Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Go to the Movies!

I can't believe this is my last week of summer! Monday I'm back to the old grind.  I've got to get myself motivated lol.  I've been draaaggging.

Back in college, in order to get myself motivated to study, I'd watch certain movies.  Haha.  My top choices were usually (don't laugh) Legally Blonde or Akeelah and the Bee or sometimes The Pursuit of Happyness.  You may think I'm slightly crazy, but for some reason watching these often inspired me to hit the books!  :)

Fast forward to today and I'm hoping to apply the same logic to my unmotivated SLP self.  Here are a few of my favorite speechie inspirational movies!  Get your Netflix cues ready!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon-affiliated links.  :)

In no particular order...

1.   The King's Speech (2010)

This one tells the story of King George VI and his struggle with stuttering as he inherits the throne.  He finds a speech therapist to help him improve his stuttering and give him the confidence to complete his duties as king.  Great film!

2.   The Miracle Worker (1962)

One of my faves!  It tells the classic true story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan and how a young girl who is deaf and blind learns to communicate.

3.   And Your Name is Jonah (1979)

In this movie a family learns that their son, who they originally thought had a mental disability, is actually deaf.  It shares a mother's struggles and journey in helping her son communicate.  I was amazed at how much our field has changed since this movie was made.  It was funny seeing all of the "old" equipment too.

4.   My Fair Lady (1964)

If you like old, slightly longish musicals, you'll love this one.  In My Fair Lady, a linguist helps a flower girl speak elegantly and become presentable in society.  It's all about accent reduction therapy lol.

5.   Temple Grandin (2010)

Love this movie!  Temple Grandin has autism, and this story of her life shows how she overcame so much and changed the way livestock is handled at slaughterhouses.  Very inspirational!  

I'm sure many of you have seen these!  It's just fun to watch them again and again to stay motivated.  What are some of your favorite speechie movies??  :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Show Me the Data Linky!

I love linkies!  Today I'm linking up with Jenn over at Crazy Speech World who is hosting an all things  DATA collection party!

Now, if you follow my blog you might remember THIS POST from last week on the forms I use when collecting data and why data is so important.  Be sure and check it out to find out how you can grab a few free forms!  :)

In my district, one of the mandatory components of the evaluation process is RtI.  The data I keep for these kiddos has to be specific and organized.  Sooo this group gets their very own data binder!

Here's a closer look at the inside tabs:

The tabs read: Attendance, Progress Monitoring, Student Assessments, Blank Language Assessments, and Blank Articulation Assessments.

Behind the Blank Language Assessments tab are all of my Common Core-based RtI Language Assessments separated by grade.  {Be on the lookout for the 3rd-5th grade version of this soon!}

These are the attendance sheets I use.  I like that everything is in one place, so that I know exactly where to look if I need information.  You can grab it HERE.

Behind the progress monitoring tab, I keep all of the students PM sheets plus a data chart for each.  I like to use a data chart when explaining the info to parents.  I find that it's a great visual for them to see exactly how their child is progressing through the intervention process.

You can grab this data chart for free HERE!

Be sure and check out other fun data posts over at Crazy Speech World!  How do you collect data?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Parent Letters for Speech Therapy in English & SPANISH

I spent my weekend soaking up the sun on the beach!  The beach is definitely one of my favorite places.  It was so nice and relaxing, even though the rain did catch us now and again.  This is where I parked my happy self with my floppy hat, sunglasses, and kindle:

My sis and friend and I had lots of fun hanging out and going to cool restaurants and seeing a little bit of the town.

Anyway, now it's back to reality!  I really do have a new download for you.  It's something that was much-needed for me, so I'm pretty excited about it.

Introducing: Parent Letters for Speech Therapy in English & Spanish!

This pack includes 8 different parent letters in both English and Spanish as well as in both color and black-and-white versions.

