Friday, September 28, 2012

Big Pumpkin----Great book, printable icons

My kids really like Halloween, so I start early.  We all need our fun, right?  This book, Big Pumpkin, by Erica Silverman, has everything from funny characters and plot, to repeatable lines, to a vivid setting.  In addition, there is a YouTube video that is the audiobook portion (no animation so you need the real book) for kids to follow along---the lines are sung in a catchy tune, with turn the page signals.

As usual, I've been a bit busy with Boardmaker (getting the original idea from Boardmaker Share) and have a few visuals to be used, and along with a bigger written word ("Drat") which is to be laminated and mounted on a stick.  This is a repeatable (short) line in the book. Kids can hold it up at key moments----in a group, the 'Drat holder' position is coveted and shared.

Concepts for teaching with this book are endless----
  • there's the whole story structure and grammar of it---characters, setting, problem, and solution are very clear in this book
  • Halloween vocabulary
  • character feelings---frustration, anger, happiness, pride
  • push vs pull  (One of my kids today was confused by this.)
  • sequencing events
  • on the vine, off the vine--simple position concepts
  • question comprehension
  • if we were actually allowed to cook, we could make pumpkin pies with the kids. (Alas, other kids in other schools can enjoy that!)  Following a recipe is a great way to learn how to sequence steps, and  a way to learn the language of directions in a functional context.
Book icons
YouTube audiobook recording

Click here to download icons in Boardmaker

Click here to download icons in pdf

The 'Drat' holder!!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Orange Pumpkin Book--get ready for Halloween!

Last year, I mentioned this book---"Orange Pumpkin, What do you see?" here prior to describing a fun little lollipop ghost activity.  I didn't write the book---it's already posted HERE on Tarheel Reader.  Some anonymous SLP wrote it.  I wonder who she (or he) is?

     I downloaded and adapted this book a few years ago for our primary kids, and it has been a big hit.  You can go to Tarheel Reader yourself, or you can download the same book from my Google docs site.  The icons for adapting it are also available---for those of you who don't know about adapting books, I like to print out and laminate the pages including the icons.  The kids can match colors and item pictures to the book as it's read to them, or as they read it themselves.

Links for downloading are below.  Happy reading!


Click here to download the book, Orange Pumpkin

Click here to download the icons in pdf

Click here to download the icons in Boardmaker


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's all about Personal Growth


Saturday, I ran my first 5k; or should I say, attempted it. (I actually did practice for it.)  This was an eye-opening experience; a cause for personal reflection--with clear parallels between my experience in racing to those of our less proficient students in long academic assessments.  I'll summarize my race by saying that it ended up being a 2.5k, a beginning for me, a baseline to measure growth.  So here are my musings comparing my racing to preparing the kids for the rigors of academic assessments:

  • Make sure you come with no hunger, thirst or other basic issues either for a race or for any academics (either classwork or assessments). The race was on a hot afternoon and I was a little lacking in the water bottle department, which wasn't helping me concentrate on the task at hand. (My brain was screaming--THIRSTY!)  The same is true for those kids who attempt a long test without physical needs being met.  Whether it's breakfast, a home, a safe environment, or physical health, basic needs must be met before a valid assessment can really happen.  Maybe that's not always the school's responsibility, but it is something to keep in the forefront of the mind (which most teachers do).  If a teacher knows that fundamental needs are not met, standardized assessment results need to be taken with a grain of salt. 

  • Work your way up to the race, test, marathon, trial, or any other ordeal.  No one can literally hit the ground running--I certainly have learned that I can't. By the same token, in school, kids need to practice their newly learned reading skills for long stretches, independently, before being expected to do a big assessment in May.

  • Remember that this is all for a good cause.  Saturday's 5k  was a fundraiser to help families of children with cancer; while the statewide assessments were started as a way to make sure that children are actually learning what they need to learn in school.   Good reasons; good causes; 5ks and assessments are both difficult for some.   

  • Growth is totally important--perhaps more important than 'passing' or 'winning'.  I consider myself currently non-proficient in the 5k area since I actually didn't complete the full race.  Now I have my own baseline performance data, and will show growth--my next 5k is on October 13th!  My goal is not to 'win' but to get better.       Our struggling readers also need to show accelerated  growth over time.

  • Immediate feedback really helped me last Saturday.  The instant I crossed the finish line, I saw my time (18 minutes for 1.6 miles).  I now know my baseline.  Students should know their baselines and goals too. Our current EOG tests are not great for immediate feedback or meaningful information; however, I'm sure that in most classrooms, there are ways to provide this to help children set some goals for themselves.

The race itself was tons of fun, and the fact that I ran at all is growth for me.  I'm so excited about the Run for Autism in October!!!    I'll let you know how that goes, and I'll also keep working with my students, who for the most part, are struggling readers along with their speech and language impairments.  More on that in future blogs!



Friday, September 14, 2012

Class Project---Making an adapted Fall Leaf Counting Book

My patio today---fall is here!
There has been a lot going on this week!  Five days of school, a middle school football game (Alana is a cheerleader!), a 5K to get ready for, and the other usual household things to do.  Blogging has not been up to speed. 

Today, though, I did a really fun project with our primary EC classroom.  We created a Fall Leaves Counting book.  Each child made a page, I put it together, and I then added a few icons with velcro to make it interactive. 

