Friday, August 29, 2014

Things Get Gross In The Speech Room

It was my first full week of therapy since we came back to school and I am wiped out!  I decided to make things easy on me this week, so we played two really fun games as we practiced our goals.  Both games got HUGE thumbs up of approval from all of my kids.

These games are on the gross side, but are great reinforcers.  Make sure to read my anecdotal story that only SLPs would really get after I show you the games!

First up, we have the game Gooey Louie
I grabbed this at Target during the summer.  You fill his head with long green gooeys that have to be picked out based on what you roll on the dice.
Pick the wrong one (the one attached to a trigger in his nose) and his brain pops out!  The kids just loved this game.  I loved that it is a super quick reinforcer that is also very motivating.  They had no problem waiting their turn to practice, and they seemed to really practice harder in order to get a turn.  One of my language groups listened so attentively to the science stories from my Super Duper Auditory Memory for Science cards that they got every question right!

The second game is called Phil Up Chuck. This game is available at Amazon and Super Duper. 
Students roll dice at the same time and the student who rolls the highest number gets to feed Phil first before the others do.  You feed him either hot dogs, ice cream, chicken legs, or pizza (foam pieces of food) that match the number rolled.  Whoever makes his head flip over and the food to spill out (Phil "upchucks") has to flip over a clean shirt card (players have four) to show they threw up.  First one to get four dirty shirts loses.

So I have to share this story with other SLPs.  One of my articulation groups was just talking nonstop during the Gooey Louie game.  They just were so excited playing it.  However, not one could say the word boogers.  I got burgers, and I got buggers, but they could not say boogers.  Now only fellow SLPs would think that was ironic and funny!

Anyway, hope your first weeks of therapy with your students are  as much fun!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Auditory Memory Ride App Review

I don't know how many other SLPs have a large number of students on their caseloads with auditory memory goals, but I have a fairly high number myself.  Thankfully, the folks at Virtual Speech Center have created an app to help meet these goals using the motivating iPad!  A copy of the app was provided for free, but the views are entirely my own.  Come along on this "ride" as I share what this app can do!
The app starts with the following screen:
It is easy to get started-  simply click start and add in a student.

Click next to select the goal/skill to work on:
Skills to work on include recall of numbers, recognizing words and sentences, recalling words and sentences, recognizing details, recalling details, and answering questions (yes/no, multiple choice, and open-ended) about paragraphs.  Each skill has several levels so students can start with a simple, easier practice and build in complexity.  In addition, the SLP has the ability to make tasks simpler or more difficult by adjusting the settings.  Stimulus can be presented with background noise or without, as well as with no delay between stimulus presentation or up to a 15 second delay (love this feature).  In addition, you can select whether or not there is a sound when questions are answered correctly or incorrectly, as well as when a game is earned and how long the game lasts (love this feature, too!)

I had a student work on recognizing 3-4 word sentences.  The sentence to recognize was
"The cat is sleeping".  Here is a screen shot of her attempt:

A correct answer earns a plane which in turn leads to game play opportunities.  After twenty attempts, a report can be generated and you can email it to yourself with the date, skill worked on, and any notes you took during the activity:
After using this app with several students, and playing with it myself, here is what I really like about the app:
  • It is easy to use and takes just a few minutes playing around with its features to start using it in therapy.
  • The memory skills include recall and recognition.  In addition, there are levels and various types of activities within each goal/skill to be learned so that you can start simpler and increase complexity.  This helps the app also be more than a play once and be done app.  Because so many skills are important to auditory memory, this app is great to use multiple times with the same child.
  • Obviously this app is great for working with students with CAPD, memory difficulties, and receptive language disorders, but it is also great for my grammar students.  I show them how noun-verb agreement and plurality is important because they can see a visual of how "the mittens are red"  is different then a foil picture of one red mitten that is seen in the possible choices.  It also helped one of my hearing impaired children really focus on that /s/ plurality marker because if she is not 100% attending, she would click on the one mitten instead of the picture of mittens.
  • The game that is a reinforcer is fun.  Students get to drive a plane and collect coins without crashing in to rocks, or witches, or other objects in their path.  I really appreciate being able to set the length of time of the reinforce, as well as when they get it (after a pre-determined number of attempts from me first).
  • I love the feature of presenting the stimulus with and without background noise, as well as the length of time between the stimulus being presented and when they answer (makes this much more standardized than me counting out loud or in my head before asking them to respond) .  I am able to teach them the skills needed for improved auditory memory and recall in optimal conditions (no background noise and no time delay), as well as provide practice in more real time conditions such as the time delay between when you raise your hand to respond to a question in a classroom and when the teacher actually calls on you and listening with background noise (different types available) like you would find in a classroom.
  • Multiplayers can be entered and the skill they need can be easily selected.  It also alternates after one turn so the other person(s) do not have to wait long for a turn.
Here  were a few things I think would help to improve this app:
  • A task for auditory reasoning would be a nice addition.  Having the students take the information they hear and make inferences or use multiple auditory details to complete a reasoning task would help some of my higher-level students.
  • The same game could get redundant after several times playing it for my older students, so different tasks using the plane would increase motivation to get to the game.
Overall, Auditory Memory Ride is a great tool I will use on a regular basis because it is flexible (I can easily control what it does for each specific child), entertaining, and hierarchical in its skill building.  It is a fun "ride" for students to take as they work to improve receptive language and auditory memory.   Read more about it from the developer here (includes a video of the app), and it is available in iTunes for 19.99.

