With the Sunday scaries setting in, I'm unveiling my #NovSLPMustHave a couple hours early. If your November is anything like mine, it is packed with IEP meetings and report writing in anticipation of that December 1st child count deadline. During times like these I can't think of a better product to turn to - My SLP Companion for Short Films targets prediction and inference making as well as vocabulary using 13 short films, available for free online.

Zero prep and a built in data sheet make the sessions run smoothly even when I'm feeling particularly frazzled. Don't forget to hop on over to Speech Room Style to check out all of the other great products on sale today.


Student Goal Sheets

I just finished my first week in a new school! *Applause* *Cheers* *zzzzzzzz*

It was quite a week but I managed to get myself in a good place for starting therapy next week. Not only did  new office turn out to actually be a gross closet (more on this later), but I ended up not having access to internet or the online IEP system all week. Thankfully my new co-workers were extremely kind and lent me their passwords so I was able to sort out my caseload and get going on making a schedule - which is now DONE, fingers crossed!.

I know next week is going to be just as hairy so I am working on a couple things to use for the first week of therapy. I love this FREE about me doodle page and I think it will be perfect to start getting to know the kids.

I also created this fun goals page for my older kids to reflect on why they come to therapy. Buy-in is so important with a new crew and I want them to understand from the beginning that their speech goals are applicable to life outside my closet room. You can snag it from my TpT store as a free download - Hope it helps makes your week run a bit smoother too!

For my wiggly little ones we will dive right in to therapy with a short story targeting basic concepts and maybe a quick game of Hullabaloo - great for assessing ability to follow directions!

Hope you all are staying sane and having a great year so far! What are your go-to activities for the first couple weeks of therapy?


Language Recipe Cards

We know how helpful it is for kids with language impairments to have access to visuals and opportunities for massed practice. And we know how hard it is to break down higher level language tasks (e.g., explaining predictions and inferences, forming cohesive summaries) into discrete steps. Oftentimes, students get so bogged down with the vocabulary from the get-go that they end up muddling through or just giving up on the task (e.g., whose cruel idea was it for "conclusion" and "solution" to sound so similar!?). When the process is that daunting, you're not going to come close to the amount of repetition needed for internalization and progress.

I've been mulling around these ideas over the past year and am proud to announce that I have a solution! I've identified what I see as "the big six" language skills that my students struggle with: summarizing, comparing and contrasting, explaining opinions, using diversified vocabulary, justifying predictions and inferences, and defining words. For each of these skills, I considered the best visuals and mnemonics that have worked in the past, paired them with streamlined steps/"recipes," and formatted it all to fit on a small card. When I introduced version 1.0 last year, they were a hit with the students as well as the staff. My kids actually ASKED to take their language recipes home with them and teachers requested class sets as well. And so I slipped the sets onto a binder ring and passed them out like Halloween candy!

After a bit of sprucing up, version 2.0 is ready for you to run with! I recommend printing the cards on brightly colored paper and laminating them for durability. Whenever you are working on language skills, have the cards at the ready. Eventually, you want to teach the kids to be listening for certain key words and independently pull out the visual support they need to answer (e.g., "retell" = summary card). On the summary card, I've used my own visuals for story elements. See the key for some explanation. Bonus - The key also doubles as a great visual for the therapy room!

The six cards (including the key) are available for purchase on my TpT store. As an exclusive for my blog readers, check out the key and the compare/contrast card as an exclusive "try before you buy" download.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments!


Language Sample Analysis

I have a confession... I adore language sample analysis. (*crickets* *laughter*) No seriously, guys! I'm not joking! The processing of gathering and analyzing language samples is the best time to meld the "science" and the "art" parts of the profession, which gives me such a nerdy thrill. In addition, language sample analysis is hands down the best tool I have to truly get to know a child's authentic language ability. I may have developed this love partially due to the fact that I had an advisor who would frequently say that she wanted to do away with standardized testing altogether and just rely on speech and language sample analysis - I don't know if I'm quite to that extreme yet, but I'm on my way!

