Saturday, December 5, 2015

Christmas Cookie Exchange: Linky Style

I love to cook. I love to bake. I am particularly fond of holiday baking. I just love to prepare the family traditions that connect us not just at the table, but with family members who also lovingly prepared the same foods. My children look forward the sweet treats I bake at Christmastime. I spend DAYS baking and often have to double and triple recipes of their favorites in order to have enough and to share with others. In years past, friends have called and requested a plate of assorted cookies to serve to their families. I happily obliged, I know how much time and effort goes into holiday baking. It is truly a labor of love.

I thought it would be fun to host a virtual cookie exchange. I will be sharing some our our family's favorite cookie recipes and I hope you will link up and share yours as well. Grab the photo at the top and link up at the bottom! Please link back to this post.

Today I am sharing a recipe for struffoli. Struffoli, a traditional Neapolitan dessert, is ubiquitous at Christmastime in Italian homes. Struffoli are marble-sized sweet dough pastries, fried and dressed in a honey syrup. They are often decorated with colorful sprinkles or candied fruits.

The history of struffoli can be traced to the Ancient Greeks who are said to have exported it to the Gulf of Naples. The name may come from the Greek word “strongoulos” meaning with round shape or it may be derived from the word “strofinare” meaning to scrub. This might refer to the movement necessary when rolling the dough into long log shapes before cutting it into small pieces to be fried.

Struffoli is native to Southern Italy, though in different regions it is known by different names. For instance in Abruzzo it is called “cicerchiata,” in Calabria “turdiddi,” and in Palermo, “strufoli.” While I am not certain, it may be that my family is from a town in the Province of Palermo called “Polizzi Generosa.” My maiden name is Polizzi!

Many, many years ago, when we were living in our little apartment in Hawthorne, NJ I started to make some struffoli. At the the time Jim and I had a long distance marriage. He had a job in NH and I had a job in NJ. It was very difficult and Christmas prep was a lonely proposition. As I began to heat the oil in the pan, somehow it caught fire. The smoke alarms started wailing and the apartment filled with smoke. I opened the door leading down the stairs and our old and feeble dog went tumbling down. I was in a panic already, but then the phone began to ring. I answered the phone only to hear my my friend Andrea saying, "You never call me! Why don't you call me?" WHAT????? I responded, "Really? I just nearly caught the house on fire, it's filled with smoke, and the dog just went flying down the stairs! I can't do this right now!" Andrea asked, "Well what are you doing?" "Making struffoli," I said, to which Andrea replied, "You know you never make struffoli alone! We're coming over."

Andrea, her husband Giovanni and I made struffoli late into the evening, laughing, and drinking wine. Sadly, Giovanni died nearly three years ago, while only in his 40s, but I cannot make struffoli today without thinking of that night and my dear friends. Here is the caveat, while it can be done, I don't recommend making struffoli alone. Making it with friends or family is the most wonderful experience and the memories will last a lifetime.

For a chance to win my Struffoli Describing game, go the the Frenzied SLPs FaceBook page and post a comment about your favorite holiday food tradition.

An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, November 29, 2015

5 Things You Didn't Know About This SLP

This should be fun! I'm linking up with Jessica from The Speech Space to share some intimate details about me.

  1. I was older when I had children. While I met Jim when I was in my twenties we didn't start a family for many years. I was 37 when I had our first beauty, Nora and turned 39 two days after Mack was born. He was my birthday present. It was definitely a different experience being older, but at least I run with a young crowd! It keeps me youthful!
  2. I have an "addiction" to old glass and kitchen ware. I think I was born in the wrong time. I listen to popular standards and love 20s-40s decor. There is nothing cozier than listening to Bing Crosby on an old Bakelite radio and sipping coffee from a Fire King mug.
  3. I played the clarinet in the high school concert band, wind ensemble and marching band. One of my fondest memories is marching on the field at "Giants Stadium" in 1978 when our football team was in the state playoff. They lost their final game against Cliffside Park. It was a devastating loss. Isn't funny how we remember these details?
  4. I am a wannabe actress. I have participated in several local theater productions. My favorite, though was a play written by my friend Monique Robichaud called wRites of Reunion and performed at the The Little Church Theater of Holderness & Center for Creativity, Inc. I played the role of Charlotte. It was such a wonderful experience and I was thrilled to realize I could still memorize lines!
  5. I am a philatelist. Well sort of. I used to be much more organized with my stamps.  Now I just save them in baggies!