One Blessed SLP and a Fabulous Therapy Room

I'm going to start this post by saying that few things depress me more than when I read the conditions some of my fellow SLPs work in.


Under stairs......

Sharing a room with 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 other professionals....

In the hallway because they have no room!

I wanted to share how fortunate I am this year to have the room I have, and I have to say I feel like if there was an ideal therapy room, I am blessed to one that comes pretty close. 

Join this lucky SLP on a pictorial tour of her good fortune, and know that in the nineteen years I have been in education, this is the best it has ever been for me, and I wish all my fellow SLPs could have a great space like this one!

It starts when you walk in my door:
My two file cabinets of tests and student folders, plus an additional bookshelf with a few spillover games.
My cabinets and sink which I did not open to reveal more spillover games.  I'm going to go ahead and acknowledge that I have a problem-  can't quit spending out-of-pocket!!!
Our school mascot is the shark, so my family collection of them is on display as decorations (we collect a trip mascot every year when we go to the beach and the animal rides on our dashboard the whole trip.  Not sure how this started, or why, but it is one of our quirky family traditions).
This is the whole room when you stand by my sink and wall of cabinets.  Most excited to FINALLY have a window!
To the left is a student table and computer I will use for speech centers.

To my right is my big shelf of games and activities.
I have a big built-in additional cabinet for storage with.....
More games of course!
The wall with my whiteboard, therapy table, EET signs, articulation cans, and tons of card decks ready to be used!
Another shot of my most used space!

Corner of the room with more file cabinets and my bookshelf of professional notebooks, etc.
My SmartBoard

And my bookshelf full of picture books-  love to use books in therapy!
And finally my desk area.

So how lucky am I?  I just wish all SLPs were given a designated work space that was large enough to do all we do, a widow to know what is happening in the world outside, plenty of storage, an interactive whiteboard, and more. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

TPT Shining Stars Linky Party

SLP Runner is hosting a linky party for the second back-to-school TPT sale coming August 20th.  It is one day only, so be sure to mark your calendars!
I bought a lot more then I planned at the last sale because of a previous linky party.  I get such great products this way that I might have normally missed, so let me share what I bought I hadn't originally planned on buying, and what I have on my wish list for this one day sale!


3) Articulation Word Search Bundle by For His Glory
I also bought the items I had on my wish list from this previous post here.  I have already printed out the bulk of those products and have them ready to use when the kids start back next week. 

With this new sale, I am hoping to pick up:
1)  Lindsey Carol's Grammar and Articulation Picture Combo Pack
2)  Other products I discover in this linky party!  :-)

Start sharing your finds now!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Articulation Test Center App Review

I just love the Articulation Station Pro app by Little Bee Speech, so I was over the moon to have an opportunity to review their new Articulation Test Center app.  I have an old paper screener the SLPs in my district created using clipart pictures that is at least ten years old, and I will be glad to replace it with this app.  The iPad is so motivating to my students, so a screening and/or full artic test that can be given on it makes this SLP's job a little bit easier.  A review copy of the app was provided for free, but the opinions about the app are strictly my own!