Contents include:

  • Introduction letters

  • Homework letters

  • IEP reminder letters
  • Progress report cover letter

Also included are English, Spanish, black-and-white and color versions of:
  • Summer letters
  • Parent conference request letters
  • RtI intervention letters
  • Referral letters
It's so nice to be able to grab one of these and go!  I just print a bunch at the beginning of the year and keep them in a file.  Hope some of you can use them too!  Grab them at my TPT store.  Get the IEP reminder sheets for free by downloading the preview on the TPT page.

You can win a free copy of the entire packet for yourself!  Just enter by the rafflecopter below.

Friday, July 19, 2013

FAQ Friday: Late Talkers

It's Friday!  Unfortunately, I've only got like 2 more free Fridays before school starts back up.  Sigh... I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

It's FAQ time.  Today's question is brought to you by a friend who is a parent of a toddler.  She wants to know if it's normal that her child isn't speaking yet.

Most parents with concerns about their children will ask other parents their opinions.  I've listened in on some of these conversations.  They usually go something like:
      Parent: Sally is 2 and she doesn't really talk yet.  How old were your kids when they started talking?
      Friend 1: Oh don't worry!  Johnny didn't talk until he was 3, and he turned out just fine. 
      Friend 2: Yeah, enjoy it now.  Soon, you won't be able to shut her up! 
      Friend 3: I'm sure she'll outgrow it.  Just be patient.

While this advice may be well-intended, you can't really know for sure if your kid is on the right track just by listening to the opinions of other parents.  Concerns regarding your child's communication skills should be directed to a speech-language pathologist, and often a formal evaluation is necessary.

In order to know if something is not normal, you need a good sense of what is.  Here are a few milestones to keep in mind:
  • Children usually say their first meaningful word around 12 months, about the time they take their first steps.
  • Between the ages of 1 and 2, your child should be picking up more and more words consistently.
  • At 24 months, most kids have about 100 words and are putting 2 words together.
Now, sometimes a child will very well "catch up" on their own if they begin talking late.  However it's often hard to know which kids will or won't, so typically a language evaluation is in order.  There are some "red flags" that are considered to reveal a child who may have language difficulties.  Check out these risk factors posted by Lauren Lowry at the Hanen Center:
  • quiet as an infant; little babbling
  • a history of ear infections
  • limited number of consonant sounds (eg. p, b, m, t, d, n, y, k, g, etc.)
  • does not link pretend ideas and actions together while playing
  • does not imitate (copy) words
  • uses mostly nouns (names of people, places, things), and few verbs (action words)
  • difficulty playing with peers (social skills)
  • a family history of communication delay, learning or academic difficulties
  • a mild comprehension (understanding) delay for his or her age
  • uses few gestures to communicate
If a child's receptive language or ability to "take in" language is age-appropriate, that's usually a good sign.  However, not being able to communicate effectively as a toddler can be frustrating for both you and the child.  As a parent, you don't have to just "wait and see" if your child catches up.  It's never too early to consult an SLP for a screening or formal evaluation to make sure.

Sources for some of this information as well as some great articles about this topic include:
ASHA: Late Blooming or Language Problem
How to tell if Your Child is a Late Talker
A Closer Look at the Late Talker Study

Remember, keep talking and reading to your child.  Provide opportunities for them to make requests and imitate words.  Speak slowly using short simple sentences, and always show them love and support no matter their difficulties.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Love it & List it: My Top 5 Therapy Games!

Jenna over at Speech Room News asked all of us bloggers what our favorite games were to use in speech.  She's got a fun new Love It & List It linky party going on, so today I'm linking up with her blog and sharing my favorites!

Click on the above graphic to go to the original post at Speech Room News!  So, here is my list of top 5 games to use in therapy!

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. :)

1.  Guess Who Extra
If you are an SLP, you probably have Guess Who!  My kiddos love the "extra" version, since it comes with 6 different cards and themes to choose from: animals, appliances, silly faces, etc.  This game is great for working on articulation carry-over, asking/answering questions, describing, turn-taking, and more.

2.  Trouble

I probably drag out trouble every few weeks for my articulation groups.  It's a perfect reinforcer, and I can get several trials out of each turn.  I have them say a word the amount of times the number says on the die.  It can also be fun to use with card decks between rounds.