I hope I shed a little more light on who I am! I know I wear my heart on my sleeve, but you never know, there may be a surprise listed!

Check out Jessica's post for a lovely and generous $25.00 Amazon gift card. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I Needed Help (and I got it)!

I suspect we have all been in the situation I am about to describe, the situation where you feel you are at your wits end with a student/client. It's the kind of situation, where despite your best efforts, nothing seems to make a difference and what's even more distressing is that the situation often escalates.

I found myself in that scenario last school year and for a brief period this school year. For obvious reasons I won't offer too many specifics as I don't want to identify anyone. I will call my student "Joy." Suffice it to say I could make NO inroads with Joy. Everything I did was met with push back. I was frustrated, annoyed and just plain done. Every therapy session was an exercise in frustration. I began to dread her scheduled therapy session. Progress was nonexistent and the question of continuing services was brought up by many, including me. I know this can be a tinderbox of controversy; "When speech-language therapy is not productive, do we quit?" I just wasn't ready to give up. Joy was just a kid and I felt an obligation to make both a professional and human connection. I was in desperate need of advice. I talked to colleagues and mental health professionals. I read as much as I could, I did an ASHA self study, but made no progress.

Late in September our state organization, NHSLHA held our Fall Conference. I am fortunate to work with an amazing NHSLHA board, including the talented and funny Cass Chapman. At the Fall Conference, Cass introduced me to her business partner. Cass and Annie DiVello are the co-owners of New England Pediatric Services (find them here and here) which offers mental health counseling, occupational, speech, play and physical therapies. I began to speak to Annie about my challenges with Joy, in fact, just that week Joy had entered my room belching repeatedly and loudly and behaving in a confrontational manner. I was at a loss. Clearly no speech-language therapy was going to happen that day. I gave Annie my phone number, unsure as to what would follow and went home happily exhausted after a successful conference.

Later in the week Annie gave me a call (YAY!!!) and explained that with children similar to Joy she has found this descent to base behavior fairly common. Additionally, this adversarial posturing was also typical behavior. The challenge was going to be in my response. Annie suggested that rather than behaving "teacherly" I meet Joy at her level and spend some time truly establishing relationship. For me that meant that when Joy entered my room the next time belching, I challenged her to a belching contest. I downloaded a "fart" app and I became ten years old. I really wish I could paint a picture for you of Joy's reaction. It was priceless. Her icy demeanor cracked. That child reached down into her soul for the belch of the century and let it rip with utter abandon. For several weeks, therapy was very general. Following Annie's advice, there was little pressure. We did language-based crafts but there was no "direct" therapy. As Joy and I began entering into a relationship, I introduced more structured therapy activities, being mindful of her response. If her body language suggested anxiety or tension, I backed off and limited my questions and any perceived pressure for performance.

Since our initial belch-off, Joy and I have been been working well together. I walk a fine line between adult, speech-language pathologist, and ten year old. I don't judge. I don't reprimand. I leave my notion of what therapy should look like in the hall. I interact. I guide. I direct. I provide a space that allows for Joy's individual qualities. Annie's suggestions changed my work with Joy. I gave her the pseudonym "Joy" for a reason. I am no longer dreading my sessions beforehand and regretting them afterward. I am finding joy in my work with her.

