Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sneaky Tricks for Inclusion {Pushing in}

Whew! I’m back in action. November was a killer.  All month I hoped to share with you my Thanksgiving themed therapy, but band season and the worst case of bronchitis I’ve ever had really nixed that idea.  I spent most of the month hanging by a thread...and no voice. How in the world does an SLP function with no voice? Not very well I can tell you! Even with all the vocal hygiene knowledge in the world, I still couldn’t kick the croaking.  In fact, I’m rocking the deep man voice now as I type :) 

So anywayyyyyy.....What I’m blogging about today is how I PUSH IN. 


We call it....

I’ve written about this topic before, but this time I want to share with you some activities I actually use that help me zone in on my own students’ performance while still addressing the whole class.  Most SLPs feel, myself included, that it’s nearly impossible to keep data and truly address our students’ individual needs in the classroom, but I have developed some sneaky strategies that help.  

Let me start by saying, I do not do strictly inclusion services with my language disordered/delayed students. I do a combination of inclusion and “pull out.” I think that’s the best of both worlds, but that’s just my humble opinion based on years of experience. Being in the classroom opens my eyes to what my students’ are struggling with, and it helps me to know what to really focus on when they’re with me in my speech room. 

First and foremost, My ELA inclusion teachers always email me their lesson plans which I use to plan my lessons.  If you have cooperative inclusion teachers like this, treat them like royalty and hang on to them for dear life :) I either plan around the theme (such as tall tales, Native American history, a certain novel, etc.) or I plan around the skill (main idea, inferencing, compare/contrast, figurative language, etc)  Sometimes I can hit on both when I’m really on my game :)   I try to write language goals for these students in such a way that any ELA skills can apply, or I “tag myself” on the reading comprehension goal on my students’ IEP if they also receive special education services. 

On of my goals might read something like this:
Little Johnny will apply language skills (such as making inferences, summarizing, telling main idea and details, comparing/contrasting, answering comprehension questions, deciphering unknown vocabulary using context clues, justifying answers, comprehending figurative language) in order to answer constructed response questions on assignments and tests with 80% accuracy over 10 assignments/tests. 

That’s just an example; for some kids my goals are very specific based on their disorder . It may be strictly listening/follow directions, strictly vocabulary, etc. but by 4th-5th grade it’s time to focus on a variety skills because that’s that they’re expected to do, and by this time I feel the focus of language therapy changes from bridging language gaps and remediating delays to helping them cope with the immediate demands of the classroom. Ultimately, our job as school SLPs is to help them be as successful as possible in the curriculum.  Yeah, I know, I know.  THAT can make us feel like a tutor or a paraprofessional, but I don’t feel that way because I do it my applying my language expertise which no para or tutor can do. 

First of all, when I go into a classroom, I have a helper hand out “voting squares” to each student. Every student gets a red and a green square.







Use whatever kind you'd like. These are some that I made which you can download for free.  If you don’t want to download them, just cut red and green squares of construction paper. >>>>>>>>>> 

These boost engagement; they keep every child paying attention because they will have to use them to vote.  More on those later :) 


My teacher cohorts focus on reading comprehension.  
What’s the prerequisite skill or stepping stone to reading comprehension? 
Well, listening comprehension, of course!! 
( I do write many students’ goals to target listening comprehension also). 
Most  teachers use long, taxing passages to target comprehension (because that's what's expected of them). I don’t know about you but It’s all about rigor in my district.  If your students are like mine, they struggle with those.  Due to their disabilities, they trudge slowly through the passages (if they can read them at all) and lose comprehension. Many times, they get tired and discouraged and start to “fake read” or shut down or get visibly frustrated.  
Why? It’s too hard for our babies who grapple with language.  
That’s why they need us....for our expert scaffolding! 

I typically use shorter, more manageable passages.  Usually they are even on grade level, but they’re more high-interest and always short.  In fact, my inclusion classes are the very reason I make many products with short, fun non-fiction passages that are perfect for inclusion grades 3-5 (or even higher depending on disability)  
I have a bunch of them in my Tpt Store.  

