Yearly Archives


My SLP Story {A Frenzied SLPs Linky}

By | My SLP Story

Do you ever wonder what led your SLP friends to become SLPs? We all have our own story, but often do not know each other’s. This week, the Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky to share our SLP stories. Sharing your story can be a great way to remind yourself why you chose this field, and relive some of the passion and excitement that can often fade over the years. I encourage you to read our SLP stories and reflect back on your personal story. Feel free to link up with your own blog post, or share in the comments.

My personal SLP story begins around 2009. I was a 4th grade classroom teacher who knew very little about what went on in the speech therapy room. I had very few students who received speech therapy services and really never knew what they did while they were out of my room. I didn’t think much about it…until my own daughter began stuttering. Taiylor was 2 and struggled a lot as she began learning to speak. Our family doctor wasn’t concerned about it, but I was. I finally pushed for a speech evaluation after her third birthday. She began attending private speech therapy in 2010. I was able to watch every speech session via video in a parent viewing room. I was so impressed with her SLP, and my curiosity about the field began to grow.

This was also around the time that I was beginning to think about leaving the classroom. I had taught for several years and just knew I didn’t want to be a classroom teacher for 20 more years. I knew I wanted to stay involved in education, but just didn’t know what I wanted to do. I changed schools hoping new scenery might change my opinion of teaching, but it did not. Every day I prayed and researched about what other careers might be a good fit for me…and everything kept pointing back to speech-language pathology.

At this point, my daughter was no longer in speech. After a few months of therapy without a lot of progress, she woke up from a long nap one day with no more stutter. She actually walked up to me after her nap and said, “Mommy. I don’t have to think when I talk anymore.” We went back for a few more speech sessions, just to be sure she really no longer needed it and it never started again. Some say this was purely developmental stuttering and she outgrew it. I say it was God’s way of leading me to what would become my new career.

After many prayers and discussions with my husband about speech-language pathology and needing to go back to grad school (I already had a master’s degree in teaching), I took the leap and enrolled in a leveling program.

I completed my leveling courses while I finished my 7th year of teaching. After being accepted into my graduate program, I found a job as an SLP assistant and the intense journey to becoming an SLP began.

Grad school was amazingly difficult. Working as a full-time SLP Assistant, being a mom, and pulling off projects and late night study sessions was a challenge. However, my husband instantly saw a difference in my happiness level and passion for my new field. I knew in my heart I had made the right choice.

Graduation 2015

I graduated from grad school in August 2015. I knew I wanted to work in the schools, and that is where I am today, but I also discovered I love working with adults. My clinicals in the SNF and hospital settings were life changing experiences. One of the things I love about this career are all the different options. Every setting is different. Every patient is different. Every school is different. Every SLP is different.

I love helping others improve their lives. I love being able to help a child learn their first words, produce that tricky /r/ sound for the first time, and experience success in the classroom or in a group setting. I love helping my stroke patients improve their communication skills or improve their swallowing so they can eat the food they want to eat. Being an SLP has changed my life in more ways than just where I go for work. I am inspired and passionate and thankful for this field every day.

I am still a new SLP. I actually just got my CCC in July 2016. The passion and excitement that led me to becoming an SLP is fresh in my mind and heart. By writing down my story, I know I will be able to read it on those difficult days in the future when I need encouragement. I hope sharing my story helps inspire others who may not be feeling the passion anymore. I encourage each and every one of you to think about what led you to this field. Think about the new graduate excitement you had and dreams of improving the world and the lives of your clients. Write your story down and share it with others. You never know who you may inspire…including yourself.

To read more SLP stories, click through The Frenzied SLPs linky below.

Tips for Effective and Efficient Teamwork

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Teamwork – the combined actions of a group of people, especially when effective and efficient (Google definition)

This week, The Frenzied SLPs are all about teamwork. Working as part of a team can be tricky, and may not always be easy. Sometimes it takes great effort to make the team work.  Many SLPs (like myself) travel between schools, which can make the “team” concept even more challenging.  I would like to share some tips with you that I have found to be helpful in making it all work.

I shared the google definition of teamwork above because it paints a great picture of what working together as a team really is.  It’s more than just “working together.”  It’s working together AND being effective and efficient.  That’s what makes a great team. The following tips are my suggestions to help build effective and efficient teams. 

1. Remember whose team we’re all on in the first place.  Teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, SLPs, counselors, custodians, office staff…everyone is on the same team.  We are here for our students.  It can be easy to get lost in the “us vs. them” rut, especially in times of disagreement.  If we can remember that we are all here for the good of the students, it will help us get through those difficult times.

2. Be willing to learn from others. Experienced SLP or newbie does not matter.  We can all learn from each other.  I have learned a TON from my supervising SLPs and more experienced colleagues, but I think they have also learned from me.  We each have our own unique experiences and knowledge we can share with our colleagues. SLPs can learn from teachers, and teachers can learn from SLPs. Be open and accepting of what your teammates have to share.  You never when you’ll learn something new!

3. Make an effort to mingle. A lot of days I am behind on paperwork or stressed out about deadlines and difficult sessions, and I just want to sit in my room and eat lunch with my door closed.  However, I try to eat with the teachers at my schools as often as I am able to. It’s not every day, but I am for at least once a week at each of my three schools. This is so important because it allows you to get to know each other better, outside of IEP meetings and conferences where it’s all student talk. I enjoy these times and it helps me to feel more like we are a team when we can relax a little together. 

Those are my teamwork tips.  What great teamwork tips do you have to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

For more teamwork talk, click through the rest of The Frenzied SLPs linky below. 

Progress Monitoring…Baselines and Beyond {Linky}

By | My Products

Whew!  The past few weeks have been hectic!  We are in our third week of school and it has been a whirlwind.  The start of the year is always pretty busy, but I feel like this year it is even more crazy than usual.  Maybe because I have three schools this year, two of which are new to me.  That means I have two entirely new caseloads to get to know and collect data on.  My days have been filled with progress monitoring, which makes it perfect timing for this Frenzied SLPs linky.  We are sharing all about…progress monitoring!

