Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Craft is not the Goal (Rainbow Cracker printable)

I tell my graduate students that the craft is not the goal.  The goals are worked on during the process of making the craft.  You'll see what I mean below.

My kids made Rainbow Crackers.  Only three ingredients are needed---Fruity Pebbles, icing, and graham crackers.   It was very yummy looking!

Click here to download the book. 
(Communication boards, or even PECS are easy to make--Keep it simple! Let me know if you need on and I'll post it.)

Here are a couple of screenshots from the book.

Here is what my kid made.  Was it a perfect rainbow?  I think in his eyes it was.  Did he use language to request and comment?  Yes!  Was this a motivating activity that would enhance communication? Definitely yes.  Could he talk about it later? Yes! Can his teacher use the same book?  Yes!

Again, I tell my grad students to keep the student's communication goals in mind. The end product is not the goal. This sometimes takes a while for young adults to learn!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Moving into the 21st Century with CF Supervision and Record-Keeping

Becoming a certified speech-language pathologist is a complicated and time-consuming process!  It should be--this is a very complex and broad field covering speech, language, and swallowing disorders from birth to the end of life; therefore, for recent speech graduates, there is a major step to go through before becoming a holder of the national certificate (Certificate of Clinical Competence or CCC-SLP).   All graduates must complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY) supervised by a certified speech-language pathologist.

Ashley Robinson, CF

I personally am such a holder of the CCC-SLP credentials.  Yeah!!!!  I got this piece of paper in 1987 and have loved it ever since.  This year, I have had the privilege of supervising a CF in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Ashley Robinson, who is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina.  We both work in the same school system--she is at a middle and high school, and is also the sole speech pathologist on the Assistive Technology Team.  I work in an nearby elementary school.  Not only do we have to keep up with the CFY paperwork, but there is additional North Carolina Board of Examiners (for state license) paperwork and observation requirements.       The Chapel Hill school system also requires new teacher observations and weekly check-ins by a mentor (me) .

    Both Ashley and I are very busy with our actual speech jobs, so when given the task of arranging CF observations and consultations, I needed to set up a system that was efficient in terms of recording observation hours, and sharing notes.  I chose to keep track of this all using Google forms and spreadsheets. (Ashley has given me permission to write about all of this, and will be previewing this before publishing.)

I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet that I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!  Here is a step-by-step on how to do this.

CFY form
1.  Create a Google form  A tutorial for doing this is here.  I ended up with a form that looked like the one to the left.  Depending on your CF's setting, you may want different questions; however, these are very easy to customize and make depending on your needs. If you have an iPad, you can send the form right to your iPad screen for easy access. Here is how.
The form is then connected automatically to a Google spreadsheet that has the same name as the form.

CFY spreadsheet
2.  Share your Google spreadsheet with your Clinical Fellow  If you have Gmail, this should be easy for you.  By sharing, if you as the supervisor should unfortunately be unable to finish out your year, your CF will have documentation of observations and supervision thus far. The transition to a new supervisor will then be easier.

3.  Take notes of observations and share/email instantly  If you have an iPad, you can use the 'Notes' app that all iPads have and email notes straight from there to your CF. You can also take notes right into your Google form or set up a shared document just for your quick consultations or observations.   Laptops, desktops, or iPads all work for sharing.  All operate within the Google environment, and are wonderful to have for an instant open line of communication.

Unfortunately, ASHA, NC State Board of Examiners, and the school mentor teacher program have not yet jumped on the technology bandwagon for CF record-keeping (or at least I haven't found the e-versions yet), so once my Google forms and spreadsheets are filled out, Ashley and I have still have needed to go to back to paper every few months and fill out the SLPCF Report and Rating Form. along with other paper forms for the other agencies (school and state board), but with our digital documentation and notes, this has not been a difficult task.  The paper documentation just seems like it belongs in the previous century---necessary to complete to get to the goal, but antiquated. 

In summary, supervising a young, talented, and enthusiastic CF has been the highlight of my year!  Adding 21st century record-keeping has made the job less tedious and has kept the lines of communication open between us, even though we work in separate schools.  Hopefully in the near future, the large organizations of ASHA, and the state licensure board will follow suit, and allow for more online record-keeping.

To my fellow SLPs, if you have the opportunity to supervise, take it!   Watching sessions and consulting with recent graduates has rejuvenated my therapy sessions like nothing else has!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Parlez-vous fran├žais? --Foreign Language Instruction in Elementary School

 If you go to another country often you'll be amazed at the number of people who can speak English.  Our family hosted a German high school student for a few weeks--not only did he know English, but he could tell jokes, discuss religion, and talk on any number of subjects all in his non-native language, fluently and with little accent. Granted--it's a myth that all other citizens of other countries know our language, but more know ours than we know theirs.

