Tense Builder App Review & Giveaway!

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Raise your hand if you have students with grammar goals on their IEP or service plans. Raise your hand if you have students that don't necessarily have grammar goals but could use some extra practice in the grammar area! I'm sure 99% of you have your hands up. Tense Builder by Mobile Education Store is such a great app to use while working on grammar, especially those verbs!
When you launch Tense Builder, you are brought to the settings page. Here you can create individual profiles for each of your students. You also have the option for setting the difficulty level, which tense you want to target, and which verbs you want to work on based on student goals and individual need.
Once you have completed your settings and hit play, you are brought to an animation. These animations are short, colorful, and engaging for the students! Each animation targets a specific verb.
After the animation is over, the student is prompted to answer a question. Depending on which level you choose in the initial settings, will determine what type of question the student is asked. Below is a picture of a Level 1 prompt, "Which picture shows, the ghost will answer the question?"
Level 2 prompts, require the student to choose the correct form of the verb to complete the sentence about the picture. Below is an example of a Level 2 question.

This app allows you to keep data on your students' success with this app. If you chose Stats, you are brought to a screen that looks like the one below. You have the option to email the stats, which is a great tool for sharing data with parents and teachers! I don't know about you all, but this year the ability to print at our school is like having gold. Being able to email results and keep track of progress within the app is so helpful. I am a huge fan of Mobile Education Store apps. This app is very thorough in the ability to assess students ability level with a goal as well as use this app as a teaching tool. 

  Tense Builder sells for $14.99 in the iTunes store, or you can try to win 1 of 2 copies below! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book of the Week!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Last week in speech was so much fun! In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, I decided to dedicate my whole week to pirates! Some of the other classes I work with joined into the fun as well! Take a peek into my speech room and check out what we have been up to....
All of my activities were centered around the book, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long. I used this book with all grade levels as well as with both my speech and language groups. I adjusted the activities based on age and goals. 

All of my students made their own paper plate pirate! 

Each student decided if they wanted to be a pirate or not based on what they learned about pirates in the book. They put a sticker in the yes or no column and shared why they chose that answer. 
These were some of my answers:
I want to be a pirate because.....
they don't have to eat vegetables!
they find treasure!
I want a pet parrot.

I don't want to be a pirate because....
they have green teeth.
they are mean!
they don't have manners.
they are smelly because they don't take a bath!

My articulation groups listed /r/ words for the Pirates Say Arrrgh! activity. 

You can download my entire pirate unit here (some fun pirate songs I found are also included!)

Friday: Tips for Finding and Creating Cheap and Easy Therapy Materials

Friday, September 21, 2012
Happy Friday!! I am so glad that you all have joined me for Speech-A-Palooza this week. I hope you have enjoyed the guest posts and taken something away with you! One of my most popular posts was my quick and easy therapy materials post, so I'm sure you all will love today's post by Miss Speechie from Speech Time Fun! 

Many have asked, “How did you come up with that?” Or “where did you get that?” Many are surprised to find out how little I spend or that I made most of my therapy materials I frequently use in my classroom.

Must haves: my laminator! I could not live without this! I purchased mine back in graduate school from Staples but you could get many cheap ones from BJs, Amazon, Target and other discount stores. I usually buy my laminating pages from BJs since I could get 50 for $8! My school now has one but I prefer to use that one for larger projects such as posters and file folders. Other essentials I couldn’t live without include: my binding machine (got a cheap one on Amazon last summer), index cards, binder rings (can get a Staples), and TONS of Velcro!

Where do I go for cheap ideas and supplies? Dollar stores and the dollar section at Target. I also have gotten tons of Target gift cards as teacher gifts and I frequently just use those to pay for supplies! I also signed myself up for email and snail mail listings for coupons of local toy stores and teaching supply stores. I rarely pay full price for anything!

Where do I get my inspiration? Well, some is from Pinterest but I also take the goals I have in mind and think, how could I motivate my students and teach them a skill that they cannot get the traditional way?! When I first started out over 5 years ago, I spent tons of money I didn’t have purchasing commercial products. But that doesn’t always help target those skills that are difficult for speech and language students. I also love to come up with my own articulation target words and vocabulary lists.

I create most of my materials using Boardmaker, Custom Boards app, or Google images. Since I have started my blogging adventures, I now am purchasing fun graphics and clipart that will also motivate my students. By using graphics and clipart, one can modify materials to their likes and needs in a fun and cheap way. Laminate and bind them for safe keeping for many years! What types of materials do I typically create? I like to make visual aids to assist in recalling strategies learned, matching cards to play memory or go fish, and fun game boards. I can target any skill or concept using these types of materials. My students love competition and anyway to motivate them, I will!

