Summer’s End and Labor Day Linky

Growing up we never went back to school until after Labor Weekend. Like many of my school based SLPs and teacher friends, we have been back up and running before this weekend. Even though we are back to school, I don’t mark summer’s end until after Labor Day weekend. It’s always tough to say good bye to summer but there is excitement for a new school year!

This summer I had some goals in mind:

  1. Not working Extended School Year Services (ESY)
  2. Exercise everyday
  3. Tackle something around the house
  4. Work on my Teachers Pay Teachers store

After working for over 20 years, I decided to not work this summer. Having a son going to college for the first time, I certainly could have used the money but decided I needed the break even more. Sometimes you need to take a break in order to keep it going.

While I can’t workout like I once did, I can still walk and use some resistant bands. There may have been a few days when I didn’t move as much as I would have liked (one of the downsides of working on TpT), but for the most part, I felt like I was pretty successful in this area.

Tackling something around the house…this may have been my “needs improvement” area for the summer. Sometimes something has to give, and for me this was the one. I did manage to expand my container garden and I am still enjoying tomatoes and some jalapeno peppers, which make a great hummus by the way. Maybe closet cleaning is better suited for winter.

I probably spend the most time working on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. I was able to add some new products but I’m excited about the makeover I gave to my store and many of my existing products. I’m so excited about some of my new postings and some projects currently in the works.

As I make the shift from summer’s end to back to school, I am prepping and preparing some materials. I wanted to share some of products that your are perfect for the start of school year that I know your students will enjoy. These products will help you to target speech and language goals in a fun and effective way. I’m also teaming up with some other SLPs and teacher friends for a 20% of sale in my store all day today. You can find the link to that Linky Party at the bottom of this post.

Here are some of my products to help make the next few weeks, fun, productive and easy!

My Lunch Room Themed Language Activities have activities that will target vocabulary, answering questions, receptive and expressive language skills, inferencing skills, and more!

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My Scarecrow, Scarecrow What Do You See? Interactive Reader, is perfect for speech groups, preschool classes and special education classrooms. Students love this predictable reader that targets concepts and colors.  It has a black lined version that is perfect for sending home for carryover. Slide1

You  may also like my No Prep Articulation Worksheets for Fall. Just print and go! They cover 14 sounds in the initial, medial and final word positions. These can be used for group sessions, RtI and home reinforcement. Slide1

My students love finding the differences in these fall themed Find What’s Different Products. Students will not even notice that they are “working” as they describe spatial differences, sequential differences, quantity differences and more!

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To check out what some of my fellow school based SLPs and teachers have on sale in their stores, check out the link here:

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I hope everyone has a great 2016-2017 school year!

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Grammar Catharsis

So I’ve decided that my posts might become a mix of helpful (I can only hope) and cathartic. This post will fall under cathartic. Perhaps it’s a post that should stay in draft, just like those texts and emails we want to send, but somehow we feel better just writing and wind up leaving in a draft folder.  For better or worse, I’m not a “leave it in draft” kind of girl.

I feel absolutely compelled to share my passion for grammar. I was that student, volunteering to diagram sentences on the board in junior high. I craved the most complex sentences that could be offered. Why? I don’t really know. I think I enjoyed the organization of it all. Every part of speech had its own place and it was a puzzle to be solved. Puzzles that typically came quickly to me. Perhaps I should have known then (not than) the career I was destined to acquire.

True confession: I seem to have a low frustration tolerance for poor use of oral grammar by adults. I know I should be more tolerant but, for me, it really is like fingernails on a chalkboard. When I find myself in a room with educated adults and I hear someone start a sentence with “Me and _____”,  I become completely distracted. I start wondering if it’s my job as the resident language therapist to make some sort of correction or modeling of correct grammar. That seems awkward at best, yet I feel like there is some sort of reflection on myself, as I am in proximity to this violation of word usage. I am still pondering my responsibility to these offenses.

There are a few errors so common that I feel that they have become acceptable. It has come to the point that when I am using the appropriate word,  I am in wait for someone to correct me.  I think the most obvious example  is “I feel badly”.  I’m sure there are people who are thankful that I have stopped correcting them by letting them know that “feeling badly” is not used for describing a state of being (feelings), but is intended for the physical state of feeling. It has come to the point that I  find myself avoiding the term at all costs. I’m actually afraid that I may be perceived as using the wrong word structure, and since that is inconceivable to me, I just avoid any usage at all. Maybe I should just refer violators here. I know it’s not the biggest violation one can make in this day and age, but it’s also easily avoidable.

