Monday, December 30, 2013

Mama-on-Days: Tales from the Elf

Last year I bought an Elf on the Shelf.  We named it....something.  I forgot to write it down.  I lost it for about 2 1/2 weeks.  We have a little miniature pinscher and I spent my days running in the room before the Biscuit glancing frantically around for plastic bits of elf remains.

About a week before Christmas I found him sitting on the wreath where I'd left him weeks ago.  It's pretty bad when you can't even keep track of a little Elf in your house.  But I was glad that I didn't find his dead elf carcass because he cost me 29.99 and that's a lot of money to pay for a dog toy.

This year I started hearing rumors of Elf on the Shelf calendars and that PINTEREST was where to go to get Elf on the shelf ideas.  These are the CUTEST ideas I've ever seen-little Elf's in a bubble bath, a little Elf flying across the room, an Elf with a stick roasting marshmallows over a battery operated candle.  There are even whole Pinterest boards devoted to "naughty" Elf on the shelf ideas.  

Pinterest had me at the elf in a bubble bath.  I was in.  And then I wasn't.  Once you step foot into this Elf territory there's no way you can go back to just hanging him from different door knobs in your house.  OR lose him for 2 weeks.  Could I commit to reenacting fanciful elf scenarios for the next 10 years or so? How would I top the Elf in the bathtub scene? 

In the end my Pinterest obsession won out.  I set up a calendar with a bunch of fantastic Elf ideas and bought mini and jumbo sized marshmallows.

Week one:  I am not nearly as good at the Elf scenarios as the pictures I've seen online.  They all look vaguely disturbing.  Luckily for me, the Biscuit is in love with the Elf.  Some of the kids at his preschool have elves who have come to their house weeks ago.  He's excited that his house wasn't passed by. 

Supposed to be Elf lifting marshmallow weight.
Week two:  Biscuit HATES the elf.  I think he has decided Elf is a snitch.  He hasn't even tried to go look for it for three days.  After discussing this in depth with a girlfriend at happy hour, I decided to add a note component to the Elf saga.  I realize that a serious Elf discussion at happy hour is a pathetic waste of precious happy hour time.

Week three: Thanks to a note praising good behavior, the Elf is back in the Biscuit's good graces.  I accidentally placed the Elf in the same place twice which has led the Biscuit to decide we have 2 elves.  He spends his days trying to find both of them.  It gives me more time to read and prep for the Holidays. 

Week four:  I'm Elfed out.  Twice this week I had to rush in the morning to move Elf.  He's back to hanging on doorknobs and once I just threw him on the Biscuit's bed.  I'm going to save the rest of the Elf ideas for next year.  Biscuit also saw a huge display of Elf on the Shelf boxes at Target.  He asked if we BOUGHT our Elf.  I know that we will keep seeing the boxes so I admit that we did.  I said that Santa packages these little elves and people can buy them.  Santa knows that people might freak out if a small elf just showed up in their home.  I didn't realize that parenting could involve so many lies on the fly.  Elf left our house on Christmas eve leaving us with a box of comfy pajamas and a movie.  I've got until next year to hone my elf skills.

Do you do the new Elf tradition, what is your favorite thing you've done with Elf?  I'd love to hear about it below. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Perspective Taking and Gift Giving: Activities to Try

It's been awhile since it snowed a lot here, but I'm still digging my way out of paperwork, Christmas shopping and other holiday activities.  I should be back to regular blogging in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, here are two activities I posted about last year related to gift giving and perspective taking:

Gift Giving: Avoiding the Tinkerbell towel.
Gift giving is a great exercise in perspective taking.  Can your clients think of some things that their parents would like or their siblings?

This is a hard skill for a lot of neurotypical adults such as my husband.  One year, he bought me a child sized Tinkerbell towel at Target.  First of all, I am not a one of those fortunate child sized ladies.  Why would he get me a gift that I can't even wrap around myself?  When he gave it to me, he was so excited because I LOVE Tinkerbell.  Randomly, he still thinks that I love Tinkerbell.  Last Christmas he bought me a Tinkerbell lip gloss watch.  It's not actually watch-it's just cleverly designed to look like a watch-but then when you open it up-it has lip gloss in it.  Let's take a minute here-I am a 40 year old woman.  When would I have the chance to wear a lip gloss watch?  

