Okay, You Can Push My Buttons

Friday, December 30, 2016 No comments

Do you love SLP? Check Press yes or no. While out holiday shopping, I came across these gems at Kohls. I initially purchased them to try out as a single switch option with a student but have found them helpful for so much more. After all, isn't everything just more fun when you can push a button? I believe that it is listed in the Kid Fun Handbook somewhere. Here a few ways that we used them in therapy that fall outside of the typical AAC realm...

Research shows that Phonological Awareness is a greater predictor of reading success than IQ. I like to incorporate phonological awareness into my articulation therapy whenever possible to help students take ownership of their goals and in turn enhance carryover. The yes/no buttons assisted in bringing In a group of three, Student A will say 3 words, in which at least 1 has to contain the target sound. Student B determines if the word that Student A says has their target sound in it or not.  If the answer is a resounding "yes", student B then produces the word at their assigned level (word, phrase, sentence) 5 times. Student B will then come up with 3 words for student C, then Student C will come up with words for Student A. 

Students determine if scenarios are what others would expect. Similar to the phonological awareness aspect of articulation therapy, this format would allow students to generate their own scenarios. The language opportunities are an added bonus as your students formulate sentences, sequence events and describe the scenario.

Have students incorporate curricular or Tier 2 vocabulary to formulate yes/no questions to ask the other members of their group. The questions will engage all members of the group as they answer the questions with an enthusiastic push of the button. Students can then justify or explain why they chose yes or no.

You can also purchase recordable buttons that your students/clients can use to record themselves. I love to use them during storybook activities. I have the student record a correct production of their targeted sound. They then press their individualized button when they hear their target sound in the story. I find that it helps not only to increase awareness of their targeted sound in their environment but also benefits them to hear their own voice say the target sound correctly before producing the target word independently. I like to place a visual cue from my Phonological Awareness Packet on the physical button as an additional cue.

Update: As of 12/29/16, the Yes/No buttons are on clearance at Kohl's. You can also find them on Amazon. The affiliate link is provided below as a resource.


If you are anything like me, I love to see something in action. For a video tutorial on how I use the buttons, below is a link to the video tutorial I presented on SLP Blogger Live.

This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  Any purchases made through one of these links earns  a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps to support the blog so I can continue sharing content like this with you.  All views and opinions expressed are purely my own.

SLP Holiday Gift Ideas

Sunday, December 4, 2016 No comments

'Tis the Season for Giving! I have to say, I LOVE this time of year and giving to my students. For one, it gives me an opportunity to channel my inner Oprah as I shower each of my students with a gift and it also gets my creative juices flowing as I figure out how to do so on a small budget. Bargain shopping and finding a good deal is my equivalent of hunting. I am so pumped to not only get a great deal but to then share it with others?? I get giddy just thinking about it! Here are a few of my gift giving ideas and a breakdown of what they would cost.

Water bottles are always a hit with my students, especially when they are personalized with their name. This year, I purchased the water bottles at naeir.org. Naeir is a program that helps you stretch your out of pocket expenses for your students by offering a significant discount on materials. If you work in a school, you can apply for a free teacher membership here. The products they offer and prices vary depending upon their supply. I purchased 40 of these water bottles for $12.00 (that's only $0.30 each). I then used my Cricut machine to cut out my 2nd-6th grade students names, which added another $3 to the product. The final cost was just under $0.38 per student.

Another option is to use tumbler cups from the Dollar Tree, as displayed above, and insert a nice note for your students. Did you know that you can order large quantities through their website and have them shipped (for free) to the store? You do typically need to order in multiples of the quantity that is contained in a case. That particular year, I ordered 3 cases of 24 tumblers each.

These chalkboards were perfect for my Kindergarten and first grade students.  They are 12"x12" in size. I purchased them through Naeir as well at a cost of $8 per 21 pack. I purchased 2 packages which will leave me with a handful to spare. The final cost with vinyl and a piece of chalk was $0.50  per student.

Snowman soup is another idea I have used in the past. I simply placed a packet of hot cocoa that contained marshmallows within a folded piece of card stock that contained the poem above and attached a candy cane to the front. The box of hot cocoa was $1.29 per 12 pack and candy canes with $1.39 for a 12 pack, bringing the cost to $0.24 each, not counting the card stock and ribbon that I had on hand.

