Monday, July 18, 2016

TpT Conference Orlando 2016... The Best Lesson I Learned

Last year when I found out that the Teachers Pay Teachers conference was going to be in Orlando this year, I was beyond excited. TpT has been a huge part of my life the last 3 years. There was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to learn from some of TpT's greatest teacher authors when they were practically in my own backyard.
I would have to say my favorite part of the conference was getting to be with some of my most favorite people in the world, my SLP blogging tribe. I love these girls more than I can express. We are spread out all over the country but these ladies have helped motivate me and have molded me into the therapist I am today.
 If I were to write a blog post about all the amazing things I learned at the conference, this post would be 500 pages long. But there was one thing that a certain speaker said that really spoke to me. I was sitting in Shelly Rees presentation about product planning. She shared a personal story about her TpT journey and her success. But then she added... "This was my season. Today isn't everybody's season." Amen. Isn't that the truth? I am constantly trying to keep up with crazy successful sellers. I feel guilty when I only blog once a month (If I am lucky!) But I have two small children at home. I work. I mentor. I am a soccer mom. A dance mom. A baseball mom. I have a full plate. I absolutely love every part of my life, but maybe this time isn't my season on TpT. So I decided to stop pressuring myself to be one of the best (I think perfectionism comes with an SLPs personality type!) My time will come. I think this is something we can all carry into our lives. Don't compare yourself to your coworkers, other moms, etc. We all have our own story and our own busy lives. Embrace what's going on in your life right now and be the best at that. The rest will come later.

...and on the note, the baby is up from his nap. I'm coming Kameron! :)
Psst... one more thing. I am still on a conference high and want to share the love. I am giving away $10 TpT gift cards on my Instagram (@simply_speech) right now. Go enter, winners will be announced Tuesday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Making Therapy Meaningful to the Child

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about communicating with parents and how important it is. In that post I mainly focused on communication about therapy times, dates, progress, and behavior. But there is something even more important that we need to discuss with our students' caregivers. Their interests. Their family members' names. Their best friends. Their pets. Favorite TV shows. Find out everything you can about that child and what he/she sees and talks about on a daily basis. All too often I find myself grabbing the iPad to work on target articulation words and thinking to myself, how many times will this child use the word "canary" outside of this room? Not to knock the iPad apps, I love them as practice tools, but probably half of the words provided, your student won't use outside of the speech room. It's time to roll up your sleeves and do a little interviewing!
This takes me back to a situation that happened to me a few years ago.  I was talking with a parent about her child and her child's progress in speech over the year. Let's call her, "Miranda." Miranda had been in speech for about a year. We were working on the same sounds for the entire year and she had made very little progress during this time. I knew she had made little progress, but when you hear those words come out of a parent's mouth, it stings a little. Miranda had goals for the "sh" "ch" and "dz" sounds. In all honesty, I had given up on the "dz" sound for the time being because I could barely get Miranda to even imitate the sound. That was until speaking with Miranda's mother! When speaking with the parent, I learned that Miranda's family included: Jay, Javarian, Janiya, RJ, and Jackie. Oh boy! I had no idea how important working on those "dz" sounds were. No wonder her mother saw no progress when she is hearing these names produced wrong all day, everyday!
Now I frequently ask parents for an updated list of words the child says at home but has a had time pronouncing. If you can't get in touch with the parent, that's ok! Talk to the child. Working on the names of PJ Masks characters is so much more meaningful in therapy when your student pretends to be Owlette at home with her brothers! Progress will seem to happen quicker because this kids are working on words they use frequently. Not to mention, therapy will be much more fun when we are working on the names of classmates and favorite restaurants! So take the time and dig a little deeper. I promise it will be worth it!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Craftivities!