Here are the nuts and bolts of this activity.
a.  I created visual directions on the iPad using Pictello which is like a talking picture album.  The children took turns turning the pages on the iPad and touching the pictures to activate the text to speech voice.  Pictello is great because I can then export the directions in pdf and share.  
 Click here to download the directions in pdf format.
screenshot of the pdf directions

b.  Due to the skill level of the children, I pre-cut the leaves and tree trunks.  In the future, I would love our OT  to cotreat  to better integrate the fine motor piece, but she hasn't actually started working yet at Ephesus.....she's coming Monday and I'm so excited about that!

c. I always use a core functional communication board to target words such as 'go', 'finished', 'want', 'more', 'open', and a few others--the same board for all activities, lunch, snack, and playtime. 

d.  In addition to the core vocabulary, I used a content vocabulary board with words specific to the activity.  In this case, the fringe or content words were the craft items, and the numbers 1-6.  We have used simple voice output devices in the past, but not today. A couple of our kids are still at the PECs level, and one uses signs (having little idea of any functional use of pictures---she's new here).  Sometimes, adding devices confuses the kids when the activity is busy.  (I'll upload the core and content vocabulary boards on Monday when I go back to school.)

e. When doing an activity with a group of kids in the classroom, I always use a visual schedule, with a predictable routine.  The activities change week to week within the routine, but the format is usually similar---
       1. gathering music or video on my laptop (2 minutes)
       2. reading an adapted book together
       3. related craft activity
       4. game or really fun thing to do

f. For each of the above activities, I keep in mind that the craft is not the goal.  Communication is the goal, and I provide a means to communicate, and scaffold the experience to elicit language.

Shots of the final project is below.  This book will be a great addition to the shared reading library in the classroom!  

Title---children's names are 'grayed' out

 Icons for the adapted book (only up to number 6)
are here in pdf
and here in boardmaker

Within this routine, I see progress over the year, and the teachers, who are with me during this, incorporate these techniques into their own teaching. Obviously a lot of planning and prep time is needed, so hopefully you all can take this pre-thought idea and use it with your own classes, perhaps saving a few steps.    Happy fall!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall Leaves--printable book with icons

Fall is totally the best season in Chapel Hill.  After the sweltering heat and humidity of a central North Carolina summer, sleeping with the windows open is such a treat!  In school, the fall season allows for all kinds of little themes---leaves, Halloween, warmer clothing, acorns, apples.  We have fun!

The leaves haven't begun to change here, but I know my friends in the north will experience this event soon, so I found a Fall Leaves book on Tarheel Reader, uploaded it to my Google docs, and added icons. (The download link is at the end of this post) Obviously someone else created it, so she (Kim Munson) is credited in the title page.  It's a nice, simple little book---and can be used to kick off a nature walk science lesson!  Read this book with the kids, then take them outside.  Collect leaves, and then have a sorting activity!   When our leaves change here, we are gathering leaves and other assorted tree items!  (Hopefully your school actually has trees around it---if not, bring in a bag of leaves from home!)

title page screenshot

screenshot of a page

Click here to download the book and icons


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Tan and Orange Lunch

So...... this was today's tan and orange lunch---tater tots, cheese pizza, peaches, chocolate milk.
I just thought I'd post.  The kid only ate the peaches.   In all fairness to the food company, the peaches did have both vitamin C and vitamin A (in addition to corn syrup).  The chocolate milk does have essential calcium and vitamins (in addition to sugar).  I'm really not sure what tator tots have in them.  Do people really eat tator tots with pizza? 

From the website:  "Feeding our students high quality meals that are nutritious and delicious is our top priority"

Decide for yourself!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

neu.Annotate app for kids who stuggle with handwriting

Five days of children has me tired tonight! ....but I'm not too tired though to rave about an app I heard about---neu.Annotate.    It's an app that allows iPad users to type, draw, or write into a .pdf document.  Why is this great?  Because now children who have poor fine motor skills can complete a worksheet in a classroom without tears; the teachers can read what the child wrote;  the child can be independent!  No need for a scribe!  Removing the task of handwriting allows me, as a speech pathologist, to see how the child can access the curriculum when given some accommodations.

To test this app, I downloaded a simple book and two worksheets from Reading A-Z.  This is a great website with leveled readers and phonemic awareness and comprehension activities and worksheets to go with it. Our school system subscribes to this, thankfully. 

The name of the book was "Where Animals Live" (level D), and each page explored a different place and different animal habitat.  The language and organization were simple, but still exposed the kids to new concepts (i.e. 'burrows').  I emailed the pdf worksheet to myself, and figured out how to load it into the neu.annotate on the iPad (this is obviously not a complete tutorial).  The worksheet listed the main idea (where do animals live), but the child needed to write down the specific habitats into the graphic organizer.  Given the iPad, and neu.annotate, the child could type the habitats directly into the worksheet.  There was also a drawing tool if he wanted to illustrate.

chile completing worksheet within the app
The results for my student were great.  He figured out quickly how to type in the answers.  I then emailed the completed worksheet to myself, and then it was easy to print.  I'm always looking for ways to see what the kids can comprehend, what they can actually do without having to physically write, and then how they can be mainstreamed more with some assistive technology accomodations.   This app has wonderful potential!!!  See for yourself--it's $1.99 in iTunes which is totally reasonable.  I can't wait to use it more!

This is the completed worksheet.  The main idea was in the center rectangle---Where Animals Live.  The student had to then provide four examples from the book into the graphic organizer.  Afterwards, we went back and practiced answering 'where' questions without the organizer!  He is a good reader of words, but has difficulties answering any questions, so this type of activity offered a bridge between reading (word-calling) and comprehension.