Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Autism Awareness Month - My focus this month is on Spatial Concepts, Prepositions, Positional Words...whatever you call them!


I work with many children who struggle with positional concepts. (aka spatial concepts or prepositions) Children with autism usually have a difficult time mastering these concepts, but I've noticed so many children in regular ed also struggle with them.  When a child is referred to speech for difficulty following auditory directions, I like to do a quick spatial concepts screening. I use my own product for baseline data, but I can't tell you how much I love the Wiig Assessment of Basic Concepts (WABC).  It is a really quick assessment, and it provides an expressive and receptive score. There are also two levels based on the age of the child, and it can be used for children 2.6 - 7.11 years old. I give it to many of my language children at annual review time since it only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. I love how it breaks down the concepts, and it allows me to write specific goals based on the area of deficit. Many of my students seem to have a pretty good grasp on the quantity/quality concepts, but they struggle with spatial and temporal concepts. I think I personally struggle with teaching temporal concepts the most!

 My main focus today is on spatial/positional concepts. The directions we give children are often embedded with this vocabulary, and some children just don't know what we are asking them to do. "FIRST, write your name at the TOP....NEXT cut OUT the boxes at the BOTTOM and glue them NEXT TO the correct picture." These words are everywhere! Common Core standard K.G.A.1 specifically mentions above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to. Since these concepts are fairly abstract, almost all of my children with autism struggle with positional words.

Through the TPT forums, I contacted a clip artist about the need for more images for basic concepts. Joel (TPT store name is Kindercade) really listened to what I needed, and he sent samples of his work in progress over a series of 25+ emails! I explained the need for a common "character" in the theme. I really wanted a main character depicted in a variety of positions. It's hard to explain, but so many of the commercial flashcard sets use different pictures for each concept. For example, the pictures for first/last are typically images of a train. In the same set, the pictures for in front/behind might be a ball in front of or behind a box. A typically developing child will probably make the correlation that another item can replace the train or the ball to mean the same thing. A child with autism will appear to know the concepts after a while, but they actually just know the train picture answer is either going to be first or last. The clip art from Kindercade allowed me to create a product that shows the same character with a few of his friends in all kinds of places! He was also nice enough to create the images with and without the text since some of my children with autism are hyperlexic. Here is a link to his work! It is amazing! He just created set one for conditional/quality concepts, and he's working on set two now!

With Joel's awesome clip art, I was able to create a positional concepts set that seems to work really well for me. I don't just use this product alone to teach positional concepts. I like to get up and move when we learn these words! Somewhere along the way, I learned there are three steps in teaching spatial concepts:
1. Have the child put their body in the position. (Get UNDER the table.)
2. Have the child put objects in the position. (Put a pen UNDER the paper.)
3. ID/Express concepts in a 2D/picture format. (Point to the picture that shows the boy BEHIND the tree...or a less wordy way "Show me BEHIND.)

To incorporate my product in a mixed group of children with language delays and children with autism, we ALL do steps one through three. I even like to combine my printed product with movement and technology. We are fortunate to have an OT/PT gym at our school, and they are so sweet to let me use their room. Each child selects a picture from my spatial concepts flash cards and demonstrates the concept while the other children try to guess the answer. They might go under the trampoline or behind the stack of bean bags. I get them to pose in these positions while I take pictures with my Ipad. When we get back to my room, they love to match the Ipad pictures with the flashcard pictures. Even if you don't have access to a special room, you can do this anywhere! When I worked at a middle school, my speech room was in a creepy old book closet. We went out in the hall and got between two water fountains. We got beside, behind, and in front of a giant cafeteria trash can on wheels. I'm sure the ladies in the lunchroom wondered "Why does that crazy speech lady crouch behind the trash can every day?" Fortunately, I found a banana box to get IN, so I didn't have to get IN the trash can!
The product I created is something that can be used with children of all levels. I even included some advanced concepts like left & right. I included a data sheet to screen and track mastery for the data nerds! Positional concepts are vital for all children, and this product can be differentiated easily in the regular ed classroom. My school district is really pushing student-led learning, and this is an easy way to allow the children to do just that during inclusion. I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Product highlight for 3 of my faves.