Choosing a gift requires you to think about the other person.  It's a great opportunity to use our "people files" by remembering information about people.  Questions to think about when getting a gift
  • How old are they?
  • Are they a boy or a girl?
  • Do they have any hobbies?
  • Have they mentioned that they need or want something?  
  • Who is in their family?
  • Do they have any pets?
  • What about favorite movies, t.v. shows or other special interests?
  • Do you know what they already have?  
  • Is there anything they really DON'T like?
Here is what we are doing next week.  You will need a Sunday Paper chock full of advertisements.  It would be great to have pictures of the child's friends, parents, etc.  I would use a sheet of paper for each gift giving subject.  Starting with first person, have your student or client determine what store would be appropriate for them.  Then they go through the circular and cut out 3-5 items they think the person would want.  
Then you can discuss how to narrow down your options.  Price might be one factor.  You could extend this activity by creating a "budget" and having the student determine where to spend the money or discussing concepts such as greater than/less than.  

I don't expect that my clients (or clearly, my husband) will be able to think of the "perfect" gift so as long as they are in the ball park of an appropriate gift, I would give them credit for it.  What activities are you planning for the holidays?

Gift Giving: Video Perspective Taking Activity

Last year, Jimmy Kimmel had a segment on his show called, "I gave my kids a terrible present."  In it, parents across America wrapped up cleaning products and old bananas and gave them to their children as presents. 

This is a great video to use during speech therapy for expected and unexpected behaviors.  First from some of the kids who have some pretty extreme reactions as well as talking about what would be expected and UNexpected as a gift from a parent.  If you decide to use the video, make sure to preview it first.  I think the last kid in the video uses some inappropriate language. 

My husband tried this with our son last year when he was three.  He didn't have expectations of what a "Christmas gift" should be yet, so he was really excited to get a can of Spray starch.  (That this was what my husband picked would be the subject of a whole different blog called, 101 dangerous gifts my husband tried to give to our kids.) 

Struggling with how to accept an unwanted Christmas gift is part of normal development, but for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other pragmatic language impairments, more direct teaching is required.  Here are some ideas I've used in therapy:

1.  I usually start with a Social story to give them information about what will happen during gift opening time.  An example would be something like: "On Christmas Morning we will eat breakfast and then it will be time to open gifts.  Everyone gets to take a turn opening a gift.  On my turn, I will open my gift and see what it is.  Most of the time, my gifts are things that I like.  Sometimes they are not.  When I get a gift I don't like, I can try to smile and say, "Thank you" to the person who gave it to me.  This makes them feel happy."
2.  Practice.  Years ago, I bought a fabric wrapped box with a bow on it.  We practice putting gifts in it and using a script to "thank" each other.  I try to have 5 things I think the client would like and 1-2 silly or unexpected gifts.  You could expand that activity by first writing a list and then cutting out items from catalogs that matched-OR didn't match the list. 
3.  Apps.  There are alot of "present" opening apps available for the Ipad.  You could use these apps to engage the chilld. 

For some of my more "black and white" kids who can't get past the idea that saying "I like it" is lying, we work on the noncompliment.  I use this all the time.  You start by just naming it.  Let's say you give me a T-Rex.  I open the box and say; "Wow, a T-Rex."  then finish by making an observation regarding the present: "I can't believe it's arms are so little." 

What activities have you used to teach gift giving?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Guest Post: Scanlon Speech Therapy

I'm excited to be guest posting over at Scanlon Speech Therapy today!  Head over to her site to learn some ways to teach communication alternatives to challenging behaviors.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Tree Cones: Rerun Christmas Activity

December has turned into a really busy month for me. Since last December I was still running under 500 page views, I thought I'd rerun a few of my posts. This is one of my favorite crafts to do at Christmas:

I love to make quick snack crafts in Speech therapy.  It's an easy way to include worksheet drill activities.  In between each step we can practice our word lists or answer wh questions.  It's also a great way to work on sequencing, paraphrasing and story retell.  Last week we made these cute Christmas tree cones.

I started by showing or telling the kids what we needed for the task.  Then we went into the little kitchen to see if they could remember what we needed...

Once the frosting is on, you could add any kind of candy, we used mini M and M's because I had some left over from a Halloween activity.  (There is probably something wrong with me, that I had candy left over from Halloween...)  

Here are some of the ways we incorporated our goals into the activities:

We practiced the following verbs: mix, spread, get, put, place, and eat.  For each activity, I had the client say what they were going to do, what they were doing and what they did after.  Ex. "I will spread frosting on the cone, I am spreading frosting on the cone, I spread frosting on the cone."  This activity correlates with Mobile Education's TenseBuilder app.  

