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!

10 Articulation Activities for your Speech Room

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!

Be Prepared: Starting your year out right {Linky}

A BONUS Sale?!?!
Yes!  If you haven't grabbed everything that you have wanted to before school starts, tomorrow will be a great day to do it!  Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Best Year Ever Bonus Sale on Monday, August 22.  By using the code OneDay at checkout, you can save 28% off of everything in my store, Speech Universe.

With this bonus sale, The Frenzied SLPs have decided to host a linky party to share some great tips for starting the year out right.

My tip has to do with being prepared.  When starting out the year, I like to make sure I know where my students are in terms of their goals.  Many times they slip over the summer, and sometimes they make great gains over the summer!  This is never more true than with my students with articulation goals.  For the last two years, on the first day of therapy, I have used this Articulation Progress Monitoring Kit to see where my students are with their goals.  I have loved having this data for myself right at the beginning of the year.  Then, two months later when it is progress report time, I can pull out the sheet and easily get data for the report by re-administering the probe.  It is so easy peasy!!!!  It only takes about 5 minutes to get all the data I need to report on their progress.

Check out this picture that shows how easy it is to pull out the picture probes, have students say the words, and take great data:

There is enough space to take data four times on each sound.  There is also a place to mark whether you are checking word level or sentence level.  For my real little guys, the pictures help out a lot.  They can easily identify most of the words.  If they are not sure, I do have them just repeat the word for me.  My readers have a really easy time getting through these probes quickly.  When they move to the sentence level, I have my students make up their own sentences.  I tried a prototype where I wrote the sentences, but sometimes the reading got in the way.  It is easier to just have my students make up a quick sentence about the word.  I find that I get a more true "spontaneous" production of the sound this way.

So, if you want to make this your Best Year Ever, you can grab this kit for 28% off in the Best Year Ever Bonus sale on Monday, August 22.  Don't forget to use the code OneDay to maximize your savings.  Simply print out this kit, and you will be on your way to great data collection all year!

I hope you have a great start to your year!  Need more tips to start the year out right?  Check out these other great bloggers who have lots of tips for you!  Thanks so much to SLP Runner for hosting this linky!

What's In My Cart?

Back to School.  A time that I totally dread, but then am secretly excited about!  Who doesn't love a fresh box of crayons, new notebooks, and a totally organized room?  Another part of back to school that I love is snagging some great new resources at the annual TpT Back to School Sale!

This years sale is on Monday, August 1 and Tuesday, August 2.  When you use the promo code: BESTYEAR you can save 28% off of EVERYTHING in my store!  That includes all of my bundles too!

Here are a few things I thought you might like to grab during the sale:

My new Articulation Progress Monitoring Kit will be great for the first few weeks.  You can begin collecting your data on all of your articulation students, and keep up with it for four progress monitoring sessions throughout the year.  Data collection made easy!

Another fun back to school item is my Back to School Interactive Books.  These are easy to make, and so fun to use with students who need help with vocabulary, increasing utterance length, or need visuals to help with their language.

Now for a few things that are in my cart.  I am planning on doing a lot of back to school vocabulary with my students with ASD, so the first two items will be nice additions to what I already have!

This Back to School Interactive Book from Mia McDaniel looks great!

These Back to School Bingo Riddles by Speech Sprouts will work great with my higher level students too!

These new Artic Pix from Gold Country SLP look so bright and cheerful, I just have to pick them up too.  They will be a nice change from some of my old articulation cards.

And finally, I think I might also have to grab this super sweet SLP Planner from Speech Language Pirates!

Thanks so much to Jenna at Speech Room News for hosting this linky!  Head on back there to see what other SLP bloggers have in their carts too!

Wishing everyone a great back to school season!

Articulation Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring for articulation was something that I struggled with for a long time.  I never felt like I was comparing like data.  I would pull out a pack of articulation cards and take data on the words that came up.  I didn't write down the words, I just had plus and minus marks on my paper.  I would get a percentage for the sound, but not much more information.

Two years ago, I started working on a system for myself to progress monitor articulation skills.  I wanted it to be easy for me to pick up and go with multiple students in a group, all working on different sounds.  I also wanted to be able to compare how students produced the same words over time.  I started with a few sounds, and it grew and grew.  With a little tweaking and putting in some fun new clipart for you, I think it is ready to share with everyone!

Here is my Articulation Progress Monitoring Kit:

This kit is really easy to put together and to use.  I started with a large three ring binder.  I think the one I have set up is a 3" binder.  You don't need one that big, but I like to keep lots of copies of the data sheets so I always have one ready when I need it.

Next, print the entire kit.  I laminated my picture pages, but this is not necessary.  I glued all of the cover pages for each sound onto tabbed dividers.  This makes it super easy for me to find the sound I am looking for in seconds.

I just flip to the section I need, grab the target pictures and a data sheet, and I am ready to take some data!

I like to keep about 10 of these data sheets in each section.

This data is so easy to collect!
If you are worried about the amount of colored ink this may take, rest assured.  You can print this in black and white, and it turns out great.  Here is an example of two identical pages.  One is printed in color and one is printed in black and white using my printer settings.  You could easily print out a set for your student and keep it in their file to pull out when you need to collect data for progress reports. You would only need to print four pages- the three picture sets plus one data sheet.  This packet is set up alphabetically, so each sound is easy to find within the file.

This kit has been so useful to me.  I actually look forward to taking my articulation data at progress report time!

As a bonus for making it this far in my post, I am offering you a FREEBIE!  You can try this packet by printing the entire set for G.  I hope you enjoy it!

You can get the entire packet for all of the sounds HERE.

Let's Have a Conversation!

Many of you have asked where I got my visuals for conversation in my 5 Tips for SLPs Working with Students with ASD.  I have worked on these over the years, and I am ready to share them with you!

Let's Have a Conversation is a packet that has helped me and the school social worker at my school give our students with ASD a way to learn how to have a very simple conversation. Using visuals and removable icons, we have expanded utterance length in our students and helped them to learn the skills needed to have a conversation.

We try to do this during our peer support times with our SNAPs students (Students Need A Pal), but also practice with just ourselves and the students with ASD.  When we have SNAPs students, we have them ask the questions.  When they are not there, the social worker or I ask the questions.

The questions are simple such as, "What is your favorite color?"  We give students a variety of options to choose from.  Sometimes, they may start with just answering with one word.  We try to quickly work up to complete sentences just to expand utterance length.  In reality, students don't usually answer a question with "My favorite color is blue."  They may typically just say the word, or something like, "I like blue."  I have included two different visuals in this packet for that reason.  You can choose which carrier phrase you would like to use.

This is the visual used to ask questions.

This visual is used to answer the question using the carrier phrase:
"My favorite ____ is ____."

This visual is also used to answer the questions using the carrier phrase:
"I like ____."

There are also ten topic cards included that can be used with students who are ready for the next step in conversations.  On the left of the card is a topic question.  On the right hand side are some additional comments or questions that the student may use in the conversation.

Additional topic cards.

These visuals have helped so many of our students make gains with asking and answering questions with their peers.  We have had so much fun watching our students grow in their conversational skills! You can get these visuals HERE and hopefully watch your students grow too!