Thursday, August 30, 2012

New School Year; New Professional Goals; the ASHA Convention

My first school job
I don't know about all of my SLP colleagues, but my caseload has changed drastically over the years.  My first public school job in 1986 was in a small rural school system in Virginia---Rappahannock County Schools.  I waltzed into both the elementary and high schools thinking I knew everything (I was a bit cocky), and my caseload consisted of mild articulation cases ('r' and 's').  We had a few language impaired children, but autism, AAC, and multi-handicapped children were rarely seen!  I really had no right to be so cocky since what I was doing wasn't exactly cutting edge.   After three years there, I increased the size of my family with twins and then we moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina (an IBM move which was common at the time). 

Fast forward 24 years (time does fly!).  My twins are now adults.  I have worked in a suburban school system for 20 years now, in an affluent community that does have significant pockets of poverty.  The 'norm' for my caseload is a complicated child---often ELL, often multi-handicapped, often an AAC user, often autistic (often a combination of several of these factors).  Every year seems to offer newer challenges, and never ending demands both in time and expertise.  

This is why attending the ASHA convention is so important to me---my job has changed, and I need to stay up to date with the latest in technology, techniques, and best practices when working with different populations and cultures.  Seriously, I can't wait for November to roll around!  I will jam my convention schedule so I can get every scrap of information that will help me work effectively with the children, teachers, and families.  Socializing is good, but that's not why I go.  I go to learn. 

When I make my sessions schedule, I keep some personal goals in mind.  These goals reflect the changing population of children I work with and the sessions I choose to attend will reflect what I feel I need to learn more about.  Here's the start of my list:

  • Learn better techniques to develop the literacy skills of the more multi-handicapped children
  • Keep abreast of techniques to incorporate effective iPad use into therapy and the classroom
  • Develop my own cultural awareness, especially Burmese and Latino cultures
  • The Common Core has come---what do I do?   

   This is just a start.  The point is that the field has changed for me, as it has for you.   (If you are a new graduate, know that your job will change over time.)   Everyone needs to find ways to stay on top of the change.  For me, this year, it's the ASHA convention!   And I will blog about it.


Ruth   ("The Rogue Blogger")

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I can't decide about this lunch

This was today's lunch.  In all fairness to our lunch program, there are some positives here.  The long thing on a stick is actually a 'turkey corn dog', which is definitely better than the beef/pork/animal scraps version.  Only 14 grams of fat, and 700 mg of sodium if you check the stats on the lunch program website.  

The french fries (although baked, not fried) have empty calories as far as I'm concerned.  The fruit cocktail, although it is actually fruit, seems to be sweetened along with the chocolate milk. Maybe kids these days crave sugar so much that they only eat food if it's sweetened.....which is more of a reflection on society than the school system.

The child that owned this lunch ate everything but the corn dog.  I tried cutting it up for her, but tears welled up.  (She was nonverbal--one of my extra special kidos.)  Maybe she didn't like a slightly burnt corndog?  I couldn't tell.

What do you think about this lunch for your kids?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School Lunch resumes

 I really wasn't thinking about school lunch today---until a kid at school refused to eat this one.  Those brown things in the upper right are cooked apples. The orange goo in the lower left is what it is---you are supposed to dip the chips in it.  Apparently kids can refuse the meat entree (a little pile of ground greasy hamburger meat in a chili sauce mixture) so none was on this tray.

A teacher in the class also pointed out that the chocolate milk has 22 grams of sugar. 

This all ended up in the trash. Once kids are given a lunch, it can't be recycled even if they don't eat it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

"Leaves Everywhere" ---printable book with icons

     Our first day of school was today for the 2012-13 school year!  It looks good so far!  I also just paid my ASHA convention registration fee---375 big ones!  Luckily my wonderful school system appears willing to reimburse; and I am really very fortunate to live in such an affluent area.  Not everyone is so lucky out there in public school land, and I know it.  In addition, I'm lucky that I can personally afford transportation, housing and food costs while in Atlanta--no thanks to my school salary; extreme thanks to my professional life being subsidized by my husband's corporate pension and stock dividends.  How does a new SLP go to an expensive convention while trying to pay off student loans and raise a family?  It's a big mystery!
convention cost-cutting

  I plan on going cheap, though; and as the 'rogue blogger', in a later post, I'll share with you how to cut costs while at the convention.

   For now, I'd like to share another printable book I made to go along with the fall theme.  It's very similar to my other books, and blandly entitled "Leaves Everywhere".  I think you will like it for its simplicity.
Links for free downloads are at the end of this post.

