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The School SLP

State Testing…An SLP Survival Guide

By | SLP Tips And Tools

Springtime. Blooming flowers, green leaves, rain showers, warmer temperatures (hopefully), and…standardized state testing. Oy.

In Texas, we have two major testing weeks…one in March/April and another in May. Our first round of state testing begins tomorrow (April 10) and will include 4th/5th grade as well as middle and high school students. Then in May, everyone in grades 3 and up will test.

Most school based SLPs do not have to administer state tests (though I know a few who do), but testing weeks definitely still impact us. At several of my schools, the speech therapy room is used for small group or individual test administration, so I lose my therapy space for several days. Any schedule I have been working from goes out the window due to students testing or rearranging of PE times, etc. Testing weeks are not easy for anyone, including the SLP.

But have no fear! I am here to share some testing week survival tips. Just a few things that I have found make my week(s) a little easier to deal with.

1. BE FLEXIBLE – This may be easier said than done. You may show up on Tuesday with a plan, and then show up and find out your plan needs to be scrapped due to a sudden schedule adjustment. Just roll with it and expect that last minute changes will occur. You may need to be flexible with everything from your location to how you group your students. Just roll with it and do your best.

2. GET CREATIVE – One of the biggest challenges I face during testing week is not having a therapy room to see my younger students. To this I say, ‘No problem!” I use this opportunity to get creative with where we have speech therapy. If the weather is nice, we might go outside. Can’t go outside? Try the gym or cafeteria, or another empty room. Walking the halls is probably not allowed when testing is going on, but you might be able to find another space and make it an adventure! You could also try pushing in to your students’ classrooms for the day.

3. CATCH UP ON PAPERWORK – Sometimes, testing schedules make it pretty impossible to get any kind of therapy done. This is when you can use your time to catch up on paperwork. Write IEPs, reports, or progress notes. Maybe you have Medicaid billing to catch up on…

4. GET SOME CEUs DONE – If you can’t see students, you could spend some of your day completing online CEUs. There are so many great courses offered online now and days. I am a member of SpeechPathology.com (affiliate link) and can pretty much complete CEU courses whenever I want to. I hear Medbridge is also fantastic. Or check out the ASHA website or Northern Speech Services and see what they have to offer.

5. CHECK IN WITH YOUR TESTING STUDENTS – When testing is finished for the day, I always check in with my students who had to test. There is usually enough time at the end of the day to get a session in. I do not force my students to come to speech after testing all day, but many times they want to come. I always check in, see how their day went, and ask them if they want to come to speech. I also make sure to have something extra special planned if they do make it to speech.

Testing weeks are usually not fun for anyone on campus. Stress levels are high and schedules are a mess. Just try to stay positive and know that it will all soon be over. Try to be flexible and get done what you can get done. Hang in there and just be thankful that this only happens once (or twice) a year.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you have to help administer state tests? How do you handle testing weeks? Leave a comment below.

My 3 Favorite Organization Tips for SLPs {Frenzied SLPs Linky}

By | SLP Tips And Tools
http://sparklleslp.blogspot.com/2016/01/organization-tips-for-slps-frenzied-slp.html

I have to start off by saying that I am a pretty organized person, but sometimes my business overpowers my need for organization.  As each school year goes on, my therapy room and desk gets a little less organized every week.  I always say I will get back on track, but materials pile up and my shelves get messier. But there is one area that stays organized all year long…my therapy binder.  I cannot function with a messy therapy binder.  The 3 organization tips I am sharing today all relate to this binder.

1. Have a place to keep all of your important working paperwork.  For me, it’s a 3 ring binder.  My binder has a section for each student on my campus.  For every student, I have a “face sheet” with their name and eligibility info, copy of their IEP, sheets for recording daily notes, and parent contact log.  I use these pages daily to keep track of progress and record session data.

2. Use a calendar to keep track of important deadlines.  In my therapy binder, I also have a master calendar.  I have 4 different school calendars to keep up with, plus paperwork deadlines, and other misc. events.  To help keep track of important dates, I keep a master calendar where I mark all important deadlines, including school holidays, report deadlines, meetings, etc.  I keep this with my therapy binder so I can access it anytime I need it.

