DIY Scratch Off Tickets

Sunday, January 29, 2017 No comments
Raise your hand if you love a scratch off card! I mean really, who can resist? There is something so exciting about scratching them off, isn't there? Here is an easy way to bring that excitement (minus the gambling of course) into your therapy room or classroom!

All you need is acrylic paint (preferably metallic to give it the authentic scratch off feel), dish soap and clear contact paper.

Mix 2 parts acrylic paint to 1 part dish soap. Stir.
Paint a coat of the mixture on the contact paper.
Let Dry.
Repeat 2 more times until you have 3 coats of paint.

Next, simply cut your new scratch off stickers to size to fit over the area that you need them for and stick them on the laminated surface. Once the scratch off is used, you can either peel off the contact paper or place another scratch off sticker on top of it to reuse it again.

I love to use mine on Valentines each year. The Valentines have three scratch off squares on each card. Two of the squares have a cute saying and the third square has a number (either 1, 2, or 3). After earning their cards, the students get to select a Valentine prize from the drawer associated with the number on their scratch-off card. I do not use a prize box in my room, so  this is an extra special treat that they look forward to.

There are many ways you can use scratch off tickets in your therapy room or classroom. As long as a task card is laminated, you can easily cut the scratch off sticker to size and add it to:

  • cover up answer choices on a task card
  • cover choices on a Bingo Board
  • tangible reward cards such as Lunch with the SLP/teacher, Free Homework Pass, etc.
  • Articulation Word Lists
  • Verb Tense
  • Context Clues- What word would fit in the sentence?
You can find the Open Ended Valentine Templates as well as the drawer labels that I made here or by clicking on the image below.

If you like this activity, you may also like this Speech Hearts Base Ten: Articulation Challenge. You could actually use the scratch off stickers on these too! 

Extending Activities Across Multiple Sessions

Monday, January 16, 2017 No comments

As speech language pathologists, we encourage teachers and parents to read the same book repeatedly, each time diving deeper into the plot, vocabulary, character analysis, inferencing what may happen next or alternate endings, etc. [Learn more about research that supports repeated book reading here]. Yet, when it comes to our own practice, we do not always apply the same principles. We may limit activities to one therapy session with a designated starting and end point. We do so with the best intentions. Not to mention that we have [crazy busy] schedules to adhere to. Hear me out though.... by changing our thinking we can actually save ourselves time in planning (gasp!) while helping our students dive deeper into the linguistic complexity of our materials and allowing them to access them from altering learning styles. 

Chances are you have a bunch of materials that you could adapt to this philosophy, digging a bit deeper each subsequent session, adapting to meet varying learning styles along the way. I am going to walk you through how I spread out an activity to go with 5 Little Penguins over several sessions, differentiating within mixed groups. As you are reading through, think how you can use your materials to extend across multiple sessions.

Read, read, read. I used a simple story that I wrote about 5 Little Penguins Sitting on the Sled. You will likely recognize the predictable tune and format. In the book, the penguins perform various actions on the sled and then one inevitably falls off (poor little guy). I use this as an opportunity to REVIEW: Review what the student's goals are and determine how they are addressing them that day. Are they working on verb tenses, identifying words with their target sound, pacing, identifying pictured objects, identifying actions in pictures, sequencing, increasing MLU by filling in predictable words in the story, etc.  EXPLORE: What do you think this story will be about? What pictures do you see on the cover? What is same/different about the penguins? ADVENTURE: Every book opens up a new world to adventure. Engage in the adventure of learning as you read the book together. DIALOGUE: The format of predictable books naturally lends itself to student participation. Have students take turns acting out who is mama (or they can pretend it is papa penguin). Introduce new vocabulary. I work with a low SES population so introducing new vocabulary whenever I can is important. The last little penguin is surfing on the sled which led to a whole discussion (and a comical demonstration by yours truly) on what surfing is. The majority of this lesson played to my auditory and visual learners. Each student also took home their own mini book that they could read at home. While I recognize that you may not have a mini book of the book that you read, do you have a related stamp, sticker, paper bracelet, brag tag, etc. that you could offer your students to encourage them to talk about the story outside of the session?

