Today on the Real Talk SLP podcast, I wanted to talk about the ups and downs of finding relevant, engaging and practical professional development for the busy SLP.
As SLPs we are pulled very thin between conducting therapy, assessing, and all that fun paperwork.
In particular, school-based SLPs have to be knowledgeable about so many different areas because we treat a lot of disorders, and ages.
I decided to bring on my SLP blogger besties to have some real talk about professional development. Each one shares about the current struggles with finding good PD as well as recommending some resources that have helped them to feel confident about their clinical decisions.
Professional Development Resources for Busy SLPs
The Informed SLP is a resource we all have memberships and use regularly.
We all agreed that attending the ASHA Convention has lots of great presentations and so many options to chose from; however, it is expensive and difficult to take that time off of work. ASHA’s evidence maps can be a helpful place to start when looking for information on a certain topic.
I recommended any courses or presentations by Char Boshart who has a lot of courses on Speech Therapy PD. If you are interested in Speech Therapy PD (Use code: SLPROCKSTAR” to get $10 off either subscription).
I also just presented with Rehab Seminars and they had a lot of practical presenters that were very helpful including Barry M. Prizant, PhD, CCC-SLP and William Van Cleave, MA, Educational Consultant
We are all fans of FREE PD, right!? The SLP Summit is a free online webinar training that goes on twice a year during winter and summer. There are a ton of different topics and you can learn while sitting by the pool or your couch.
We also discuss how the four of us SLPs came up with the idea for the Speech Retreat. It is a one day Professional Development that is packed with practical therapy ideas you can use tomorrow. Plus, we wanted to celebrate SLPs, so we include swag bags and LOTS of raffle prizes. Check it out at Speech Retreat and sign up for the April 13th Speech Retreat in Raleigh, NC.
What is your favorite PD or conference you attended?
I would love to know what relevant PD you have attended to help spread the word to other SLPs. Share in the comments or email me at email@example.com
If you are wanting to plan effective speech therapy lessons, but are limited on time, then this blog post is for you. St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday coming up in March. You can use the St. Patrick’s Day speech therapy activities in this blog post to quickly find materials for your whole elementary caseload.
When I have a wide-range of ages and goals, themes help me to narrow my focus on planning. It helps take the overwhelm out of planning activities. Plus, I love seeing kids get engaged with my themes.
Today, I am sharing LOTs of speech and language activities to use for St. Patrick’s Day!
St. Patrick’s Day Books for Speech Therapy
Use some festive St. Patrick’s Day books in your therapy sessions. Work on vocabulary, grammar, wh-questions, story retell, and inferencing with these books.
Here are some of my fave books to use (amazon affiliate links provided):
After I read the themed book, I plan extension activities to cover grammar and vocabulary goals. We work on noun-verb agreement, basic concepts, answering wh-questions and describing vocabulary using my St. Patick’s Day grammar and vocabulary activities.
For my push-in lessons, I do a whole class read aloud with a quick circle time activity. Then, we break up into small group stations. I plan three different stations and have myself and teachers faciliate a station. At my station, I make sure to do targeted practice for my students goals.
The other two stations target language goals as well, but have cheat sheet guides for the teachers to help them implement the lesson. Catch the Leprechaun noun-functions and green items category sort are examples of language stations I would plan for two of the stations. Read more about structuring your push-in sessions in this blog post HERE.
Non-Fiction Passages for St. Patrick’s Day
Read Works is a free site that you can access St. Patrick’s Day articles. I use these articles with my older elementary students. I will be using this rainbow non-fiction passage. This site also includes vocabulary to target and wh-questions with answer choices. If I need progress monitoring data, I can collect data on listening comprehension in a quick second! You can also find articles on NewsELA.
St. Patrick’s Day Crafts for Speech Therapy
I am a big fan of using crafts when I have the time to prep them. They can be used to naturally target goals and can be sent home for additional practice. Additionally, many crafts can be adapted to use with mixed groups. Check out my windsock craft to see how I adapted to cover a lot of goals. I found this cute Shamrock man you can make in speech.
If you need some St. Patrick’s Day craft inspiration, this video has lots of fun, easy to prep ideas.
