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5 Ways to Ensure the Forms are Returned

If you are like me, you spend the first 10 minutes of each day making the rounds to collect paperwork. It's that time of year when assessment referrals peak and you are collecting parent and teacher information forms daily. Here are 5 ways to ensure that the forms are completed and returned quickly.  

TIP #1: My first suggestion is to let parents and teachers know that their input in valued and that they are an important member of the assessment team. Communicate to parents and teachers that their knowledge and feedback is critical in developing the optimal plan for the child. If all members know their role, they will be more likely to participate in the process including completing important forms.  

TIP #2: This next tip is basic, but has the potential to make the stress of completing forms less daunting for parents and teachers. Fill in the student's name, DOB, identification number, gender, address, etc. I know this seem simple, but by completing as many fields that you can, you will limit the number for the other parties involved. 

TIP #3: My next recommendation is to give parents and teachers a deadline. You would hope that all members would complete paperwork in a timely manner, but if you do not give a deadline, it will be pushed aside. 

TIP #4: This one is simple, but important- follow-up with parents and teachers. Once you have sent home the information, call parents 2-3 days later to answer any questions and give a "gentle" reminder that you need the forms completed as soon as possible. You can also do this with teachers! 

TIP #5: Finally, give chocolate! Everyone loves a sweet treat. I often send my forms with a small note and a "Take 5" candy. I print several notes at the beginning of the year and have a small basket with the candy. When I need a teacher information form completed, I grab a note, piece of chocolate and complete the previous steps! 

Want to grab these tags for FREE? CLICK HERE! You can also pin this for later! 

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Hope these tips help and good luck! :) 

Cut the Fluff: 5 Essential Items Every SLP Needs

I am all about making cute crafts, elaborate book companion activities that require hours of cutting and laminating and room transformations to match your monthly theme. However, these can often distract us from the main focus of our sessions- providing functional strategies that lead to communication and language growth. Sometimes, it's important to take a step back and go back to the basics. Sometimes, we need to cut the fluff. I am going to share with you five basic items for speech therapy and challenge you to only use these for an entire day! Lose the board games and the elaborate crafts. Keep it basic, but functional.

All of these items can be found at the Dollar Tree and you may already have them.

Item One: Mirror 
Articulation Drills: Pairing your verbal directions with a visual can lead to a more receptive response from your students. I give all of my articulation students a mirror. This allows them to more accurately match the placement of my articulators as they practice in the mirror.

Emotions/Facial Expressions: For your students targeting emotions and facial expressions, practice making the faces in the mirror. You can also prompt your student to show you in mirror an appropriate facial expression based various social situations. For example, "Show me your expression if you just lost a soccer game."

Self-Encouragement: My students are a little shy when doing this task in the beginning, but they grow to love it. Before your students leave each session, have them encourage themselves! They can say, "I said my /s/ sound correctly 100 times today and I am awesome!" or "I am a rockstar speech student!" It will take them a few sessions to be comfortable with this task, but it's an important life skills to be able to encourage yourself!

Item Two: Dry Erase Marker
Comparing and Contrasting: Draw a large Venn Diagram on the table or white board with a dry erase maker. Using a dry erase marker allows you to practice the skill multiple times without wasting paper.

Write the Room: Instruct students to make a list of words around the room that have their target sound. Write the list on the table using the dry erase marker.

Data Collection: I often keep my +/- data on the table with a dry erase marker before transferring it to the data collection sheet or form. Again, this allows me to not waste paper!

Item Three: Play-Doh
Requesting: With my young language learners or AAC uses, I start with having them choose a color and modeling a complete sentence, "I want blue." Once they select their color, I place the play-doh in front of them without opening it. The containers can be difficult to open, so this will give them the opportunity to request help... (side note: sabotaging a lesson is a great strategy for encouraging language)...back to play-doh. After I open the play-doh, I will only give the student a small piece, again, giving them the opportunity to request, "more." 

Describing: Encourage students to describe how the play-doh feels, looks and smells. Scented play-doh is always a hit for this activity. Students can also mold different shapes, animals, foods, etc. 

Item Four: Dice
Articulation Drills: Instruct students to roll the dice and add up the numbers. Then, have them say that number of words with their target sound. This activity allows for multiple repetitions, but makes therapy a little more interactive for your students.

Prepositions: Place the dice in different places around the room and prompt the student to identify the location of the dice. Encourage them to use a complete sentence (i.e., "The dice is under the table."). You can also target this skill receptively by having the student place the dice in the designated location.