With the arrival of the internet, you don't need a passport for international communication.  One click, and you're there!  People from all over the world look at this blog---some for photo images only, while others spend a bit of time. It's time to realize how important it is to be a part of the world community!

Hard at work planning for the next week!

Our school is fortunate enough to have a French program.  It's not French immersion, or a dual language classroom model, but the kids are given near daily exposure and direct teaching in the French language.  There is a structured systematic curriculum and it shows in the quality of work the students produce and how well they do in French poetry competitions and French exams (5th grade). What I love is that many of our special needs children actually do quite well in French!  Our teachers are creative, and teach to different learning styles. They use movement, music, drama, reading, written language, and verbal conversation.

I walked around the school and took some snapshots of different learning outcomes for French at the various grade levels. Here's what I saw! 

French play in first grade

Who doesn't love a French restaurant!

I'm impressed!

I never did this in elementary school!

One of my regrets as a speech pathologist is that I don't really know another language (my two years of high school Spanish don't count).  My caseload has blossomed with languages---Spanish, Burmese, Bengali, Chinese.  Even learning one other language in the early years (such as elementary school) greatly assists you in learning a third language as you get older.   We all are in a world community.  Languages are important for careers and life, so I'm so appreciative of the French program, and the quality of teaching I see daily.  The kids and teachers love it, and ultimately, everyone will benefit.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bunnies Everywhere? Not in my house!---printable book

This is another twist on our Joint Action Routine which follows Hearts Everywhere, and Shamrocks Everywhere.  This time it's "Bunnies Everywhere", which adds a slight plot to the story. 

This activity is a downloadable book with a repetitive carrier phrase "Bunnies on the _______"  The child fills in the blank for each page with speech and/or selecting a correct icon.  This book is made with Boardmaker and also saved as a pdf----download either way!

screenshot---there are many more pages but you get the idea
Since adults usually don't like "Bunnies on the Table",  I've added a somewhat irate mom on that page.  "Bunnies on the cake" generated a worried face for that page.  You'll see---it's a slightly funnier than my last two books and might generate some discussion or comments. 
screenshot of the icons and the carrier phrase

Click here for the book in pdf

Click here for Boardmaker

Nine days of school until break!!!!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Spring Spheres

We actually used to sing Easter songs in a public elementary school when I was little.  We said the Lord's Prayer and listened to Bible stories every morning, too!   Most of that has been replaced by more generic poems and leveled readers---there is something to be said for separation of Church and State; however, I don't think Easter bunnies are exactly Biblical, and dying eggs is just another craft.    Kids love it!

One school in Seattle has chosen to rename their Easter eggs 'Spring Spheres'.   This would work for me; although from a speech pathologist's view, the word 'sphere' is extremely difficult even for an adult to pronounce, and 'spring' has a 3-letter consonant blend.  I guess the final test for this activity is to ask the kids to say these two words together five times really fast.  If they can, then they can exit the speech program. 

The 'Spring Sphere' Hunt in Seattle

In all seriousness, I have had a lot of fun for several years teaching the kids to dye eggs. I made a step by step powerpoint that you are all welcome to download and print for free.  Just have fun with the eggs and the kids!    Remember to hard boil the eggs the night before,  or it gets messy.  Check for allergies in your class too.  Most of my kids are fine with this--if not, we'll do something else or modify things.   (One child was able to make these if he wore rubber gloves with parental permission.)

Here is the link to the egg dying directions.
  Or should I say 'Spring Spheres'?

screenshot of the google doc--yours to download

 Here is a simple communication board you can download from Tinsnips, which is a lovely website to explore if you haven't already!  It's full of all kinds of visuals, activities, and communication boards for many holidays. If this board doesn't suit you, it's easy to make your own---if your kids really need a communication board, you should have something like Boardmaker or an ipad app to help you.  If not, then you have a bit of a problem.

Here is a link to download the easter egg board (or you can get it from the Tinsnips website).

I'm totally ready for Spring Break!  Maybe that's why I'm cranking out my Spring Sphere stuff a bit early!


Friday, March 16, 2012

A Measure of our Success

Inclusion, Mainstreaming, Push-In.....all education terms which more or less mean that a special needs child is at least physically in a regular education classroom.  I could write a book here---I've seen this done poorly, I've seen it done well, I've seen disasters, and I've seen kids, parents and staff rise to the occasion. I love it when it works.   Inclusion is a road to somewhere--friendships, learning, hopefully jobs and skills; not that similar skills and bonding can't happen in a separate setting.  It just seems to happen more naturally in a successful inclusive environment. Children learn from each other and need social role models.

