The Best Part of Me!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. 
Last week I did a story unit with the book The Best Part of Me. Have any of you used this book in your classroom of therapy sessions? This book is written by 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. In the book, they each include a photo, write about the best part of themselves, and explain why that is the best part. When I first heard about the book I was so excited to re-create it with my students. My students really got excited about this activity. It got their expressive language really flowing! Check out what we did to go along with the book.
First we brainstormed and made a list about what was great about certain parts of our body. 
Then each child picked the best part of themselves. I took a photo of the part they chose and they each wrote about it. This activity makes a great display, too!
What's the best part of you?

Welcome Home Wednesday: Maureen

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Today I would love to welcome home, Maureen from The Speech Bubble! Maureen has a lot of great information regarding deaf and hard of hearing students! I learned a lot from her post and I'm sure you will too!

Deaf and HOH students in the mainstream classroom

       During my summers off in college I was very lucky to work as an aide for an oral school for hearing impaired children.  This school specialized in oral communication for students who were Deaf or HOH, and who used devices such as cochlear implants or hearing aids.  I am very grateful for the opportunity I had there and I am very excited to share what I learned with you.
       When students who are Deaf or HOH are included on your caseload there are certain questions that need to be answered before we begin.
-          Do they use a cochlear implant, hearing aide, or no device?
                        *If the student has a unilateral implant what is the hearing capacity of the unimplanted ear?
-          Does the student know how their device works?
-          When was their hearing loss identified?
-          When did they being using their device?
-          Were they in any type of speech therapy prior to the services you will provide?

Once these questions have been answered it can help you plan for the student’s needs. If the student is older they may be responsible for the care and operation of the device.  The majority of the time student’s with devices will not need to worry about the functioning of their device at school, but it is always good to check. If the student uses a hearing aide, are you responsible for storing extra batteries?

I have noticed over the years that younger students tend to be more excepting of those with devices, where as older students may be more stand-offish at first. It is important to touch base with students to see how they feel about their device and if they are comfortable talking with others about it.  There are a few things you can do to help students answer questions from their classmates and feel more comfortable about their devices at school. For my students who are more comfortable with their devices I have them speak to the class about it. My older students do a PowerPoint about hearing loss and their device. I have had teachers that will allow the presentation to be used as a graded assignment. Two birds one stone!  We create the presentation together and do a mock question and answer session so they feel prepared.  If a student is more timid about their device, start slow. Have them bring a friend or two to speech.  You can tell the student’s guests about their device and allow them to ask questions that the student can answer.  

Now that you have some information about your student you can start to create their plan. If the student came to you with an IEP already in place, review the goals.  It may be worth a call to the former SLP, if possible, to touch base about recent progress and any good information about how the student learns.   If your student does not have an IEP and you must create goals, here are some typical areas that students who are Deaf and HOH work on in the mainstream setting:
-          Articulation: use a mirror when you can and pictures to help connect sounds to objects. Speech Buddies are a great tool to give them bio-tactile feedback if you have access to them.
-          Auditory Discrimination
-          Auditory Memory
-          Vocabulary
-          Advocacy Skills: Teach them it is ok to ask for repetitions or to have a quieter setting.
·         These skills should be targeted either as part of their IEP or informally so students understand that asking for help is just a part of learning and they are no different than any other student who may have a question in class.
These students may also need testing accommodations such has: alternate setting, extended time, alternate presentations, etc.

It is also a good idea to touch base with the student’s teacher and answer any questions they may have, as well as, give them some tips:
-          Give the student preferential seating ( in the front of the room, ‘good’ ear closest to the speaker).
-          Check in with the student frequently to check for understanding of material.
-          For projects and activities, partner the student with those who are patient and willing repeat information.
-          Allow the student to work in a small group in the hall, where is may be quieter. Do not send them to work by themselves. This can create feelings of exclusion.
-          If the student uses an FM system, make sure it is set to the correct channel
-          Use visuals whenever possible.
-          Ask the student if they feel they would benefit from a note taker in classes.

Here is a link to a packet with lots of good information to refresh your memories from good ole’ grad school.

In My Appinion Monday: Wh-Question Island

Monday, January 28, 2013
It's Monday which means I have another great app to share with you... WH-Questions Island  by Virtual Speech Center. When I was contacted about reviewing this app I was really excited. I have so many students on my caseload that have difficulty answering WH questions and I am always looking for new ways to practice this skill. I have been using this app in therapy for the last few weeks and my students have really enjoyed it.
When you open the app, you are prompted to choose settings, add students, and choose how you want to play. You have two playing options: Flashcards or Board Game. After you choose your playing method, you choose a pirate character for each student and the type of questions you want to use. What I love about this app is that you choose the type of questions for each student. So if Alex is working on 'where' questions and Katie is working on 'how' questions they can work on their own target during their turn. You can also set the questions to be receptive (with multiple choice options) or expressive (with open ended responses).
After all your settings are complete and you begin the activity, the student is prompted with a question  The picture below is an example of an expressive question prompt. This app also allows you to keep data on correct/incorrect answers. 
"How do you erase a chalkboard?"

