Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Quick Tip: Creating a Google Account using your school email

By now, I'm sure you've heard about Google Drive along with some of the useful apps that are available.  The benefits to using something like the Google apps are that they are stored in the cloud, so it's possible to pull them up from different buildings on different devices without having to carry around a flash drive or other media that can fail you.  If you play your cards right, it can also mean less paper, which is a big deal for the many many SLPs who travel between buildings.

Most people think you have to have a gmail address to have all the access to the whole kit and kaboodle of Google.  It creates an ethical dilemma.  You obviously don't want to use your personal email address to store information about your students or school building.  Additionally, if you share a document with a coworker, you don't really want it to come from "Alli_cat423" or whatever was available when you signed up.

The truth is, you can sign up for all the bells and whistles of Google without the hassle of coming up with a Gmail address.  In fact, you can use your school address to get an account, which is nice for that coworker who wants to share PLC notes with you, as it's a whole lot easier to plug in your work email than to remember the correct combination of numbers after your name that you might have to create with a new gmail account.

The first thing you'll want to do is go to the Google Drive website.  If you already have an account, don't fret, just sign out and follow my lead.  As you can see from the picture above, you want to Add Account.

In all things silly Google, you will end up here.  When you said Add Account, it thought you meant you already had one, and wanted to enter that, or that someone with an account was sharing your computer.  You really want to create an account, so that's your next click.

Be ready for the secret move.  Are you ready?  Here it comes.
When you are filling in your information, there's small print under the "choose your username" that you don't want to miss.  It's easy to do, because if you're me, choosing a username induces panic as apparently my name is way more common than I realized until I had to start choosing usernames.

When you click on the link, it will replace the username line with a place for your current email.  That's where you enter your school address.

Two things you need to know about this:
1. You will not get Gmail.  Your school email will be tied to this account, and any notifications Google sends you will go there.  It gets you access to Drive, Google Keep, Calendar, and other tools, just not Gmail.
2. When you sign in, you will use your entire school email address as your username.  No leaving off the 

Next week, I'll be posting about my current adoration of Google Forms and instructions on creating a parent contact log.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

New job, new standards!

As I mentioned previously, I am shifting from elementary to early childhood.  One of the big shifts for me will be in my goal writing.  I've been using my Common Core Goal Matrix as a handy one page reference for writing goals.  Of course, I can still use it for my kids going into Kindergarten, but I have to learn a new set of standards, as well.

In Illinois, we have the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards, which was revised in 2013 to align with not only the Early Intervention Standards for the state, but also Common Core.  The document itself has a lot of GREAT information, and each standard is broken down into three benchmarks that build on each other until "mastery".  Unfortunately, it's also 134 pages long.

At my meeting on Friday, I learned that our district gives parents the option of what my coordinator calls a "trifecta" meeting.  If the team feels further evaluation is needed after an evaluation, parents are given the option to hold the domain, evaluation, eligibility review and IEP all in the same day.  We have about 30 minutes between the end of the eval and the start of the eligibility review to enter our evaluation report and develop goals if necessary.  Needless to say, I'm going to need a good TPBA report template for myself to help streamline!

The other thing I quickly realized I'll need is a way to organize the standards so I can write goals that align with them.  This summer, I got a glance of our new criteria for evaluation that my district will be using.  Posting learning objectives is one of the requirements.  

The first thing I did was list all of the English Language and Social/Emotional Development standards on one sheet.  
Now you can see why this is 134 pages!
Whew!  It's certainly a handy document to have, but it doesn't really break down the standards, and it isn't organized by goal areas quite the way I'd like it to be.  We know as SLPs, standards for some of the areas we work on are easier to find than others.  For example, unlike in the Common Core Standards, speaking clearly is only in an overall goal area, not in any specific objective- which means I have to find the best fit for goal areas like phono/artic and fluency.  There are some great objectives related to game play (I called it cooperating, because while I know learning how to play games is a big thing for many of my students, I cringe to think of the administrator wandering through my room and my objective being, "playing a game").  I also included objectives for increasing independence, pretend play, and shared/joint attention, including the staples of following directions, grammar, asking and answering questions, listening comprehension, retelling, pragmatics, artic/phono, and fluency. There are a total of 21 objectives.