We were focused on before/after, so just using colored m&m's seemed to help the kids focus on the direction.  Ex.  "Before you put a yellow ornament on, put the red ornament."  For students who continue to have difficulty with this, I would use a visual cue by pointing or manipulating the m&m's as I was talking to show them how they were supposed to put them on.  

To play this game, you would need a variety of candies.  Then you can take turns describing and adding the candies to the cone.  Ex. "I'm thinking of a round candy with stripes. 

Following the activity, we used the pictures above to retell the activity using a First/Next/Last visual.  

We really had fun making and eating (something about the combo of peppermint and sugar cone: YUM!) these cones.  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: Grade level Shmade level

My Saturday Soapbox series in November was focused on some of my "goal pet peeves."
You can check out my previous posts by clicking on the links below.
My last pet peeve is about writing goals to meet grade level criteria.

  • Johnny will define grade level vocabulary using category plus function plus 2 descriptors.
  • Johnny will improve knowledge of vocabulary be defining 40 7th grade curriculum words by April 2013.
  • Johnny will answer questions related to grade level reading material with 80% accuracy.  

I'm open to debate on this one.  I think this is our way of tying speech therapy goals to the curriculum .  We are trying to meet state standards or common core because we are working on grade level vocabulary.  It is functional, our students need to understand grade level vocabulary or curriculum vocabulary in order to participate in fully in their classroom.

Here's my thoughts, most of the students or clients I work with, need to be working on vocabulary that is significantly below grade level.  Often times their reading skills are also below "grade level."  If a student really only needed help keeping up with their grade level material, then maybe a tutor would be more appropriate then a speech language pathologist.

I've written a lot of goals for defining vocabulary.  Now, I'm starting to think that this is a better goal to write when  working on sequencing or oral narratives.  I love programs like the Expanding Expression Tool which helps to build a framework for the student to explain or define vocabulary/events.  I think it helps a lot .

Here's what I'm wondering: Is being able to define vocabulary a good measure of a student's vocabulary abilities?  Does it predict whether or not a student is able to use the word appropriately and comprehend the word in the text?  I don't have an answer for this.  I'd love to hear your opinions.

Jenn from Crazy Speech World has recommended and written about the book Bringing Words to Life.  I've started reading it and really like how they explain teaching vocabulary.  There are a lot of good examples and methods for making sure the student really understands the meanings of the word.

This book was also my first experience with Tiered vocabulary instruction.  Tiered One words are basic vocabulary vocabulary that we would expect students in a mainstreamed setting to know (house, run, find.)  Tier 2 words are words that are more academic in nature but are used in a variety of classrooms (ex. analyze, predict.)  Tier 3 words are words that are specific to one class or area (ex. precipitation, geometry).   Since I've read part of the book, I'm rethinking some of these "curriculum" vocabulary words.  I want to start focusing more on Tier 2 or "high frequency" vocabulary.  The great thing about the internet is that you can do a search to get a lot of different lists to get you started.  This would be a fantastic resource-especially if you are pushing in to classrooms.  I could really see this technique being successful with a lot of students.  You would just need to get a copy of the textbook and pick out 5-8 words to "preteach" during your lesson.

Is anyone else a half a book reader?  I'm a SLP book hoarder.  I usually start out and get really excited about the book and then once I have the gist of it, I put it on my bookshelf and start the next book.  I had a counselor once who asked if I had ADHD, I don't think so, but the half-read books on my bookshelf may suggest differently.  

Based on the information in this book, I think a more effective vocabulary goal might be that the student is able to USE the vocabulary word within several appropriate contexts.  To me this is really demonstrating that the student is understanding the vocabulary.  I want to be careful not to write a goal like "Given a vocabulary word, Johnny will use it in a sentence with 80% accuracy." I also want to make sure that it isn't a nightmare to chart on so I may want to work from a closed set of vocabulary words.  (ex. given 40 words.)  I also want to make sure that it's where I'm getting my closed set of words from-sometimes that 40 words can be really confusing-especially if the student transfers.

So maybe my goal would look like:

Given weekly instruction targeting 5 high frequency vocabulary words taken from classroom texts, Johnny will demonstrate the ability to use 60% of taught vocabulary appropriately in sentence level productions over three sessions.  

