Friday, July 19, 2013

Guest Post: Speech2U incorporates hands on activities

While I am recovering from my eye surgery, some of my speech buddies have offered to write some blog posts.  Kelly from Speech2U explains how she incorporates hands on activities, like cooking to address many different goals.  If you have not seen Kelly's fun blog, go check her out here.  She always has awesome ideas, and her stories will keep you laughing!  Go check out her Facebook page as well.  You can find it here.

I really enjoy incorporating hands on activities: crafts, experiments, gross motor games and cooking in my therapy sessions.   I use these activities with early Elementary clients up to Middle school depending on their goals. In the past, I struggled with keeping my eye on the big picture (therapy goals) vs. getting stuck in the process-(making the activity.)  The activity is secondary to the concepts or lessons I'm trying to teach within the therapy session.  Today I'm going to write about how I would incorporate a chip making activity into a therapy session with a variety of different clients. I love salty snacks AND cooking gadgets.  So when I found this microwave chip cooker I was intrigued.  The claim was that you slice potatoes, apples, sweet potatoes or beets into thin slices and then cook on the "plate" until they are crispy.   I do feeding therapy as well as traditional speech therapy so the chip cooker seemed like a great way to expand some of my clients diets using familiar foods. The first thing I do once I've decided on an activity is decide who will be participating and what goals they are working on.  Then I review the steps of the activity and decide what goals I can incorporate within the activity.
I take pictures of each of the steps and after the activity we work on sequencing the pictures and paraphrasing the directions.  I try to send home a black and white copy of the directions so they can explain what they made in therapy to their parents or siblings.  
Having the sequencing pictures helps me pick out the vocabulary I'm targeting.  For this activity I targeted action verbs:  
Slice, place, sprinkle, put, cook, and eat.  
Because each potato gives a lot of slices we had a lot of practice.  In a group setting I might try setting up a routine where the first student does the first action and then explains what to do to the next student.  Example: 
Student A tells student B:  You need to slice the potato thinly with the mandoline slicer.  In theory, then the student could complete this action-but I didn't let anyone try the mandoline slicer.  
Student B then tells Student C:  You need to slice the potato thinly with the mandoline slicer.  We would continue on in this fashion.  
Basic Concepts/Attributes:  
I decided to focus on thick vs. thin.  We talked about why thick potato slices took longer to cook than thin slices.   You could also focus on attributes: hot/cold, wet/dry, or salty/plain.
I have several clients who use AAC devices to communicate.  I decided to focus on 3 different utterances during this activity:
Get ________.
Put on.
I modeled this several times within the activity and then prompted my clients to request or comment within the activity using the selected vocabulary.  
This activity lends itself well to CH words: chips, chomp, chew, choose, Pinch (of salt), (make a Batch)
Many of my articulation clients can earn these types of activities by returning their homework.  Then I intersperse each step with drill activities.  
Problem Solving/Reasoning:  
I might forget to get salt or certain supplies for my clients to see if they can request the correct materials.  I drop a few chips on the floor to see if they can explain the problem and give me some solutions.  Putting it back on the tray is a solution-but I try to work on what might be the BEST solution to the problem.  I asked questions about why we wouldn't put too much salt on the chips and whether we could put the plastic holder in the oven to cook the potato chips.  
Social language Skills: 
These activities are usually a good time to work on politeness markers as well as general conversation.  
I hope this post gave you some ideas of how you can incorporate activities within your therapy sessions.  Thanks again to Jess for allowing me to guest post on her blog.  I hope you feel better soon!  

Thanks Kelly!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Post: Laura from All Yall Need discusses working with parents

Laura from All Yall Need graciously offered to write a guest post for me while I am recovering from surgery.  She discusses how to work with parents in the post below, and she has some wonderful tips!

Hi! I'm part of All Y'all Need, with the ALL an acronym for Amy, Laura & Lisa. I'm Laura,
Amy is my librarian sister, and Lisa is my cousin who teaches Kg. We are excited to
help out Jessica and are wishing her a successful surgery and a speedy recovery!

One of the Kg teachers I work with recently mentioned how her husband, a
businessman, told her she was lucky she didn't have to work in customer service. She
responded with, "What do you think I do all day?!?" As SLPs we are constantly working
with other professionals and students, but this post is going to focus on communicating
with parents.

When I started out 20 years ago, I was in three schools of various socioeconomic
levels, but the one constant was that most of the parents were supportive of the school.
I was surprised that everyone seemed to take my bright-green newbie
recommendations without hesitating. Times have changed. I still like to think I have a
good relationship with most of my students' parents, but I now make some conscious
decisions when communicating with parents.

An email is rarely the way to go. Emails are convenient. I love email with my coworkers.
But when I get an email from a parent, I usually call. It's more personal, emails
don't convey the tone of the conversation, and clarification is much easier via phone. A
good rule of thumb is to only use email to verify times and dates. For anything else, pick
up the phone.