Today is the day, it is officially summer! It has felt hot enough to be summer for weeks now so the beach and popsicle themed activities have already been in heavy rotation. I love letting my students get hands on with activities while we work on their goals, so I created some open-ended printables with a summer theme that everyone can use!
Last week I used these sheets to target articulation goals. I printed off a few sound worksheets from Mommy Speech Therapy and let my students cut and glue target words on the page as they worked on their individual goals. Some simply said the word and others made up sentences. 
 Since the pages aren't labeled, you can use them to target almost any goal. And each child in a group can use the same sheet even if they are working on different goals. This would be a great activity for speech centers!
 I have also used this sheet to target synonyms, antonyms, verbs, descriptive words, and following directions. After my students completed them, I sent the sheets home for homework!
 You can download a copy of these  
Open Ended Summer Craftivities in my TpT store, here!

Friday, May 27, 2016

End of the Year Teacher Gift Idea!

Today was Kenzie's last day of preschool. I am so proud of how much she has learned and grown in the last few months. We just enrolled her in school in February. We were touring the school for VPK and she just fell in love with the class so we decided to start her early. I am so thankful for her sweet and wonderful teachers and wanted to give them a gift to thank them!
Of course I turned to Pinterest for some inspiration.There are so many cute ideas but one stuck out to me, especially since we live in Florida! What's better than a fun in the sun gift bag?
Included in the beach tote is a towel, a magazine, sunscreen, and a tumbler for a cool pool drink! I picked up all of these things at Target. I purchased everything pictured above for under $30. The tote bag was in their $3 section! Isn't it cute?
 Because I absolutely love doing these child interviews, I found one for Kenzie to do about her teachers. You can download a copy for free from The Suburban Mom blog. I stuck one of these in the tote bag as well.
 And what teacher gift would be complete with out a cute gift tag to go with it? I created these and posted them in my store for free incase anyone else could use them. You can download them here! Happy gifting!!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Why I Over-Communicate with Parents

How is your parent communication? Do you speak with your students' families on a regular basis… weekly, monthly, yearly at the IEP meeting? Keeping in touch with parents can be a difficult task but it is so important.
Typically parents only get phone calls or notes home when their child is in trouble. They see the school's phone number pop up on their called ID and have a moment of panic. I don't want my students' families to get that feeling when they see my name. I want them to expect a call with good news about a goal they have met or a fun activity they are enjoying and excelling with. Parent communication needs to be a balance of positive and negative. As a private therapist, I don't have required face-to-face parent meetings. If I see a child at their school or daycare, there's a good chance it may be a long time before I meet the parents of my student. I want them to feel comfortable communicating with me about their concerns, questions, and the progress that their child is making. 

Now I know it's not really possible to have weekly conversations with every child's parents. There just isn't enough hours in a day. So I created a parent communication folder that I send home with my students weekly. I actually call it a homework folder, but I am much more conceded with the communication portion of it. Here is what I include in the folder:
1. A Calendar: I make note of the dates and time speech sessions are held, dates the school is closed, dates of meetings, when a re-evaluation is due, how many therapy sessions are remaining if the child's insurance only covers a certain amount at a time, any pertinent information. My hopes with this is that parents will schedule dentist and doctor appointments around speech (wishful thinking, I know!) and also remember to contact me if a session needs to be canceled for any reason.
2. My Day In Speech Log: this is a simple and to the point activity/behavior log. It includes the date, a few lines to note what we worked on, a place to report on behavior and if homework was given. I typically fill this out during the remaining few minutes of a session when the child has earned a reward activity.
3. A Communication Log: I use this if a longer note needs to be left for the parents. There's also plenty of space on this log for a parent to leave a note for you.
Including all of these things aren't necessary for all parents. Some will be over joyed that you tell them each week what you are working on. And some probably won't give it a second look. But at least you are putting in the time to reach out to your students' parents. And that is fantastic. (Psst...this is a great bonus for your end of the year when evaluations come up!) You can download a copy of my communication folders for free, here!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#instaBHSM Contest!