As professionals, we might find ourselves in situations where we falter. Situations where we want to have the answers, but don't. Situations where we want to give up. Situations where asking for help may appear as an admission of a lack of no-how. That is just not the case! We cannot possibly know everything there is to know and in my adulthood I have no problem saying, "Help me. Please help me. I am floundering." Those with expertise in stuttering (I emailed Dr. Scott Yarrus last week), AAC (I emailed Gail Van Tatenhove last school year), selective mutism, ASD, dysphagia and so, so much more are ready and willing to share their knowledge and experience. Just ask. I needed help, and I got it. Thank you so much, Annie!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Frenzied SLPs: Gobble up Holiday Goodies

This week the Frenzied SLPs are bringing you a linky topic that is wide open: holiday goodies. First and foremost I would like to thank Sparklle SLP, SLP Runner, and Speech Universe for all the behind the scenes work making this link up possible. They are a well-oiled machine! Posts can include all things holiday; freebies, products, craftivities, and favorite therapy ideas. So dive into that creative SLP vault and bring out your favorites. I am so excited to see what you share.

I have a few trusty activities I would like to share with you. The first is a craftivity I did with my middle school students last year; holiday pom-poms. This activity covered so many therapy targets including vocabulary, direction following, executive functioning, narrative development, and plain old fun. You can grab it here for free.
Thank you Nora for the beautiful photo shop collage! 
My very talented and creative friend Pam of Chit Chat and Small Talk continues to inspire me with her professional know-how and creativity. Pam has authored many, many, many products I love and use frequently, but her Find It On the Go products are exceptional. Pam has created a fall and winter edition that are chock full of versatile activities for your little clients. These products address seasonal vocabulary, concepts, syntax, articulation, direction following and virtually anything else you can think of. I am particularly happy the winter version contains pages for Hanukkah! They are awesome. Winter Find It On the Go can be purchased here and Fall Find It On the Go here, both for an extremely reasonable price. I have requested a spring version, but Pam isn't quite ready for that one, yet :)
Grab this beauty here!
Every year a group of talented and generous SLPs compile an e-catalog of both freebies and featured products. This wonderful compilation is just what the busy SLP needs during the holidays when he/she is operating on overload. I personally have used many of the products listed, free and paid, (we won't talk about my TPT compulsion). Given December is a fairly short month, you should be good to go if you are able to download even a handful of the products listed.
Gifts of Gab is available here.
With so much emphasis on Christmas some of our students who celebrate in other ways may enjoy attention to their celebrations. ALL my students enjoy playing dreidel and over the years I have compiled a nice collection as well as a treasure trove of gelt. It also makes it extra special when chocolate coins are used. For those of you who don't have a dreidel I have created a version that uses cards and follows the same rules as the spinning top version. Have fun!

Available here!
The Frenzied SLPs and I hope you link up! Just follow the instructions below! Please remember to link back to the Frenzied SLPs Facebook page.

My hope for all you, my dear devoted readers, is that this holiday season you are able to enjoy time with your friends and family and remember, take time to stop and smell the cookies!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Frenzied SLPs: Thankful and Grateful Blog Hop

The Frenzied SLPs are taking a detour from our regular linky party and scheduling a scavenger hunt style blog hop. We are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on our many blessings. 

"Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!") Luke 12:48 (MSG) With that thought in mind we are going to share with you, our dear readers by inviting you to participate in our giveaway. Three lucky winners will be chosen to each receive a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Here is how you can participate. 
1. Read each Thankful and Grateful post from The Frenzied SLPs!
2. Collect the character at the bottom of each post. Don't forget to write down the characters in order to reveal the secret phrase. 
3. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of any post by entering the phrase. 
4. Visit The Frenzied SLPs Facebook Page for an extra entry. 
5. Three winners will be chosen after the rafflecopter closes on 11/13/2015. 

Where do I begin in listing my gratitude? I think I have to start with thanking God, for all my blessings are by His grace.

Anyone who knows me, knows my first and foremost job is that of wife and Mom. I am so grateful for my beautiful and brilliant 17 year old daughter, handsome and talented 15 year old son, and devoted and loving husband (age withheld to protect the old man). Life has slowed down for me in terms of my kids' needs, they seem to be fairly self-sufficient and spend most of their time at school. They are bright and motivated and have a strong value system. I could not be more pleased with the young man and woman they have become. My husband of nearly 22 years is a good man and he loves me. What more needs to be said?