This is another goal that may need some work.  But I can tell that I am going to be teaching 5 new words per week.   I know where I am getting the vocabulary words are coming from.  I have some flexibility with what vocabulary I choose so I can pick vocabulary that is appropriate to the child.  I can keep a running list and check words off as I hear them used appropriately within our activities.  When progress reports are due, I can tally these up and get a figure.  Assuming that the school year is 36 weeks, I'd be working on 180 vocabulary words in the year or 45 words per quarter.  I might make up a sheet like:

What do you think?  Is writing goals to work on grade level vocabulary at your school?  I'm taking a break from goal writing for December.  In 2014, I'm planning on going a little more in depth on some of my ideas for different goal areas.  I'm thinking about picking one topic per month.  Anything you find you struggle with?  If you liked this post, please take time to comment or share with others on Pinterest or Facebook.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Mama-on-Days: A Christmas reminder and warning

Watching the news report the holiday sales, I'm struck by how much time and attention we give to retail and shopping.  Pictures of people shoving each other to get the best deal or one of the few televisions that a store puts out to lure shoppers into their store.  Shopping and reporting on shopping has become an American tradition. 

I'm guilty of spending entirely too much time on finding the "perfect" gift for the special people in my life.  I balance the desire to shower my little guy with presents with the knowledge that doing so will turn him into a monster.  Experiencing and learning to deal with disappointment is a skill I want him to develop (but it's a hard one for a mom to let her son learn sometimes.) 

I'm sharing our family Christmas letter that I wrote four years ago.  In part as a warning to be careful and in part to remind myself of what I want to FEEL at Christmas (hint-it's not a cashmere sweater-although they are quite nice. )

Dear Family and Friends,

This hasn't been the easiest Christmas for us.  The dramatic changes in print media, have made it difficult for my husband to find freelance work.  The caricature stand has been slow. So we'd decided quite awhile ago, that we wouldn't exchange gifts this Christmas.  I told my husband I had a few small gifts for him (because I buy gifts throughout the year.)  Business picked up a bit the last week before Christmas and He began getting freelance jobs from Craigslist.  We were starting to feel hopeful.
On Wednesday, we attempted to take our son to see Santa for the third time.   My husband looked at the longest line yet and sighed.  He didn't want to wait-and he started complaining about how he'd had no time to Christmas shop.  So I told him to go run his errands and I'd wait in line. I think we waited for about 2 1/2 hours-and my son was happy for the first 2 1/4 hours.  
I called my husband on his phone and he came back.  He was no longer crabby-he had a smile on his face and with a  mischievous grin told me "No peeking in the car."  From a distance, Santa looked pretty good-but it turns out he was one of the sketchy ones-and couldn't even muster a smile when we came up.  We got our Santa pictures and we decided to get some appetizers before heading home.  Our spirits were bright in spite of Grumpy Claus.
I was almost to my car, when I got the phone call from my husband.  From the sound of his voice, I thought our son had gotten hurt-or hit by a car.  But while we'd been waiting in line to see Santa, someone had smashed the window and stolen all of the Christmas presents he'd bought.  They took a pop he'd had and threw it all over the car-did they think he was hiding something in it?  Our son's car seat was covered in glass.  
It wasn't about the presents, it was the loss of hope.  My husband's shoulders were down, I knew he felt completely beaten.  “They stole my Christmas,” he told me. After filing the police report, he went home and went straight to bed.  I cried more than I have in a long time, for my husband, for me, for the state of everything.  
Woke up upset and wondered how I would be able to pull myself out of this funk.  We had to try to get the car fixed so I could get to work, shovel the driveway, call the insurance company and if we couldn't get the window fixed, I’d miss Christmas eve with my parents.  After a cup of coffee, I grabbed my shovel and started to clear some of the snow away.  There was a younger man across the street snowblowing the neighbor’s driveway.  “Hey, put that away!  We’re coming to get you next!!!” he shouted cheerfully. 
This was exactly what my husband and I needed this morning.  A reminder of the kindness of strangers.  We told our neighbor what had happened-and how his coming over to do our driveway had made our morning.
My husband went to work, and my insurance company was able to find a glass company that was open on Christmas Eve.  They were able to find the glass at a dealership in Burnsville and promised to be at our house before one. 

Jim had called the owner of the Caricature stand in the morning to see if he still needed to go in-it’s been slow and with everything happening, he’d hoped to stay home so I could go in to my work.   The owner said he was sorry but he didn’t have anyone to cover the shift.
So my husband schlepped the baby over to my parents and went to work.  With the weather it was another slow day.  He did one drawing-of which he gets 40%, so he made about 6.00 on Christmas eve.  Except the owner stopped by the booth. He thanked my husband for his hard work and told him he is thankful to be in business with him.  Then he gave my husband his first Christmas bonus-500.00 in cash!!!!!  

