Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting Ready for Turkey Day! Turkeys Everywhere!

I need to start thinking ahead to Thursday---the day AFTER Halloween, when I put my Halloween books and materials in mothballs, and start a new topic.  Since I'm a creature of habit, Thanksgiving will be the logical theme, with turkeys being the central topic.  Schools don't seem to talk about the Pilgrims much anymore, and most of my kids wouldn't quite grasp their significance anyway.  For the next few weeks, look for turkey books, turkey puppets, and turkey crafts.

To continue to enhance early literacy activities, I've created a book, very similar to ones I've made before.  This one is entitled "Turkeys Everywhere".  If that sounds familiar, I've created many others--Leaves Everywhere, Bunnies Everywhere, Shamrocks Everywhere, and Ants Everywhere.

  • Point 2:  Sometimes Joint Action Routines help a child to expand his language skills by keeping a similar activity pattern but varying the language.  I consider my similar, yet slightly different books, as a Joint Action Routine.
So, here are screenshots of the book.  Downloading links are below.  The book has a repetitive nature to it, and simple vocabulary.  If you really wanted to get creative, you could create this (if you have Boardmaker) without the turkeys already imbedded.  Print the turkeys separate, and have the child add them in manually.

This is the entire book to the right, along with a sentence strip and icons to fill in the sentence.  It's totally similar to the other ones I've made. 

  My kids like simple and clear---this fits our needs!

Click here to download the book in Boardmaker
(you can make edits if you own the disk!)

Click here to download the book in .pdf
(you're stuck with what I made)


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paperwork---going from pencil to Google (Episode 2)

A few days ago, I wrote about creating customized therapy note paper forms for each client (or kid, in my setting).  Once I do that, I have the information I need to create a Google form and spreadsheet for collecting data.  It's up-front, labor intensive work (for a day), but once I have the perfect form, I can fill it out rather quickly on a computer or an iPad after I see a child (or after you see an adult--depending on your circumstance). 

I wrote a previous tutorial about creating Google forms.  You can check out that tutorial here!

Now, I would like to highlight what information I collect for my Google forms.  I already have a diagnosis code on the paper form; the child's birthdate, and the IEP dates are on the paper form; and  my signature and ASHA credentials will be on the paper form for each session.  The data I collect for the session on the Google form includes:

  • date of session (use the 'text' option when creating the form)
  • session characteristics---was it individual, group of 2, group of 3, in the speech therapy room, in the classroom, in a resource room?  (use the 'checkboxes' option)
  • if no speech, why?---was the student absent, was the therapist absent, was there a meeting during speech time, was the student suspended....... (use the 'multiple choice' option)
  • minutes of the session---how long does this last?  (use the 'text' option)
  • Now comes the meat of your session.  Different types of data require different types of Google questions.  A common goal for language therapy is requiring the child to answer wh-questions.  I prefer to use a 'grid' for this.  
  •  Another common question type is to state a percentage.  You will need to take actual data on a piece of paper.  The results of this will go into the Google therapy note as a percentage. You will need to use a multiple choice option for this.
  • Something I always include is a 'description of the session'.   This will be a "paragraph text" when you are looking at the form item choices.  That's when I really sit at my computer and write the abbreviated schedule of activities of the session.  I type faster  and clearer than I handwrite, so when people read my notes, they will see exactly what happened, in a more narrative form.  
  • I now ask in the form,  'what skilled interventions were used during therapy?'.  This was originally created for Medicaid documentation but actually makes me think and justify therapy for all kids.   You can do what you want with this---list intervention techniques in a 'paragraph text' form, or use a 'checkbox' format.  The underlying principle here is that you have to say why a speech therapist is needed to work with a client.  What skills do you bring with you that another person who is not an SLP can't do?

  •  After a session was completed,  a required question to answer is "Was adequate progress made?"    This is a 'multiple choice format'----see below. 
Here is an example of a real form for an unnamed student.  This was based on an IEP that I inherited.  I feel that by using this form, I've recorded adequate data to report on his progress.


The bottom line is that the IEP goals drive what I do, and how I create a Google form.  Up front, it's labor intensive, but using these forms helps to drive my data collection and therapy note reporting.  Ultimately, I'm a better therapist, and can use my detailed notes to report on student progress.

Episode 3 will be on using this format to write progress reports, and how to collect all of this into 'working student folders'.  

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Paperwork--not cute, but necessary (Episode 1)

When I was in graduate school, paperwork was slightly mentioned; IEP writing not taught; data collection touched on only a little.  In my practicum sites, each SLP had a completely different method of organization (some a bit loose, others just the opposite).  I work with graduate students now---they don't seem to know much about this either! Some are intuitively better than others, but they seem to need a lot of direction.