I can’t even count the last few times I have heard or seen “that” substituted for “who” (e.g. I am a mother that has 3 boys). I know it’s not important to everyone but  I am just asking those of you  WHO (not whom)  are teaching grammar to know when to use “who” and when to use “that”. We will save “whom” for a later post. It’s actually pretty easy, “who” is for people and “that” is for things. I think I am not alone in this belief. For further explanation, if so desired, click HERE

So, I know that there are so many more important topics in the world currently but I still think this is a relevant issue to our profession. When I am in a team meeting and I hear someone using “Me” for “I” or “that” for “who” I feel like it compromises the integrity of the message, especially in an educational setting. I also think it can be a reflection on all members of a team sitting around a table. There are so many more demands placed on those of us working in public education and there are also those WHO can be quick to criticize. Don’t we want to put our best foot forward? As far as I’m concerned, using proper grammar is an easy start to doing just that.

 

SPEECHLESS SPEECH THERAPIST

Typically I write a post at the beginning of the month about what’s happening in the speech room but with December being such a short month with so many special activities, I decided to do something a little different this month. Instead, I have decided to link up with Kim from Activity Tailor to talk about what leaves me speechless.


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Of course there are the personal happenings that leave me speechless. The fact that my oldest son, who is now 20, couldn’t get out of bed for much of his high school career. I can’t even recall how many times he was tardy one his junior year.  It also took him 5 years and two high schools to graduate. He is now waking up every morning at 5am for boot camp for the Navy. The most unbelievable part is that he likes it! Leaves me feeling thankful and speechless.

There’s my youngest son, who is quiet and unassuming. He is a sophomore for a high school charter school where academics are embedded into internships. I know he is bright and has a knack for mathematics and sciences, as well as an interest in history. I didn’t know that he had joined these interests to gain himself an internship in a well established architectural firm (with some help from my brother) and has just announced what his project will be. With the supervision of one of the architects he will be designing a train station for hyperloop trains.  How do you know how to do that? Speechless

There are also the professional moments that can leave me speechless. While I am hardly ever am at a loss for words and consistently have to work on keeping my mouth to myself, there are times when I am rendered speechless at work. Almost always when I hear large groups of young children singing, do I get a little choked up.  Every December the kindergarten classes put on a holiday show and they perform the song “This Little Light of Mine”. It gets me every time. When I see my students up on that stage and they are performing along with the rest of their peers, it always leaves me feeling proud and speechless.

There are other smaller moments that can leave me speechless. Last week, one of my students, who is diagnosed with autism, was laying on the carpet and playing with cars and racetracks with three other boys, requiring no more assistance than any other second grade boys would require. It was only a few years ago that this same student wasn’t really communicating with peers or interacting with them, despite the interest. Today, he can be found right in the thick of it on the playground. There are many people between school staff, his family and therapists from outside agencies, who have helped to build his skills, but knowing that the small adult facilitated groups co-taught by me and the OT, have contributed to this moment leaves me speechless.

There are also the comments from parents. It can be a quick comment in passing or a note at the end of the year. I didn’t enter this field for the praise, but it is nice to hear that what I’m doing matters to families. Some of my favorite comments are: “He can talk on the phone to his grandparents and they can understand him.” “He can order his own food at a restaurant.” “My friend, who volunteers as lunch, said my son looks like all the other kids and he doesn’t stand out as having a disability.” Knowing that I am providing more than “lessons” but changing the quality of someone’s life in some small way, leaves me feeling speechless.

There are also my colleagues. I am fortunate enough to work with an extraordinary team of women,  many of whom I have worked with for over 15 years. I am proud to work beside these talented teachers and therapists, who are also my friends. I know that I can count on them no matter what. Whether it’s helping with paperwork that I can’t get to, covering a co-treat so I can get to a slew of evaluations due all at once, bringing me my favorite “shake” because I could use it or helping me pack up my house when I was moving, these ladies will do whatever it takes. These women leave me speechless.

With all of the business of life and work, it can be easy to get caught up in the minutiae that so easily drags us down. It’s nice to take a moment, especially this time of year, to reflect on those moments and people who touch us and can leave us speechless.

Who and what leaves you speechless?