If you choose the Board Game option, the students get to tap the spinner and move around the game board as they answer the questions and race to the treasure chest!

I had a few of my students complete their own review of the app! They all rated the app 5/5 stars!
Here is what they loved about the app:
1. The butterflies that fly around on the game board.
2. Getting the gold!
3. The treasure that falls down when you land on the pot of gold. 
Here is what they didn't like:
1. The crab and the alligator! (they make you go back 1 space)
2. That only one player wins gold.
I have to admit, I agree with the fact that only one player gets to the treasure chest. When I play a board game in speech, the game isn't over until everyone gets to the finish line. This allows for the most practice of the skill. 
This app would  be a wonderful addition to your speech and language bag of tricks. WH-Questions Island sells for $9.99 in the iTunes store.  or try to win a copy below!

Speech Stories!

Friday, January 25, 2013
Happy Friday! I wanted to write a quick little post to share an idea with you that we did in speech this week. About once or twice a year, I like to let the kids make their own speech books. They always enjoy pulling out the crayons and making their own personalized book. The great thing about this activity is that it works for any level that the child is at in speech (word, sentence, or conversation) and it really emphasizes carryover because they love to share their book. I have found that speech books really make the students very aware of their speech sound goals they are working on.

To make the books, I use the large index cards and crayons. I prompt students to think of words that contain their target sound. Usually they are pretty good with this because we practice target words all the time. But some need some help, so a brainstorming list of target words is helpful too. Depending on the level of the child, have them write the word or make up a sentence for the word and illustrate a picture.
On the last page of the book, I add an autograph page. Students love getting their teachers and friends to sign their book after they have read it to them. This is awesome for carryover and homework!

We Can Dream Like Dr. Martin Luther King!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
So this activity may have to be filed into your "ideas for next year file" but I think it's worth sharing! Last week we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King in speech. We created a dream quilt where each student decorated their own  quilt square. On the square, they wrote and illustrated their dream. The quilt was supposed to be bigger, but I was out sick the last part of the week. Check out our quilt, the kids and I are really proud of it!
It's hard to read from the picture but these are the dreams listed on the quilt:
Toys for all children.
No fighting and no being mean.
Everyone can eat spaghetti and meatballs!
World Peace (I totally copped out with the Miss America answer!)
No more fighting.
No diseases.
All orphans to have a family.
No more sad people.
No more bad guys.
Happy people!
Everyone to be happy and have friends.

Welcome Home Wednesday: Lindsey Swanson-Karol

Hello! I am excited to welcome home and introduce to you a new blogger, Lindsey! She has some great Valentine's Day activities to share!

 Hello Simply Speech readers! I'm so excited to be a guest blogger today! About a month ago, I started a blog called Word Nerd Speech Teach and began making materials to share. In my blog posts, I try to incorporate a free, limited prep time activity that can be used for a variety of different goal areas. I hope that you can use the activities that I blog about or are inspired to make a variation that suits your needs!!

This Valentine's Day post is inspired by Pinterest and altered for speech and language goals and therapy!! These are some of the activities that my students will be doing to celebrate Valentine's Day!!

Valentine's Day Round-Up Activity #1: Articulation Heart Caterpillars

This activity is super easy and so much fun! Start by cutting out paper pink, red, and purple hearts. Next, print and cut out pictures of each student's target sounds and glue the pictures to the hearts. Add a head, antennae, legs, and googly eyes and you've got yourself one awesome Valentine's Day bug! (Challenge your students to make their bug really long for lots of practice!)

Valentine's Day Round-Up Activity #2: A Reinforcer Sealed with a Kiss (or a Hug)

I love any excuse to incorporate candy into my sessions and this is such an easy activity to prepare! First, start by writing numbers (I'd suggest 2-6) onto the bottom of chocolate kisses and/or hugs. (This indicates how many words a student working on articulation or phonology sounds must say, or the amount of language questions a student must answer.)

Next, put the candies upright and allow students to take turns drawing a hug or a kiss. If the student tries his/her best at their turn, they get to keep the chocolate treat!

Valentine's Day Round-Up Activity #3: Valentine's Day Grammar

This next activity can be used to target pronouns, "is" vs. "are", the "ing" ending, and syntax (to name just a few), but I'm sure you can come up with even more variations for your students' needs. Start with large paper hearts that have a large hole in the center so that students can put the heart around the item/answer they choose. If you are working on any of the goal areas that I mentioned above, this is how I would suggest targeting these areas. First, I grabbed boy and girl dolls so that my students can work on "she", "he", and "they". Students put the heart around the boy and use the word "he", the girl and use the word "she", or both dolls to target "they".

