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

If you find this topic helpful, please consider sharing it with others via Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest by clicking the links below. 

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.  

I hope you enjoyed this post.  If you did, please consider sharing it with others on Pinterest or Twitter by pressing the buttons below.

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!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: I don't know where to start when you write a goal like that.

My Soapbox Saturdays were focused on goal pet peeves this November.  Learning to write effective long term goals and objectives is difficult.  Sometimes you write something that seems to make sense at the time, but when you go back to measure it or plan for it, it doesn't work in the way that you thought.  It's worth taking time to think about it thought.  Well thought out and easily measurable goals/objectives make our lives easier when it comes time for treatment planning and writing progress reports.

Writing broad or generic long term goals/ objectives.
  • Johnny will improve expressive and receptive language skills to be 90% accurate.  
  • Sara will exhibit age appropriate receptive and expressive language skills.  
What?????  I have absolutely no idea what I am supposed to do with this student.  Do they have vocabulary needs?  Syntax?  Narrative issues?  How would I ever chart on this?  Many of my clients will never be age appropriate, so a goal like that would be impossible to achieve.

Long term goals should be met within a one year period, so we need to think about what is reasonable for a child to achieve in one year.  You can check out my post from last week regarding creating laundry lists of goals for some more ideas of how to determine what goals to write.  In general, it is less than what you might think.

A good long term goal should be specific enough that you know when you've met it.  Your short term objectives will describe the steps for how you will reach that long term goal.

For example, maybe my long term goal for a student is that they will answer literal questions related to paragraph level material.  The student has some difficulties with attention.  So I might write the goals like this:

LTG:  Within a one year period, Johnny will answer literal questions (who, what and where) related to paragraph level material during structured activities with 80% accuracy.  

How am I going to get him to answer these questions?  What skills does the student need to succeed in this?  I decide that he needs to have better listening strategies and that he needs to learn to listen for specific information.  In this case my short term objectives might read:

"Following direct teaching on listening skills, Johnny will exhibit attentive behavior when listening to 3-4 sentence length material as evidenced by the following: looking at the speaker, keeping hands and feet quiet while the speaker is talking, and not talking while the speaker is talking within a three month period"  This goal may be a little too wordy.  My plan with this goal is to focus on teaching the whole body listening approach and hoping that I can cue the student during our sessions to improve attention.

The next goal is that I want to train them to listen and recognize who, what or where words.  I'm going to do this by having them raise their hand when they hear a certain type of word within a paragraph.  So the goal might read:

"When listening to sentence or paragraph level material, Johnny will identify who/nouns or location words within a six month period."

My final objective might be very similar to the long term goal but at a lower rate of accuracy.  I might write it like, "Within 10 months, Johnny will answer who, what and where questions with 75% accuracy using a graphic organizer."

The short term goals are where we individualize our treatment plan based on how we think the child will learn best.  There are lots of other options for goals.   Maybe you want to work on sorting tasks for who, what, where answers or maybe you want to work on visualization to help improve auditory comprehension.  Maybe you are going to work on answering basic who, what and where questions in single sentences and then increase to 2 sentences, 3 sentences etc. until you are at paragraph level material.

Writing specific goals that are too specific:
There is nothing better than getting trained in a new technique or having an awesome resource that you can use in a variety of settings.  But I try to use caution when writing these techniques into your goals.
  • Given PROMPT paramater cues, Johnny will produce a CVC word with appropriate lip rounding and jaw gradiations.  
  • In order to improve expressive vocabulary, Jackson will identify the  5 out of 7 categories on the EET tool.  
These goals are specific enough that I know what I am going to be working on.  However, I see two problems with these kind of goals.  First, you've limited yourself.  Now you've mandated yourself to using these specific tools/materials within your therapy sessions.   What if they aren't the most effective tool for your student or client?  What if you go to a new CEU course and learned some strategies that might be even MORE beneficial to your client.  Now you are stuck.

The second reason for not incorporating specific techniques or materials into your goals/objectives is that you don't know how long this student will be on your caseload.  Maybe next year you will be at a different school.  Maybe the student will transfer.  What if his or her new speech language pathologist doesn't have the training or access to the same materials that you had?  Now they are stuck.