As much as I love the process and the end product, as a school-based SLP with a huge caseload and no cushy hourly rate for evaluations, the downsides to collecting and analyzing language samples are clear. Chiefly, the TIME. My goodness it takes time. Time to gather, time to transcribe, time to count, time to calculate... Sometimes I'm ready to pull out my hair by the end of it! Yes, I know CLAN exists and for many people, it helps speed things up and ease the frustration. But I just can't get on board! I feel like I've spent a decent amount of time figuring it out, but I still go back to using my tried and true, visually appealing charts that were created in Word.

This year, I've upgraded to an Excel version in order to make the calculations as easy as possible. I love the way it the form looks and that benefit can't be denied since I'm the one who is going to be looking at the screen for hours. The fact that it prints out nicely (all on one page!) and is comprehensible for non SLP folk is a bonus as well. Check out the video below (about 10 minutes) for a walkthrough of the form and some helpful tips. You can also download the video from my Google Drive if this shows up too small on your screen.


As always, please drop comment if you download!


Crazy Hair Day: SLP Companion

You all know I love using books in therapy! I've put in a lot of leg work on my latest book companion and I know it will benefit all of us - Less prep time for my busy SLP buddies and a host of benefits for the kids. Not only are books like this one rich with opportunities to hit speech and language goals, but they also offer students an extra opportunity for exposure to literature and text. I'm all about having fun in therapy, but why play one more round of Jenga or Candyland when you could get so much more for your time?! Keep reading about literacy-based therapy here if I haven't convinced you yet. 

Crazy Hair Day is a cute story about an overly excited little guy who goes all out for crazy hair day at school. The only problem is that he mistakenly does his outrageous 'do on the wrong day! To make matters worse, today is picture day! The laughs of his classmates are enough to make him want to hide his wacky hair all day. Fortunately, when he has the courage to return to class for the photo, he discovers that his classmates are all wearing silly hats in solidarity for the picture. It is left a mystery who is behind the compassionate move, which opens up great opportunities for discussion about teasing, embarrassment, friendship, and making amends.

My companion pack for Crazy Hair Day is available for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers. Please note that this product does NOT include the story and you will need to purchase or borrow a copy in order to use it fully. If it isn't already a part of your collection, borrow a copy from the library or consider purchasing an affordable copy on Amazon. Oftentimes you can also find a reading of the story on YouTube or similar sites, but this is not guaranteed.

This companion pack is entirely grayscale for easy print and go therapy. The story itself is short but contains abundant opportunities to hone in on articulation and language targets. This makes it a perfect selection for mixed articulation/language therapy groups. Although some activities do not require reading, most are designed for readers, grades 1-4.

The packet begins with an SLP guide, which serves as quick reference sheet highlighting possible articulation and language targets. It also doubles as a data sheet for a few language targets you can hit on the fly: prediction/inference making, vocabulary, and irregular past tense. Thoughtfully designed student sheets at the end of the packet extend the possibilities.

Page 1:  Over 50 potential articulation targets from the text are listed on the SLP guide: /k/ (25), /s/-blends (15), and vocalic /r/ (15).

Pages 2-4: Student BINGO boards feature words from the text containing each of the targeted sounds. These pages provide an engaging way to get the artic-only students in your group tuned in to the story while also maximizing repetitions in meaningful articulation drill. As you read the story, the students listen for the target words, cover them on the BINGO sheet, and then whisper practice.

Page 1: 14 irregular past verbs from the text are listed on the SLP guide with room for quick data tracking on up to 4 students. Cover the irregular past tense form as you read for an easy fill-in-the-blank task to target correct formation of irregular past verbs. Alternatively, use the irregular past tense BINGO sheet.

Page 5: Like the articulation BINGO boards, the irregular past tense board lists words from the text that students will listen for as you read. The present tense and past tense forms are provided in each box. After the student hears the target verb, they cover, then practice using the forms correctly: “Today I _____,” “Yesterday I _____.”

