Let It Snow

Last week in my Minnesota classroom, it was snowing. Not real snow mind you, but snow that we created inside.

I found a recipe for this "snow" on Pinterest. The ingredients I used were baking soda, glitter, and white shampoo. I was supposed to to buy conditioner, but I accidentally grabbed shampoo. The good news is that it turned out ok!

Here are two of my elementary school groups that are working on describing and following directions.The snow came in handy for articulation groups, language groups, and even social skills groups. Here are some of the targets and activities that were compatible with this "snow day."

-Following directions
-Articulation (/s/ especially)
-Describing skills
-Retelling events
-Making predictions
(what do you think we're making)
-Practice with the EET
 (expanding expression tool)
-Following a group plan (social skills)
Surprisingly, this winter has been very mild in Minnesota. We had only rain until last Tuesday. As soon as I saw some snow accumulate on the ground, I scurried outside and scooped up a cup of snow to help my students compare and contrast the snow we made with real snow.

For my articulation students and groups, we either wrote letters to share with families or created books retelling the events in speech/language today. I underlined words containing speech sounds for easy identification and practice at home.

Here are a few things I learned during this snow making adventure.

-This project is super messy! Make sure you have a broom ready to go. I'm planning to bring in treats for our custodians after all the baking soda they cleaned up last week.

-This activity was perfect for the week before Christmas. At the school where I work, we are not allowed to celebrate the holidays or do Christmas based activities. Since my students had energy and limited attention spans, this was a great culturally sensitive activity.

-This requires more baking soda than I would have guessed. I ended up going through almost 5 boxes. A tupperware container helped keep the snow fresh as I added more and more batches as students created snow in their sessions.

 -One more thing I learned - Don't wear black pants on days where you are creating this snow!

Wishing you a white and blessed Christmas and a happy New Year!

Clipart within photos used with permission from Krista Wallden

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Christmas is almost here and busy schedules are full of report cards, Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, and consuming vitamin C in an attempt to stay healthy. As I sit on my couch, watching my sleeping kitty in the glow of the Christmas tree, I am thinking back to a year filled with blessings. My husband and I  are very blessed to have a nice place to live, wonderful jobs, and finances to support my newly opened teachers pay teachers store.

This time of year, I always enjoy watching The Sound of Music for which I know many of the songs by heart. So, in spirit of the holidays and an amazing song, I am sharing some of my favorite TPT related things from 2015.

1) Parts of Speech Sentence Flips by the Dabbling Speechie
The uses for this product are endless. I have seen my students make so much progress in a very short amount of time with the help of these sentence strips. The visual presentation gives students the cues they need to make great sentences and the number of cards allows for lots of repetitions!

Parts of Speech Sentence Flips

2) Smarty Symbols
Where would I be without Smarty Symbols? In May, I was able to scoop up a year's subscription on sale for better hearing and speech month and I have not regretted it.

3) Prompts on a Stick by The Peachie Speechie
A visual for every situation. These have been perfect to have around when practicing carrying over skills into the classroom or during conversation. It's a great way to fade verbal prompts and encourage students to monitor their own speech and language skills.
Prompts on a Stick: Visual Reminders for Speech Therapy

4) Stuttering Mini Unit by Natalie Snyders
I'm still trying to figure out how this is a mini unit. I have several new students with fluency disorders and I started using this unit earlier this fall. I still haven't made it through the unit and there are so many wonderful portions of this product.

Stuttering Mini-Unit for Speech-Language Therapy

5) Speech Scripts by The Peachie Speechie
One of her newer products, Meredith has made a fun and interesting way to practice articulation for my students who are almost ready to graduate from speech.

Speech Scripts: Articulation Acting {No Prep!}

6) Grab 'n Go WH questions by Kristine Lamb
How many questions are there in this packet? Too many to count. For my students who have difficulty answering questions, having 3 visual options allows my students to be successful answering questions.
Grab N' Go "WH" Questions
7) High Stakes Testing Vocabulary Jr. by Natalie Snyders
Vocabulary is hard to target and having this product is wonderful! I had the upper grades version last year and now having the version for my younger students is giving me the opportunity to better support them in the classroom and prepare them for tests and academic activities.

High Stakes Testing: Vocabulary Builder:  1st - 4th Grades

9) Interactive Vocabulary Books by Jenna Rayburn
Jenna keeps making these wonderful interactive vocabulary books. At first, I was hesitant to purchase these because I don't work with very many younger kids. However, I am so very glad I did! These books work well for my younger students who really struggle with language concepts. They are wonderful for my English Language Learners as well.
Interactive Vocabulary Books: Turkeys
There you have it! Several of my favorite things. And to round it off at a nice even 10, here's my favorite project creation and blogging buddy.