After everyone has their voting squares, I like to use the I DO, YOU DO, WE DO method.  I use the teacher’s document reader to project a little passage on the board. Here are some examples of the passages I used for Thanksgiving from my “Thanksgiving {responding to non-fiction text & more}” packet. 



Now you would think these would be easy for 4th grades; for example, but even with this small amount of text, the questions challenge them.

I read the first passage on the board and then pose the questions (as well as other questions that I come up with on the spot because that’s the nature of any SLP). 
If the question is just what one of my students needs to work on, I choose them to answer aloud. Sometimes I choose a student by “picking sticks” which is the method my teachers’ use.  Then that student answers aloud BUT all of the other students use their voting squares to “vote” for every single question. They hold up the green square if they agree with the answer and the red square if they do not. 

That gives me an idea of who knew the answer and who didn’t.  If I’m stressed about collecting data, I write each of my students’ names on a sticky note before I go to class, and I quickly tally each right/wrong voting. After everyone has voted, I typically choose a student to explain why he/she thinks the answer is correct. Likewise, I choose someone who raised a red voting square to explain why he/she thinks the answer is wrong.  Then I ask the student (who answered aloud) the question again to see if he is sticking with his answer or not and let him know if he’s correct. Then we discuss.  It’s work and it’s reading but the kids actually love it! Also, instead of spending so much time reading, we spend time discussing and responding which is what we, as SLPs, are all about! 

Now, I do realize that some kids may have their feelings hurt with this process, so if that’s the case, it may not work for your class. I make it clear from the beginning that it’s ok to be wrong and that the people who think you’re wrong may be the ones that are wrong! Heck, even I get things wrong! Once that attitude of it’s “ok to be wrong” is established, the kids love it. 

After I do the reading for one or 2 passages, I have them choral read along with me for a couple more passages (WE DO) and then we answer the questions.  We continue to vote. Then I put them in pairs or groups and give each group a passage to read, discuss, and present. When the group comes up and presents and tells the answers to the questions on the cards, everyone votes.  They defend their answers and change them if needed.  Oh! and we are always working on answering in complete sentences with good grammar and restating the question, etc.  Getting the gist?  


The students are freaking out (in a fun way) about the things people do for Christmas in other countries. 

My very favorite is the Easter Around the world passages. 


Recently we did Pecos Bill passages because we were focusing on tall tales.


Sometimes I just have a passage we focus on the whole lesson -like if they’ve just read a chapter in a novel. During novel studies. I make questions to go with the novel (in fact I did this for the wonderful book My Louisiana Sky).
  For those I write questions on various levels (1, 2, and 3) and I number them so I remember their difficulty level.  Here is an example of some I did for our novel:











Just to make it more fun, I put them in boxes that I’ve numbered 1, 2, 3.  Each child is called on to answer a question and gets to pick if they want to answer an easy question (1), a “medium” question (2) or a hard question (3).  


You see, they can earn that many of our school dollars if they get it correct OR sometimes I split the class in half - or boys against girls- and they can earn that many points for their team when they answer. Yep, we keep score on the board! 

It’s interesting to see who is confident about answering questions and who is not.  As we did with the short passages activity, everyone votes about whether they think the answer is correct or not (and you can tally that if you wish). 

Of course, based on what I observe from my students in class, we focus on down and dirty when they come to my room for more intensive small group therapy. 

This month we will also be doing a little grammar in inclusion. It makes me sad that there’s not as much focus on grammar these days.  I mean, if our big push is to make kids better writers, they need to know grammar! 

After some grammar review we’ll be doing madlibs as a whole class (still voting with our voting square on each part of speech) of Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman carols.   YES, we are definitely singing our new wacky new versions once our madlib is complete!  We will also be incorporating some grammar practice with color-by-grammar that’s in my packet of Christmas passages.  