The next idea is an ornament that contains curled pieces of paper with positive attributes written on them. You can currently purchase plastic ornaments at Michaels for $0.31 each. If you work in a school, don't forget to use your school ID to save an additional 15% off. This is a great activity to complete in therapy with your students. Print out positive attributes and cut them out into strips of paper. Have students select attributes that describe themselves or other members of the group to create ornaments that are an unique reflection of themselves. Simply, curl the strips around a pen or pencil to curl them and place them within the ornament. Tie a ribbon on the top and you have an ornament that will be cherished for years to come. Think of all the language that creating these ornaments can evoke as you discuss the vocabulary contained within them, formulate sentences, compare/contrast, follow directions, etc. It is loaded with opportunities!

 Reading Polar Express? Make jingle bell necklaces with your students that they can keep as a holiday gift from you. You can purchase jingle bells (different than shown) at the Dollar Tree in packages of 9, which brings the cost to $0.11 per student.

A couple years ago, I hand stamped washer necklaces for my students. The girls received the washer version and the boys received dog tags. The one pictured above was a gift that my daughter made for a friend but will give you the general idea. You can purchase washers for approximately $0.10 each but will also have to add Organza Ribbon Necklaces ($7.99/50 pack) which brings the final cost to about $0.26 each.

I have also wrapped up school supplies for my students. I currently work with a low SES population. Many of my students have very limited resources, if any, for school supplies and by December may have little to no school supplies at home so it is a nice time to replenish them. Plus, if we are being honest, my love for office supplies is nurtured as I picture them opening up a small slice of heaven. ;)

Now this gift certainly would not be for your students but would be a fun option for a colleague. I purchased the beverage caddy at Target for $7. I purchased Black Cherry soda at the grocery store (or you could add a different beverage- wink, wink) and attached fun labels created by the Peachie Speechie.

I would love to hear what gift ideas you have in store for your students or colleagues! Comment below or email me to let me know what you have in mind! If you are a bargain shopper too or would just like to see what other ideas I use throughout the year, be sure to follow me on Instagram. You may also enjoy this freebie of little tokens of kindness.

Holiday Pacing Sticks

Sunday, November 27, 2016 No comments
'Tis the season for giving so I created this little Holiday gift for you! These December Holiday Pacing Sticks are a fun addition to your therapy room. They can be easily assembled by simply laminating or gluing onto paint stirrers or giant craft sticks.  

 Holiday Pacing Sticks

Ideas for use:
Have the child travel down the stick as (s)he says each word in a self-generated sentence.
Have the child segment syllables, touching a picture for each syllable.
Have the child segment sounds within a word as (s)he touches a picture to represent each sound.
Have the child travel down the pacing stick saying the stimulus word each time (s)he touches a picture.

Alternate Uses:
Use a clothespin on the stick to track “points” or turns taken within a session.
Use the stick as positive reinforcement to recognize when a targeted social skill is observed in a session.
Use small pieces of play dough to smash down along the stick in lieu of pointing or moving a clothespin.

 Holiday Pacing Sticks

To Assemble, print image pages on yardstick. They are offered in both color or B&W.

At this point, you can then select to use the speech sticks in various manners. You may choose to:

1) Laminate them as is, cut them into strips

2) Glue or Mod Podge the pacing strips onto paint stirrers or wide craft sticks for extra stability. Then paint an extra layer of glue/Mod Podge over the strips to seal them or use clear spray paint. This is personally my preferred method for long term use. I have had great success with having paint stirrers donated when I explained that I was using them with my students. (Extra tip: Home Depot also offers blank paint stirrers for purchase. A 10 pack costs $0.98).

3) Laminate the strips and apply Velcro to the back of the strips and to paint stirrers so that you can use the paint stirrers for extra stability but you can switch out what strips you adhere to them. I find that attaching one Velcro dot to each end of the strip does the trick!

Thank you for stopping by! I hope that you enjoyed my little holiday gift to you! Please feel free to share this with a colleague if you think it may be useful for them so they can download their own copy I hope that you enjoy a magical holiday season!