3. Use a caseload summary sheet to track FIE and IEP due dates.  I keep a caseload summary sheet at the front of my binder.  This sheet has every student, their date of birth, service time, date of initial evaluation, due date of their re-eval, and IEP date.  I mark on this sheet throughout the year and update it as needed with new student info.  Many IEP programs have an option to print a form like this for your caseload, but I also have the one I created posted for free in my TPT store.  You can download it HERE.

So, those are my organization tips.  Good organization can really impact your day.  For more great tips on organization, be sure to check out the other posts in the Frenzied SLPs blog linky.  Click HERE or on the image below.

http://sparklleslp.blogspot.com/2016/01/organization-tips-for-slps-frenzied-slp.html

Thanks for reading!

In 2016 I’ll Try… {Blog Linky}

By | My SLP Story
 Happy New Year, SLPeeps!  

2015 flew by for me.  It was truly a fantastic year and I’m optimistic that 2016 will be just as good.  Our 2015 was full of big events for my family:

*I graduated from grad school.
*We took our first Disney cruise (first cruise ever).
*My 8 year old daughter went on her first solo plane ride to San Diego.
*My husband graduate from college.
*We began working on our new home floor plans.
*I attended my first ever ASHA Convention.
*I really began to put more time and effort into my blog and Teachers Pay Store.

Now  it’s time to look forward to the new year and start making some plans.  It’s always good to set goals and make plans to try new things.  One of the things I plan to try this year is themed units for speech sessions.

There are many great reasons for using thematic units in therapy. Twin Speech Language and Literacy wrote a great guest post over at Crazy Speech World outlining the benefits and explaining how to use themed therapy units.  You can read that post HERE.  It’s an older post (from 2013), but still full of great info.

I have seen so many great book companions and themed lesson ideas on blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers, but I haven’t had time to really sit down and plan any for myself.  As a new grad and CF, I have been pretty busy.  My speech sessions have not been too creative.  So for 2016, I am planning to try incorporating themed units into my lesson plans.  I’m very excited about this and I’ll let you know how it goes later in the school year.

What new thing are you planning to try this year?  To see what some of my blogger friends have planned, you can head over to All Y’all Need and read some of the other blogs that have linked up.

Happy New Year!

What’s Really Going on in the Speech Room?

By | SLP Insights

We’ve all heard it before…

“All that speech therapist does is play all day.”
“Their job is not stressful at all.”
“She only sees X number of students.”
“She’s just sitting in there on her computer.”
“I could do that job.  It looks so easy.”

Do any of these sound familiar to you?  I know I’ve heard  them before…if not as an SLP, I surely did hear similar things when I was a teacher.  I don’t have actual statistics to support this, but I think speech-language pathologists are probably some of the most misunderstood professionals in the world…at least in the school setting.  So many people have no idea what we really do, which is why I decided to write this post.  I want to share a little bit of what’s really going on in the speech room, because you can’t always tell just by peeking in.  I am sharing 5 common statements that I have heard about my job and a brief explanation of what is really going on in each situation.  I hope it brings more understanding to our position in the schools. Enjoy!

1. “They are just in there playing.” Yes.  Yes, it does look like we are just “playing” with some of our students…especially the little ones.  But we are actually providing many, many opportunities to use language and practice speech goals.  When I’m working with a 3 or 4 year old, I don’t sit and drill.  I bring out bubbles, balls, play dough, and other toys of high interest to the student.  I use these toys to provide opportunities for my students to use language to request, comment, describe, and protest.  If we are working on specific sounds, I build in opportunities to use the target sounds into each activity.  It may look like we are just playing, but I carefully planned the “play” session to target the child’s speech goals.  I even incorporate speech goals into the games I use with my older students.  My students may think we are just playing, but it’s much more than that.