Happy Better Hearing & Speech Month! What's a better way to celebrate than with a contest that advocates and promotes our field?! I have teamed up with Jessica from Consonantly Speaking and Carissa from Home Sweet Speech Room to bring you a fun Instagram contest with some great prizes!
In order to participate in the Photo-A-Day Challenge for Better Hearing and Speech Month, you must first have an Instagram account. You can sign up for free at or on the app on your device. You cannot upload images from the web (Instagram won't let you for some reason), just from a phone or tablet. Then, make sure that your profile is not set to private so we can follow you to see your images. If it is private, we will not be able to see your entries. Next, look at the image above and post an image for each day throughout the month of May 2015 within the theme of that particular day. Make sure in the description that you use #instaBHSM in order for it to count for our giveaway. If you want points towards ASHA's "Speaking Up for Communication" social media Contest, that is a completely different contest (and you have to sign up separately for that one on ASHA's website). However, you can also use the hashtag of #BHSMContest for your image to count for that one as well. Make sure to use both so you get points for each contest!
Be sure to follow Home Sweet Speech Room and Consonantly Speaking on Instagram so that you don't miss the winner being announced!
 The person who most consistently posts images throughout May corresponding to the themes will win a prize basket! In the case of a tie, will be used to randomly select a winner! Then, that person will be contacted via Instagram and the winner will also be posted on both of our Instagram accounts on June 1st, 2015 to give us their mailing address so that we may send the package their way!
The Bucket of SLP Goodies Includes:
  • 2 lip clips
  • A lips sticky note pad
  • A set of 3 Thought Bubble sticky note pads
  • 16 sets of 12 smelly stickers
  • A small brain JELLO mold
  • A sentence builder flip chart
  • A set of 6 sheets of pirate finger tattoos
  • A gift card
This challenge will run from 12:00 am May 1st, 2015 to 11:59 pm May 31st, 2015 in Eastern Standard Time. It is an Instagram-only challenge, so posts on other social media will not be counted (that doesn't mean that you can't share them elsewhere, we just won't double-count or count posts from other social media).
We look forward to seeing your submissions throughout the month to raise speech-language pathology awareness and share speech-language therapy ideas!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Non-Fiction Learning!

The weather here has been amazing. I have been itching to get outside instead of working indoors all day. Some of you may not know this, but for the last 3 years I have been working as a private therapist since I left the school system. This gives me flexibility with my schedule and the ability to be home with my little ones so much more. Working privately also gives me the opportunities to take therapy outside of the home or therapy room and get some real life experiences!
Recently we have been doing a lot of work with non-fiction reading about wildlife, animals, and their habitats. What's a better way to teach about these things than to actually get outside and see them?! There is a local park here in St. Pete called Boyd Hill Nature Park. One of the families I work with decided to take our therapy session outside of our typical therapy setting and get some hands on, non-fiction learning!
During the session before our field trip, I gave each child a graphic organizer (pictured above) where they could make predictions about that they would see, hear, and smell while on the nature walk. Ironically, yes, each child had the word "poop" written somewhere in their prediction! Since not all of the kids I went on the trip with could write, drawing picture predictions was also an option. 
When we got to the park, I gave them back their graphic organizers so they could document their observations. It was incredible to see them applying vocabulary they learned to real life situations and not just a worksheet. That day these kids got to touch a snake, see birds, turtles, and so many other animals we had been reading about. All too often the kids we work with do not get to experience the things they read about in the classroom. I love being able to give the gift of hands on experiences to both my children and the ones I work with.

This was such a fun and educational experience. I highly recommend it.  I know it's not possible for all therapists to have field trips with their kids, however, I have a few suggestions:
1. Take therapy outside your typical setting. Go walk around the school. Learning about nutrition? See if you can visit the cafeteria. Completing a unit on bugs? Take a walk outside and see what you can find!
2. Bring in as many topic-related, real life items that you can when teaching a new concept. Kids learn more when they can touch and hold something. A real object will stick in their memory better than a graphic.
3. Volunteer to chaperonne field trips your students will be on. My principal always allowed me to join my students on field trips. I created entire lessons about the trip before we went and continued on the topic after the field trip. The more exposure to vocabulary and new concepts, the richer the learning.
4. Going on a trip this summer? Bring back photos, a jar full of sand, anything that will help put a real life spin on a typical learning experience. Your students will love learning about what you experienced.