3.  Don't Break the Ice

Of course I love Don't Break the Ice, especially for articulation and sight words!  If you aren't familiar with how I use it in therapy, check out THIS post and THIS post!  :)

4.  Boggle Jr.

I like Boggle to work on reading and phonological skills.  I don't always play as directed.  The letter cubes are great for manipulating sounds and working on different awareness tasks.

5.  Zingo

Zingo is a cute game for building vocabulary, matching, describing, following directions, and more.  I change it and play it lots of different ways.  Kids love it!

What games do you play in speech?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Data, Data, Data!!

We all have to do it.  It's time-consuming, boring, and I'd rather spend my time doing actual therapy.  However, taking solid, accurate data is important for several reasons:
  • It helps us know where exactly our students stand in achieving their goals.  
  • It helps us better plan our therapy sessions.  If we know exactly what they can do, we aren't guestimating what to work on.
  • We need it for other paperwork: progress reports, IEPs, etc.
  • It gives us proof/leverage when presenting ideas to other faculty.
  • It helps us to make decisions based on hard facts and information, not just how we feel.
  • It's required by law.  In my state we have to provide proof of services and show our data/tally sheets if asked (especially if Medicaid eligible).
  • It's in our job description.  See this ASHA article.  Data collection and analysis are under our roles and responsibilities as SLPs in the schools.
I'm sure you can think of a million more reasons why data collection is helpful, but these are a good start.

Taking data is a task that I am constantly trying to get a better handle on.  I've redone my system about 596 times.  One of my readers wanted to know about my data sheets, so I'm happy to share a little of what I have used in the past.

Attendance sheet - My attendance sheet was inspired by one of the tally sheets that was sent to us by someone in our district (I'm pretty sure it was Mia!).  I wanted a sheet that would have all of their info on it but would be quick and easy to use.

Tally sheets - 3 different types, depending on the student's goals and needs.

Daily notes - These are for my crazy days.  At times when I'm in and out of meetings and classrooms all day, sometimes I don't have the breaks I need to fill up my data sheets.  With this form, I can quickly grab it and write notes on it throughout the day without having to flip through my binder.  I just transfer then notes onto my student tally sheets at a later time.

Lesson plan - Some districts require therapists to keep lesson plans.  I have a spot for the weekly theme I'm using, materials needed, what's being focused on in the curriculum, and specific plans.

Although let me just throw out there that you can have all the pretty sheets and best intentions in the world...but you HAVE to actually use them.  These are just some of the forms that have helped me.  You can grab a copy of some of my data sheets HERE.  

I would love to eventually go paperless with my taking my data.  Unfortunately, I haven't found the perfect iPad app to do that.  Even a good editing app would help.  If any of you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear!  And if and when I discover the perfect way to take data on the iPad, you will be the first to know!  ;)  

Monday, July 15, 2013

S-Peachy Feedback!!

Feedback rocks!  I love hearing from you and reading all the sweet things you have to say about my posts and products.  It motivates me that much more to keep writing and creating.  Even though I may not be able to respond to every single comment or thank you, please know that I do read ALL of them and take them to heart.

Today I'm linking up with Nicole from Speech Peeps for her S-Peachy feedback linky party!  Click on the graphic above to head over to her blog and join in on the fun!

After looking through some of my recent feedback, this one was one of my favorites about Candy Math Word Problems for Language Disorders:

It's so great to hear what made you purchase the product and specific things you like about it.  Thank you atim715 for writing such great and informative feedback!  Please email me at and choose anything you'd like from my TPT store for free!  

You can find more info about the Candy Math product she purchased HERE.  

A big THANKS to everyone who has made purchases from me.  It means so much more than you know!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

5 Organizing Essentials for Your Speech Room

Let's face it.  We all wish could be more organized.  Even the most organized people I know are constantly looking for ways to change and revamp their systems.  For me, organization (especially at work) just makes me breathe easier.  Yes, you can have a method to your madness or an "organized" mess and still be a fantastic therapist!