It’s not about the money either, it was about the return of hope.  My husband called me to tell me the news-he was choked up-he said he almost hugged the owner-but they were in a public place, so he didn’t. 
This Christmas I was reminded of the kindness and generosity of our friends, neighbors and strangers.  Without the friends and family in our life, we could’ve continued to feel violated and bitter.  But our friends are there to help lift us up when our spirits flag.  This Christmas I remain grateful and humble of all the great blessings we have-fabulous friends, thoughtful neighbors, amazing family members and a wonderful life.  This Christmas seemed like it would be the worst Christmas ever-but instead it’s turned into one of the most memorable ones ever. 

Best wishes to you and yours on this Christmas Day!!!!
I read this letter to remind myself of what I want to experience at Christmas: the joy of hanging out with friends, a sense of community and a feeling of gratitude for the blessings I have.  This Christmas season, I wish the same for you and your family.  (It  would be better if I ended this blog there, but I want to remind people that people wait in parking lots for people to drop off their packages and then break into your cars.  If you need to leave a package in your car, experts recommend driving away and finding a new parking spot.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

What's in my Cart: Cyber Monday and Tuesday Preview and Linky party

Teacher's Pay Teachers is having a site wide Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale.  My products (including bundles will all be 20% off).  If you use the code: CYBER you can get an extra 8% off your purchase for a total of 28% off.  That's a great deal.

I usually post about the products I've purchased after the sale.  This time around, Jenna from Speech Room News is hosting a "What's in my Cart" linky party.  I'm pretty excited  because I have a speech volunteer who will be around for the holidays (Woo-hoo, lamination slave!)  I'm going to start with a few of my top selling products in my TPT Store:

Ok, enough of the self promotion, here are 10 items I have in my Wish list right now!

Gingerbread Craftivity from Jenn at Crazy Speech World.  This looks like a really cute activity.  Plus I've used so many of Jenn's free activities from her blog that I wanted to make a point to support her during this sale.   

Cariboo Cards for Language by Liz Haider. Making custom Cariboo cards has been on my list for years.  Sometimes you just have to admit you aren't going to do it.  That's one of the best parts about TPT.  You know that someone HAS taken the time.

Holiday Sentence Pack from Lindsey at Word Nerd Speech Teach:   I've got a lot of students who need to work on complex sentences:

Who Dun It Mystery by Practically Speeching.  This looks really interesting.

Newspaper Companion Packet by Speech Room News:  Working out at the high school this year, I thought this might be a good product to try out.

Voc"Apple"ary Building for Older Students by Rose from Speech Snacks: I know apple season has passed.  But I'm excited to use this to teach Tier 2 vocabulary with some of my students.  

Articulation Placemats by Jessica at Figuratively Speeching.  I love this idea.  My families are busy and getting them to buy into homework is difficult.  With this product, I can send it home and have them put it out at dinner time or when they are at a restaurant.  Perfect!
Articulation Cans from Mia at Putting your Words in your Mouth blog.  This is going to be a GREAT project for my volunteer.  And a good way to use up some extra popsicle sticks I have laying around.  

Magnetic Wand and Chips Token Boards By Rachel from the Queen's Speech blog.  I love token boards to use in Speech therapy.  These are really cute and super affordable.

 I've got a lot of fronter's on my caseload right now.  These are a couple of fun ways to address it:

Articulation Bingo for /k/ and /g/ by Straight up Speech

 Poppin' /k/ and /g/ games by Rae's Speech Spot: 

You Can Join's Jenna's Linky party by clicking on the cart below and let her know what's in your cart:

What's New at Speech2u: November Edition

Teacher's Pay Teachers is having a site wide Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale.  My products (including bundles will all be 20% off).  If you use the code: CYBER you can get an extra 8% off your purchase for a total of 28% off.  That's a great deal.

I almost missed my what's new at Speech2U feature.  Once a month, I take some time to review new products I've made.  I was busy in November!  Here are some of my new products: 


I added a few new bundles.  Bundles are priced to be 20-25% less than the purchase of individual products.  During the cyber sale, they discounted even more!  My conversation starter and WH bundle is a progressive bundle which means it will progressively get bigger and more expensive.  If you buy it now, you lock in at the current price and will continue to get future products in this area for free.  


These include a lot of quick play conversation starters with holiday and seasonal themes as well as the Add it up games.  


