Saturday, May 20, 2017

New Voices Foundation--Lara Jane Parker Award Recipients

Last month, I had the privilege of being part of the Lara Jane Parker Awards ceremony.  As a previous recipient of this award, I introduced a new winner, and enjoyed the warmth and comeraderie of all the people involved with this fabulous foundation.

Here's a little background on New Voices. The mission of this group is to help children with severe communication and physical chappenges maximize their learning potential. The ultimate goal is inclusion in all aspects of life.  New Voices seeks to do this through community awareness, training for professionals, family support, and increased access to assistive technology. I am personally honored to serve on the Board of Directors.


The Lara Jane Parker award was named after an outstanding young lady who graduated from UNC in spite of significant communication and mobility challenges. The award was established to provide both reward and recognition to those outstanding teachers, therapists, parents, education and health professionals and leaders who work daily to improved the lives of New Voices children. These individuals help improve their schools and their communities in ways that will allow these children to be fully included in all aspects of their daily lives. The recipients are local--Alamance, Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange, and Wake Counties, along the with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Lara Jane Parker award recipients

I was in awe of these award winners, three of whom are speech-language pathologists, and one a teacher of exceptional children. My Chapel Hill--Carrboro City School colleague, Kara Van Hooser, has been using creative, and cutting edge therapy techniques for years with her severely handicapped students.  Another speech-language pathologist, Caitlin Burke, recently gave voice to a student who had not had a functional communication system for the first 14 years of his life.  All four of these individuals are leaders in their field and constantly strive to perfect their skills, and improve the lives of their students.  Congratulations!


If you want to find out more about New Voices, or would like to offer financial support to their mission, please visit their website.    
You can also follow New Voices on Facebook.

From time to time, I'll be posting about projects and the children of New Voices.  Stay tuned!



.

Friday, May 12, 2017

FREE Father's Day Interactive Book

Mother's Day is in two days, but let's not forget about Dad!  His special day is outside of a typical school year, but if you are not in school then, celebrate early!

This is an interactive book to go with Father’s Day. This book is meant for the more linguistically challenged students and is perfect for  speech/special ed collaboration. The interactive book focuses on verbs associated commonly with fathers. These are the same verbs that were in my Mother’s Day interactive book found in my store. Clipart is by Smarty Symbols copyright 2017.

Enclosed:
What do Dads Do? Verbs, Verbs, Verbs” real photo interactive book (pages 3-13)
Icons for ‘What do Dads Do? (page 14)
Sentence Frame for “What do Dads Do?” (page 15)
All free of charge.  Let’s not forget about the important dads out there!


                  



.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"It's Raining"---Free Interactive Book

I recently went to a workshop run by Karen Erickson.  There is not enough space on this page to list all of her skills and accomplishments, but please look up her various projects here.  The workshop was an awesome reminder why I like working with students with significant verbal challenges.

I like creating interactive books.  These books are meant to not be for mere matching, but for shared reading.  The interactive piece is nice for highlighting concepts, and keeping attention, but a core board should always accompany this so the adult can model comments.  You can download samples of core vocabulary here.

Anyway, we just had an awesome rain shower last night in Chapel Hill, which reminded me that weather is a common topic in an elementary classroom. I created a free interactive book just for all of my internet friends struggling with finding materials with no instructional budget.  Have fun!





You can download this free book here.







.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wedding

If you ever want a beautiful site for a wedding, venture down to Hilton Head Island.  We just had one!  Yes, this is my lovely daughter, back from the Peace Corps (almost two years ago), now walking with her dad to marry the love of her life.

father and daughter


We are excited about a new son-in-law, and are excited for Andorra as she enters this new chapter.

.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Mother's Day Interactive Book and Craft

Here's a very affordable, fun little packet for Mother's Day (which will be here before you know it!).


This is a language/literacy pack to go with Mother’s Day. This packet is meant for the more linguistically challenged students and is perfect for  speech/special ed collaboration. This is nice for integrating literacy and hands-on activities. You are purchasing one interactive book, and a meaningful craft activity with visuals. The interactive book focuses on verbs associated commonly with mothers. The craft includes a step by step set of instructions, and ultimately the child is to pick words or pictures to describe his or her mother.   Clipart is by Smarty Symbols copyright 2017.
Enclosed:
What do Moms Do? Verbs, Verbs, Verbs” real photo interactive book (pages 3-13)
Icons for ‘What do Moms Do? (page 14)
Sentence Frame for “What do Moms Do?” (page 15)
Mother’s Day Flower Craft  (pages 17-24) Fun activity where the kids choose words/icons to describe their mom to go on a flower. This comes with icons, step-by-step pictures, and patterns for cutting out the flower. No fancy craft items needed---construction paper, glue, scissors, and printed icons only!  Make this as a Mother’s Day gift!
Descriptive icons for the flower (page 25) print one for each
child
Communication Board for Mother’s Day craft (page 26)

Here are a few screenshots, but you can go to TPT for previews.  It's a great deal, and easy fix to having to plan for Mother's Day.  
Title page of Interactive Book


Click Here to view this on TPT
Sample Page

Craft
Personal News Update---Daughter is trying again to get married (first wedding canceled due to Hurricane Matthew last October).  Date is April 22 at Hilton Head!  This should be a blast!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Green Eggs and Ham Companion Pack

Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr Seuss is a pretty awesome poem.  It builds as it goes, and my students memorized the lines. It's only written with 50 words, many of them core vocabulary.  When I don't have a clear idea of what to do (as in, I am tired, busy, overwhelmed), I can grab a book such as this, and work on myriad goals with an eager student.  I'm sure all of you school SLPs have had moments where planning awesome lessons doesn't happen.  Green Eggs and Ham is on my backup shelf!