Rainbow Crafts for Speech Therapy
Make a rainbow craft that you can have students write or glue their speech or language targets on the different colors of the rainbow. It can be a great bulletin board display!
Or make this rainbow craft and work on following directions after you create it! You can target above, under, next to, in front and behind with this fun rainbow craft.
St. Patrick’s Day YouTube Videos for Speech Therapy
YouTube is your lesson planning friend! There are a lot of videos that discuss the history of St. Patrick’s Day.
Use EdPuzzle to create lesson plan questions with your videos. You plan the questions, and vocabulary you want to discuss with EdPuzzle, then show the video to your students. The video will automatically pause when it gets your question. Plan your lesson once and use over and over again!
St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bins
Since part of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday is about wearing green, why not talk about green items! I use this green sensory bin companion from my St. Patrick’s Day Language Lesson Plan Guides to work on describing nouns by attributes. You can also see how I made a green sensory bin using toys/items around my speech room HERE.
I also love making a “Find the gold” sensory bin. This is a reinforcer bin to use with your mixed groups. I put plastic gold coins that I found at the Dollar Tree in the bin and a construction paper rainbow. Then, students roll a die. Whatever number they roll, that is how many gold coins they get to collect. The student practices his/her target skill and then the next student takes a turn. The student with the most gold wins! At the end of the game, you can work on who has more/less/most gold for some additional language practice!
Social Skill Idea for St. Patrick’s Day
For our speech students working on thinking about others, you can go on a “Catch the Leprechaun” school hunt. Print up these free clue cards from Cupcake for a Teacher and place them around the school. The last clue can have a pot of gold or a chocolate treat for your students. As you walk around the school, students have to follow the group plan and keep their bodies in the group. Check out this post to see how you can do this with The Gingerbread Man.
St. Patrick’s Day Idioms
Use St. Patrick’s Day idioms to work on figurative language. You can focus on idioms that relate to getting rich, being lucky and looking green! Here are a list of idioms you can teach your students.
-To thank ones lucky stars
-To hit the jackpot
-To luck out
-Green with envy
-Give someone the green light
-Have a green thumb
-To feel green around the gills
What Activities Do You Plan for St. Patrick’s Day in Speech Therapy?
I would love to hear all the creative and engaging ways you plan therapy for St. Patrick’s day! Please share your best therapy ideas or tips in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course, you can always share a pic on Instagram and tag me @thedabblingspeechie. In my opinion, an SLP can never have to many therapy materials!
When it comes to planning therapy, SLPs want the lessons to be relevant to their students, aligned with best practices and engaging! That can be kind of tricky with our younger students.
Over the years, I discovered that sensory bins are an effective therapy material that covers a lot of goals and keeps hands busy. Today, I wanted to share all my winter sensory bin ideas you can use with your students.
Why Creating Winter Sensory Bins Can Help You With Therapy Planning
You can create winter sensory bins that go along with your favorite book like The Mitten or The Snowy Day. Or you can just create a bin using winter themed vocabulary.
Since winter can last till March and sometimes April, this is a great theme to pick for sensory bins. I am excited to share all my ideas because I think at least one will spark some inspiration for your caseload! If you are completely new to using sensory bins, head over to my sensory bin page to see what they are all about! To see some of the winter sensory bins I have used in previous years, head to this BLOG POST.
Winter Sensory Bin Fillers
A sensory bin filler are materials you put in the bin to fill it up. For winter, it is fun to have fillers that resemble snow. Here are some filler materials you can use (amazon affiliate links included):
What other winter themed fillers would you put in your bin?
Container Ideas For Sensory Bins
You can use any type of container. I recommend containers that have clasps on the lid. When I decided to use water beads for my penguin sensory bin, I wanted to put the beads in something disposable.
So, I used a disposable foil pan. After I used the water beads for the day, I put them in a sealed plastic bag, so I could re-use them for the whole week. Then, I just threw the beads and the container away.