This topic is one of those areas that can vary widely from person to person.  Every SLP has their own way of collecting data.  I have been trying out new ways to collect and store my data this year, but I always seem to go back to being a paper and pencil kind of gal.  Most recently, I have been experimenting with using SLP Toolkit and some Smarty Ears apps for progress monitoring (more info to come in a future post), but I just really like good old fashioned paper data sheets.

I usually start my year getting to know my students and assessing progress on their current goals.  I like to do this right of the bat because it allows me to see if they have retained their skills over the summer break, and lets me know how much ground we have to cover before their next IEP meeting. 

I also tend to have quite a few new transfer students each year.  That means I have 30 days to assess, plan and revise goals as needed. 

Needless to say, my first few weeks of school include data, data, and more data! 

For articulation, I like to use simple data sheets where I have the list of target words down one side and dates across the top.  Then I can use a quick +/- or write in a sound substitution as we go through the word list.

I have several ready to go data sheets with word cards in my Teachers Pay Store.  All can be purchased separately or in the bundle.  I keep these cards laminated in a 3 ring binder with extra copies of the data sheets in sheet protectors.  This allows me to grab them quickly when I need them.  You can also cut the word cards and store them on a binder ring or in bags, or even just display them on an iPad.

My bundle includes several different target sounds, with more to be added in the future (all can also be purchased separately).   Each set comes with a ready to use data sheet, saving you time! 

When collecting baseline data, I always use as many words as I can for each target sound and assess the sound in all positions.  My baselines include anywhere from 20-40 words, depending on the phoneme.  I run through all words on the list because it may be that the student has the sound in one single word.  That would be a great place to start when teaching! 

After I have my initial overall percentage, I then select 5 words that the child missed and use those words to teach and practice the sound.  We will practice for 3-4 sessions (depending on the child), informally assessing the target words at the beginning of each session.  Once the child is able to produce the 4/5 target words correctly, I will then run through the entire baseline again to see if they are able to carryover the phoneme into other words.  Then, if needed, we will select a different 5 words to teach and practice and repeat the process. 

Collecting baseline data can be time consuming, which is why I like to keep it as simple as possible.  Having prepared data sheets and word lists allows me to grab and go with little prep time.  I then have records of student progress that I can add to their file for documentation. 

For more info and tips on progress monitoring, be sure to check out the other bloggers in the Frenzied SLPs linkup.  And feel free to share your tips for progress monitoring in the comments below.  🙂

Best Year Ever Bonus Sale & Tips from the Frenzied SLPs {Linky}

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Ahhhh!!!  I’m not ready!  I’ve been back at work since August 1, students start this week and I’m still not ready.  How can that be?  Too many meetings, training sessions, and staff development to attend.  In reality, I am more prepared than I feel.  I have a ton of great resources and lessons planned, my data binders are organized and ready to go, and I’ve read up on all of my new students.   It’s going to be a great week.

To help kickoff the BEST YEAR EVER, Teachers Pay Teachers has announced a BONUS one day sale for Monday, August 22.  The Frenzied SLPs have linked up to share some great resources you will want to check out during the sale.  We’re also sharing some back to school tips of the trade to help make your life a little less frenzied.

My best tip for busy SLPs is to establish procedures for screenings and referrals early on.  If you have clearly explained the protocol for speech referrals, it will save you so much time down the road.  Things to consider: Who will handle initial screening of students?  Will the SLP conduct a whole class screening?  What if teachers have speech or language concerns as the year progresses?  How will RTI work? These are all things your district has most likely established guidelines for.  Make sure you understand the process and clearly communicate it with your teachers.

To help with speech sound screenings, I use this articulation screener.

 This screener is quick and easy to use.  I use it if I need to screen individual students, or entire classes.  I also pass a copy to my teachers if they ever have an articulation concern with one of their students.  Since I’m legally not allowed to screen a student without parental consent, loaning this screener to their teacher helps them to be able to know what is or is not developmentally appropriate.  My teachers find it very easy to use, too!  It also comes with this speech sound development chart, which is a great resource for teachers!

You can find this easy articulation screener in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. Don’t forget to use the code ONEDAY on Monday, August 22 to save 28% off everything in my store!

How do you handle speech referrals and screenings in your district?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

And be sure to head back to the linky and check out all the other great Frenzied SLP resources!  There are some great ones!

Back to School Freebie!

By | Freebies

This time last year I was preparing for back to school, going through a blog overhaul and prepping for my first ever Disney cruise.  It was a crazy August for sure.  This year, I’m less overwhelmed as I prepare for back to school, but I still find that last year’s post applies to me now.  I don’t think the first day jitters will ever go away, and I’m not sure I want them to.  I love the excitement of back to school.  That’s why I’m sharing this post again.  I hope you find it helpful!

From Aug. 2015:
As the school year quickly approaches, I find myself growing a little more nervous each day.  I have to admit, I have some first day jitters!  This year, I will be starting at a new campus, and I will be on my own (mostly).  For the past two school years, I have been an SLP assistant and graduate student with quite a bit of supervision.  Even when I wasn’t being directly supervised, my SLP mentors were always nearby.  Things are changing this year.  I will be working as a CF, which requires much less supervision.  I am so excited, and I feel very prepared, but those jitters are still there. {Update: I now have my CCC!!!}

Even as a teacher I experienced first day jitters each year.  It’s really a combination of excitement and the unknown mixed together.  Starting at a new campus is a  little scary.  Will they welcome me?  What will my caseload be like?  All the unknowns make me a little nervous.  So I try to channel my nervousness into productivity.  🙂

I’ve been thinking a lot about this school year and what I can do to be the best SLP this campus has ever had (it’s good to have aspirations, right?)  Thinking back to my years as a teacher, and conversations I have had with my SLP supervisors over the past 2 years, I know that communication with the teachers is a key part to having a successful year.  To help with this, I have created a FREE teacher communication packet which will hopefully make the communication a bit easier.

SLP-Teacher Communication Forms

My packet includes the following:
*A blank “Notes From the Speech Room” page
*A “Today in Speech” page for sharing what students are currently working on in speech
*A blank “Important” page
*A blank “Reminder” page
* 1/2 sheet “Speech Meeting Reminder” pages (for IEP meetings, conferences with teachers, etc.)
*A speech schedule page to help teachers keep track of when their students will be going to speech

All of the pages are in black and white for quick printing.  There is an editable file to use when you would like to type directly on the pages.  There is also a pdf file if you prefer to hand write on the forms.

