Monday, December 31, 2012

Blogging is to Talking, as APA Style is to ????

I've found a danger to blogging a lot----someone might like what I've chatted about casually and then want me to turn it into an APA style manuscript.    Yep!!!  That's happened!   My little ramblings about Google forms have been converted to a formal paper, and are about ready to be submitted electronically to the scholarly folds of ASHA for a peer review and heavy edit.

I've learned quite a bit from this:

1.  What is APA style?    The last time I wrote a research paper, I used a typewriter--it was at least an electric typewriter. (Hey, I'm not THAT old!)  Regardless, writing a paper and submitting it so it looks similar to what I see in my professional journals is a bit of a learning curve.  Fonts didn't really exist in my world back then.   I've never written an 'abstract' or worried about including 'table titles' or website references.  I've spent more than a few hours over the holidays learning about fonts, double spacing, and citations.  (I feel I'm a more than competent speech pathologist---but my job descriptions since graduation in 1984 haven't really included this.)

2.  What is a SIG---otherwise known as 'Special Interest Group' in the ASHA world?   I've never fronted the money but apparently each SIG has scholarly publications that the members (who pay $35 a year) can read and get C.E.Us.   I'm hopefully going to be published in one of those, although I may not be able to read my own published article since I'm not a member of this group.    Maybe I'm not as poor as I think I am.  Perhaps, I'll turn over a new leaf now, and join a SIG---the one focusing on school-based issues now has me intrigued!   I'll keep you posted about this.

3.  What is peer review?  I actually already knew about this, but it's a bit intimidating to submit something I've written to be edited and reviewed by people I don't know.  Right now, I'm using my 22-year-old daughter as my editor, but we think alike and readily critique each other all time about lots of things.  The part about complete strangers reviewing my paper (that I don't know how to write) is daunting to even consider.  I'm sure that the reality is there will only be a couple of people on a computer that will edit my masterpiece, but my fantasy is that a large group will be earnestly talking about what I wrote. Ha Ha!

PCS credit

 So, writing a formal paper is outside of my comfort zone.  Why did I agree to this?  Possibly, I was flattered that anyone even asked.  Possibly, I never say 'no' to anything. I need a ready-made script or a social story in this area. 

What's done is done---I said 'yes' and this has been great, albeit painful practice, and I'm sure that I'll have a bit more editing to do.  I'll let my readers know on how this challenge turns out.

I hope all of you are having a good start to the year!  


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Snowflakes Everywhere---printable book with icons

There are no snowflakes in Chapel Hill even though I wish longingly for them!  Before moving here, I lived in northeast Ohio, and I've forgotten how dreary that area was in the winter.  Here in North Carolina, snow is a treat!   A few flakes is cancelled, the news becomes 24 hour coverage of the 'storm', and the grocery stores completely run out of milk and bread.  Please.......I want snow!  I like a little excitement!

While I waited for the (nowhere to be seen) blizzard, I made you all a book.  It's similar in theme to my other little Boardmaker books, so it'll be easier for the kids who have learned the familiar pattern. I guess for those who need artic activities you can see that 'snowflakes' has two consonant blends plus the plural ending!  There is also an expectation that they will use the words 'on' and 'under' correctly.  You can take care of many of your goals in one activity!!!   I wish speech therapy was really that easy.  As we all know, the reality is that for goals to be mastered, the child has to use the targeted language and articulation skills in multiple contexts.  Anyway, here it is in one context!  Have fun!

Entire book in Boardmaker

sample page

Sample page

Click here to download the book in Boardmaker (you can edit as you wish)

Click here to download in pdf
Icons and sentence strip

I wish this would happen soon!

There's an app that makes for a nice follow up activity.  Go HERE!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Lasagna---gluten free!

before oven

all cooked---Yum!

When I went gluten-free, I really missed pasta.  My kids love lasagna, and I wanted to keep making it.  I'm not a gourmet Italian cook, so during my wheat-eating days, I would open a jar of Ragu, and layer that with noodles, cheeses, and sauce (the sauce being cooked Italian sausage, onion, garlic, green pepper and Ragu or whatever was on sale that week).  The kids loved it, and so I needed to find a lasagna noodle that would work.

After moaning about my lasagna-less life for a year, I discovered a gluten-free box of lasagna noodles at a local Whole Foods.   I then ordered a whole case of them from Amazon, and my lasagna days were back!  I cook batches of lasagna for my lunches (I divide it all up into Tupperware containers) and when the kids are home, I cook for them.  I order by the case, and now I'm very happy again. My kids are too!  Although they are now adults, they still come home and gobble this up.