Since everything in the CCSS world is in "I can" statements, that's the format I stuck with.  Parents are going to be introduced to them in kindergarten, and if the student has an older sibling, they probably already have exposure to it.  

There are 21 objectives in total in the areas of increasing independence, pretend play, shared/joint attention, following directions, grammar, asking and answering questions, listening comprehension, retelling, pragmatics, artic/phono, fluency. "I can" statements in kid-friendly language based on the information provided in the standards. The relevant standards are in the bottom right corner.
 I'm still not confident about my office location, so for right now, I plan on printing these out and putting them in sheet protectors secured with binder rings so I can easily flip through.  I'm also planning on printing 4 to a page, laminating, cutting apart, and securing with a binder ring for a to-go pack that I can bring with me in the classroom or to meetings.

If you do purchase this product and would like to see a goal area not included, please just let me know, and I will do my best to accommodate!

I tried to minimize color on this one, but if you are a person who goes for black and white, that's an option, too.

Both products will be on sale during the big TpT back to school sale.  The color one can be found here, and here's the link to the black & white version.

I hope that if you serve the population I do, this will be helpful to you!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's in my cart? Link up for the TpT sale!

A new age group means I am hunting for new materials.  What a great time for a TpT sale!  In case you haven't heard, Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting a sale August 4th-5th.  

300 × 250

I'm linking up with Speech Room News to tell you all what's in my cart for my Early Childhood kids.  I am really excited about these great finds!

1.) Phonological Process Palooza! from Mia McDaniel.  I must say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Mia's products.  They are always thoughtful, versatile, and pretty low prep.  I am a big fan of her Quick Drill games (all of my kids were gaga for them last year!), and her co-articulation binders?  C'est magnifique!  My late elementary students also loved her iPhone inferencing activity- it was a great challenge!  But enough of me singing her praises. Let's talk Palooza.
What I love is the number of targets in this packet and the fact that it's multiplied by SEVEN processes.  Also, the use of pictures, which is essential with my 3-5 year old population.  I can easily see working on this with some of my kids and using sheets for home practice, too!  Tons of opportunities for productions.  I'm ready to pick up my pencil and start jotting data!

2.)Preschool Speech Therapy Activities: Big Value Bundle! by Speech Therapy Games.  OK, so this one could be sort of a doozy, in terms of both pricing and prep commitment.  HOWEVER, I am walking into an office that was literally stripped bare.  I am starting from scratch, and boy howdy, this VERY thorough bundle hits about 80% of my kids goals.  Add in the home practice sheets, and I'm pretty sold.

The bundle is a combination of EIGHT different packets - pronouns, asking & answering questions, plurals, possessive -s, basic concepts & prepositions, adjectives & describing, verbs & sentence structure, and practical vocabulary building.  Sound familiar?  This is why it's in my cart!  

3.) Cariboo Wh- Questions: Who, What, and Where by The 'Peech Teacher.  I was first introduced to Cariboo in grad school.  Before it was cool to save things for later use and put them on TPT, I made a series similar to this.  My clients LOVED it.  

I so appreciate that I don't have to reinvent the wheel here.  In fact, it has separate sets for each type of WH- question, so I can target one at a time, or mix them up, depending on student level.  Bonus: it's all picture based in regards to what the kids actually see. Score!

4.) The building theme this year is college readiness.  Each classroom is taking a college or university, and those of us in related services are allowed to pick our own.  Early childhood went with Monster University as their theme, and I am tempted to jump on board!  Because how cute are these monster themed classroom decor bundles?

Those are my big purchases this go-around, I think.  What about you?

If you are an SLP who uses the Common Core Standards for goal writing, I encourage you to pick up my product, Common Core State Standards for Speech Language Pathologists.  It's meant to help you find applicable goals based on a goal area and grade level for quick reference to the standards.  I'm pretty bummed that I have to retire mine until next spring when my preschoolers head to kindergarten. My state has separate standards for Early Childhood, so I'll have to create my own new cheat sheet!

 What's in your cart?  Am I missing any Early Childhood must-haves?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This is going to be a quick one, folks.  It's been a summer of change for me, mostly good.