I have so much to be grateful for and I was thinking about how to condense my list when I have all of my professional blessings and all my personal blessings. Well, are they really so different? I am so thankful for all my friends, the ones I see often and the ones I have never met. As it turns out these friends bless my life in the same ways; with laughter, with support, a hug (sometimes across the miles), and with knowledge. Leann, Bridget, Norah, Tonia, Allison, Carol, Sparklle, Pam, Laura, Amy, Mary, Jennifer, Erik and on and on and on. I could fill three pages with the names of the people who grace my life. I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve such friends.
I am also really, really thankful for Mom's stuffing recipe. It's actually my Grandmother's recipe, but I always think of it as Mom's. I'm happy to share it with you (in her words)!

Nana's Turkey Stuffing for large turkey
2 loaves stuffing bread-crumbled, soaked in 2 cups warm water and 2 chicken bouillon cubes-more if required, but not enough to make bread soggy- you can add water from 2 cans mushroom bits
saute 3 chopped onions in butter
add chopped parsley
add 2 cans drained mushroom bits
add 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning-go light on this-it's potent
add pepper, salt
when onions are golden and transparent remove from heat
stir in moist bread-work it with hands if necessary so there are no lumps or dry heaps
season bird in and out with salt, pepper and ginger-butter inside
stuff lightly and truss
butter outside and roast as desired-either with or without foil-but wrap wings and legs in foil at least.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have modified this a bit using chicken broth and fresh mushrooms as well as adding chopped pecans, craisins, and a little nutmeg.

Finally, I am so incredibly thankful for my family: my brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. You are my history, you are my story.
Grab my letter for the scavenger hunt right here! Once you discover the completed phrase, enter the giveaway at the end of this post! Good luck and have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Strength & Weakness: The Good News-Bad News Paradigm

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn the perceived weakness into a strength." Michael Jordan

Thanks to SLP Runner for posting this great topic and encouraging others to assess their perceived weaknesses (start here to read all the posts). For me this is an easy topic, for I have spent the best part of my life with my soft-white underbelly exposed, focusing on all that I do wrong, both personally and professionally. My motive was to stay in the place I was comfortable, the place that said I was wrong, inept, incompetent. This had great ramifications for me professionally as I tended to believe others valued neither me as a professional nor my work.  Of course I wasn't there ALL the time, but enough that my weaknesses were a haze clouding my overall perceptions of my strengths. I recently wrote about how our stories, our past experiences shape the professionals we have become (you can find that post here).

In rereading that post as well as spending the last 50 years realizing my strengths I think that my biggest weakness was fear. Fear of being wrong, fear of having to leave my comfort zone, fear of admitting I didn't have all the answers, fear of not being heard or valued as the all-knowing Speech-Language Pathologist. Fear is insidious and it can take on a life of its own, as it did for me. However, living along side my fear was faith and an ability to be introspective. Those qualities spurred me to soldier on. It's yin and yang, seemingly contradictory and oppositional forces that are also complimentary. My fears yielded courage. My desire to take risks became paramount and superseded any fear of recrimination. My courage allowed me to look inward at the cause of the fear and not be paralyzed by it. The bad news was I was afraid to be a professional who could be wrong. The good news was fear and courage formed a dynamic relationship and courage whittled away at my fears and I learned I didn't have to have all the answers. Ironically, becoming vulnerable made me strong. Being quiet gave me a voice. Yielding gave me power. It is always a good practice for me to look at my skill sets and when I do I always see a juxtaposition of the yin and yang. Fear and courage, silence and voice, vulnerability and power, resistance and surrender. The weakness creates the strength, although the first step should be embracing the weakness and looking at it as the beginning and not the end result. What follows can be liberating!

Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness, Jean Vanier

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Day in the Life of Annie Doyle

I am visiting at Speech to the Core and participating in Lyndsey's "Day in the Life series! What fun to read how we all spend our days. It is most reassuring to see how similar we all are and how committed we are to the profession! To read more head on over to Speech to the Core. See you there!

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Treat of Halloween-Themed Language Tricks & Activities for SLPs From: The Frenzied SLPs

It's time for the next installment of the Frenzied SLPs! This week the Frenzied SLPs are highlighting Halloween-themed language activities sure to keep your little ghosts and goblins motivated and happy (and some of the larger ones as well) and make your planning a little bit easier.

As I have stated often, "I love to capitalize on a theme!" It makes therapy planning a cinch. Holidays are a fabulous way to design activities around a theme. Here is a sampling of what will be happening in our speech room for the next couple of weeks.

On one of my recent trips to Walmart for ink, card stock, etc. I perused the holiday storybook display. Walmart always has a nice collection of holiday storybooks and I found a really cute book that I thought would make a wonderful addition to my library; Monster Needs a Costume I (like many) find books to be a great resource for language therapy. There is a wealth of book companions on TpT for most any popular book, but I couldn't find one for this particular book, so I made a little something that would meet my needs. You can pick it up here.

Defining and describing is a crucial skill in schools and one that our speech-language impaired students struggle with. Over the years I have used a variety of materials to teach describing, but the procedure has always been the same; talk about attributes, characteristics, functions, parts, location, category, etc. The Expanding Expression Tool has put it all in one place and format. My students love my "describing hop" activities for learning about creating definitions. When playing Halloween Hop, students either use wind-up eyes or Halloween hopping frogs to move on the board. They describe the picture with the corresponding attribute they land on.

Play-doh smashing has been all the rage! Far be it from me to miss a trend, so we started smashing synonyms. Prior to smashing we played memory and go fish to learn the synonym pairs.

In order to help my older students with listening comprehension, inferencing, problem solving, vocabulary, fact vs. fiction, context clues and more we went to the Internet. has some fairly creepy (and not so creepy) urban legends that are appropriate for middle school students.
Here are a few we've been using this Halloween:
Lifesavers were created because the inventors daughter choked on a mint without a hole.
The daddy long legs spider is the most venomous in the world.
Halloween ranks second only to Christmas in retail sales.
Vacationing couple discover a body under their bed in a hotel room.

Another wonderfully creepy source for language therapy is The folks at kidzworld have compiled a nice collection of information on the legends of some truly spooky characters including werewolves, witches, mummies, and vampires. I put the information together on some cards so my students could refer to the text more easily and highlight key details and vocabulary.

What are you doing for Halloween with your language students. Please link up and share your therapy expertise.
Thank you for linking up! We want to hear from you so please follow these basic rules:
  • Only link posts, in other words, please don’t link up as a placeholder and post later.
  • Use the Frenzied SLP image as your first picture and link to both a host page and The Frenzied SLP Faceoook page.
  • Please comment on the blogs before and after yours. Your link must go to a blog post or Facebook note (please do not link to stores, etc.). 
  • You only need to link with one host blog and your link will appear on all the host blogs.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's the story, Annie?

If you lived in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut in the 70s you remember a commercial for an appliance store that used the tag line, "What's the story, Jerry?" I am nine weeks into my 33rd year as an SLP! I've been thinking quite a lot about how I got here. What is my SLP story? What makes me the SLP into which I have evolved? It comes as no surprise that my experiences uniquely prepared me for my future, but how I used those experiences to become the woman, the professional I am is worth considering. Here is my SLP story.