There are also TONS of products shared and to purchase for cheap that have been made by fellow SLPs or other teachers. By searching through Pinterest, following bloggers, and searching through Teachers Pay Teachers, you could find what you are looking for!

Thursday: Supporting Literacy During Articulation Therapy

Thursday, September 20, 2012
Good morning! Today's post is by Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News! I am always looking for ways to spice up my articulation sessions... and the more literacy the better, right? 

I love incorporating literacy into my speech and language sessions. For me, incorporating literacy with language goals is pretty easy. Many language goals overlap (comprehension, vocabulary, inferencing, etc.) I find I have to make more of an effort to embed literacy strategies with my articulation students. If you’re just grabbing the iPad or artic cards, your students are likely relying on the picture. Here are 3 easy ways to make sure you’re highlighting literacy skills during articulation treatment.

 Print the Fry 100 lists.  (http://www.k12reader.com/fry-word-list-1000-high-frequency-words/) Grab a set of highlighters. Have the children read the Fry lists and when they find a word with their target sound, have them highlight the word and use it in a sentence!

2.      Use Reader’s Theater Scripts. This is great for encouraging reading fluency and you can pick a script that will emphasize your sounds for carryover! Check out these freebies. (http://www.teachingheart.net/readerstheater.htm) The picture above shows part of the script for ‘What Shoes did you Choose?’ I have used it for the students working on /sh/.

3.      Environmental Print is a way to use literacy during articulation treatment with your younger students. What 4 year old isn’t proud when they ‘read’ the McDonalds sign? Take your Kindergarten students on a walk around the school searching for signs with their sounds. If you can visit another classroom you are sure to find some other environmental print! Bring in some old magazines and use those to search for ads with familiar signs. I found this great freebie book (http://halfdayinprek.blogspot.com/2012/07/environmental-print-book.html) . It includes EP for each letter of the alphabet and is easily translated to ‘sounds’.

This week as you are working with articulation students, take the time to incorporate literacy strategies in your sessions.

Jenna Rayburn, M.A., CCC-SLP is a pediatric Speech Language Pathologist who works in a clinic and school. She authors Speech Room News (SpeechRoomNews.blogspot.com) where she shares what she’s doing in her Speech Room.  Find her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SpeechRoomNews), Twitter (https://twitter.com/SpeechRoomNews) and Pinterest. (http://pinterest.com/JennaRayburn/)

Wednesday: Visual Supports for Social Skills

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Happy Wednesday!! Today's guest post is by Jessica from Consonantly Speaking. Visuals and social skills are both very popular in the speech and language world. Using them together can be powerful! 

Over the past month, I have been visiting the Carol Gray Center in Zeeland, Michigan. If you ever have the chance to visit, you will be amazed at the wealth of resources available for children with autism. From DVDs to reference books to books written by people who have autism, you can check out up to seven items a week for a yearly fee of $10. I have taken advantage of the lending library many times, checking out items specifically related to visual supports for social skills. In this post, I will share some of the items that I checked out from the Carol Gray Center as well as some others that I have used over the years.

For those of you who are not familiar with Carol Gray, she is a visionary in the field of autism spectrum disorders. Carol is the creator of Social Stories and Comic Strip Conversations, two different visual story templates for children with autism to assist in use of appropriate social skills. She is currently the Director of The Gray Center for Social Learning and Understanding in Zeeland, MI. Carol also has 22+ years of experience working as a teacher and consultant for students with autism spectrum disorders at Jenison Public Schools.

So what is a social story? Social stories follow specific guidelines and criteria including the child’s name, a specific situation to the child, social skill, and cues, perspectives, and responses of adults/peers. The objective of social stories should not be seen as negative or a way to change a person’s behavior, but a way to help the person gain understanding of a situation and social expectations/responses. Stories can be made to reduce anxiety prior to visiting a place that the person has not been to before, help a student learn specific vocabulary/conversation used in specific situations, and understand outcomes associated with specific behaviors. Some examples of social stories can be found on The Gray Center’s website: http://www.thegraycenter.org/social-stories/what-are-social-stories