A better way to write these goals is to focus on what type of cue or assistance the specific techniques/materials provide for the student.  So you could write:

  • Give tactile kinesthetic cues, Johnny will produce a CVC word with appropriate lip rounding and jaw gradation.
  • Given a visual cue, Johnny will describe an object using a minimum of 3 descriptors with 80% accuracy
Have you had students who came in with goals that were too generic or too specific? How did you figure out what to work on with them?  Next week I'm talking about long term goals that use standardized assessments as a measure of a progress.  If you liked this post or found it helpful, please consider sharing it with others by clicking on one of the buttons below!  

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday soapbox: It's an IEP not a grocery list.

My Soapbox Saturday this month has been focused on my goal pet peeves.  Sometimes these are goals that I've inherited; sometimes these are goals that I've written without thinking things through.  Ultimately, poorly written goals end up taking up more of my valuable time in treatment planning and documenting progress.

I work in both outpatient pediatric settings and schools.  With medically-based, habilitative therapy you are writing your short term goals for 60-90 days.  Within the schools, you are writing your goals to be met over the course of one year, but you may set your objectives to be met within a shorter time frame.  

Children who qualify for either services have a multitude of different goals that they could work on to strengthen their language skills.  I think we are afraid that we will forget to work on these skills, so we just write down all of these areas as goals.  A better idea is to keep a log of future therapy goals in your student folders.

Years ago, I received an IEP that contained 14 objectives for a student who was seen for 30 minutes 1x/week.  The prior level of function reported that the student was making minimal progress towards therapy goals.  Was this because the student was plateauing or because we weren't giving adequate time to each goal for the student to learn? How much progress should we expect when we are giving approximately 2 minutes 26 seconds per week for each goal?  

How much time do you need to accomplish a goal?  
This depends on a lot of things including the child's learning capabilities, how often the services are provided (frequency), how long the service is provided for (duration), what intensity level the services are provided for and the types of goals you are addressing.

CHILD'S LEARNING STYLE/CAPABILITIES:  Is this a student that seems to pick up on new skills quickly?  For articulation, are they stimulable to produce the sounds?  Are they able to hear the difference between correct/incorrect productions in your or their own speech?  If they are, we may consider that they are going to progress at a faster rate.  For students who are unaware that they are making errors, who need multiple cues to produce phonemes, we are expecting that they may take longer to learn.  Do they have good attention to therapy tasks, are they compliant in therapy?  These would suggest that they will learn at a faster rate.  Students who need frequent cues for attention or for whom we may need to work on behavioral intervention plans/motivation plans first may progress a little slower.  Is the student able to retain information from session to session or do you need to reteach the skills?  If this is the case consider adjusting the frequency.  

FREQUENCY:  Frequency refers to how often a service is provided.  In terms of service provision, we are really looking at how often they need to practice or learn a skill in order to retain it from session to session.  In terms of therapy, I might write more goals for a student who is coming twice a week than one who is coming 1x/week.

DURATION:  Duration refers to how long you are working on a skill.  I would consider writing more goals for a student who I am seeing for 60 minutes per week than a student that I am seeing for 15 minutes per week.  In terms of planning sessions, I often feel like students with are working on articulation at the sentence level need less duration but more frequency than students who are starting to learn articulation sounds or students with language impairments.  

INTENSITY:  Intensity refers to how you are going to address the goals.  Are you pushing in to the classroom, providing small group instruction or individual therapy.  Is the service direct or indirect?  SI there any family carryover?  Consider how you are structuring your small group sessions.  Are you working together as a group, using choral responses, and getting a lot of responses and opportunities for practice?  Or is the group structured more where you take turns and spend time individually with each student.  Are the groups goals similar or are they working on distinctly different skills?  In thinking of goals, I would consider writing more goals for a student who is in individual therapy than a student in a small group setting.  Some of the research coming out now is suggesting that there is little difference in service delivery and how students are making progress.  I think this is important to remember when you are planning your IEP's and schedules too!  

TYPES OF GOALS: The last thing I would look at in terms of goal setting is what goals the client is working on.  Some goals are so specific that you could add a larger number of them or you may be very confident that the child will be able to accomplish them quickly.  For example, I might write a lot of functional language goals.   (Perhaps one for each communicative function.)  I would probably have a lot more indirect minutes too to focus on staff training throughout the day. When I am working on higher level language skills I would write less.  Once I received an IEP for a student who had one goal-to greet independently.  The student had 20 minutes of direct services per week.  This is probably going to the opposite extreme.  I still giggle picturing a 20 minute session focused on saying "hi" and "goodbye" for one year.  