10) Odin
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Cyber Monday Sale on TPT: What's In Your Cart Linky Party

SAAAAALE!!! Teachers Pay Teachers is Having a Cyber Monday sale site-wide. While I have never braved the crowds on Black Friday, I love to surf for deals from the comfort of my couch and Cyber Monday is the perfect way to do so. Jenna over at Speech Room News is hosting her What's in Your Cart Linky Party and I wanted to join in the fun.

Many Stores, including mine - Speech Is Heart - will be 20% off. Don't forget to include the code SMILE during checkout for an additional 8% off!

To start you off, here's what you need from my store to get you through to winter break.

Visual Strategies Posters

These visual strategies posters are perfect for decorating your speech/language room while at the same time reminding students of their strategies. Current version includes strategies for playing board games, greeting others, following directions, active listening, and more.

Would you rather... R Bundle

My Would You Rather for articulation R practice has been updated to be more readable, more colorful and to include better questions. Check out the whole bundle on Monday for a fun carryover activity for your students.

Feeling Charades

Finally, make sure to grab my Feeling Charades game for your next social skills group. This fun game is a great way to practice reading facial expressions and body language.

Now for some shopping. Here's what's sitting in my cart for the Cyber Monday Sale.

Articulation Smash Mats by Simply Speech.

Talk to the Hand for problem solving by SLP Runner.

Time to get shopping. While you're at it, download my latest FREEBIE and let your fellow SLPs and co-workers know how much you appreciate them around these stressful amazing holiday times by giving them a Kudos note to celebrate their amazing-ness!

Kudos! for Educators FREEBIE

5 Things About This SLP

Thanks for stopping over at my blog! Jessica over at The Speech Space is hosting a fun linky party and giveaway. This is a fun post for me because I love letting people know more about myself and learning about other bloggers. Here are 5 things you probably didn't know about this SLP.

1) I love to sing. Whether it's in the shower, the car, or in church choir, music is a major part of my life. In college, I was part of our top concert choir and was also in an A'Capella group before Pitch Perfect made it cool.

2) I snore.  I feel bad for my husband. My dentist said that I have large adenoids and that the anatomy of my jaw likely contributes to this. I'm having a sleep study done soon since I have a family history of apnea.

3) I am pretty good at playing the flute. Everyone expected me to become a music major. During my summers in high school I participated in a competitive marching band. We traveled across the country competing in parades. I still like to play my flute at church but somedays I miss just playing it for fun.

4) My cat, Odin, is like a puma. I love my cat! He is 15 pounds of solid muscle and can leap across rooms or jump on tope of our kitchen cabinets with ease and grace.

5) I have a history of clinical anxiety and depression. This is on a much more serious note, but it isn't something I am afraid to share. Mental illness needs to be discussed to eliminate the stigma. I am a well balanced individual with a chemical imbalance in my brain, an organ that has amazing functions. I feel that my experience with anxiety and depression allows me to relate to my students who may be struggling with mental illness themselves. (Wow, that got deep fast - sorry)

There you have it! 5 things you probably didn't know about me. For extra fun, you can enter the contest below to win a copy of my "Would You Rather" for articulation R bundle. This is one of my earliest products and will be updated on TPT within the next 48 hours. You can take a sneak peak here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ASHA is coming!

Blogs, instagram and facebook are littered with posts about the ASHA 2015 convention. I am blessed to be able to say that with the help of one of my favorite people in the world I am hopping on a plane early Thursday morning and flapping my wings all the way to Denver (little girl squeal)!

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Odin says, "Please don't go mama!"
When I first realized that going to the ASHA convention was a possibility, my stomach grew butterflies. In grad school, I had the opportunity to present a research poster at ASHA in San Diego. I learned so much in that short time period that helped drive my career to where it is today.

The suitcase came out of the closet a week ago and ever since I've been putting outfits in and pulling them out. My grad school roommate is coming with me and I can't wait to hang out with her and "nerd out" all weekend.

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This August, during teacher workshop, I was talking with one of the special education teachers about how excited I  was to go to this convention. She began laughing and said, "You're such a nerd! I'm so glad you are doing this, but I would never do that with my personal days." Maybe I am a nerd, but I am thrilled to be able to meet so many more speech nerds in a couple short days.

