Friday, August 29, 2014

Clinical Skills Confidence: Staying On Top of IEP Deadlines

Graphics: KG Fonts and 3AM Teacher

Clinical Skills Confidence posts are back! I asked my Facebook fans what kinds of posts they'd like to see. One of the first suggestions that caught my eye was staying on top of IEP deadlines! If you caught my post earlier this month, you'll notice how I set up an Excel sheet that helps me because all information is in one location. 

For a quick refresher, here's a look at part of the Excel sheet before sorting by date:
*names are not real*

 And after sorting by date, using the AZ sort button (oldest to newest):
This is where I start at the beginning of the year. I go through this list and write down due dates for all annual IEPs. This way I can see what IEPs are due each month. If they are speech only and I am the case manager, I generally try to schedule the meeting for a couple weeks before the due date, in case it needs to be rescheduled or there are weather closures. For the ones I serve as a related service provider, I can see when I need to collaborate with the special education teacher for the meeting or go over concerns about a student. 

That takes care of annual IEPs. For new cases that are speech only, I really try hard to evaluate and hold the eligibility and IEP meeting within a month after getting permission. Since it involves coordinating less people, I am usually able to accomplish this. Still, I know it can be hard to keep everything straight, especially when you've got multiple evaluations in progress. 

Post-its to the rescue! Read about how I use those to keep me organized for evaluations here!

It is a lot of information to keep track of. The best thing you can do is find a planner that works for you and write yourself as many notes as you need. Make a checklist, make a to-do list, do whatever it takes to keep yourself organized. You don't want someone looking for you because you missed a deadline!!! Hope this helps!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

5 Tips to Survive the Beginning of the School Year

Staff went back on Monday of this week. That means that this week has been full of meetings, professional development, schedule-making, paperwork, and definitely some stress. There is a lot of work that goes into the days leading up to greeting kids on the first day of school! I'm sharing some tips that will help you survive this time.

Tip #1: Talk to teachers! If you're returning to the school, it's a great way to reconnect and find out how their summers were. You can also use this time to find out which teachers have your students and   it gives you "face time" to start the year out on the right foot.

Tip #2: Ask about grade level schedules! Every school probably has a slightly different way of doing this, but you'll want to know when lunch/recess/specials are for each grade level to begin building your schedule.

Tip #3: Make planning easy for the first couple of weeks! Do some "getting to know you" activities or crafts and have fun welcoming your students back or meeting them if they're new to you. I have an easy (and inexpensive) craft called My Speech-O-Graphy, which will help you get to know your students AND remind them of their goals. Your students will be settling into new routines, so be mindful of that. There are tons of free activities on TpT - I just made a category of all my free items, so it's easier to find. Click here to be taken to those! Several would work for this time of year!

Tip #4: Think data! You'll want to think about gathering some baseline data. I have a free informal tool that will help you gather some preliminary data, but you'll want to check in on how students are doing on their IEP goals of course. 

Tip #5: Don't get attached to your schedule. As frustrating as it is, I find myself changing my schedule slightly throughout the year to accommodate new students, special events, personality differences, etc. It's a necessary evil of the job, but I try to just go with it!

Those are my tips for surviving back to school. How do YOU survive this crazy time of year?!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Inexpensive Basic Concept Books [freebie]

Graphics: 3AM Teacher and Creative Clips

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

After the big TpT sale in August, I promised a freebie as a thank you for all who purchased from my store. And then I promptly forgot about it until now! Never fear, though = the time is here!

Basic concepts are something all children need to understand. During my CF, I made these inexpensive basic concept books that I can't believe I haven't shared yet! I purchased some little photo albums (also called brag books) at Walmart and labeled them with basic concepts, such as "hot/cold, more/less, wet/dry, etc." I generally focused on a couple pairs at a time, until I felt that the child had mastered the concept.

These are similar to what the photo albums look like, I think I got them for around a dollar each. Patterns don't matter:

I inserted pictures in each sleeve that illustrated the concept. Here's where your freebie comes in. I included pictures for hot/cold and hard/soft, so you can easily make some of your own. Best part? You don't have to laminate these since they're going into the sleeve! Click the picture below to get your copy! 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Speachy Feedback August 2014

Thanks to Nicole from Speech Peeps, Speachy Feedback returns! I apologize for the crickets you've been hearing around here lately. I've been trying to soak up the last few days of my summer vacation! I do LOVE rewarding great feedback left by all you wonderful buyers, though. 