This product is a freebie that I hope will be useful to other SLPs, assistants, and graduate students as they start the new school year.

You can download the file in my TPT store by clicking HERE.  Please leave feedback and let me know if this product helps you as you get ready for the new school year.


Best Year Ever TPT Sale {Linky}

By | Teachers Pay Teachers

It’s that time again! Back to school! And Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a big sale just in time! I’m planning to make this year the best year ever for me and my students! To help celebrate, my entire store is on sale for 20% off through August 5. Plus, on August 1-2, you can save an additional 10% by using the code BESTYEAR at checkout.
To help kickoff the sale, I’m linking up with Speech Room News to share some of the best resources I have available in my store, as well as some awesome resources by my TPT seller friends. Happy shopping! 
From my store you definitely should check out:
1. Articulation Sudoku MEGA Bundle (you can also purchase the individual products separately if you don’t want the entire bundle)

2. Easy Articulation Screener (great for SLPs and for teachers to gather info for referrals)
3. Themed Sounds in Syllables Practice – great for working of target phonemes at the syllable level, but can also be used for word level, too.

Other great products to check out:
1. Wh- Question Bundle from Ms. Gardenia’s Speech Room – my students LOVE these books!

2. Speech and Language Homework from Kiwi Speech – this will be so great to use this year!

3. Articulation Homework by A Perfect Blend – I love quick homework products!

4. Response to Intervention Bundle by Speech Room News – this looks amazing!

Don’t forget to follow my store while you’re shopping.  You’ll be the first to hear about new products and sales.  You can also join my email list and get exclusive subscriber freebies and deals!

And don’t forget to head back over to the linky at Speech Room News and check out all the other great resources being talked about!  

SLP Planner Roundup

By | SLP Resources

Can you believe summer break is over already?  I have a few more days before I return to work (although students don’t return until the end of August).  Whether you’re back already, or returning soon, it’s time we start talking about planners.  To help everyone out, I have compiled a list of some great SLP planners that will be so helpful for you as you prep for the new school year, with some tips to help you select the best fit for you.

1. The first decision that has to be made is whether you will have one main life/work planner, or if you would prefer to keep separate life and work planners.  I prefer one because I like to be able to have all my important dates and appointments on one calendar, but I do have separate work/personal sections built in.  Many of my SLP friends prefer to keep their work planners separate.

2. The next thing you need to decide is what pages you would most use in a planner.  I need to have a monthly calendar spread, as well as weekly pages for more specific notes.  I also like to add in pages to help me keep track of IEP meetings, evals, and reports due each month.  I also add in my school calendars. This year I will have 5 different district calendars to keep up with!

3. The last big decision is how you prefer to bind your planner together.  Do you prefer spiral bound? Do you want to be able to add/remove pages during the year? Maybe a three ring binder would be a good option for you.  There are many different binding options, and most are fairly inexpensive to have done at your local office store.  I always take mine to an office store to have it spiral bound.

Now…where to look for the best SLP planner for you? Teachers Pay Teachers of course!  Quite a few of my SLP friends have created beautiful and functional SLP planners.  The best part of theses planners is that they have been created by SLPs.  The prices are great, too!

Last year I actually purchased two different SLP planners and merged them into one.  I selected the pages I liked best from each and added my district calendars and contact info page.  I enjoyed being able to customize my planner, and I spent less than $15 on the entire thing!

This year I made the leap to an Erin Condren planner.  I love the vertical weekly format with three sections.  I use one for work, one for personal, and one for TPT/blogging.  Her planners are on the pricey side, but you can use my referral code and get $10 your first order! Just click HERE

 Erin Condren Referral Code

If you’re not that thrilled about spending $$$ on an expensive planner, the following is a list of SLP planners sold on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You’re bound to find a style you love on this list, or you can purchase several and combine them!

No matter what kind of planner you choose, be sure to check out these awesome planner stickers from Kiwi Speech on Etsy.  They are great for SLPs and teachers!

And Wilma Dean Trout has handmade planner accessories, too!  Get them in her Etsy shop starting August 1.

Happy planning!

Planners are listed in no particular order. Click on links to view descriptions and prices.

Editable SLP PlannerSLP PlannerOrganization & Data PlannerSLP PlannerOrganization PacketSLP PlannerSimplified Speech Therapy PlannerSpeech PlannerUltimate Editable Speech Language Therapy PlannerLife & Therapy Planner for SLPsSpeech Therapy Yearly Organizer & PlannerSLP PlannerSLP Planner & Fillable FormsUltimate SLP PlannerEditable Planner-Binder Covers/Forms for SLPs & Special Education TeachersSuper PlannerSLP Like a Boss Planner

1. The Speech Attic – Editable SLP Planner
2. Speech Language Pirates – SLP Planner
3. The Speech Bubble – Organization and Data Planner
4. Crazy Speech World – SLP Planner
5. The Speech Owl – SLP Organization Packet
6. Kayla SLP – SLP Planner
7. Carissa Speelman – Simplified Speech Therapy Planner
8. Word of Mouth – Speech Planner
9. Doyle Speech Works – Ultimate Editable Speech Language Therapy Planner
10. Speaking Freely SLP – Life & Therapy Planner for SLPs
11. Busy Bee Speech – Speech Therapy Yearly Organizer & Planner
12. Sparklle SLP – SLP Planner
13. Speech to the Core – SLP Planner and Fillable Forms
14. Road to Speech – Ultimate SLP Planner (Editable)
15. Speech Wonderland – Editable Planner-Binder Covers/Forms for SLPs and Special Education Teachers
16. Super Power Speech – Super Planner
17. Beautiful Speech Life –  SLP Like a Boss Planner

iTap by Smarty Ears {App Review & Giveaway}

By | SLP Apps
love using good apps in my speech sessions.  I travel between several schools, so being able to use the iPad helps reduce the amount of stuff I have to carry around.  The newest addition to my collection of apps is iTap by Smarty Ears Apps.  Today I want to share my thoughts on this app, and you can enter to win your own copy!

iTap Test of Articulation and Phonology allows SLPs to assess/screen articulation and phonology, record speech samples during the assessment, and generate reports to share with teachers and parents.