The good news is that all my dedicated work in the last year to justifying the need for more SLPs in our district helped make our case.  The result? We hired an extra .5 person (half-time) to alleviate some of our caseload numbers and allow us to think more in a workload perspective.  It was great to be able to sit down with the Director of Special Education and the Superintendent and make my case.  Both listened and were completely on board.  Wahoo!

The meeting came with a bit of a twist, though.  After they agreed to more SLP time in one of my schools, they asked if I wouldn't mind moving to the Early Childhood program (ages 3-5).  It's a great opportunity, but it means learning (another) whole new caseload, and leaving behind my students that I've worked with for the past few years.  And the worst part?  This all happened after the school year ended, so I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to them!

I've shed quite a few tears for the students as well as the buildings/staffs I'll be leaving (I found my nameplate in my mailbox the other day when I went to pick up materials and started crying again!), but I'm optimistic about my new position.  I had the opportunity to do part of my internship in an Early Childhood program, which was pretty amazing.  I'm super excited to jump in and create materials for those students.  I'm already signed up to take a LAMP Training in my area in September on Core Vocabulary, and know I will be working to implement that.  I'm pretty comfortable with Boardmaker, which is good, because I am going to need to spend quite a bit of time making visuals, schedules, and things like snack mats! 
Hello new office!

I've also hit the thrift stores and yard sales this summer, and have some great things to share in the upcoming weeks!

What are your must-have items for the 3-5 year old population? For classrooms that have no visuals right now, what would be on top of your to-do list?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Better Hearing & Speech Month Quiz

It's Better Hearing and Speech Month!  Last year, I didn't get much of a chance to celebrate.  The end of the year is so wonky for me, and I was switching offices on top of it.  I'm learning that May is a crazy time of year for me, because school lets out usually in the last week (although this year we have to go a week into June due to snow days).

This year, I am starting small.  I have been using Sublime Speech's BHSM Packet.  The posters, handouts, and tip sheets are great!

I was inspired to do some advocating for our profession.  I created a quick quiz on Google Docs for my colleagues.  It covers a little bit of everything from the disorders we work with to the estimated yearly cost of voice disorders for teachers.  It's only 7 questions, so it's quick and easy to take.

Think you know everything about our profession, or want to quiz your friends/colleagues? 

If you are from IL, there's a version that includes a question that's state specific.

If you are from anywhere else in the US, here's a version for you.

Both versions have an answer key attached after you take the quiz.

Happy quiz taking/sharing! 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Game Play Rubric

Rubrics.  When I went to ASHA this year, I went to more than one session that touted the benefit of rubrics, especially for social language.  They are a great way to target certain behaviors and make students more aware of what they are working on.

I have a group of first graders.  In my group of four first graders, I have three that have a really hard time playing games.  I knew this about most of them as individuals, but boy, the first time we tried a game together?  By halfway through the session, one student was under the table, one was yelling in the corner, and one was chatting away like nothing unusual was happening.  The remaining student was looking around the classroom, absolutely dumbstruck.  Which is probably how I was looking at that particular moment, to be honest!

So I needed a new game plan.  Luckily for me, I had just come back from ASHA, which meant that I had the idea of rubrics fresh in my head. 

You probably know how to make a rubric, but here's my method.  First, I  identify behaviors that my kids needed to work on.  Since one student started getting upset when he didn't go first, and another when he realized he had to go last, I decided turn order was going to be important.  Other issues from that fateful day included arguing with me about the rules (seriously folks, this was Chutes & Ladders), saying nice things about whoever was winning, and being a good winner/loser.

Thus, a rubric was born.  Because I have some literal thinkers and finaglers in my group, I wrote out examples of the behaviors for each value.  The student earns one point if they don't participate (because remember, we were hiding under the table or in the corner when we started), up to four points for demonstrating the target behavior.

Now, I am all about data collection, and this is ripe for data collection.  I am always jealous when the Special Education teacher can whip out some nicely made graphs of benchmarks to talk about how well Johnny is doing in reading fluency.  So I decided that I am going to have my own charts to show parents when meetings come around.  So I set up a Google Doc, and I keep a seperate page for each student.  The result? When Johnny fills in his rubric, I take a copy of it and plug my numbers in.  Google Docs automatically charts it for me, which means that I am ready to go.