My childhood was complex. My parents were loving, but had significant baggage of their own. After their divorce my poor Mother struggled with finances, teenage sons, and her difficulty caring for her sixth and and seventh children while getting a graduate degree and working. Unfortunately, the result was neglect. We weren't lacking in love, just having our physical needs met. I most definitely learned love and compassion from my Mother. After losing my Mother when I was fifteen, my anxiety was tremendous and I had virtually no confidence in my abilities nor my potential. My 27 year brother and his 26 year old wife moved in with my younger brother and me. We worked hard to forge a stable family relationship. My grades in high school were good, but I never pushed myself. I did what I had to do and no more. I didn't participate in any extracurricular activities, no sports, no theater, no clubs, nothing. I wanted to take risks, but was afraid to do so. As a senior in high school there were no college visits, no aspirations, no desire to go away. I applied to two colleges, was wait listed for one and accepted into the other. When completing the applications I suspected I could learn how to do most anything, so I closed my eyes and pointed to the page listing majors. My finger landed on speech-language pathology. I suspect divine intervention! I chose to attend William Paterson College and majored in Speech Path. In May of my freshman year of college my Father died. I was eighteen. Still reeling from my losses, I commuted for four years dividing my time between classes, working at a drug store, and partying with my friends. I did work harder in college and was consistently on the Dean's List, but as a commuter, I still didn't gravitate toward campus life. I was, nevertheless, the VP of the speech pathology club and the Secretary for Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education, but what I really excelled in was playing quarters. 

I graduated in 1983 and my first year as an SLP was spent working part-time in four schools in four towns. In those days a master's degree was not yet mandatory to work as an SLP. It is hard to believe; I was 22 years old and worked in two high schools and two elementary schools. Three of my students at the high school were eighteen year old boys! I often think about that year and wish I could go back and do a better job! I was so young and had so much to learn. I remained positive despite grasping at straws at how to motivate kids who were only slightly younger than I was.

Really, during that period I wasn't sure if I was going to continue in the field, but as luck would have it, a position for a graduate assistant at Montclair State College was advertised in the paper and my brother suggested I apply. I called the number listed and waited for a response. The following day I received a call, not exactly the call I wanted, however. Evidently, I dialed the number inadvertently using MY telephone exchange and not the exchange of the graduate office. I had left a detailed message and the kind soul I contacted was thoughtful enough to return my call and tell me I had the wrong number! I remember her saying, "This sounded like an important call, so I wanted to be sure to tell you, you had the wrong number." I went on the interview and was accepted into the communication sciences and disorders program as a graduate assistant!

I continued my part-time SLP work and my job as a cashier as well as completing the responsibilities as a graduate assistant for the first year of the program. I then found a full-time school position during my second year of graduate studies. This was the period I found my passion for speech-language therapy. As you know graduate school is tough. I think it is tougher now than when I went, but it still kept me crazy busy and crazy stressed. I passed the "ASHA exam," as we then called it, and completed my CFY. I began to realize I was competent, creative, and smart. I took risks. I found my voice. I found my heart. I found my passion and like a butterfly from a chrysalis, I found my wings and I soared! 

How have my experiences prepared me for my profession as an SLP? I am able to view each child as worthy, even the ones with dirty clothes. I am able to see the smile in every child, even the ones with downcast eyes. I am able to see the leader in every unmotivated middle school student, even the ones who don't play sports or get the lead in the play. I am able to advocate for each student, especially the ones who feel silenced. I am able to ease the sadness of every child, even for merely thirty minutes, especially the ones who have little hope. I am able to state with conviction to every child that you are good at something, even if you don't believe that today. I am able to listen with a compassionate ear to the child who believes "nobody likes them" and to reply with certainty, "I do." I am able to gently encourage those students who are fearful to take a risk. I am able to explain to every child that this place is the beginning of their story, not the end. 

It's always a good practice to reflect. If you would like to share your story grab the graphic above. What is your SLP story? How have your life experiences primed you for your career? 
Write it!
Dream it!
Love it!
Share it!
Live it!
Be it!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fun Fall-Themed Articulation Ideas From The Frenzied SLPs

The Frenzied SLPs are back this week with Fun Fall-Themed Articulation Ideas. I am so excited to see what my talented SLP friends do in their therapy rooms!

