Image Map

"A" is for Apple--a very speechy apple week!

04 October 2015

Amazon Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've probably figured out by now that fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I could write an entire post on why that is, but for now, just go with it. Once the air gets cool, I instantly start craving any and all things apple flavored, which had me geeked for a week full of apple-tivities in my speech room!
I used a lot of books this week (let's be real, I always use a lot of books!), but a few fan favorites from my kids this week were Apples for Everyone, Apples, Ten Apples Up on Top and Apple Trouble. When we read in my room, students listen for their articulation targets, answer comprehension questions, predict, label get the idea.

Apple Tally
This anchor chart hung on my filing cabinets all week, and each child I see got to vote for their favorite way to eat apples. Not only did this allow great learning times for concepts of voting, sharing your opinion, and the concept of "best", we also got to talk about most, least, popular, unpopular vocabulary terms. The picture is hard to see, but apple slices won by a landslide!

Apple Vocabulary

My students know (well) that art is not one of my strong suits, so a couple of these activities required a little help from my building's amazing art teacher. She drew up this apple core for me--I colored it, added some velcro, and printed/laminated vocabulary words and voila! My low language students loved attempting to read the vocabulary words and place them on the correct velcro spot on the apple. The cards were a great size for my loves with fine motor challenges!

Apple Describing
This anchor chart activity takes apple labeling to another level. I brought in a few real apples from the grocery store and placed them on our small group table. Only one got accidentally bit into :-). Then, everyone got a colored pen and a sticky note and wrote down all the describing words they could come up with to describe the apples on the table. They loved getting their hands on the actual apples, and any time we get out colored pens is a good time. I loved hearing students point out their sticky note to their classmates as they walked down the hall. 

Thursday was SUCH a fun day! I worked with my building's incredible occupational therapist and went into all three of my building's functional skills (mod. cognitive) classrooms to make a big, warm batch of applesauce! My Smarty Symbols subscription was a life saver in throwing together these directions for each group the morning of the activity. We prepped the applesauce in the morning and it was ready to go by snack time in the afternoon! My teachers and principals loved this activity, and the rest of the staff was happy with how good most of the building smelled all day! I used this recipe I found on Pinterest, and it was really tasty. 

Basic Concepts

My little language learners were nuts over these Cut & Go Fall Basic Concepts Books. With everything else I had to prep for the week, only needing scissors, glue and little prep time made me love them, too :) . They took an entire session for some of my students, and were easy to send into the classroom/home for homework for additional carry-over. You can download them in my TPT store here

Whew! Just re-capping my week makes me need a nap! It was a full, fun week but these are the kinds of weeks that remind me that my job is a whole lot of fun and not "work" at all. Do you do an apple week in your speech room? I'd love to hear about what YOU do in the comments! 

5 Easy Ways to Improve Parent Communication for the Busy SLP

23 September 2015

One of my (many) personal goals this year is to find ways to improve parent communication with those families on my caseload. I spent most of my summer working in a clinic and was quickly reminded how vital parent involvement is in treatment! This is my second consecutive school year in the same building, a first for me, and I'm tucking my tail between my legs when I tell you that last year the only time I saw some parents were at our annual case conference. Yikes.

We're just over a month into the school year, and using some of these tips have already greatly improved my parent communication, which means better progress for my kiddos. What's not to love?!

1. Remind
 At the end of the year last year, our Principal started using a program called "Remind" and I instantly jumped on board! The only requirements? The ability to send (and if you're a parent, recieve) a text message. Remind is a free program that allows educators to safely text members/families in their classroom. Your number isn't shared, and recipients of the text can't reply, but I use this service often to text reminders to parents about homework and case conferences. You can download the free app or send messages from the website--all families need is your unique class code and password to sign up!
Click here to visit Remind.

2. Communication Journals
I took a hint from our Functional Skills students and have started communication journaling with a few of my students, especially my low/non-verbal students. All I do is stick a notebook,or a folder with paper in it labeled "Speech" and keep it in my student's book bag. I write notes as needed, or any questions I may have (family names if we're working on "who" questions or other specifics about a student) and parents write back. Or, since my Functional Skills students already have communication notebooks sent home by their teacher, I'll jot something in the teacher's entry for the day when I drop the student off after our session.

