Monday, October 31, 2011

Recording Hearing Screening Results on your iPad--Tutorial

Part of my job is to screen hearing.  As a speech pathologist, we don't need to chart audiograms, or do anything detailed, but we do need to record a 'pass' or 'fail' in 6 different frequencies.  In the past, I've scratched the results onto a piece of scrap paper, then more meticulously recorded the results on a spreadsheet.  At first, it was a paper spreadsheet, last year it was a Google form, and now this year, I've tossed the pencil and paper, and just record the results into a Google form on my iPad, which sends it into a tidy Google spreadsheet which I can share electronically with my program leader.

If you do not know how to create a Google form, go here.  This link tells you step by step how to create a form.Then if you want to put this form onto your iPad screen, go here.   It's actually very easy to create a form, and then you can just look at my hearing screening form below, and use that as a model.
Screenshot of first part form

Screenshot of bottom part of form
Screenshot of very last part of form
Once you have a form, all of the data you collect goes into a Google Spreadsheet.  Here is a screenshot of my spreadsheet (I've changed the names) so you can see what this can look like (depending on your form).
This spreadsheet can be ultimately downloaded as a pdf or as an Excel document.  No pencils needed though!   I'm always looking for ways to reduce my paper mountain! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

How did I miss Pinterest?

I thought I was internet-savvy but somehow I missed Pinterest.  What is Pinterest? (Most of you probably are lightyears ahead of me)  From their website, they explain:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard (kind of like a bulletin board but far-reaching)
Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things that you find on the web.  People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.  Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

screenshot of PediaStaff board
On my first 'Pinterest day', I found a great pinboard by a private practice called PediaStaff.  There are oodles of therapy ideas and resources pinned, all with website links and pictures.  Further browsing revealed pinboards for every topic from weddings, to fashion, to nature, to gluten-free cooking, to beer.  Looks like I'll be exploring all weekend.

Seriously, for you speech people out there, check this out.  It looks like an incredible resource for ideas.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank Yous and more thank yous

I was randomly looking at internet stuff last December and saw a video of an interview with John Kralik.  He wrote a little book entitled "365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life".  

Apparently, he had reached a low point in his life, but felt that he still had a lot to be grateful for, and set out to write thank you letters to all kinds of people who had helped him in his life.  This was all chronicled in a book, which turned out to be a best seller.  I didn't actually read the book, but got the point; so in January, I decided to do the same.  My project sort of fizzled in February, but now, after the wonderful weekend of wedding celebration, I'm thinking several 'Thank Yous' are in order!  Letters to several will follow, but for blogging purposes, read on.....

I'm thankful for Charlie Kast who took the time to marry my son and his new wife. (See my previous post here)

I'm thankful for Aleah.

I'm thankful for Ben's new in-laws---Paula and Howie Loyd

I'm thankful for David's family (his parents and sisters' families) who attended the wedding from all over.

I'm thankful for my children---Zach, Vicki, and Andorra who came to the wedding and participated with dignity and love

I'm thankful for my far away family who showed support through kind notes and gifts.

I'm thankful for my co-workers and friends who were my cheerleaders during the pre-wedding planning and shopping stages.

I'm thankful for David.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weddings by charlie

June 11, 1983, Lexington Kentucky

October 22, 2011
Yesterday, my son, Ben, married his sweetheart, Aleah.  It was not a big church wedding, but was a formal event hosted by Paula and Howie Loyd at their beautiful home.  Everything was spectacular and filled with love and joy---everything.    For my friends who attend the Community Church of Chapel Hill, I have one little tidbit which made the wedding extra special:  the minister who married David and me back in 1983 in Lexington Kentucky, also married Ben and Aleah. I have photos to prove it! We are all a little grayer now than in the early photo, but charlie kast (he doesn't capitalize his name) is still the warm, friendly wonderful person now that he was back then.  He gently coached the bride and groom through the ceremony, stayed for much of the reception, and was his usual friendly self and great to talk to. Thank you, charlie!  
charlie and Ben

Friday, October 21, 2011

Life outside of Blogging

I've been a little skimpy with posting this week.  The kids are getting married Saturday.  Although I haven't exactly planned anything much with this, little details are still encroaching on the other parts of my life including blogging, geocaching, and speech therapy.    This is a fun, joy-filled occasion.  See you next week!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken in Curry Simmer Sauce---Gluten Free!