Winter Sensory Bins Ideas
Work on identifying winter vocabulary by attributes. You can do this activity receptively or expressively with students. Print out winter vocabulary words and place in your bin. Then, have your students look for “something you can ride”. Students can then add more details about the word using category group, parts, location, texture, etc. You can also work on building MLU and grammar markers with this bin. If you need a winter vocabulary sensory bin, this one comes in my Winter PUSH-IN Language Lesson Plan Guides.
Students love when you can feed cards into a character! I made this feed the snowman sensory bin to work on learning about hot/cold food items. I also included other food items to work on different food categories. You can simultaneously work on past tense verbs and building MLU. This sensory bin is in my Snowman PUSH-IN Language Lesson Plan Guide.
Use winter vocabulary to make a sensory bin that works on superlative adjectives. You can work on big, bigger, and biggest. You can also describe the items and work on basic concepts. For example, you could say, “Put the green hat, behind the medium fire place.”
When I use a sensory bin, I like to make a cheat sheet of all the words and skills I can target. This helps me with navigating mixed groups much easier!! Print up kids doing different winter activities and place it in a winter snowy bin. Use your cheat sheet guide to target verbs, speech sounds, vocabulary, story retell, answering wh-questions and sequencing steps to do an activity such as sledding!
For your articulation students, make a snowball sensory bin! Your students can build their stash of snowballs each time they pick a snowball from the bin. If you have language students in your group, have them describe the item they chose, answer wh-questions, create a sentence with the vocabulary word or explain where and when you would use the item. Do you want these winter sensory bins for your caseload? All three of these bins are in my winter sensory bin companion that comes with lesson plans, a cheat sheet guide, printables for your bins and visual supports to help your students learn new skills. Everything is ready for you, so you can go into therapy ready to work on goals!
Do you have a sensory bin idea? I love seeing SLPs creations. The next time you make a sensory bin, snap a photo and tag me on instagram @thedabblingspeechie with the #slpsensorybin hashtag. Let’s inspire each other with new therapy material ideas! You can always email me a pic at email@example.com.
In this episode of the Real Talk SLP, Felice interviews Maureen Wilson from The Speech Bubble SLP. You can find her TeachersPayTeachers store at The Speech Bubble SLP and check out her blog for helpful therapy ideas and resources to help you be a confident SLP.
Maureen and Felice talk about the ups and downs SLPs face when working out in the field. Both Maureen and Felice are elementary school based clinicians. Both share real examples hard situations they deal with managing their caseloads.
During this episode, Maureen shares some ways that SLPs can chose to shift his or her mindset when these bumps in the road happen. We may not be able to change the current situation, but there are positive things we can do to maintain a healthy outlook about our jobs.
Some of the tips Maureen shares about how to find happiness in the job are how to be positive, embracing imperfection and how to set boundaries at work. Maureen also discusses that asking for help is a sign of strength as an SLP.
During the month of December, I like to keep things festive, yet simple. And I like to use the same theme/book with as many groups as I can. The Gingerbread Man is a theme I use every year with my younger students. We can work on story retelling, vocabulary and perspective taking skills. Check out these activities I did last year to work on improving perspective taking using gingerbread man cookies. I find that the holiday season opens up opportunities for teaching perspective-taking and thinking about others. Today, I wanted to share a Body in the Group lesson I did with my 3-5th Special Day Classroom students using a gingerbread man hunt.
What Is Body In The Group?
Body in the Group is a vocabulary term used from the Social Thinking Curriculum to explain how people demonstrate that they are part of a group conversation or social situation when they physically keep their body in a proximity of the group. When students work on group projects, or talk together on the playground, they show that they are thinking about group members by positioning their bodies nearby.
By teaching our students the concept of having their bodies in the group, we build their social awareness. They can better understand how to show others that they are thinking about them just by where they position their bodies.
What Is Brain In The Group?
Have you ever been in a place where your body is physically sitting in a group, but your brain is far, far away. Not sure why I just thought about my last department meeting? Hmmmmm……
We can teach our students the importance of having both their bodies and their brains in the group in order to show others that they are thinking about them. We show others that our brains are in the group by contributing relevant questions and comments that are on topic with what the speaker is talking about. This concept impacts our students in academic and social situations a LOT! If our students do not have their brains in the group, they miss a lot of information in the conversation. Typically, when my student’s brains aren’t in the group, they make off-topic comments. They will also talk only about their interests. When our brain is out of the group, this makes people feel like we aren’t listening to them. Which translates as rude behavior.