Play! What do you have that you can use to create a structured play environment that targets student goals? Do you have a sensory bin that you can set up with thematic items or task cards that review the story that you read last time? We used penguins that were differentiated by target goal to act out the story. The students had fun acting out the song with our penguins that displayed their "name" on the card. For example, "Kite fell off and bumped his head!" We used binder clips or clothes pins to make our penguins stand up on the sled and dramatically bump their heads as they fell off. It was a great opportunity to capture data at the word and sentence level for articulation goals and allowed for descriptive language practice as the green turtle or yellow sun penguins fell off. We were also able to interact targeting prepositional concepts (put the kite next to the key) and temporal concepts (the kite fell off before the key).  By allowing students to PRETEND, they LEARN how to incorporate their targeted skills into their play. Allow students to ACT out their own pretend play with the penguins. I learned how creative some of my students can be! Learning through play, makes your students YEARN for more! When students ask to bring the manipulative home (and they will, believe me) you  can assure them that they will get their own set as we move to session three...

Make! Now truth be told, as fun as craftivities can be, they would likely make me pull my hair out if I did them every session. What I love about using craftivities when extending activities across sessions is that it feels more doable. The vocabulary has been introduced, we are simply interacting with it in a another way to make it more salient. MAXIMIZE: The penguin creativity rides on the coat tails of the last session's interactive play. Students follow directions as they color and cut out their penguins before gluing them onto folded index cards. AID: They now have their very own set of visual aids to KEEP for practice at home! I also included a quick parent note with a quick tip to EMPOWER them to help with home practice and keep the lines of communication open. One of my favorite things about a craftivity is that while I drill one student's goal, the other students have a productive activity to keep them busy learning.

STEAM based learning, while it is currently the big buzz word around town in the world of education, it really is intuitive for many of us as we often try to tie a hand-on learning approach to the curriculum to best serve our students. When I ask students, teachers and parents to describe a student's learning style, more often than not, the answer is either "hands-on" or "a combination of seeing, hearing and hands-on learning." A couple months ago, I let my students try their hand at a Candy Corn Challenge and they were hooked. I loved the language opportunities that were naturally embedded into the activity as we planned out the challenge, compared/contrasted outcomes, described our creations, etc. For the Penguin Sled Challenge, I wanted to provide an engaging language opportunity that also rewarded their hard work. Students have to earn their materials by working on their target goals (sneaky, sneaky I know...). For example, for every language task correctly complete or 5-10 correct articulation productions, the student will earn a popsicle stick. To take it a step further, students targeting articulation can generate their own target words, increasing phonological awareness, and then write the word on their popsicle stick. Once a student earns their materials, he/she will complete the challenge to build a sled (using popsicle sticks and play dough) that will hold 5 penguins. Once they complete the challenge, they will then complete a written language task (masked as a reflection) to provide even more language opportunities! I incorporate technology by having students take a photo of their creation and upload it to their SeeSaw profile. We can then incorporate descriptive concepts as we compare/contrast photos of sleds created by different students.

I hope that this got you thinking on how you can use materials that you have to extend speech/language opportunities across multiple sessions. You don't need to necessarily complete the same sequence of exploration or the same activities, but essentially give yourself grace to continue on with a set activity in the next session. For me, it helped me relax my thinking from having to complete a set # of tasks in a session and allowed me to enjoy the experience in a natural succession, lending to authentic learning that didn't feel rushed. Here is a link to the activity that I used as an example if you would like a Grab n' Go way to try it out. I'd love to hear what ideas you all come up with. Leave a comment below or email me with your adaptations!

Top 5 Pieces of Advice for SLP Graduate Clinicians & Their Supervisors

Sunday, January 8, 2017 No comments

As I prep for my new SLP graduate clinician who starts this week, I sit reflecting on what I have learned as a supervisor as well as what I learned from my graduate placements years ago. I enlisted the help of some of my fellow SLP Bloggers to round out the Top 5 Pieces of Advice for both graduate clinicians and supervisors as you embark your school placement.  

Tip #1: Bring Your "A" Game

It is such an exciting time as an SLP graduate clinician  You are in the home stretch, a degree in Speech-Language Pathology is within arms' reach, yet you still have so much to learn. Take advantage of this time and take it seriously. Yes, you will likely be job hunting during your placement and may even secure employment during your experience. Think of this as your trial run. What work ethic legacy do you want to leave? You will likely remain in contact with your supervisor for many years to come. Earning a glowing reference goes a long way. 

