Saturday, December 31, 2011

Breaking Bread, then Breaking the Law---Happy New Years!!

When I first went gluten-free four years ago, it was hard to fathom life without bread.  Hamburgers, toast, bagels, English muffins, banana bread, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, French bread---I loved all of that.  When I was younger, I baked my own Laurel's Kitchen whole wheat bread, and later made wonderful varieties of bread in bread machines.  Being gluten-free seemed destined to make mealtimes stark and miserable.

At first, I experimented a little with ready made gluten free bread from the frozen food sections of the grocery store, but to be honest, eating that was a little like munching on sawdust squares.  I tried slathering slices with butter, jelly, or other gooey stuff, but I couldn't quite take it.

Finally, my answer came in Pamela's gluten free bread mix----I follow a simple set of directions on the package, stick it in the bread machine, and a suitable loaf comes out hot and ready in four hours!  I serve it to the whole family with no complaints!  My husband and kids all know how to make this.  Sometimes, when I come home from work, they have a warm loaf ready for me as I walk in the door! Pamela's website also has lots of other recipes for many items using this and other mixes of theirs.

I buy this by the case from Amazon.  

Bread Machine

Takes 4 hours

Looking good!

Goes with a delicious dinner!  New Year's Eve dinner to be exact!

We had a great meal of ribs, bread, salad, potatoes, and wine for our New Year's Eve dinner......this was followed by a fun time shooting off fireworks at our next door neighbor's house. These weren't your average wimpy sparklers---they went way high and were a bit loud.

As we learned, not everyone in Chapel Hill approves of such fireworks.  Behold the very friendly police officer issuing (quite nicely) a 'cease and desist' order.

OK, so maybe next time, I'll make bread without subsequent legal involvement. At least not before the next celebration.

If you are gluten-free and missing your bread, consider this brand of bread mix.  (The bread mix company didn't ask me to post this product review, in case you were wondering.  I just like the bread.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

CrockPot Black Eyed Pea Soup---Gluten Free

Get ready for New Year's---This is a great gluten free recipe.  I've actually been cooking this black eyed pea soup all year long, and it's nice with gluten free cornbread, and as leftovers!  I lifted this recipe from my favorite website---A Year of Slow Cooking.   The link is the recipe.  Very easy as long as you soak the peas in advance.
all of the ingredients in the cooker

recipe on the laptop---link is in the text above these photos

delicious with cornbread!!!!  We also served salad.
   Here is our day--photo by photo.     I totally love this recipe---it's filling and tasty.  I have plenty for tomorrow!!!   Try it and enjoy.  If you don't have a slow cooker, go out and buy one. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Google Forms and Spreadsheets---Fun Times with Data Collection!

Data and information collecting isn't the most glamorous subject; however, with the influx of iPads into my school setting, and the increasing popularity of Google spreadsheets and forms, data collection has become a hot topic among the SLPs in our school system!

 Several of us have embraced using Google forms and spreadsheets to make our data collecting lives border on fun.  Before Google, my folders for kids were full of sticky notes, therapy data forms, attendance forms, and other assorted loose items.    Now, progress report time is cleaner and more data oriented, because much of what I need has been systematically collected by Google forms into the spreadsheets. (There is a spreadsheet for every form.) 

     This is a brief description of various ways I currently use the forms and spreadsheets in practice.  A tutorial link for creating your own Google forms is provided at the end. 

1.  Recording data and notes from a therapy session with a student. 
There is still a spot for sticky notes, and recording tallies on paper to achieve percentages, but most often, the main part of my sessions with students is recorded on a Google Form.

portion of a form
For each of my students, I have created a Google form based on the student's IEP goals and objectives.  At the end of the session, I can quickly fill out the form (either on the iPad, or on the computer) recording notes and data instantly. 
summary of responses screenshot
The data entered on the form is compiled by Google Docs in to a spreadsheet, and a summary of responses can also be done through Google.

sample spreadsheet of student data

2.  Taking Daily Attendance

Portion of my daily attendance form
We all know in the school setting why it's important to keep track of how many times a speech student was seen per reporting period, and why sessions were missed.  I used to keep attendance on paper, then progressed to an Excel spreadsheet.  Lately, I've been taking attendance on a daily Google form which sends all of the information into a spreadsheet stored in Google Docs.  It's very manageable!

3.  Recording and Sharing Hearing Screening Results

This is an area that came to me one day when I was scratching out hearing screening information on a piece of paper.  A year ago, a group of us in the school began typing into a shared document all of our screening information. I've since developed a Google Form that I can use while I'm screening a child. I usually have an iPad at my side as I'm screening with this form on the screen. (I just tap the results in as I go).  The results are instantly sent to the shared Google Doc---no need for a pencil!

4.  CFY Supervision

This year, I've had the opportunity to supervise a wonderful new Clinical Fellow.  I know that she will sail through this year with flying colors, but to be fair to her, and to adequately do my job as her supervisor, I have to observe for an allotted amount of time, and monitor her activities as prescribed by both the North Carolina State Board of Examiners, and by ASHA.  I've created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet which I've shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!