How You Can Work On Body In The Group On A Gingerbread Man Hunt
Has your school ever done a gingerbread man hunt during December? The teacher usually tells the students that there is a gingerbread man on the loose around the school. Students have to read the clues left by the gingerbread man to figure out where he went. It is a pretty fun activity that pairs well with the book!
I decided that I wanted to do this activity with my K-2 and 3-5 SDC classrooms. The teachers and staff helped with the activity. I printed up a FREE gingerbread man hunt and bought candy canes as the end of the hunt class surprise.
Before we went, I went over the hidden social rules that when we go somewhere as a group, we have to keep our bodies close by, so we stay as a group. We role played standing and walking as a group (no lines with with this activity).
Body in the Group Lesson Plan During The Gingerbread Man Hunt
As we looked for the clues and walked to the new locations to find the next clue, students had to practice staying in the group. You would be amazed how hard this was for some of my students. During the activity, I had to pause as we walked to remind students who had their body in the group and who didn’t. We talked about how others could be feeling when people walked away from the group. Some perspectives you could share with your students are as follows:
The teachers worry that you will leave the group.
When your body is out of the group, other students will be annoyed that the class has to stop the hunt until your body is back in the group.
Teachers and students will think you aren’t interested in doing the hunt if your body leaves the group.
Students who walk ahead of the group might make others feel like you aren’t thinking about them. You are only worried about getting to the next location and not waiting for friends.
Students may be thinking, “Where is he/she going?”
What other perspectives/skills can you teach your students during this activity?
Work With Older Students and Need Holiday Therapy Resources?
I know a lot of times SLPs working with middle school and high school students struggle with finding themed resources that appeal to their students. The gingerbread man hunt, for example, is a great idea for the younger crowd. I was thinking you could try this same activity, but go on a hunt for a stash of snowballs. Not sure how your students would like it, but I know my middle school students in the mod-severe classrooms would probably get into that type of hunt. With my older students, I use YouTube videos from the Elf movie and Simon’s cat holiday/winter videos. These video clips are great for working on vocabulary, summarizing, perspective taking and predicting! And they are free, low prep and funny (this is the SLP’s dream). Check out those blog posts for how I use them and to find links to some of the videos. Planning activities for your life skill classrooms? You can make sugar cookies with gingerbread cookie cutters to give to family or friends. Or, pick a gingerbread recipe and prepare the treat for school staff members.
What Holiday Activities Do You Use To Target Social Pragmatics And Body In The Group?
I would love to know what activities and lessons you plan using a winter or holiday theme to work on social pragmatic skills. Share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you work as a school based SLP, getting speech therapy referrals for the R sound is pretty common. The /r/ distortions are pretty noticeable by teachers, parents and staff. Have you ever gotten that referral from a preschooler or kindergarten teacher and think, “I should probably get that teacher a developmental norms chart ASAP.”
A couple of years ago, our SLP Professional Learning Community discussed how to handle speech therapy referrals for /r/. Guess what happened…..there were a lot of varying answers and viewpoints. It stirred up a hot debate (all friendly discussion). And we left the PLC without a clear direction with how to handle /r/ speech therapy referrals.
What I learned after the Professional Learning Community Discussion
The perspectives of the /r/ referral varied from SLP to SLP. Some felt that you should take them younger (6-7 years of age) if they are stimuable. Other SLPs felt that the student wouldn’t meet eligibility for an articulation disorder based on educational code, but the student would receive support via Response To Intervention (RTI) with speech improvement. There were some SLPs that didn’t feel comfortable with providing RTI because of potential legal ramifications for seeing gen ed students without an IEP.
I decided to send out a survey on Speech Therapy Referrals
The discussion with other SLPs in the room was helpful in learning about different perspectives regarding an /r/ referral. However, I didn’t leave the discussion with a clearer understanding of what our district was supporting SLPs to do. Everyone had valid points and reasons for how they handled /r/ referrals, but we lacked a cohesive game plan for /r/.