This has been great to print out for parents, and an easy thing to carryover into the classroom.  I have a few paraprofessionals that know to use the rubric when they do classroom games.  It gives me great feedback as to what to target in groups, and which skills are emerging for each student.

If you have students who have similar difficulties, you can find my Game Play Rubric (and directions to download your own Google Docs data sheets) here.

Friday, February 28, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Craftivity

Next week is state testing for my 3rd-5th graders.  It's a week of wonky schedules, proctoring, and pulling the kids I can when I can.  So I need an activity that is relatively easy to throw together, quick, and meaningful. Additionally, my Olympics themed bulletin board has run its course.  The social worker and I usually care for this bulletin board together, since it is outside of her office.  We have another one down the hallway that I put Mia McDonald's Idiom of the Week up.  

Say goodbye to the Olympics!

It has been a brutal winter here, so I want to start thinking Spring!  As always, thank goodness for Pinterest.  I found this cute free craftivity from The Teacher Wife.

Photo Credit to The Teacher Wife
With my 3rd grade and up groups, we could get the activity done in 20 minutes.  My K-2 kids need closer to 30 for the cutting and writing parts.  But it's a great activity to model sentences with, talk about feelings, follow directions, and really brighten someone's day.  I sent this picture to one of the teachers in my building when her 1st grader came up with this response:

Photo taken by my student. Can you see his sleeve in the corner?

If you are looking for a quick craftivity that you can use with a wide variety of students, I would strongly suggest this one.

May your day be touched
by a bit of Irish luck,
brightened by a song in your heart,
and warmed by the smiles
of the people you love.

And may we have no snow days to mess with state testing!  :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What I Wish For...

By now, you've probably heard about the big 3 Million Teachers sale on TpT.  I am super excited about whittling down some of my wishlist!

1. No Print I "Mustache" You a Question: Answering and Formulating Questions by Sublime Speech.  What a versatile product for my K-2 crowd!  And no-print, which is great these days!

2. Speech and Language Common Core Cans by Nicole Allison of Speech Peeps.  I love the idea of exit questions. Great thing to do in the last few minutes of a session.

3. Conversation System: Visual Guide and Scoreboard by Kate Shepard. I am always on the lookout for activities that will help my social language kids.  Rubrics have been awesome for some of my students that have the fundamental skills and are working on carryover, but for those that are still working on those fundamental skills, I am excited to try something more visual.

I also have some clip art that I am excited for, but hopefully that will appear at a later time when I actually have time to make some new products!

In the meantime, check out Speech Room News, who is hosting another What's in Your Cart linky party to see what your other favorite bloggers have in their carts!

Caseload vs. Workload

Oh man, where have I been?  Well, I've been a busy busy BUSY SLP!  In fact, this particular blog post has been sitting in my draft box since the ASHA convention in November!

My split this year has been between two elementary buildings.  While I love working with the K-5 kids, both caseloads have grown as the year went on.  Last year, I added only 5 kids to my caseload during the whole year at a middle school.  This year, it seems like at least 2 kids a month- in each building!

There are a few things that I attribute the growth to.  The first is a change in the district RtI process.  I've gotten more referrals for screens for kids that teachers wouldn't bring to me, since more education has been given to teachers on my role.  Good and bad, right?  The second is that we have had a lot of move-ins this year from other districts, and it seems like they all come with an IEP!

For my own sake, I started to document my time using this ASHA workload analysis sheet.  It's broken down into categories so you can determine just where your week goes.  It's really quite eye opening.  I started to track my minutes before I went to the ASHA convention in November, and have been trying to ever since.  To help my case, I went to an ASHA seminar on adopting a workload method from Laura Epstein.  It was pretty interesting. She suggested that the approach doctors use in their practice to determine practice caseload is a possibility for us.   Patient panels are the way PCP's decide how much time each patient should receive.  Basically, if you are a typical person, they assume so many doctor visits a year at a certain time value, based on your age and health.  Additionally, they use EBP to determine treatment times based on diagnoses.  Strep throat may be one visit for 15 minutes, while something else could be 15 minutes x 6 weeks of follow ups.  

This website has a pretty good explanation if you are curious. 

So what do they recommend you do if you feel absolutely overwhelmed?  Aside from retail therapy (guilty!), there are some more productive ways to work on alleviating the stress and advocating for yourself.