 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR SPEECH AND LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT

I am linking up with Ashley from Sweet Southern Speech to share some of my favorite gift ideas that help to develop speech and language skills. As I’m writing, I can’t help but think back to when I was buying all kinds of toys and games for my boys.  It seemed that I could fill the living room without breaking the bank.  We are basically down to clothing, gift cards and electronics at this point, piles that seem to be the fraction of the size and triple the cost of years past. Anyway, as fun as it was, I did have the challenge of buying for three boys. How many trucks and army guys can you have? With the youngest having a Christmas Day birthday, there was even more to buy and at times I felt like I was buying just for the sake of buying. I always welcomed the suggestion for a gift that I hadn’t quite thought of or wasn’t on the list. I found that sometimes the gift I picked up at the last minute that wasn’t on the list, sometimes turned out to be the favorite.

Here are some of my suggestions for gifts that may or may not be new to you. Maybe some will become unexpected favorites. They are all gifts that can help develop speech and language skills. In no particular order…

  1. CHILDREN’S COOKBOOKS: It doesn’t really matter which one. There are so many to choose from now. I may be a little partial to the Betty Crocker Junior Cookbook. I still have mine from when I was about 6 years old. Benefits, kids will be reading, following directions, sequencing, learning vocabulary for food and equipment. They will be learning a life skill, while they are spending time with you! They may even discover some new favorite foods.junior cookbook
  2. UNO: I’m sure you’ve already heard of it but it has such universal appeal. With all the different theme choices now, there’s something for everyone. It’s a game that can be played with adults and little ones. For some little ones, I modify the game by removing all of the “special” cards, such as reverse, skip and wild. It then simplifies the game to matching. This game helps with turn-taking, winning and losing, colors, numbers, some strategy, joint attention and directionality. These games are affordable and portable making them perfect for travel and keeping on hand for emergencies if you find yourself waiting somewhere unexpectedly. If you’re stuffing stockings, it’s a perfect fit!SPIDERMAN UNO
  3. MELISSA AND DOUG STICKER PADS: These sticker books are appealing to boys and girls alike. They really get the creative juices flowing. The pictures and stickers are so fun ranging from cupcakes and donuts, to animals and habitats to vehicles and castles with princesses. These books are loaded with opportunities to develop vocabulary. These books also naturally give little ones something to comment about. I know in my speech room, they are so excited about their pictures they can’t help themselves but talk about what they are doing. If sharing the sticker pads with others, there will be opportunities for negotiation. These pads are available directly from the Melissa and Doug website but I have also seen them at various craft stores that offer significant discounts. melissa and doug make a meal melissa and doug animals
  4. LAST WORD: We are big gamers in my house. Not the gambling type. The board game type. We play every holiday and we are always looking for a game that both the adults and the younger ones can play. This one fits the bill! This game is perfect for categorizing. The object is to name as many items in a category as possible at the same time, starting with specific letter. No repeats allowed. The last one to call a legitimate answer before the timer goes off gets to move ahead on the board game. We have modified to remove the letter requirement for younger players. I’m not going to lie, this game has come out at night with just the adults and can take on a no-kids allowed in the room version. For about $20 you can find this game at most stores carrying games (e.g. Target and Walmart). If you are working on winning and losing, negotiating and being flexible, or your children are working on those things, this is a must have game. last word
  5. ORCHARD TOY GAMES: I have recently discovered Orchard Toys. These bright and engaging games appear to be simple, but can offer a bit more complexity for older ones (7-8 year olds). If you don’t want your child to play a game with a burping gorilla, then you should avoid the Greedy Gorilla. All of these games develop some type of skill which is outlined on their Orchard Toy Website. Many games target vocabulary, memory, turn-taking, using strategy, winning and losing and joint attention. I have ordered my games on Amazon and have been able to get most for around $12-$15. rockets and comets
  6. PHOTO BOOK OR CALENDAR: It may be too late for this year but could be something to think about for next year. My students LOVE when I take their pictures. They love when I send them home to parents and they especially love when they see themselves and their friends on the monitor in the front of the school. I think a book or calendar chronicling the year of the child would be so exciting to open. So many opportunities to talk about past experiences. When looking at these books with others they will be asked “where were you?”, “who did you go with?”, “what did you do there?”, questions many of our kiddos are working on.  I have made photo books through snapfish and have found them very easy to use. I’m sure there are other sites that provide the same service. I am just posting the one I have had experience with. photobook I have made books for vacations but wish I had done this for my kids when they were small. A gift, a keepsake and a language developer. Win. Win. Win.
  7. My last suggestion is not actually a gift but an activity. Even though this can be a crazy and hectic time of the year, it really is a nice time to go through the old stuff (toys, books, games) and decide what is worth keeping, what is worth throwing away and what is worth finding a new home.I know that it’s easier to do it without the kiddos but it does provide a good opportunity for some early developing executive functioning skills. Most little ones won’t be able to do this alone, but once we provide a framework and a system to use, they often find it easier to complete the task. Providing a physical space, whether it be a bin, box or a sheet labeled for each group, will help to provide visual support for the sorting. You may also have an “I don’t know” area as well.  Doing this, we are providing kids the opportunity to explain why they might want to keep something or get rid of something that we think may have been costly and hasn’t been used enough. If you are wondering what to do with toys, books or games that need a new home, find a school based therapist or preschool. We hardly ever say no to those gently used items.