If you see your TpT username below, email with your choice of product (no bundles)! It means you left awesome feedback!

Melody left fabulous feedback on Building Block Sentences!! Thanks Melody!!

Keep leaving feedback and you have a chance to win every month. Be sure to check out Nicole's post to see if you won from other SLP bloggers. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Articulation Test Center {App Review}

Today, I'm reviewing Articulation Test Center from Little Bee Speech. It is $49.99 in the app store. You can watch a tutorial video for the screener and the full test

Disclaimer: A copy of this app was provided; however, the opinions are solely my own. 

This app tests articulation and phonology skills, gives reports/recommendations, and can be used to test clients of 2 years and up. 

When you open this app, you see this screen:

 If you choose "Screener," you'll be taken to this screen where you can choose the client's age:

One of the things I love is that when you click on an age, it brings up a window with all the sounds that are tested at each age:

If you choose "Full Test," you will be see this screen:

You can choose to test initial, medial, final sounds, initial blends, vowels, R, or do a speech sample.

This is an example of what the stimulus screen looks like. The target sounds are in green. If the child says it correctly, you do nothing to the "tiles." If the sound is approximated, you tap twice, which will turn it yellow. If the sound is omitted, you swipe up which will show a "no" sign. On each stimulus page, you have the option to pull up a notes page, where you can type in additional notes. 

If you click the arrow pointing up on the right hand side, you can mark substitutions (consonants and vowels):

You can also mark phonological processes too. It gives you examples of each process if you are unsure. 

You can also choose a scene to obtain a speech sample that can be recorded. I absolutely LOVE this feature! It would be great to monitor progress, as you could go back and record another to compare later on. 

You're also asked to rate the intelligibility as poor, fair, or good. 

In the results section, you will see multiple pages. The "words tested" page looks like the screen below. I made up a client in order to show the results page. 

The "errors marked" page looks like the page below. A red circle indicates that the sound was produced incorrectly, while a yellow circle indicates that the sound was approximately produced. It also indicates what age the client should have mastered the sound. You can also choose to view the substitutions or phonological processes.

 If there is a speech sample, it will be in the "speech sample" section. There is also a "report" page that automatically generates a report!!! How awesome is that?!?! You are able to type in your own conclusions as well.

The "recommendation" page states what sounds are recommended to work on. Of course, you'll be using your clinical judgment as well when deciding on treatment targets. 

This app is great for on-the-go SLPs who need to travel between sites or home visits. You probably already carry your iPad, so it's all there. I really like that there's a screener and a full test version. It's easy to mark approximations and omissions, which makes scoring easier than traditional pen/paper tests. The results are saved so that you can go back and look at data to monitor progress. I also really like that you can put the speech sample right in there with built in scenes to discuss. 

Several SLPs now have access to iPads to use in therapy, so this is another great way to use it. It lessens the amount of "stuff" you have to carry around, yet still provides a comprehensive assessment of articulation and phonological processes. This is just another example of how technology is saving us time and energy! Great job, Little Bee Speech!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Back To School Roundup

Graphics: My Cute Graphics

August has arrived, which means only one thing. Back To School is just around the corner. Or already  here in some states. Here is my advice for this time of year:

1. Take a moment to have a good cry at the thought of returning to school.
2. Go to Target and look at all the pretty, new office supplies - if you're anything like me, you actually enjoy this part. 
3. Soak up those final sweet moments of summer vacation!
4. Stop here and I'll show you some awesome back to school finds!

Here are some of the activities from my store that will work for this time of year:

When's Your Birthday? Freebie: Students will use their listening and problem solving skills to figure out the birthdays of the 24 students in Room 365. 

Back To School SLP Checklist Freebie: Use this checklist at the beginning of the year to make sure you've got all your bases covered to start the year off on a good foot!

Language Sample Prompts: You can use these cards to get to know your students or start general conversations that can help you gather baseline data.

My Speech-O-Graphy: A brand new very easy craft activity that doubles as a back to school and a "get to know you activity." Only $1.00!!

Speech & Language Zoo: Chock full of activities to target 22 commonly targeted areas of speech and language. 120 pages!!

Here are some other activities that would work well for back to school from some fellow SLP bloggers:

Speech and Student Information Packet: by Major Speech Pathology by a Minor Girl (7th-12th grade)

Back To School Fun Pack by Mia McDaniel

SLP Office Signs by Queen's Speech

There are TONS of great things out there!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ice Cream-y Cones

The summer is flying by much too quickly for my liking. Some of you might even be back in school. I have until the end of August before I go back, but am just beginning to get a taste of actual summer vacation now since I worked ESY. Today, I'm sharing a freebie that has an ice cream theme - it screams summer!

