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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Articulation Test Center {an app review!}

If you are a big fan (like me) of Little Bee Speech's Articulation Station App, then I think you will love their new, improved Articulation Test Center App.  It’s a two-in-one tool a screener and a full assessment of articulation with all the crisp, kid-friendly photographs that we love from Articulation Station. 



Before I give you the lowdown, I should mention that I was given a free download of this handy app in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my very own. 

Perfect timing!! 
Last week was my very first week of school and I had new students who transferred to my school from out of district and out of state.  I jumped on the chance to use this app in order to assess these little guys. 

I watched the video tutorials first.  I’m not normally a tutorial-watching-SLP but this one was quick and painless and made using this app a snap.

Although this app gives you the option to have screen rotation which allows you to sit across from the student, I sat on the side of the children to adminster the test. 


I used the screener first.  I was so excited to see that you can choose the child’s age for the screener. If you do so, the app will only present the stimuli that is approrpriate for the child’s age.  

That was it.  
I was in love.  

WHAT A TIME SAVER!! 





The screener works very much like the full test so I am going to fill you in on my experience using the full test. 

First of all, In the settings, there plenty of smart setting choices.  For instance, you can turn off the option for the app to “say” the stimulus words when the picture is tapped.  I loved this option because I find my little ones very “tappy” with the screen which results in the stimulus word being said over and over again. 
Ever happen to you?  Oh yeah.  No more of that. 

I choose to administer the whole test but I was stoked to see that you can opt to assess only certain areas which would come in handy for re-evaluations for my students who only needed an /r/ assessment, for instance. 

The full test has 59 stimulus words but it still took very little time to administer- especially once I got familiar with marking the errors. 
No flipping pages- just flick, flick, flick.  
No hauling books around - just my iPad.  
~ Happy SLP right here ~

For each stimulus item, the target sounds in green at the top of the screen.  


When the students makes an error, you simply tap the sound until it turns red.  If it’s an approximation, tap the sound until it turns yellow.  
Easy.  
For omissions, you swipe the sound up and off of the screen. 


You can also record each production so you can listen to it later.  This is perfect for those days when I’m running around like a madwoman and don’t have time to mark errors right away. 

The app allows you to mark substitutions by tapping the arrow in the upper right corner which pulls up a pop up box with possible substitutions. Simply touch the sound substitution and drag it to the phoneme it substituted like I did here when my students substituted /s/ for "ch." 


In the same way, you can also indicate phonological processes (which I really like!)  Normally I keep track on those in my head.  
This way I don’t have to strain my brain :) 
I also really appreciate that it reminds me at what age the process I select should cease.  Good info! 

Again, you can also record each production so you can listen to it later. Call me crazy, but I love transcribing my students’ productions.  I need to see the productions in transcription to truly process the error patterns so I liked having the ability to listen and transcribe later ... dʒ^st tu mek ʃʊr aI dɪdənt mɪs ɛniθɪŋ

I would actually love it if the app came with a printable protocol.  
Does that make me old school? 

Once the test is done, you get the happy bee telling you you’re all done!
 If you’d like to, you can move on to the speech sample scenes to assess connected speech.  This is also a nice way to take a language sample even though this app wasn't designed for language assessment.  


There are three large sample scenes that are really colorful & irresistable. 
Lots to look at and totally interactive! 
If you tap an image, you get a nice close up and a conversation starter/prompt pops up. 
Talk about doing the work for you!! 
I didn’t even have to think of the questions! 
This could come in handy for those hectic days when I really feel fried.  
{Just keepin’ it real, y’all.}  


OR if you want to turn that option off, you can. 
Seeeee - the options just keep coming!  

After you rate the child intelligibility, you are done! 

Then here comes the best part- the results!!  
Little Bee Speech does a fantastic job of compiling the results in multiple ways.  
They really wrap up all of the data and let you view it many ways. 
Just beautiful. 
  1. You can view the errors marked according to position. The age the sound should be mastered is also indicated. I personally use different norms than the ones provided but this is great information. 


2.  The app creates a report that summarizes all of the information according to the child’s age.  It tells you recommendations about which sounds they need to address in therapy according to their age and which sounds are in error but developmentally acceptable. Again, it has done the thinking for us.  I actually love assessment so I kind of missed analyzing the data and coming up with my own conclusions (I’m nerdy like that) but this was a humongous time saver.   



3. Know what else I dig? You can print or email the results which is perfect for paper lovers like me. 

So let me sum it up, y'all: 



Overall, I think this app is the best iPad based articulation assessment tool out there, and I’ve tried them all!  
For an SLP on the go, it’s the perfect alternative to lugging around test booklets, and I don’t know any elementary student who wouldn’t respond well to it. 
 You can find it at iTunes for $49.99 BUT this week Little Bee Speech will have Articulation Test Center AND Articulation Station on SALE for back to school! Woohoo!! 
Both apps are 30% off from August 12-15! 
That means you could grab this app for $34.99 right now! 
  Don’t you just LOVE a sale!? 
So tell me, have you tried Articulation Test Center? I’d love to hear about your experience with this app!  Fill me in! 
Happy assessing to you! 
-Mia