Comic Strip Conversations are similar to social stories with a greater visual emphasis. In addition, these also emphasize conversational interactions between peers and adults. There are specific visuals and colors used within Comic Strip Conversations such as speech bubbles to show if a person or group is speaking, thought bubbles to show a persons’ thoughts or perceptions, colors to show various emotions, and text size to show the volume of a persons’ voice.
 Another resource that I borrowed from the lending library was Marcia Garcia Winner’s DVD on Social Behavior Mapping. Social Behavior Mapping discusses expected vs. unexpected behaviors based on others’ perceptions. These behaviors impact the way in which a person may be treated, viewed, how a person or peer may feel, and punishments vs. rewards. Social Behavior Maps are often created with the student on a large flow chart discussing expected and unexpected behaviors for a given situation. On each side of the map, the behavior is stated along with how it makes others feel, the result of the experience, and how the person feels about himself or herself.
At the end of the DVD, Marcia Garcia Winner discussed other resources she had created to assist with social skills. Another visual support included Sticker Strategies – Practical Strategies to Encourage Social Thinking. In this book, there are sticker labels with reminders of social strategies that can help people with autism throughout the day. Stick them on a notebook, note cards, and more! The latest edition comes with a CD to print and re-print these stickers! Some topics include asking for help, emotions, and organization.

Visuals do not always have to involve static displays. They can be flowing, moving, and involve audio – such as via video modeling. In video modeling, an instructor can video tape peers/adults interacting with each other, showing the appropriate/inappropriate behaviors, display nonverbal communication, and record verbal, conversational interactions between peers/adults. An instructor can also video tape a person with autism practicing appropriate social interactions.

There are many social story and socially conscious applications on the Apple Store market. Some of these include: Social Stories, I Create…Social Skills Stories, Touch Autism applications, Wonkido applications, The Social Express, Social Skills Builder, Social Skills Sampler, TherAd for Autism, Stories2Learn, Social Adventures, Social Skills, What Would You Do At School If…, What Would You Do At Home If…, How Would You Feel If…, Practicing Pragmatics Fun Deck, Hidden Curriculum for Kids, Hidden Curriculum for Adults, School Skills, iModeling Boundaries, Social Navigator, Mi-Stories, Sosh, and Life Skills Winner.

There are also many books available with pre-created social stories/scripts. Linguisystems has some great Autism & PDD books. Of course, Carol Gray created a book of social stories titled “The New Social Story Book”. Finally, there are some great visual supports for social skills in the Social Skills Picture Books by: Jed Baker.

 Of course there are other great websites out there that have various materials for purchase or for free to download and print related to social skills visuals. One great speech-language pathology website is www.speakingofspeech.com where speech-language pathologists share materials including those related to social skills. There are many pre-created social stories uploaded on this website for free. Another great website to get visuals for free is www.boardmakershare.com. You must have the Boardmaker Software to view and print the visuals.

I hope that this post was helpful for you to find various visual materials to assist with teaching social skills. Please feel free to visit my website at http://consonantlyspeaking.com for more therapy ideas, materials, information, app/product reviews, giveaways, and more! You can also follow my updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Tuesday: Therapy-n-Themes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Welcome to Day 2 of Speech-A-Palooza! I hope you enjoyed Whitney's post yesterday! Today's post is from Jen Alcorn, author of Crazy Speech World. Themes are something new I am trying this year, too. I had always done the traditional holiday themes, but I am now trying out a new theme every other week. This post will be helpful for any of you that use themes in your therapy sessions... or are thinking about doing it!

 One of the most popular questions I get is about using themes for therapy.  Mostly, how do I plan my themes?  I'm sure other people have different methods, but here is how I do it...

My therapy themes are simple and straightforward. Over the summer, I sit down with my calendar and map it out.  It takes an hour or two, but it ends up making therapy planning incredibly easier.  Why?  Because you are able to narrow your focus.

When I tackled this project the first time, it was a little overwhelming.  But the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with the process and it ended up being pretty easy for me this past summer.  Something you may find helpful is from Perkilou Products...it is a four week calendar for every month of the year.  It gave me ideas when I was first starting to create my own.

My own version is a little different.  I center my planning around holidays and seasons, some of which I use for two weeks.  You can download my version HERE.

I also created a blank version, which you can grab HERE.

After this part comes the fun stuff...finding materials!