We all have different traditions and feelings on gift giving.  What ever your philosophy may be, most of us are still buying gifts for younger ones, whether they be sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren or an “adopt a family” child.  If you are purchasing for a young one, you may want to consider one of my suggestions for gifts that promote speech and language. For other suggestions, link back to Sweet Southern Speech to see what other therapists are recommending. Santa_s List Blog Linky

Happy Holidays!

Renee

Here’s What’s Happening In November!

Here’s what’s happening, at least what I’m planning to happen during November.

We will be reading many Thanksgiving themed books. Here are a few of my favorites.

thanksgiving in the barnStudents love this interactive pop-up book. I try not to hold it too far away as little hands always want to reach out and touch!

feeling thankful bookThe bright photographs in this book, always get students talking. I can’t get through this books without some good discussion, which is a good thing!

twas the night before thanksgivingWho doesn’t love a book with a little suspense? This is always a crowd pleaser with the students. 
one little two little pilgrims This catchy sing-song book is perfect for targeting vocabulary.

thanksgiving is for giving thanks

The repetitive simple text makes this book the perfect book for expanding language.

old lady pie

Of course we can’t have Thanksgiving without Granny!

We will also be reading a new book, that I hope becomes a new favorite with the students. It’s called Turkey, Turkey What Will You Eat? This is a fun, interactive reader that will target vocabulary, answering “wh” questions and using future tense. Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 6.59.08 PMYou can find this book, as well as some other fun Thanksgiving Activities in my new product on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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We will be playing Thanksgiving Bingo, which is also available in my Thanksgiving product.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 1.32.55 PMWe will also be using other activities from the product that will help us to target spatial concepts, pronouns and possessives.

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As far as crafts, I think it will be fun to make these leaf turkeys.

leaf turkey

We will also break out the dish washing brushes to paint the feathers on these cute turkeys!turkey dishbrush paint

 

In our class meetings we will be watching more teamwork videos. We will also be continuing our class activities that help promote participation, cooperation, listening, communicating, patience and body awareness. Even though Halloween has passed, we haven’t had a chance to play the Name Web with all of our groups, so that will continue into November.

This is the plan. Hopefully we get to everything as well as some other activities that develop over the next few weeks!

 

 

BLURRED LINES…MOM AND THERAPIST

So, I posted this the other night, and then I removed it. I wrote this post from my heart. I knew it was a little edgy, yet I felt compelled to post. In the morning I reconsidered.  I was worried that it would offend parents so I pulled it. I was approached by some who had seen it before I pulled it and they provided me with some positive feedback. It got me thinking. This is my blog. No one has to like it. These are my opinions. No one has to agree. Other thoughts, maybe this will strike up some conversation, debate, etc…which is all good. I welcome the discussion…

Here is my original post in its raw form…

My son recently wrote his college essay. Of course I think it’s good because I’m his mom ( maybe it really is good ) but because he mentioned me as a “speech therapist”, it had me thinking of other things.. mostly being a speech therapist and a mom…

* note- this post may offend some

So, I think of myself as a Mom first and probably as a Speech Pathologist second. It has surprised me when parents have not understood that I am also a parent. The truth of the matter is , when my kids have been sick, I need to be home. One problem… there’s no sub. I have struggled over this and in turn, have gone to work many days when I shouldn’t have.

After over 20+ years, I have finally given myself permission to stay home. I am forgiving myself for all the years I went into work sick or when my kids were sick. I am learning that I, and my kids, are worthy of a sick day.

My hope, is that all my parents, can recognize me not only as a therapist, but also as a parent , so when life gets in the way for me, there’s a bit more understanding.

From one mom to another…..