However, here are a few reasons why I think it's important to have an orderly speech room:
  • I know where things are.  How many times has your principal or supervisor asked you for a piece of paper that you couldn't put your hands on right away?  I hate it when that happens.  I know it's somewhere on my desk buried in one of the stacks of random papers that always seem to make their way to my speech room.  Ha.
  • I get more accomplished.  When I have a system in place, I stay on top of my planning and paperwork.  I don't have to spend precious time looking for things or constantly going through stacks of papers.
  • I'm not embarrassed when faculty or parents come in.  Sometimes teachers or other faculty drop in to ask me questions.  It's a little embarrassing when they say, "Wow, your desk is as bad as mine."  I also want to look "put-together" when parents come in for a meeting or conference.
  • I'm a more confident therapist.  Just having a nice and neat space with all of my materials set out and papers in place makes me a little more confident in my skills and abilities as an SLP.
  • It makes me happier.  There's a noticeable difference in my attitude on days when I come in to a clean empty desk and days when I come in to craziness.  
DISCLAIMER:  Some days will be crazy.  Sometimes your desk and room will be messy.  That's just life.  Don't beat yourself up about it.  I just try to clean up, get my system back in place, and start fresh the next day.  :)

So today, I'm here to share with you 5 organizing products that have made my life SO much easier!  Check em out.

1.   Dollar store baskets

Have you been to the dollar store lately?  They have some really great containers and baskets that you can snag for (you guessed it) a dollar!  I spray painted mine black to match my room decor and use them to store different centers and small games.  Plus, they look so cute in my closet and on my shelves. :)

2.   Hanging pockets

I heart my hanging pockets.  I use them to store artic worksheets and practice sheets by sound as well as language folders by grade.  It makes it easy for me to tell my kiddos to grab something quickly.

3.   Bulletin boards/Magnet boards

Does your classroom come with a mini bulletin board?  Or perhaps a magnetic white board?  If so, make use of that space!  I use both my bulletin board and white board to hang notes, due dates, to-do lists, reminders, etc.  I put some of my lists in frames and use them as wipe/erase.  I can easily take them off and on and keep revamping my lists.

4.   Little plastic drawers

What would I do without my little drawers?  You can grab these drawers at your local Wal-Mart or Target.  The Container Store even has some fancy ones that you can find here.  I use these to keep the paperwork off my desk and in a safe place.  It's especially beneficial when you have stacks of papers to file.  Some of the paperwork is confidential, so you don't want it laying around your desk.  These help keep them out of sight but easy to get to.  Each drawer is clearly labeled with what goes inside, which leads me to my next essential item...

5.   Labels!

I did not realize the power of labels until last school year.  I'm telling you, they will change your life lol.  When things are labeled you are 98.3% more likely to put an item back in the right place (ok, I totally made that stat up, but it's probably close!).  I label my drawers, containers, baskets, file folders, everything I can.  People probably think I've gone a little label crazy.  ;)

The pictured labels are what I'm planning to use for my paperwork drawers for next year.  I use some of them now but found that I needed to divide it up even further with more drawers.  If you're wondering what each means:

  • Outgoing - things that are to be delivered to our SpEd center or another school
  • To file - obvious...things that go in students' IEP folders or in my file cabinet
  • To complete - forms I need to fill out or papers that I didn't get to finish
  • To send home - paperwork that needs to be sent home with students
  • To copy - papers that need to be copied 
  • Working - half-completed testing protocols, teacher checklists, or other things I'm working on
  • Urgent - Things that need to be done like NOW.  My goal is to not have things in this drawer.  If an emergency came up, I just want to know where these papers are
  • Misc. - Any other paper that comes across my desk.

My goal is to go through my drawers on Fridays to make sure I am keeping up with everything.  We'll see if that actually happens.  Lol.