When you first open iTap, you will have the opportunity to watch a video tutorial.  You can also access the tutorial through the settings if you need it again later on. 

When adding students, the app allows for identification of any dialectical influences.  This is a great feature and also a great reminder for the SLP to be aware of possible dialectical differences that may have an impact on the student’s articulation.

As you progress through the assessment, pictures are presented to elicit target words.  Each target word addresses multiple phonemes.  The target phonemes are highlighted in green, which also indicates a correct production.  ***Note: Vowel errors are not addressed in this assessment, though you are able to make additional notes as you evaluate.

When the student produces an error, tap the target phoneme to record their response. A list of common phonological processes will pop up for you to select from.   ***Note: A great feature of the app is that you are able to flip the target image around so you can sit across from the student.  The documentation area will face you and the target word and picture will face the student.

By selecting “substitution,” you are then able to select which phoneme the student produced in place of the target phoneme.

For cluster reduction, you are also able to note which phoneme the student produced correctly.

The app also includes a quick screen of multisyllabic words. These words are scored as correct/incorrect rather than noting specific phoneme errors.

After the assessment is completed, the SLP is then able to provide an overall intelligibility rating at the word and phrase level.  ***Note, the app does not address phrases, but the SLP can include phrase level productions as needed.

One of my favorite features of iTap is the scoring and report information.  iTap does provide a standardized score for your students.  ***Note: You can read more about the standardization sample on the Smarty Ears Website.

The reporting feature provides a general overview of the student’s performance, with more specific information in the areas of position, manner, voicing, words, multisyllabic words, and types of errors.

The word analysis allows you to see each of the target words and the errors noted on each word.

For multisyllabic words, an overall accuracy percentage is provided based on the number of syllables in each target word.

My favorite feature is the pie chart summarizing the error results.  I am a visual person and I love the visual representation of the results.  I can also use my snip it tool to cut and paste this into my IEP program to display in a student’s report.

All of the results are then formatted into a well written report.  This report can be saved to your computer, emailed, or printed.

Overall Impressions
My favorite features of this app include:
-Easy to navigate
-Can be completed in a short period of time
-Great for quick screens or progress monitoring
-Being able to flip the screen for use during assessments
-Clear layout of results
-No bulky flip books or protocols to carry around
-Scoring is done automatically 
My Suggestions for Future Updates
-More words added to the multisyllabic word portion
-Wider standardization sample completed for scoring
Overall, I love this app.  I have already used it a ton in the few months I’ve had it.  I have used to it to screen students, progress monitor, and as a part of a full evaluation.  Even though I did not use it as my only source of data for the evaluation (I also used the Goldman Fristoe, speech samples, and observations), iTap fit well into my assessment routine and generated some excellent information for my evaluation.  
iTap is a great assessment tool for busy SLPs, and especially for those of us who travel and don’t want to carry around bulky test kits.  It is great for collecting data during evaluations, screenings, and for progress monitoring.  
Now for the best part!  Smarty Ears has provided me with TWO FREE COPIES of iTap to give away.  This app sells for $74.99 in the App Store, so this is a great opportunity!  Enter in the Rafflecopter below.  Winners will be selected on Tuesday, June 21. Good luck!

***Disclaimer: This review represents my personal opinions.  Smarty Ears provided me with a copy of the app, but no other compensation was received.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Express Yourself

By | My SLP Story

Tonight’s post was inspired by the #instaBHSM photo challenge on Instagram (sponsored by Simply Speech, Consonantly Speaking, and Home Sweet Speech Room). We have been sharing photos related to specific themes each day.  Today’s theme was “Express Yourself,” and it really got me thinking…

 We are so lucky to live in a world where there are many different ways we can express ourselves.  I have found several ways that I use to express myself, including blogging, writing, and creating new speech-language materials. I also love to speak and communicate with others.  These things are all a part of me and help me share who I am with the world.

I also thought about some of my students who are not able to fully express themselves to their family/friends.  Some are limited in their verbal expression, some have difficulties with social interactions, and others may be embarrassed about their fluency or articulation. 

As SLPs we can impact lives in so many ways.  One of those ways is by helping our students feel more confident in who they are, and by helping them to be able to share their personality with the world around them.  We can do this in a variety of ways:

1. Working with students to improve their speech-language.
2. Teaching/training students and teachers in use of AAC.
3. Beginning to teach signs to students when appropriate.
4. Introducing them to a variety of new activities they can use to express themselves, including art, dance, singing, writing, and fashion, just to name a few.

I love being an SLP and working with my students to discover new things each and every day.  I love seeing them learn knew things and being able to share those moments with parents/teachers/classmates.  I also love that I learn more about myself as I work with each and every student.

Expressing yourself is so much more than being able to speak.  It’s about sharing who you are in your heart.  What are some ways you express yourself or ways you help your students with their self expression? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

End of the Year Encouragement

By | My SLP Story

This has been a whirlwind of a year.  I have about a week left in my Clinical Fellowship and I absolutely cannot wait to send off that application for my CCC.  I have learned a ton and experienced some great growth as an SLP.  However, as the year winds down, the exhaustion is setting in.  There are still evaluations to be completed, reports to be written, and IEP meetings to be held.  The end of the year is definitely a busy one for SLPs, teachers, and anyone else who works in the school setting.  The Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky to share tips to help us all get through the end of school year rush.  My post is more about encouragement than actual tips.  Enjoy!

I find that this time of year there is a lot of focus on the countdown to the last day of school.  State testing is wrapping up (Texas students finish up this week) and students are beginning to “check out.”  It is easy to fall into an end of school year rut.  We just need to make it to the end, right? 

What we need to remember is that we still have valuable time to spend with our students.  Every minute we spend together is a minute we can spend encouraging them, teaching them, and showing them we still care.  Our students don’t know about our to-do lists, or about how behind we are in our report writing.  They only know what they see during our sessions together. 

I try to remind myself each session that I only have a few days left with these students.  We can still have fun, and we can still make progress.  The year is not over yet!  We also don’t know if we will see our students again after summer.  It is always a possibility that someone will move, or we will be assigned to a new campus.  It’s important to make the most of the time we have left together.