2. “She’s not busy, she’s just on her computer.” This is a tough one for some to understand, especially some teachers.  I’ve been a teacher, so I can relate.  Yes, I have time in my day where I am working on my computer.  But it’s not just checking emails and piddling around.  I have TONS of paperwork and deadlines to meet.  Speech therapy is more than therapy sessions.  We have to keep detailed documentation, write progress reports, and there’s always the endless pile of evaluation reports and IEPs to write.  We have a TON of paperwork.  I’m sure any SLP would give up their paperwork in a second and just do therapy, but the paperwork is a necessary part of the job.  So, yes, I may have paperwork time built into my schedule, but it’s because I have deadlines to meet and legal mandates to uphold.  Trust me, I’d much rather be working with students.  🙂

3. “She’s not working. She’s not even in her room.”  I’ve heard it mentioned before that if the SLP is not in her room, she’s not actually working.  This is especially hard for us traveling SLPs who may only be at a school 1 or 2 days a week.  Believe me when I say that we don’t have to be in our rooms to be working.  Many SLPs do “push-in” therapy where the therapy is done in the student’s classroom, rather than in the therapy room.  That’s one reason we may be out of the office.  We might also be in a meeting, or discussing a student’s progress with a teacher, or at one of our other campuses…or we may even be somewhere in the building trying to find the students we are scheduled to see who are not where their schedule says they should be…sigh.  It’s not always evident to others, but we are very busy…both in and out of the speech room!

4. “All they do in speech is work on sounds.” We do work on sound production, but we also address language, pragmatics, and much more.  In the school setting, most of my caseload has articulation or language goals.  My students vary from those who only have a few sound errors, to students who do not speak at all.  I have some who are learning to use communication devices.  I also have students who speak very well, but need extra help with the social aspect of language use.  I have students with a variety of disabilities and academic needs.  In other districts and settings, SLPs also perform therapy for dysphagia (swallowing), voice disorders, and cognitive functioning after strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and more.  The field is great and the needs are many.  What one person sees an SLP doing with one patient/student is not at all the only thing they do.  We address many different areas depending on the needs our students have. 

5. “That student doesn’t need speech.  They sound fine” or “I’m not going to refer that student.  They won’t qualify anyway.”  These are not exactly related to what I’m doing in my speech room, but I’ve heard both of these statements at different times over the past few years and wanted to address them.  The problem with these statements is the assumptions being made.  In many cases, teachers and/or parents assume they know whether or not a student will qualify for speech therapy services.  Frankly, in many cases, even the SLP doesn’t know if a student will qualify or not until the evaluation has been completed.  So much goes into determining whether or not a student will qualify.  Assumptions are best left off the table and teachers/parents should talk with their school’s SLP if they have any questions about a particular student.

Have you heard any of these statements made in your school?  Maybe you’re a teacher or parent whose had these thoughts about your SLP once or twice before. One of my goals as an SLP is to help people understand what I do and why I do it.  This field is so exciting and rewarding.  I get to help students experience the joy that is communication.  It’s something many of us take for granted.  It’s not an easy job, and it’s not all fun and games, but I do it because I love it.

I hope other SLPs who read this will be able to relate a little bit, and I hope non-SLPs will gain a deeper understanding of what we actually do. Feel free to share your comments/thoughts below.

5 Ways to Bring Holiday Fun Into the Speech Room

By | Speech Therapy Ideas


I just love this time of year.  Holiday decorations are up, people are (generally) cheerful, kids (and teachers) are getting excited about the upcoming winter break, and we get to have fun with holiday activities.  I’m always looking for ways to bring the fun into my speech room.  This year, I decided to share some of my favorite activities for bringing the holiday fun into the speech room […]

1. Speech Room Elf on a Shelf – We have an elf at our house (Jingles) and I have several friends who are SLPs and/or teachers who have brought the fun of the elf into their classrooms.  I have not been able to “adopt” a speech room elf yet myself, but I think some of my students would absolutely LOVE to have one in the room.  Just think of all the great language you could work on each day while they look for the elf.  I’m thinking pronouns, prepositions, etc. A Google search for speech or classroom elf will yield TONS of great ideas for using an elf in your speech room.  Click HERE to see an older post from Jenna at Speech Room News about how she used her elf in speech. 

2. Use winter/holiday themed apps – I love the Articulate It app from Smarty Ears and it has themes you can change throughout the year.  The theme I am using now is the Christmas theme.  My students love that I can change the theme and get more into the holiday spirit. I also love Toca Hair Salon Christmas (free).  We use it to elicit language and also for reinforcement.  So fun!

3. Hide the present – this is another fun way to get students into the holiday spirit.  Place your activity for the day (artic cards, game, worksheets, etc.) into a wrapped box (with a lid for easy opening) and hide it before each session.  Have the students look for the present at the start of each session.  This will give them some excitement and curiosity as they open the gift to see what activity they will doing that day.