There are a lot of different factors that can go into determining how many goals to write for a client or student.  I tend to use the 10 minute rule.  I try to give myself 10 minutes per week to work on each goal.  For a student who has 40 minutes per week, that means I'm working on about 4 objectives per student.  If they meet their goals or objectives sooner, I can always call an additional IEP meeting.  I  don't think families are usually upset if there children are making better progress than expected.  What about you?  How many goals do you try to write for each student?  Next week I'm going to wrap up some other ideas I have about goal writing.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing by posting it on Pinterest or Facebook by clicking the button below.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Speech Gobbler: A reinforcement turkey craftivitiy

I saw an occupational therapist making something like this with each of her clients and thought this could be a fun way to work on different therapy targets with a Thanksgiving theme.  Have you ever looked at the difference between therapy crafts made during speech therapy sessions versus occupational therapy sessions?  I usually prep before hand by cutting out the shapes and laying out the activities.  Of course this is due to my desire to maximize therapy time not secondary to my inner Martha Stewart who doesn't like crafts to be completely imperfectly.  Of course the Occupational therapists always have the kids draw the shapes and cut them out so they look a little different. 

I called this Henry the Homophone turkey because I wrote out some homophone pairs on the clothespins.  The client picks a clothespin, I would say a sentence and they would have to pick the correct homophone and then define the other one.

Here's how you can make your own:

1.  Get your supplies.  I tried to find colored clothespins but I couldn't so I ended up picking up some Sharpie Wood markers to color my own.  This took a lot of time.  I think turkeys can have brown feathers too, right?  Sometimes I just can't let it go.  

2.  Cut out some kind of turkey shape.  I really liked the brown glitter paper I found.  My turkey has some BLING!
 3.  Add a beak and nose if desired.  I just cut these out of cardstock.  Then I laminated it for durability.

 4.  Add the eyes and clothespins.  I LOVE googly eyes.  So fun to really put on anything in speech therapy.  Add them to your travel coffee mug and tell your kids that you just need to talk to Mr. Coffee for a minute.  

5.  Decide on your therapy targets or leave blank.  I wrote on one side and left the other side blank to use it as a reinforcer game for drill activities.

Are you making any crafts for Thanksgiving?  Are you better at letting your clients or students complete their own crafts?  Or do you like to have mini-masterpieces leave your speech room. If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with others on Pinterest or Facebook by clicking on the buttons below.

Monday, November 11, 2013

What's up with all this Gratitude stuff?

I've had friends who have done gratitude journals and I've always been interested in the idea of it.  I purchased a gratitude journal on a girlfriends weekend and even a gratitude app but I've never managed to complete more than a week of it.  I decided to do a personal gratitude challenge this November for several reasons.  First, I really believe in the power of positive energy.  I try to be a "look at the bright side kind of person" who thinks about how to make life easier for others while maintaining a slightly sarcastic edge.  Sometimes it can be a little tricky to combine the two.  Something happened after my dad died though.  I started really focusing on what I needed.  This was a good thing and something I wasn't doing enough of.  But I've noticed lately that this "me thinking" has gotten me a little hyper-focused on all the negatives-the things that shouldn't be there for me to have the "perfect experience."  The gratitude challenge was a way for me to try to get out of my head a bit and to try to go back to being a little more balanced in my thinking.  I chose to do it publicly because I think it gives me an extra incentive to stick with it.  
Image from

Last November, I was still a super secret blogger.  I would post items but didn't know how to promote or how to get anyone to read my blogs.  Part of this felt very safe-it's terrifying to put yourself out there.  What if someone says something bad to you?  But it's also exciting to be able to put down your thoughts and really express yourself.  

