Monday, April 30, 2012

Draw a Stickman App

My co-workers have entered the world of blogging!  First it was Jim Tignor (OT, head of our Assistive Technology team), and now it's Ashley Robinson (see this post about her here!).  Ashley has now made her blogging debut reviewing and giving some great ideas about the Stickman App.  The app is great and her review is great.  Read all about it HERE!  She has cleverly combined this app with language/literacy objectives, and provided great ideas.

After you read what she wrote,  download the app onto your iPad!  (or go to the Stickman website if you don't have an iPad)  For those kids who really don't like to draw, this app turns what they perceive as a chore into fun!

Click HERE to read the review and get great ideas with the Stickman app.



Saturday, April 28, 2012

What can Chimps Do? latest in the 'verb' series!

Title Page  Flickr
 My co-worker come into the office the other day telling me how much her preschoolers benefited from the book--What can Dogs Do?.  (I've also adapted What can Cats Do, and a Counting Horses book along the same verbs theme.)  My colleague and I discussed what other animals can demonstrate verbs, and we came up with monkeys or chimps.  Tarheel Reader didn't have a ready-made chimps and verbs book, but they have a very easy user interface for anyone to make a new book, so I did!  It's easy to search for photos to match what you want on their site, so here it is on Tarheel Reader. 
    I'm sure I'll be making more soon!

I also uploaded this book to Google docs, and added a page of icons (pictured on the left).  You can laminate the book and icons, and use velcro so the child can attach/unattach/move around/make choices.

Click here to download the book and icons.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New Teacher Checklist Added to the List!

There has been a lot of interest in our downloadable Common Core Teacher Rating Scales developed by the Chapel Hill--Carrboro SLPs.  Our own Wendy Lybrand just finished formatting the Language 4-12 checklist, so I added it to the original post.  Thanks Wendy!

Go here to the original posting with the updated list of Common Core Teacher Rating Scales.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kite Flying Day!!!

Finally we made it!  After a couple of weeks of reading kite books and talking about the event, teachers and I took a couple of groups out to the field.  Success!!!!  The wind was a mere 3 miles per hour, but the kids made up for the lack of wind by running.   We saw some very happy children, and adults that day!

To download custom-made books about kites from my previous blog posts, go here and here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Common Core Teacher Rating Scales for your Language Evaluations

Let me start by saying that I work with a fabulous bright group of SLPs in the Chapel Hill--Carrboro City Schools.  At least once a month we get together from across the school district and do so many necessary tasks:
  • case studies
  • discuss Medicaid rules and guidelines
  • peer review for student evaluations
  • talk about business (lots of this!)
  • problem-solve (yes, we do encounter problems)
  • attend continuing education
  • exchange information
  • celebrate weddings, retirements, babies
I feel so fortunate to be on such a team which is led by lead SLP, Beth Burns.   Each year, she thinks of a few vital group projects for all of us to work on.  One year, it was to develop a systematic way to implement RtI.  Another year, it was to develop a system for a consistent peer review process to determine whether children who have been evaluated met North Carolina eligibility guidelines for speech/language services.

This year, our group project has been to develop teacher checklists that are aligned with the new Common Core.  These checklists are to be completed as part of a child's speech/language evaluation.

Why do we require teacher checklists in our school system?

       For a child to receive speech services in a school setting, there must be evidence of impact of the communication impairment in the classroom setting.  As part of an evaluation, I usually observe a child, and gather work samples, but as a group, we require teachers to fill out a checklist rating educational impact of the speech or language problems for each child undergoing an evaluation. With the new Common Core curriculum being implemented next year, we felt the checklists needed an overhaul for better alignment.  It was a collaborative project and I can't take credit for much, if any.  The resulting checklists looked great, though, and I can't wait to start using them.  So far, we have developed language checklists for grades K-1, and for grades 2-3.  The other grades are coming soon!   I also have links to our pragmatic checklists.  With all of these, there were a couple of minor formatting glitches after uploading to Google, mainly in the column headings--no big deal, in my opinion.

No need for you all to reinvent the wheel.  Our lead, Beth Burns, gave the go ahead to share.  Use with your kids in the evaluation process; but if you want to show the checklists in a conference or someplace where there is an audience, please give a shout out to the Chapel Hill--Carrboro speech pathologists! I'm humbled by my co-workers!
  When more checklists become available, I'll post them.

Click here for Teacher Checklist for Language k-1

Click here for Teacher Checklist for Language 2-3

Click here for Teacher Checklist for Language 4-12 (This was just added!)

Click here for Teacher Checklist for Pragmatic Language k-3

Click here for Teacher Checklist for Pragmatic Language 4-12

Thursday, April 19, 2012

OT and Assistive Technology Blog to Visit

Check this site out!   Our leader for the Chapel Hill City Schools Assistive Technology Team has entered the blogging world!     Jim Tignor is not only a talented occupational therapist and tech guru, he is also a gifted artist, a great dad, and holds a first degree black belt in To-Shindo Ninjutsu.  He is a true TECH NINJA! 