When doing articulation therapy my aim to is get the maximum number of productions in a short window of time, therefore my activities need to be simple in order to give the biggest bang for the buck. The reinforcement is simply that and not the main thrust of therapy; twenty (or more) productions, then positive reinforcement.
I use laminated fall cutouts as reinforcement as well as to write articulation practice words on. These shapes are from the Listening for _______ all Year 'Round books by LinguiSystems. I printed them on construction paper. Students pick a shape and practice the word or roll a die and pick either the number or color cutout indicated. I bought the fall "gems" last year at Michael's. Students roll a die and take the corresponding number of gems. Many, many years ago I made holiday and seasonal themed lotto games that are always motivating. They are probably in need of an update!

 I found these Speech Therapy Fall Word Searches here and they are perfect do do in therapy and to send as homework. I often use page protectors and dry erase markers to complete activities during speech and then I can send the worksheet home unmarred. This has the added advantage of familiarizing the student with the activity beforehand. If students come in next time saying they didn't do their homework because "they didn't know what to do," I am able to remind them they had already done it in speech! Dot/bingo marker worksheets are also a great way to encourage articulation practice. During sessions I use them as positive reinforcement and for homework I attach words to practice. You can download this worksheet for free here.
SLPs love craftivities and I am no exception. They are motivating, fun, creative and pack an articulation and language wallop. As a straight articulation activity my students will practice their sounds and receive the corresponding number of pieces of tissue paper. To add a language element, well, you know what to do. The opportunities for vocabulary, sentence expansion, sequencing, math language, basic concepts, following directions and more are extensive.

Last year I repurposed a cup carrier to be used for positive reinforcement with any speech-language activity. Add a little paint and some googly eyes and I have a fun and versatile game. Just bounce an EYEball and see where it lands! It may be more for Halloween, but Halloween is in the fall, right? This could easily be modified by painting it red or brown and tossing in little apples or leaves.

The Frenzied SLPs would love to hear what fall-themed activities you are using in your speech rooms. You can link up here or any other Frenzied SLP host. I could go on, but I have been writing this for four (I'm up to five) hours and I really need to get myself up and out and off to the Sandwich Fair! It's a beautiful autumn day in NH and it's my favorite time of year! Enjoy your autumn wherever you are!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

How About a Little Civility, Please?!

There I was thinking about a topic for this week's blog post when it fell like manna from heaven. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it firmly places me back on my social-pragmatic soapbox. This time the focus of my ire is the people we come in contact with as we go about our day to day business: the salesperson, cashier, receptionist or food server.

Let me explain. I had to have a blood test today. As I registered at the hospital the receptionist wrote my name, birthdate, and email address on an index card rather than directly on a form or the computer. I asked her where she would be filing the card (a rolodex perhaps?) and she indicated she would be referring to it later. Call me kooky, but I had a moment of concern that my info was floating around her desk and asked her to please shred it when finished. Her response? "Uh yeah, it's called HIPAA," (insert snarky tone here). I simply smiled and thanked her for her diligence. Earlier I had a dental appointment. The dentist suggested I have a wisdom tooth pulled. I asked how long a process a tooth pulling is, so I could plan accordingly with work. In other words, do I need to take a half day off? A full day? Her response? Well the oral surgeon doesn't work on Saturday (insert tone of incredulity here)!

Okay, what is my point? HOW ABOUT SOME CIVILITY, PEOPLE! I am finding that so many of the people I come in contact with are poised to jump down their customers' throats. This isn't a new phenomenon. Many years ago when I was a young and sassy SLP, I went to the Grand Union. The cashier must have been very bored, because when he told me the amount of my purchase he looked off into the distance so all I saw was the back of his surfer blond head. That's right, he didn't establish eye contact with an SLP. Now what follows is probably completely inappropriate, but it does make for a good story. I malingered. I admit it, I feigned a hearing loss and told that young man I couldn't hear him. He turned the register toward me and said (and I kid you not), "What are you blind, too?" to which I replied, "I read lips." Being astute to the body language associated with mortification, I watched with pleasure, him shrinking into himself.