This coming week I’m excited to try something new that I learned about at a technology conferenece I attended this past week.  I’ll be blogging about it after I actually use it but if you want a sneak peek, it’s called PLICKERS.  It’s an app that allows all students to answer multiple choice questions (not my favorite but I want to try) by raising a card and reports data for each child! Here’s a photo from their website. 


No more tallying on a sticky note for me.  I am still trying to think of a way to incorporate oral answering for the person I call on and multiple choice answering for everyone else. Stay tuned!  I'm excited about trying it! 

If you want to see some other cool technology I use featuring altered reality, check out last December’s blog post here.  
You can catch other therapy ideas for the month of December there as well :) 

What tricks do you use for inclusion? I would really love to hear about them!! 

Happy pushing in! 
-Mia 


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Super Sweet SLP Frenzy!!

GUESS WHAT!?  
There’s something SWEET happening RIGHT NOW!! 

My SLP blogger friends and I are throwing what very well might be the LAST FACEBOOK FRENZY (due to changes on facebook that go into affect next week)! 

Be sure to scoop up all 22 speech and language freebies. It all starts at my facebook page !  Be sure not to procrastinate because the freebies will all disappear tomorrow (Oct. 27) at 10:00 PM EST! 

Don’t miss out! 


I hope you LOVE our freebies and get tons of use out of them!  If you do, we'd love to hear from you :)) YOUR feedback is what motivates us to keep creating! 

xox

-Mia

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wanna know what I've got planned for October?

Happy October, y’all!!  
September was ROUGH and I’m really glad it’s behind me.  
TODAY is glorious fall break! Whoop! This is what I'm doing this morning....

I have a HORRIBLE habit of mixing up my nights and days during school breaks so I’m really trying NOT to do that this time.  I mean, it really makes returning to school (and my 5:45 alarm) harder than it needs to be.  
Solution: continue to wake up at dawn even though I’m on break 
So here I am up early and actually back on my blog!  

Sooooo since we’re both here, wanna know what I have planned for therapy this month? 

So far this month I have been using a few of my favorite games in therapy.  I’ve used Acrobats and Monster Mash in artic therapy and also in language therapy with the EET.  



My kids who are new to using the EET are needing lots of practice so we’ve been reading about and describing bats.  The acrobat game was perfect for reinforcement while describing (green group, blue do, etc).  We’ve also used the “monster spinner” in Monster Mash to describe the silly monsters.  I got this pair of games for 10 bucks in the 90s and now they’re considered rare gems. Go figure!

I'm also partial to a few games I've made :) 




If you're looking for something like this >>>
you can find the owl themed board in my Halloween Trivia and Games product and the game board on bottom in my Open-Ended Game boards for August thru December. 







Some kids just can’t sit.  You have any of those
HA! of course you do!! 

For them, we have been using this inflatable spider ring toss game (that I snagged at Oriental Trading).  

One of my little guys with autism is very motivated to communicate to throw the rings and my active artic and language boys are alllll about the competition of it.  
It will also be a friendly competition at our end of the month “Halloween party.” 
{You can read about last year's Halloween party here}

Of course we are doing plenty of quick artic drill, too. Can you tell I love Halloween? 
If you don't quick drill, you might want to try it.  It's strangely addictive! 
I just posted this new one this morning.  It just makes me happy.  


For my language students, we are also using EET for writing.  
I like to use these pages that give visual reminders for the EET categories (and lines to write on) and then have my kiddos use the information to form a well developed paragraph (hopefully!) 






We've already written all about FALL!





  

Here is some fall paragraphs proudly posted on my board! 
Do you work on writing?  I resisted it for years, but then realized that my students’ major problem with writing was that they didn’t realize that what they need to write is just EXACTLY what they said aloud. 

So many of my kids who have come so far in language therapy (and can orally SAY the answers) don’t WRITE THEM DOWN the same way the said it. 