My biggest question to the SLPs in the group was “when do you consider an /r/ error outside normal development?” I also wanted to know when SLPs took students with /r/ distortions on their IEP caseload or if they treated it through RTI.
Again, answers varied from SLPs. This prompted me to wonder what other SLPs thought across the United States. I figured I could get a bigger perspective by surveying a larger group.
Here is the situation I shared with SLPs
You have a 7 year old in second grade with a distorted /r/ in all positions. The teacher shares that at times it is difficult to understand the student. The parent also has concerns about his articulation. The parent signed a screening form for you to do a quick observation of his speech. You noticed that the /r/ is pretty distorted and he is not stimuable for /r/ when given prompts.
These were the results from the survey on how SLPs would handle /r/ referral:
Speech Therapy Referrals – Considerations about /r/
Many SLP’s commented that they would do an RTI model for this student; however, their district does not allow them to see students without an IEP.
Some SLP’s shared that they would not get an assessment plan signed until after age 8 because their district eligibility guidelines would not allow them to take a student for /r/ at age 7. Interestingly, some SLP’s shared that their district would not deem a single sound error of /r/ to meet eligibility for speech services. (There is an argument that /r/ is not a single sound error among some SLPs).
Many SLP’s also shared that because the teacher and SLP are observing reduced intelligibility, this may warrant a full assessment of articulation.
What I learned from being in the school setting & doing this survey
In certain districts where I have worked, I would not be able to get a signed assessment plan until the student turned 8. I was also told that I could not serve students in an RTI model because this would impact legalities with my job.
When looking at an /r/ referral, I have to determine if the articulation disorder is adversely impacting the student’s academic progress. This is where we ask ourselves if the student’s /r/ distortion is adversely impacting the student’s ability to meet the speaking and listening standards. We would also want to determine if the student’s intelligibility is below 80% intelligible. If it isn’t affecting academics or intelligibility, it is highly likely that the student will not meet eligibility for an IEP under an articulation disorder. That being said, if you feel that the /r/ distortion is adversely impacting those two areas, it is very important to make distinct mention of that in your report findings.
A few SLP’s shared that the classroom teacher must do 6-8 weeks of general education intervention before moving towards an assessment.
Many SLP’s shared that when the student’s /r/ is addressed earlier than 7.5-8 years in a “speech improvement model”, the /r/ improves. Furthermore, many have found when they monitor the student’s growth just by checking in with the gen ed teacher, that most develop the /r/ in third grade without intervention.
We must also consider our professional judgment with dealing with these referrals. We use the developmental norms as a guideline and really need to look at educational impact when looking at a student with articulation errors.
How I handled /r/ referrals in my previous job
Based on some reading that I did on ASHA’s website, federal law may impact an SLP’s ability to take students with /r/ on an IEP. Serving students in an RTI model may also lead use to legal implications. ASHA recommends SLPs not label intervention as RTI, but rather call it a “speech club.” I call my intervention “speech improvement class.”
Here is a link to RTI information on ASHA. This could be a great discussion piece to have with your districts and speech departments. I also found the Speech Sound Disorders page on the ASHA website helpful.
At the time of this survey, my speech department was having a lot of discussions about implementing a “speech improvement program” or seeing students on an IEP for /r/. There was not a final discussion. So, I did see a couple of students in speech improvement class that have noticeable /r/ distortions. The students were in second grade and between 7 or 7 1/2 years of age. Parent permission was obtained and the speech improvement class was for 6-8 weeks.
What are your thoughts about the /r/ referral or single sound error referrals?
How does your SLP department and district handle speech therapy referrals for /r/? What are your thoughts on taking an /r/ student in the school setting? I would love to hear your expertise. Feel free to email me at email@example.com or share in the comments below.
Do you have students that are at the generalization level with their articulation? I have some articulation carryover therapy resources that will help you plan therapy that also go well with mixed groups!
Need some free visuals to support self awareness and functional practice of your student’s articulation sounds? This blog post has FREE printables and ideas for how to organize your articulation therapy.