P.S. If you like these, you may also love my Articulation Speech Stick Bundle or Sight Word Sticks Craftivity Bundle. (Can you tell I like an alternative to playing 52 card pickup with cards?). You can find them by clicking on the photos below.
 Articulation Speech Stick Bundle 
 Sight Word Sticks Creativity

Top 10 Playlist of ASHA

Sunday, November 20, 2016 No comments
As I sat on the plane on the way home from the ASHA convention, I reflected on my trip, listening to music and hence this playlist was born. It contains some songs that you know and may some introduce some that are new to you that you will grow to love. Whether you were in Philadelphia with the over 16,000 (wow!) attendees or living vicariously from afar, I hope that you enjoy this playlist.

Be you. Embrace the unique gifts that you bring to the field of speech-language pathology. Embrace them and share them with others. We want to learn from you.

Change begins with you. Take one tip or trick that you learned and take it from there. The first step is the hardest. Take it.  If you were unable to be at the convention, think of the last professional development you attended and actively use something that you learned. Use evidence based practice to advance your practice.

Advocate, advocate, advocate. What is really best practice and will advance your student/client’s progress? Does practicing in a closet restrict the treatment you can provide? Are there programmatic interventions you could use your communication expertise to develop or model that would address the needs of your student body?  Can you advocate for changes that would lead to increased accuracy in appropriate referrals/identification through dynamic assessment? What would you want for your own child? Be brave and take the steps you need to be the best SLP version of you.

Not only can you make a difference, you will. You are the voice for those who need you the most. What do they want you to say? Imagine the possibilities when we all come together. I met so many beautiful people this week and felt the positive energy. That energy is exactly the energy the world needs. Keep it going.

Collaborate with your colleagues. Sure, we all need to vent sometimes, I get it. Next time someone vents to you and needs you to be their person take it as a problem solving opportunity. Don’t simply commiserate. Create a positive outcome.

Take care of you. Put on your oxygen mask so you can help others. For me, this is not an innate quality but one I need to make a conscious effort toward. I feel very fortunate to have crossed paths with Sharon Rice of speechceu who is helping SLPs take care of themselves as well as their student/client through evidence based continuing education courses. 

We work hard, often far beyond our scheduled hours. In this week alone, I had 4 evaluations, 7 IEPs and progress reports for my entire caseload before traveling to attend the ASHA convention. We need to refuel, recharge and reenergize. The ASHA convention offers opportunities to cut loose with those who get you and what you do.

Think big. Dream big. Your biggest regrets likely aren't what you did do but rather what you put on the back burner for too long. Push your limits. Even if you just dip your toe in the pond, you will create a ripple.

The connections made at the ASHA  convention are priceless. The ASHA convention offers countless opportunities to make new friends, establish deeper connections with those you know from afar and opportunities to reminisce with old dear friends. 

I remember my first ASHA convention vividly and fondly. It was fall of 1997, I was a bright eyed college student, starstruck in Boston as our profession came to life before my eyes. Your first ASHA convention is one that you will always remember. Meeting so many students who are just making their way into the field and learning from the research that is executed due to the countless hours of data analysis by graduate students turned SLP warms my heart as we send the next generation of SLPs on their way. 

Now as much as I would love to rock it out some more, I do believe that a lullaby is in this tired SLP's future! 

Rock on my fellow SLPs!

SLP Vinyl Label Application

Thursday, November 17, 2016 No comments
Thank you for stopping by and visiting my booth at the ASHA convention!  There is something to be said about the energy of so many SLPs in the same place at the same time, isn't there? I'd love to hear how you've put your new SLP vinyl label to use and what you learned at the ASHA Convention this year. Feel free to comment below, email me or tag me on social media with a photo of your new SLP swag so we can keep in touch!

Enjoy the rest of your trip and safe travels home!

Using the Seesaw App in Speech Therapy

Sunday, November 13, 2016 99 comments
What is Seesaw you ask? Seesaw is a free app that gives parents a peek into their child's therapy session and involves them in the process. I use Seesaw to communicate with parents as well as to archive student present levels of performance. It allows me to capture a photo or video of the student in action or add a pdf or link. I am honestly just scratching the surface with all that this app has to offer. Students are eager to show off what they know. Of course, proceed with caution: remain sensitive to student privacy and permission to be photographed/filmed. In my speech therapy sessions, I am careful to film only the student that the video/photo will be filed under. For example, if I have three students in a group, I will allow each student a moment during the session to film their individual segment.