To explore his site, go to:

and then keep going back.  He's just getting started! There you can read his "musings on Assistive Technology, Occupational Therapy, Education, Parenting, and other random stuff."
 Sounds like a nice variety, entertaining, and informative....all that you want in a blog! 


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Object Test of Basic Concepts (printable; RtI friendly)

Don't you wish you had more criterion-referenced assessments for progress monitoring at your fingertips? Do you have limited funds to spend on such assessments?  Do you run out of time designing your own assessments?

Needed: small box, another box with open ends, airplane, paper, and little blocks-2 colors
screen shot of portion of the test.
Here is one tool that can be used to monitor growth in children in their mastery of such basic concepts ranging from simple prepositions, to words such as 'through', 'above', 'center', and 'right/left'.  The beauty of this tool is that it involves only very simple objects (which are pictured and easily found), and a test protocol with all of the directions that you read to the child. There are 36 concepts in all.  Some children make it through all of the items.  For some, I stop after the first page.

Generally, I administer this when the child is first seen in therapy.  I try to systematically teach these concepts then in therapy, and reassess later on.  We all love to see progress, and this can show it in with clarity, which is nice to talk about at IEP meetings or when you write progress reports.  For children in RtI, this can be used to develop classroom interventions to be implemented by everyone.

I thought I would mention here that I did not make this test.  A fellow Chapel Hill City Schools SLP, Jennifer Kirschner, shared this with everyone she works with (like me!).  She stated that many years ago, when she was a grad student, one of her practicum supervisors had a similar assessment, so Jennifer reworded it a bit and typed it up.  She has given me permission to share it. I'm not sure who the original author actually was, but this doesn't appear online anywhere, or in test catalogs.  Good news for you--you can have it free!  I don't think I'm breaking any copyright laws.

Click here to download The Object Test from Google docs


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time to Vote for your ASHA board!

As a speech pathologist, I belong to a national organization, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),  that pretty much dictates what I do professionally--certification, CEUs, policy, research, position statements.  I can't function without this!

 I do what I need to do to stay certified and stay current in practice, but I can say that I am not always one to responsibly vote in their elections.  ASHA is huge, and  each year, a slate of unknown people appears in an email, on the website, or in an envelope, each complete with a written biography and long answers to policy and organization questions.  It's easy to skim, guess, or delete, especially when I have other pressing issues such as writing the next IEP.  Sorry ASHA! 

This year, however, I'm turning over a new leaf.  As I 'skimmed' the ballot, a familiar name caught my eye---my wonderful professor from my days at the University of Kentucky--Dr. Judith Page. This name instantly took me back to grad school entry in 1982. 
    Here's a brief tidbit about me--in all honesty, the only reason I went into speech pathology was due to being an unemployed teacher of the deaf.  After a sudden life change, moving to Lexington for personal reasons, I was out of work---speech pathology was a field I picked after about 10 minutes of scanning the graduate school catalog. Speech pathology was slightly related to my first teaching stint at the Kentucky School for the Deaf (only very slightly though).
    In January 1982, I was knocking on the speech pathology department's door, after frantically filling out an application for admission. They let me in, maybe intrigued by my knowing sign language!  Maybe they thought I had some type of potential. (Obviously the grad school process has grown more competitive since then.) That's when I met my favorite professor, Dr. Page. She was always extremely helpful with every student, complimenting them on their successes, supporting them in any endeavors, and guiding them towards the goal of becoming a certified speech pathologist. Her classes were great, and she went the extra mile in advising, research, and supervision.  She encouraged me even when I was unsure of what I wanted to do exactly, and now I am eternally grateful for this, since the field of speech pathology turned out far more fulfilling than even my most remote expectations.

    I've been amazed watching the growth of the University of Kentucky's speech pathology program. When I attended, this program was under the umbrella of the university education department (back in the 'speech teacher' days).  Most of the emphasis seemed to be related to articulation disorders and fluency.  Dysphagia, autism, and augmentative communication were barely mentioned--a small footnote.   The program seemed small (I've forgotten exact numbers) and there seemed to be about 4 or 5 professors in all (hard to remember).    Dr. Page was there then, and has since been promoted up the ranks.  Now the department has moved into the College of Health Sciences  and works closely with the UK hospital and clinic. They currently have 30 graduate students per class, 10 full-time academic faculty members and about 10 clinical staff members.  I'm sure Dr. Page, as hard working as she was back when I was a student, was instrumental in much of the growth and changes.

 So, this year, I'm voting! Dr. Page is a candidate for Vice President for Academic Affairs in Speech-Language Pathology. I know she'll be wonderful since she has such a passion for the work she does and has such a broad base of experience (You can read all of what she has done in her bio).  I'm sure the other two candidates are fine, but since I'm an SLP due in large part to her support, I feel I can support her back.  Thank you for all you did, Dr. Page!
 You can read her bio, and watch her video interviews hereI encourage you to read about all of the candidates for all of the positions and choose the ones you feel are bestThey will affect your profession!