They haven’t made the connection that they should write exactly what they said.  

SOOOO I’ve begun audio taping them and having them listen back and write exactly what they said. It’s helped them make that connection.  Writing has become a big part of my speechie life.  

My pet peeve?  Fragments and run-ons?? Do you feel my pain. I have a FREEBIE to tackle that issue.  Check it out HERE.   Unfortunately, our curriculum moved away from emphasizing grammar for many years, but it has come full circle, and GRAMMAR IS MAKING A COMEBACK. Whoop! I plan on using that freebie this inclusion next week! 


Another freebie I’ll be using this month is my Halloween Stamp-a-Story.  Grab that one, too!! 


I use it for artic AND language groups! You can read about how I use my stamp-a-stories HERE and HERE













Last year we did lots of pumpkin dot art and we may do that, also, if we have time.  I blogged about it HERE if you're curious :) 


Last week I tried out a pumpkin craft that I made instead or dot art.  Based on the giant mess we made doing it, it needs some tweaking :) but I hope to have that craft posted in my TPT store once I’ve worked out the kinks.  





For my little bitties, I’m going to be using these pumpkin patch sticker scenes that I scored from Oriental Trading (again). I LOVE their sticker scenes. They’re easy enough for my 3 and 4 year olds and keep them talking and engaged. 


My older hard-to-please crowd will be making Magic Potions in the next couple of weeks.  It’s an open ended activity so I can use it for all of my groups
 {mixed groups, too... Whoop!} 



I was planning on using roll and cover activities from my Halloween Fun Pack, but a couple of my sped teachers have temporarily stolen them from my room to use in math with their kids who need practice with counting.  I should be annoyed, but I love when they use speechie materials in their special ed. classrooms. :))





Of course there has been lots of speech homework- and there will be all month long- because I’m tough like that.  LOL 


My kids get our PBIS bucks (called Colts Cash) when they are responsible enough to return their Halloween homework signed :)













<<< This little dude is no artist, but I don’t care as long as he practices his words! 





...and here's something fun....


I was completely ecstatic and shocked and touched to find a Cariboo game on my doorstep Saturday morning! A parent of one of my former students who moved to Alabama years ago saw on Facebook that I was looking for a Cariboo game.  She passed through Louisiana to see family this weekend and left their copy of Cariboo on my doorstep!! WHAT!!?? How amazing is that!? I can’t thank her enough for going out of her way to do that.  What a beautiful surprise!!  
On my day off today, I hope to whip up something Halloween themed to use with my new Cariboo game! 

I hope your speech room is full of fun and learning this October! 
What do YOU have planned!? I really want to hear about it! 


-Mia 

 If you'd like to hear and see more from me, I'd love it if you'd follow me...everywhere:) 



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My new BFF: the I EARNED THAT app!

Yes, it’s true! I have a new BFF.   
A free and awesome app that has put an end to the hours
I spend making token reinforcement charts for my students with autism and behavior challenges.  My life just got drastically easier!! 

It’s the handy little app called I EARNED THAT
Where, oh where, has this been all my life!?! 
My go-to expert on autism told me about it today and she is “so not techy” 
(her words, not mine) so she was stoked that I had never heard of it.  

HELLLOOOOO how did I not know about this? 
Have I been living under the proverbial rock? 
It’s apparently been around for years, so to many of you, this app may be old news, but to me it’s new AND MAGICAL!!!

I feel a little foolish doing a post about it since I’m probably the last SLP on planet Earth to hear about it but here it goes anyway. 
Besides, you may have been living under a rock just like me :) 
and I think that after all the joy it’s given me it deserves a little tribute. 
TADA!!! 



You can find it on iTunes for $1.99 but I chose to download the lite (and free) version.  
So far, it’s done the trick.  I can only have 1 student in it at a time, however.  