   This type of book is great for:
  • early literacy
  • pre-reading skills such as matching
  • vocabulary
  • sentence structure
  • prepositions on and under
  • articulation
  • commenting (it was pointed out that on some of the pages, there are comments by onlooking characters.  This hadn't occurred to me as I made them, but they present as nice teachable moments.)
Enjoy this free book.  Not much is free these days, but my things are!


icons and sentence strip


Click here for the Boardmaker version of Leaves Everywhere

Click here for the pdf version of Leaves Everywhere
Since Boardmaker is copyrighted, I'm converting my Boardmaker books to Smarty Symbols.
Smarty Symbols is a paid subscription, and I'm offering the Leaves Everywhere book on TPT at a modest price if you do not own the Boardmaker CD or subscription.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Going Rogue at the ASHA convention!

I'm not great with rejection, and so when I learned that I was not picked to be an 'official ASHA convention blogger', my first reaction was disappointment.  (For those of you who don't know, ASHA is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association which holds a huge yearly convention.)  Why wouldn't they want me to blog?  I could write about all kinds of topics---gluten-free convention snacking, Atlanta city geocaching, and Atlanta on 40 dollars a day----  (Hence the rejection!)

I love ASHA conventions and go whenever I can. They recharge me professionally, and cram my mind with ideas for working with my students.  Listening to presenters often validates what I already do!  The convention helps me to chart my course for the next few years. I learn about the latest in technology (my favorite).   My most recent convention was two years ago in Philadelphia---fairly close to North Carolina......but Atlanta is near us too, which is where the next one will be in November!     I'm attending, and I'm taking my laptop, camera, iPad, and whatever else I need to write about the fun times and great learning that goes on.......not 'officially' though.

So now, I'm blogging rogue.      Look for my postings in mid-November!   And congratulations to those who are official:

The Speech Guy

Dysphagia Ramblings


Gone rogue! Look for my blog postings---undercover

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"10 Apples"-- Smartboard lesson to share

wishful thinking
Our school system is blessed---special educators have iPads, laptops, and SmartBoards (not to mention small caseloads for us SLPs!).  I don't have a Smartboard in my room, but every classroom has one.  We also have a website where we can upload our lessons to share, and of course, I upload to this blog to share out there with all my new friends in webland.  So, if you or the teachers you work with have a Smartboard, I've created a very simple activity to go along with 10 Apples up on Top book.  I wrote about the low tech printables HERE last week. Today is all about the high tech lesson.  Share both the printables and the SmartBoard lesson with your teachers, and they will love you. (Smartboard link is at the end of this page.Maybe your teachers will even reward you with coffee and chocolate.

screenshot of title

Quite simply, the child touches the number die----he or she is rewarded with a virtual die spin.  Whatever number comes up is the number of apples dragged onto the character's head.  The apple on the screen is set to 'infinite clone'---touch and drag.

Child touches the number (like a dice). It 'rolls'.  Child drags apples to top of tiger head.

I hope you all have a nice start to the school year (if you're working in a school);  our kids come on Monday.  They are a neat, spunky group, and I'm looking forward to a great year!  They teach me every day!

Friday, August 17, 2012

10 Apples up on Top --printables

School starting for us is a week away, so I wanted to share one of my favorite September books--- 10 Apples up on Top by Dr. Seuss.  I've used this for years and have created a few manipulatives to go with it from Boardmaker apples and scanned in images from the book.

screenshot of character pictures
Merely do a search on Pinterest to come up with more things to do.  This is a great book for counting to 10, determining 'more', 'less', and 'same', determining character feelings, and doing a story retell.  I plan on making a simple Smartboard activity for this book in the near future, so keep checking back with me if you use a Smartboard in your class!

This would work great on flannel board, but I didn't have this at home (can you believe it's Friday night and I'm at home blogging about Dr. Seuss?)  I don't have any cute kid pictures with this either since the kids don't come home with me, and they are still on vacation anyway!

  Velcro each piece with the prickly stuff, and use the flannel board background.  Kids love putting the apples on to match the book.    Work on early math concepts along with literacy!  Take it into a classroom and lead a math center.  Possibilities abound!

Click here to get the characters in Boardmaker
Click here to get the apples in Boardmaker

Click here to get the characters in pdf
Click here to get the apples in pdf

Give them a nutritious apple snack at the end.
You will be very popular.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Run for Autism

I'm not an athlete.
I got Cs and Ds in middle school PE.
I've never run 3.1 miles.

That's all going to change on October 13th!   The Autism Society of NC is having their annual 5K and I'm in it! (along with about 1000 other people)  I've even been practicing (I can do a mile now).  Hopefully I won't be the last one over the finish line, but if I am, it's all for a great cause.  The Austism Society does so much for the kids and families I work with.