  • Blogs.  I think these are the best places to get inspired and find activities.
  • Pinterest.  I have seen tons of Pin Boards dedicated to specific holidays, seasons, or themes.  You can even search by theme using the search box. 
  • Books.  Look through your own or go visit the library!  You can find a book on any topic, try to find various levels, as well as fiction and non-fiction.
  • Go through your STUFF!  Pull your files out and go through your cabinets.  I bet you have tons of your own materials that you can use :)

I have started organizing my themes by binders to keep up with it all.  I bought tons of page protectors to keep all my original worksheets and materials in, and all of my activities for that theme go in the binder.  I also make a list of all the manipulatives that I have that go with the theme...like I have jack-o-latern baskets I can use for Halloween or the Popcorn containers with the carnival theme.  I just don't want to forget what I have!  We always have so much STUFF!

I still use my trusty bag of favorites...CandyLand, Apples to Apples, Chipper Chat etc. to fill in the gaps.  Not everything I do is related to the theme, but I love having the organization of using themes in therapy.  I really believe that it has positively impacted my therapy and I would encourage any SLP to do it!


Monday, September 17, 2012
Happy Monday and happy first day of Speech-A-Palooza!! Today's guest post comes from Whitney Smith. Whitney is a school based SLP in Pinellas County Schools (just like me!) She is the author of the Let's Talk blog. If you have not already, check out her blog here! Take it away Whitney....!

How many of you are dealing with RtI (Response to Intervention) as part of your jobs? Well if you haven’t heard, RtI is now being referred to as MTSS (Multi-Tiered Support System), because, you know, once we learn an acronym, the natural thing to do is change it! Believe it or not, SBLT is not a tasty sandwich!  SBLT stands for School-Based Leadership Team, which is just what my county calls the team that gets together to discuss school data and those struggling students requiring help from the intervention (RtI/MTSS) team.  I’m sure your school has a different name for this team.  

Anyway, since it looks like RtI/MTSS is here to stay and is becoming a large part of our SLP responsibilities, I thought I’d do a post on information on RtI/MTSS from my point of view! I realize that every state, and every county, and many times every school is different in how they go about RtI. This has been part of the problem in implementing it. In my particular county, they have realized the inconsistency and are working to develop a more consistent protocol.  A small group of SLPs, me included, developed an RtI Workgroup.  We meet once a month or so to work on a system for SLPs to help implement RtI.  Through our research, we learned that many teachers did not understand the role of the SLP.  If they don’t know what we do, they don’t request our help.  Because of this, we developed a PowerPoint to share during a staff meeting to explain what we do and how we can help. 

We also discovered that many classroom teachers are asked to implement interventions for students, many of which are language-based interventions, but they don’t know where to begin.  They know their student has delays, but they aren’t sure what intervention(s) to put in place.  This is where the SLP comes in!  In my particular school, I am part of the SBLT (School-Based Leadership Team) where we discuss struggling students and their needs.  We discuss when to begin the RtI process and if there is a need for the SLP to be involved in the process as a consultant.  Before we as SLPs got involved in the SBLT, we would all of a sudden receive consent to evaluate a student that we had never heard of before.  Even worse, we would hear about a student who was in Tier 3 of RtI and was not making any progress.  It was then that we decided that the SLPs might could (and should) help.  Now, when a struggling student is brought before the SBLT, we make sure to rule out any language difficulties when we first initiate RtI.  If there are no language concerns, we back out of that case.  If there are language concerns, we address these in the interventions and make suggestions for possible interventions to use.  Most of all, we make sure to let the teachers know that we are here to help them if they need help.  We don’t actually implement the interventions ourselves, but we show them where to turn.

Now might be a good time to make a couple of acknowledgements.  First, I acknowledge that being involved with these kids who are not “technically” on our caseloads means more work for the SLP. However, what it comes down to is that it is best for the kids. Second, I acknowledge that there are some SLPs out there who are doing a whole lot more than simply suggesting language-based interventions.  In GA where I’m from, the SLPs are actually seeing the kids in RtI and implementing their interventions along with kids on their caseloads. Thus, they are seeing the kids as if they are on their caseloads, but not being allowed to count them in their numbers. I am also sure that there are other SLPs out there who are doing other things that are not necessarily “in their job descriptions.”  However, this is what we do. We wear many hats.   We do what is best for our kids.  We may not be able to do everything, but we do everything we can. Whatever your role in RtI may be, I encourage you to get involved in helping suggest language-based interventions for your classroom teachers.  Another very important part of what our RtI Workgroup is working on is a book of interventions (and progress monitoring tools) to give our SLPs for the different strands of language.  This way, when a student is struggling with, say, syntax, they can flip to the syntax section and have at their fingertips an array of interventions and progress monitoring templates to give to the teachers.  It is crucial that the classroom teachers know we are there to be team players and assist them when we can.