I work with a lot of clients who have a difficult time comprehending humor or comprehending the structure of humor.  This is structured in a similar manner to my interactive flashcards series which focuses on teaching skills by progressively decreasing the amounts of visual cues provided.  

This is another one of the popular Interactive flashcards products.  I have a few clients who needed categorization to be broken down a little more.  This product contains activities for category sorting, labeling, and naming.  I designed it to really teach What does Not belong.  

I'm working on a list of other products from other sellers that I am hoping to post later today. Are you shopping the Cyber Monday shops?  What are you planning to purchase?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: Just because they qualified with that score doesn't mean they should be judged by it.

My Saturday Soapbox series in November was focused on some of my "goal pet peeves."  You can check out my previous posts by clicking on the links below.

Over the next two weeks I'm wrapping up my pet peeves list.  Then I'm thinking about exploring specific intervention areas (answering questions, vocabulary etc, auditory comprehension) and ideas for goals in a little more in depth.

Goals that measure improvements based on standard scores.

Jessica will improve her receptive language skills to be 1 standard deviation below the mean when compared to her peers.  

This is a goal I've seen on IEPs and outpatient progress reports.  I get that this seems like a measurable goal.  In the schools, the first concern I would have is how you plan to measure it.  At least in Minnesota, we only test every three years so that would mean you would be asking the family to sign off on a yearly evaluation plan to complete the testing.

Deciding to measure progress based on standardized assessment is risky for several reasons.  
First, it encourages activities which teach to the test rather than focusing on more functional skills.

Second, there are many factors which may impact a child's score on standardized assessment which are out of your control.  What if the child is sick the day that you are testing?  What if they are distracted or in a bad mood?  It is difficult to measure progress from an entire year based on assessment scores from 1-2 days.  I realize the irony in this statement as this is a primary way we have decided to measure school achievements.  

Third, this goal is another one that gives me little to no information on what I should be working on in therapy.  Should I just give them little speech pop quizzes all year?  Do they have more difficulty with comprehension, sequencing, semantics, syntax, pragmatics?  I could spend half the year just trying to figure out what I should be addressing in therapy.

Improvements in a standardized score require the child to improve at a rate faster than their same aged peers.  I have some clients who are able to meet this, but I have many that don't.  With insurance companies, you need to discuss whether or not this demonstrates a plateau in abilities.  During IEP meetings you may need to explain what this means to parents and the IEP team.

Here is how I explain changes in standardized scores:

Example A: 
                              2010                   2013
Raw Score:            58                       85
Standard Score:      61                       72

This is a positive prognostic sign.  This student still demonstrates need areas, but with skilled intervention they are improving in the assessed skills at a faster rate than their peers.

Implications for Intervention Planning
Therapy is effective for this student.  I would continue to provide therapy in the same manner as the student is demonstrating progress.  This is a student that I'm hoping will continue to progress at the same rate and may eventually catch up to their peers.

Example B:  
                              2010                   2013
Raw Score:            58                       72
Standard Score:      61                       61

In this example, the student has demonstrated in increase in their ability to answer assessment questions correctly.  This student is demonstrating progress at the same rate as their peers.  

Implications for Intervention Planning:
Therapy is also effective for this student.  When I am documenting or explaining these scores to parents, I start by discussing the new skills that they were able to complete.  If they relate directly to goals in therapy I will discuss this as well.  Finally I explain that while Jessica is progressing at the same rate as her peers she is not closing the achievement gap between them.   I may think about how often I feel like I am reteaching skills or ideas to this student.  I might consider changing the frequency of therapy to see if we are able to improve their rate of progress.  

Example C  
                              2010                  2013
Raw Score:            58                       68
Standard Score:      61                       58

In this example, the student has demonstrated in increase in their ability to answer assessment questions correctly.  This student is demonstrating progress at the slower rate than their chronological peers.  

Implications for Intervention Planning: 
Therapy has even been effective for this student.  They are demonstrating improvements in their skills as seen in the increase in raw scores.  However, they are progressing at a slower rate than their same aged peers.  These are typically students who have more cognitive challenges.  I don't expect that they will close the achievement gap and may expect that this gap will continue to grow as the child gets older.  I might consider changing frequency or changing the types of goals that I am working on.  Maybe I need to work on some more basic foundational skills in order to support this student.  

Example D 
                              2010                   2013
Raw Score:            58                       54
Standard Score:      61                       55

In this example, the student has not demonstrated improvement and is showing regression or a plateau in skills.  