Keep the Score: Everyone loves a little competition and this simple activity is perfect for mixed groups. As each student completes a task, have then roll the dice and add the numbers. Keep score throughout the session. The student with the most points at the end of the session, WINS!

Item Five: Pencil and Paper 
Barrier Activity- Following Directions: Use a file folder to obstruct the view for each student (or with the student if it's a one-on-one session). Instruct the students to divide their paper into 6 equal sections. Then, instruct them to draw pictures in each box. For example, "In box number 3, draw a tree." This is a great opportunity to teach your students strategies if they do not understand oral directions (i.e., requesting for the instructions to be repeated).  

Tic-Tac-Toe: This is a classic game, but perfect for quick reinforcement while targeting any skill. Keep score to determine the final champion. When working specifically on articulation, you can write target words in the squares and have the student say the word before adding their "X" on "O" to the game board.   

Dot-to-Dot Doodles: This activity is definitely "back to the basics," yet functional and engaging for your students. These activity pages can be completed during therapy sessions or provided for home practice. 

Dot-to-Dot pages are perfect for any age! The student says each target word as they connect the dots. To get you started with this challenge, I have included a 20-page freebie with 20 target sounds! 

Are you ready for the challenge? I challenge you to use only these five items for an entire day! Can you do it? Share with me the successes for your challenge in the comments.   

Literature in the Speech Room- Free One Page Story Review

I LOVE BOOKS! Reading pictures books is a frequent, even weekly, activity in my speech therapy room. The pictures provide the perfect visuals for my early language learners and the themes or morals support high level thinkers working on metalinguistic skills. I often pull books that have a central theme and develop my therapy lessons around that topic. Of course, the lesson itself is more than just reading the story. It's asking comprehension questions, illustrating and discussing new vocabulary and incorporating the student's individualized therapy goals.

To help fully incorporate literature into your therapy sessions, I have created a one page story review for ten of my favorite books. For this first series, I selected books centered around the theme of animals. With each book, I am able to target comprehension, comparing and contrasting, opposites, multiple meaning words, analogies, describing and sequencing. I have condensed all of these target areas onto one page for each book! The best part, they are FREE!

I often have parents ask me, what they can do at home to help their child and my number one response is, "read to them." With these One Page Story Review sheets, it makes it extremely easy for parents to engage with their child at home and help foster language growth. 

Here are 10 books that I used and all have a One Page Story Review:

“Harry the Dirty Dog” By Gene Zion
“Mother Bruce” By Ryan T. Higgins
“The Pout-Pout Fish” By Deborah Diesen
“Bear Snores On” By Karma Wilson
“The GruffaloBy Julia Donaldson
“A Kissing Hand” By Audrey Penn
“If You Give A Pig A Pancake” By Laura Numeroff
“Big Chickens” By Leslie Helakoski
“Shark Kiss, Octopus Hug” By Lynn Rowe Reed
MoosetacheBy Margie Palatini

You can download all 10 pages for FREE here! Make sure you are signed up for my newsletter to receive more One Page Story Reviews, notifications for sales and tips and tricks for your classroom!

Supersize Your BIGmack

Communication is a powerful tool. Helping a student access functional communication is extremely rewarding. Assistive technology can help students with disabilities increase independence as well as access their education. For some teachers and SLPs, working with non-verbal students or students with limited verbal abilities can often be challenging and at times, overwhelming.

Selecting the appropriate aided communication system or device is important in promoting daily use and implementation from the user and communication partners involved. There are numerous levels of technology from low to high tech to consider when selecting a mode of communication. One option to consider when introducing functional communication to new learners, is a single message speech generating device such as the BigMack. This will help demonstrate the power of communication to the user.

I know what you're thinking. If I was only able to communicate a single message all day or all week, I might get a little frustrated; however, if you unlock this power for a non-verbal student, the reward is abundant and their world will be changed forever. So, how do you "supersize" or get the most out of your target words/phrases? When selecting a message, there are a few questions that are important to consider. 
After you've consider these three factors, you are ready to select your target words/phrases. Here are my top five words/phrases to target when introducing a single message button. 

1. Greetings/Social Phrases/Farewells (i.e., "Good morning," "Hello," "How are you doing today?")

These words/phrases are verbally reinforced immediately and can be targeted frequently throughout the student's day. Be creative with the locations that you teach and target these words/phrases. Greet the librarian, office staff,  and nurse. Having the student help out at the crosswalk is another great location that will provide multiple opportunities for greetings.