3. Homework
Almost every one of my favorite TPT sellers have homework packets--some seasonal, and some for the entire school year. I've been totally blown away at the amount of parents who will jot notes on homework sheets like "This was hard" (a certain sound, position or language task), "Sorry this is late" or comments about how great their student did.  Some of my favorite homework packets are from Crazy Speech World and Busy Bee Speech.

4. Newsletters
 My newsletters have been another big hit in my building this year! The first week of each month I send them out via e-mail. My students take some so. much. paper. (see #3!) that often things get overlooked. I work in a highest-poverty elementary, but a good majority of our families have access to e-mail on their phones or can check it at a local library. One of the PTA members at my school reminds me how much she loves these one-page documents almost every time she sees me! Like using Remind, technology is my friend when it comes to avoiding the black hole that is some of my student's backpacks. We'll work on that executive functioning later.  Click here to check out my Editable Newsletters.

5. Get involved
 Our days are long and I'm the first one to tell you my paperwork stack is huge. But one of the easiest ways I've found to connect with parents is to get involved at my school! Volunteering at school carnival, helping at dismissal/arrival, being present at Back to School night, etc. is a great way to simply show your face. More times than not, at least one of my students will run up to say "hi" at an event like this, or at least wave from across the room, and their parents want to know who they're so excited to see. While I usually don't talk about about sensitive information in these "public" settings, it helps for both the parent and I to put a face with a name and continue to build a relationship.

What ways have you found parent communication to be easiest? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Dear Parent: An Open Letter from your SLP

13 September 2015

Dear Parent of a child with special needs:

Hi, it's me, your child's speech therapist. I've seen a lot of moving posts floating around the Internet from parents to teachers/therapists, so I thought it was time write one to you.
I know you're busy, but just let me say...

...I see you.
   Maybe you sit across the table from me at a case conference. Maybe you wait patiently in the waiting room every week. Maybe yet you open your home to me or meet me at the library for early intervention. Sometimes your hair is in place and your child comes to me clean and freshly pressed, and other times your make-up is a day old and your sweetie hasn't made it out of his pajamas before lunch. You cringe when I ask to use your bathroom because you're not sure the last time you scooped laundry up off the floor. Whatever the case, I notice you. I spend a few hours a week with your child, but they are yours for the rest of the time. You run from therapy to the grocery to soccer practice in between practicing speech sounds in the car, feeding tube schedules or naming objects as you dash through the grocery store to help grow your tot's vocabulary. You juggle finicky diets, weighted vests and favorite toys with ease. How I wish I could be like you! Sometimes you have it all together and sometimes you're not sure where "it all" is. You fall into bed exhausted and wake up early to start it all over again with better endurance than an Olympic athlete. You warrior through each long day and longer night and sometimes feel unnoticed. Let me be the first to say you inspire me.

...I need you.
    Oh, how I need you! I can write goals, take data, and gather materials until I'm blue in the face but without you, it's pointless. You are the expert on your child. You know your non-verbal child's angry cry versus their tired cry, and you know well before we've hit the overstimulated mark. Even if I've been with your child for some time now, no one knows your sweetheart like you do...even when you think you don't. You  are the one who knows how to best motivate your child to be their best,and you are the link to what I do during therapy and the way it makes a difference at home and in the classroom. You and I make a really great team, and to be honest, there's no way I can make the difference I want to make without you. You're so valuable to what I do.

...I am on your side.
    This is far from just a job. This is my passion.  Those goals, data, and materials I mentioned? I went to school for a (really) long time to get where I am today. I spend so much time that you don't see reading, talking with other speech therapists, learning, asking bigger questions, and cutting out "those" picture cards all for your child. I don't tell you that to impress you or make you feel bad, but so you know I'm committed to what I do. I love what I do and, even on meltdown days, I love your child. Knowing that I get to do what I do every day is what gets me out of bed. I'm in this for the long-haul, and I promise to keep reading, planning, and researching for your child. And, of course, for you.                      

*a special thanks to the special needs parents in my life who inspired this post.