Make sure the parent understands the plan. When a parent leaves an IEP meeting,
he/she is going to contact a support person - a spouse, family member, friend, etc. I
want the parent to leave the meeting with the ability to communicate to another person
exactly what their child's program is.

IEP meetings can be overwhelming for parents. Schools are my home turf, but for
parents, the school setting can be intimidating. If the team is all sitting around the
conference room table, the parent feels like we've been talking about their child without
their presence. I try to meet the parent in the foyer and walk into the room with them so
they are not the only ones standing up when they enter the conference room.

I attended an IEP meeting with one parent whose eyes widened as she watched various
school personnel and members of the AU team fill up the room - the principal, two
teachers, the LSSP, behavior specialist, PT, OT, and me - and she actually made a
remark about being overwhelmed. My principal responded with, "We know that. How
can we help you to not be overwhelmed?" The parent wasn't sure, but as we broke
down everything for her, she became more relaxed. The principal followed up on the
parents' feelings at the end of the meeting, and while she still had a lot of information to
process, she was grateful to everyone for taking the time to work with and learn about
her child.

Repair communication breakdowns. Breakdowns are usually a person's response to
not understanding something or feeling out of place. It's usually about feelings, not the
actual words or plans.

We need to talk in everyday language and not throw acronyms all over the place, as in
"We're going to review the FIE, look at the IEP, consider a BIP, and oh by the way, the
OT and PT are here." If we talk in Special Ed-ese, it will just embarrass or frustrate
parents and lead to shutdowns or attitude. Address the whole committee: "We're going
to talk about goals and objectives. In the paperwork you will get, you'll see IEP goals
and objectives". Since both teachers and parents get a copy of the meeting, this
statement doesn't single out anyone.

Another technique to help an overwhelmed parent is to ask questions to others, for
example asking the teacher to clarify what a 10 set is or to give examples of responses
in the classroom. If parents see others asking questions, they'll be more comfortable
getting their concerns across.

If there's a long or involved discussion, summarize and ask everyone at the meeting if
they understood. Don't single anyone out. It's a team.

Extend a bridge by using everyday language, asking clarification questions to all team
members, and asking for understanding from everyone on the team.
Thanks for reading! And again, wishing the best for Jessica!


Thanks Laura!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

"S...peachy" Feedback Linky Party

Thanks to Nicole Allison of Allison's Speech Peeps for this linky party to show appreciation for the wonderful feedback that makes us love what we do.  Here is the wonderful feedback I received recently:

I was thrilled to read this!  It is always nice to feel that the items I post can be used by people other than me.  My students enjoy what I have made over the years, and now that I am selling activities, I like to know others appreciate them as well.  So thanks Jenn Bell!  Please email me at to choose an activity from my store!

Stay tuned next month for another lucky winner!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guest Post: Using Wordless Picture Books for Narrative Assessments and Treatment by Tatyana Elleseff

When I was a graduate student, I worked with a professor, Judy Duchan, who spoke about scaffolding language.  One of the ways she taught us to do this was with wordless picture books.  I pick them up whenever I see them.  I use them even with my older students to assess their skills in narratives, grammar, and so much more.  Whenever I had to transcribe a language sample, I had to use the SALT program.  I did not realize anyone else knew about it (you'll see why if you keep reading), and now that I know it is still out there, I may just need to reacquaint myself with it.

One of my favorite bloggers is Tatyana Elleseff.  She always has interesting and informative posts, and spurs me to think about things that are stored in the deep recesses of my mind.  A lot of the time, I also learn something new.  I hope you will today, by reading a post from her about wordless picture books.  After you finish reading, comment below....  What are your favorite Wordless picture books?  How do you use them?