So, I'm extremely excited about one of my students who has been included more and more in a regular third grade classroom.  Today I witnessed her participating in a Readers Theatre Play production.  Kids helped her keep her place in the book, and she read her lines fluently with appropriate volume.  Everyone clapped, offered suggestions, praised the readers, and the readers praised the audience.  This has to continue!!!

Math is slightly more challenging for her at the moment due to the vast amount of vocabulary (geometry is the current unit). Did I mention that her first language is Burmese?  This vocabulary is way beyond circle, triangle and square.  We are talking 'acute' 'obtuse' 'parallel' 'quadrilateral'.  To help reinforce concepts she is learning in the classroom, I've found printable books online, and a geometry app, and also created a little minibook with Book Creator.  As each concept is brought up in her class, she can then come back to either her EC teacher or to me to get a little reteaching.  I think this will work! So far, so good!
made with Book Creator

This first book was a very simple one I created using Book Creator.  For the icons, I drew them myself and cut them out.  The child really liked them!  The concepts were 3rd grade math, regular education.  You can grab the booklet here. As I said before, the icons to go with it, you'll have to hand draw. It takes about a minute.
made with Book Creator

Three Tarheel Reader books and my 'Book Creator' book
I also downloaded some geometry books from Tarheel reader.  Just click on the links below.  It's easy to download there as Powerpoint and then modify. These will be used to reteach, and not to replace the core curriculum in her classroom.

Octagons Book Link  (you may want to edit spelling once you download it--they spelled octagon wrong)

Polygons Book Link

Quadrilaterals Book Link

I was curious about if third grade geometry apps for the iPad existed and a quick search yielded an inexpensive one that seemed organized and clear---Geometry 4 Kids (99 cents--the price was right!)  Her EC teacher now has this on her iPad.

I'll keep you posted on this inclusion adventure.  So far, it's been successful and exciting both for the child and for the adults!

Appropriate inclusion is one measure of our success as educators--in the mind of that special kid, maybe the most important measure.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Reader in my Room

The Reader is the name of a great movie starring Kate Winslet who won an academy award for her role as a former Nazi convicted in a war crimes trial.

Go watch this if you have time---it's a great movie, but now I want to tell you about someone else.

I  have a kindergarten child on my caseload that I could call "The Reader"----he should be a poster child for the American Hyperlexia Association.   His word reading is extremely high, spelling perfect, conventions such as capital letters and periods errorless.  He can memorize stories, scripts, and videos.  On the other hand, basic communication is difficult for him; social skills are lacking; tantrums abound.  Although he reads the words with great expression, answering an oral question is hard. He is currently in an Exceptional Children separate classroom, in case you are curious.

Since inclusion is the way to go with most kids, I've started taking him into a regular kindergarten classroom for guided reading and have been pleasantly surprised with how well he behaves, navigates the classroom, gets his books, and comes to the reading group.  The regular education teacher does a great job modifying her questions to him, and eliciting words using fill ins and visuals.  Once the reading group is finished, I take the same book, and use it with the child during a language therapy session (on a different day).  The teacher then uses it again for a re-read, and his ability to participate in the group improves.

Yesterday, in guided reading, the group read a book (level C if you know Fountas and Pinnell) named "Using Tools".  The child really needed some extension activities with this, so today, he and I wrote our own 'tool book'.  Actually he wrote it himself, using an app called Book Creator.  For a child who really has severe communication impairments, he was effortlessly able to write a book above what typical kindergarten students can write..... in ten minutes. The sentences he wrote were different than the original guided reader---not copied in the least and had no carrier phrase, although they did follow the same syntactical pattern.
Take a look!   He is also a skilled typist, and figured out the app instantly.  I was amazed, and so was the regular kindergarten teacher.  She immediately started talking about increasing inclusion time and I couldn't agree more!
 I have screenshots of his book, along with a couple of other images.....

I cued slightly... (wrapping what?)

He didn't know this ancient technology. Spelling was perfect though!

Creating the story with Book Creator

Book Creator on the iPad, the printed book, and the leveled reader which started this.

For my speech friends, any exciting treatment ideas out there for kids with hyperlexia?  What are your thoughts on inclusion?


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Times

I have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to be happy about, but my biggest source of happiness right now is my daughter, Andorra, getting accepted into the Peace Corps!!!  There has always been a little part of me that has wanted to be a volunteer.  Circumstances and a lack of self confidence interfered, so now I can experience this vicariously through my daughter-- so cool!  She's not leaving for a year, and tentative placement is Europe (probably eastern Europe since I doubt that France or England really needs this).  Eventually, I'll be posting on her adventures, and I can't wait!

