Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You’re Only as Good as Your Checklist--Determining Adverse Effect

      Often school-based speech-language pathologists are swamped.  Therapy sessions, IEPs, meetings, progress reports, evaluations---the list is endless.  It’s tempting to cut corners with paperwork and tasks but one of the corners that can’t be cut is conducting thorough speech/language evaluations.

Best practice dictates that school-based SLPs include the following components in language evaluations:
  • one or more standardized measures
  • a language sample
  • a classroom observation
  • a hearing screening
  • a file review or case history
  • evidence of adverse classroom impact

Federal law states that in order to be eligible for speech/language services, there needs to be documentation of adverse effects in the classroom. “Adverse effect” means that the progress of the child is impeded by the disability to the extent that the educational performance is significantly and consistently below the level of similar aged peers.  Part of a speech-language evaluation is to determine the impact of a disorder on the child in the classroom which includes obtaining teacher input.  Several states have developed forms and checklists to gather teacher input. Teacher rating scales require a classroom teacher to rank a child’s skills based on what a typical child does in the same environment.  The scales should reflect the communication demands of the curriculum, and now several systems have developed rating scales based on the Common Core standards.

There are several teacher rating scales or survey questions available free to download.  Some are linked to Common Core standards, while others are not because some schools use other curricula.  This list is a short sampling of the many states that have their own checklists and guidelines.
  • This first set of checklists is in the Texas Speech Language and Hearing Association Guidelines.  These were published in 2011, and are not tied into the Common Core.  (Texas did not adopt Common Core).  These teacher impact rating forms cover a comprehensive range of communication skills.  Go here to access the guidelines and then find the teacher survey questions, and item analysis on pages 29-35.
  • The second link for teacher checklists take us to the Georgia Organization of School-Based Speech Language Pathologists.  They have a wonderful website of helpful information, forms, and teacher checklists which are based upon the Common Core and on language development research. The checklists are targeted for teachers, therapists, and other school staff to help in gathering information on classroom functioning related to language skills and meeting the Common Core standards.
  • There is also a set of teacher checklists available from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) in North Carolina.  These checklists are based on the Common Core standards, and were developed over a year’s time by the CHCCS team of speech-language pathologists. In addition to checklists for semantic, syntactic and morphological language skills, there are also separate checklists for a teacher to report on pragmatic language skills. These checklists are available here as one collated document.

As we SLPs know, standardized assessments tell you only so much about a child’s true struggles in the classroom.  Teacher input is critical to a thorough evaluation and also for therapy planning.  Once you know that the child has a disorder and there is a significant negative impact in the classroom, you as the SLP are set to begin the rewarding and challenging task of therapy.  A teacher checklist, as simple as it seems, is an invaluable tool for you in your assessment and therapy planning!  Your assessment, no matter how thorough, is incomplete without teacher input.  Grab one of the above checklists and add it to your assessment protocol today!  You’re only as good as your checklist.

I am grateful to the help of my Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools colleagues who assisted with editing, and especially grateful to my co-author, Wendy Lybrand, M.S., CCC-SLP 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Apples Literacy/Activity Packet

Fall is in the air, and school starts today in Chapel Hill!  I'm excited!

I've spent some time on creating an apples-themed activity/literacy packet.  It's for your more linguistically challenged children.

This packet covers lots of goals---comprehension of questions, speaking in sentences. labeling pictures, requesting, sequencing........  I plan on using this with our kids in a separate setting, as well as my younger regular education language-impaired children.

Link to view the preview and purchase at a modest price.

Below is the table of contents.   As usual, if you are a starving CF, email me at speech40@gmail.com if you need this but don't have two nickels to rub together.

Enclosed in the packet are:
“10 Red Apples” Interactive Book--Pages 3-13
Icons for the “10 Red Apples” book– page 14
Sentence Frame for “10 Red Apples” -page 15
Numbers page for the “10 Red Apples” book –page 16
Pom Pom Apple Tree’ craft direction book –pages 17--25
Communication Board for the Apple Tree craft—page 26
Comprehension questions for Apple Tree Craft—page 27
Sequencing activity for Apple Tree craft—page 28
“All About Apples” interactive book—Page 29-39
Icons for the “All About Apples” book—Page 40
Comprehension questions for “All About Apples”—Page 41-42
Simple worksheets (matching, counting) –page 43 and 44
I hope everyone has a great start to the school year!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fall and Apple Collections---free to use

I'm back from vacation, and teacher workdays start here on Monday. I'm sure all of you are worrying about schedules and caseloads, so to help this fall season for some of your more special children, I'm reposting some free material.  Enjoy!

Here are a couple of collections of ideas and downloads from the past:

Fall (click here)

Apples (click here)

We had a great vacation in Vancouver by the way.  I highly recommend.....


Sunday, August 2, 2015

TPT sale

I'm on vacation in Vancouver right now so blogging is more complicated.  I just wanted to let my readers know there is a site-wide Teacher Pay Teacher sale August 3 and 4.  All of my items will be 20% off.  Check out my Tpt store here.  If you use the promo code BTS15 you get even more discount from TPT.

That's all for now.....Vancouver calls!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plain Walls or Intricate Brickwork---Musings on AAC systems

I finished ESY last week during which I worked with a number of  children who were new to me and came to school with a variety of low-tech AAC systems.  First of all, I'm very happy this year that the kids had systems.  In past ESY sessions, often I had to make communication notebooks from scratch, instantly.  This year, every child had something, ranging from PECS, to a core board, to a more complicated notebook.  Core has been emphasized across the district this year, and it's reflected in what the kids brought.

