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 like focusing on comparing and contrasting in November. There is lots of seasonal material to use (fall vs winter, comparing Thanksgiving foods or holiday traditions). It is also far enough into the school year that students are getting more comfortable, and are more confident to take risks during speech.

Almost all of the students in room 10 know the basic concept words “same” and “different.” If they didn’t, we would start by working on those words. Stating how things are the same is often related to a student’s ability to categorize (identifying that two things are the same type of thing). Stating how things are different is related to ability to describe. Both of those skills are integrated into every major curriculum, including the Common Core State Standards. They are important skills to have!

For previous activities I’ve used to target compare/contrast skills, CLICK HERE.

A fun website to use at home that compares different things is the Diffen website: http://www.diffen.com/. You can type in any two things, and it brings up a chart to compare them! Very cool.

To get ready for thanksgiving, we did a whole class activity comparing/contrasting common thanksgiving foods. After talking about the ways each pair of foods was the same and different, each student chose their favorite and drew it on their plate. Yum!

CLICK HERE to download the powerpoint slides for thanksgiving dinner.

I’ve been working this month on creating a brochure to share with parents and teachers when a child is first diagnosed with stuttering. Many parents have questions, and it can be hard to remember all of the things we talk about at an evaluation or IEP meeting. I designed a brochure to summarize current research on what we know about stuttering, and why speech therapy is important.

CLICK HERE to download the brochure from my TPT store.

Here is the text from the brochure:

What is stuttering?
Stuttering is the disruption of fluent speech. People who stutter may “get stuck” on words, phrases or sounds. They may repeat these words or sounds multiple times. They may “block” and not be able to say anything at all. Stuttering is involuntary; the person who is stuttering does not have the ability to stop stuttering. It is not a choice, or something caused by bad habits.

What causes stuttering? Did I cause my child to stutter? 
Stuttering is a multifactorial disorder, which means it is influenced by many different things. It has genetic causes, which we know because stuttering tends to run in families. Stuttering can be triggered by emotions, stress, or particular situations, but it is NOT caused by these things. Stuttering is not caused by parenting style, bad habits, or anything you or your child chose to do. It is neurological, and involuntary.

Is there a cure?
There is no cure for stuttering. Children who begin stuttering after age 4, or who continue stuttering beyond preschool, are classified as having a persistent stutter and will not grow out of stuttering. Speech therapy can help a child or adult speak more easily, but cannot cure the underlying condition. Persistent stuttering is permanent.

Does stuttering stay the same over a person’s lifetime?
Stuttering is unpredictable, and impacted by many factors. It can be triggered by strong emotions (feeling excited, nervous, or scared), by particular people, by specific words or sounds, by life changes (moving, new baby in the family) or even by growth spurts or puberty.

Stuttering severity is often cyclical, so stuttering might be mild for a time, then increase and be moderate or severe, then come back down to mild or even imperceptible. These cycles are normal, and can happen at any time during a person’s life.

Speech therapy can help get stuttering under control, and support a person who stutters as they manage their stuttering.

What can I do to help my child?
The biggest thing you can do to help your child who stutters is to remain supportive and listen to what they say rather than how they say it. Here are some tips:

  • Listen attentively to what your child says.
    Don’t interrupt or say words for your child.
  • Avoid competition among family members when speaking.
    Make sure everyone has lots of time to express their thoughts.
  • Model a slow, relaxed speaking style
    with short phrases and pauses in between thoughts. This helps reduce pressure on your child to speak quickly.
  • Be honest.
    It is okay to acknowledge that your child is struggling with his/her speech. Talking about stuttering openly can help reduce anxiety or other negative feelings about stuttering.
  • Be positive!
    Make sure your child knows that it is okay to stutter, and that you love hearing what she/he has to say.

What should I expect from speech therapy? 
Speech therapy will not cure stuttering. A few people who stutter will be able to achieve 100% fluency using speech strategies, but most will still have occasional disfluencies in their speech.

The purpose of speech therapy for stuttering is to make talking easier, and to give the person who stutters control over their speech. Learning speech strategies helps a person who stutters control their fluency when it is important to them, and makes talking easier when they are expressing their ideas. Learning about stuttering is also important to help a person avoid feelings of guilt or frustration, and to reduce anxiety about stuttering.

Speech therapy can make stuttering less severe, and support a person who stutters in finding (or keeping!) their own voice.

Resources

If you feel your child is stuttering, you can receive a free communication evaluation and, if your child qualfies, speech therapy through your public school.

Contact your local public school for more information about stuttering therapy for your child.

 

 

This made me cry, sitting in my office this morning. I hope each of my students who stutter find their way to this place.

“My voice is the only one like it. My stutter is not a speech impediment… My speech, composed by God.”

 

Credit to http://stutterrockstar.com/ for posting it.

We have worked on making inferences and predictions before in room 10, but it never hurts to review a good thing! Making a “smart guess” based on clues from what someone says, or from written text, is something that children are often asked to do in school. When interacting with fiction, students frequently are asked to predict what will happen next or how the story will end. For students who have language disabilities, these skills can be hard.

HERE is my previous post on making inferences. We used many of the same books and activities this month. However, I always try to add something NEW even when doing a unit I’ve done before.

We started with and old favorite of mine, “Guess Where You’re Going, Guess What You’ll Do“. This book is out of print, but you can find it used on BetterWorldBooks.com for about $4.

The book uses the formula of a scene full of clues (both in the words, and in the pictures), and asks the question “Where are you going? What will you do?” The next page has a scene showing where the children went, and what they did. The illustrations are full of fun details, and the students love looking closely for the clues. The book is aimed at younger children (pre-K through 1st grade), but I find that older students can enjoy it when they view it as a sleuthing game.

I checked out Teachers Pay Teachers (my go-to website for finding new materials!) and found THIS product by Mia McDaniel, which uses a text message format for students to make inferences and predictions about what is happening. It was a great addition to our fun unit!

It’s almost 12:00pm. My stomach is growling.
Where do you think I will go?
What do you think I will do? 

 

Today I worked with a 5th grade student on phrasing. Phrasing is a fluency strategy where the speaker pauses at the end of each phrase. You can take an easy breath during the pause, or just take a brief moment to collect and think about what to say next. Phrasing is a very effective speech strategy for many of my students. However, it is also tricky to get them to slow down enough to use it, or to remember to take the time! (CLICK HERE to download a list of my most-used strategies, with descriptions and examples of each).

We practiced first while reading a grade level passage out loud. The passage was in a sheet protector, and we marked places to pause with a dry erase marker. Poetry is another great way to practice phrasing – it not only increases fluency, but also improves inflection and expressiveness.

The trickiest part of learning phrasing is always getting beyond doing it when you can see the marks on the page, and doing it during conversational speech. Today, I found a great activity to do just that!

Rory’s Story Cubes are a fantastic activity for many language tasks, but today we used them as a pacing guide for telling a story. Here is what we did:

  1. Roll the dice
  2. Tell a story using all the dice
  3. Pause after using each die

The dice gave a natural way to pace, and my student realized that she can use the “pause time” as thinking time to help her conversation be more fluent AND have more interesting things to say!

If you can’t find Rory’s Story Cubes in your local store they are available on Amazon, OR you can purchase the app!

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?

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