In conclusion, I wanted to suggest a few interventions we have been using with students going though RtI/MTSS:
1. Story Grammar Marker by Mindwing Concepts, Inc. (See my previous blog posts on my love for SGM!) (Picture from mindwingconcepts.com)

2.       Bridge to Vocabulary by Judy Montgomery-a personal favorite of mine. Very easy to create progress-monitoring templates for. (picture from Amazon.com)


3.       RtI In Action by Roth, Paul, Adamczyk, & Dougherty (picture from Amazon.com)

4.       FCRR-Florida Center for Reading Research(picture from fcrr.org)

5.       Language Lab by Wiechmann, Rudebusch, & Kuhles  and sold by Super Duper Publications (Picture from superduperinc.com)


I am very interested in hearing from you on this issue.  How are you involved with the RtI/MTSS process in your school? What questions do you have about RtI/MTSS? Do you have any interventions that you have found have really worked? Please email me at: whit.smith.1987@gmail.com.

Thanks so much for having me, Kristin, and thanks so much to all of you for reading!

Whitney :)

Where Be The Treasure Matey?

Saturday, September 15, 2012
Ahoy mateys! Are you ready for Pirate Week? I am soo excited for next week. I have been pinning and searching for pirate activities every day. So I'm sure you can imagine that I was super excited when I found out that you can make your own treasure map on LessonPix! (Pssst...Have you used LessonPix yet? It is totally kicking Boardmaker's "booty"!)

I decided to do a following directions activity with this awesome treasure map! The students will follow directions that take them to the cafeteria, the front office, the music room, the art room and then to the treasure! (I'm thinking eye patches and beads!) You can download a copy of my treasure map here, or go to  LessonPix website to make your own!

There were no students at school yesterday so I decorated my door! Like my paper plate pirates? The kids will make their own next week with activities that go along with them... check back for pictures of those activities as the week progresses!

I love Jack Hartman! (and I just found out he is a Tampa Bay local!) This is a great pirate song to use with your younger students. If you haven't heard of Jack Hartman, check him out on youtube, the little ones love him!

Don't forget to check out my Pirate Week Pinterest Board for more ideas!

Under the Sea!

Friday, September 14, 2012
The title of this post makes me start singing the song from The Little Mermaid! We have had a great two weeks under the sea! I wanted to share with you the activities we have done during this unit. There are two speech therapists at my school, I see PreK-2nd grade and the other therapist sees 3rd through 5th grade. So these activities were used with early elementary age students. I used the book The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister with all of my groups but used different activities to meet their different goals.

These are my articulation jellyfish! I cut out the jellyfish body and tentacles. The students wrote target words on the tentacles and attached them to the body. Then they decorated their jellyfish. I used this activity with all of my articulation groups. 
My PreK and Kindergarten groups made their own rainbow fish! Since PreK and Kindergarten were working on colors and shapes, I jumped on that vocabulary with this activity. Our rainbow fish had colorful triangles for scales. I used a piece of shiny wrapping paper for the one sparkly scale. 
For my first grade and second grade groups, we focused on character and setting. They created a starfish with the setting in the middle and the characters on the starfish legs. I found the pictures through google image. (Bonus: If you use Story Grammar Marker, a star represents the setting!)

I also created an extra articulation activity. Click here to download it. Print, cut, and laminate. Print the first page a few times. Here is how I play:
Put all the pieces face down on the table
Have each student practice their target 5 times.
After they practice, they choose a card.
Sounds simple, but the kids love games like this and you get a lot of target practice!
Graphics from My Graphico
What are your favorite under the sea activities and books?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I will be the first one to admit that I am a big dork. I love going to trainings, workshops, and conferences. But not just any. Ones that you walk away from excited to get back to work and put something you learned into action. So with that being said, I am very excited to announce a mini event I am hosting on my blog next week! Speech-A-Palooza is a week of fun and fabulous guest posts from some of my favorite bloggers (and yours, too!)
Here is the weekly run down.... I hope to see you there!
Whitney Smith from Let's Talk
Jen Alcorn from Crazy Speech World 
Jessica Chase from Consonantly Speaking
Visual Supports for Social Skills
Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News
Supporting Literacy During Articulation Therapy
Miss Speechie from Speech Time Fun  
Tips for Finding and Creating Cheap and Easy Therapy Materials

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