Let's start with the screener.  The Screener shows 48 pictures and scores errors by age.  Enter a student's name and birthdate and the quick screener is ready to go.  An audio icon is on each stimulus card with a language prompt if the student is not sure what the picture is, or if they say another name for it.  I love this feature because it  makes it so much easier to see if the student can say the sound without a model given first.  
The app is so easy to navigate and use-  just tap the letter for the sound being assessed if it is incorrect or twice so it turns yellow to mark an approximation.  An arrow by the word can be tapped to reveal a menu for substitutions or phonological processes that you quickly tap to mark the error or process. 
A neat feature is that student responses can be recorded on each page to score later by simply pressing the red record button on the screen (a nice feature as I have some students who worry what the color might mean or if they are "doing it incorrectly").  A notes icon is on each card as well so the therapist can add notes about the sound errors (i.e. improper placement, etc.).
The Full Test has 59 stimulus cards but you can also pick and choose what position you would like to assess sounds in (initial, medial, final, blends), as well as vowels, r sounds, and an option for a speech sample.  There are three colorful picture scenes for the speech sample.  The SLP can touch parts of the screen (or the student can do it) to highlight a part of the picture and a written prompt (i.e. "Have you ever held a rabbit?  Tell me about it").  The neat thing is that the recording and the place to type up the sample is on the same page:
This makes transcribing really easy! 
The best part of this app is the report it produces.  It is very thorough and quickly sent to your email with all important information on it.
No app is perfect, and I would make the following suggestions to the developer of the app.  First, I would suggest a way to mark if a student makes a frontal or lateralized lisp-  I can add it to the notes section, but a button I could tap with this on it is much easier than typing out lateralization repeatedly in the middle of a screening.  Second, I would have the screener use less stimulus cards as many of my students would have a hard time sustaining attention to the task.
The pros, however, far outweigh the cons.  I really like the use of real photos for the stimulus pictures, and as I mentioned before, the scenes for the speech sample are colorful and engaging.  They can also be used as language prompts to determine syntax, vocabulary deficits, MLU, etc.  A video for all of the features of this app is available, but the design of the app makes it simple to use right away after spending just a few minutes playing with it first to learn its capabilities.
So, overall, what do I think of this app?  Outstanding is the first word that comes to mind-  it is thorough, easy-to-use, and makes screening and assessing articulation a breeze.   And to make things even better, Articulation Test Center (and Articulation Station Pro) are on sale August 12-14 this week! For 3 days only these 2 apps will be 30% off for a back to school sale.  Make sure you stop by iTunes to pick up one or both while they are on sale!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Beginning of the Year Parent Contact

Who out there is getting ready to start the new school year with a to-do list that is so long you can barely sleep at night?  This SLP right here is one of them!  :-)  So while I was trying to cross off some of my to-do items to make my first day back on Monday less stressful, I thought I'd share a few things I made with you guys to either inspire your own creation, or in place of having to make these for your students/parents.

Few things are as important as making contact with parents at the start of each school year.  We have an Open House the first week, so I am often able to meet new students' parents and say hello to parents I have already met through past IEPs of my students I have worked with the past school year.  However, I also like to send home a parent welcome letter and a request for contact info home with students in their speech folders we set up during the first session of the year as yet another way of letting them know I am available to them.

In the past, I sent home a full page letter that was so text heavy, I imagined parents barely skimming it.  Hey, I get it.  I have kids of my own and the stack of stuff that comes at the beginning of the year is overwhelming.  That is why I made mine a little more visually pleasing with only the highlights on it.

You can grab my welcome letter here.  I always copy it and the next form on bright yellow paper so it gets seen!

My parent contact/info letter is available here.  I know the blurb at the top of it may seem wordy, but last year, I had a really difficult time getting some of my parents to return phone calls and respond to numerous letters and attempts to get IEP meetings arranged.  With back-to-back kids, Medicaid billing, IEP meetings, afternoon duty, etc....  I just didn't have much available time to keep trying up to ten different ways to get in touch with parents.  So, I tried to give a little info on why I need to reach them, and that email is the quickest and easiest way to do it.

These forms may not work for your caseload needs, but I love to share what I have and I have really learned so much from what others do, so I hope these can help you in some way.

Keep working at that to-do list, and remember the most important to-do item is to take care of yourself so you can be there for your family and friends! 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Keeping Data

Can you believe how fast the summer has flown by?  I start back this upcoming Monday-  sigh- and I thought I would do a quick post on how I keep data.

I have read so many great posts and Facebook forums on ways to keep data, but in the end, it is important to find a way that works best for you.  I love the idea of using labels, but with 53 kids seen twice a week, a sticker for each two times a week means I would go through a lot of packs, making it quite expensive.

I also have looked at great examples for individual data sheets, but I am just not coordinated enough to keep up with multiple sheets when I am also trying to address multiple goals, interest levels, and behaviors at the same time!

So, the way I keep it is to do everyone in the same group on one sheet.  I have a sample of what it looks like here.  I just change the days and times I meet with students at the top of the sheet, click the EB box if they are Medicaid billable, and cut and paste a shortened version of their goals into the area by goals (I keep a running list of these to cut and paste from).

This year, we have to meet a certain number of sessions each nine weeks, so I'm keeping a running tally in the session notes section.  This area is also good for noting level of cueing or prompting required, behavioral observations, or reasons for absences.  I also have a section for each child to keep attendance as well, and the codes are on the sheet in the upper left corner. 

I have made a sheet for individuals, and for groups of two to five students.  I hope these may help you if this is the way you like to take data.

You can get the sheets I use here.  I took my name, position, and school year out of the footer space at the bottom of each, but since I made these editable, they can be added back in with your personal information.

Have a great start to your school year!