My Gratitude Challenge #11 is that I am thankful for all of the wonderfully smart, talented and amazingly helpful and kind Speech language Pathologist blogger/TPT'ers that are out there.    
First, I would like to thank the blogs that I read/blog stalked that made me want to start my own blog (or start writing more once I had one):

If I only had Super Powers
Speech Room News
Heard in Speech
Autism Games
Sublime Speech
Testy Yet Trying
Consonantly Speaking
Activity Tailor
Jill Kuzma's SLP Social and Emotional Sharing Site

The ideas and resources from these blogs kept me busy for months.  I have a whole shelf in my materials room that contains projects I made from your tutorials.  Thank you so much for providing such fantastic resources on a regular basis.

Anytime you are talking about great blogs, it's important to remember some of the fantastic websites that have been around for years:
Caroline Bowen
Judith Maginnis Kuster
Speaking of Speech

These were fantastic resources for me when I was first starting out as a new therapist and needed guidance in so many areas.  Here's something to blow your mind a little, the internet didn't really exist when I went to undergraduate.  YIKES.  I remember being really excited to find something that was an early, early, early version of mapquest that was before Windows was invented.  I did all of my papers on my word processer-try typing when you can only see 5 lines at a time.  

I have a few more specific thank-you's that I would like to share:

Thank you to Jenna from Speech Room News for sharing information, for encouraging others to create materials, for being generous with your talents, comments and ideas.  Jenna previewed one of my earlier products and I was so excited that she offered to do so.  Her blog is tremendously popular, and she has used it to encourage collaboration with her question feature on Facebook, teach others how to blog and create therapy materials and promote other therapists, bloggers, and products.

Thank you to Jill Kuzma who left a tremendously kind comment on my blog when no one had read it and pinned a variety of my products to Pinterest.  Without her help, I would probably still be a super secret blogger.

Thank you to Carrie from Carrie's Speech Corner who was one of the first consistent commenters on my blog.  She really got me to start thinking about other blogs and about commenting on people's posts.

Thank you to Laura from All Y'all Need for hosting awesome monthly blog link ups which helped me to get to know some of the SLP bloggers in a less "speechy" kind of way. 

Thanks to Cindy Meester for being the first consistent commenter on my Facebook page, her blog is so amazing!  

Thank you to Jess from Figuratively Speeching for inviting me to be part of her blog hop.  It was through that hop that I was able to meet so many talented SLP bloggers/creators (Mia, Rachel, Dana, Rae, Karen, Natalie, Amy)   Thank you all for letting me vent, for looking at my stuff, for providing fantastic suggestions and for being my online Speech friends!  You are all lucky that blogs can't sing as I'm currently singing an old Dionne Warwick song as I write this.  

Thank you to Felice from the Dabbling Speechie for being the first person to put my button up on her blog and for asking me to do a product swap with her.

Thank you to Tatyana from Smart Speech Therapy for having such fantastic powerpoint presentations and for being around to answer my questions related to International Adoptions.

Thank you to Jennifer from SLPrunner for hosting a FB Frenzy party this fall where I got to meet a bunch more fantastic Speech bloggers!

Thank you to Erik X. Raj for posting hilarious notes from our favorite Speech therapy products.  I don't know him but he just exudes positivity and excitement online.  I aspire to be as positive to others!

Thank you to Jenn from Crazy Speech World for hosting instagram parties with Jenna from Speech Room News as well as helping to promote other speech bloggers using their multiplying Mondays posts.

There are many more (and I know I missed some...)  I'm grateful to everyone that I've gotten to know personally or through their blog.  I'm grateful for people who take the time to share the information, ideas, and creativity with their fellow Speech Language Pathologists.

I'll post again at the end of the month about how my "gratitude experiment" has gone.  So far it's day 10 and I've noticed that I am more relaxed and feeling calmer.  I am able to deal with stressful things in a more rational way.   I think it might be working.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November Gratitude Challenge: YOU plus a Thanksgiving FREEBIE

My November Gratitude challenge #9 is YOU!  (Whoops-it should have been done yesterday, but I know you will forgive me.  We went to go see the new Thor movie and by the time I got home, I completely forgot to post this.)  

I am grateful for all of you who have taken the time to read my blog or leave a comment. As a blogger, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read blog comments.  Sometimes I will read them 2-3 times.  Please continue to take time to leave comments for your favorite bloggers-we really do love the feedback.  Plus you don't want to be a blog-stalker.   

