Live Speak Love, LLC

Lisa M. Geary, MS CCC-SLP lisa@livespeaklove.com

Heart of the Ravens January 7, 2013

Are you a Ravens fan? Here in Baltimore, it is hard to go anywhere without seeing the color Purple or hearing about how the Ravens are headed to Denver for the playoffs. But did you know there is a deeper story? A story that may appeal to SLPs, or to those of you who love someone with a communication disorder or life-threatening illness? This story struck me not just because I am an SLP whose mission is to help others communicate — it struck me because I love someone living with ALS. My mother-in-law, Nancy, was diagnosed with ALS on July 3, 2011. Her spirit and passion for loving others and making a difference in people’s lives continue to shine, just as they do with Ravens Player O.J. Brigance. Take a look at this video that premiered on ESPN just before the most recent Ravens game:

Love you, Mom!

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Project Showcase: /fæbjuləs fənɛtɪks/ December 17, 2012

Filed under: Technology,Undergraduate/Graduate Classes — livespeaklove @ 10:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today I gave my last final exam of my first semester at Towson University! Now to grade the stack of ~ 80 exams. :)  I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVED teaching the two sections of Phonetics class I was given in addition to my other clinical responsibilities. The Phonetics of American English class is one of the very first classes TU students take after they are admitted into the Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology and Deaf Studies major (following pre-major status and a competitive application process that allows only the top 70 students officially into the major.) The students I taught this semester were inspired, fresh, enthusiastic and very bright. They asked lots of great questions, and seemed to even welcome the many quizzes I’d built in to the course (perhaps too many; that was a lot of grading!!) There was one assignment in particular they seemed to embrace — the final phonetics project. Students were given the basic instruction to apply knowledge from the course in a way that appealed to them (paper, presentation, creative endeavor, etc.)  I purposely left the type of project up to them, wanting to include different styles of learning and multiple means of responses (stop right now and Google Universal Design for Learning standards if you are unfamiliar with the concepts of learning styles and multiple means of responses.) I also wanted the students to fuel their inspiration and apply what they’d learned in a way that THEY found meaningful. I have to say that I was completely blown away by their ingenuity, creativity and hard work. Nearly all students took this project to a level I hadn’t anticipated, and their excitement about the project was contagious. I wish that I could showcase all of the talent and inspiration that poured into my classroom during the first couple weeks of December. I have instead selected a few projects to share with you here. Each project is posted with permission from the student(s). I hope you enjoy their work…I know I did!

First, I give you this video presentation showcasing transcription of the connected speech (song) by students Dana Rzewnicki, Lauren Ross and Kelley Finck:

Next, here is the group project from Rachel Bensley, Victoria Andre, Elena Mitoulis and Michael DiSanti. They created a CD insert for Taylor Swift’s album, RED. Their CD insert included transcriptions of every song on the album. Here is a picture highlighting some of their creative work:

red

The following project is from Samantha Cunzo and Katrina Mull. They put together a comical video skit highlighting some of their “study experiences” as they learned material throughout the semester:

The following project is from Emma Voss — she decided to incorporate her love for baking and create “Phonetics Cookies.” She baked and iced cookies featuring all of the phonetic symbols from the IPA alphabet, using different colors and outlines to represent distinctive features of the sounds. She also impressed the class by passing out the cookies for all to eat, along with a signature batch of chocolate chip cookies as an added treat! Here are some pictures of her cookies:

Slide1

Slide2

Natalie Hill and Sarah Morrison created this cute and comical “commercial” for the “Phonetics School of Phonetics.” They showcased parts of our very own Towson University in their commercial as they incorporated knowledge from various units we covered in our class.

Christine Feinour, Grace Baker and Anna Hild created The College Girl’s Guide to Phonetics. Their book detailed all the American English Phonemes of the International Phonetic Alphabet, with key words and graphics to illustrate the pronunciation of each phoneme. Their book was artfully crafted and highlighted distinctive features of each phoneme in a scrapbook-style memento:

photo

And last but not least, I give you Rachel Urban in her witty, debut performance as she demonstrates her knowledge of dialectal variation. Her unique presentation had me chuckling for a long while, impressed at the way she stepped a bit outside of her comfort zone.

Time and space do not allow me to share all of the wonderful projects with you — the board games, the presentations, the transcription of speech from various movies, and more. Suffice it to say that 1) I love my job; and 2) The future of Speech-Language Pathology is looking pretty darn good!

Now, back to grading those final exams…. :)

 

New Horizons June 12, 2012

Filed under: Announcements,Technology — livespeaklove @ 6:04 pm
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Live Speak Love is beginning a new venture! In addition to seeing private clients, I am thrilled to announce that I have been offered the position of Clinical Assistant Professor at Towson University in their department of Audiology, Speech Language Pathology and Deaf Studies. I have been supervising Towson graduate students during their internships in the public school setting for several years now, and am so excited to be taking on this new challenge as Clinical Faculty member. I will be teaching some classes, and also supervising undergraduate and graduate students in the University Speech Language and Hearing clinic. I will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty members in some research endeavors, and possibly collaborate with other department’s faculty as well. I plan on exploring options regarding the application of technology in the therapy and educational settings, and will collaborate with Baltimore County Public Schools to continue some of the technology projects that I began this year. This is an amazing opportunity for me, and I am thoroughly excited about prospects ahead of me. Thank you to all for the encouragement and support you have shown me, and for embracing the work I have completed as part of Live Speak Love, LLC. I am honored to be serving children, families, educators, students and clinicians with my thoughts, inspirations and creations. I plan to continue my work online and in my community, in addition to working in my new role. Thank you for your support and for visiting Live Speak Love, LLC!

 

Fun with Word Clouds May 21, 2012

I’ve recently discovered a new tech tool for speech-language therapy…Word Clouds. Using word clouds is a fun way to incorporate text into your speech-language lessons, perfect for increasing the speech-to-text connections. If you are utilizing Universal Design for Learning Standards (and you should be,) word clouds are also a powerful tool to customize the display of information, highlight critical features of a subject matter and incorporate media in learning activities. They are also just plain fun. Kids seem to really enjoy seeing their words and ideas instantly transformed into art.

Below are a few word cloud activities I have used recently. I’ve been exploring different features of the available word cloud sites, and I’ve included examples of my favorites:

Tagul.com – Below is a word cloud I made with a group using the Tagul Word Cloud Generator. Tagul allows you to customize the shape, colors and fonts, and quickly produce word clouds that can be saved as images, emailed or embedded into web pages. I used this word cloud site with a group of students as we generated categorical vocabulary given the topic “Things We See Outside in the Summer.” Students verbally produced categorical lists and then we reviewed the words, discussing similarities and differences between related word pairs.

ABCYa! – ABCYa! is a simple word cloud generator that is quick and user-friendly. There are limited layout, font and color scheme choices, but the word clouds are created instantly without fuss or worry over too many parameters. Below is a word cloud we created in a group co-treatment lesson with the social worker. As a follow-up to a story lesson, we generated positive attributes and descriptive words. We instantly created the word cloud, and the students then used the word cloud words to identify five attributes to describe themselves. We ended with a group discussion in which students offered positive attributes about their peers. The activity was engaging, powerful and memorable, as students used their speech-language skills to reinforce themes of self-concept, friendship and giving compliments.

Wordle – Wordle is another fun word cloud generator that allows custom colors, fonts and layouts (not in shapes, though) to produce a visual vocabulary display. With Wordle, you do need to capture screenshots of your word clouds in order to save them as images; otherwise they are stored online in a public gallery. Below is a brainstorm word cloud I created with a group as we identified relevant summer vocabulary words in response to the questions, “What do you like about summer?” Students eagerly participated in this group discussion, formulating sentences to describe their favorite summer pastimes and memorable events. A variety of language skills were targeted using this simple visual tool.