So, for my words of encouragement…stay strong, hang in there, and know that you are still making a difference every day.  Try to find some time each day where you can remind yourself that you are so important to your students.  Let’s finish this year strong and enjoy the last few sessions we have with them. 🙂 

How do you keep yourself motivated?  To link up or for some more great tips on how to how to end your school year strong, head over to Gold Country SLP

The SLP Commute – 5 Tips for Productive Drive Time

By | SLP Tips And Tools

1300 miles.  That’s how much work related driving I did last month.  Roughly 20 hours spent in the car.  That’s almost a full day!  This can easily be wasted time, or I can choose to make it more productive.  Here are 5 tips for making your drive time more productive.

We spend a lot of time driving.  Commuting to/from work, traveling between schools/therapy sessions, and all the other day-to-day driving we do can really add up.  I work for a rural special education co-op in Central Texas.  The two school districts I serve are 35 miles away from each other.  I do my best to work out a schedule that minimizes travel time, but I still clock anywhere from 1000-1300 miles every month, and that only accounts for work related travel.  My personal driving easily doubles that number.  To give you a better perspective: I bought my vehicle BRAND NEW in August.  It’s the beginning of April and I already have 19,000 miles on it.  That’s a lot of driving.

As I drive I often think about how I can make more efficient use of my time.  Today I’m sharing 5 tips for making the most of drive time.

1. Brainstorm/Plan
I do my best thinking when I’m driving.  This also means that I have no way of writing down all of the fabulous ideas I come up with.  Solution: Voice recorded memos.  I will often use my voice recorder app to record my ideas while I am behind the wheel.  I have also used Siri to send myself a text message reminder about something I need to do right away.  Using the Bluetooth in my car and Siri allows me to remain hands free and safe, while still getting my ideas recorded while they are fresh.  Don’t have or don’t like Siri?  Try the Dragon Dictation speech to text app.

2. Read
Wait…what? Yes, read! Audio books are becoming more and more popular and are a great way to read on the go.  Audible is one way to listen while you drive.  The selection of books is large and they have an app, which makes listening on the go simple.  SYNC is another great and FREE way to get audio books.  This is a summer program in which audio books are available for FREE download throughout the summer.  You can download the books this summer, and have them to listen to when school starts back up in the fall.  Their target audience is teens ages 13+, but check out their 2016 list and you may see something that interests you.

3. Learn a New Language
Who wouldn’t like to be bilingual?  I am currently working on learning Spanish.  I bought Rosetta Stone, but have also been looking at Duolingo because I was told it’s free and easier to use on the go.

4. Listen to Podcasts/Audio Courses
There are a ton of great speech and education related podcasts to listen to.  Erik Raj has a post with great SLP podcasts.  You can read it HERE. Listening to podcasts while you drive can be a great way to grow as a clinician. also has some great audio courses available to their members that would be great to listen to while driving. Only drawback…no way to take notes while driving!

5. Rest and Recharge
Being productive during your drive time can also be as simple as taking some “me” time.  Sometimes I just want to listen to music and take a break from the chaos of my day.  My work commutes are really the only time I am alone in my car and have full control over the radio.  I can listen to any music I want to, or even just sit in silence.  It can be a great time to give myself pep talk or just dream about my next Disney cruise.  We need time to ourselves.  While it’s not a massage or pedicure, your commute can still be relaxing if you allow it to be.  

Driving a lot can be exhausting and stressful.  I hope these tips help you to embrace your time in the car and begin to think of it as productive time, rather than wasted time.

Have any other suggestions for how to make the most of driving time or know of any great SLP podcasts to check out? Share in the comments below!

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Water Fun in Speech!

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

Water in the speech room?  Crazy…no!  I’m linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share some speech therapy water fun!

Incorporating water into speech therapy can either result in great fun, a great mess, or both!  I have one favorite water activity that I save for days in which I’m feeling extra adventurous.  It involves water and…cars!

These are not just any cars…are “magic” cars (as my students call them). They change color with hot and cold water.  

My students love watching the cars change color and playing in the water.  I love that we get a TON of language practice.  The basic set up includes a cup of ice water, a cup of hot water (not too hot, though), the cars, and I also have paintbrushes available.  Students change the color of the cars by dipping them into the cups of water, or by painting them with the paintbrush dipped in either hot or cold water.  
As they play, we work on requesting (they request hot/cold water, a particular car, a paper towel, etc.), adjectives and opposites (wet/dry, hot/cold, full/empty, etc.), colors, basic sentence structure, vocabulary, and even some articulation!  
For students who need extra visual support, I use communication boards with pictures of cars, colors, and visuals for hot/cold, etc.  
These cars are so much fun, but it does require a little bit planning/prep.  Here are my suggestions for a successful color changing car water session:
*Allow for time to prepare cups of hot/cold water.  I like to include my students in this process, but you could also have it ready to go when the session begins. 
*Clear the table because spills are difficult to avoid. 
*Have paper towels handy for quick clean up.
*Plan your language targets and model correct forms while the students play. 
*The water temperatures don’t stay hot/cold for very long, so don’t expect it to last an entire session unless you have additional ice and a way to heat the water in your room.  
*Have visuals ready for students who may need them.  
*Be ready for fun and excitement!
This is such a fun way to incorporate water play into therapy.  For more great water play ideas, head over to Speech2Me and check out the other blogs that have linked up with The Frenzied SLPs.  

Things SLPs Should ALWAYS Say {Frenzied SLPs Linky}

By | SLP Tips And Tools

For this week’s post I am linking up again with the fabulous Frenzied SLPs.  A couple of weeks ago, we shared things SLPs should NEVER say.  For part 2, we are sharing things SLPs should ALWAYS say.

Since we work with so many different students and staff members, there are not really any cookie cutter sayings that are always good all of the time.  For that reason, I am sharing two general ideas about what SLPs should always say.

1. Always share a student’s STRENGTHS.  When we are in IEP meetings, writing progress reports, or discussing students with their teachers/parents, it is so easy to get caught up in the child’s weaknesses or difficulties.  Often times, challenging behaviors, lack of progress, or just overall severity of their disability can dominate our discussions…especially during annual IEP meetings.  It can be discouraging for everyone, especially the parent.  To help these situations, we as SLPs can really lead by example and share our student’s strengths.  Yes, we are required to do so in our IEP documents, but I’m talking about really sharing some good info on what the child is doing well.  Don’t just rush over this part.  Providing good positive information to the team can impact the mood of the entire meeting.  It’s so important to have good information to share about what the student is doing well because there’s always something. 