When I first went Gluten Free, I was overwhelmed by the lack of conveniences.  Our family was, at that time, typical of many families with working parents----pizza and carry-outs happened often, and processed foods from the grocery store were staples in our freezer.  Of course, most of these contained some type of wheat product, so suddenly, I was forced to live off of potatoes and cheese, due to a lack of knowledge of wheat-free alternatives.   Gradually, I've developed a repertoire of recipes, and I've found some easy convenience items that work for when I get home after 4:00, and have to entertain out-of-towners (like the ones that are coming for the big wedding this weekend!)

Tonight's dish was very simple---two jars of Curry Simmer Sauce from Trader Joe's, and a couple of packages of boneless chicken breasts.  I followed the instructions on the jar---easy.  Made a salad and rice, and we were good to go.  My sister in law and her son were supposed to arrive right at supper, and presto!  a delicious dinner was cooked up.  (Minor glitch---they are still sitting in Cleveland with a flight delay as I'm typing this up.  Oh well, this will still taste good at 11:00 tonight when they do get in!)
  The verdict about this dish----nothing beats 'made from scratch', but for a convenience dish for a working person---this was good. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ribs with Homemade BBQ Sauce--gluten free!

Yum!!  My favorite recipe website did it again!  These ribs are known as "Smoky Country-Style BBQ Ribs in the Slow Cooker"  Follow the link for the recipe on my favorite site: A Year of Slow Cooking.

I was inspired to make a good meal tonight for David---he was camping Saturday night with cub scouts and his young Blue Ribbon Mentee.  After a campout, David always seems ready for a good food at the table, so this was it!   He chowed down, and the cat clamored for her share, as usual.  We have plenty for leftovers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

TapSpeak Button--iPad as single switch device

I used to have a little collection of single switch devices.  An example is the Big Mac--available at AbleNet for $104.  The single switch device has a zillion uses for those kids who struggle to communicate--anything from asking for more crackers, to saying 'My turn', to saying a repeatable line in a book.

With an app called TapSpeak Button, the iPad can be converted to a single switch device.  Multiple messages can be stored with easy access to each one as needed.  In addition, the message length can be unlimited---you can record a whole song! The app is a bit more expensive than most, but far cheaper and more versatile than the one hundred dollar button that I was previously using. There is still a place for the single message buttons---if you don't have an iPad for convenient student use, or if a child really needs to have a button near him to communicate.    For my language groups; however, TapSpeak has been nice.
     I had a couple of sweeties in my room today.  We made little ghosts  (see previous post about this).  To expand on this activity, I recorded a little ghost song into TapSpeak.  The kids loved it!  They were starting the song on their own and were using the little ghosts to follow along, and shout  'Boo'!   This activity would be perfect for your younger kids while TapSpeak is a great app for all ages.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

too much screen time

In all fairness, he (meaning my husband) is not normally like this.  This photo is David with the  iPad, plus our new flat screen TV, plus the old TV-----I snapped this photo tonight. 

Personally, I can only handle one or two technology pieces at a time.  Never three.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin Carving, the iPad, and Communication

 Halloween is right around the corner, and I decided to look for an app that was easy to use, cheap, and fit the IEP goals my kids have.  I found one!  Parents Magazine has a free app---Carve-A-Pumpkin.
This app is great for my kids---they have to make lots of choices from the color and texture of the pumpkin, to facial parts, to background color, to miscellaneous decorations.  The interface is intuitive, and the end result can be saved, emailed, and printed. My students were very motivated and really wanted to carve their virtual pumpkins!

choosing the pumpkin

I needed a little control over my iPad, though.  Kids often 'take over', and start tapping on everything, and communication goes down the tubes.  I felt that custom-made choice cards specific to the app would be perfect.  I captured screenshots of the different options, and cut and pasted the pictures on cards, ending up with 5 separate choice cards---pumpkin color, eyes, nose, mouth, and other decorations.   The kids could decide what they wanted to add, and then carefully look at the options.  In this way, a communication avenue opened, and language modeled.   ("Oh! You want the bumpy, orange pumpkin!"  "That's a smiling mouth.")      Adding choice boards slowed the pumpkin carving process down just enough, so that the task was more centered around communication-- requesting, describing, commenting, and sharing. 
     The end product really didn't matter---in my mind, it's the process that's important.