I’m thankful for those of you who have liked my Facebook page or liked or shared posts I’ve placed there.  I know that sometimes the feeds can get a little crowded, but Facebook is a great place for us to connect or share information.  

I’m thankful for the many people who have volunteered to proofread my different products and provided such excellent suggestions.  I'm sorry that I have such weird capitalization and extraneous apostrophes in my products!!!

Finally, I am so, so, so grateful for all of you who have taken the time to purchase some of my products from my Teacher’s Pay Teachers or Teacher’s Notebook stores.  Without your continued support, I wouldn’t be able to keep making these projects which I feel so passionate about.  

If you have any students or clients who are working on third person pronouns, is/are or was/were + auxiliary forms, I have a new FREEBIE available to my Facebook fans: Turkey Syntax.  This is a quick drill type of activity for students who need more practice producing the targeted structures.  All you need to do to collect the FREEBIE is "like" me on Facebook.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you again for your continued support!  You are truly the best.  Tune in tomorrow when I have some shout outs for some other speech bloggers who have really reached out to help me.  We have a fantastic community of Speech language pathologists.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: Just because they got it wrong on the test doesn't mean it needs to be a goal!

Last week I started talking about some of my pet peeves regarding goal and objective writing.  You can read about how I HATE it when goals are trying to measure too many things by clicking here.
A second pet peeve of mine is when people write goals that teach to the test.  Some tests do seem to lend themselves more easily to this.  For example, many Linguisystems assessments make goal writing really easy.  But I've even seen some instances where people have written goals from these assessments that aren't that functional.  I'm pretty sure I may have written a goal like, "Johnny will answer negative questions."  I know sometimes I've written goals and not even known WHAT I was trying to accomplish when report writing time came around.  

Here are a few more examples:
  • Johnny will repeat a series of 5 words or numbers in reverse order given one verbal cue within a one year period.  
  •  Given a word (or curriculum word), Johnny will create a sentence with 80% accuracy.    
  • Johnny will repeat sentences of increasing length and complexity.
  •  Johnny will complete analogies with 80% accuracy.  
On the surface these may not seem like horrible goals-but they are ALL teaching to the test.  I know that on the CELF assessment many of the CORE subtests were chosen to diagnose a language disorder, not to reflect actual functional tasks that we would use in daily life.

Johnny will repeat a series of 5 words or numbers in reverse order given one verbal cue within a one year period.  I can guess from the first goal that Johnny scored poorly on the numbers repetition portion of the CELF-4.  Here's the problem, that subtest is assessing working memory and I'm not sure that we can fix working memory by practicing it.  If I was to write a goal in this area, I would focus on teaching strategies so my goal might look something like this: Following direct instruction on 3 different memory strategies (chunking, auditory rehearsal and note taking), Johnny will improve from being able to list 3 items to 5 items on a list.  In this goal I know that my lessons are going to focus on teaching compensatory strategies.  I included a goal for note taking because I'm not sure that this student will be able to remember a list of 5 items even with memory strategies.  Another way I might address these areas is by changing the list items to steps or directions to an activity.  

Given a curriculum word, Johnny will create a sentence with 80% accuracy.  Formulated Sentences failure anyone?  This goal fails my solid goal writing test because it's too vague.  And really not functional.  Technically, Johnny could meet this goal by using the following 3 word sentence: I hate ______.  Try it! It works for a lot of curriculum words.  A better way to approach failure at the formulated sentence level is to do an error item analysis to determine what we can do to help Johnny get better at sentence construction.

If Johnny is not paying attention to relevant details in the picture but he is formulating grammatically correct, complex sentences, a syntax goal is not appropriate.  He might need a social thinking goal to focus on using your eyes to gain information, a topic maintenance goal or a goal for identifying main ideas within pictures.

If he is consistently producing incomplete sentences or sentences with word order errors, he may need specific instruction on HOW to create sentences.

Does he have more difficulty with sentences with conjunctions or clauses?  He may need more instruction in that area.

An awesome feature of the CELF-4 and CELF-5 is that it allows you to do item analysis to see if there are patterns in the student's errors.  The CELF-5 has these listed directly on their protocols which makes it really easy.  I don't have the scoring assistant, but I heard that it will also figure this out for you.  So if you have that sitting on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, bust it out and save yourself some time!