Page 1: 13 story specific questions to tap prediction and inference making skills are listed sequentially on the SLP guide. Students respond orally to these questions as you read the book together. Pause at the listed page number to ask the question, then record correct/incorrect responses of up to 4 students.

Page 1: 11 thoughtfully selected vocab words from the text are listed on the SLP guide, with room to record data for up to 4 students at pre-reading, in context, and post-reading intervals. Use your data to guide the selection of six targets for your students to log on their vocabulary pages.

Page 6: The vocab page lists nine activities to choose from in order to continue practicing the selected vocabulary at home (e.g., example/non-example, write in a sentence, act it out, etc.). Repeated exposures to vocabulary is essential for students to demonstrate ownership of new words. ***** Check out the vocabulary page by downloading the FREE preview on TPT! *****

Page 7: A graphic organizer is also provided in the student pages. The organizer jumpstarts summaries by including transitional words and phrases above the boxes provided for story events. For students needing more scaffolding, try a sequencing task before summarizing. The SLP pre-fills the boxes, cuts apart, and assists students with ordering the sequence of events.

Page 8: The character connection worksheet aligns nicely with the curriculum (making connections to the text) as well as common language goals (using rich vocabulary to describe character feelings, using complete sentences to explain reasoning). For an easy carryover activity, complete the top in group and send the bottom home for homework.

Page 9: Finally, a worksheet designed to explore of theme of the story is provided in the student pages. The prompts walk students through the process of identifying the theme of a story (reflection on problem/solution and lesson learned by the character). Again, this activity aligns nicely with the curriculum as well as common language goals.

Find more great resources at my TPT store. Thanks for your readership and your support!


Let's Get Organized!

Boy oh boy has this summer been BUSY! At the end of July, I moved from DC to Philadelphia, after a whirlwind month of finishing up the school year, packing, and squeezing in last sessions with my private clients.  Now that I've settled into my new place, the biggest thing on my mind is the anxiety about starting the school year working for a new company, in a new city. This is my first year working for a contract agency and I've already realized that I'm going to have to be super organized from the start since there are still so many unknowns... Less than a month before school begins and I still don't know where I will be placed! But that's the nature of contract work, and I'm going to have to be flexible and calm and just go with it!

Since I don't know the ages/populations I will be serving this year, I've spent a lot of time preparing things that will be universally helpful with caseload management and organization. For everyone else feeling those beginning of the year butterflies, I hope these materials will help put you at ease. Amidst lots of uncertainty, I have to say that organizing a killer caseload binder is incredibly soothing. Good news is you can snag all of the forms I've made on TpT!

Here's my plan:

1) Clipboard: A clipboard is absolutely essential for my daily schedule and note taking, as well as shielding curious eyes from my data collection and test scoring sheets.

Last year I used this cute Greenroom clipfolio from Target consistently throughout the year. Which is pretty amazing since I NEVER stick with anything that long! The clipboard/notebook combo was just what I needed for day to day stuff. The only drawback was that I quickly filled up the inner pocket with loose papers and it became an exploding clipboard by the end of the year.

So this time around I'm going with something a bit bigger and sturdier, but with the same idea.  I found the one to the right on Amazon and am so excited to give it a try! The little pencil box at the bottom should help me keep a pen at the ready (anyone else write their notes in crayon from time to time?!) and I like the flexibility of the case underneath - I can carry a notepad as I did last year, or folders, or my ipad... Whatever I need. The plastic is also Clorox wipe friendly, as all things in the schools should be! The antimicrobial version is a bit pricier, but would be great if it actually worked. 

2) Daily page: If you've got a clipboard, you need something to put on it, right?! I usually make daily pages with my schedule pre-printed and room around the sides for planning and data tracking. But with my schedule still unknown at this point, I wanted to create something that I could edit to reflect my recurring events, but that I could also handwrite on until I get in the swing of things. I always keep a couple pages of blank paper back there too, which is always nice to have if I need some extra space to draw something out during sessions or meetings.