By the way, she did not ask me to write this. I just like to write about my positive experiences, and graduate school in Kentucky was one of the most positive experiences I ever had.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inclusion is Belonging

The title says it all--Inclusion is Belonging!

The story of the starfish

Including Samuel (My favorite inclusion video)

When in doubt, push for inclusion!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Flowers Everywhere--Printable

I feel like I need to post about other spring things besides kites.   Since I like repetition of similar but not exactly the same types of activities, I've created a Flowers Everywhere adapted book using Boardmaker.  This one focuses on "Under".  See for yourself!  You can also check out my 'Flowers' board on Pinterest.  I'll add to it as I find ideas.

screenshot of the entire book with sentence strip and icons as the last page

sample page

sample page

sentence strip (blue) with manipulatives

Click here to download the Flowers book in Boardmaker

If you don't have Boardmaker, here's a modestly priced Smarty Symbols version along with other materials.   Boardmaker is copyright protected, so I'm switching pdf to a paid symbol set.
Click here to download the Spring packet in pdf

If you are a starving CF and really want the Flowers Everywhere book in pdf, email me at
Happy Saturday everyone!  I'm going strawberry picking soon!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kites Over Everything---Printable adapted book to download free

Title page and page one
I had a creative burst of energy last night and found time to write my own kite book.  This comes either as a pdf or Boardmaker file. If you try to print in Boardmaker, set your settings to 'portrait' and not 'landscape' so it will all line up right.  There is a separate page for the sentence strip and icons.  If you want to know why I like to take the kids kite flying, and where we do this, check out my blog entry where I explain it all here.
Two of the pages

Kites go on all the pages.  The lines are a carrier phrase with different last word.
Sentence strip with manipulative icons.

I used this today, and it was perfect for the children who need help formulating a sentence to describe a picture.  It's great for the concept of 'over', and you can fly the little kite icons over things in your room too!    ("Kites over the computer!"   "Kites over Jimmy!")

I can't wait to go actual kite flying!  Even if you can't actually take your kids out to fly kites, the book is still good!  Enjoy!

Click here to download the book in Boardmaker

Click here to download the book in pdf

Click here to download the sentence strip and icons in Boardmaker

Click here to download the sentence strip and icons in pdf

Monday, April 9, 2012

AirBnB adventures in Florida and Georgia

We just came back from a road trip---Savannah, Jacksonville, Gainesville.  It wasn't a long vacation, since I'm a bit obligated to return to work tomorrow.  For some reason, schools don't seem to want to accommodate my urges for long leisurely vacations at random times.  Oh well!

For vacations recently, my husband and I have taken a liking to using a website called AirBnB to find places to stay.  AirBnB places are essentially rooms in people's homes, or their whole homes, or in one case this time, a cabin (sort of).  We have met wonderful people while we stayed at their places, and have only positive experiences.  It's also about one half the price or less of a hotel, and for the most part, much, much cleaner.

Here's a rundown of the places we stayed at this time:

Pooler, Georgia--We needed a place to stay on our way to Florida.  This home was spotless, and we had it to ourselves, meeting the owner only in the morning.
screenshot from the website
Jacksonville, Florida---This was a home in the city, close to everything.  David and I had a nice chat with the owners and got the scoop on what was fun to bike to and see.  They had a cute baby, and we were able to use the kitchen.  This was fun! 
screenshot from the website
Swan Lake, Florida (near Gainesville)--this was by far my favorite place.  We stayed at what used to be a camp of some sort.  Our abode was a cinder block cabin.  Nearby, however, was a lodge with a giant kitchen and meeting room.  At one point, this was all on the shore of Swan Lake---Florida has issues with a retreating water table, so the lake itself has shrunk leaving a massive grassy beach and abandoned piers.  I loved this for the lizards, the abandoned atmosphere, the price, and the isolation.  This place was quiet, and had a certain mystery of what actually used to happen here.  Was this cabin at one time full of giggly teenagers sleeping in bunkbeds?
      You may ask what we were doing at Swan Lake.  This happened to be near Gainesville, and near some great biking trails.  We busied ourselves seeing the area.  We checked emails at the local library, and then came back to relax, eat, and read at the camp (peace and quiet---no one around!).  I really love this so much better than hotels.
Can't beat the price!!! 39 dollars!
front door

David and his sister relaxing in luxury


the cabin--notice the bikes! This was near a great Rail to Trail.

Retreated beach left a pier high and dry.

far away Swan Lake (we did not see any swans)


Monday, April 2, 2012

I Love Spanish Moss!

I'm in Jacksonville Florida right now-- staying at an Air BnB, geocaching, biking on the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail to Trail, and admiring all of the Spanish moss.  It's awesome!  Especially the moss.

Moss Heaven!
a little detour through the pine forest off the rail to trail.  Beautiful Day!
Seemed to be a herd of longhorn cattle near the bike trail.