GOAL 3:  
Johnny will complete analogies with 80% accuracy.  Analogies are a great tool to work on vocabulary and higher level language skills.  Analogies require the student to identify word relationships between 2 pairs of words and then generate a new word using that same relationship.  However, if you just wrote that goal based on his performance on the CASL, we have a problem.  That assessment on the CASL is measuring their understanding of grammatical morphemes.  It's just using analogies as a way to do that.
On that subtest, I would look for patterns in errors and add goals specific to the error patterns that I see (ex. subject verb agreement, plurals, pronouns, progressive tense forms etc.)

Analogies use expressive AND receptive language skills so I might break them into 2 separate goals that would read something like:  Given analogy tasks and a graphic organizer, Johnny will identify similarities or the relationship between 2 words with 80% accuracy.  The expressive goal might read, During analogy tasks using the following relationships: synonym, antonym, categorization, association, Johnny will generate a word to complete the analogy with 80% accuracy.  These goals could use some work-but they give me more information (I'm hoping to increase his understanding of synonyms, antonyms, categorization and association) which helps me to narrow down my teaching materials.  

GOAL 4:  
Johnny will complete sentences of increasing length and complexity.  This goal is very similar to the repeating numbers goal.  I tend to address failure in this area by choosing receptive language tasks.  So I may try to teach some of the grammatical forms that the student is not understanding.  We may work on some whole body listening tasks.  If they are keeping the meaning the same in sentences, I may not worry about this too much.

So let's go back to my negative question goal.  First, it just sounds weird.  Am I asking them disparaging questions?  Instead, I should have done more error analysis.  Is the student just missing the negative component in the question?  Then I am writing a syntax goal to teach comprehension of negatives within sentences/questions.  However, if they caught the negative but answered the question incorrectly, then I might write a goal such as "When given a social scenario with a negative outcome, Johnny will explain why an action was not the best choice with 80% accuracy."

Do you have a better way to write my super wordy analogy goals?  I hope so.  Do you find yourself writing to the test or getting goals that are written to the test?  I'd love to hear more below.  Next week's Saturday Soapbox is focusing on IEPS with 10,000 goals.  As always, if you enjoyed this post or found it informative, please consider sharing it on Pinterest or Facebook by clicking on the buttons below.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hand Turkey Speech Therapy

This is an update on a post I did last year with some newer pictures.

I'm a little obsessed with hand turkeys in November.  I make one with everyone.  Some of my older kids need a little coaxing but I talk about how it's so retro and then they are usually okay with it.

I used to do a cute craft with my preschoolers where we would practice a poem with their articulation sounds and then we would make a hand turkey and add feathers and googly eyes to it.   The first year we were married, I gave one with my handprint to my husband.  He's kept it on the bulletin board in his office ever since.  He works at home so it's okay.  Have you ever seen those wax hands you can make at festivals?  One of these days, I'm going to get my brother and I to make one for my mom.  I think it will be a hoot!  Some things are only cute when you are little.  Have you seen the pictures of people recreating the snapshots from their childhood?  Hilarious.  

Anyhow, turkey handprints are a great way to work on any skill where you want to target 5 different things.  Here are a few of the ways that I've used them in therapy:

1.  Main Ideas and Details
2.  Describing/Defining words:  Write the word in the thumb area and then descriptors in the finger areas.
3.  Category member naming
4.  Listening Comprehension or sentence construction using the 5 W's (who, what, where, when, why).
5.  Retelling stories/summarizing by listing: character, setting, initial event, climax and conclusion.

For articulation clients, you could make a glittery turkey.

1.  Think of 5 words that match their target sound.
2.  Roll a dice and have them say the words that number of times  before they write it on the turkey.
3.  Have them practice the words at the phrase level as they are putting glue on the fingers by saying "glue on ______."
4.  Finally, have them practice saying each word at the sentence level while adding autumn colored glitter to each finger.

What are some other ways you could use hand turkeys in therapy?  I hope you found this post was something you could use in therapy.  If you did, please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter by pressing the buttons below.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mama-on-Days: Halloween Hijinks

I want my holidays to be filled with family traditions.  I spent a lot of time planning and creating Halloween events for my family while working hard to monitor my own expectations.   Sometimes I can get a little out of control with my planning and the way I think the event will go in my head.