3) Meeting notes: I have a bad habit of writing meeting notes in any old place - On the back of IEPs, on sticky notes, my grocery list... Anywhere! In my handy clipboard case I plan to have a folder with black meeting notes forms as well as my testing log to keep track of scheduled evals and case history form to guide conversations with parents during evaluation planning meetings. Again, all of these lovely forms are available in my Essential Forms packet on TpT.  

4) Observation notes: I use a Google Form to keep track of my observation requests, which I highly recommend. I just put the link to it in my email signature so teachers always have it. This system has really cut down on the number of fly by referrals I get - If you tell me that you have concerns about a kid as I'm on my way to the bathroom or in line for the copier, chances are I will immediately forget. I love have an electronic record of the requests, but I'm still old school with the note taking part. I often transfer my handwritten notes into the electronically form, but that happens sporadically. After I get an email that a request has been made, I check out the concerns and the preferred observation times. Then I confirm with the teacher and go in with this awesome form. These forms will live in my clipboard in another lovely folder.  

5) Binder: My SLP binder houses pretty much everything else that I need. Our IEP system is online so I've done away with a lot of the papers that I used to keep in there. I have one binder for each school with a tab for each student. There  are two data sheets and a contact log behind the student tabs. Since the data sheet conveniently has goals and session frequency at the top, I really don't need to bulk up my binder with much else! Guess where you can find these forms?! On TpT!!!

6) Group folders: Last year I started using group folders and I really loved it. I kept data sheets, planning, and relevant worksheets/homework right in the folder. I had one magazine holder box for each day with the schedule of sessions posted right on it. The folders had color coding dots on the spine to indicate if it was a once weekly group or a more frequent session. After each session, I simply put the group folder in the empty box on the left as a reminder to transfer the data over to my log. After transferring the data, I slipped the folder back into the daily holder, whether it was the same or later in the week (thank you, colored dot!). I don't know if I'll be using the folder system this year, solely because it is a lot to prepare and I don't know if I'll have time once the year gets running. I love the idea of upgrading to a multi-pocket folder if I do decide to stick with it. 

That's it for my ideas! How do you plan on staying organized this school year?


Using Short Films in Speech Language Therapy: Benefits and SLP Companions

One of my favorite ways to help students develop language skills is by using wordless video shorts by Pixar and others.
My favorite things about using short films in therapy:
  • They're short! (Duh). These videos are the perfect length for 30-minute sessions- 5-10 minutes of video with ample time leftover for discussion.
  • They're free! Although I'm sure they are not supposed to be available for free on YouTube, many great short films are! This means that there is nothing to buy or haul around with you (except a viewing device), which is always appreciated by traveling SLPs and those of us working out of closet sized spaces.
  • Naturally approachable & engaging. Anything on a screen is inherently more engaging, but I think the wordlessness makes them even more approachable for kids with language disorders. They have a rare opportunity to engage with material without struggling to understand language and vocabulary - This is a luxury for kids with language impairments! Because the films are wordless, they usually feature interesting music/sounds, bright colors, and animated expressions - all of which adds more excitement than traditional picture stimuli.
  • Opportunities for inference and prediction making: I pause the video frequently as we watch to pose questions to the students and model my thinking. This allows plenty of opportunities for students to make and explain predictions and inferences - probably more so than any other activity I have to target these higher level language skills.
  • Extension activities galore: Sequencing and summarizing activities are natural extension activities, as well as vocabulary development and expressive language targets (e.g., expanding sentence length and complexity, using target grammatical constructions). Social language targets including problem solving, perspective-taking, and facial expression analysis/feelings fit in very nicely.
Data collection is always tricky, especially when trying to record a student's ability to make and explain inferences. I'm in the process of making data collection sheets that should help with that... I'm thinking of making a big set of them, but I'm offering the first one for free as I work out the kinks.

Comments and suggestions are welcomed!

See more great ideas for using short films from: