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.
video

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. Snopes.com 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 kidzworld.com. 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.
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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

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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!!