For example, I enrolled the biscuit in gymnastics at the age of 3.  I was hoping to avoid the gender stereotypes.  I pictured me cheering him on as he did flips and somersaults.  I thought of how he might make friends with one of the other little boys in the class-and maybe we would go to the park and I could watch them play while I sipped Starbucks and chatted with his mother.  The reality was the Biscuit was the oldest boy in class full of cute 18 month-2 year old girls in tutus.  We went right after his daycare.  I spent the entire time sweating as he got up, wiggled, had difficulty following directions, and would run away from the group.  The most social interaction I got with the other mothers was pointed glares at my misbehaving boy.  Now I'm traumatized and we haven't done any "specialty programming" since.  

Anyhow, right before Halloween, the biscuit ended up with a horrible cough.  We took him into the doctor and she recommended that we skip trick or treating.  Ummmmm.......what?  Does she have kids?   I started asking everyone I know, consulting Facebook, even strangers trying to figure out a plan for Halloween day.

I made a parenting decision and decided to take him out bundled up.  He seemed to be feeling better and I knew he could have the weekend to sleep and recover.  We started with a plan to go to 5 houses which increased to 10 and then 11.  The Biscuit offered to draw me a map but then decided against it since he didn't know everyone's names in our neighborhood.  We got home and counted his candy-he got 50 pieces.

I made a special Halloween meal that he liked this year!

One of the skills that I lack-that I want to teach my son, is self control.  So when he asked how many pieces he could eat, I said he could eat as much candy as he wanted-until Monday when the Halloween fairy would come to collect his candy and leave a small gift.  I wasn't kidding about my lack of self control.  He spent about a half an hour choosing candies, putting them back, debating himself on which ones he should eat-candies he liked or candies he'd never tried before.  He ended up eating 11 candies on Halloween night.  That is a lot of candy-especially when eaten at such a fast rate.  I decided I would assist him with toothbrushing until the Halloween fairy came.  But then he was better.  He ate 4 pieces on Saturday and none on Sunday.  When he came home today and realized the Halloween fairy had been here he was super excited and ran around the house with his new small lego set I picked up on clearance.

I think I did okay.  But I still worry.  I worry that I get to stressed out, that I don't give him enough time, that we should do more activities.  This video gives me some comfort.  Even when we are doing things wrong, our kids still love us.

A New Perspective For Moms from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

How about you?  What things did you do on your Halloween?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Soapbox: Your objectives don't have to measure 200 things.

Does anyone else have goal pet peeves?  It's difficult when you are taking over a new caseload and working off of someone else's goals.  Most of the goals are fantastic but sometimes they fall into my GOAL PENALTY BOX.  Here are some of the goals I find impossible to work on-and some suggestions for making them more measurable.

IMPOSSIBLE GOAL #1:  Objectives that measure 200 things-or something like that.  Here are two examples:  

Janet will complete the following vocabulary tasks with 90% accuracy within a one year period: 
1.  compare/contrast
2.  multiple meaning words
3.  figurative language
4.  prefixes/suffixes
5.  Define words using 5 attributes.  

Jackson will produce the following speech sounds: /b, p, n, k, s, th, r, ng, t, sh and l/ within all word positions the following contexts: 
a.  single syllable
b.  word level
c.  phrase level
d.  sentence level
e.  conversation.  

The first objective requires 5 different goals to be met before the objective is discontinued.  The second is measuring 165 different things.  That means I'm going to be up until  2 am trying to write their progress report.  And the reality is that, in a group setting, I won't have time to sample 165 things before my first progress reports are due-let alone teach them how to say the sounds or give them enough practice in order to generalize the skill.  

I prefer goals which have one measurement.  For example in the first goal, I've decided that I want to measure their vocabulary skills by teaching different multiple meaning words.  I find it helpful if I come up with a set list to focus on during the school year.

So I could write a goal like: 
Following direct teaching and instruction, Janet will improve vocabulary skills from being able to define 4 pairs of multiple meaning words to defining 60 pairs of multiple meaning words within a small group setting.  

This goal seems much more manageable-I can pick a list of words to teach and I can set up a worksheet or a Quia activity to check her progress when it comes time to write progress reports.  

The second goal probably was written because the therapist just wrote down every error the child had on the articulation assessment.

