Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Facts and a Fib SLP Blog Hop

I have mentioned MANY times how the social media and blogging experience has opened a whole new world for me. I have made some really special friends. Recently while sharing something in a Facebook group, it occurred to me that some of these folks are the "best friends I have never met!" I am confident that someday we will meet, but for now I will have to be satisfied with our virtual relationship.

Most of these friends know what I look like and how many children we have. They know what state I live in. With some I have shared my fears, heart and faith. Some of us have even sent and received treats via snail mail. With some I have had honest, relaxing and fun chats. These opportunities have allowed us to get to know each other on a more authentic level, sharing life experiences, likes, and dislikes. But really, who's to say anything I've shared is true!? Hmmmmm. Who is the real Annie Doyle? Am I five feet tall or four feet, twelve inches tall? Do I have gray hair or silver hair? Am I a Gemini or a Cancer? Am I a NJ defector or reluctant NH resident? Is my ancestry Northern Italian or Southern? Am I a "play by the rules" sort of gal or do I fly by the seat of my pants? These are pressing questions and inquiring minds want to know (or NOT)!

Here I am participating in my first blog hop. I won't mention how the techie stuff nearly caused hyperventilation. Oh yes, I will, the techie stuff nearly caused hyperventilation!

Two facts and a fib. Here are the rules: I have listed two facts and a fib. Try and figure out which are the truths and which is the fib. Hop to each blog and write down down your best guesses as to the fib. At the end you can take a quiz for a chance to win a $50.00 Amazon gift card! The person with the most correct guesses will win the gift card. In the event of a tie, we will use random.org to determine the winner.

How well do think you know me?
A. I played the role of munchkin in a 2009 production of The Wizard of Oz.
B. I poached the course at the 2013 Run Like a Diva Half Marathon In San Juan, PR.
C. I drove and did speech language therapy in NJ in a repurposed school bus.

Check out the next blog by clicking on the picture below! Have fun and good luck!!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Another Oldie But Goodie

Sorry about the pic! The overhead
lights in my room are so
bright and the glare is terrible!
As many of you know I've been doing this speech gig for quite some time. You also may know that I have a hard time disposing of some of my older materials (and trash). Why discard something awesome? One such material is The WORD Kit and The WORD Book. These products were authored by Linda Zachman, Rosemary Huisingh, Jane Orman, Carolyn Balgden, and Mark Barrett and published by LinguiSystems. When LinguiSystems was LinguiSystems it was very SLP centered. LinguiSystems offered wonderful free CEU opportunities, free shipping, and product previews. I hostessed several product previews whereby I selected products to preview at school. LinguiSystems shipped the products via UPS, participants previewed the products and signed an attendance sheet. Following the preview I boxed them up, UPS picked them up at school and I could keep one product for hostessing the event. It was a great way to determine whether a product was worth purchasing, connecting with colleagues, and having some fun. Unfortunately, those days are gone, but I still have my materials and the WORD Kit was one I was given through a preview event!

The game is played by placing one of six same colored pawns at the end of each spoke. The spokes
each target a different semantic skill area. Students answer questions correlating to each spoke moving spaces when correct. The player who gets all his/her pawns in the center hub is the winner. This product has been my touchstone to the early years and a stalwart therapy friend! While the kit and book themselves target expressive vocabulary and semantic skills I have found it easy to modify for any therapy goal. I have amassed an amazing collection of spoke overlays targeting comprehension, vocabulary, expressive reasoning, categorization, articulation, etc. My recent adaptation was to create overlays that correspond to the Expanding Expression Tool by Sara L. Smith, M.S., CCC-SLP. Sometimes you just need to shake things up and modifying games is a fun way to do that without having to start from scratch. Some of my students refer to these adaptations as "Doylified!"
These are only a few of my overlays targeting
vocabulary, social language, categorization, and comprehension.
I would love to know what "antique" materials you can't part with and how you have modified materials to meet multiple targets!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Interview with a Teacher " Part 2 of the Blog Chronicles

The first installment is ready to go. Thanks to my good friend and teacher extraordinaire Patty for sharing her vision and her willingness to add to our understanding of how we can best work together.

How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?
I see a true multidisciplinary team having a significant amount of time to plan daily. Team members have a common goal for the outcome and they plan together to get there. Team members share, collaborate, change, create, and laugh together. 

What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice).

For the powers that be, please know that I love the students. Their energy charges me up when I walk in the door. In an instant, however, that same energy can suck all life and patience out of me. It's a fine line that I balance every moment. When in balance, I am able to engage my students and stir up their interest and willingness to explore, try, learn, and smile. When "you guys" layer on testing requirements, data, mandated programs and the like, I tend to lose interest and my balance is shaken. Education has improved over my career in helping manage students' varied needs, resources, technology, and overall standards, however, I feel like my ability to be creative is being pushed into the corner. And no one puts baby in the corner.

What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?
The most pressing issue impacting our students today is that there is not enough time in the day for everything to be done well. We - students, parents, teachers, colleagues - can fit it all in, but not well. School, homework, athletics, dance, instruments, clubs, family, exercise....students (and the adults in their lives) get pulled in so many directions. The students who are not pulled often don't have the parents at home who have the interest to pull but unfortunately that correlates to not having the interest to help with homework or basic human interests. And that's a whole other pressing issue...

What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?
My students, colleagues, and professional obligation energize me to come to school everyday. I keep those fresh with exercise, sleep, professional discussions, not-so-professional discussions, and beer.

Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality?How can you make it a reality?
My dream work environment would involve small classes (12 kids maybe?... an even number please), larger classrooms with space for a large conference table, comfy seating and individual work space. All students would have a Mac book. Several white boards balanced with an equal number of windows around the room. A school day that started at 8:00 and ended at 4:00 Monday-Thursday. Homework would not exist except for reading. The massage therapist would come in each day and rotate around the room giving us all a shoulder massages. The physical trainer would stop in randomly for a 5 minute energy workout. After lunch we would have a 20 minute silent chill time for reading and/or meditating followed by a sing along/dance movement session. We would not have a foreign language, art, technology, music, or computer class. Those teachers would come in and work collaboratively with the classroom teacher throughout the week. Physical education would be @ 4:00 upon dismissal where all students were required to either join a team sport or participate in a school organized club activity (i.e. walking, snowshoeing, tennis, yoga). In my top drawer I would have a year's worth of fairy dust to sprinkle on students when they are struggling academically, socially, & emotionally).

Well, there you  have it! When do the interviews begin to work in your school, Patty?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

"Interview with a_____" Part 1 of the Blog Chronicles

I was reminded last October of a book series I read many years ago and really enjoyed, The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. Yes, they could be somewhat dark, somewhat macabre but they were generally well written and entertaining. I especially liked the first two, Interview With a Vampire and The Vampire Lestat. From my recollections of enjoyable books my train of thought (which can follow it's very own and unique track), led me to thinking about a potential blog series that consisted of interviews with those professionals we as SLPs work and consult with on a regular basis.

We are often part of an intricate web of professionals who, when working together, are integral to intervention. When we work together we are a well oiled machine and the impact we make is substantial. When we don't, progress is slow, inefficient, and ineffective. These are the voices from whom I don't often hear. I really want to know what those voices have to say.

I have created a set of questions and have asked different individuals to answer them as candidly as possible. My hope is that we can all learn from each other and improve what we do for our students.
The respondents include:

  • School Principal
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Special Educator
  • School Nurse
  • Parent
  • Speech Language Pathologist (not me)
  • Speech Language Pathology Assistant
  • Classroom Teacher
  • Behavioral Consultant
  • Preschool Teacher
  • Director of Special Education 
  • Psychologist
Each individual has graciously agreed to answer the following questions:
  1. How do you see a true multidisciplinary team functioning?
  2. What message do you have for the powers that be (administration, DOE, elected officials, etc. Your choice).
  3. What do you see as the most pressing issue impacting our students today? Why?
  4. What energizes you to come to work everyday? What keeps it "fresh" for you?
  5. Describe your dream work environment? How does your dream compare with your reality?How can you make it a reality?
I am very excited to see what everyone shares. Wouldn't it be wonderful if after compiling the
responses we could work together to make our dream a reality? Yup, dreaming is good!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I Love Trash

I originally thought this would be a great post for Earth Day, but I'm a bit impulsive and I couldn't wait. I may have overshared this already: I am an SLP hoarder. I can't seem to discard my old cards and books, old blue dittos that still make great homework. I did discard the masters, deciding to step into the 21st century and making "xerox" copies of the blue gems. My little problem extends a wee bit beyond my ancient materials. I save, well I'll just say it, trash! My assistant, Chelsea cheers out loud when I reluctantly pitch a tissue box. I like to think of myself more as a steward of the Earth than an all out garbage hoarder! But old boxes and containers make such nifty storage! Here are a few of my recycled treasures and how I have repurposed them.

The bags from sheets or curtains are awesome for storing loose items. This one contains my "collection" of boggle cubes  and scrabble tiles. What's really nice about this is they have a little hook for hanging.
I have saved all manner of nut container, but these are my faves! They are great for any loose items.
Sometimes I am a brand name snob. I am a Tide junkie. My all time favorite was always Tide powder with bleach. That stuff can get the stains out of anything and I have been known to simmer newly acquired antique linens (another hoarding habit) in a pot on the stove using Tide powder with bleach. Unfortunately with water saving washers I had to let go of my lovely Tide powder. It was a sad, sad day in the life of Annie Doyle. My only consolation was the Tide Pod containers! Slap on a pretty label and voilĂ , instant storage!
Clear egg cartons are great fun. I use them all year long to keep track of little items. Recently, though I used a clear egg carton for my green eggs. 
I love antipasto! I can make a meal of mozzarella balls, olives, marinated mushrooms and good crusty Italian bread. I also love antipasto containers. I use this one for office supplies, but I also use them to contain embellishments for scrapbooking and card making!
I used to belong to a Stampin' Up club and every month we would place an order. Needless to say I have amassed quite a collection of rubber stamps. Storage became an issue, as you can imagine. I learned of a new way to store stamps whereby I removed the rubber stamp from the block and adhered it to a sticky backed piece of vinyl. Of course, I saved the blocks as...blocks. The stamp could then be used with an acrylic block and I could store my rubber stamps in binders. What I was left with was a multitude of plastic boxes. They became perfect storage for all my Boardmaker pics!
Tin cans make pretty and functional storage for all kinds of tall items. I use the cans to store pointers, pacing sticks, etc. This one stores HOT question strips. 

My most recent favorite is part of the packaging from 3D SLP. I ordered one of Amy's wonderful boxes and the cutest little gold box was included. I kept looking at this little box and thinking there must be something I can do with it. The "peekaboo" box was born. The possibilities are limitless with this cutie. Students can hide items and describe them for others and little toys targeting specific sounds can be stowed inside. It can be used for communication temptation by hiding desired items inside. 
Believe me, I have more converted trash than Carter has "little liver pills," but I think I'd better call it quits. I would love to hear from some kindred spirits out there. How have you helped the planet by repurposing containers in your speech rooms?