 You still have a couple of weeks before Halloween.  Check out this app.  It's free, and fun! 
Finished product--simple

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Make Your Own Dance Video (even if you can't dance)

(give it a minute once you click)

This post is unrelated to ipads or speech therapy, although I might try this out with my social skills group. It's just fun!   It's a nice way to incorporate a little technology, and a virtual shared experience into a session.
My family members are pictured. I hope they forgive me.

Check out Jib Jab if you want to make your own!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Lamb Chops---simple and gluten free

I wanted something easy, yet new, so slow-cooked lamb chops worked.  I used the cookbook pictured above, but the recipe is also online at Year of Slow Cooking website.  I used a 6 quart slow cooker, which cooks the chops a bit faster than the 4 quart one called for.  Just keep that in mind if you try it.

    On another gluten free topic, I learned a lesson this week.  When sitting in a highly boring meeting that lasts all day, don't grab at the bowl of candy strategically placed near you on the table and eat randomly.  In my case, it was a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.   Alas, this was not gluten-free, and definitely not worth the 10 seconds of pleasure while eating it.  Next time, I'll eat ice cubes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Art in the Garden

Best in Show award
We live less than a mile from the North Carolina Botanical Garden. It's free to visit!   I used to take the kids there on walks, and now I take Alana.  This garden is all about native plants of NC from the mountain areas to the sandhills.  It's cool to watch the changing seasons through the plants and foliage there.  My kids have also liked looking for the creatures---tadpoles, turtles, frogs, snakes. The garden bosses do keep the deer out with a big fence for obvious reasons. 

Every year, they have a sculpture exhibit--pieces are displayed throughout, so I took a stroll down there today, and snapped a few pictures.  I think I'll go again tomorrow! I missed some.
no sculptures here, but really pretty with the flowers in bloom

This artist is a retired engineer--very talented

No sculpture, but I thought these pitcher plants with the flowers were lovely.


Its hard to see, but there is a metallic web.

One of my favorites

Former Ephesus parent made this.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Notice the iPad--front and center, opened to the Pictello app.

Ghosts, iPads----we had a fun-filled Friday!   We love Halloween time at Ephesus (even though we are not really supposed to be talking about it).  Halloween characters lend themselves to craft projects, read alouds, adapted books, and fun.   Kids find activities centered around Halloween reinforcing, and they talk more. In the speech/language field, that's what we want!  

Here was my day.  The kids listened to, and interacted around a book downloaded from Tarheel Reader. For those of you who are interested in adapted books, or custom-made online books with simple language, Tarheel Reader is great!  I look for topics of interest, and then download as a powerpoint.  I print it out, and make velcroed boardmaker icons that the kids can match.  The name of this particular book was Orange Pumpkin, which was modeled after Brown Bear, a very familiar book. I can't claim to have written it---some other clever SLP did. During therapy,  I was looking for at least two word utterances to label the pictures.  (These children are in a separate EC classroom, in case you were wondering the level.)

After Orange Pumpkin story,  the boys in my little group (which is pictured at the top of this post) made cute little ghosts out of lollipops, tissues, and pipe cleaners.  For this, the amazing app, Pictello, provided step by step pictured and spoken directions.  After the assembly, I went back and just showed the pictures to the boys to see if they could provide the sentence to go with each step by step.  They did a great job!  Simple questions were answered, and when they couldn't answer the more complex questions, fill-ins and scaffolding helped.  The next step will be for them to use this activity as a springboard for a simple writing activity. 

These next few pictures are screenshots from Pictello.  There is a nice text to speech feature, so the directions are read to the children.  They love this!  

Hurray for Halloween!

This posting was linked on The Classified Mom and No Time for Flashcards

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Ben and Aleah (and Leo)
Anyone who knows me also knows that I'm not exactly a fashion statement.  Three out of my four kids aren't either, and my husband's closet is full of clothes that are either 30 years old, or bought at the local church yard sale.
Our usual shopping place---the PTA Thrift Shop
  My son, Ben, however, is getting married.  This is great, wonderful news and a joyous event; but the family has to look presentable.  I'm sure Ben's fiance does not want the Beverly Hillbillies, or the Waltons showing up on the magical day, and posing for pictures!

  To avert a wedding picture catastrophe, I've taken the twins shopping in August, I personally went shopping last week at Talbots, and David? He feels that his 20 year old suit is just fine, and maybe it is. It's a generic dark suit.  He hasn't changed sizes which is remarkable.