This book can also be on your 'awesome lesson' shelf!  To help you with this, I've created some materials to go with it.  This companion pack is for your extra special learners---those students who really can't access the regular education curriculum, and need help putting words together, and understanding what literacy is all about.  If you are thinking thematically, 'green' goes with St. Patrick's Day, while 'eggs' go with Easter.  Green Eggs and Ham, though, is one that works anytime of the year.  For the record, while I have described a companion pack here, you will need to have your own copy of the book, Green Eggs and Ham (easily found in stores and libraries).

Here's the description:


This is a language/literacy pack as a companion for Green Eggs and Ham. This pack meant for the more linguistically challenged students and is perfect for  speech/special ed collaboration. This is nice for integrating literacy and hands-on activities. You are purchasing two interactive books, rhyming word bingo, and a food choice activity with visuals. Icons to match to the actual book, Green Eggs and Ham, are also included. Clipart is by Smarty Symbols copyright 2017. AAC core vocabulary words of ‘like’, ‘see’, ‘here’, and ‘I’ are emphasized.  This is also a great packet for using adjective + noun combinations, and for the pragmatic functions of stating preferences.
Enclosed:
Interactive visuals for the book Green Eggs and Ham (Pages 3-4)
•“All Kinds of Eggs” real photo interactive book with manipulative icons and sentence frames (5-16)
“Rhyming Words Bingo”(pages 17-21)
•“Eating Green” real photo interactive book with manipulative icons and sentence frames . (pages 22-33)

Let’s Eat  Fun activity where the kids choose their favorite foods to go on a plate. This comes with food visuals, sentence frames, and place setting visuals.             (pages 34-37)


You can check this out over at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Price is modest, and as usual, if you are a starving CF, email me privately at speech40@gmail.com for a complimentary packet.



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

"Test Day, Team Player"---Book for Alleviating High Stakes Test Anxiety; Helpful to use with a Social Skills Group

A while ago, I reviewed two books by a local author, Shannon Fitzgerald (Halloween Night and Thanksgiving Weekend).

She has now provided me with a third book, perhaps her best, different in scope, intended audience  and artwork from her first two, but great for teachers in late elementary school on up to middle school.
The title is Test Day, Team Player.


The setting of this story is a regular education classroom before the End-of-Grade testing begins.  Some of the students are experiencing anxiety, and the teacher in the book leads a group effort to conquer their fears. In this case, the group plan was to wear a class color (all the students wore blue shirts) while the teacher nurtured a group mindset of support for one another while they individually tried their best on the tests.  The author is a former classroom teacher who successfully used this method to help her students get through this annual event. Stakes are high in NC and sadly kids feel it.

One reviewer on Amazon wrote: "End of year testing causes real anxiety for young children, and this book tackles it head on. Rarely does one see the words testing and teamwork together, but the combination works. This book finds a positive message in overcoming challenges and fears together through companionship."

Our local paper summed this book up, along with the illustrations with this article.

In other words,Test Day, Team Player is an awesome resource for a regular education teacher.

-----------------------------------

From a special education perspective, I would highly recommend this book to supplement Social Thinking with a social skills group.  Even though the author is unfamiliar with this curriculum, she is using the testing situation to teach 'being part of a group' rather than 'just me'. I was amazed at how Ms. Fitzgerald intuitively figured out this social skills concept.  I guess she was a natural teacher!
The 'just me' approach to a testing situation creates unnecessary anxiety, whereas a team approach helps to facilitate students supporting each other and more of a feeling of 'being in it together'.  This would be a nice tool to use to collaborate with a regular classroom teacher while trying to help the more anxious students in the group.

At the end of the book, the auther gives suggestions for how to make this happen in a classroom.


One final note here is that the illustrations were beautifully done by an East Chapel Hill High School Student, Danielle Losos.  Even her front cover illustration meshes well with Social Thinking--complete with thought bubbles, facial expressions, and body language for students in a class or social skills group to interpret.  ('What are thoughts vs feelings?' is another component of Social Thinking).

Here is an article about this talented high school artist.

I have really enjoyed all of Shannon Fitzgerald's books.  This one is perfect for getting ready for the dreaded testing season.  Since I'm now officially retired, I get to miss it this year :)
  The kids won't get to skip it though, and this book will help them get through the tests, feeling supported by their classmates while they each try their best.





.