2. Be specific.  This ties in with number 1.  Providing specific feedback is much more constructive and useful than general statements.  Instead of saying, “Little Bobby is making good progress in speech,” give specifics.  A statement such as, “Little Bobby is attentive during speech sessions and is now able to produce his /r/ sound 50% of the time,” provides much more specific information to the parent and teachers about how our student is doing. 
We also need to be specific when providing feedback to our students.  Saying things like, “Good job,” don’t let the student know what they did RIGHT.  “That was a great /s/ sound,” or “I didn’t hear your /s/ sound that time,” provides more specific feedback so they can replicate it or try to correct their error.  It’s easy to fall into the habit of giving general feedback statements (and I have to really fight it myself), but providing specific feedback is more helpful to our students. 

These are two areas that I always try to be conscious of in my own SLP life.   To read some other things SLPs should always say, be sure to click back to Doyle Speech Works and read the other blogs that have linked up. 

Things SLPs Should NEVER Say {Linky with The Frenzied SLPs}

By | SLP Tips And Tools

For this week’s post, I am linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to discuss things SLPs should NEVER say.  It’s a topic with a wide range of discussion, and I’m happy to link up and share my take on the matter.  

As school based SLPs, we encounter students with a wide range of abilities. We are constantly assessing students (formally and informally) both in and out of our speech rooms. We use our professional judgement and training to determine whether students have a need for our services and we help support their academics as much as possible. Through this process it is so important for us to NEVER say, “I think ______ (insert student’s name has _________ (insert diagnosis).  
Allow me to elaborate.  
The main problem I see with this statement is the uncertainty of using “I think…”  First, we are professionals with an abundance of training and knowledge.  If we are formally making a diagnosis related to speech-language (which many of us do not do in the school setting), we should not be using words such as “I think…” because they make it sound like we are not sure in our findings.  We spend hours collecting data and making determinations. We should present our findings with confidence and choose our wording carefully.  
It is also worth mentioning that in many districts, SLPs don’t make formal diagnoses.  In my district, I use my evaluation data to determine whether or not a student meets eligibility criteria as a student with a speech-language impairment, but I do not diagnose specific disorders myself.  
Another possible problem with this statement is that it is sometimes used out of the proper context. We have all had those situations when we are at the park, visiting with friends, etc. and meet a child who we really think could benefit from speech therapy.  Our ears are constantly listening and informally analyzing the speech-language of children we encounter.  It’s just hard to turn off.  In these situations, it is so important to make sure that we are not throwing out statements such as, “I think your child has autism/apraxia/etc.’ without a proper evaluation.  We need to be very careful using statements that sound like we are diagnosing or making recommendations when we don’t have data to support our statements.  
It is so important to be thoughtful in the words we use when talking to parents/teachers about their children.  To read some more on this topic, be sure to click over to the linkup and check out the other posts.  There are some great ones!  Thanks again to The Frenzied SLPs for a great topic of discussion and to Doyle Speech Works for hosting the linkup!

Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy – Part 4 {GIVEAWAY}

By | Giveaways

Welcome to the final installment of Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy. It’s taken me a little longer to get this last post finished because, well…life happens. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind! But it’s finally ready and I am excited to tell you we are ending with a GIVEAWAY! Details at the end of this post.

Be sure to click the following links to read the first three posts in the series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

For this post, I want to run through the steps I go through if I get a referral for a student who speaks more than one language. First off, it is important that you follow your school district’s guidelines for initiating the referral and/or RTI process. In my district, I am not to test/screen students without parental consent. If a teacher has speech-language concerns with a particular student, I help them gather information and often guide them through the process, but I do not test/screen the student initially until consent has been granted.

For articulation concerns, I have a “teacher friendly” easy articulation screener that I give to my teachers so they can gather more info to guide the process. It allows them to document specific phoneme errors, which we can use to determine what the next step will be.

For language concerns, the teachers document specific areas of concern and track any interventions they have tried to help the student.

Once we determine that a student is ready for a full speech-language evaluation and parental consent has been obtained, then my work begins.

One of the very first pieces of information I look for in my referral packets is what language(s) the student speaks at home and school. This will guide the rest of my evaluation process.

For students who are bilingual, or in the ESL program, it is so very important to make sure they are tested in their primary language. If they have a true speech-language disorder, it will be present in their native language. It is important to learn everything you can about the student’s primary language to determine if they are presenting with a language difference or a language disorder. With articulation, there may be English phonemes that are not present in the child’s first language. With language, their primary language may follow a different structure than English. These differences will impact their use of English. This step takes some time and good resources. I generally turn to the ASHA website and Bilinguistics (which both have great information on different languages/dialects) as I gather my information.

Once I have completed my testing, I analyze the information and use my resources and data to determine whether the child has a speech-language disorder or not. The process takes some time, but the information gathered is so valuable. When we sit down to discuss the evaluation with the parents/teachers, I can feel confident in my findings knowing I used great resources to back up my determination and have a good plan for goal writing if needed.

Bilinguistics has a fantastic book, Difference or Disorder, in which they lay out the common speech-language characteristics of more than 10 different languages. The chapters include specific language/dialectal features including phonology, vocabulary, and syntax. They also include easy to read visuals, and information from native speakers of each language on cultural factors that are relevant to that language. (Amazon Affiliate link posted below)

I use the Bilinguistics website often, and I have recently added the Difference or Disorder book to my personal library. It’s an excellent resource, and I am sure you will love it, too. For this reason, I am excited that I get to give a FREE copy to one lucky reader! Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below. I will select the winner Tuesday morning (3/8/16).

***Please note: I am not affiliated with Bilinguistics in any way. They are providing the Difference or Disorder book for the giveaway, but I received no compensation in return. This post reflects my personal opinions/experiences.

I have had a great time exploring the world of accents, dialects and speech therapy with all of you. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and found some useful information/resources.  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy – Part 3 {Guest Blogger}

By | Guest Blogs

We are continuing our series on accents, dialects, and speech therapy with another guest blogger.  I am excited to share the following post with you written by Melanie from The Speech Place.