If you need a recipe and you don't want to spend a lot of time, go to any easy website and assemble some ingredients.  Here's an example.

Just a tip---the noodles don't hold up quite as well, so don't boil them as long. 


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Big Problems, Little Glitches---customized books you can make

I feel this blog is a sequential set of chapters---often one post builds on another, and then a third post comes along.  To really appreciate this post you have to review a bit:

Chapter 1:   Problem Meter  Check this post out to get an explanation and illustration of a visual problem meter based on concepts from Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking book.

Chapter 2:  Download a feelings book template you can customize for your kids.
                 Check out this post.  Your students can help create a time they feel 'happy' page, 'sad', 'frustrated', and so on.  I've put a template for this in Google templates, along with sample completed pages for you all to look at.

Chapter 3:  Paying it forward----My offer to some of you.

Chapter 4:  Several of you have responded to the 'Paying it Forward' offer!!! I chose this project from the responses and it involves building on what I already know.  A reader wanted a variety of tools to use with middle schoolers who need to learn concepts from Michelle Garcia Winner's curriculum.  Although the reader mentioned about six social thinking concepts, I decided to focus on one----the big problem, little problem concept.  If you read Chapter 1 above, you will know what this is referring to.  The tricky part is to gear the materials for older students---less Boardmaker, and no child-like cartoons.

      My reader wrote: "I am getting a bit discouraged. I purchase materials that are posted as being appropriate for middle school students (from TPT). Then I look @ them and they are really geared toward a  WAY lower group of abilities."

title page
  My offer to my reader is to suggest that the students help make a customized problem meter book, complete with photos of them showing different degrees of emotions, and with their own written examples of which of their real life problems match the numbers on the problem meter scale.  It's a bit labor intensive, but the end result is a book they can refer back to, read to their parents and teachers, and build on.
      If the students can write, they can write in their own examples,  If they can draw, they can illustrate.  If they need to, they can dictate.  SLPs or teachers can help find images for the student examples to illustrate, if drawing is not an option.  This can be done in a small classroom with the kids, or one-on-one.  You may need to have a digital camera and know how to insert pictures into Google docs.  Let me know if you need a tutorial.

My example---you and your student customize the template

My example---you and your student customize the template

For social thinking materials, I find that more personalized, and more interactive for kids works best (even if it does take more time).  There is nothing wrong with taking a month to work on this (my opinion).

I am on vacation right now, but will try this out on my kids in January.

Click here to download the sample book to view---but download the template below to really customize

Click here to get the Problem Meter Book template to create your own!!!

Now it's time to dance in the streets. A new year is coming soon!  Check this out!


Monday, December 17, 2012

How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? Read through a social skills lens

I've been working a lot with my kids using the vocabulary 'Expected' and 'Unexpected' behavior.  This book, How do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas?, clearly illustrates those concepts!  You can use this book or others in the series all year round!


This is a nice way to combine a thematic unit, a read aloud, and the social skills curriculum from Michelle Garcia Winner all in one activity.  Explaining the basic social skills vocabulary using these books is great for the younger set K-2.  Try it out!

The book starts off by the dinosaur exhibiting clearly unexpected behaviors.  It ends with him acting perfectly.  Very simple and clear.

still unexpected!

At last--Expected!

For those of you in schools, have a good final few days before the holiday. Enjoy the kids.  Today, my heart was heavy and I tried to find something heartfelt or meaningful to insert here, but instead dissolved into tears, so for now, carry on, keep a smile on your face, and know that good people are everywhere.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The Art Show

Click to play this Smilebox collage
Create your own collage - Powered by Smilebox
A free picture collage by Smilebox

This is a little collage of some of the art that our school system EC kids created in
their art therapy classes.  This was a truly delightful little show tonight at Carr Mill Mall.
Some of the students and parents came and were so delighted to see their creations on display.

I can't say enough about the importance of art for all children.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Journey" Using a short film in language therapy

One of my favorite blogs is Film English.  This blogger writes about once a week---imbedding a short film, usually with no words, along with a lesson plan for teachers.  Here is his blurb:

"I’m Kieran Donaghy,  an English teacher at UAB Idiomes Barcelona , Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, and I set up Film English in March 2010. Film English is a site which promotes the use of film in the language classroom. There are lesson plans, a film language glossary and film links  to help both teachers and students."

I look forward to his postings--if nothing else, I like to watch the shorts.  Today, I looked at his latest post and saw that this could be applied to my upper elementary crowd.  