Having a wide variety of little systems, though, gave me pause on what are the components needed to really make even a low tech system work well for a child. Many of the notebooks the children had were ineffective. Some notebooks had only random photos of toys or activities which the child really didn't want.  Some systems only presented core vocabulary (also not reinforcing at the moment to the child). Some systems were difficult to model and had hundreds of itty bitty pictures. Some children didn't seem to have underlying cognitive foundations of communication such as joint attention, communicative intent, object permanence.  Again, I'm very happy the children had something, and the teachers and I really attempted to incorporate use of the existing systems into the activities.

 Five weeks is a long time to ponder about these difficulties, so I came up with 'bricks and mortar' analogy for effective development of a dynamic system (either low or high tech).  Explanations are below:

HOUSE:  This represents where the child is---house, school, church, playground, babysitters....the list goes on.

FOUNDATIONS OF COMMUNICATION:  Every house cannot stand without a solid foundation. AAC users often need to also work on basic intent, joint attention, functional object use, tracking if possible.

FRINGE VOCABULARY:  These are the bricks.  I found that fringe is vital because these are the real things in a child's life.  People, toys, food, places---this is what they wanted to talk about.

CORE VOCABULARY:  This is the cement that holds everything together, and enables language expansion and development.  The house/wall can be simple or intricate, small or large.   As a child's language expands, so does the house.

POWER:  This is vital to the house.  A child has to be shown the power of communication.

PRAGMATICS:  This involves people.  Without people in the house, there's no purpose.

CONTEXT/ENVIRONMENT:    This all goes back to the house, which represents wherever the child is.

This may be simplistic, but all of these components are necessary for a child to effectively learn to communicate using AAC.   I'm welcome to ideas to improve this.  

A good system with all the components can help a plain brick house become an awesome brick cathedral.

And now, I want to say that I'm going on vacation to Vancouver, BC.  I'll be posting pictures!

See you!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Writing Buddy--Assistive Technology Low Tech Flip Book for Inclusion

Writing is one of the most challenging areas for students with special needs, and often an adult has to sit one-on-one with the student to eke out every word and letter. I created "Writing Buddy"  to enhance independence for the early primary writer by providing an extensive word bank which is organized by who, what, when, and where concepts along with other categories. I used Smarty Symbols for the awesome graphics (commercial license).

 A long time ago, I went to a workshop where a talented mother, Inga Smith, presented on an assistive technology low tech flip book which she called "Journal Jogger".  I bought the CD for this, and we created some of these flip books at our school.

She offers this product online here.  Even though the website mentions 'passwords', I had no problem going directly to it. It's free, and many, many pages long.  If you own Boardmaker, you can download it all!

The problem that I know many of you have is that Boardmaker is expensive.
The other problem with "Journal Jogger" is that the flipchart that it becomes is big with 26 pages of pictures/words.  My kids get lost with all the words.  Bigger is not better.

I have taken the same concept, but simplified it, totally reorganized the vocabulary, eliminated many pages,  and used Smarty Symbols rather than Boardmaker.  Although "Journal Jogger" was the inspiration, this product is totally different from the original with a different type of child in mind.  "Journal Jogger" was designed originally for high functioning children with extensive vocabulary.  "Writing Buddy" is designed for more linguistically challenged children who deserve their seat in the mainstream, too!

This is a low tech
assistive technology accommodation
for students to use during inclusion
in a regular primary class.
Page 1—Title
Page 2 –People and verbs
Page 3—Adjectives or descripters
Page 4---Nouns (food, drink, toys)
Page 5– Where; prepositions and places
Page 6—Numbers and fractions
Page 7—Colors
Page 8—Calendar concepts
Page 9—Feelings
Page 10—Sentence starters
Page 11—Kindergarten high frequency words 
Page 12—Steps to writing visual

This example is printed in black and white. It's very nice printed in color, but both ways work.

Take a look at this flip chart online here.

I hope you all are having a good summer.  My ESY experience just ended.  Vancouver, BC is next!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Let's Make a Boat---Simple craft with printable directions, questions, communication board

A long time ago, I blogged about a boat craft I did with the kids using Pictello.  This was a great activity, and Pictello has only gotten better through the years.  I used this activity again this summer and the kids loved it, making a substantial flotilla of little boats, all seaworthy! 

I now have a set of printable or displayable directions for all of you.  This summer, during Extended School Year, I didn't have access to a printer, so we simply displayed the directions/pictures on the iPad with the Pictello app.  It's also easy to simply show the directions on the Smartboard, or on your laptop without printing.  Pictello has text to speech which is nice, but the boat craft directions work with an adult or child reading them aloud too.

Save lids in advance for this project.  I used wooden skewers broken down to size for the mast.  Pencils work too.

Kids love the hole punch.  It's sometimes hard for little hands to have enough strength, but then they can ask for help.

At the end, I asked some of the kids simple yes/no questions and wh-questions about the craft. You can also download those at the link below.

 A word about the communication board (link is below)---this is primarily fringe vocabulary.  Hopefully your limited verbal children have personal systems with core words.  Mine did!
A communication board with fringe is just handy for immediate needs during a group as a supplement. 

This communication board is made with Smarty Symbols, which is an awesome set of clip art, and within a reasonable price range.  I have a commercial license, and these symbols are copyrighted by that company.  Check them out! 

Download the boat directions here in pdf.

Download the communication board here.

Download a simple set of questions here.

Flotilla including a pirate boat!