Synonyms by the Sea
 This was the first paid product I created on TPT. I recently gave it a major facelift and added pages to the set. I changed out the clip art, and I cleaned up the format so that it's easier on the eyes. I think I tried to use every font in my possession on the first version! If you have already purchased this set, check your "my purchases" section to download the revised version free. Check that section from time to time - you never know when a seller might add pages or make a product even better. The new download is always free - even if the price of the product has increased. I get so excited when I see the blinking notification that someone has revised a product! Anyway, this product is great for SLP's & Teachers. I know the Common Core Standard is worded in a way that explores "shades of meaning" with synonyms. If they put me in charge, the standard would teach these as synonyms first, THEN we could talk about how they are not quite the same. I already have a hard enough time getting kids to not shout out an antonym for the answer, let's not confuse them even more! (Sometimes they say a rhyming word - and that is also a hard habit to break!) When I use this product, I try to phrase my questions every way I have ever seen it phrased on standardized tests. "What is another word for run?" "What word means the same thing as run?" "Run means the same thing as _____." "Instead of the word run, I could say ______." After we do that, I can eventually go to "Tell me a synonym for run." I really play up how "Synonym" & "Same" both start with "S." This packet is broken into three sets of synonyms, and it includes several worksheets for each set. There are also flash cards and Bingo sheets to make it fun.
Speech Therapy Reminder Cards
Speech Therapy Reminder Cards
I made these speech therapy reminder cards out of sheer necessity! I don't know about you, but I have kids who stop by my room at all times of the day, the wrong days, or any time they go to the restroom to see if it's time for speech. My all time favorite is when they see me in the hall and say "Why didn't you get us for speech today?!" (With my luck, they say it loudly in front of an administrator!) Maybe because it's Thursday, and you come on Mondays & Wednesdays? I am glad they love speech so much! It can get crazy when I have a group going smoothly at 10:00 on Thursday, and my Mon/Wed 10:00 group walks in the room. Inevitably, the game we are playing looks like more fun than what they should be doing, so it takes a while to get them back out the door! I try my best to set up groups during transition times to reduce classroom interruptions. (Our 2nd graders change classes, so I try to get them during the change...or the younger ones might come right after P.E. etc...) I guess they are just conditioned to think when the transition happens - it much be speech time! These little reminder cards are taped on their desks, and it has helped more than I ever imagined! The teachers love them because they already have enough to remember. They have reported fewer interruptions from children asking if it's time for speech. I provided two types of clocks to fill out, so they can look at it & compare to whatever kind of clock they have in their classroom. I just check off the days, and they can compare that to their calendar math center for the current day. This simple idea has really helped my schedule run a little smoother. We have a phone system, so I can call room to room, but it doesn't work correctly at least once a day. Our school is huge, and I don't mind walking to get the kids...I get kind of antsy sitting in one place all day anyway. But, speech sessions are short, and it wastes some of our time. (And there is always the one kid from another class who did remember.....spinning in my office chair while playing with scissors and a hot glue gun when I get back with the other group!) Just kidding - but you get the idea! I would never remember to send speech kids if I had a classroom full of kids, so I don't expect the teachers to remember! This set includes multiple color combinations to match the d├ęcor in just about any classroom. I originally created these square cards so they could be laminated and attached with velcro dots. I added a new version recently that is smaller with a chevron pattern....I made it narrow enough to attach with a single piece of clear packing tape. That eliminates the whole laminating & cutting again process. I hope you enjoy these - there are 5 different designs in the set for $1.25.
Cinco de Mayo Morning Work & Photo Props