What do I love about it?

  • It gives parents immediate access to their child's learning. Parents can comment on their child's photo/video if they would like (and you permit it in the settings). This past week, my students were eager to participate in Bottle Flipping for Articulation and Language. I was able to film a segment of our session which showed the parents how the students were targeting their speech/language goals and the students were then more than eager to take home their completed bottle and target page to practice at home. The video modeled prompts or cues that parents could use at home to help their child carryover what they had learned to the home environment in a fun, motivating way.
  • It archives student progress and allows for a great reference point to analyze growth. Video a student practicing articulation in the beginning of the year and then compare the end of the year. You may be amazed at the progress that you see.
  • Teachers can have access to their student learning as well! Teachers can see what their students are working on in speech and encourage carryover to the classroom setting.
  • You can add photo, video, drawings, links, etc. from your device or students can use shared devices to scan your class QRCode and upload it to their account.

How do I set it up?

  • First, you will need to download the Seesaw Class app and create an account. Parents will download the Seesaw parent app.   Seesaw is available on iOS, Android devices, Kindle Fire and Chromebooks.
  • Next, you will create a class. I recommend creating one class to represent your caseload or one class per building that you serve. I initially created 2 classes K-3 and 4-6 but have found that is not really necessary and a bit of an inconvenience to toggle between the two.
  • Under Manage Class, you will want to change the default setting so that students can only see their own work. Classroom teachers may allow students to view each other's work to comments, etc. but we need to remain sensitive to confidentiality with the nature of the service that we provide our students.
  • While in the class settings, you may also want to change the setting to allow parents to view their child's work. 
  • Add your students to your class. You can paste your caseload list directly into the app to avoid manually entering each one.
  • Invite parents to join. You can do this in 2 different ways. You can email the parents directly or print off individualized QRCode pages that the app generates for each student. I send home the QRCode pages so I could simply make a copy of them to have as a reference if someone needed another copy. 

What can I add?
  • Photos/Videos taken within the Seesaw app
  • Photos/Videos from your camera roll
  • Drawings 
  • pdf
  • links
  • notes

If you would like more information or tutorials, you can find more information here. The Seesaw site illustrates many more ways that the app can be utilized, such as in formative assessment, a recordable whiteboard, student blogging and more. If you use Seesaw and have any ideas that you would like to share, I would love to hear them!

Data, Data, Data - How to Use Digital Tally Counters to Maximize your Time & Energy with this 4 Letter Word

Sunday, October 16, 2016 11 comments
How many repetitions do you get from your students during a session? Principles of motor learning show that eliciting maximum repetitions is not just something that we should do, but essential to the very essence of success for our students. I’ll let you in on a little secret too (okay, so it’s really not a secret)… tally marks just don’t quite garner the same excitement from the students as the number shown on digital data collection means. I know that it sounds silly, it certainly isn’t rocket science, but let’s meet our kids where they are in a digital world and make our own jobs easier in the process. Here are some helpful tips and tricks that I use to do just that!
 These are so easy to use. There is something gratifying about the simple principle of pushing a little button.  At a little over $1 per counter, they are cost effective as well. I use two tally counters that I line up on each finger. One is used for correct and the other incorrect. Little Tip: Use a sharpie to draw a star on the correct counter. Track productions/responses with the simple touch of a button and put your attention (and eyes) on the student so you can give them performance feedback. I don’t know if the students look at me as if I am an elaborate multitasking SLP gaming ninja or just an avid data collecting SLP but they are motivated beyond belief so it works for me!

Happy Tracking,

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Let the Data Continue... Blogpost Coming Soon: 

Percentally Pro 2:

Do you have an iPad that you can use to track data during therapy? If so, this may quickly become a valuable resource as well. Percentally Pro 2 allow you to program in your students, student goals and track data either by occurrences of delineated by incorrect/correct responses as well as offering the option to capture prompted responses.