  • Telling or writing a narrative
  • Interpreting facial expressions
  • Using prepositions to tell where the snowman went
  • Comparing  snowpeople 
  • Discussing narrative elements---characters, setting, obstacles  
  • If you really want to be ambitious, take a screen shot of various scenes, print them out, and have your students supply the dialogue.  Use post-it notes and write the dialogue (or speech bubbles) with your students to create a short book.  
                                                                                                                                                                                   I'm sure there are many other uses.  Even if you don't use this in your teaching,  sit back and enjoy the film. If you like it, hop on over to Film English for more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review of a Terrific TPT Social Skills Unit

I've spent a lot of time this year on social skills.  Lucky me, a couple of years ago, Ephesus was awarded a grant for loads of social skills materials, so teachers and I have been teaching with SuperFlex and Think Social!  In addition, I had the opportunity to attend the ASHA convention and listen to Michelle Garcia Winner live twice!    They were the best two seminars ever! 

My kids have all responded wonderfully, but need repetition, so I casually have been on the search for good but inexpensive materials to supplement our existing lessons.  When I saw this blog, my interest perked up, and I went to the Teachers Pay Teachers store listed in the post---and for the first time actually bought an item from there.......a large social skills unit (51 pages!) which incorporates the same vocabulary as Think Social!  I used it today and the kids loved the first game (there are several).  We've only just begun.  Cheri at If I Only Had Superpowers is incredibly talented.  This packet was a mere $5.00--more like a small token than anything. 

Since I've used it only this week, I only have pictures of the first activity---children play a board game, and pick cards describing expected or unexpected behaviors.  In addition, the children can decide if the behavior is about respect or responsibility.     The characters on the posters are all super heroes, the graphics are great, the language clear and simple, and adults liked it too!   I can't wait until the next lesson.  The best part was how it all tied in with our existing curriculum, vocabulary, and expectations.

Board game fun, cards, categorizing behaviors
close up of game materials

motivating posters--each super hero has his own special social powers

I'll write more about this unit as we progress through it.  I also like the fact that I can let my resource teacher keep this in her room to use again with the same children.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.....that's what my kids need.

If you want to purchase it, go here.   It's not my unit, and no one asked me to write about it.  Believe me when I tell you it's good, and the price is right.



Monday, December 10, 2012

The Way that I Feel---customize a book for your kids from a template

Quite a few years ago, I had a fabulous graduate student who developed a Feelings Book project for the kids she worked with.  I have used her template and ideas ever since!  She started the unit by reading The Way I Feel by Janan Cain with the kids.  She sent home a parent questionnaire to fill out, so they could provide input as to what made their child feel certain ways. Then, each day they met in speech, she targeted a different feeling and custom made a book.  Home input helped, but she also talked with the students and helped each one identify feelings in specific situations.  This was a long term project, but the end result was a treasure that the children read to their class, and took home.  
Cover page sample

screen shot of the 'happy' page

screenshot of the scared page

I have uploaded a template for this book with most of the pictures delected except the feelings icons.  If you know how to insert images and text boxes, you are good to go here.

You can insert your own images---use Google or photos if you don't have Boardmaker, or have your child draw a few! 

Click here to download a Feelings book template---import your own images, you and your student write/illustrate examples.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Rudolph---the Smartboard, and a very cool printable book

This is a re-release from last year!    Printable link plus Smartboard activity, all in time for the holidays!
Have fun!

 ------------------------------------------------last year's posting follows!-------------------------------

I have a new favorite blog to share---

This blogger, Katie Yeh,  is a little similar to me in that she is a speech pathologist, and also writes about her own life experiences (I guess most people do have a life outside of their job!).  I love what she writes, but also really like what she shares in the way of materials.  This day, the shared item is a Rudolph story--patterned after the Very Hungry Caterpillar.  (Remember what I wrote earlier about Joint Action Routines?  In this case, most children in special education are very familiar with Eric Carle and his book about the caterpillar.  The kids can then use the knowledge of the pattern of the story, and apply it to Rudolph.)  Alas, she used to have a book to go along with the Smartboard activity below, but she has taken it off her website :(     So all I have to offer now is the Smartboard activity below (no companion book.)

What I really want to say for those Smartboard users out there is that I created a Smartboard counting activity to go with this (missing) book.  It's very, very simple---mainly touching and dragging.  I plan to use this with my youngest kids, and the end frame is a link to a music video (Rudolph), so it will be good---very easy and hopefully engaging.  (My students sometimes struggle with engagement.)
Here are some screenshots from the Smartboard activity:


How many days until vacation????  Do you get a vacation?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Play Dough Menorahs---Happy Hanukkah!