I was raised in the Ohio Valley region about an hour west of Pittsburgh, PA. I have found over the years that my accent is a mixture of Pittsburghese and Ohio Valley, Midwest. Of course like most people I didn’t consider myself to have an accent. It wasn’t until I started grad school in an online program at California State University, Northridge that it was pointed out to me. Previously I had not communicated that much with others outside of my region. 

After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I moved about 4 hours east to another part of West Virginia. This region, eastern panhandle, borders Maryland and Virginia which strongly influences the dialect here. I remember when I first met my husband and he left a message on my answering machine I played it for my friends because I thought he had a heavy southern accent. I don’t really hear it now but in the beginning it was adorable.

To more of the locals around here I have an accent or a different vocabulary from them. One of the main differences is that a carbonated beverage to me is “pop” and here it is “soda”. I may say that “my hair needs cuts” but they say “I need a haircut”. The Pittsburghese dialect adds need, want, or like + past participle to many sentences for example “the baby needs fed” instead of “the baby is hungry”. 
The most distinctive characteristic of Pittsburghese is the use of the pronoun “yinz”. I do not use this but I have many relatives that do.  I usually address a group of people informally as “you guys” The best example of Pittsbughese can be viewed on Pittsburgh Dad videos on YouTube. He is a local celebrity that clearly demonstrates the difference in vocabulary and dialect. They are very funny.
During speech therapy I need to consider the differences between my accent or vocabulary and my students. When I am producing a sentence they may not understand my vocabulary because it is different then what they have learned. I use it as a teaching lesson when it comes up to expose them to more synonyms of words. Here are some more accent/dialect differences from where I grew up to where I live now. 
Where I grew up…
Where I live now…
Tennis shoes
Shopping Cart/Stroller
Aunt pronounced “ant”
Creek pronounced “crik”
Wash pronounced “worsh”
Crayon pronounced “crown”
Doll baby
Baby doll
Since I moved to a new region to practice speech-language pathology there are have been a few examples of when my accent/dialect interfered with my job. My second year as an SLP I was working with a group of students with autism in a following directions activity. The directions were to draw 2 wavy lines. After a couple minutes one student was still working very hard on her lines. When I asked her what she was drawing she said “2 wavy lions”. It was a pretty good drawing of the lions and I didn’t have the heart to tell her she was wrong.
A few years ago I was giving the Test of Auditory Processing to a student. She was scoring in the average to above average range on all subtests. When we got to the segmenting sounds section she only got the first few right and then failed the next several ending the section. It didn’t seem to be an accurate since she had completed all of the others so well. I asked the other therapist in my building to give the student this subtest over. She did and the student scored in the average range. I noted the difference of the results in the report. Even though the other SLP and I grew up both an hour outside of Pittsburgh in opposite directions, her dialect was different than mine.
Since my accent/dialect is not much different than others in the region where I work there has not been many issues. I know that if I moved to the Boston region my years of experience correcting vocalic /r/ sounds would not be applied since their dialect is to not pronounce the vocalic /r/ in many words. 
Thank you to Kristin at Talkin’ With Twang for allowing me to be a part of her series Accents, Dialects, and Speech Therapy. It has been a lot of fun!

Thank you, Melanie, for sharing with us!  To read the previous posts in this series click on the following links:
Part 1 click HERE
Part 2 click HERE
Click HERE for the conclusion of the series and a GIVEAWAY!

Accents, Dialects & Speech Therapy – Part 2 {Guest Blogger}

By | Guest Blogs

I’m excited to bring you part 2 of our discussion on accents, dialects, and speech therapy.  For this post, the wonderful Ashley from AGB Speech Therapy is sharing her thoughts on the topic.


I’m so excited to be guest posting today at Talkin’ with Twang. I have quite a lot of experience with accents. Firstly, I’m a southern gal from Arkansas so I have a bit of an accent myself. Then, when my husband’s military service took us to the UK, I was thrilled to be immersed in the variety of British accents as well as the mix of American accents we heard from friends on the base.  I didn’t really notice my own accent though until I moved to Utah. You see, in England, everyone talked with a bit of their own home accent, but here in Utah, I sound different. Very different if you ask some people. In fact, one of my students once told her mother she could recognize me in the school because I was the teacher with “short, brown hair that talks like a cowgirl.”
While I laughed at this, I began to think more about accents and how they play into my daily work as an SLP. The first question I asked myself is why do accents matter? Well, for me personally, I’ve always been interested in the way people talk. I guess that’s why speech pathology was a perfect fit for me professionally. But for others, accents can be a source of pride, a hurdle to opportunities or a cause for prejudice.
For many people, the way you speak is a direct reflection on your social class or upbringing. Received Pronunciation of English in the UK is a perfect example of this (think Masterpiece Theatre). For others, the phonology of their native language when applied to a different language produces an accent that is difficult for listeners to comprehend. This situation may make communication more difficult which will negatively impact the speaker. Unfortunately, accents can also be the cause for stereotyping and prejudice.
Like Kristin previously mentioned, we have to be conscious of the distinction between a disorder and difference. But, when we’ve ruled out disorders and we’re talking about accents, what is it that actually causes the differences in the way people talk? The answer, in part, lies in phonology and geography.
Accents occur because of phonology
Phonology is the set of rules that govern the patterns of sounds in a language. Phonology is the reason British vowels sound different from American vowel sounds and American vowels sound different from Australian vowel sounds, but all three languages are English! These accents exist in part because of the specific rules applied to the production of the sounds.
Accents occur because of geography
Phonology gives us the patterns we use in our language, but these patterns are heavily shaped by geography. If a location is highly accessible, then more people from other places will arrive there and in turn influence the culture by adding their own traits and taking from the existing ones. Conversely, if an area is isolated, the people there do not experience as great a shift in patterns because they are not exposed to differences.
Accents make us unique
There was a time I thought I might need to change my accent or be more aware of how I sound to others. The question, “Where are you from?” once grated on my nerves. Now, I embrace the opportunity to share my background with others and invite them to try out the “twang.” If you’d like to listen to some other accents and learn more about the specific features of regional accents, check out
I have enjoyed sharing with your readers, Kristin, and I hope ya’ll will join me over at AGB Speech Therapy soon!

Thank you, Ashley!  Be sure to read Part 3 of the series written by Melanie from The Speech Place.

Click HERE to read Part 1 of the series.
Click HERE to read Part 3 by The Speech Place
Click HERE for part 4 and a GIVEAWAY!

Let’s Discuss: Accents, Dialects & Speech Therapy (Part 1)

By | Guest Blogs

One area of speech and language that has always interested me (even before entering the field of speech-language pathology) has been accents and dialects.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in San Diego, where there are a million different accents and just as many different dialects spoken.  It’s just so interesting to me, which is why I decided to start this series.  Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing information on accents and dialects and how they impact speech-language therapy.  I’ll be sharing some info I have gathered as well as a few guest posts from other SLPs.  It’s going to be good!

For a quick review on the difference between an accent and dialect, you can use the free handout from Super Duper that explains it pretty well.  You can get it by clicking HERE

For this post, I want to share my personal experience with dialects and what I do when I find a child has a language difference, rather than a language disorder.

Since moving from California to Texas 12 years ago, the topic of the “Texas Twang” has come up many times.  Native Texans don’t really think I have a twang, but my family in CA says I do! Being a school based SLP in Texas, I encounter many different accents/dialects among my students.  The most common dialect I encounter is the very familiar twang of the Texas dialect.  It’s interesting to me how folks can grow up in the same town, but some have very deep Texas twangs, while others have just a hint.  Sometimes, it can really affect how my evaluation and/or treatment will go.

When evaluating students for speech-language disorders, I always take into account their home language and the fact that many children in my area speak a form of southern dialect.  This can impact pronunciation of words, grammar, and even vocabulary. 

It’s important for us as SLPs to be familiar with common accents/dialects in our area so we are able to best serve our students.

One of the most important things we learn in grad school is how to determine whether a child has a speech-language difference or a speech-language disorder.  A child exhibiting speech and language characteristics consistent with their native accent or dialect does not have a speech-language disorder.  Every accent/dialect has different speech and language characteristics that can be evaluated to help determine if they are typical for that accent/dialect or not. This can get complicated because every accent/dialect has its own “rules.”  The best thing to do is keep a binder or file on your computer with resources that explain those differences.

Here are a few websites that I have found helpful in this area:

Bilinguistics – has many resources and materials available as FREE downloads relating to speech-language and working with bilingual students and much more.
ASHA Position Statement on Social Dialects  – answers common questions about working with different dialects
The Speech Accent Archive – provides phonemic inventories for MANY different languages

Another important thing for us as SLPs to do is educate the teachers we work with on what a language disorder may look like and how it is differs from a language difference.  I frequently get referrals from teachers who just aren’t sure if a student has a language disorder or if their student’s speech-language is typical for a particular dialect.  In these cases, I will review the rules of the particular accent/dialect with the teacher and discuss what a language disorder might look like before moving on with the referral. In some cases, just educating the teacher on a particular accent/dialect is enough to calm their concerns.  In other cases, we decide together that a screener or formal evaluation might be necessary.

In my area, I most encounter Spanish influenced English, southern Texas dialect, and African American English. Here are some resources I have found that have been very helpful.

Bilinguistics has a helpful handout on their website that outlines differences that may be seen in English language learning students whose first language is Spanish.  You can see it by clicking HERE.

For a brief list of common differences in AAE grammar, you can visit The Online Journal of African American English HERE.

I also refer to the tables in my CELF testing manual and my grad school textbooks when determining whether a response is considered acceptable based on a particular dialect.

I hope some of these resources are helpful for you.  There’s much to say on this topic, and I have barely scraped the surface.  Comment below if you have any particular things on this topic you would like to discuss or any tips/tidbits you’d like to share.

Click HERE for part 2 of the series, written Ashley from AGB Speech Therapy.
Click HERE for part 3 of the series, by Melanie from The Speech Place.
Click HERE for part 4 and a GIVEAWAY!
And be sure to follow Talkin’ with Twang on BlogLovin’ to stay notified of new posts.

Thanks for stopping by!  

Dollar Store Speech Ideas {Linky}

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

We all know therapy materials can be expensive, while our budgets tend to be limited. I rarely purchase materials from the big companies because they are so expensive.  Much of my therapy stash comes from Teachers Pay Teachers, my daughter’s old toys, and…dollar stores!  I love wandering the aisles of 99 cent stores, Dollar Tree, and the Dollar Spot at Target.  There are so many great things we can use in our speech sessions.  Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite dollar store finds and how I use them during speech sessions.

My favorite speech room purchase from the dollar store is my cookie sheet collection.  I love using cookie sheets with my students and getting them for $1 each is a great deal.

I use cookie sheets in so many ways.  They work great as individual work stations for my students.  The ridge around the edge of the sheet helps keep their cards and materials from scattering all over.  I also love to add magnets to flashcards and other materials, so they stick to the cookie sheet.  Kids love playing with magnets, so they always enjoy using the magnetic cards.  I usually just get the sticky magnetic tape and attach a small square to my cards.  Cookie sheets are also great when you want to use play dough, shaving cream, finger paint, etc. and keep the mess somewhat contained.

Some of my other great dollar store finds include containers and blocks for sorting.  I found these little containers and blocks for 50 cents at my local 99 cent store!  I use them to work on sorting colors, big and little, comparative and superlative adjectives, and following directions.  Dollar stores are great places to get all kinds of colored containers. 

I also recently found these cute hand puppets at Dollar Tree.  They are actually bath puppets, but we use them in speech to practice conversational skills, role playing, language skills, and even articulation practice!  I also like to put our target cards inside of them and have students draw from a puppet to practice.  For my students working on sentences, I will fill each puppet with action words and have them make a sentence about the puppet animal using the verb card they pull from it. There are so many ways to use these in speech and my pre-k students just love them.

 I’m also growing my bug/critter collection…all purchased at dollar stores.  These little critters are fun for sorting.  We sort by type of creature and/or color.  We also use these to work on describing.

These are just a few of my favorite dollar store speech finds.  My collection grows every time I visit one of these stores.  I’m a little addicted, but at least it’s affordable!

For more great dollar store speech ideas, be sure to check out the links below.  Have a great dollar store idea you want to share?  Link up below or share it in the comments.

You can follow Talkin’ with Twang on BlogLovin’ by clicking HERE