5.  Weekly written feedback to a graduate intern

Part of the form
I am fortunate in that I work at an elementary school close to a major university that has a top-notch graduate program, so I usually supervise two students during the course of a year.    We have been asked to provide weekly written feedback which is extra work to my paperwork mountain---except that I created a Google form for providing such feedback.  My grad student and I filled it out together every Friday last year, and all of the data was collected in a shared spreadsheet.    The forms are nice in that they clearly defined expectations, and also allowed for some anecdotal feedback.  At the end was a section for the two of us to write a short term goal for the coming week.

Nothing will totally replace all note-taking, and there is a place for hand-written data still in my office.  These are just a few ways I have used technology to make my life run a bit more efficiently. I have loved the 'sharing' aspect of Google Docs---so for example, if several adults are working on the same goals for a student, they all can send their data using the same shared form to the shared spreadsheet.

For a tutorial on creating your own forms, go to this page.

     I'm sure there are countless other ways to use these in a speech therapy setting and that we (as a profession) are only at the beginning of using technology more effectively in our practice. Comment if you have ideas for further uses for Google forms in speech therapy, or would like to see a specific Google form topic addressed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Caching

David behind the falls
 What better way to appreciate the holidays than go for a hike in the forest, along with finding a few obligatory geocaches. The destination was Moore Cove Falls, and the whole experience just felt perfect. What a great way to spend Christmas! 
Finding the obligatory cache

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Z for Zorro --Things you would never see but for Geocaching!

Dupont Forest geocaching map
We took a Christmas eve hike in the Dupont Forest.   Where is that, you might think? The answer is that it's in beautiful western North Carolina close to Brevard.    Dupont Forest has breath-taking waterfalls and great hiking trails.  There are also a lot of geocaches.  If you are not familiar with that term, see this earlier posting of mine. Geocaching is a great way to see the outdoors, take in some hikes, and go to places that you would never go to.  Often we see unusual things---

N or Z ???
You can't see it but there is a micro-cache on this tree, and the cache is named "Mark of Zorro".  I loved Zorro as a kid.   My daughter said it's not actually a "Z", but an "N".  I suppose she's correct, but regardless of the letter it has become, I had to admire the tree for overcoming the trauma that bent it in this shape to begin with.  (It's a white oak, by the way, for you biology majors out there.)
I never would have seen and appreciated this work of nature without geocaching, and it's a fun moment to add to many fun moments with this hobby.    Have a nice Christmas!!!

Jingle Bells in American Sign Language

My first job out of college was at the Kentucky School for the Deaf.  I was a high school English teacher.  A part of me misses it, especially when I think of Christmas songs done in sign language.

Have a great Christmas Eve!  This is Jingle Bells in American Sign Language--I thought she did a great job!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

After Christmas? Penguin time!

I don't know how many of you will be writing lesson plans and planning units right now---it's vacation time!!!! I'm headed for a pleasant time with extended family in Brevard, NC in the morning.  No wifi there, however, so I thought I would post this in the internet world, so that after your vacation ends, you might have an additional idea of what to do with the kids.  Coming back after the holidays is sometimes hard!

This is not a totally complete unit.  I like to have a printable book with pictures that have already been adapted with icons.  I do have a wonderful printable book but no icons---if you have boardmaker and need that, go through the book, and find one key element per page.  The book is entitled 'Penguins, Penguins' and is not mine. Some other creative person made it, but I grabbed it off of Tarheel Reader here and have added it to my  

Google docs HERE. The language and concepts are simple.

The photos are beautiful! 

Why penguins?  A couple of the classrooms of children I work with are going to be learning about them.  I thought I would do my part---there is lots of language to learn, depending on my students' goals.  My kids range from nonverbal to speaking in complex sentences. 
screenshot from Tarheel Reader of the printable book
I had some children make paper bag penguin puppets right before the break, just to see how it would go. You may know that making paper bag puppets is a Joint Action Routine, and is described in an earlier post.  For this puppet, you will need to pre-cut the pieces unless your children have good fine motor skills, and you have time.  For my little group, I cut everything out, so they only had to glue.  They loved the puppets! I found the idea here along with some other teaching ideas about penguins. No exact pattern was provided in the post I read, but it was not hard to figure out.

The step-by-step was developed in Pictello---a great app from Assistiveware.  Here are some screenshots:

For a free pdf download of the step-by-step, go here.

I hope all of you have a great holiday!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crockpot Cranberry Pork Roast---Gluten Free

Since I didn't have to go to school today, I turned my attention to trying a new gluten-free recipe.  This one was again from my favorite website---A Year of Slow Cooking.  All of the recipes on this site are gluten-free and easy.  I feel like some other books and sites that have gluten-free recipes call for many types of flours and ingredients, and are way too complicated for me to want to spend time with.  A Year of Slow Cooking has been perfect due to its ease of preparation, its variety, and how the food comes out tasting.  Tonight was no exception.  I made Crockpot Cranberry Pork Roast.  You can check out the link for the recipe.