Play dough menorah

Dreidel game rules

I wish I could show you pictures of the sheer delight on my kids' faces today!  With the help of an awesome classroom assistant, the kids played the dreidel game, watched a Hanukkah video, listened to and helped read an adapted Hanukkah book, and made play dough menorahs.  We had great fun. Please look at my previous post if you would like to download the Hanukkah book.

Hard at work making a menorah!
 It's not too late for all of your kidos to get in the fun, too!  Hanukkah doesn't end until December 16th!    See below for link to the Step by Step Play Dough menorah instructions and for the dreidel game rules. 

 I developed the menorah activity myself (and am proud of it!).  The dreidel activity was lifted from Boardmaker Share. but I also converted it to pdf.   We used poker chips instead of chocolate for the game, and the kids had a great time.  I want to extend a special thanks to Meredith Simon-Ross for leading this activity!

Click here for the Dreidel game rules in Boardmaker

Click here for the Dreidel game rules in pdf

 Pictures to the right are from the ipad app--Pictello--which provide very nice step by step directions with text to speech.  I've saved a pdf document of this, which I'm now sharing with you!

Click here for the Step by Step instructions for the Play Dough Menorah in pdf

Happy Hanukkah everyone!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bridge, The Ramps, and the Core--The Role of the Related Service Provider in the IEP

  Chapel Hill Snippets is glad to have Guest Blogger: Ashley Robinson once again!
 I have a question for all the school based related service providers and assistive technology professionals:  Have you ever struggled to explain your role in a student's education to a parent or teacher? As a speech-language pathologist at a middle and high school, I see many students who have received speech-language as a related service since preschool. In many cases I wonder if the role of the related service professional has been explained to the team. So, I came up with my own explanation.
A student who qualifies for special education services cannot access the curriculum (in most cases the Common Core).
The IEP is the bridge to the curriculum. It should address the skills that the student needs so that he can follow the Common Core. For example, there is a sixth grade boy who struggles with written expression.  Instead of writing a goal that states “Boy will write on grade level,” think about what is keeping this student from writing on grade level. Perhaps this student is not using complex sentences or is using ambiguous pronoun references.

The IEP team will work together to review data on a child and determine the needs of a particular student. In this case, the student does NOT require any related service support, so the special education teacher is the one building the bridge. Another possibility is that the team may find that a speech-language impairment is the primary disability holding the child back, and the SLP will be in charge of building that bridge. In either case, additional related service support is not needed.

 In my experience though, most students have a disability (think ADHD or specific learning disability) and language disorders (or sensory issues, or assistive tech issues....) are a part of that disability and require related service support to access the IEP.  The bridge cannot be built straight across - there needs to be a ramp.

This is how our lead SLP explained it to us, “If you take away the student's primary disability (e.g., ADHD), would they still have a language disorder?” This is a clinical judgement question for each student; however, I've found the answer to be “probably not.” Thus, speech-language is a related service.

Because I'm an SLP, I am going to use speech-language services as my example; however, this analogy applies to OT, PT, and Assistive Technology (at least with the model we work under in my school system).

Once the team determines that speech-language services are needed to address a goal (stay tuned for a future post on this), then the question is – what is the role of the SLP as a related service support provider? Here's what I think:

Related service is the RAMP to get on the bridge (i.e., the IEP). What language skills does the student require to even get on the bridge? Again, goals or objectives should be developed to address a student's language needs that are impeding him from accessing the IEP (e.g., explicit instruction in pronoun use or sentence construction). Once the student has mastered these skills, and is on the bridge, then the special education teacher is the one to continue moving forward to build the bridge.  Speech-language services are no longer necessary.

Goals should address the needs of the student, and with each year, the student will (hopefully) close the gap until he or she is working on the curriculum (YAY!!). Some students will never have a bridge that stretches all of the say across; however, it is important that goals are systematic and are bringing that student as far as possible each year.

I'm curious to know what you think.  How do you see the role of the related service professional in the school?  Feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions!

Ashley Robinson, MS, CCC-SLP and AT professional

Ashley's Bio:

I'll introduce myself: My name is Ashley Robinson and I am in my second year serving as a speech language pathologist and assistive technology professional in Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools. Ruth Morgan ( was my AMAZING CF supervisor last year and Jim Tignor ( helps me to navigate the AT waters. They are the best mentors anyone could ask for and I am so lucky to have them. I am a PATH International certified therapeutic horseback riding instructor at NC Therapeutic Riding Center and I plan to pursue certification as a professional that practices hippotherapy. I'm passionate about both of my jobs- especially the possibility of combining technology and horses! When I'm not working, I'm usually thinking about work or enjoying NC. 

Chapel Hill Snippets needs to credit renowned OT and artist Jim Tignor for the graphics!  Thanks!