4. Craftivities!  I love doing craftivities in speech.  It breaks up the typical routine and gives students a finished product that they can show off to their class, teachers, and family…and gives them something to use for practice at home!  There are so many Christmas/winter/holiday themed craftivities out there.  An easy one to do is just a large piece of green construction paper cut into a triangle (tree) with circles of different color construction paper for ornaments.  I print out small pictures that go with my students goals (target phonemes, verbs, pronouns, vocab, etc.) and they just glue them onto the ornaments and then onto the tree. Another great craftivity can be found over at Allison’s Speech Peeps (pic below is from her blog).

http://speechpeeps.com/2012/12/christmas-speech-craftivity-freebie.html

5. Christmas/Holiday books – There are so many great holiday books for children and so many book companions on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I love to bring at least one holiday book into speech and base the lesson around the story.  One of my favorite Christmas stories is Oh, What a Christmas! I’ve been working on a book companion for this story, but it won’t be ready this Christmas…be sure to check back!

Happy Holidays!

December Lesson Plans & Activities for Speech & Language

By | SLP Resources

December is such a crazy month and I am always scrambling to get things done.  To help with prep time, I decided to plan for the next three weeks all at once.  I really want to use some of the great products I have purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers, so this was my chance to sift through my purchases and get organized.  I don’t have any winter or holiday themed products in my own store, so I’m relying on my fellow TPTers for activities this year.  I have so many great items already purchased and a FULL cart for the Cyber Monday sale and I can’t wait to use them. (Quick reminder: The sale is on Mon, Nov 30 – Tue, Dec 1.  Use the code SMILE at checkout to save an additional 10% off all purchases).

I am sharing a pdf of my plans HERE (dropbox link, but you do not need a dropbox account to view).  It’s not fancy, but it does have clickable links to each of the products I will be using.  Feel free to download and use it as a guide for your planning.

Here are some of the things we will be using in speech over the next few weeks […]

 For Articulation:
The Peachie Speechie’s Holiday M&M Challenge – My students love these because they get to take their candy home with them at the end of the session. I love them because it helps us keep track of our trials and get 100 in each session. I will pair this activity with my articulation cards and apps. 

TLC Talk Shop’s Winter Open Ended Games – This will work great paired with my articulation apps on the iPad and my articulation cards (which I will use for data collection before break).  I love the different activities included.

Teaching Talking’s Roll, Say and Color sheets from her Winter Themed Articulation Packet – These are great because all of my kiddos can have their own page for their target sound, but we can all do the same activity…and they can take their finished product home to practice their words.

Speech in  Bag, also by The Peachie Speechie – My kids will love decorating their bags with colors and holiday stickers.  Then they will get to take them home to practice over the break.

With my phonological students I will be using Kristine Lamb’s Grab N’ Go Phonological Processes.  I love how organized these packs are.  Just grab and go!

For Language:
Speech Therapy Fun’s No Print Christmas Language and Articulation – I am so excited to have a no print activity to use on the iPad or computer.  It has several different activities included, but my students will be working on pronouns, wh- questions, and categories.

Panda Speech’s No Prep Christmas Language – This packet includes print an go sheets for a variety of goals.  I’m especially excited about this one!

I also have several middle school aged students.  These groups will be using The Peachie Speechie’s I Mustache You a Question Conversation Starters.  We will be working on articulation carryover, as well as conversational skills and social skills.  I will be collecting data and recording progress using The Speech Bubble’s Social Language and Pragmatics Rubrics

My middle schoolers will also be working on multiple meaning words using the Middle School Multiple Meaning Words Bundle by Natalie Snyders.

I’m still looking for a quick, holiday activity for my middle school students to complete, but our sessions are so quick I may not have time for one.  Comment below if you have any suggestions!

What’s in Your Cart {Linky}

By | Teachers Pay Teachers
http://thespeechroomnews.com/2015/11/cybermondaywhatsinyourcart.html

It’s time for a Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale! That means I’ll be shopping!  I’m linking up with Jenna at Speech Room News to share some of the products I think you should grab during the sale.  My store, along with many others, will be on sale for 20% off.  Plus, you can use the code SMILE to save an additional 10% off your purchase at checkout.  The sale will be […]November 30-December 1. Happy shopping!

