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


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:
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.

When you click the Check Comprehension button, you will have four different options:
  • 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).

  • Sequencing- Students drag the statements to the correct order.
  • 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. :)

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.