Tagxedo – Tagxedo is one of my favorite word cloud generators, allowing text to be displayed in a shape using customizable color themes and fonts. You can even have your word cloud in the shape of an actual word or phrase. I have been experimenting with the options that Tagxedo offers, and came up with this LiveSpeakLove Word Cloud:

There are many other word cloud generators available on the Internet. You can find a generous list of word cloud sites with a simple internet search. I would love to hear if you are using word cloud tools in your classroom and/or therapy rooms…feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. Thank you for visiting Live Speak Love, LLC!

 

Lights, Camera, Action!! Using Videos as a Therapy Tool April 25, 2012

 One of my personal goals this year is to increase the use of technology in my therapy sessions. Much of my “free” time can be spent compiling lists and exploring possible resources, applications, Universal Design for Learning strategies and interactive programs. I do plan on purchasing an iPad in the near future to use in my private practice, so I have been bookmarking lists of apps and other resources that the iPad offers. Though the school district for whom I also work has not yet authorized the use of iPads for instructional use, I feel quite fortunate to work in a setting that does offer a variety of  additional technology resources — flipcams, smartboards, the ActivPanel I now have in my therapy room, and more. I have developed a few favorite tools that students really seem to enjoy, and the opportunities for engagement and interaction have increased immeasurably. I like to think I am pretty engaging all by myself, but there is something to be said about therapy that includes music, color, sound, movement, and electronic modes of presentation. Children today are wired for the technology (read more about this thought in my Signs of the Times post.)

One therapy tool that is quickly marching its way into first place is the use of video to target speech-language goals.For students whose performance is greatly enhanced with the use of music and visual stimuli, videos help to secure focused attention and engage their minds for interactive learning.  I often insert a video into a smartboard lesson, designed to reinforce a theme or idea. Below is a video I found recently on Youtube, which I used in a caterpillar/butterfly seasonal theme. I used the video in a smartboard lesson that reviewed the lifecycle of the caterpillar/butterfly, and reinforced the recently presented story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The video helped to help model use of descriptive concepts, and we used colorful scarves to incorporate motor movement and sensory input as we pretended to fly like the butterflies. Students were absolutely mesmerized by this tranquil video!  They readily formulated their own phrases and sentences to describe colored butterfly pictures following the video:

I’ve also posted recently about using Animoto to create videos using music and selected images.  I made another video  today with a group of students to target expressive language, descriptive concepts, theme vocabulary and answering wh questions. To introduce summer theme vocabulary, I created a folder of Google images showing kids enjoying a variety of summer activities. Students took turns selecting the pictures they wanted to use in the video, and we practiced individual speech-language goals as we selected the pictures. Here is a visual I created to highlight the sequential directions for this video-making activity:

After we selected pictures, we uploaded them to Animoto, added the music track, and reviewed our objectives/progress while we waited for the video to finish “production” (a process that only takes a couple of minutes.) Then we were ready for step 4 — watching the video! I just loved seeing how connected and animated my students were when they saw the video and recalled the images they contributed. I noted increases in attention, participation, spontaneous verbalizations and use of targeted concepts in ALL students in the group. Here is the video that we made:

With so much success, I plan on using video as a therapy tool as much as possible — flipcam video  and mobile device  image uploads to star students themselves, interactive video clips in smartboard files, youtube videos that highlight concepts or themes, and other educational videos from sites like BrainPop, PBSKids, and more.  I still reserve time and energy to create hands-on activities using games, toys, concrete objects and pictures; but the use of video as a therapy tool is clearly a winner in my book…er, umm– electronic reading device. :)

 

Going Green – Earth Day Activities Part 2 April 15, 2012

Wow, what an overwhelming response I received after being featured as a guest contributor on PediaStaff, sharing some of my Earth Day activities!  I decided to share a few more ideas for those of you looking to plan your week with Green therapy, technology and activities that incorporate UDL strategies.  Please feel free to click, download and share any of these resources. Enjoy!

Here is a lively video teaching kids to Reuse, Reduce Waste, Recycle. It will get everyone up, dancing and moving as they learn about the 3Rs of helping the world: 

Are you looking for even more visuals/activities to address goals with Earth Day vocabulary? Here are a couple of creations for you — Free downloads!

Looking for some Earth Day Books to share with your students? Check out some of my favorite theme-based books that will reinforce the concepts you review in therapy sessions. Many of these books are available in e-reader and audio versions as well as print:

          

                               

                 

Also, I previously posted about a site that offers free online versions of books. For every book read, they make a donation to literacy campaigns around the world. What better way to help your students feel good about working to make the world a better place?? If you are not yet convinced, please watch this video that gives you an overview of the Pearson Foundation inititative. It is well worth a couple of minutes of your time:

So get reading! Use your computer, laptop or smartboard to create a multi-media, interactive story time that will also make you and your students feel good about helping others. Here are a few Earth Day selections (by the way, this post is not a solicited review of their site or program…I simply think it is a wonderful idea for many, many reasons!):

I hope you enjoy these ideas designed to offer engaging activities with multiple modes of presentation. The more I learn about what works in speech-language therapy, the more passionate I become about incorporating technology into my sessions. I would love to hear from those of you who are using similar technologies with your students. Thank you for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

 

Creating Multi-media Videos Using Pinterest Images April 14, 2012

I wanted to share a successful activity that I used with a group of students. We have been working on the  formulation of sentences using correct verb forms. I posted previously about how to quickly extract Pinterest images  from PediaStaff Pinboards to create activities for my interactive smartboard. We have all enjoyed the use of technology in our sessions, and students especially the sound files that are played as they interact with the images. Here is a snapshot of the activity I previously posted:

I have also posted previously about using Animoto to create multi-media videos using images I select.  Students have really seemed to love the videos I have used so far. I decided to have a group of students help me create a video as part of their speech-language therapy, using images I extracted from the PediaStaff Action Verb Photo Library on Pinterest. To start, we reviewed the folder of images I extracted from the photo library, stored on the computer. Students took turns choosing which pictures they wanted to include in the video, and produced a sentence with their targeted verb form (e.g., “The lion is roaring.” or “The boy was crying because he was tired.”) As they took turns, I copied their selected images into a newly created folder to use for our Animoto video. After all the images were selected, we easily and quickly made our Animoto video. To make the video, we uploaded an mp3 file I bought for 99 cents from Amazon, and then we uploaded the images students just selected. We added a couple of text slides (as we reviewed the concept of Action Words, and the different verb forms each student was currently working on as their objective.) Ta-da!! Our video was created. After a couple of minutes to discuss each student’s progress, our video was ready to view. Students were amazed that the work they just completed was instantly transformed into their very own music video! This activity reinforced their work in such a dynamic, rewarding way. Students were excited, beaming and abuzz with chatter about how they had just made their own video — definitely a success!! I plan on using this technology tool again very soon. For your viewing pleasure, here is the video that my students created:

Interested in trying Animoto for yourself? Click here: Animoto

 

Time to Tweet April 11, 2012

Filed under: Technology,Therapy Tools — livespeaklove @ 10:52 pm
Tags:

Ok, I am finally taking the plunge…yes, it is time for Twitter. Starting this blog has been an exercise in moving a bit out of my comfort zone–in a good way, of course! I am delighted at the response my little blog has received so far, and I am finally pushing myself to do more of the things that excite me about my profession. I have boldly professed to love technology, online resources and professional collaboration. I have spent more time than I should have in the wee hours of the night researching therapy resources, caseload management techniques,  document sharing tools and other apps that get me fired up and excited about being a bit of a tech geek. But in all this research, discovery and technology-induced lack of sleep…I have resisted Twitter. Why? I am not really sure. Perhaps I’ve been afraid of entering yet another online arena that might very well suck me in and induce a mental time warp, leaving me with another way to lose sleep and avoid housework. More nights than I care to admit I have looked up from my laptop, blinking in disbelief at my clock. How can it be that hours, not minutes, have passed since I tucked the last child into bed for the night??  I mean, isn’t Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Google Play, LinkedIn, and Pinterest enough for this busy SLP mom? (Now that I think of it, actually, how bad could it be to add one more thing?) I am easily swayed  encouraged by those people who really think I should fly on over to Twitter. I have quite a few blog followers asking if I am on Twitter yet, wanting to get connected. So, I finally decided to take the plunge! I am currently a bit lost, which actually cuts down on the possibility of entering a mental time warp anytime soon. It will take me a while to develop some tweeting skills –it’s a whole different world.  But if you want to connect with me there, feel free to “follow” me and tweet me or hashtag me, or something like that.  Find me on Twitter here. I look forward to connecting with other SLPs, bloggers and the like–I hear there is quite a network of collaborators!

For now, I am off to do some Twitter research. I did find this very helpful post from EduBlogs that will surely speed the learning process for me. If any of you have any helpful Twitter info, I would love to hear it. I would also love to hear how you are using Twitter for your blog, website, private practice, etc. Feel free to comment below with your ideas and feedback.

Thanks, see you on Twitter!

Lisa, A.K.A.  @LiveSpeakLove

 

Earth Day Activities April 10, 2012

Spring is definitely in full swing! Our Spring Break is now over, but there is certainly no shortage of seasonal fun for the speech-language therapy room. I have been asked by Heidi Kay of PediaStaff to write a post highlighting activities that could be used for Earth Day. Heidi has pinned many of my activities on Pediastaff’s incredible collection of Pinterest Pinboards, and she also recently wrote an article for ASHASphere highlighting this Live Speak Love blog as one of the “Best Speech-Language Blogs A-Z.  Wow! I am both honored and excited to present to you this Earth Day post that is featured on the PediaStaff blog.

Earth Day, in my opinion, is a wonderful opportunity to educate children of all ability levels about the importance of taking care of our world. As children develop an understanding of the vocabulary, themes and issues, there are many teachable moments and life-changing conversations that can develop as a result. Earth Day is a universal cause, and it often sparks something in the minds of young learners. My own children have shown particular interest in the Earth Day theme, causing me to make changes in our family’s recycling habits. Children of all ages and ability levels can begin learning what it means to “Go Green” and care for the world in which we live.

These fun activities can be used to target almost any speech-language goal or objective. In the past, I have used Earth Day activities during individual and small group sessions, and also during co-treatment sessions with classroom teachers, the occupational therapist and/or the school social worker.

Here is a printable social story mini-book (four pages total to be cut into quadrants) you can use to introduce what it means to “Go Green.” Students will learn how they can conserve energy and protect the environment. You can even print an Earth Day Certificate for each student who pledges to do their part. Just click on the images to download:

Earth Day Bingo Boards are another great way to introduce the Earth Day theme and relevant vocabulary.  During your Bingo Game, you can target myriad speech-language objectives like answering wh questions, formulating sentences using target vocabulary, labeling objects or using descriptive words in phrases and/or sentences. I often give “Mystery Clues” about a Bingo Picture, and students individually locate the target words from the given verbal descriptions. There are six different boards I made for you to download:

To teach about Recycling, I have used a few different sorting activities. These activities can be used to target word class, categorization, picture identification or labeling, answering simple wh questions, expressive language and more. Probably the most popular activity I have tried is actually taking a group of students outside for a “walk” where we discover an area littered with trash (pre-planted by me, of course.) After some discussion, students pick up the trash and decide what to do with it. Put it in the trash can? Recycle? Or (perfect critical thinking opportunity here) could it be saved to use again or perhaps re-purposed? This real-world, action-oriented activity really hits home with my students, causing many of them to search for trash (or treasures) on the school grounds or in their neighborhoods. Students love to come and tell me what they have found, and the action that they took. To do this activity with any sized-group, all you need is a pile of carefully selected “litter.”

If you do not have the opportunity to conduct this real-word exercise (or if you want to send a follow-up activity home for students to complete) I made this cut-and-paste version you could use:

For those of you with smartboards, you can use this virtual litter sorting game. Students will love dragging each item to its proper destination. If you have ActivInspire or a compatible program, just click on the link below to download the interactive flipchart I created:

Another great activity to use on a smartboard is this Going Green interactive game board. Just pair this game with any stimulus cards or questions that you wish to target. Students are always very enthusiastic about “rolling” the virtual dice and moving their game piece around the board. I have used similar game boards with both small and large groups. For larger groups, I place students on teams to increase interaction and decrease any wait time.

If you do not have a smartboard, or if you wish to insert the gameboard image to create your own file, here is a version you can import or print:

 

Working on those tricky /r/ sounds? Here are stimulus cards to target -er in all positions of words. Just print and cut to use with any open-ended activity (like the game boards above!) Or, print double copies to use in matching/memory games with the Earth Day theme:I’ve also used craft activities to incorporate fine motor skills, often in  co-treatment sessions with the occupational therapist. Here is an activity in which students can follow sequential directions to create an “Earth.” Descriptive words, sequential and ordinal concepts, following directions and other language skills can be targeted in this “Go Green” project: 

Whatever activities you choose, students will almost certainly appreciate learning how they can personally make a difference in our world.  Doesn’t everyone want to feel that their actions have impact and meaning?  So, Go Green this Earth Day, and enjoy teaching your students how to make our world a better place.

 

Interactive Virtual Game Boards on your Smartboard or Computer March 22, 2012

Filed under: Free Downloads,Resources,Technology,Therapy Tools — livespeaklove @ 10:40 pm
Tags: , ,

So many people have given me positive feedback about the Spring resources available for download in my Spring Egg-stravaganza post. One of the resources I posted was an open-ended game board — both a printable version and an ActivInspire flipchart version. For those of you who do not have ActivInspire, you can download it for free HERE. Check out this video for an overview of the kinds of things students can do with this program:

Obviously, if you have a smartboard, there are limitless possibilities for engaging students in multi-media therapy activities. I feel very fortunate to work in a school that had available funds and generous administrators. Earlier this year, my school purchased a desktop version of a smartboard for my therapy room. I have been using this technology to create a variety of lessons using pictures, audio, video and interactive design features that all my students love.  Some of the files I create are complex, time-intensive and include pre/post assessment data collection where students respond using wireless ActiVotes. Some, however, like my Spring/Garden game board are really quite simple. To make this game I just imported the image of the game board (an image I actually used ActivInspire to create, but you could use any image — even a snapshot of a real game board,) then I added circle shapes to use as game pieces, and inserted the dice tool. Suddenly an ordinary game (with a dash of technology added) became a highly engaging therapy tool to target any objective needed. My students love the online game boards so much more than any “real” game. Here is a picture I previously posted of a couple of students interacting and playing a game using my desktop smartboard:

But what if you do not have a smartboard? Not to worry, you can still use these interactive files on your computer. You just need to use a mouse instead of the stylus (unless you have a touchscreen.) An adaptive mouse can help those with fine motor difficulties access this technology. You will just need to pair the game with stimulus materials or verbal prompts to elicit/train a skill, and your students will love playing the interactive, virtual game in their speech-language sessions.

If you want to download this file, just make sure you have ActivInspire installed on yourcomputer, then click on the image below.

By the way, I have no affiliation with Promethean or ActivInspire, and this post is not a solicited review. I really just love using this program, and I think you will too.

 Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

 

Spring Egg-stravaganza! March 21, 2012

After what seems like barely even a winter (not one single snow day or even a school delay for my county!) spring has officially arrived. I realized yesterday that there is very little time left before spring break, and I quickly began gathering my materials for the spring kickoff season. Some of my favorite activities revolve around spring themes — Easter eggs, baby chicks and bunnies, the switch to warm-weather clothing and spending more time outside. I am very excited to share with you some of the resources I have developed and will be using with my students. Let me know how you like them!

First, Easter Eggs!! What better way to excite students and incorporate movement than with a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt? Finding the eggs is a perfect way to target “where” questions, prepositional words and descriptive concepts like color and size vocabulary. I plan on filling my colorful, plastic eggs with articulation pictures and language concepts to use in sentences. I am also going to use the Easter eggs for a pragmatic language activity by inserting these pragmatic questions (click to download your own copy!)

In addition to the plastic eggs, I have these colorful Easter egg printables to design your own artic/language cards, or to use as tokens for motivation and reinforcement:

I also have a few fun crafts/recipes for students to create. I often use visual directions to accompany these crafts, opening the door for language-based questions involving ordinal and sequential terms, wh questions, language memory and curricular vocabulary. See below and click to download what you like.

How cute is this baby chick?? Students will love making their own little pet to take home. Click on the image below for your own copy of the direction page:

Many books for this time of year involve new little critters –chicks and bunnies as the main characters. These loveable creature crafts are perfect for recreating and retelling those spring stories. Below is a bunny craft for students to make.  In the past, I’ve had students glue their bunnies onto jumbo craft sticks to make their own story puppets. Just print out the direction sheet below — use the template I prepared as well, or you create your own to use.

The topic of Spring leads to lessons about new plants as well — buds on trees blossoming into flowers, and people working in their yards to grow flowers and vegetables. My students have especially loved these next couple of activities…I hope yours do too!

The 20 oz bottles wotk best for this stamping craft. The bottoms of these bottles are shaped like a flower–really, it works perfectly!

How about a yummy treat to make and eat? Worms and Dirt is a crowd pleaser that students will remember for a very long time. You can use gummy worms, snakes, licorice or other creature-like confections to crawl in your “dirt.”

I also have an open-ended game board I will be using on my ActivPanel smartboard, paired with articulation or language stimuli to target individual student objectives. You can download the ActivInspire flipchart version to play on your own smartboard, or use the game board image to creat your own smartboard file. Otherwise, just print the hard copy version below:

And of course I have Spring Bingo Boards (a set of 6 for you to download!) As always, I use Bingo Boards to target myriad articulation and language goals including language formulation, descriptive concepts, wh questions, location terms, categories, similarities and differences…and the list goes on!  Click on the sample board below to get to the set.

 Working on /s/ sounds? Here is a Boardmaker file I created to use as stimulus cards for games, Easter egg inserts and homework practice. Print double copies to use for a matching/memory game.

I hope you enjoy these ideas…I have many more, but there are only NINE days until our Spring Break, so time is limited! Yes, I have counted the days. :) Hope you enjoy this wonderful season!

~Lisa

 

Extracting Images from Pinterest Websites March 16, 2012

I’ve been racking my brain all week, trying to think of a way to use the idea Jenna posted this week on her blog, Speech Room News. She is using the app Tapikeo to quickly download images and pair them with voice audio, creating a fun, multi-media activity for students.  

Without an iPad, I do not have a way to use the Tapikeo app, a wonderful program that makes saving pictures into a program and adding audio a breeze. I did contact the app’s creator, Jean-Eudes Lepelletier, a busy dad of two who designs apps for iTunes in his free time. He very kindly responded with partially good news. While Tapikeo is not currently available on Android devices, his newest upgrade will include an export feature that allows photo grids to be shared with others via HTML. I am hoping that those creative SLPs with iPads out there will be sharing their photo grids very soon!

In the meantime, I did discover a relatively easy way to quickly download PediaStaff’s images and import them into an interactive smartboard program with audio. The process is actually fast and simple, but it does involve a few steps:

  • Install Nitro PDF (this FREE downloadable program easily converts any file or selection to a PDF file, even from the web. Just choose “Nitro PDF” as your printer when you go to print. By the way, this program is a wonderful tool to convert those Boardmaker files to PDFs for easy sharing.)
  • Next, go to PediaStaff on Pinterest and scroll down to your Photo Library of choice — they now have many different photo boards, filled with theme-specific images to target a variety of skills.
  • Once you are in the photo library, simply PRINT the webpage (Don’t forget to change your printer to Nitro PDF!)

 

  • NOW comes the fun part! After you have a Pediastaff photo library converted to a PDF, you then just need to select “Extract Images.”

Clicking this powerful, little EXTRACT IMAGES  button will instantaneously save each image to your computer!! No need to” right click and save as” on every image on the Pinterest board…just extract and you have each file saved separately in the same folder as your original PDF.

Here is a snapshot of my end result:

Once the images are saved (instantly!) to your computer, you can then create a fun, interactive activity with audio using PowerPoint or an interactive smartboard program (I use ActivInspire, which does not require a smartboard — use this program right on your computer with a mouse!) Below is a snapshot of the activity I created using action verb pictures  paired with audio (as Jenna did in her initial example.) Students circled, highlighted and wrote text on this flipchart page, and when they clicked an image the audio was activated. I embedded audio using simple, present progressive verb sentences (e.g, “The boy is yawning.”) as well as past tense verbs (e.g., “Yesterday the boy screamed.”) We also practiced higher level skills with each trial…these images are perfect for incorporating “I wonder” statements like, “I wonder why the boy screamed?”  to elicit inferences. I love using “I wonder…”  sentences to promote those critical thinking skills along with the lower-level objectives.

So, even though the Tapikeo program is not an option for me right now, I can still very quickly and easily create activities by instantly downloading libraries of images through a PDF conversion and extraction. Perhaps this is an example of collaboration at its finest…Pediastaff, Tapikeo, Speech Room News and LiveSpeakLove all working together to create ideas for wonderful speech-language activities! I’m thankful for the inspiration…hopefully you will feel the same.

Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

 

Technology News – Google Play Now Available March 12, 2012

Ok, all of you tech-savvy SLPs, educators and parents…here it is. The launching of a wonderfully convenient media tool that will surely increase your productivity, creativity and use of technology– Google Play.

Many of you know that I am an Android device kind of girl, and I have had great success using some of the Android-based features as case management tools to streamline paperwork and sync documents between my devices. I admit that I feel a bit left out of the iPad craze in speech-language therapy sessions, especially when people like SLP Jenna over at Speech Room News post fabulous ideas and resources for using the iPad to target therapy objectives. Take a peek at her latest:

I’ve been thinking that even though my school district currently does not approve the use of mobile or tablet devices with students, surely there is a way to use my android device to at least prepare similar resources that can be presented to students on a desktop or laptop computer (if you are asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” you are not alone. I have faith that my very large school system is working on a process to approve and integrate mobile/tablet devices for use with students. For now, we have wonderful resources to use like the ActivPanel and other interactive smartboards, student voting/response consoles, and interactive web-based software like ActivInspire, Edmodo and Voicethread. The mobile devices are coming, but developing empirically based best practice standards for these tools is a process. :) )

In my ongoing search for tools to create dynamic, engaging therapy materials and productive work solutions, I am extremely pleased to see the anticipated launch of Google Play. Google Play is now integrated with the previously known Android Market, now providing a one-stop shop for app selection, purchase, storage, and back-up. In addition to the Android Apps, Google Play also offers the same options for all of your other media as well. Even if you do not own an Android device, you can still upload all of your music and other media to the Google Play “cloud” for storage and anytime access. Check out how Google Play now provides shop and share features, Cloud storage and instant syncing to all of your devices for ALL of your media:

While this may be a marketing move from Google to branch out into territory previously dominated by powerhouse media providers like  iTunes, Netflix and Amazon’s Kindle, this move opens quite a few doors for a busy Android user like myself. I love that all of my apps, music, photos, videos, and books are integrated into a single point-of-entry design. Google Play also lends itself nicely to using other Google features like Google Reader, Google Docs, Gmail and Google Calendar (all applications that are also accessible on my Android.)