**You can grab these cute paperwork labels for free HERE!  :)  Hope they come in handy!

I know that not all of us school-based SLPs are blessed with a big, elaborate classroom all to ourselves.  My first several years I shared a small space with 2 other people, so I know what it's like to have to make do with what ya got.  Fortunately, I now have a nice space to use for speech.  How do you make use of YOUR space?  What kinds of things are "essential" for you to stay organized at work?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Therapy Organization Planners & Binders

So I am totally one of those people with great organizational ambitions.  At the beginning of the school year everything is nice and neat and organized.  As the year moves along, piles begin to form and papers begin to stack up.  I look around and things are a little out of place  aren't so organized anymore  pretty much a wreck.

This year I'll be trying out some new systems, so I'm hoping that they'll stick...especially since I found out that I'm now going to be the only SLP at my school.  Yes, I work at a primary school.  No, I have no idea how I'm going to manage.  Any advice is welcome and appreciated lol.  I figure I'm going to have to be super organized to make it work.

In my attempt to coral my paperwork, I'll be keeping a therapy binder or 2.  I combined a couple of great downloads I found on TPT to make my binder.  I used the Let's Get Organized packet from [simply speech] and the 2013-2014 SLP Monthly Planner from Denise Polley.

Both packs have such cute pages!  I just printed out the ones that applied to me and tweaked a couple of them a little with my sharpie to meet my needs.  :)

I'm thinking that this will be just what I need.  I've got a calendar for each month, referral info, and screening and RtI info.

I even included a copy of my district's procedure checklists for quick reference.

There are also sections for evals, re-evals, due dates, medicaid lists, running to-do lists, parent contact info, and more.  I spiral-bound it all together, so it's not as bulky as an actual binder.  It's more like a planner.

**UPDATE:  I recently created my own planner to customize it to fit more of my needs.  You can check it out HERE!

I do have another binder where I keep all my student data and attendance information.

I section it off by grade and store their lesson plans, tally sheets, and medicaid logs behind each tab.  Because these have to be filed every 9 weeks, they need to be in a place where I can transfer them easily.

I'm also thinking about keeping all of their therapy data on the Therapy Report Center app by Smarty Ears.  I'm still trying to work out the logistics of it.

How do you keep your paperwork organized?  Any tips you can share?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bloglovin and a Pretty New Design!

Are you on Bloglovin?  I'm really liking it to keep up with my blog reading, and the iPad app is very easy to use.  You can stay up to date with all of my posts and products by following me there.  Just click on the yellow (+) button at the top right corner of my page.

OR click the button below:

Follow on Bloglovin

Speaking of buttons, I've got lots of pretty new buttons on my newly designed blog page!  Isn't it pretty?  I'm loving it so far!  A big thanks to Tessa from Tales From A Blogdesigner for helping me with a mini makeover!  :)

I also added some custom categories to my TPT store to make it easier to browse through products.  You can find them near the top of the left hand column of my store.

Just wanted to fill you in on the news!  Thanks so much for reading.  It means more than you know! :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

FAQ Friday: Baby Talk

Hooray for Friday!  Hope you had a happy holiday yesterday and that some of you are enjoying a nice, long weekend.  Here's a new FAQ Friday post to get your weekend started!

Today's question is brought to you some of my friends who are new moms with cute little babies.  :)  They want to know if it's ok to speak "baby talk" to their kids.

Sometimes baby talk is referred to as "motherese" or "parentese," and this kind of talk is perfectly normal and actually pretty beneficial for your young kiddos.  These types of sentences are usually simple and short, with repeated words and elongated vowels.  When speaking, parents often use slow rates and higher pitches with happy facial expressions.  For example, "Do you see the car?  That's a big big car.  Cars go fast!  Vroom!"

Check out what this speech pathologist from The Hanen Center writes about baby talk:


However, you do want to make sure you are modeling grammatically correct speech and correct articulation.  Be careful not to drop off ends of words, like -ing or -s, to shorten the sentences.  It's important for kids to develop a good sense of grammar and word meanings.

As kids get older, some go through stages of developmental misarticulations.  Adults might think it's "cute" and may speak back to them using those same errors.  And sometimes what a child says IS funny AND cute!  It's ok to talk and laugh about it.  You just want to be sure and model correct articulation when speaking to them, as not to reinforce their errors.

What are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear your opinions!  :)
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