First of all, I might consider a phonological or motor speech approach for a kiddo that is exhibiting that many errors.  But if I truly felt like articulation was the only method for this student, I would choose the  sounds I think would make the biggest difference for them to improve intelligibility.  I'd probably write down the other sound errors within the prior level of functions and make it clear to the parents what I think their child can accomplish within that year.  I'd give each sound it's own objective but might combine them all for the actual yearly goal.  

So for example, I think that my student can get to the sentence level for /k/ production.  I'd write a goal such as "Jackson will improve his articulation skills from being unable to produce the /k/ phoneme at the single syllable level to producing the /k/ in all word positions at the sentence level within a one year period."

I might need to write a little more narrative in the student's progress reports to explain where they are at for the first progress reports.  (ex. Jackson has improved from being unable to produce /k/ to producing with 80% accuracy given a verbal model at the word level.  He is beginning to produce the /k/ at the phrase level and is demonstrating steady progress towards his yearly goal of producing /k/ at the sentence level.)  

What do you think?  Do you LOVE to write mega-goals/objectives or do you prefer to measure one thing like me?  I'd love to hear from you!  Check back next Saturday when I complain about another common objective mistake-trying to teach the test.  If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing on Facebook or Pinterest by clicking on the buttons below.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Carryover Strategies {Linky Party}

I love it when a client comes in and has just started to produce the speech sounds we've been working on spontaneously.  It doesn't happen that often.  Instead we end up at the carryover phase-or we end up with clients or students who seem to associate me with good speech.  So they do great during structured sessions but have a really hard time transferring these skills to other environments.  The super creative Jenn from Crazy Speech World is hosting a linky party for carryover activities.  Here are four things I try to work on to facilitate carryover.
1.  Build it Up within each session.
In traditional articulation, we achieve 80-95% accuracy at each level before increasing to the phrase, sentence, reading and then carryover level.  This is definitely how I write my goals.  Sometimes I like to combine articulation with more of a "phonological" activity approach.  So if I'm working with a client who is practicing the /s/ sound I would pick out 5 /s/ cards.  Initially I will try to make sure that these are phonetically controlled words or single syllable words so that they are easier to produce.  We start the session working on the words at the single word level and then increase to the phrase, sentence level.  We end with an activity or craft that incorporates our targeted words for the day.

2.  Speed Talking 
When we start teaching children to speak, we often slow down or exaggerate our productions.  Speech articulation in conversational speech requires quick and refined movements.  If your clients or students can't say the phoneme quickly and without thinking-they won't be able to produce it in conversational speech.  The average person speaks 110-150 words per minute.  Try using a metronome to practice syllable or word level productions at a faster rate.  There are a lot of free metronome apps or you can use Metronome online.  I start having them practice their speech cards or a set of 5 to 10 cards at a lower rate (ex. 80 beats per minute) and then work on increasing their ability to produce at a faster rate.

Stephen Sacks MA, CCC-SLP has a fabulous program called SATPAC which uses nonsense words and phonetically controlled word lists in combination with metronome practice to systematically teach speech articulation. 

3.  Make it Physical:  
Automaticity is the ability to complete a task without involving the mind.  When we are struggling at the carryover stage, I start to incorporate physical activities within the session.  It can be as simple as practicing word lists while completing another activity which requires thought, such as building a lego set.  If I have room, I try to incorporate some gross motor and balancing activities.  I want the child to have to think about the activity more than they are thinking about their speech sounds (while producing them accurately).  I have used balance boards or just had my clients stand on one foot.  We may play a game of catch or incorporate some more complex ball passing activities from a program called Ball-a vis-x.  I have a deck of Yoga cards and sometimes we will practice our speech sounds while attempting to maintain a yoga position.

4.  Vary the location:
Speech rarely happens when sitting at a table directly across from other people.  Our clients need to be able to produce their speech sounds in a variety of locations while moving or doing other activities.  Sometimes we practice our speech sounds when walking in the hallway or playing in the gym or on the playground.

Do you have great ideas for carryover?  Head over to Crazy Speech World to link up your ideas:
Those are some of the ways that I have practiced articulation and carryover skills.  What do you use?  If you found this post helpful, please consider sharing it on Facebook or pinning it using the buttons below.
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