So while the iPad may be the sexy, trendy tool for most therapists, I find it very exciting to be an Android user and discover even more possibilities that can easily translate from mobile device to work desktop to laptop to home computer…instantly. I will continue researching to explore which apps will work with the current regulations of my school district, and develop more therapy tools using the technology we have available. Be sure to look for upcoming posts in the (hopefully) near future as I spend some time researching and creating with the apps I find. In the meantime, here are a few links to sites where people have obviously done quite a bit of Android research themselves:

If any of you are using Android device and apps as part of your clinical management, practice or therapy, let me know. I would love to hear the kinds of things people are using and if you find Google Play a useful media management tool.

 

Signs of the Times March 8, 2012

Filed under: Resources,Technology,Thoughts and Inspirations — livespeaklove @ 9:00 pm
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Like many children, my own kids used to love the book, Goodnight Moon. Definitely a classic tale, with simple pictures and a lulling rhythm that soothed my little ones to sleep as we rocked in our rocking chair. I still love that book, even though my kids have outgrown it. Times have changed; the world has changed. My kids are growing, and for at least two of them, picture books have now been replaced by newer, shinier things like iPods and computers.  In addition to realizing just how fast my kids have grown and just how fleeting the bittersweet days of Goodnight Moon in fact were, I’ve been recently rather amazed at how the world has changed due to technological advances. I’ve been working to incorporate more technology into my speech-language therapy sessions and even in my caseload management practices.                 

At the risk of sounding like an old lady, looking around at today’s multi-media world conjures up phrases I swore I’d never utter, like, “when I was your age…”  I recall the long-gone days of papers written on my archaic typewriter, or the “state of the art” word processor I used in college (the kind shown in the picture on the left, with a window that showed one line of text at a time.) In graduate school, I finally advanced to a computer in the university library, but struggled with DOS commands and formatting floppy disks (and yes, they were the truly floppy, floppy disks.) It amazes me that my children are now growing up in a world filled with incredible, user-friendly technology and instant gratification — multi-media streaming in the classroom, interactive smartboards, on-demand videos and holiday specials…I  admit to feeling a bit of sadness that my kids really don’t know what it’s like to anticipate once-a-year television specials that used to bring us all gathered in excitement around the T.V. after days (weeks) of waiting. Now, holiday specials, movies, games, schoolwork and even social relationships revolve around the use of instant technology. 

Planning? Research? Interactions? Today’s children really do not know what it is like to complete these tasks without instant results. They Google, they text, they Facebook, and–POOF! The plans are made without even a phone call. School projects, though still filled with rigor and preparation, do not take the weeks or months that they once did (“when  I was their age.”). My middle/high school research endeavors (hours upon hours spent at the public library with me searching through the card catalog or poring over blurry microfilm transparencies on the giant machines) now seem ridiculous and ancient. Probably because they really were ridiculous and ancient, but hey, that’s all we had back then! Yes, I know, Old Lady Talk. Does it help if I admit that I am totally on the technology bandwagon, and  that I now often have at least two internet-capable devices within my reach? I fully support the technological advances that bring so much to our lives (it’s kind of nice being able to play movies that my kids love when we want to, or being able to Google the formula to that 7th grade algebra problem that I’ve long forgotten!) But I do feel nostalgic when I think of things like cassette tapes, mimeograph machines (can you still smell the ink?) carbon paper (yes we wrote IEPs on such paper not that long ago!) or handwritten letters to friends and family. Now…signs of the times….we live in a bright, flashy, instantaneous, visually stimulating world full of modern convenience. I don’t deny that I love it and certainly benefit from the conveniences, but I am still amazed.

With these thoughts in mind, I thoroughly chuckled this week when I came across this fabulous site for reading books online. The site itself is pretty amazing…hundreds of popular children’s books available to read instantly and for free. They also donate books to various literacy campaigns, matching donations with the number of books you read. These online versions of books are perfect for smartboard presentation/group reading in a classroom setting. The chuckle I experienced came as I read this book:

 It’s a parody of the classic Goodnight Moon book I read to my kids and still adore. It’s a bit updated. Yes, it is a parody, but perhaps a pretty accurate description of today’s kids and what life is really like for many.  If you want to chuckle and/or feel like an Old Lady (or Old Man) as you reminisce about days gone by, you can read the book online here: Goodnight iPad.

Enjoy! If you like it, don’t forget to email/blog/facebook/tweet/text/pin to let me know. :) LOL.  L8R.

 

More St. Patty’s Day Fun March 6, 2012

Are you getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day yet? I’ve been working on introducing seasonal vocabulary as we target speech-language objectives. So far, my students are all loving the Animoto video I made to preview theme vocabulary, previously posted here.  The bingo boards and four-leaf clover templates I posted previously seem to be a popular download, and people have asked if I have any more St. Patrick’s Day resources to share. Of course! Here are a few more goodies:

Here is a template to make your own cards — you can print the number of needed copies onto cardstock and add your own clip art and/or text to the back. The cards can be used for minimal pair articulation practice, or customized to target any grammatical structure or language content goals you need. The shamrocks can be used as token reinforcement coins as a motivator — kids love to collect the coins for each successful trial. Just click to download and print!

Here are a couple of open-ended game boards to use with any speech-language objective. The game can be paired with articulation cards, pragmatic question cards, pictures, or any stimuli you wish to use. Digital images of the boards can be used with interactive smartboards to incorporate technology into your game (see this post for an example of how I used another game board on my ActivPanel smartboard.)

 

For those people who liked the four-leaf clover templates I posted previously, here is another version that can be used to target story recall and sequential vocabulary. Students can have their own template to use as an individual storyboard, and a smartboard or enlarged template can be used as a follow-up during whole group review. Students can compare their individual versions to the whole-group storyboard to see if they match. The template can also simply be used as a graphic organizer for planning and organization assistance with students who struggle with the executive function component.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all — enjoy the downloads!

~Lisa

 

Simply Speaking February 27, 2012

Want to learn my newest, most fabulous idea for keeping up with data logs for each student? Read on right here!! I am very excited about this discovery, and for the potential it has to make my world a lot easier. Keeping up with the logs in the course of busy day of therapy is no easy feat. My school district requires us to keep data on all students, every time we see them for therapy. Our data is kept in computerized logs using Microsoft Excel, so all therapists are using the same log system across the county. Many times during the week I conduct classroom-based interventions and whole group lessons. Other times I have three to four students around my therapy table, making meaningful data entries/anecdotal notes difficult to write at the end of our sessions. And with sessions back-to-back with little time in between to consult with faculty, write reports, plan or even use the ladies room…life gets crazy and I often find myself playing catch-up, transferring written notes from a spiral notebook onto the computerized logs (translation: working at home long hours to keep up with data!)

So what’s the Time-saving Tech Tool? All you iPad and iPhone users might be out of luck on this one…Voice-to-text data entries using my Android phone (so far not available on Apple devices, I believe.) This idea is so simple and so ingenious, I am still overwhelmed at the significance of this discovery. WHY I didn’t think of this idea sooner is beyond me! I use my phone’s voice action feature to complete many other tasks already — why not speech-language logs??? Check out this video for a quick overview of how voice-to-text with Android works:

Using this voice-to-text feature, I can enter student therapy data into a file by simply speaking. With some students, I may input data in a quick moment in between therapy sessions, or even when walking down the hall to get my next group. With most students however, I can input the data at the end of the session during the time I would review progress anyway. A simple, “Ok, it’s Adam’s turn.., ready, listen!” And then I can speak a quick sentence or two into the phone to summarize the data (e.g., Given picture scenes, Adam formulated simple sentences using is/are auxiliary verb forms with 70% accuracy and minimal verbal prompts. Progress and strategies reviewed with student.”) To ensure student understanding, I can then  summarize the note, “Wow, Adam, that means you used those helping verbs correctly in 7 out of 10 of your sentences! Keep up the great work!”  And it’s done, all while maintaining student engagement. Students seem to enjoy this chance for extra attention, and it provides opportunity for additional review and feedback. My voice entry is saved into the document on my phone, and it’s done. I am using Quickoffice Pro to create, edit, and store and transfer student data into files. Here is a video about the features of QuickOffice Pro and the potential it has for working on the go:

Are you ready for the best part??? Here it is…Dropbox. Some of you may be using this online storage tool already, but the combination of voice-to-text, QuickOffice Pro and Dropbox is a powerful case management tool that has changed my working world. QuickOffice Pro allows you to instantaneously transfer your updated files to a “cloud” storage. With QuickOffice Pro and Dropbox, my Excel files are instantly saved and uploaded, and those same changes are automatically stored on all of my computers and mobile devices.This means that the log entry I dictated into a student’s Excel spreadsheet while walking down the hall is already updated and saved on my computer when I arrive in my therapy room. I can dictate those last few notes while waiting in the carpool line at my daughter’s school, and the notes are automatically updated and stored on my work and home computers without me even being there. The files are secure and in compliance with HIPAA requirements, with Dropbox’s 256-bit SSL encryption. Is anyone else impressed by the significance of this discovery?? Check out the Dropbox video for an overview of the possibilities:


Click here to get more info on using Dropbox.

If you are a busy therapist (like ME) struggling to meet the demands of a large caseload while still maintaining accurate, data-based documentation, then this type of tool may be just what you need. It certainly is just what I needed! Let me know what you are using to track student data — I am curious to know if similar technologies are being used. Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

EDITED FOR UPDATE:

I wanted to update that I have actually changed the office program I am using on my Android device. While Quick Office Pro is a very useful program, I did run into some difficulty with my spreadsheet template and the formulas it involved. I am now using Office Suites Pro, which preserves the formulas and transfers the documents seamlessly from mobile to desktop versions.

 

Come on In! February 24, 2012

Inspired by SLP and fellow blogger, Jenna Rayburn of Speech Room News, I decided to respond to her Anatomy of a Speech Room challenge and take some pictures of my therapy room. This challenge came at a good time because I have been playing around with the configuration of my little room a lot this year. In the past, my tiny room has been overpowered by my desk, two large file cabinets, and a large round table that sat smack in the center of the room. This arrangement left very little room to stand or move, which proved a bit tricky in some of my therapy sessions (picture me, children with wheelchairs or walkers, a graduate student intern and an additional adult assistant all wedged in around a circle table — yes, can you say CROWDED???) Earlier this year, my super-organized and ambitious student intern helped me brainstorm a bit to come up with a better layout. We packed old files into boxes to rid the room of a file cabinet, traded out the round table for a small rectangular table (a feat which involved me following our building custodian into the boiler room storage  area– seriously, that “room” is straight out of Nightmare on Elm Street; Freddy Krueger just may have been lurking in the shadows! But, I got my table.) Suddenly, the room seemed much larger and brighter, and my groups could all fit in the room without experiencing claustrophobic attacks. I could also access therapy materials or files without fear of gouging my leg on a file cabinet drawer (yes, that actually happened to me. Ouch.)

All was well until earlier this month when I got my new ActivPanel interactive smartboard (note: I am NOT complaining about this gift, but setting up the device and adjacent laptop did require some more shifting.) After some trial and error with cords, placement of the ActivPanel, student access methods and ways to connect to the Internet, I think I finally have a room layout I like.   I am feeling pretty happy about the space — even though it’s small, I think about how the room is a big step up from the room I had right out of graduate school, when I shared a book closet with the school psychologist! (That was another creepy Freddy Krueger space…dark and dingy with stacks of books all around me.)

Check out the pictures below for a tour of my new and improved, geeked-out therapy room!

Here is my room as you walk in the door. I have the therapy table and also a (new) rug where I do floortime play with some of my little ones (as young as three years old.) 

Once inside the room, you can see the table and the ActivPanel set-up, with my chalkboard and the visuals I keep handy.

Here is a closer look at the ActivPanel and the board. The lower right quadrant of the board is where I write my objectives — definitely a challenge in groups with varying skills and goals, but I usually try and write something all-encompassing so that they have an idea of what we are doing:

Underneath the ActivPanel (housed on an old, door-less cabinet) I keep printer paper, construction paper, and bins for easy access to lesson plan materials:

At the table, students sit on one side and the end (enough for 4, which is my largest size pull-out group,) and I sit on the side with the laptop and board. This way, students can all see the ActivPanel and they can walk up to it when it’s their turn. I previously had the ActivPanel sitting at the far end of the table, but students were reaching across each other, and trying to get close enough to the board to use the stylus was difficult. So far, this new set-up is working out very well. The laptop sitting to the left of the smartboard provides input to the smartboard. I also use the laptop to enter student data into log spreadsheets (which is actually difficult when I have the students there with me, so really I end up entering data into my log files later…but I do try. More on that topic in a subsequent post.) I also have frequently-used supplies within reach in the space around me while I conduct therapy sessions:

The shelf behind my therapy table (on the left in the above picture) is covered in fabric. I attached fabric to the shelf unit using heavy-duty velcro as a way to hide visually alluring items from easily-distracted and/or impulsive students. When needed, the fabric is easily removed to access books, puzzles, and a variety of games I use to target speech-language skills:

To the right of the chalkboard, I have a vertical file on the wall where I keep picture schedules, low-tech communication boards, core vocabulary boards and other useful visuals. I also have an emergency clipboard I keep handy for fire drills and other emergency procedures:

Here’s my desk (ok, I admit I did organize the surface of the desk a bit before I snapped this picture! I often have IEPs, reports and other papers in a stack, among other things. I am trying to make sure the desk looks at least this neat before I leave each day.) The wall behind my desk technically leads to another office, and you can see there is a two-way mirror there. My “neighbor” has her side covered with paper, but I have grand visions of having the whole office suite to myself, creating a therapy room and separate observation room:

To the left of the desk, I have a storage cabinet covered in fabric, my printer, and a pocket chart with visuals I have hanging on the wall (door.) The fabric keeps the toys hidden until they are offered, and the pocket chart allows easy access to visuals I often use to prompt students for behaviors.

                                         

Toy bins under the fabric:

At my desk I also have a Pinterest-inspired place to store my Team notebook (holds parent questionnaires, assessment logs, and anything else I may need at Team,) and activity files/other materials that I am currently using (activity files not in use are stored in the file cabinet underneath this desktop storage.) I got the dishrack at a thrift store for $1.00…works for me!

I even use the space underneath my desk — a “shred” bin for those confidential papers, and a rolling file cart that houses a “working file” for each student on my caseload. I use these files to store individualized therapy materials, most-recent progress report and a current copy of the IEP. Some of my students have speech-language files several inches thick that date back as many as six years; this working file system rolls out when I need it and helps keep current information easily at my fingertips.