Why would a Speech Language Pathologist create a product for Language Arts and Math? Well, it was high stakes testing time...and I knew I could help my language kids with some of the tricky vocabulary that we love to throw at them on standardized tests! I can't tell you how many of my language students excel in math, but bomb standardized math tests because of the language/literacy components. I know some of that is unavoidable, but I don't think we are getting a true picture of math concept mastery. (We wouldn't give a child with a hearing impairment, an auditory math test....Why would we give a child who struggles with reading, a math test he can't pass if he can't read?) As a person with A.D.D., I am so thankful we didn't have these tests as a child! I do remember taking the ITBS & thinking it was eternal! I remember just picking an answer without reading the passage because it was so long & boring! I actually did the same thing on a few sections of the SAT, and that was a test that actually mattered to me! I must have had some lucky guesses because it worked out ok, but I don't recommend that strategy. ;) If I did that as a teenager on a test I cared about, how do we expect small children to focus on tests that take three hours per subject? We are basically asking very small people to take the SAT.... 3 - 5 days in a row! I guess I could have made another blog post about standardized testing. I mainly meant to tell you why I created this Cinco de Mayo packet in the first place. It will not make your children pass "the test" - but it is a pretty fun review of 2nd grade common core standards! I included some fun photo props to use on Cinco de Mayo, and I tucked little facts about the history of Cinco de Mayo in throughout the pages. As it turns out, the 5th of May is actually about a battle...and not a reason to drink margaritas!
I hope you enjoyed my long & rambling blog post! I am not even going to proofread it, so enjoy the grammatical errors and typos! :)


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Putting TPT products to use in the classroom - This week: Snapwords by Child1st Publications

Here is one of my latest purchases from Teachers Pay Teachers - Snapwords by Child1st Publications. Although I am a Speech Language Pathologist, I do a little tutoring for one of my speech kids before school. (He has Apraxia of Speech and Dyslexia) I have been at a loss for how to help him. I initially started helping him with his weekly spelling words that contained phonemes that are difficult for him to say. I thought he might be spelling them the way he sounded them out in his head. Was I ever wrong! With a little digging, I figured out he only knew 13 LETTERS consistently. Even though he might be able to say certain blends, or answer me if I asked "What does "t" say?"....written letters were another story. Since so much of speech therapy is done auditorily, I'm embarrassed to admit I didn't know he had this problem. (He wasn't diagnosed with Dyslexia yet - long story short, I met with his parents who told me he has three uncles with Dyslexia. He has since been diagnosed by a private specialist.)
We got the Occupational Therapist involved, and we are so lucky to have the OT's that we do in our system. They really do so much for our children who require multi-sensory instruction. Seriously - respect your school OT's and OTA's! (OTR's & COTA's.....I never know the right abbreviation.) Don't call them "penmanship police" or the "handwriting teacher!" They have reasons for what they do, and they are doing us a favor by telling us what we need to know rather than a long neurologically based explanation for why we need to do it. Trust me - just go with it, or you're going to know more about the corpus callosum than you ever intended! :) The COTA at my school started coming in early and working with me to help my little buddy. She uses the Handwriting Without Tears Program with him along with manipulatives. (Sandpaper letters etc...)
We noticed how animated he is when he talks - he uses his hands a lot! Maybe this is from when his speech was so unintelligible that he had to use gestures? I don't know how I came across Snapwords on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I noticed there are hand motions with each sight word. I was hesitant to spend the money for a little while, but I decided to go for it. I'm so glad I did! This little guy only knew two sight words up until last week. He's in the first grade, and SO smart! He's a whiz at math, and he's so creative. He is the kind of kid who gets excited about learning, so you just want to help! Anyway, we tried Snapwords List A for one week. By Friday, he learned two more sight words! That might not seem like a lot, but he basically doubled what took him a couple of years to learn...in 5 days! Here is the feedback I left on TPT. I don't think I've left feedback quite this long on any other product!
Anyway, I just wanted to share my excitement with you about this product. By combining the hand motions, visual supplements, along with the written words....it seems to work! I know I'm dabbling outside of my scope of practice here. I'm learning as I go, and this little boy has probably taught me more than I've taught him. I might ask his mom if I can share a photo or video on my blog - his excitement for learning is infectious!
Click on the image below to check out Snapwords at Teachers Pay Teachers.
The regular price is $17.95 - I noticed it's on sale today for $16.16.
I cut these out a little smaller than the guidelines, and they fit perfectly in 2.3" x 3.7" laminating pouches by Scotch. (It's probably cheaper to buy larger sheets of laminating film, but it saves a step in cutting when I use the pouches! 