From my store: Talkin’ with Twang you will want to be sure and get my Articulation Sudoku pack.  It includes 63 pages of printable Sudoku pages to target a variety of phonemes in a variety of positions.  I like to bind mine into a book and copy the pages I need for sessions/homework.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Print-and-Go-Articulation-Sudoku-2201820

Also be sure to check out my Articulation Scenes packet.  These scenes are loaded with pictures targeting specific phonemes.  Grab it now and you will get all additions to the product for FREE.  I plan to add many more pages in the future.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Articulation-Scenes-1549728

You will also want to check out my newest product, Themed Sounds in Syllables Practice. This packet helps make practicing sounds in syllables fun!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Themed-Sounds-in-Syllables-Practice-2231360

I will also be shopping!  Here are some of the items I plan on getting during the big sale.

Winter Holidays: Open Ended Games by TLC Talk Shop

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Holidays-Open-Ended-Games-2221095

No Prep Christmas Language Pack by Panda Speech

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/NO-PREP-Christmas-Language-Pack-Speech-Therapy-ELA-2229750

 No Print Christmas Language & Articulation by Speech Therapy Fun

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christmas-Language-Articulation-Games-No-Print-2212933

Articulation Secret Codes by Kiwi Speech
 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Articulation-Secret-Codes-1846841

Core Word of the Week by Speech Room News

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/AAC-Core-Word-of-the-Week-Set-1-1925411

Happy shopping!

Reflection: Choosing Service Time for Speech Students

By | My SLP Story

Lately, I have found myself reflecting on the amount of speech time each of my students receives.  As I acquire new students and re-evaluate IEP goals and objectives, I need to decide on the best service delivery time to meet my students’ needs.  I decided to write a post about the process of deciding on service delivery time for speech.  This is a moment of self-reflection for me, but may be helpful to others also […]

When I start thinking about how much speech time a child  needs, I always look at two very important points first:
1. The chronological and/or developmental age of the child, and
2. The goals and objectives I have written for the child.

The age of the child is a huge factor in making my decision about how much speech time the child  should receive.  I always take their actual chronological age into consideration, as well as their developmental age.  If the child is very young, I don’t usually propose a speech time longer than 20 minutes.  The little ones I see tend to lose focus around the 20 minute mark and it can be difficult to fill more than 20 minutes with enough activities to keep them engaged the entire session.  But…it depends on the individual child.  I have had some pre-k students who I could keep for 30 minutes at a time and they did great.  The same is true when looking at developmental age.  I may see a 10 year old, who is closer to the age of 3 or 4 developmentally.  They may benefit from shorter sessions as well. 

The other big factor I take into consideration when assigning speech time is the child’s goals and objectives. I never, ever decide on a speech time before my goals and objectives are written.  This is so important because the service time needs to be appropriate for the needs of the child.  If I have written a lot of goals for the year, I may propose 2 or 3 30 minute sessions per week.  I generally stick with 2 sessions per week, unless I have a child who really needs more than that.  If a child has just a few goals, they may not need 2 sessions a week, or they may need 15-20 minute sessions as opposed to 30 minutes.  Again, it all depends on the needs of the students.

Another piece of service delivery time we need to decide on is the frequency of the sessions.  I prefer to see my students for 2 or 3 days a week.  I usually save my one day a week sessions for students who are working on maintenance/carryover of a skill and just need a weekly push to keep at it.  Otherwise, I tend to stick with 2 sessions per week.  In an ideal world, I would love to see all of my kids every day of the week, but this is just not realistic.  I always keep in mind how much class time they will be missing when they come to speech, as well as how frequently I am on their campus.  I travel between different districts and it’s not always possible to be on every campus every day of the week.  Sessions 2 or 3 times a week are generally appropriate and what I will most often recommend.

The most important thing to remember when proposing speech time for your students is that it is always an individual decision based on the needs of the student.  It’s very easy to get into a habit of giving every student 2 20 minute sessions a week, or 2 30 minute session a week.  But we have to remember to select our time based on what the child needs, not what fits into our schedule best.  If we can keep this is mind, and communicate that with parents and teachers, we will be able to better serve our students.