Beyond my desk is a built-in shelving unit that is not quite accessible, due to the large file cabinet I needed to put about a foot or so next to (in front of) it. I store mostly books and materials I don’t need that often on this shelving unit, accompanied by pictures of my kids and other trinkets:

I also have a built-in cabinet where I house art supplies, story board characters and pieces, cooking supplies, picture cards (ones I do not use frequently,) seasonal items and miscellaneous therapy supplies. The cabinet is spacious and holds a lot of items in an organized fashion:

At the far end of the room, I have a refrigerator (my own) with some storage on top. In the storage drawers I keep things like glue sticks, stickers, game pieces, dice, and magnetic chips. Markers, crayons, pens and pencils are also within reach:

Above the refrigerator, there are some open shelves where I keep enticing toys (up out of reach so that students have to make verbal or picture requests. No rewards for pointing in this room!) I also have free-standing therapy mirrors, and roughly two-ton pottery pieces that my sons made at pottery camp many years ago; I can’t yet bear to part with them…perfect top shelf office decor! :)

To the right of the refrigerator (and behind my therapy table,) I have a bulletin board atop the shelving unit. I use this board to display our school-wide behavior plan poster — a nice reminder for the students and a nice way to prevent me from having to continually update bulletin board displays!  Look closely on  the lower right side of the bulletin board and you will see some visual prompts I keep on pocket rings…I use these often with students who need behavior supports; many of these students have their own pocket rings I gave teachers use with them throughout their school day.

On the counter below the bulletin board, I keep my artic cards, picture vocabulary cards and other Fun-Deck materials. I also keep binders with adapted reading program materials, Core curriculum standards and other resources.

Well, there it is. My small but sweet therapy space where amazing things happen! Hope you have enjoyed this up-close and personal tour of my home away from home. I would love to know how this room compares to rooms that other SLPS use — I am grateful for this space but always wishing for a bigger room to allow for even more creativity (I’m thinking circle-time area, play house, puppet theater, pretend store, gross motor area and more!) A girl can dream, right?! Thanks for taking a peek and for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

 

Visual Supports for Behavior February 17, 2012

I was trying to think of a clever title for this entry…some alliterative phrase  that captures the essence of my theme. I quickly decided to stick with the matter-of-fact title, “Visual Supports for Behavior,” because matter-of-fact is what my message is intended to be — children often need visual supports for behavior. We know that certain students respond particularly well to visual supports. Research documents the need for visuals with the autism population, and there are many great options for visuals to use throughout these students’ school day. But what about students who do not have autism? Might they need visual supports as well? Absolutely!

Using visual supports in a school environment targets diverse needs across student populations. Visual supports can tap into the learning styles of students with a preference for visual presentation, assisting them in the processing and storage of information. Visuals can also increase comprehension in students struggling with auditory comprehension, providing a visual prototype that can hold meaning for them in a confusing world of fast-paced direction and instruction . Students with attentional difficulties often need visual supports as well. For a student overloaded with environmental stimuli in a busy classroom, visual supports can help capture their attention and give them a concept on which to focus as they process verbal information.  In addition, many students with executive function difficulties (related to attentional difficulties) might appear to grasp a concept well during group instruction. Students can follow along with information as a teacher visually demonstrates a concept and walks the class through tasks in step-by-step fashion. However, when asked to apply that same skill to complete individual seat work, students with attention and/or executive function  difficulties often flounder. But visual process charts and graphic organizers can help students complete tasks with independence as they practice the skill. A great site for graphic organizers is found here, but I often make my own to meet individual students’ needs.

One way I frequently use visual supports is to address (or prevent) behavior problems. Many students with special needs have deficits that can trigger behavior issues. Students with language difficulties often have difficulty expressing how they feel, or what they want. Issues with impulse control may interfere with classroom routines and social interactions. Students living in poverty or unstable homes may have difficulties coping with the demands of  a structured learning environment. Little three and four year-olds without any prior school experience are now attempting to navigate the social world of new people and new expectations. They long to interact with peers but do not yet know how to properly initiate that interaction. Sitting on the rug at circle time is a challenge when they are accustomed to free play and exploration. All of these issues can cause negative behaviors to emerge, behaviors that can interfere with the learning of others. SLPs are frequently involved in the problem-solving process and are uniquely skilled at developing materials to address such behaviors. Social stories, super pictures, behavior charts,  incentive charts, picture schedules and communication boards are all strategies SLPs keep in their toolbox so that students can make progress in the classroom.

 Here are a few of my favorite visuals, resources that I specifically designed for students needing visual input to assist with comprehension of expectations. I have experienced great success using these simple but powerful tools.

Visual display to help students express how they are feeling (sometimes they don’t even know until the visual seems to “match” what they are experiencing):

 

Another visual display that was made for a student to keep on his desk so that he could express the emotions he was frequently experiencing: 

Often students need individualized prompting during instruction time to follow classroom rules and expectations. Younger students and/or students with impulsive behaviors need one-step verbal commands to remind them of what they should be doing. These pictures can be cut apart, laminated and placed on a key ring for portability and easy access, or they can be enlarged and cut apart to use as a super-picture presentation. I keep these pictures and other similar visuals in a pocket chart on the wall in my therapy room:

One of my FAVORITE, most often-used visual is the First-Then board. I am posting one template below, but I have many other styles I frequently use. I have also been known to grab post-it notes in a therapy moment when necessary, and draw pictures depicting the first-then expectation. I verbally use this terminology to communicate expectations, even with my own children. “First homework; then T.V.”  The idea is to state the expectation, and when it is finished a more preferred activity can be completed. The first-then chart posted below was used most successfully with a high-functioning student with autism who could complete his classwork with assistance when he tried, but he often became overwhelmed and refused to attempt anything. The classroom teacher and I worked together with the student to identify a list of brief, preferred activities that could be used as a reward after he finished his assignment. The student chose pictures of the preferred activities to place on the bottom row of the chart each day (things like get a drink, color a picture, take a walk, say hi to people in the office, etc.) For each activity he was assigned, he chose one of his preferred options and placed it on the “then” spot. (e.g., First – math worksheet; Then – color a picture.) With a motivating goal easily within reach, the student was able to complete chunks of work and take mini-breaks for rewards throughout his day. His meltdowns literally vanished within a day or two of introducing this tool:

For students needing a visual reminder of how to make “happy” choices, I often use these supports:

A great tool to give (positive and negative) feedback to a student while you are teaching is a non-verbal signal or visual — no need to stop instruction and give negative attention to a child who is misbehaving. With older students, a simple thumbs up or down could work. With younger students, I like to use the happy face/ sad face flip visual. Just cut out the two circles, laminatend tape to opposite sides of a craft/popsicle stick. Present any student with nonverbal feedback as you continue with your lesson. I have witnessed more than a few students break their cycle of negative behaviors by experiencing confidence and success when they are rewarded positively with the “happy” side (catch them doing something positive whenever you can — it works!)

The beauty of visual supports is that they can be tailored to exactly fit the situation at hand. Programs like PowerPoint, Boardmaker, ActivInpire, MS Word, and many others allow for creative design and image selection. The internet hosts a wealth of ideas, templates and other resources to help in the process. The bottom line? Many SLPs and teachers encounter students who are struggling to meet curricular and behavioral expectations. Can we eliminate what is causing those issues?  Unfortunately, not usually. But visual supports are a wonderful tool (and in my experience, sometimes the solution) to helping these students move beyond barriers that block their progress. Increased comprehension, independence and compliance result in better learning opportunities for students, and better relationships with those around them.

 

President’s Day in the Speech Room February 16, 2012

Well, Valentine’s Day was a hit in the speech room; now it’s time to move to the next theme-based holiday, President’s Day! (Does anyone else think the year is just flying??) Each year, I am surprised to hear how little my students know about the Presidents. Today I asked a group of students, “What does the President do?” Aside from saying generic statements like, “He’s the boss” or “He is in charge of things,” the students had great difficulty telling me more specifically what the President does, or even who he is ” bossing around.”  As I prompted them with WH questions to elicit more details, the students responded with comments like, “He is in charge of Maryland” and “He is the boss of the whole world.” Granted, these students are language-delayed and have difficulty retaining information, but  the conversation made me realize that I need a way to help them visualize the organization of our world. I plan on using this idea to give them a concrete representation of where they live (and who the President is in charge of bossing!):

I also plan on using some fun, educational vidoes in my ActivInspire flipcharts to give students some background knowledge of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and related vocabulary. Here are some that I like:

George Washington:

Abraham Lincoln:

A President’s Day Song:

 And this video I’ve included about the 50 Nifty United States, mostly because it’s a really cool song that my oldest son learned and performed years ago when he was in Elementary school. He practiced it so often that our entire family learned to sing with him and can now list all the states in alphabetical order!