My program planner is already very beat up, but after circling sessions and reviewing them on a nightly basis I have entered my favorites into the program planner app. It's really neat and I highly recommend using it. My favorite feature, which I'm sure will make my life so much easier this time around is that when you select a session, it will show you on the convention center map where it takes place! This nerd is impressed.

To celebrate this migration of SLPs and Audiologists, I am trying my first ever TPT give away! While I am not one of the popular bloggers  at a booth, I just have to share in my joy for this fun weekend. I will choose 3 lucky winners to have their pick of one of my TPT products emailed to them for FREE! On top of that, my entire store will be 20% off for the duration of the convention (Thursday-Saturday). To enter the give away, leave a comment on my blog or instagram with the product you would most like to win. I will pick 3 winners next Monday to receive an email with one product of their choice from my TPT store. IN ADDITION to this, if you happen to see me at the ASHA convention and you are interested in proof reading/reviewing my products prior to me posing them on TPT, just ask for my business card and email me. I get your opinion and you get a copy of my product for free. Not sure what I look like? Check out my TPT store profile picture.

I hope to meet some of you in Denver!

Thinking About Social Thinking

Last week, I was able to attend one day of Social Thinking's conference in downtown Minneapolis with one of my co-workers. The day I attended was focused on Superflex and other ways to teach social skills. When I first started working in the public school system, I really had no idea how to treat social cognitive deficits. We  had covered the theory in grad class, but I didn't have a systematic way of targeting skills and improving behaviors in my students who qualified for ASD or pragmatic language services. I was not paid to attend this conference, but I wanted to share my thoughts on how it went.

I came out of the Social Thinking conference re-juvinate and feeling as though for the first time, I had a plan of attack for working with students to improve their social skills. So, what have I learned? Too much to share, however, I will give you my 3 point plan of attack for this year - just small steps to become a better speech language pathologist.

1) Teach social thinking vocabulary explicitly. Social vocabulary is not just teaching Superflex and the unthinkables. That's technically not even social vocabulary (what?!?!?). I've been jumping into Superflex without teaching the basic vocabulary. Social Thinking recommends teaching these concepts in order: thinking thoughts and feeling feelings, having a group plan, thinking with your eyes, body in the group, whole body listening, expected and unexpected, smart guesses, flexible vs. stuck thinking, size of the problem, and sharing an imagination. Taking it back a step, try helping your students understand what "social" means.

2) Teach how to evaluate social situations. What is the context? What is expected/unexpected? how do people feel when we do expected/unexpected? What do you get out of following espectations?
These are really the WHYS for learning social skills. Many of my students that I see for social skills group say, "I talk fine. I don't need speech." Helping them understand why they come to see me and what they get out of it is key.

3) It will take time! I can't tell you how wonderful it was to hear these words from the pros. Working in the schools, we are constantly striving for meeting standards, making progress, being proficient, and helping students learn as quickly as possible. Research and experience both support that it takes students with social cognitive deficits time to not only learn the concepts, but also to begin to implement them. It doesn't take 1 year of an IEP, but many consecutive, consistent years of carefully thought out social cognitive intervention.

Apple Critic

Yesterday in Minnesota we had 80 degree weather. Today we got up to 58 degrees. Fall is starting to hit us and I am excited. It's time to bring out the skinny jeans, boots, and scarves. Oh - and apples!
Today I went apple crazy in the therapy room. My students became apple critics!

  We started off by talking about food critics and that a synonym for critic is "judge." What a great way to expand vocabulary.

I took my lovely sharpie collection and a piece of tag board to create  our apple chart. Then I headed over to my favorite grocery store and picked up 7 different flavors of apples - well mostly apples.
My various groups of students then used their articulation or descriptive language skills to describe the apples. We talked about how the apples look, smell, what their texture is, and most importantly what it tastes like. Then I asked them to rate each apple on a scale of 1-10 and pick their favorite.

 Here are 2 students taking notes on their thoughts of each apple. It was interesting to see the different opinions and a great opportunity to encourage different thoughts and perspective taking.

Just to have more fun (and because I am an evil therapist) I threw in a pear to masquerade as an apple. Some of my older students figured it out or at least said, "it smells like a pear." Those who didn't figure it out looked confused and called it gross. I guess if you're expecting an apple and you get a pear it might be gross.

When students first started describing the apples, they began with, "it looks like an apple, it smells like an apple, it tastes like an apple. With the help of my EET beads and cues, within 20 minutes students were describing the different apples as tangy, sweet, crispy, mushy, soft, pinkish-yellow, spotted, and more! Some of my favorites from the day were that one apple smelled like a rock and another tasted like a banana. Such creative minds at work. Plus, I got to snack on healthy apples all day.
Yay fall!