If you don't feel like cutting anything at all, Child1st also offers the actual cards:
I am in no way affiliated with Child1st Publications. I just wanted to share a product with you that I found helpful! Enjoy!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Fun little /s/ blend cut and paste booklets


I have a ton of /s/ blend kiddos on my speech caseload this year! I love working on s blends because children seem to progress quickly with them. (Carryover is another story! That is why I included sample phrases and sentences.) We have had the best time making these little books. I got the idea from all of the neat interactive notebooks and foldables I have seen on TPT lately. You don't have to fold these or glue into a notebook though. They are really cute when they are finished, and my kids all ask to take them home to read to their parents. Yeah for carryover! Yeah for reading! (Sorry - I just finished a binge marathon of Breaking Bad. Jesse Pinkman-isms just come out now.)

I included a directions page to explain how to make these. We have been able to finish making one booklet in one speech session. (While also practicing correct sound production at the same time.)
I have had so much fun making these with the kids, I want to make more sets with other sounds.

I included a data sheet and stimulus pictures as an extra item to help with RTI progress monitoring, or you might want to use it with your current speech kids. You might choose to just work on some of the s blends at one time, so you might not need the whole data sheet in one session. If you are like me, you keep data on 24 different sticky notes to transfer! I'm still on the lookout for the perfect data sheet. I think this one is a pretty good supplement for tracking which s blends are giving my students the most trouble.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Speech Therapy Articulation with Sight Words Bundle

Click here to see the bundle in my store!
 Here is my pride and joy of all of the products I have created for my speech room. Long before I ever heard of Teachers Pay Teachers, I created some sight word bingo games to use in speech therapy. In 2009, an administrator asked if I could help a certain child with sight words during speech. Of course I said yes, but I was a little apprehensive because I have zero training in reading! I decided to find out which words he needed to learn and made a bingo game with his current list. I didn't use the sight words as the focus of therapy, but we used sight word bingo as our activity to break up the monotony of artic drill. Why not? If we can play Hungry Hippos during a session, why not sneak in something academic? I made my first bingo boards and noticed lots of the sight words contained his target phonemes. I started making lists with words that contained target phonemes. At some point, my computer crashed with this information.....and it took several years before I could force myself to start over with the lists! I have created products for /r/, /l/, /s/, /z/, and /ch/ so far, and /k/, /g/, and /f/ are in progress right now.

I created the product in color and black and white. I get one color ink cartridge per year at work, so I am usually down to black ink only by Christmas! I do have a good laser printer for black and white printables, and I love to print on colored cardstock. It's sturdy, and it gives everything a little more pop. You can see in the picture above how I printed the /s/ words on purple cardstock. I have purchased more colored cardstock since I took these pictures, and I printed each phoneme on a different color. I would say organization is my downfall, but every now and then I surprise myself! I put the entire product in a binder with page protectors. I store the little flashcards in a pencil pouch, and that works really well. I bought different colors of pencil pouches at Dollar General to match the color of phoneme cards, but only ONE actually had holes that lined up correctly with a standard 3 ring binder. In the future, I will test them out while I'm in the store! I found out the cards also fit perfectly in baseball protector pages - I'm just scared they will fall out if I pick up the binder when it's upside down one day.

I keep extra copies of the homework pages in pocketed page dividers, and that works great for sending home once I think my kids are ready for it.

Here are more images of my articulation sight word sets:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Free Winter Sports Graphing Freebie - Just in time for the Olympics

Click Here

I just posted a freebie in my TPT store! I hope you can use my winter themed graphing sheet with your students this first week back. Let's face it - the first week back after Christmas break is brutal! It's a pretty rough transition for students AND teachers. I know I have to figure out a way to get back on schedule ASAP! I've been staying up very late and sleeping until 9 or 10. (That's crazy for me!) I can't even think about that alarm that's going to go off Monday morning at 5:38 a.m. I set it for an odd time so I can hit snooze once and be up by 5:45. We have to be at work at 7:20 at my school. When does everyone else have to be at work?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Another Giveaway - this one is huge!

I'm participating in another giveaway. This one was organized by one of my favorite clip artists on TPT! Enter now for a chance to win lots of awesome Elementary resources!
a Rafflecopter giveaway