Before cooking

After done.  I added some little potatoes, and I'm also a rice lover. 
The recipe offered the choice between cranberry sauce in a can or whole cranberries with added sugars.  For ease, I chose the can.  I also used real cranberry juice---lots of the cranberry 'juices' at the grocery store were 'cocktails' with added sugar.  I used the real stuff.     This turned out good and tender.  My husband liked the cranberry flavor, and there is plenty left for lunch tomorrow.  (My son is coming by to see us before Christmas, so we'll have some yummy pork for him!)

Fun tip:  Go to Google---Type in LET IT SNOW  and watch

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm Over Christmas! Let's talk about Cats and Verbs (free download)

I'm tired of Santa; I'm tired of Rudolph; I'm ready for new things.  I could do 'Snowman in the Speech Room'---one small problem is the current unsnowy weather in North Carolina.

  Since there is not even a hint of winter yet, I thought I would focus on everyday vocabulary for a while, so I turned my attention (at least for a short time) to our feline companions---cats.  Every kid I work with knows what a cat is and I still have a cat beanie baby and stuffed animal collection from when my twins were little!

A favorite book that I've downloaded, rewrote, and adapted from Tarheel Reader for my kids is "What can Cats Do?"  It's all about verbs and I use it with all different children.  For my least verbal ones, merely matching the icon of the verb with the cat picture and maybe saying the verb or using a voice output device to label is the goal.  For children who are a bit more verbal, saying a two word combination about the cat picture first, and then the icon works in therapy.  ("Cat drinking; Boy drinking.")  For children who need practice writing sentences, they can write a present progressive sentence about some of the pictures.  Today, I had a kid act out the cat actions using a stuffed animal.  Books are great on all levels! This book is one of my favorite 'repeat' books, and the children love it. I adapted this book using laminated icons/velcro, and the following verb pictures. 

Last year, when we read "What Can Cats Do?", I also had them make paper bag puppets of cats.   The directions were on the Pictello app on my iPad 2, were step by step with photos, and kept the kids engaged.  They practiced following directions, filling in words when asked questions, and predicting what would come next.  After they were done with the puppets, they can have their own cats perform the same actions as what is pictured in the verb book about cats.   
  By now, many of you may want to know where to get the book and puppet directions.
It's all free here.  There is also a simple communication board to go along with the puppet making experience.  Have fun!!

There is now a companion book about Dogs and Verbs.  Go here to check it out!

Also check out "Counting Horses" and verbs here!


My poor confused azaleas!  Where's the snow?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Best Secret Santa Ever!

The internet is amazing--I'm always learning about new websites,  new things to do, and connections to make.  My daughter told me about Secret Santa and  This website randomly matches 'gifters' to 'receivers'---gives virtual awards for nice gifts, and takes care of the nuts and bolts of giving out addresses, deadlines, guidelines, and other such things.  The 'giver', once he or she gets a name, needs to read the profile and likes of the 'receiver', and then send a gift to that person (true Secret Santa style). The people don't know each other.  The 'giver' is also a 'receiver' but from someone else.  If you check out the website, there are great photos and examples of presents.

In true form, I signed up for Redditgifts as soon as I found out about it.  A few days later I was matched!  The person I was to be a Secret Santa for was a person like me---working and with kids, living in Pennsylvania.  This person said she liked coffee---that was easy!  Alana and I took a little trip to Southern Season (Alana had never been there!) and we bought coffee, chocolate, cookies, and a candle.  I hope she liked it all!

A few days ago, I received my gift.  My Secret Santa (from Colorado)  had read my profile and I think he checked out this blog, commenting on my work as a speech pathologist.  I was astounded at his generosity, and his beautiful card  (all from a stranger).

Today, I jingle-belled my way to Barnes and Noble to cash in this 50 dollar gift card!   My speech kids love hands-on materials---books with lift-the-flaps, games, and toys.  I found two cute books they'll love, and two games I can teach them to play. Obviously, I spent it all on the Ephesus kidos!   No problem, because when they are happy, talking, socializing, and learning, I'm happy too!  
This was a little over 50 dollars---two games, two books; all fun!

nothing beats surprises after each page turn!

cute, cute, cute! 

Each page has its own surprise

The directions to the Monster Game

Directions to the Robot Building Game appears to have many more secret exchanges all year long---Valentines Day,  Halloween, Arbitrary Day----you need to sign up.  It's tons of fun!  I still can't believe how nice my Secret Santa was to me and my students!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Easy Mango Curry Chicken---Gluten Free

This was so easy to make!  It would have been suitable for company, if we had thought to invite anyone.  David and I chowed down, and have plenty for leftovers.

 The ingredients----Patak's Mango Curry sauce, a package of boneless chicken breasts, and rice as a side dish.  I just cut up the chicken, browned it some in a skillet with a little oil, and then simmered it in this sauce.  It took about an hour total, which is nice if you have to work during the day and then prepare dinner at home.  I eat Patak's sauces with chicken frequently---never had any ill effects.   Although I could make this sauce from scratch which would probably have more flavor, the convenience here outweighs everything.

call your friends to come help you eat!
  The results---add a simple salad and you're good to go.