So I have a couple of students who really do not want to do.....well.... anything except what they want to do.  They’re really not fond of doing anything language related and are prone to showing me just how NOT FOND of it they are.  
They need lots of positive reinforcement and motivation. 
You know any little guys like that? 
I can see you nodding :) 
 So when I’m working with one of these students, I let him/her choose what he/he wants “to work for.”  I either give two choices or they immediately let me know what they want to work for- usually it’s candy, bubbles, computer time, iPad time, etc.  

This app lets me instantly take a photo of the item with my phone or iPad OR choose a photo from my camera roll! 

Today it was bubbles (he’s a big fan of the little wedding bubbles) for 1 little guy 
and dinosaur train on pbskids.org for another kiddo. 

After I’ve quickly taken a picture of what the child is “working for” the app makes a 3D jigsaw puzzle out of the photo.  I can choose the number of puzzles pieces I want the puzzle to have based on my student’s needs.   2?  4?  10?  20?  60? You choose! 

The screen shows the puzzle pieces face down.  
To reinforce the student, touch a puzzle piece while giving verbal praise and a glimpse of the reward will be revealed!! 


You can adjust the settings for visual and sound effects! The pieces can appear slowly with lots of fanfare or quietly and instantly.  

I set the app so that the pieces spin around and make all kinds of irresistible noises.  It really makes a BIG DEAL out of earning a puzzle piece which I love! 

When the last puzzle piece is in place and the whole picture is revealed, then the kiddos get their reward!! Woohoo!!  
Many bubbles were blown and none lived to tell about it :) 



In the end, everyone is happy! 
The SLP (that's me) got her therapy on and little dudes earned their rewards! 
All was right with the world and not one photo or symbol had to be printed, cut out and laminated.  In fact, there was not even one single velcro dot needed! 

Token reinforcement made easy!! 
I love easy! 

Do you use it? Love it? 
Can you tell me about any other APPs I need in my life? 
What do you do to reinforce your students? 
Please enlighten me.  I can't believe I just found out about this! 

Happy reinforcing! 

-Mia 






Thursday, September 4, 2014

back to school blues (please pardon this sappy post)

I miss you, blog.



I don't ever have the time or energy to visit you.  I'm not even sure I would even want my thoughts on paper.  They're just doing somersaults and loop-de-loops in my head.  Nonstop acrobatic thoughts.


This is the sad truth….right now my job is kicking my butt and hurting my heart.  
I've wanted to post about all the fun back to school activities I've been doing, but other matters have been weighing on me.


It's hard.  Our jobs are hard.  This year it's not the paperwork or duties or therapy that I struggle with. 
It's the being side by side with kids in crisis and knowing nothing you do will ever really be enough. 
Sitting next to kids who have slipped sooo far into the cracks that, try as you may, you cannot save.
Seeing kids who have learned- in their hurtful homes- that maybe it's better just not to speak.
The angry kids.  The scared ones.  The ill ones.  The huggers and the scowlers.
8, 9, 10 hours are not enough. Never enough time to truly get to everyone's needs.
Never enough manpower.  Never enough time… to fix things.  Make everything better. Like trying to wipe up a huge spill with single ply toilet paper that keeps tearing from the roll….
or running through quicksand.
When I'm not with them, I'm still thinking about them.
Thinking of ways to make it better.
When I wake up in the middle of the night I think about them.  I pray for them.
When I'm brushing my teeth - then too...
When I'm applying my concealer (very much of it these days) I'm thinking of the dilemmas…the seemingly hopeless situations.


I love my profession but my job….well, it's caused quite a few tears lately.


I am clinging to these words each day….





I'm not usually a downer (at least I hope I'm not) so please do excuse this little post in my moment of melancholy.  Perhaps it's because I just spent 2 days at CPI (crisis prevention intervention) training and the fact that we need that training at all makes me a little sad.
The fact that I had to apply it today - the very next day after the training- even worse.


If you are inclined to pray, please pray for my babies in crisis and their teams who are giving their all.  


May better days lie ahead. 


-Mia