1. Chart your workload for a month. Ms. Epstein recommended calculating the percent of your week spent in each activity.  For those who don't remember how to do that, convert the time that you are contracted to be in the building to minutes, multiply by 5 for the 5 days a week. Then add the minutes you are spending in each activity for the week and divide that by the total minutes.  (e.g. if I am contracted to be in the building for 2250 minutes a week, and I spend 980 minutes in a week doing direct therapy, then I know that 43% of my week was spent directly giving therapy).  Don't forget to include things like lunch and plan time if they are in your contract.  You can calculate the percentage of your week that *should* be spent in those activities, and then you know if you are hitting that goal each week (I would love to meet a related service person who is!).  The ASHA Workload Analysis Survey that I linked to above is really helpful in this endeavor.

2. Look at your student population.  Kids who stutter may be a heavy time investment initially, but theoretically, as they move to the maintenance phase there is less of a time investment with them. Same with articulation.  However, if you have a caseload that is heavily language based, your "invested time" might start high and stay high.  Ms. Epstein recommended that as a practice, we start to derive a more formulaic approach to this, but thinking about my caseload, I'm not entirely sure how that would even work.

3. Ms. Epstein also recommended comparing your district to others in regards to prevalence of disabilities. In other words, what does your caseload look like compared to districts around you? Are you over identifying students?  This one can be tricky, I think, because I know some districts are "magnet" districts for certain disabilities, and people move to the district because they want the services provided by the district.

4. If you want to really go the extra mile and make your case, ASHA also offers other workload analysis sheets to really break down the time you are spending on activities, as well as the time you NEED to spend on those activities.  They also have some great examples and templates for you to use to really paint a picture for your administrators.  

5. Look at what your state has to say.  Some states have set certain guidelines, and there are a few districts that have adopted a workload model.  In my case, the guidelines are pretty general.  I can't have a caseload of more than 60 students, but that does not pertain to my workload. 

It can be frustrating when you feel like your workload is not manageable, and typically, you are not the only one a district to feel that way.  While it can be tedious to track your minutes on a daily basis, I truly do recommend it.  If for no other reason than to see just how your days look.  I know some days the final bell rings and I wonder what happened to the day!

How about you? Does anyone work in a district where caseload is not the driving factor in your assignments?  How did your district transition to a workload model, and what does that look like for you?  I'd love to hear about it!  Or if you are like me, and trying to collect the data you need to advocate for yourself, do you have any additional recommendations?

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Speech Link Up!

The school year is off and running!  We are in week 4 already, and time is flying by!  Here's my link-up for September, brought to you by All Y'all Need!

Schooling: We have to do online trainings for my school district on allergies, bloodborn pathogins, HIPAA, ethics, and a few other things.  On top of that, the company that I do PRN work for also makes us do similar yearly trainings.  You can bet that the systems aren't compatible, so this weekend, I will be sitting down and doing TWO rounds of the same trainings and quizzes.  Plus, I signed up for some continuing ed credits through my ASHA SIG so that I can have all the credits I will need for my state licensure at the end of October.  That's going to be a lot of time on the computer!

Excited: I have two eligibility reviews due October 1st this year (yowza! That's like *no* time from now).  I am hoping to use the CELF-5 for these kiddos, since it ships this week.  Keep your fingers crossed that it gets to us by next week!

Prepping: I bought a bunch of stuff at the last TpT sale, but was out of cardstock.  Today, the three packages I requested came in, which totally made my Monday.  Color printer, here I come!

Trying: At the building I've been at for a year already, I am trying 5 minute quick artic 2-3 times a week. It feels more time consuming right now, because I have a lot of kids that I see for one sound only that I'm trying this with, but I'm hoping that some of my kids that are close to generalization will get to that point faster and I'll be able to rotate in new kids.  I'm on week 3 of actually doing therapy for some of those kids, and already I've seen a huge improvement in one of my students that worked almost all year last year on getting the /r/ in isolation (it was like starting from scratch every week!).  He's almost ready to move to syllables, which is a pretty big leap for him.   

That's all about my September, what about yours?
Is anyone else waiting for the CELF-5? 
Have to sit through awful monotone trainings that you can't skip through? 
Have you had success with quick artic?  I am seeing the kids individually, which is the part that feels the most time consuming.