If you a familiar with my blog, you will notice that there are no ads.  I don't ask for money.  I don't charge for any of my materials.  If you have enjoyed my things, you could consider donating even a small amount to this event (even if you don't live in NC)!  It will ultimately help a person with autism.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Apples----counting book, recipe, and other things to download

scrubbed kid
      I can feel the excitement building---the annual influx of freshly scrubbed kids, new teachers, new state/national standards, and back- to-back meetings await.  North Carolina is a little slow in starting school up thanks to a state legislature law stating that we can't start before August 25th. (The state decided that opening school earlier would detract from tourism to the beaches.)   The tension is rising, but hasn't reached a climax yet---two weeks to go!

title page

A few years ago, I found a book on Tarheel Reader about counting apples.  To be honest, when I did a search tonight on 'apples' on that website, I couldn't find the original book.  I did adapt the original book I found quite a bit, and added icons for the kids to match.  I also added a much loved applesauce recipe, and a few worksheets (math patterns and some other things). Most of the material here is mine, and  it's all free, so take a look.  Apples are nutritious, and a favorite theme in the fall! The link to download it all is at the end of this blog entry. 

icons to go with the book

I added a recipe for microwave applesauce.  The kids have loved this! 

 Apple themed math worksheet I created.
Fine motor type of activity to go with the book.

Click here to download the entire packet---"Counting Apples Book", "Applesauce Recipe" and a couple of assorted worksheets.  No charge, free, all for your kids to enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School--Printable Book with icons

This is my last weekend of relative freedom----I'm watching our hometown boy, Nick McCrory, doing the Olympics 10 meter platform dive (so far he's advanced to the semi-finals).  All I can say is "Wow!"  He actually went to the school where I work; his mom and I hung out at the local pool where our kids had fun (mine, however, did not evolve into Olympic stars).  I guess that's my claim to fame for today.  Good luck to him!   He has worked incredibly hard for this!

So, on to speech blogging: I've created a very simple back-to-school book on Tarheel Reader.  For those of you who want to know, Tarheel Reader is a wonderful resource.  You can search the numerous books by keyword and download them, then edit as you wish. The pictures are real, and the language level is often appropriate for the kids I work with.  My book, "Things we do at School", is here.  I've also uploaded it to Google docs for you to download, and uploaded some icons to go with it.  Download, print, laminate, and velcro, and then have the kids match or request the icons during your sessions.  As an extension activity, let them think of other things they do at school, take pictures, and add to the book! 



icons to go with the pages---cut out, laminate, velcro

Click here to download the book "Things we do at School"

Click here to download the icons in pdf.

Click here to download the icons in Boardmaker

Have fun with this.  I haven't actually read this book with children yet.  It's hard to do speech therapy activities when the kids are still on vacation!    My joy starts in two weeks.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia

David and I are still on a road trip.  Now we are in Lewisburg WV which is a very cute small town with lots of touristy shops, antique stores and restaurants.  There are several of historical sites here, and we've enjoyed walking around looking at all of the old houses (some of them former log cabins).  Lewisburg is also close to the Greenbrier River Trail----a 78 mile rail to trail.  I love rail to trails! 
Obligatory geocaching--not too many here

Lily pads

One cool thing about this trail is the tunnel.
Short and unlit, kids would love it!

There is lots of private property, camps, farms, and fields bordering the trail with a variety of things to look at (from a distance).  The photo to the left shows a swinging bridge across the river.  I was dying to go on it, but resisted the urge since it was private. 

The trail is 78 miles long and goes through some of the most remote areas of West Virginia.  We saw few bikers----and biked 30 miles total over two days.  I highly recommend it!
Canadian geese

Another view of the trail

screenshot of our bnb description

We are staying at a very sweet bed and breakfast, by the way.  We found this place through the Air BnB website.    If you like meeting new people, and less expensive but cleaner places to stay, check out the website.  I've already reserved an AirBnB place in Atlanta for 50 dollars a night for the convention in November.
Our bike ride (both days) ended on a wet note!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Breaks Interstate Park---part of a geocaching vacation

 I'm on a road trip with David (A.K.A. Tool King in the geocaching world).  We have made a two night stop at Breaks Interstate Park---a beautiful area overlapping Virginia and Kentucky.   David was highly motivated to geocache and bike---biking was a bit hilly, but we managed to get around for a few hours, and also take in some scenery.

If you want to go someplace cool, this is a great place.  There's something for everyone---hiking, biking, horses, pool, camping, cabins, hotel, and definitely geocaching! 

I go back to school in a couple of weeks.  Where has the summer gone?

Map of all the caches to find

Grand Canyon of the East