I am not particularly proud of my little social experiment. It was during a period where I engaged in general grandstanding, marches on Washington, and overall rebellion and rabble rousing. Ah, youth! However, even then I realized the days of customer service, satisfaction, and civility were disappearing. Treating customers with decency is even less prevalent today. In fact, according to a Consumer Reports survey, 65% of respondents were "tremendously annoyed" by rude salespeople and 64% reported leaving a store in the previous 12 months due to poor service. I have always felt that businesses could increase their customer satisfaction and profits by simply being kind, using a tone of voice that is respectful and training employees to not be so dang defensive. Remember Miracle on 34th Street? Isn't that how Kris Kringle helped Mr. Macy increase business? Now, there is a niche for an enterprising SLP, social-pragmatic training in the work place. What do you think? Anyone want to partner with me? Social Skills-R-Us here we come!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Middle School: Materials and Motivators

My first job as an SLP in 1983 was in a high school. I was 22 years old and my students were 18 years old! Believe me when I say I felt in over my head. That became very apparent as I drove my 1973 "three on the tree" Pontiac Ventura into the faculty lot and was reprimanded and told to park in the student lot. Of course I indignantly responded that I was the Speech-Language Pathologist! Ohhhh, to be asked for a hall pass today!

I knew in that first year that I needed to engage those students or I was sunk. Many of the techniques I utilized then I still use today. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Kids love real games. I love real games. Now please don't misunderstand. I don't modify my goals to fit a game, I modify a game to fit my goals (Thank you Dr. Lissa Power-deFur for the words to highlight that distinction). Games are a means to an end and a motivator. The last thing we need is an eighth grader boldly announcing he played a game in speech! One of my past middle school students referred to my modified games as "Doyle-ified!" I now have a folder on my computer containing all my Doyle-ified games.  Favorite games include: Boggle, Battleship, Jenga, Yahtzee, Uno, Bananagrams, and Connect Four. Pam Dahm of Small Talk Speech has created the perfect compliment to Bananagrams. It can be found here.

Years ago I purchased boggle cubes and scrabble letters in bulk on eBay. My students really enjoy using these to create vocabulary crosswords around a theme. This past Martin Luther King, Jr. Day we used these to learn civil rights vocabulary.

I love the Expanding Expression Tool, but find the materials in the book a little young for my older set. In order to utilize this amazing program I often create motivating materials that "expand" the Expanding Expression Tool. Pictured below are two Uno games and some St. Valentine's Day hearts.

Sometimes it's the simple things that motivate students. Things like buzzers and bells that capitalize on a tween's competitive side. I found these game show buzzers from Learning Resources and they add just the right amount of fun to any activity. They can be found online here. Tossing objects into cups, bowls, cans, trash bins as reinforcement is also loads of fun.
While they can be labor intensive to prepare, craftivities and cooking generally appeal to middle school students. My line of questioning when using craftivities or recipes often follows Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. These activities target vocabulary, sequencing, executive functioning, higher order thinking, auditory comprehension, verbal expression and more. A creative SLP can target any goal with a craftivity or recipe. 
Find this free craftivity here.

Sometimes just doing something that a student thinks is verboten can be motivating. That's when we write on the table with dry erase markers or pop balloons or throw task cards on the floor or play vocabulary kick ball.
Expanding Sentences
I always save the best for last. Every year during the last week of school the youngest to the oldest students on my caseload play Wheel. Of. Fortune. I find all the music and sound effects used, online, and we target multiple meanings, figurative language, vocabulary, synonyms, antonyms, categorization, articulation and on and on. My students anticipate a fun-filled week and it is a wonderful way to wrap up the school year.

Motivating middle school students can be a daunting task, but I do love working with this age. They appreciate humor and when motivated can be a breath of fresh air. They can also be exasperating. I find I have to always be mindful of what is happening in their lives, socially, physically, emotionally, economically, and intellectually. Those kids, like us, entered this world whole, and their experiences, like ours, cause them to behave in the ways they behave. When working with a challenging student I remember always, "this child is a child of God."