I am a speech therapist in the Edmonds School District. I work at Spruce Elementary and Edmonds Elementary, with students grades k-6.

This blog is intended as a resource for parents and teachers of the students I serve. It has information, ideas, and practice materials. I try to update it weekly, as I am able.

Take a look around!

I don’t do many app reviews, but I found one that I’ve been using in the intensive support classroom I serve that has been fabulous for helping my students stay on-track with their behavior.

 

Class Dojo is a FREE app and website for classroom teachers. You can get it for apple or android devices, or use it on the website. I use it to motivate students to make good choices during speech, and to help them begin to monitor their own behavior (for those impulsive kids we all have!).

Here is an introductory video for students, to show them how it works:

For teachers, here is a video on how to set up your class. It outlines the main features, and shows you how to set it up for your students/class.

I use it when I am working with a whole class to reward students for showing me positive behaviors, and to alert students when they are choosing poor behaviors. I set up my laptop so that students can see the screen, and give points as students show me positive or negative behavior.

Reasons I love this app:

  • Behavior expectations are represented visually, which is important for my students
  • Students like getting rewards
  • Everything is customizable
  • It reminds me to reward positive behavior!
  • It makes it easy to redirect negative behavior without interrupting the flow of the session
  • I can print reports of student behavior if I need to share with teachers or parents (though I have not needed to do this so far!)
  • I can access the same data from any device – laptop, phone, or iPad.

So far I have not needed to use this app to address any large behavior issues, but even with light use I am seeing my students more motivated to participate during therapy, and less likely to engage in negative behaviors.

I have to share a book I just discovered. It is by Hellen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. “Hooway for Wodney Wat” is a book about a rat, named Rodney, who cannot pronounce his R sounds. It bothers him, but he deals with it and in the end his speech difference ends up solving a sticky problem for all the kids in his school!

The book promotes acceptance of differences, and is the only book I’ve found about kids who have trouble with the R sound. R is one of the most common sounds that my students have in error, so I am very excited to find a book about it!

There is a follow-up book, Wodney Wat’s Wobot, which is also fun. Check it out!

SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE!!!

I am excited. I am excited for a more relaxed schedule, for sunshine, for picnics in the park, and for camping. However, I also hope that my students who have language and speech disorders will use the opportunity to practice their skills in different ways. Keep learning, keep practicing, keep growing!

Last week I found a website with interactive summer practice ideas for speech and language activities every day of the week. There are online computer games, eBooks, and free apps that have all been chosen because they stimulate speech or language practice and learning. It is a great resource to give ideas for ways to fill the summer weeks ahead. Check it out!

Six Weeks of Summer – Interactive Speech and Language Practice Activities

If you can make it to the library, here are links to my previous posts about summer reading ideas:

Another great idea – go to the zoo! CLICK HERE for a language scavenger hunt from Amy Minor to use on a trip to the zoo.

And lastly, the link to the 2014 summer practice calendar (no online activities – just talking, reading, and playing!)

This is my last post of the year. I’m finishing up file reviews, packing away materials, and making sure everything is organized before I leave for a well-earned break. Keep talking, and I’ll see you in the fall!

~ Ms. Petersen, SLP

Our last unit in room 10 has been focusing on describing. I say “describing” to talk about adjectives, though we did not get in to parts of speech with this lesson.

This was a short unit, because the school year is almost over, field trips are happening, and we had our end-of-semester cupcake party! But we still got in some good practice with describing.

Our book for this unit was “That Pesky Rat” by Lauren Child. I like this book because the font of the book highlights many of the describing words. It is about a PESKY rat, who wants to be a pet. He is CUTSIE, HANDSOME, and HELPFUL. He wants to be someone’s pet, and have a name.

Each scene of the book is him describing a pet friend of his, and imagining whether he would like to have their life. We talked about how to describe the rat in each situation (A joyful rat! A scared rat. An embarrassed rat.). By the end of the book of course he finds an owner who wants him, and he becomes a loved rat. :)

How would you describe this rat? He is ____________________.

Another resource we used was the Magic Jinn – Animals app. This app is free on iTunes. It is a cat-like alien creature who claims to be able to read your mind. We used it with the whole class. We thought of an animal (a giraffe), and the Jinn asked questions to try and guess the animal. It is a way to model asking questions, but also to show how to describe an animal. When the Jinn asked “Does it have hair or fur?” I modeled “Yes, it has fur.” Once the students figured out how it worked, they were inverting the sentences themselves.

No, it’s not smaller than a microwave! Yes, it lives in Africa! No, it is not dangerous to humans! The app was very engaging, and facilitated great models of describing language that the kids could manipulate and copy.

 

There are some fun, free activities on TPT that you can download if you want to work more on describing at home.

 

I am blown away that it is almost the end of the school year! Time flies! We spent this month cracking up learning about fun and funny idioms. An idiom is a saying that means something different than the words it uses. We all use them every day, and for students with language impairments or difficulty understanding figurative language, they can be hard to follow.

There are some great children’s books about idioms. For this unit, I checked out at least ten of them from my library, and then used my favorite ones to read aloud in class. They all introduce an idiom, have a funny picture showing what the idiom would look like if it were literal, and an explanation of what the idiom really means. Here are my favorites:

There are many activities available for free on TPT to target idioms. There are too many for me to list, so if you need more activities to practice at home, click the link and check them out! I also have an interactive idiom powerpoint in my TPT store, which we played as a whole class game.