  Zach was the final challenge.    Tonight, I drove to Greensboro to take him shopping. He's in the wedding, but needed a suit.  We first tried JC Penny, then meandered over to Belks.  There, a very nice lady, Geneva Dimery, took us under her wing, and fitted Zach very nicely in a great suit, and spent quite a bit of time measuring him and fitting him for a white dress shirt.  While she was doing this, I discovered that she had 6 kids of her own, 8 grandchildren and even some great grandchildren.  She spoke of her kids calling her daily, and how nice their spouses were. She thanked us for filling out the form for the Belk's charge card--Belks apparently requires a certain amount of new subscriptions per salesperson.  Zach was extremely appreciative of her help, and her complements about how good he looked in the suit.  For someone who loathes shopping, I actually had a great time!  

The bottom line:  Zach (and everyone else) is going to look great!    Pictures of him and the rest of the family will be posted here---October 22, the wedding date!  Very exciting!  We'll have a new daughter-in-law!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

iPad Adjectives

The genius behind Apple has left us.  I was browsing-- looking up CNN articles about Steve Jobs, and hoping that Apple will continue creating and innovating.  As you have all gathered by now:  I LOVE MY IPAD.

I found a video that splices together all of the superlatives (mainly adjectives) from Steve Jobs' iPad keynote presentation from 2010.  I think the presenters may have overused a few words, but the one they left out was "Game Changer" for children with autism.  He didn't predict that!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The iPad -A Portable Window

Maybe this blog entry is too basic---maybe it's good to go back to the basics. Here's my latest:

My language-impaired kids often know very little about what they are reading, or what people are talking about.  Having an iPad handy offers a window to the world and an instant visual dictionary.  Here are a few examples:

The concept of 'circus' came up in a set of picture cards during a language therapy session.  The child, being Burmese, and having spent half her life in a refugee camp, had no idea what this was.  The iPad came out, google images flashed on, and images of circus performers appeared.  This offered both a joint reference for our conversation, and a springboard to further questions/answers.  The iPad made this impromptu lesson super quick and easy. 

A cute boy from one of the special education classrooms came to speech sporting a mod haircut.  I mentioned how he had a 'mohawk' ---confusion and blank stares ensued.  Out came the iPad.  There are a LOT of images of mohawks in Google images.  He got it!  Days later, we still talk about his hair using this new word.   The iPad made this connection easy.

Last but not least---this last example was actually during my mentoring time.  I'm finding my mentee's concepts of geography sorely lacking---part due to a lack of travel opportunities, and part due to inadequate teaching in the schools (I teach in the same school system, so we all should take the blame).  It's also partly a problem stemming from the current emphasis on standardized testing---geography is not tested, so it's largely ignored, especially at the elementary level.  So, when I first met my mentee, she couldn't tell me what state she lived in---I think she can now.  We took a trip to Asheville, so she knows now about the mountains.  Our next trip possibly will be Atlanta!  There is a great aquarium there!  She was confused about the relationship between Atlanta and Georgia (didn't realize the fact that Atlanta is IN Georgia). I whipped out the iPad, and showed her a map, giving us something to talk about, and a springboard for more conversation about a possible trip there. 

These above examples don't necessarily need an iPad---any computer would work.  However, the ease of use, the portability and the interactive touch screen, make the iPad a very convenient window to the world for my kids, for all kids.  Even for adults!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I just want to laugh tonight

I needed some humor, so for blog purposes, a couple of YouTube videos fit the bill.  Nothing about special education, speech therapy, iPads, or gluten free cooking.  Later this week, fine, but tonight, no!

A seagull stole this guy's camera while it was turned on.  You get to hear the pecking and gull callings, see the gull's various body parts, and enjoy the ride.  It just made me laugh!

Imagine you are settling down in the mall food court and half of the customers (and the police officer) break out into a musical!   I love ImprovEverywhere!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Comfort Food with my new Slow Cooker---Gluten Free

I needed comfort food after a very sad funeral for a sweet little girl, so this recipe fit the bill.
This dish was from one of my favorite websites: A Year of Slow Cooking.  The recipes are all gluten-free, and I love how the author tests these out on her own children, and reports their verdicts.  This recipe for Carribbean Jerk Chicken turned out really delicious!  My husband loved it, and the cat loved the scraps.  I had several helpings and feel better already.

I tried out my new crock pot---it did the job.

Hamilton Beach 33163 Stay Or Go 6 Quart Oval Slow Cooker