Implications for Intervention Planning: 
Therapy has not been effective for this student.  In this example, I'm going to consider how their attention and compliance was with the assessment tasks.  Was the assessment a good indicator of their skills?  I might think about changing duration, frequency or intensity as well as the types of goals I've written.  Is the student still making progress on their short term objectives in therapy?  If not, we may need to discontinue services as the child is demonstrating a plateau in skills.  

How about you?  Do you write long term goals based on improvements to standardized scores?  Ready to learn more?  Irene Gilbert Torres had a great article in last month's ASHA Leader:
Make It Work: Write Targeted Treatment Goals

Also Maria from Communication Station Speech Therapy, PLLC has a great freebie on writing goals for nonverbal children which could easily be adapted for other populations.  Thanks to Mary for bringing it to my attention!
Freebie Friday: Goals and Objectives for Nonverbal PK children

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Edublog: My Award Nominations

Have you heard of the Edublogs Awards?  They were started to demonstrate that social media can have an educational effect.   I hadn't heard of them but saw a tweet from Sean at Speech Techie and headed over to their website to check them out.  If you have a blog or website, you can nominate your favorite blogs/websites by clicking here.

Best individual blog:  She has some great activity ideas, lots of free materials and some great free downloads related to cuing levels, treatment strategies and common core information.

Best group blog:  If you work with children who use AAC this blog will change your life.  They have fantastic information on how to teach AAC and Core vocabulary strategies.

Best new blog:

Best student blog:  In addition to be a Speech language pathology graduate student, she is also extremely creative with a great eye for graphic design.

Best ed tech / resource sharing blog:   Surprisingly, I'm not that technologically savvy.  The "how to" features in this blog are lifesavers for me!

Most influential blog post of the year:  I might just have a personal problem with this but this post about how you think you are "faking it" or might let people down because you are not what you appear to be really spoke to me.

Best twitter hashtag:  #Slpeeps  Of course.

Best free web tool:  This makes it so easy to create pictures for blogs as well as creating quick visuals to use in therapy.

Best educational use of audio / video / visual / podcast:  Laura Mize from Teach Me to Talk's podcasts.  Filled with useful information.

Best educational use of a social network: Pinterest  Best place to learn about new educational techniques while simultaneously planning your dinner.

Lifetime achievement: Caroline Bowen has provided a wealth of information on the web for as long as I can remember.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Turkey Leftovers: 3 super quick crafts

I love holiday weeks because I can pick 1-2 activities and use them with most of my clients.  It saves on my planning and set up time.

I pick up little activities as I see them in the store.  This year I went a little bit crazy for Thanksgiving.  So instead of saving myself prep time, I'm using more of it to set up all the activities I decided to do.   My turkey leftovers is a bunch of the activities that I decided to use.  I'm using most of these at Thanksgiving dinner too!  

I started the month making some Pom pom turkeys.  Yesterday I made individual batches of stuffing with some of my feeding clients.  It took a little while to figure out the correct measurements for single servings.

Single Serve Stuffing
  • 1 Container of Stove top stuffing.
  • Butter
  • Water
Add 1/2 cup of stuffing mix to microwave safe bowl.
Add 1/4 cup water to bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to bowl.
Heat at one minute intervals until done.

Turkey Cookies: 
I had picked up these sugar candies at Michaels when they were 50% off.  We are using them tomorrow in therapy to address sequencing, subject-verb agreement, and summarizing/explaining.

Thanksgiving Trail Mix:  
I used peanuts in the trail mix but I should have replaced it with a cereal like Kix.  Cheaper and safer in this day of peanut allergies.  

We made this with some of my social language kids based on an activity suggested during the Preschool Social Thinking class I took.  I put each ingredient in a separate bowl along with some random ingredients we wouldn't be using (other nuts, raisins, shredded coconut.)  I spread the bowls out on the table and gave each child a plastic bag.  On their turn, they had to watch my eyes to see what to add to the bag to make the mix.  

Thanksgiving trail mix
  • Nuts or Cereal like Kix or Cheerios.
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Butterscotch chips
Put the ingredients in a bag and shake the bag to mix it up.  

Turkey K Cups: 
We got a Keurig machine at my work a few months ago.  As a manager, I try to get small treats or gifts for my staff at Holiday times.  I started looking for K-cup crafts but couldn't find the ones I was looking for so decided to make my own.  I got a sampler packet of K-cups for (kind of) cheap on Amazon.  Then I made the Turkey K cups.  I think this would be a great idea for Place Cards at Thanksgiving if you had a Keurig machine at home.  Just add the name of each individual.  After dinner, they can take their K cup in to brew their own cup of coffee!  