On the flip side, if you are the supervisor the advice remains the same. Model the work ethic you want your clinician to emulate. Your graduate student is not there so you can kick your feet up and relax. At the beginning you may feel like a sportscaster, commenting on your every move. It can be exhausting, but know that it serves a greater purpose. Your student is there to learn from you and gain experience. Be present in the moment to give them the necessary feedback that may carry them throughout their career. The ripple effect is pretty awesome when you think about it!

Tip #2: Invest in Your Students

Graduate clinicians, get to know the students beyond what you read about them on paper. Interpersonal skills can make or break you as a therapist, both with coworkers and students. As people, we naturally work harder for those we like and feel are vested in our best interests. In graduate school you have studied theory and researched evidence based practice 24/7 which gives you the skills and knowledge base to practice as an SLP. However, I encourage you to make a conscious effort to get to know the student behind the data. That student is someone's son, daughter, brother, sister, their whole world. Hey, you never know, that student could be your colleague one day. 

As a supervisor, invest in your graduate clinician.  Find out what they want to take away from the experience. What do they like to do outside of speech (imagine there is actually life outside of graduate school, haha)? Can they incorporate those hobbies/interests into their therapy sessions or use them to establish rapport with the kids? What are their needs in regards to treatment/evaluation hours? Finding out at the beginning of the placement is much easier than scrambling to meet them at the end.

Tip #3: Tackle the Paperwork

Kaylaslp says, "I wish my supervisor had showed me more of the ins and outs of paperwork. She mostly only had me do therapy. I needed more guidance on how to word things, both in reports and for Medicaid-- I only partially wrote 1 IEP while I was there. Don't be afraid to ask for guidance because later you'll wish you had!"

Kayla, I completely agree. As a supervisor, I have been guilty in the past of not giving my students a heavy paperwork load. My intentions were to be helpful, but in the real world paperwork is a very time consuming part of our job which they need to experience while having access to constructive feedback. 

Tip #4: Ask Questions!

Kristen from Talkin' with Twang advises, "You will have questions. You will need advice. You will need help at some point. Don't be afraid to ask. Your supervisors are there to guide you and continue the learning process. You won't know what to do in every situation and that's okay! Have confidence and enjoy every minute. You chose an excellent career!"

Hallie with Speech TimeFun agrees, adding "I wish I knew to ask more questions and it was ok to not know it all!"

YES!!! News Flash. 16 years in and I STILL do not know it all. That is the one of the perks of our field. You should never stop learning and self-reflecting on your practice! 

Tip #5: Take Chances

As a student, Felice from The Dabbling Speechie wished she took more chances and was okay with messing up, adding "I continue to mess up and that's when I have learned the most."  

As a supervisor, taking a clinician in January, Felice said that she hopes to "understand my student's learning and communication style, so I can give feedback and help in a way that is best for them to learn and feel comfortable."

Susan from Kidz Learn Language added, “My supervisor came from a really rigid grad program where lesson plans were handed in weeks in advance. [...]  I wasn't supposed to change the script to accommodate for the particular kids' needs, just change the kids.” In learning from the experience, when she has supervised students, “I've always tried to be open to their suggestions and to answer their questions as fully as possible. I don't believe in telling students (or a CF) to do it a certain way without explaining why and/or being open to other ideas. I also encourage asking questions. As often as needed, as many as needed. They're supposed to be learning from us, so I want to give them all I can.”

Mandi from Panda Speech included, "As a student I wished my supervisors placed more emphasis on EBP. None of my supervisors even touched on it. As a result I have my students do a small EBP project every semester (I've been a supervisor for almost 5 years). I also wish my supervisors made a syllabus or guidelines (what to expect, policies, schedule, rules, etc.) I give a document like this to them before they begin and I also provide them with sample lesson plans."

In the spirit of learning and pushing your limits, I have been stepping outside my comfort zone by stepping into the world of video. Click on the video above to watch the SLP Blogger Live show in which I break down this Top 5 List for you.

P.S. Because great minds really do think alike, let me also share with you a link to Let's Talk Speech Therapy where Rachel shared her tips on Supervising SLP Students