Two note cards with "is" or "are" encourage a student to choose an auxiliary verb to correctly match with the subject of their sentence.

Next, set out a few different action word cards to choose from. I love these Preschool Vocabulary Action Cards by Linguisystems, because in my opinion, the product is very versatile. Once the student selects the action that they would like, they put a post-it with "ing" at the end of the card and put another heart around that card.

To target basic syntax, have the student "read" the sentence to practice correct structure.

Valentine's Day Round-Up Activity #4: FREEBIE - Conversation Heart Reinforcer

Here is a FREEBIE that can be used for any age group and any targeted goal! This activity was inspired by Busy Bee Speech's marshmallow freebie, which you can find here. First, print and laminate a conversation heart mat for each student in your group. Students can keep any conversation heart candies that they earn throughout the session on this mat.

Next, make a few copies of the conversation heart page.

Finally, go to town targeting speech and language goals and allowing students to pick cards and enjoy their Valentine's Day treats!

You can access this activity at my TpT store here!!!! You can also follow my blog for even more ideas and tips. If you download this activity, please consider "liking" my Facebook page in order to stay up-to-date with new products and freebies!

I hope that you find these activities useful and that they save you a little bit of time as far as planning and preparing are concerned! Thanks for reading!

Welcome Home Wednesday: Kristy Davies

Wednesday, January 16, 2013
I am very excited to welcome you all to my first edition of Welcome Home Wednesday! Welcome Home Wednesday will be my weekly featured blog posts from other fabulous SLP's! Today I would like to welcome Kristy Davies from Hear My HandsKristy has been a speech language pathologist in the schools and early intervention for over five years. She specializes in Working with children with hearing loss and children who use AAC. She's a mom of one with another on the way and she's also getting her doctorate in speech language pathology. She just celebrated her one year blog anniversary so go show her some love at

Kristy's post addresses working with students that have a hearing loss. Many SLP's (myself included) feel completely out of their comfort zone working with students with a hearing loss. Kristy gives some great tips and ideas to help you and those students feel more comfortable and be more successful!

Helping You Feel More Comfortable Working With Students With Hearing Loss

A speech-language pathologist’s caseload tends to be quite diverse when working in the clinical or educational setting. When approached with a student on your caseload who is Deaf or hard of hearing, what do you do? Not only what do you do, but what is your role as his or her SLP?
Going back to graduate school basics is a start… what is considered a moderate hearing loss? What are the differences between assistive technology between a conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss?
Reading the file is not necessarily enough. Pop quiz: Bilateral sensorineural acquired hearing loss. Ok, so we know ‘bilateral’ means both ears. We know that ‘acquired’ means after birth. But do we remember what reasons a person could have a bilateral sensorineural acquired hearing loss and what treatment options are available? Does the student have a cochlear implant? Hearing aid(s)? If so, what are you going to do about it?

All the questions start brewing. Now what? After reading through the old graduate books about unilateral vs. bilateral hearing loss, sensorineural vs. conductional hearing loss, cochlear implants vs. hearing aids, it’s time to help others! Yikes!  

What I always tell teachers:
-          Talk naturally
-          Project your voice
-          BUT don’t talk too slow
-          AND definitely don’t talk too fast
-          Face the student
-          Do not obstruct your face when talking
-          Consider the student’s seating arrangements
-          Allow extra time for the student to process the information
-          Think of a ‘buddy’ who can help student with items missed
-          Consider providing the student (or their aide) with your notes so the student can pay attention more to you and less on note taking.
-          Write on the board – using visuals carefully around the room
-          Do “check-in’s” make sure student continues to understand you.

Think about the Noises you Never Thought of Before:
-          Put pads on the bottom of chairs
-          Think of the heating /ventilation systems that make noise
-          Avoid noisy elements
-          Be aware of speaking while passing out objects/papers, etc.

In your speech-language sessions:
-          Consider fingerspelling or visual prompts when trying to teach phoneme placement and sounds. Or check out websites, such as, for assistance with the appropriate visuals while teaching articulation.
-          Ask the student to repeat back the directions more than you would normally do. Make sure the student is always on the same page. You have his (or her) individual attention that you can go at his (or her) speed now (compared to the speed of the classroom).
-          Allow a little time for counseling (they need someone to vent to about the difficulties in class). Ask how classes are going. What areas are they struggling in? Turn it into some real-life problem solving tasks.
-          Teach the word ADVOCATE on the first day! There’s so much they have to advocate for – so much more than their hearing peers. They may steer clear of asking for assistance or telling someone that their assistive technology (e.g. hearing aid or implant) needs batteries. They need these frequent pep talks to let them know it’s ok. Other students have other needs (eye glasses, OT or PT services, reading assistance, etc.) too.
-          Collaborate! It’s not part of their session, but you as the professional need to collaborate with the team. Discuss what is successful and what is challenging for the student. It’s up to you to assist the student find success!