In the NC public schools, including in my own school system, each SLP seems to have evolved with his or her own unique method of therapy data collection, and I'm no different.  Evolving is a good word----in my beginning stages, I really had no system.  Then Medicaid happened, and I started to tighten up.  My moment of transformation happened when another SLP I knew was literally escorted out the door for a lack of data.  My mental light bulb came on, and what you'll see in the next few posts is what I do to ensure that if I were ever taken to court, I could say that I have done my best in reporting a child's progress, or lack of progress, on IEP goals.

Although I have previously blogged on using an iPad to take data and write therapy notes, the backbone of my system is an old-fashioned paper document.  When I get a child, I type up a therapy note form which contains the abbreviated goals/objectives, and pertinent information such as diagnosis code, date of birth, setting I saw the child, and other things.  Read the one pictured above for yourself.  I give myself room to write the activities (that's were all of my snazzy adapted books go!) and a signature line for each session, along with my credentials.  Why do I go through all of this trouble when I can just use a Google form?  The answer is that the paper document is what I use to formulate the questions in the eventual Google form, and a paper document is what I physically sign.   (I can't sign an Ipad!)

       Even if I do use a Google form for data collection, I still need to sign off, and can just staple the printed Google spreadsheet to my signed from.  I don't write the data twice, but our overall system in the schools still requires paper and signatures, so a paper form is the backbone.  I've seen several forms in other SLP blogs--whatever works for you is the way to go as long as you have something systematic.  There are a few extra details I've included in Google forms that I'll share that I don't put in the paper form---specifically relating to Medicaid requirements. 

This will all be demonstrated in Episodes 2 and 3.  I know you are all waiting eagerly for this (especially on a Saturday night!)   

Friday, October 19, 2012

Counting Pumpkins--printable book! Match the number to the pictures

Halloween seems to be a popular subject in the primary education world, judging from the hits and downloads on my Halloween pages!  I'm not sure Thanksgiving will hold the same appeal!

Title page

 It's Friday night and I'm home alone (David is camping), so to fulfill my blogging needs in the absence of distractions, I've created a book--a counting book---a counting pumpkin book.  I looked for one on Tarheel Reader, and there were none.  Now there is one--thanks to me!       You can view it there, or you can see it on Google Drive.  The links are below. Print, laminate, velcro--have some fun with the kidos!

Click here to download the Pumpkin Counting book.

Click here to download the icons/numbers in

Click here to download the icons/numbers in 

I hope everyone has a nice weekend wherever you are.  The weather is lovely here in North Carolina!

Kids can match these to the book pages. Laminate and velcro!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Jim Tignor---Shinobijimbo
I have a wonderful friend and co-worker who has started his own blog---Shinobijimbo.  It's all about his "musings on Assistive Technology, Occupational Therapy, Education, Parenting, and other random stuff"......similar to my own musings on speech, technology, gluten free cooking, and other random stuff.  He's terrific and I love reading his blog!

The really good news here is that his blog is expanding to tutorial videos---latest videos include how to:
  •  back up files on Proloquo2Go 
  •  use the built-in screen reader on a Mac 
  •  Pictello: Saving and Sharing

screenshot of the VideoNinja page
I would advise all of my speech, OT, and special education friends to hop on over to this website---again and again.  He is a wealth of information and creativity!  Better yet, get on his email update list.  I get his updates in my email, and they make my workday brighter!

Here's his website:

Here's his video 'ninja' page!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything

This book, The Little Old Lady who was not Afraid of Anything, is one I read with my kids every year!   It works especially well in small groups--generally it's our first play.  Each child has a part---either a hat, shoes, pants, shoes, gloves, or pumpkin head.  Each child has a line (e.g. 'clomp, clomp', 'wiggle wiggle'.....).  I'm amazed at how hard the line is for some of them to remember!
   I even read this with some artic kids---there are a lot of 'L' words in the book!  Every time I point at the child, he needs to say 'little old lady' correctly!      

The video below is one I found on YouTube.  I have no idea who these kids are, but the teacher here did what I did with my kids last week---she brought in real articles of clothing and each child had a part to play along with an piece of clothing to hold.  She paired kids up, while I paired my kids with whatever adults were in the room.  It was all fun! Exactly how you structure this depends on the levels of your children.

I also quickly made some visuals.  I used them during the group activity to assist in comprehension and to cue the kids as to when to say their line.

Click here to get the visuals in Boardmaker

Click here to get the visuals in pdf
    I am in the process of switching all pdf visuals to Smarty Symbols. Since I pay for this subscription, this product is on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you have Boardmaker, click above and it's free.