Classroom Makeover

I am very blessed. Last year, my classroom was a former storage closet with questionable ventilation. This year I have a new classroom. It's not a full sized classroom, which I'm glad about (it would have been very difficult to decorate). Starting this summer, I began to go into my new classroom for a couple hours at a time to work on creating a fantastic space for my students.

 Below are 2 before/after shots of my classroom. It started off pretty barren as I didn't have many pieces of furniture moving from my storage closet. The overall theme I chose for the room was gray with orange accents and some flair from Pixar's Inside Out. My favorite color is orange and so I send home everything on orange paper. I painted some of the metal furniture gray so that it would coordinate and be less of an eye sore.
 One thing that I picked up from other bloggers is how to organize a room. I tried to split my room into different zones. The first zone is in front of the smart board and I plan to use it for my instructional home base, particularly for my older students. The zone is surrounded by wonderful cabinets filled with my favorite therapy supplies and all my board games. I hope to get curtains to cover up the games and calm down the space. The second zone is my work space. I wanted my desk to face the door so that I could see anyone who enters and also see into the hallway. The final zone is my individual or small group space. I have a smaller, shorter desk that I plan to use with my younger students. Behind the small work table is a play therapy area. I found a great car mat at Ikea for $20 and I just know it will be a hit.
Zone 3: top left, top right, bottom right Zone 1:bottom left

Zone 1: work area
 When students enter, they can pick up their brand new folder out of the milk crate. Because I have 9 grades that I work with, I've found that a milk crate is really the best folder system for me. The middle picture shows my organization for focusing on vocabulary. I have a easy-to-grab bucket for high stakes testing vocabulary for the upper and lower grades (courtesy of Natalie Snyders) and a bin for my prefixes/roots/suffixes vocabulary. Keeping classroom rules and visuals next to the smart board was a must.

Zone 2

I was able to re-do my desk area and have a working desk along with a computer part. This is definitely not the prettiest part of the room, but it functions extremely well.

There were 2-3 layers of labels on these drawers. This room has been used for FACs, a testing room, and a special education room. Goo-gone was my friend when removing these labels. Because I change my mind all the time, I went with chalkboard labels so that I can move materials around and label them as many times as I want.

 Does your school use PBIS? I included our PBIS phrases in my visual classroom matrix (left) and on an Inside Out themed bulletin board. I plan to have students pick one word that is a positive attribute and add it to the bulletin board (We are... strong, smart, funny, etc.). Below my smart board is a bookshelf I brought in from home. This is fantastic as I have put all my resources that I use on a daily basis here. On the shelf are my quick artic activities, social skills lessons, and some language materials.

I hope you enjoyed a tour of my speech room. I am in love with it and can't wait to see the kids' reactions!

Desk Makeover - How I Grew to Hate Scotch Tape

With my excitment over not only staying in the same school for the second year, but also getting a bigger room that functions for me, I started projects early this year. This summer, I decided to take the time off and focus on things such as cleaning, cooking, blogging, and creating materials. Sooo, when I found myself on Pinterest looking up classroom makeovers, I said to myself, "Huh, I could do that! It'd be easy." Ha... well, the good news is that I did it. I also learned quite alot about DIY projects. I started with what I thought was a simple paint job. I walked into my new classroom and found that my desk and a huge metal cabinet were rusty and in very rough shape. I enjoy pretty things and decided to follow the lead of some bloggers I follow (AKA Natalie Snyders and The Speech Bubble). My hands have not lifted a paintbrush since I was 14, but I braved the process.

The workers at Home Depot and Ace Hardware were so wonderful and patiently explained what paint would be best and waited for me to decide which colors I wanted. Since my pieces had already started to rust, I followed recommendations and applied a coat of primer followed by 2 coats of my chosen paint. Here are a few things I learned.

1) There is alot of surface area on a desk to paint. I ended up having to buy a bigger paint roller and paint brush than I thought I needed. Having the larger roll made it so much easier and the job went much quicker.

2) Having a sink in the room where you are painting is amazing! However, it hadn't been used in over two months, so when I turned it on to rinse my brushes and rollers, air from the pipes made water and paint spray EVERYWHERE.

3) When I primed the furniture, at first I was trying to get every little spot. I was disappointed with my primer job because the old metal still showed through the white a little bit, but then I realized that I was not painting the desk white. Reminding myself to not be a perfectionist was important.