To download a handy handout from Kristy, Click here: Quick Facts on Hearing Loss

In My APPinion Monday: Multiple Choice Articulation

Monday, January 14, 2013
Good morning (although I'm pretty sure it will not be morning when I post this!) I am excited to start a new Monday chapter... In My APPinion Monday! Mondays are now my app review days. This will be a great way to learn about a new app and maybe even give it a try in therapy during the week..... and giveaways can always make Mondays better!
This week's app review is of Erik X. Raj's Multiple Choice Articulation. This is honestly one of my favorite apps to use in therapy right now. It made my list of 5 Favorite Apps for Therapy in 2012. I love this app for 2 main reasons:
1. This is an articulation app that does not look like it was made for little kids. You can use this app with your middle and high school students and not make them feel like they are using a juvenile app. 
2. How many of you have students that have both speech and language goals? This app allows you to target both. In addition to articulation, you can address expressive language, grammar, vocabulary, etc.
When you open the app, you are prompted to choose a phoneme target and position. From there, the student is given a scenario where he/she has to choose an answer to a "Would you rather" question.  Depending on the student's level, you can either have the student read the question out loud or touch the Hear The Question button to have it read to them.The student has to answer the question, no "none of these" answers are accepted (it's in Mr. Raj's rules!) There is also an option to hear a possible answer. This was my students' favorite part! If you touch the Hear An Answer button, Erik will answer the question himself. My students loved seeing if Erik's answer matched theirs (seriously, high fives were given around the room if it matched!)
But don't just take my opinion on this... I had some of my students do their own app reviews. I prompted them with the following questions:
1. Did you like this app?
2. Was it easy to use?
3. What was your favorite part?
4. What did you not like about it?
5. How many stars would you give this app?
All of my students gave Multiple Choice Articulation 5 stars, except for one. He gave the app 4.5 stars. His reasoning was that he did not like Erik's answer to one of his questions! There was a choice of surfing for 7 hours or riding on a sea monster with seven heads. Erik chose the sea monster and this student felt that was a dangerous decision because the sea monster could eat him! (see all the language that this app brings out?!) So sorry Erik, for your lack of safety concern about the 7 headed sea monster, you lost half of a star :)

The only change I would make with this app is to add the option to record answers. My students love apps where they can record their answers. I love letting them listen back to their recordings and letting them critique their own speech. Overall, this app is a great addition to my speech room. You can purchase Multiple Choice Articulation sells for $9.99 in the app store. Try to win a copy below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Speech Centers This Week!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I took a little break from speech centers during the holidays so I could indulge in all the fun and festive group activities with my students. Now it's back to work! I don't know how many of you have to complete individual professional development plans (or something along the lines) like my county does, but I decided to focus mine on my articulation kids this year. I wanted to increase the rate of student progress and dismissals (fingers crossed!) by implementing speech centers. It is sometimes difficult to work on each student's needs to the best of my ability when you have a group mixed with kids at different levels. In a perfect world, I'd see all of my students one on one, but like I said, that is a perfect world. Using speech centers I have found that I kind of get that one on one therapy feeling. Hopefully it will be successful. So with all that being said, you can probably expect a weekly post describing my speech centers with ideas, activities, and information about my progress.

If you missed my first post where I explained how I set up my centers, you can check it out here: First Attempt at Speech Centers. Here are the centers I used this week:

Center #1: 
Table Talking
This one is a constant center that will never change. I use this center to work on specific goals for each child one on one. I probably won't be describing this center is future posts....

Center #2: 
Activity Center
Shout out to Speech Room News with this activity! I used Jenna's multisyllabic words activity paired with a whisper phone. The students simply read each card out loud using the whisper phone. 

Center #3:
Listening Center
This week I set up a listening center on our counter. I set up our ancient CD (and cassette) player and a mirror and had the kids practice oral motor exercises with one of the SPEECHercise CD's. 

Center #4:
iPad Center
For the iPad center, I had the students use Quick Artic by Virtual Speech Center. This is a FREE app that is pretty simple for the students to use on their own. 

What I learned this week!
Interruptions during my table talking center has been something I have been trying to avoid. The two biggest things I get interrupted for is 1) "I'm done!" students get through all of the cards or finish the activity before the timer goes off. I now try to remind them before each center starts over, keep going until you hear the timer go off. If you are finished, do it again! and 2) "I don't know what this is?" students come up to me if they do not know what a picture is on a card. This week I told them, if you don't know, guess or just say something you see in the picture. So far, those things have helped! I saw on another teacher's blog that during her centers she wears a crown. When the crown is on, she cannot be interrupted. Sounds good to me, plus who wouldn't want to wear a crown?! :)
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