Have fun with this book.  I did!     I also want to say that when reading this to the kids, you have the freedom to paraphrase.  Some of the pages are slightly wordy--but I managed to hone in on the action words quickly with an abbreviated reading.

Happy Halloween!


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Success! The Triangle Run for Autism

 Today was a great day! A month ago, I made an attempt at a 5k--which then became a 2.5k. A great deal of reflection followed on personal growth and goal setting.  I've never been an athlete, never been in an organized sport, and had never run in a race or even consistently exercised.  Completing a 5k became a goal, and I really wanted to complete it under 40 minutes. 

The Triangle Run for Autism became a wonderful opportunity to try again---both for achieving my own personal goals, but also for raising money for a great cause. I practiced for this and you can see by the stats below, I finished, and I wasn't even last in my age group.  My chip time was actually a minute less than the time listed below-- that works for me!   Tonight, I'm feeling incredibly fit. 

Advanced Medical
    The best part of this experience was that I was able to easily support a terrific organization---the Autism Society of North Carolina.   They do so much for our kids and their families.  Visit their website if you want to find out more.  Here, I want to thank my donors---Sandy, Jamezetta, and  Advanced Medical  (a premier therapy staffing agency) for their generosity.   The quote below sums up how my donors approach the needs they see all around them.  Thank you all!

“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
Debbie Macomber, One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity

Getting ready

I stopped to take this during the race --making my time higher :(

I passed the guy in the full suit of armor.

Me---looking happy it's done!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween fun! Make a lollipop ghost! Printable directions

Halloween fun continues!  Last year, I posted about an adorable, easy lollipop ghost activity.  The kids loved it!   This year, I'm reposting because.......last year, I didn't know about Google docs and sharing, while this year, I do! I'm always learning new technology skills, as I hope you are too!

I'm reposting here from before and adding a step-by-step set of directions, complete with pictures.
The picture below demonstrates the power of Pictello, a fantastic iPad app---the iPad is front and center.  Pictello provides pictured step-by-step directions with text-to-speech voice.  It's wonderful!
The directions provided below were exported directly from Pictello.

Click here for the step by step ghost directions in pdf.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Triangle Run for Autism!

Saturday's almost here, and I'm ready for my first full 5k!  (You may recall that my last race turned out to be a bit shorter than that.)    It's all about personal growth and this race should be longer and quicker for me.  It's also for a great cause---I've worked with so many kids and families who have benefited directly from the generosity from the Autism Society of North Carolina.  I'm hoping to see lots of familiar faces there as I whiz by!

My donation page!
I am so grateful for people who have generously donated on my behalf.
A couple of my friends helped (Sandy and Jamezetta), but the most generous donation was from Advanced Medical.  A quick look at their website shows lots of professional opportunities and if you scroll down, you can see that they also support other organizations such as Care.  Take a look at their pages!

Advanced Medical page

I'll be posting a followup entry.
In the meantime, think of all of us mothers, grandmothers, cousins, therapists, dads, kids, and teachers as we are zipping through Raleigh on Saturday morning!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Apple Picking Time!

My mom and niece
 Here around Erie, the apples are ripe.  Today was a great day for apple picking and pumpkin shopping!

I'll be back to sunny North Carolina tomorrow afternoon.  The crisp air and fall leaves here have been refreshing!
Golden delicious apples

My sister and my niece

the plunder

Friday, October 5, 2012

Heading North

Hi, friends out there in blogging land.  I'm heading north for a few days to Erie PA!  The photo above makes it look like a top vacation spot, and it is on nice days, especially if you go to Presque Isle.
Maybe it's not as picturesque as Aruba, but the Lake Erie water is cleaner than ever, and the wildlife viewing is great.

It is October, however, and although North Carolina is still enjoying 85 degree days, the leaves are still bland green here. I'm hoping Erie trees will be very colorful. The weather looks a bit chilly, so I may have to shop for sweaters.  I'll update you in a few days with pictures of leaves and shopping finds.  I love vacations from school!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Feelings book--Printable with icons

I've written an original book! I've seen similar books in bookstores and in libraries, so I guess I can't call myself a creative genius, though I did have fun making this, entitled "Pumpkin Feelings" (could I get any more clear with language here?)   This is for the kids and I think they'll get it, so that's all that matters!  My students need simple language and clarity--no tricky titles for us!  The pictures are all legal to use as of now, and credits are given in the book.

 I'm testing this out on my kids tomorrow!  I'm so excited, and they love new things too, so we'll all have a happy day!

Click here to download "Pumpkin Feelings" Icons for matching are on the last page.