And of course, YouTube is another resource to find engaging videos that teach idioms.

What idioms do you use most at home? How do you learn about idioms in your classroom?

This is something I’ve actually been using all year, but haven’t put up on my blog yet because… well, let’s just say things get busy over here sometimes. :) It’s been up on TPT for a few months and I keep meaning to write about it, but haven’t gotten to it until now!

I adapted my stuttering homework for the year packet to make it appropriate to use for students working on generalizing speech sounds. I use it with 3rd-6th grade students who have mastered their target sound at the word, sentence, and reading levels, and are needing help with the last step of using a sound in conversation.

There is one “secret mission” per week, focusing on a variety of generalization tasks like asking the teacher a question, talking with a friend, remembering your sound during breakfast or lunch, etc. Some of the missions are themed, but most are open-ended and could be swapped around for any time of year.

There are 3 secret missions per month (28 total) to accommodate a 3:1 service delivery model.

CLICK HERE for Articulation homework for a year!

The countdown is here! We have just over a month of school left. Summer will be here before you know it, so I’m getting ready for the end-of-year scramble.  While my students were busy with SBA testing today :(, I updated another speech/language summer practice calendar I found online to fit our school calendar. This year’s calendar has both Spanish and English, gleaned from the other calendar I was adapting from. I’m so thankful to have a Spanish version to send home with my students who speak Spanish at home. :)

This year there is one calendar for articulation, language, or fluency students. The activities are the same for everyone. If your student is working on articulation, remind them to use their target speech sound while doing the activities. If your student is working on language, practice talking and listening while doing the activities. If your student is working on stuttering, practice using speech strategies and being okay with stuttering while doing the activities.

CLICK HERE for the summer practice calendar.

Narrative skills have been the focus in room 10 this month. A “narrative” is a story. People tell narratives all the time, for many reasons. I may tell a narrative about my morning (why was I late today?), a narrative to explain an event (“Officer, I swear I have a good reason for going that fast…“), or a narrative to make a connection with another person (“I remember that something like that happened to me one time!“). Kids use narratives to express their ideas, tell jokes, and explain things that happen to adults. Adults use narratives to teach, share information, and connect with children. Narratives are all around us!

Students with language impairments can struggle telling stories that make sense. They may not include all of the parts of a story, or it may be in a mixed-up order. They may not tell their listener who is in the story, or where it is happening.

There are several important parts of a story. At a basic level, a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

The beginning of a story includes the characters (people or animals who are named in the story), the setting (where is the story happening?), and an event (something that happens).

The middle of a story includes another event, often a problem. The middle of a simple story may contain more than one event, but when teaching basic story structure, I usually limit the stories to no more than 3 events in the middle.

The end of a story includes the conclusion. The conclusion resolves the problem and/or wraps up the story.

I’ve posted before about the George and Martha book series by James Marshall. This series is perfect for working on beginning/middle/end story structure. Each book contains 5 mini-stories, each with a clear and simple story structure. The stories are funny and engaging, and also rely heavily on the student’s ability to make inferences. These stories are a great way to practice narrative structure at home.

How to practice narrative structure at home:

  1. Read a story with your child
  2. After the story, ask questions about the story.
    • Who were the characters in the story?
    • Where did the story happen? (setting)
    • What happened at the beginning?
    • What happened next? What was the problem in the story? (events)
    • How did the story end? (conclusion)
  3. If your child does not know the answer to a question, go back together and find the answer in the book.
  4. Have your child retell the story to you in their own words. The retell can happen right away, or a day or two later.

More narrative resources:

It is spring break this week in Edmonds. So far I have gotten a pedicure, spent time with family, and done some home improvement (new baseboards!). It’s not exactly relaxing, but it feels good to accomplish things.

It is time to start thinking forward to the end of the school year. (I can’t believe it, either!). There are 71 days until students will be let out for the long break of summer. And when that happens, there are three things that can happen.

  1. The student stops learning, and forgets some of the things they know. They return to school in September with fewer skills than they had in June. :-(
  2. The student stops learning, but maintains what they already learned. They make no gains over the summer.
  3. The student continues learning, and returns to school in September knowing even more than they did in June! :-)

Obviously, I want option #3 for all of my students. In order for students to continue growing over the summer, they need to continue practicing EVERY WEEK of break! I send summer practice calendars home with each student at the end of the year, which are a great way to keep learning at the forefront. You will see those posted in the coming months, when I update them for this year. READING every day is another way to practice language and articulation skills.

One more way to keep on-track with summer learning is to do private therapy over the break. I take private clients in the summer (though none of the students I see at school, for ethical reasons), so if that is something which interests you, and you live in the Seattle area, let me know and we can schedule a free consultation in May or June. If you are looking for summer private therapy and I work with your student at school, let me know and I will refer you to some great SLPs in our area.

Either way, with home practice or with some extra therapy in the summer, students can come back in September ready to begin another year of learning!

This weekend I found a wonderful animated video about stuttering, which I’ll be using with ALL of my stuttering groups this week!

Reasons I love this video:

  • It uses kid-friendly animations
  • It gives a simple, yet *accurate* overview of why people stutter
  • It talks about the range of feelings experienced by some people who stutter
  • It talks about the variability of stuttering
  • It gives tips for how to talk with someone who stutters

I’m adding it to my YouTube playlist of stuttering videos. You can find my other favorite videos here.

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