App Review: Leaping Leo

Sunday, February 19, 2017 No comments

Leaping Leo by Outloud is available for free in iTunes.  Leaping Leo is a voice activated application that uses the child's voice to control the avatar/photo to collect coins, navigate through a maze, jump over obstacles or avoid fire. The first 4 levels are offered for free with an in App purchase option for $3.99 to unlock the remaining levels. At the time of this review, there are 18 levels in all.

Before you play, you will need to calibrate the voice threshold. I chose 40 dB to reflect the noise level in a quite room. You can reference various noise levels on ASHA's website here
You can select which Profile picture will be hopping around through the scenes by choosing an animal, avatar or student photo.
Next, you will take your character through an adventure, controlling the character with your voice. The character may collect coins, look for treasure or navigate through a map.
Implications for speech therapy include encouraging students to use an appropriate volume of speech, reinforcing practice of targeted speech/language goals such as articulation targets or formulating sentences with targeted words. You can pair the app with targeted stimuli presented on Articulation Sticks or task cards. I found it to be a fun, motivating way to incorporate technology into the therapy session in a meaningful, rewarding way while targeting speech-language goals. You can find it here in the iTunes store.

Would you like to see Leaping Leo in action? You can check out my demonstration on Facebook Live here.

* A copy of Leaping Leo was provided to SLPTalk by Outloud. No other compensation was received. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Community Greeter Program

Sunday, February 12, 2017 No comments

One of the best aspects of speech language pathology and education in general is the collaboration that occurs and the opportunities that are born from that collaboration. I truly believe that we are better when we work together. The Community Greeter Program is proof of just that, inspired by a conversation that I had with Patricia Levitt, SLP, during her poster session at an ASHA Schools Conference. I was excited about the idea of having community members welcoming my students and starting their day off on a positive note so I adapted the idea to meet the needs of my specific building. You see, that's the great thing about collaboration and professional development, it sparks ideas that you can use to meet your needs. At the same conference, I listened to Celeste Roseberry speak about poverty and within her session, the use of video or YouTube to reach families stuck out in my mind. I was in a high poverty building and the so the idea of marrying these two ideas to inspire our students, giving them a shared experience that they could then share with their families left a skip in my step. Thankfully, when I eagerly approached my principal she was immediately on board and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up to give it a try.

What is a Community Greeter?

  • A member of the community comes in to welcome the students into the building with hand shakes, high fives, hugs and a smile.
  • Once all of the students have entered the building, the Greeter would then visit and speak with a select group of students. The students/classes that hosted the Greeter would rotate.
  • An example of some of the Community Greeters we have had:
    • Senator
    • Mayor
    • Police
    • Firemen
    • Army- High School ROTC
    • Pilot
    • Superintendent/Asst. Superintendent
    • Dentist
    • Local District Principals
    • Nutrition Specialist
    • Elderly Community Member
    • District Employees from other buildings
    • Librarian
    • Pharmacist
    • Many, many more! We had over 50 Greeters last year!


  • Provides students with a shared experience 
  • Opens student eyes to a world of career possibilities 
  • Makes Students feel valued and "seen" by the community
  • Teaches soft social skills in a natural context
  • Facilitates an environment in which students can ask authentic questions. The question asking abilities of our students grew tenfold. Even our youngest students were learning to ask questions of the greeter (not just tell stories).
  • Creating an iMovie trailer of the experience engaged students and families, extending school to the home environment in a positive way {Students LOVE seeing themselves on video!}
  • Created an authentic writing prompt as students could write to the Greeter.

Unexpected Perks:

  • Decreased discipline referrals on Greeter days
  • Increased morale as students entered the building
  • Social skills increased significantly. Students began to independently approach greeters, shake hands, initiate eye contact during appropriate introductions.
  • Community Greeters began to contact us asking to come. Greeters enjoyed the experience, recommending it to friends/colleagues and returning themselves the following year.
  • Community Members got to know and love our kids as we do.
  • As staff transitioned with a new superintendent, principal, etc., the Greeter program offered an opportunity for them to be welcomed by our students in a comfortable format
  • Increased rapport with student body

Here is the informational flyer that we used (front and back):

Teacher Feedback:

“The Greeter Program has opened doors into our students' lives. They see people doing awesome things and realize it is possible for them too. Especially when they see/hear from people who are originally from [our town].” - 5th Grade Teacher

“My kids LOVE watching these [iMovies]. Especially when they see themselves and their classmates. They applaud and get so excited, and yes even the big kids get a thrill out of seeing themselves in these.”

“With the students focus being on college and career ready I think it is nice to have visitors from the various occupations so students are able to see and ask questions. It makes it more personal and real for them. It makes a connection to our community too.” -2nd Grade Teacher

“The Greeter Program gives our students an opportunity to meet people in our community that they might not get to meet. When the students come to school in the morning, there is another smiling face waiting to say good morning. I feel that having the greeters gives the students an opportunity to practice their social skills and builds confidence in their initial meeting of someone new. When the greeter comes to the pod, students become the interviewers, asking questions that might interest them. Also, introducing them to careers that might spark interest in their future, therefore embracing the college, career and life motto.”

“I believe the Greeter Program is a very nice addition [to our school] for our students. I like that our kids get to meet successful adults and hear about the challenges they faced growing up.” 6th Grade Teacher

“I think the Greeter program is great for our little ones. They thoroughly enjoyed meeting the firemen and policemen that came to school. I felt it made the children more comfortable with seeing a fireman in complete uniform and may prevent them from being frightened.” –Preschool Teacher

“I think it is great for our kiddos to meet people in the community and learn more options that they have in the community.” -4th Grade Teacher

3 Simple Dollar Store Hacks

Sunday, February 5, 2017 1 comment
Hi all! Raise your hand if you love the dollar store. My hand is waving in the air in a "pick me, pick me!" fashion.  I visited the dollar store the other day and thought I would let my closest peeps in on a few ways that these hack will make my life a little easier this week.

1. Limit the Hand Sanitizer to a small pump, rather than a bath. I use hand sanitizer in my therapy room when my students use the sensory bin to cut down on little germs hands spreading their love in the bin. I also use it if a student handles our hamster class pet. I picked up this hand sanitizer at the dollar store and added a Germ Blaster label. A simple hack to cut down on students pumping copious amounts onto their hands, which then overflows onto your floor is to wrap a rubber band around the neck of the pump. Now, students will get a small, appropriate amount to use.

2. Attach a battery powered light switch purchased from the dollar store to the poster below to let those in the hallway know that you are testing or use to let others know not to disturb your small group. Download the posters here for free or click the image below.

3. Purchase small ramekin containers (available in packs of 10) to keep dice under control during game or independent work activities. Stop the insanity of dice flying everywhere by placing the die inside the clear ramekin container for a student to shake to roll. It is a simple trick that will surely save your sanity.

What dollar store hacks have you tried lately? Let me know in the comments below or shoot me an email. I would love to hear from you!