Along with the flipcharts and embedded videos, I have some materials prepared that can be inserted into the flipcharts and also printed to send home with students or to document their ideas and annotations. These activities can be used to elicit basic communication and higher-level language skills, as well as to practice articulation skills. Click to download if you liek them!

 

This open-ended game board can be used to target virtually any speech-language skill. Check out this post for a glimpse at how I used a similar open-ended board on the ActivPanel:

I am looking forward to exploring vocabulary, discovering facts and having some genuine conversations with students about the President’s Day theme, incorporating these fun materials. Hope you enjoy them too! Leave a comment to let me know if/how you used the materials. Thanks!

~Lisa

 

“SMART” Speech-Language Therapy February 12, 2012

I am fortunate to work in a Title 1 school with supplemental funding to provide rich, technological experiences for the developing minds of our children. ELMOS, document cameras, mobile computer labs, and interactive whiteboards are familiar terms to teachers and students throughout my building. Today’s generation of children are ostensibly at a disadvantage if their education does not incorporate technology on a regular basis…a sign of the times. I’ve heard students in my school ask questions that make  me chuckle, like, “What’s an overhead?” or “Can we just Google it and find the answer?” I also had a student recently point to a picture of JFK on the wall in the hallway and remark, “Hey, I know him! He’s in my Black Ops game!” Ahhh yes, sign of the times.
  

Children today are surrounded by multi-media sensory input; instant gratification in the form of video games, cell phone apps, texts, on-demand video streaming, internet search engines and multi-media lifestyles. As a young, hip SLP (just go with it…I’m making a point here :) ) I prefer to reach students where they are and provide therapy activities  incorporating technological resources, whenever possible. Feeling a bit passionate about the idea of addressing multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile) and building brain connections through  a multi-modal approach to instruction, I even began a technology initiative for the SLPs in my school district this year. A Technology Committe was formed with interested participants, and we have been meeting periodically to develop systems for  creating and sharing technological resources. We hope that other SLPs in our county will take advantage of opportunities to incorporate technology into their therapy sessions. Our work is to be “unveiled” at a professional development next month, and preparing for the presentation is getting me even more excited about the work we have done.

In the LiveSpeakLove spirit of sharing resources, I thought I would post some of my favorite ways of incorporating technology into therapy sessions. My county has a strict policy for the use and approval of technology, so all the ideas I have here are limited to what is currently approved for my school distrcit (i.e., no iPad, iTouch or related technology; web-based applications and sites have been approved through our filter process.)

ActivInspire Flipcharts – My school system uses the ActivInspire software program as one way to create “flipcharts” or lessons to be used on interactive smartboards. I now have a desktop version of the classroom-sized whiteboard in my therapy room, so I am using ActivInpire Flipcharts for individual, small and classroom-sized groups. I really do not work for Promethean or ActivInspire, but this technology has changed the way I provide therapy. Check out this video for a quick overview:

You can create your own flipcharts using the program’s resource libraries merged with your own content, or find unlimited resources to download and adapt at the following sites:

Online Games/Activities - The internet is filled with language-rich games and activities that will engage learners and provide instant reinforcement for task completion. Not to take the place of traditional speech-language therapy with individualized instruction and feedback provided in a monitored, systematic format, online games are a unique supplement to the personal interactions we create in therapy. Some of my favorite sites are:

TinyEye Online Therapy – I found this wonderful, internet-based company several years ago when I worked for them providing online speech-language therapy (via Skype and the ingenious online therapy system they have created) with a school in China. Taking advantage of the time difference, I logged on several times a week after my own children were in bed and provided instruction and feedback to students in China (who were assisted by their teachers during our sessions.) This service delivery model is perhaps the REAL wave of the future. With critical shortages of SLPs throughout our world, companies like TinyEye have devised a way to use technology to meet students’ needs in an efficient, global model for services. Even if you have no desire to Skype with China during your normal snoozing hours (perhaps not for sleep-deprived souls with crazy lives, but I would do it again if a mutually-agreeable contract became available,) you can still take advantage of their online therapy games–FREE for school-based SLPs. Just register with them to receive access to games addressing myriad goals, objectives, skills and targets. Games can be added to online “backpacks” with access even given to students for homework practice. Here is just a sampling of the abundant online resources they offer:

Online "Backpack" of games to target individual students

Farm Game - students click to answer WH qestions involving concept vocabulary

Animated Mermaid Matching game to target articulation skills through matching words or minimal pairs

PBS Kids Online Games - online games linked to curricular content, featuring characters from the PBS shows.

Nick Jr. Online Games - More online games featuring kids’ favorite characters. All of the games feature educational content linked to curriular vocabulary.

SMART Exchange - Images and smartboard lessons that are directly linked to State Curriculum Standards. Simply click on your state, identify the standard, grade level and subject area, and VOILA!! Instant resources available to you that address those standards. Here is a glimpse of a search I did for third grade language arts activities using the Maryland Core Standards:

Online Multi-media resources – Images and videos can be directly inserted into flipcharts, smartboard lessons, or PowerPoint presentations to increase student engagement through visual stimuli, sounds and animation. I frequently search for images to use in Boardmaker documents, to target  populations that comprehend and store vocabulary labels significantly better when real images are used (see this article for a brief rationale.) I also use sound effects and videos frequently in computer or smartboard-based lessons. Children in today’s world — a world filled to the brim with t.v. shows, video games, computer games, cell phone games and so on and so on and so on — love the power in clicking an icon or button to create instant visual or auditory feedback. Here are my favorite tools for creating multi-media delight in therapy activities:

  • Google - Wow, images and animations galore, many of them free! (just make sure you have an antivirus program installed before you click on links you find.) You can search for gif animations, videos, and even use their image search feature to locate the exact image to insert into your lesson.

Snapshot of Google Image search results for "bears"

  • YouTube – Not just for watching Ellen’s Favorite Videos or  the latest Adele performance  — there are amazing, inumerable educational resources found on youtube. Read this entry to see an example of one video I used in a language lesson for young students. My seventh grade son reviews algebra concepts each night by watching youtube videos from KhanAcademy. You can even learn how to increase your use of technology in therapy by watching podcasts from one resourceful SLP!
  • Watch Know Learn – free, organized database of educational videos covering all subjects and grade levels.
  • Self-made video clips – my school purchased several flip cams that many of us use. With these cameras, students can be video-taped (abiding by confidentiality requirements) and inserted into presentations. Therapy sessions can include self-assessment and monitoring pieces with this tool, and provide documentation for acquisition of skills. Plus, kids just like it.
  • Video Montage Programs – Pictures and video clips can be set to music and preserved using slide show programs like Animoto or Windows Movie Maker . I often use programs like these outside of therapy as well (e.g., to document accomplishnents during school-wide assemblies, or to document my own family photos in a creative way.)

This is just a quick overview of some of the tools I routinely use to increase student engagement and give them multiple ways of processing and responding during our sessions. For even more ideas, check out suggestions from the National Center on Universal Design for Learning (UDL.) In addition to technology ideas, their list of suggestions includes ways to adapt materials for various disabilities and activate background knowledge in students across populations. A fantastically huge database of web-based resources is presented as it relates to UDL checkpoints.

Feel free to let me know what types of technology you are using and how your students or children respond. We live in a dynamic, fast-paced world where “smart therapy” means more than just keeping up with the latest reseatch. To be truly “smart,” we now need to step out of our comfort zones a bit and embrace the technology that surrounds us.

 

 
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