at.  I do go to the teachers lounge.  I find it to be a great time to connect with other staff and teachers which in the end, I believe, helps our students. The one thing I do try to do when I am in the teachers lounge is to not engage in negative talk.  It is so easy to get sucked in- trust me it has happened to me.  But I thought, if I want to see a less negative teachers lounge, maybe I should be the change first.

Now when I go into the teachers lounge, I go in positive.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be Pollyanna throwing rainbows and glitter all around the room, but I don't get sucked into the really negative discussions.  I understand that people need to vent, and that is ok.  I just don't engage when the conversation goes in a negative, absolutely not constructive way.  I try to find a positive, or provide an idea that may help.

One last way that I try to be the change every day is in the hallway.  Every day at my school I stand at the entry hallway with two or three other staff and greet students as they come into school.  I get to see these energetic beings bounce in every day mostly with smiles on their faces.  Sometimes, however, we get some really sad friends come into school.  We don't know what has happened before they came in that day.  To be the change, we try to greet as many students as we can.  I can't even count how many kindergarten hugs and fist bumps we get!  But, it is those students who don't come in with a smile that we can actually make a big difference with.  I can't even tell you how many times we have greeted a student with a frown on their face and then stopped to talk with the student.  Many times something little has happened either on the bus, in the car with a sibling, or just a generally rough morning.  Letting our little friends get it out many times helps turn that frown around, and they bound away to their class ready to start their day.  Other times, we find out about really bad things that have happened.  This is so hard, but we are able to find them help in the way of their teacher, principal, or other staff that can help them for more serious situations.

I know that these 10 minutes in the morning aren't "in my contract" but I wouldn't change them for anything.  The days when I have a meeting or something else going on at the time the bell rings, I miss my little friends.  What I have realized is that I am not the change, they are.  They help me so many days when I have come in with the weight of family things in my head.  They help me smile on tough days.

I have now come to realize that the reason I have been so drawn to this quote is that I feel like we all live it every day.  Every day we have a chance to "be the change."  Whether it is by working on therapy goals, bringing some positivity to a discussion, or simply helping bring a smile to someone's day.  Big or small, we can all be the change.

5 Tips for Progress Monitoring for Speech and Language Skills

Progress monitoring is something that can haunt you all year. In the past, I have felt like I was constantly scrambling at progress report time, trying to scrounge up data that I had taken to present on my reports. When I started out, I didn't think ahead to how I would compare this data over time to show the growth that I knew I was seeing. Now, I have realized that when I use the same tool each time I progress monitor, I can get a much better picture of how my students are learning and changing over time. Here are 5 tips for getting great progress monitoring data:

1. Be Consistent
I think this one is pretty important.  When I am doing progress monitoring, I want it to be a snapshot that I can compare with another snapshot.  Whenever possible, I try to use the exact same items when progress monitoring.

For story retelling or answering questions about stories, I try to stay consistent with the types of stories that I use.  For example, I may use a Fall Matt and Molly story in September, and then use a different Winter Matt and Molly story in November or December.  Because the stories are very similar in their style, I am not worried that the results will be radically skewed.  I know that there will be 10 yes/no questions and 10 wh questions that all target similar details in the stories.  There are four pictures, and simple text, which make these great for early story tellers.

For articulation, I use items from my Articulation Progress Monitoring Kit.  With these pictures, I can use the exact same target words, and watch progress over time with the exact same words.  This has helped me out tremendously.

2. Don't teach to the test 
The last thing I want to do is completely skew my data into showing growth that isn't really there.  I may work on synonyms as a goal.  If I only focus on the same 10 synonyms over the course of 8 weeks, chances are pretty good that my student will make some pretty good progress on those 10 words.  I don't want to only focus on those words if I am going to be tracking data over a whole year.  I may focus on 10 words in those 8 weeks, but my progress monitoring will not be only those words.  I will have a set of possibly 25-30 words that I will progress monitor over the year.  As the year goes on, it will show progress over time.  If I only progress monitor the words that I teach those 8 weeks, my data will probably always show 80% or greater accuracy.  I won't be able to show progress that way.

3.  Make yourself a progress monitoring schedule
I like to put progress monitoring right in my planner.  I simply remind myself that I have to progress monitor my students during that week (typically the week before my reports are due).  When I plan it out this way, I am less likely to miss a student because of possible missed sessions.  I will still have time to grab the student if I miss them.

4.  Use what you have
Progress monitoring doesn't have to be fancy.  A great example is when I work on increasing sentence length, working on pronouns, or working on verbs.  I have a set of Autism and PDD Photo cards for WH questions that I love to use to target a variety of goals.  I made a simple chart for the What Doing section of these cards.  When I want to progress monitor, I simply pull out my cards, and check off the table as I go through the cards.  On the top of the page, I write what my target goal is.  For example, sometimes I may work on the pronouns he, she, or they.  For another student, I might work only on the verb +-ing structure.  I can use the same cards for multiple reasons, as long as on the top of the page, I make sure I know what the goal is.  If you have these cards and would like to use this chart, you can get it HERE.

5.  Keep it simple!
No need to make this difficult on yourself!  Follow the above tips to help you keep it simple.

You can follow this linky to grab a lot more tips for how to progress monitor!