I call this activity Ice Cream-y Cones and it targets story retell, by helping students pick out the character, setting, problem, and solution of a short story. They can then use the completed cones as visual cues to retell the story. There are 5 stories and ice cream scoops with character, setting, problem, and solution to match with the correct cone. 

Grab your copy here!

The story page indicates the color cone that matches each story:

Hope you enjoy this freebie!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Getting Organized For A New School Year

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

Getting organized for a new school year can be daunting. I've done my share of changing jobs since graduation, due to moving or other reasons, so I've probably "started over" a little more than the average person.

I almost always get organized in a similar way though, so I thought I'd share how I go about doing it. Maybe it'll make your life a little easier, too!

Materials I Need: 
I buy a monthly planner. There are TONS of cute SLP planners (<--- click that link and you'll be taken to some of them, I just searched "SLP planner") out there, plus I know some people enjoy Erin Condren planners. But I actually just use a plain old monthly one, like the one seen below. I like to be able to see the whole month at once and just write in meetings, times, upcoming IEP due dates, etc. 

I use a small binder clip at the top to make it easy to flip to the current month. I prefer mechanical pencils, and always try to write in pencil in my planner. Why? Because things ALWAYS change (yes, you know those IEP meetings that get rescheduled 3 times). I do tend to have white out on hand for those times I didn't have a pencil. Also, sticky notes are a necessity, because I jot down things I have to do and stick them on my desk. When the task is done, I get great satisfaction in throwing away the note (it's the little things, people).


Steps To Tackling Scheduling, Planning, Etc:
1. Make an Excel spreadsheet...actually make four. One for my caseload info, one for my schedule, one for my planning sheet, and one for IEP dates. You can add sheets at the bottom of the workbook:

Caseload Sheet: I put name, date of IEP, date of re-eval, primary disability code, teacher, grade, and goals. I like to have everything in one place, which helps immensely when I go to plan. As I go to IEP meetings through the year, I just go back into the sheet and update dates and goals. This is how I set mine up:

Schedule Sheet: I put the days of the week across the top and times down the left side. Then I look at the master schedule and see when kids are going to lunch, specials, recess, etc. I slowly go about the task of putting kids in where I think would be a good time. I'm usually shooting for language arts since it seems to be a good time to pull/push in (I realize that might be different wherever you are). When I put in kids names, I also put the teacher, because it takes me a little bit to remember who is where. 

Planning Sheet: When I think I've got a schedule ( WILL change, I know that), I copy that sheet to a new sheet and leave the kids names and a some extra space. This is what I use to help me plan each week. I will pencil in ideas for what I think we'll be doing. Some weeks, I have a book that I do with multiple grade levels or some weeks I have a craft. It all depends, and I try to do open ended themes that I can tailor to whatever goals I need to. *Names are not real*

IEP dates: Since you have the kids name and IEP date column already on the caseload sheet, I copy that to a new sheet and organize by ascending date. This way, I can see which kids' IEPs will be due in any given month. *Names/dates are not real*

This is unsorted:

To sort, you click on that AZ sort button (circled in red). You are given the option to sort oldest to newest, which is the one you want. Just make sure to highlight the name and date boxes, so the names stay with the dates. See below, you can now see IEP dates by the month!

2. Data logs: We have a district wide data sheet that SLPs use, so I make a folder on my desktop for logs. I type in the name and goals and save a copy for each of my kids. That way, when I need more, I just go in and print one off with the goals already on it. I put all of these in a binder. At the beginning of the day, I go through and pull out the logs for the kids I'm seeing that day and put them all on a clipboard. 

I will admit, it's a lot of work at the beginning. However, this system seems to really work for me. It keeps me organized and having most of the info on the computer makes it really easy for me to go in and change something. 

*You will notice that I'm not mentioning anything about room organization. I'll tell you why. I have been parked in a lot of very, less than desirable areas. I never know where I'm going to be, so I usually wait until I have time to scope out the space I'm given before doing anything room-wise. I would love to share a whole bunch of decorating ideas, but the reality for me is that sometimes I don't have much more than a desk to call my own. So I go with what I'm given and do my best to make it work. I love looking at everyone else's very cute rooms though!