A search on images related to the Peace Corps yielded some heartwarming photos.  (Someday, I'll be posting Andorra's photos) In the meantime, these offer a glimpse of possibilities. 

How adorable is this? 

a screenshot of the search on google images
I am such a proud mom!!!  


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Peking Pork Chops--Gluten Free

In the crock pot before cooking

Happy Sunday night everyone!  For those of us who work in a school, it means only one thing---early alarm, the drive in, and then work with the sleepy kidos!  (Not all of them really want to be there, either!)  All of this after a beautiful early spring day in Chapel Hill.  The time change will make tomorrow even more difficult!

To alleviate my Sunday pre-work mild depression, I decided to try a new gluten-free recipe---Peking Pork Chops, cooked in my Crockpot.  This was very easy.  The recipe was from one of my favorite websites--A Year of Slow Cooking.  All of the dishes on this site are gluten-free. 

As far as this particular recipe goes, it was pretty good.  I feel the pork chops really don't need to cook as long as the recipe says, and next time, I would cut back on the sugar a bit. I added an onion which was nice. I served with rice.  My husband made yummy sounds while he ate, and he's not even the gluten-free one in the family!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Problem Meter---New and Improved!!

Old Style
Back in September, I posted about a "Problem Meter" that I was using with some of my children.  That posting gave a rather detailed explanation of how some children over-react to situations, and a visual that ranks problems on a scale of 1-10 may help them gauge their reactions.

The Ephesus Elementary speech room "Problem Meter" is now new and improved!!!! (Thank you Heather Petrusa, SLP and her UNC graduate intern Olivia!!!)   Once you compare the two, you can see which one is more clear.  Why didn't I think of this?  Oh well, I can still use it!
   It's amazing how color aids in determining the seriousness of the problem from a kid's point of view.
New and Improved Style with color

Manipulatives stored on the back of different kinds of problems and feelings.

Things can always be improved upon!!!!  This is why I love working in the same building with other SLPs and graduate interns.


Friday, March 9, 2012

A Streamer Rainbow--printable directions and communication board

Let's get ready for spring!   In one week, the grass started growing, flowers began blooming, birds were gathering twigs for nests, and everyone dug out their spring wardrobes.  This is a great time of year to make "Streamer Rainbows" (I got the idea here from Mom's Crafty Space.)  Here are the visual directions developed on the iPad using Pictello.  Pictello is a great iPad app and if you are curious to how I've used it in the past, check this out.

This activity is great for following sequenced directions, requesting materials, and commenting.  I also showed a Rainbow Song YouTube video to start, and on a subsequent post will share a Rainbow book that I downloaded and created icons for.  Those of you who are therapists can share with teachers and parents! It doesn't hurt kids to have the same lesson presented by two different people.  They might learn the language more in depth.

iPad with Pictellow directions

Communication Board in Boardmaker

asking for cotton
Communication Board in pdf

Step by Step Photo and written directions for the Streamer Rainbow in pdf


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Shamrocks Everywhere---a printable book

After a brief lull here, I'm getting back up to speed. 

So here is my latest very simple activity perfect for St. Patrick's Day.  It's totally a spinoff from a very popular blog entry that I wrote earlier about Valentine's Day; I just substituted shamrocks. With this booklet, there are icons to go with every page, plus a patterned sentence calling for a fill-in.  This is great for early literacy, vocabulary, speaking in simple sentences, and for the concept of 'on'.  If you want to extend this to articulations---'SH' comes to mind!  Images were created with Smarty Symbols for which I have a commercial license.

For a modest price, you can purchase this along with other St. Patrick's Day materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.

 Go here to see for yourself!

  I'm a big believer in Joint Action Routines---once you establish a routine with a child, you can change the activity a little, and give the child a chance to learn new vocabulary, but with the same routine.  This book is an example of that---earlier it was Hearts Everywhere, now it's shamrocks!   Have fun!



Monday, March 5, 2012

Eagle Sightings!!!!

Vicki doing what she loves to do!
looking across the bay at Erie
I'm still visiting the "Far North"--now it's Erie, Pennsylvania to visit family.  This has been a great trip--I've seen more snow in two days than the entire winter in Chapel Hill, the twins and I visited with my brother's and sister's families, we've spent quality time with my mom, and today, the twins, my sister, and I went birdwatching at Presque Isle State Park.

Andorra saw this eagle first!  I wish I had a better camera!