Footnote: Here’s the essay that got things going…

Alec Gannon
College Essay

I will be writing until the day that I die. Not because of my love for writing. But because writing will be the death of me. Because when I write, I bleed. Every time my pen hits paper, all the letters and consonants and vowels spill from my veins. I write with my blood. I dot my i’s with cells. I cross my t’s with bones. When I write, I dissect my brain. I pinpoint hidden thoughts, and clenching them with my fists, fingers hooked around the curves of the letters, I beat them against a typewriter. For me. writing is often communicating feelings, passions, emotions, ideas, theories that would otherwise go unsaid, or misinterpreted, or be filled with “likes” and “ums.” It makes communicating easier. It makes expression simpler. There have been thoughts I couldn’t understand until I wrote them. In my mind these thoughts are scattered. However, when I put them into cohesive sentences I solve the puzzle. I am less confused. My thoughts are clear.
I have notes riddled with random ideas, poems, and jokes that I’ve written. Some of them were created to eventually flaunt to friends or family. Some are there because I thought they might one day be useful in a school assignment . But usually they are there because I need to write them down. They are there because if I don’t write them down, I’ll go mad. Because sometimes, I see or feel something that I must record. Because sometimes you’re in the hospital room of your grandmother, gladly telling jokes, minutes after she’s been explained how her cancer has metastasized, and you recognize the beauty in the moment, and her bravery in the face of death, and you are obliged to take out your phone and record it in your notes because her words were meant to be repeated years after she’s gone.
When I encounter tragedy, death, heartbreak, I’ll need to write about it. I’ll want to. But more importantly need to. Because if I don’t, the english language will clog my arteries. I’ll be filled with nouns and verbs from head to toe, until eventually, I explode like a pinata stuffed with dictionaries.
I don’t know if it’s because of my grandfather’s obsession with reading, or the fact that my mother’s a speech therapist, but somehow I am biologically composed to crave writing. My body is wired to be infatuated with others’ writing, and believe in my own. But I write with my blood. So when something’s going to kill me, I better have a pen in my hand to say goodbye.

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HERE’S A LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OCTOBER

October is one of my favorite months in speech. It also happens to be my birthday month (and yes, I do like when it’s acknowledged and no, I don’t care if people know how old I am). Anyway, we will squeezing in as much as we can this month. Here’s a glimpse at some of those things…

Of course we will be reading books, mostly with a Halloween theme. Here’s a look at some of the ones we’ll be reading:

ten timid ghosts

The students love reading this fun book about 10 ghosts who are scared out of their own house. This book can be used to target vocabulary, rhyming and /g/. I use 10 ghosts on a flannel board that the students take turns removing while we read the story. Always a hit.
spooky riddles

We will be reading some spooky jokes and riddles from this book during our Joke Club. More on our Joke Club coming very soon.

old lady who wasn't afraid

This Old Lady will have us moving as we pair movements to the repetitive text. This book will help us to meet targets for concepts, vocabulary, predicting and sequencing.

old lady bat

Of course we will be reading about this old lady too! The students never seem to grow tired of feeding the old lady all kids of crazy items. We will be developing concepts, vocabulary and sequencing when we read this book.

We will also be hitting some of our language targets using these fun Halloween themed activities from Teaching Talking.

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In our class meetings, co-taught with Miss Kat, we have been focusing on activities that help us to recognize that we are part of the group and how working together is important and beneficial. As part of some of our groups, we have been watching some fun videos that highlight teamwork. Here are a few…

Crabs and the seagull
Penguins

We will be using a favorite game Witches Brew.witches brew

This game is simple enough, be the first one to find and match eight correctly colored mushrooms, yet it appeals to most all students, regardless of ability. I use this as  reinforcement during articulation practice, for turn-taking, accepting disappointment when losing and expanding the repertoire for leisure activities. I don’t think the students like when I try to keep this game reserved only for October. Some might perceive that as a lack of flexibility, I like to think of it as organization.

There are many students working on articulation this year so I am trying to keep all of our work organized in speech notebooks. We are using some activities from Teaching Talking Articulation Notebooks, as well as other worksheets for drill practice. I am also keeping returned homework in the notebooks to keep track of what was given and what has been returned. Students still have folders that go between home and school but the speech notebooks stay with me. They will go home at the end of the year.

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I am planning on doing one post each month, spotlighting one book and its related activities so that parents can have a better, more detailed look at how these books and materials are being used during speech. That should be coming in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for that!