Today I am writing on one of my favorite topics: how to use wordless picture books for narrative assessment and treatment purposes in speech language pathology. I love wordless picture books (or WLPBs as I refer to them) for a good reason and its not just due to their cute illustrations. WLPBs are so flexible that use can use them for both assessment and treatment of narratives. I personally prefer the Mercer Meyer series: 'A Boy, a dog, a frog and a friend' for sentimental reasons (they were the first WLPBs I used in grad school) but some of you may want to use a few others which is why I'll be proving a few links containing lists of select picture books for you to choose from at the end of this post. So how do I use them and with which age groups? Well, believe it or not you can start using them pretty early with toddlers and go all the way through upper elementary years. For myself, I found them to be most effective tools for children between 3-9 years of age. During comprehensive language assessments I use WLPBs in the following way. First I read a script based on the book. Depending on which WLPBs you use you can actually find select scripts online instead of creating your own. For example, if you choose to use the "Frog Series" by Mercer Meyer, the folks at SALT SOFTWARE already done the job for you and you can find those scripts HERE in both English and Spanish with audio to boot.
After I read/play the script, I ask the child to retell the story (a modified version of dynamic narrative assessment if you will) to see what their narrative is like. I am also looking to see whether the child is utilizing story telling techniques appropriate for his/her age.
For example, I expect a child between 3-4 years of age to be able to tell a story which contains 3 story grammar components (e.g., Initiating event, Attempt or Action, Consequences), minimally interpret/predict events during story telling, use some pronouns along with references to the characters names as well as discuss the character’s facial expressions, body postures & feelings (utilize early perspective taking) (Hedberg & Westby, 1993 ). By the time the child reaches 7 years of age, I expect him/her to be able to tell a story utilizing 5+ story grammar elements along with a clear ending, which indicates a resolution of the story's problem, have a well developed plot, characters and a clear sequence of events, as well as keep consistent perspective which focuses around an incident in a story (Hedberg & Westby, 1993 ).
Therefore as children retell their stories based on the book I am keeping an eye on the following elements (as relevant to the child's age of course):
  • Is the child's story order adequate or all jumbled up?
  • Is the child using relevant story details or providing the bare minimum before turning the page?
  • How's the child's grammar? Are there errors, telegraphic speech or overuse of run-on sentences?
  • Is the child using any temporal (first, then, after that) and cohesive markers (and, so, but, etc)?
  • Is the child's vocabulary adequate of immature for his/her age?
  • Is there an excessive number of word-retrieval difficulties which interfere with story telling and subsequently its comprehension?
  • Is the child's story coherent and cohesive?
  • Is the child utilizing any perspective taking vocabulary and inferring the characters, feeling, ideas, beliefs, and thoughts?
Yes all of the above can be gleaned from a one wordless picture book!
If my assessment reveals that the child's ability to engage in story telling is impaired for his/her age and I initiate treatment and still continue to use WLPBs in therapy. Depending on the child's deficits I focus on remediating either elements of macrostructure (use-story organization and cohesion), microstructure (content + form including grammar syntax and vocabulary) or both.
Here are a few examples of story prompts I use in treatment with WLBPs:
  • What is happening in this picture?
  • Why do you think?
  • What are the characters doing?
  • Who /what else do you see?
  • Does it look like anything is missing from this picture?
  • Let’s make up a sentence with __________ (this word)
  • Let’s tell the story. You start:
  • Once upon a time
  • You can say ____ or you can say ______ (teaching synonyms)
  • What would be the opposite of _______? (teaching antonyms)
  • Do you know that _____(this word) has 2 meanings
    • 1st meaning
    • 2nd meaning
Below are the questions I ask that focus on Story Characters and Setting
  • Who is in this story?
  • What do they do?
  • How do they go together?
  • How do you think s/he feels?
    • Why?
    • How do you know?
  • What do you think s/he thinking?
    • Why?
  • What do you think s/he saying?
  • Where is the story happening?
    • Is this inside or outside?
      • How do you know?
  • Did the characters visit different places in the story?
    • Which ones?
    • How many?
Here are the questions related to Story Sequencing
  • What happens at the beginning of the story?
  • How do we start a story?
  • What happened second?
  • What happened next?
  • What happened after that?
  • What happened last?
  • What do we say at the end of a story?
  • Was there trouble/problem in the story?
    • What happened?
    • Who fixed it?
    • How did s/he fix it?
  • Was there adventure in the story?
    • If yes how did it start and end?
As the child advances his/her skills I attempt to engage them in more complex book interactions
  • Compare and contrast story characters/items
  • (e.g. objects/people/animals)
  • Make predictions and inferences about what going to happen in the story
  • Ask the child to problem solve the situation for the character
    • What do you think he must do to…?
  • Ask the child to state his/her likes and dislikes about the story or its characters
  • Ask the child to tell the story back
    • Based on Pictures
    • Without Pictures
Wordless picture books are also terrific for teaching vocabulary of feelings and emotions
  • Words related to thinking
    • Know, think, remember, guess
  • Words related to senses
    • See, Hear, Watch, Feel
  • Words related to personal wants
    • Want, Need, Wish
  • Words related to emotions and feelings
    • Happy, Mad, Sad
  • Words related to emotional behaviors
    • Crying, Laughing, Frowning
So this is how I use wordless picture books for the purposes of assessment and therapy. I'd love to know how you use them? Before I sign off here are a few WDPBs links for you, hope you like them!
Start having fun with your wordless picture books today!
Helpful Smart Speech Therapy Resources:
Bio: Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP is a bilingual SLP with a full time hospital affiliation as well as private practice in Central, NJ. She specializes in working with multicultural, internationally and domestically adopted as well as at-risk children with complex communication disorders. For more information visit her BLOG, STORE, or follow her Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July TPT Sale Link Up

With so many creative SLPs  on TPT, we thought it would be a great idea to link up the stores participating in the Fourth of July sale.  If you are participating, feel free to link up.  If you are shopping, hope this helps!