4) I HATE Scotch tape. On both the desk and the cabinet, I found dozens of pieces of scotch tape from years of attaching important information. The masking tape was easily removed with goo gone, but the scotch tape did not respond to the goo gone. I thought about using a putty knife, but I didn't have one and I didn't want the metal to scratch up the surface. So, instead I used my nails to peel off every piece I could find. Turns out they make plastic putty knives, wish I had known that from the get go. But! even after all my hunting, I found MORE scotch tape after I started priming. Ugh. I am never using scotch tape on furniture again. Masking tape, maybe.

In the end, I had extra primer and paint and was able to paint one more storage pieces to match. No more mismatched school hand-me-downs, whoop whoop!

Ode to Summer

Oh summer, how do I love thee! I know many schools have already started and I am one of the lucky few in my remaining week of summer. Don't worry, I'll be jealous of you all in June when we are still in school. This summer, I did not have a paying job, however, I will share with you ode to summer.

I'm learning. CEUs yes, but also I'm learning about blogging, instagram, twitter, and teachers pay teachers. There is an amazing digital support system for SLPS, teachers, and other professionals that I'm just starting to learn about.

Lack of social interaction makes me talk to my cat and myself. No lie, I was in target and I started talking to myself OUT LOUD.

Over the summer, I tried to be a wonderful wife for my husband. At first, he was sad that he no longer has summer breaks and I was worried he would begin to resent me. However, once I began cleaning, cooking, and doing laundry on a more regular basis, we both saw the advantage of having me home.

Summers off is a misnomer. As professionals in schools, we may have 3 months where we are not required to go to work, but our work never ends there. First, we cram a full year of work into 9 months. Second, I think about my students, dream about them and come up with ideas to use throughout the  summer.

Most importantly, dear summer, I'm going to miss my naps.


Today I Learned: classroom website creation

Every night at the dinner table my dad would ask each of us kids what we learned that day at school. Well, this weekend I learned how to make a website for my speech-language classroom. Our district has moved to a 1:1 iPad initiative for our 7th and 8th grades, and nearly all communications with parents have become digital. Each class from 5th grade and up at my building has a website where they post assignments and news. Seeing as this summer I am all about learning new things, I decided to create my own website for better communication with parents.

Weebly for education has a great site for teachers to create their own classroom websites. The basic service is free and intuitive. Adding text, titles, and pictures is simple with an easy drag and drop editor. Some extra features include password protecting student pages, a place to upload assignments, and the capabilities to add your own photos and videos.

I started off by picking a basic layout and within 30 minutes I had a home page that linked to 3 additional pages. Here's a peek at the website I created!

Because I work with 9 different grades, I split up my website to include an area for the younger grades and the older grades. I focus very heavily on vocabulary as it's a great way to improve generalization and so I created a K-4 page and a 5-8 page that includes the vocabulary word of the week and other things we'll be working on. If you provide theme-based therapy, this is also a great way to share the vocabulary and skills you are working on with students.

Overall, I would recommend creating a Weebly classroom site and I'll keep you posted on how it goes this year!

What's in Your Cart? BTS 2015 Linky Party

On Monday and Tuesday TPT is having a back to school love SALE! Yesterday we hit August and the countdown began. TPT is counting down with their back to school site-wide sale and my little store is participating. If you use the promo code (BTS15) you can get even more savings. Now is the time to dust off your wishlist and move things into your cart. I've decided to join up with Jenna Rayburn's "What's in Your Cart: Linky Party" over at Speech Room News to highlight a few coveted items.

Take a peek below to snatch some goodies from my TPT store!

Get the ball rolling with your social skills group through the game Guess the Feeling, a taboo-like game all about feelings.

If you are looking for a way to build curricular vocabulary comprehension, check out my Building Vocabulary through Prefixes, Roots, and Suffixes. This a product that I am super excited about!

Another favorite is In a Pickle for L. This articulation game builds language and flexible thinking as well and who doesn't want to target everything at once!

And now, for the main event - what's in my cart! If I had an unlimited budget, this list would go on and on...

1. Prompts on a Stick from the Peachie Speachie. These look fantastic and I am looking forward to resting my voice or using these cues in a push-in session.

2. Social Group Curriculum for Middle and High School Students from Nicole Allison. I have materials for social skills for all my younger students, but almost NOTHING for my middle schoolers. This looks too fantastic to not have.

3. No Print Articulation Trivia: Bundle from Sublime Speech. So many of my students are working on carry-over of their articulation. I can't wait to use this on my new smart board.

Happy dance! The sale starts tomorrow, so fill up your cart!