I printed off the turkey feather and cut them out and attached to the top of the K cup using removable double sided sticky tape.  Then I drew some eyes, the waddle and a turkey beak on the bottom of the K cup.

Do you want to make your own: Download the Turkey feather backs by clicking HERE.  

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Speechy Feedback: November linky party

Nicole over at has a monthly linky party where we give you feedback on your feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook.

I love getting feedback on my products.  It is motivating to get feedback and it also gives me good ideas of what to keep working on.

Thank you to Angela Lauderbaugh for providing such great feedback.  Please email me with your choice of product from my store.

You can join up to the Speechy Feedback party by linking up on  You may want to head over there and check out some of the other bloggers to see if your feedback is the one that made the cut!  

My Favorite Articulation Apps

iPads may be saving the backs of traveling speech language pathologists across the country.  It's really nice to have some apps or word lists at your fingertips without having to bring a long 30 different decks of articulation cards.  (I still love my card decks though!)  Jenna from Speech Room News is hosting another linky party.  This month's party is focused on articulation apps.  I'm really excited to see what everyone else listed.  Here are some of the apps I've found most useful:

Articulate It was my first articulation app.  One thing that I really appreciate about this app is that the developers have updated it frequently adding more varied content.  Now you can search word lists based on phonemes, phonological processes, manner of articulation, and the number of syllables.  This is basically a flashcard app.  It gives you options for productions at the word, phrase and sentence level.  It tracks your data and also allows the students to record their voice and judge their own productions.  

This is an app I often recommend when parents are looking for something to use at home.  I like that there is an option for them to buy 1-2 sounds vs. all of the sounds.  This app allows you to choose by phoneme and their positions in words.  There is an option for flash cards or a matching game which is a nice change of pace.  When you get to sentences there is an option called rotating sentences.  These are more advanced than carrier phrases.  An example for H would be "Hannah has the heart in the house."  If you press the button, the square where heart is listed rotates and now the sentence is Hannah has the hedge in the house."  It can be kind of silly.  Articulation Station Pro also allows you to practice your sounds at the short paragraph level!  

Apraxia and Apraxia Words by NACD

These apps are focused on providing the repetition needed in apraxia therapy.  The apraxia app allows you to pick groups of phonemes based on place of production.  Each word list consists of CV (consonant vowel) productions.  For example, you decide to work on bilabials to start.  You would choose p, b, m.  Next you select your level. 
  • Level one is working on production of single syllables.  
  • Level 2 is focused on production of 3 of the same syllable.
  • Level 3 works on 5 repetitions of the same syllable.
  • Level 4 has the uses produce 4 of the same syllable and then changes the last syllable.  (ex. no, no, no, no, knee.) 
  • Level 5 focuses on alternating 2 syllables
  • Level 6 works on the same consonant sound with alternating vowels.  (ex. no, knee, no, nigh, knee)
  • Level 7 words on alternating consonants and vowels while keeping the placement similiar (ex. no, bow, knee, bee, bye)
  • Level 8 words are randomized between 2 different placements that you choose.  (ex. bilabials vs. alveolar sounds)  
The Apraxia words app is set up in a similar manner but focuses on production of CVC words.  Word lists are chosen based on placement again.  Examples include bilabial-bilabial, velar-alveolar etc.  It's set up similar to the program Moving Across words.  I find this app really helpful to use with kids who are fronting or backing their sounds.  

Pocket Pairs:  by Synapse Apps LLC

This is a simple app that works on minimal pairs.  There is a parent version that is priced reasonably making it a decent recommendation for a home program.  

This is a newer app that I haven't used as much.  It includes activities for auditory bombardment, auditory discrimination, minimal pairs and single word production.  It provides an option for flash card activities as well as a game board activity.  

I use this a lot at the middle/high school level.  So far I haven't gotten a lot of students who are willing to complete the dares.  But that's okay because we read them and laugh and end up getting in more speech sound repetitions than we would if we were actually completing the dares.  I usually make them decline by repeating the dare again for extra practice.  
Ex. Student A: I dare you to pretend you are throwing seafood at the ceiling.  
Student B:  No, I will NOT throw seafood at the ceiling.  I dare you to....

We get a lot of practice resisting dares which can be really helpful for some of my students with social language challenges too!  

What are your favorite articulation apps?  You can join up by heading over to Speech Room News!  

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