Monday, August 24, 2015

Let's Talk About Data Collection

Now that school has been in full swing for a couple of weeks...
I'm up to my armpits in data! 
Some of you may feel it's nothing but a nasty 4 letter word
while some of you number crunchers may love it.  
Either way, it's a big part of what we do, and it's never going away. 
Why not get really good at it?  
good at collecting it- good as analyzing it - good at keeping it organized

Today I'm linking up with my awesome friends and fellow bloggers, the Frenzied SLPs, to talk about how I tackle the data dilemma we all face as SLPs. 

As a school SLP, we live and breathe and operate according to our students' IEPs (the written plan- and legally binding contract- that outlines each students' treatment plan). The goals and/or objectives on those plans drive our therapy and they all have numbers attached.  
~ number our students must reach ~ 
For a profession so richly rooted in words, we sure do have to juggle a lot of numbers!! 

Everyone has there own little pet way of collecting data, and I have mine, too. 
While many of the SLPs in my district use grids and chart, I shy away from that.  
I like a good ole data sheet that I can write on! 
(I personally call them tally sheets)
I'm a word nerd; I need space for words! 
I like to comment and make notes so I use this form that I created....

I like room to write the activity we do each day, and I like space to type in my goals and objectives (which I number). If I work on multiple skills that day (especially in the area of artic), I like space to tally each one.  I can also use space to write notes and comments. 

 See how I numbered the objectives? 
That saves me time each day because I don't have to write out the actual skill or objective- just the corresponding number.  You'll notice that this goal aims for the child to perform the skills for a total of 10 sessions. Well, I add (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) on the side of each objective, and each day this student meets the criteria for the objective, I strike through a number. Once the number 10 has a strike-thru, I know the child has achieved that objective! 

I just love when I get to write WOW on a tally sheet! 

This tally sheet used to be ALL I used because it included the date, activity, data, and comments.  As the pressure mounted to write a more conventional "lesson plan," I now write those, too, BUT I keep it quick and easy. If you haven't read my post about my lesson plans, you can find it HERE.  
That post includes a handy freebie, too :) 

I keep all of my students' tally sheets in one binder, and I use dividers to separate them according to therapy groups.  My personal goal is to tally every session, but that sometimes falls by the wayside when I'm too "into" the actual therapy (which is a good thing, right?)

 Sometimes I frantically tally on sticky notes or graph paper (which I also include in my binder) and transfer the data later.  On really hectic days I try to hold data in my head which actually was quite doable until I hit my 40s.  :)

You can find my tally sheets (which you can customize to meet your needs) in my TPT store HERE

Over the last year, with data tracking and self assessment all the rage, I decided to quit hoarding my data and start showing it off!!  If you haven't already, check out my blog post about self assessment, which again...includes a free download :) 

With my older students (3rd through 5th grade) I experimented with some of them tracking their own data last school year.  They always watched me tally and they did not like it when their tallies included dashes (-) instead of check marks!! I already had a habit of sharing their daily percentages with them; it was time to start letting them track the data.  Obviously, we couldn't track every skill or sound. For articulation students, I gave them choices and let them track one sound in one context. My language students tracked their specific language goal when appropriate or tracked a specific skill they needed to improve. 
Some results are shown below: 

The 4th grader on the left tracked the skill making inferences because we found that she most often missed those kinds of questions on her classroom tests. The student on the right tracked producing /r/ at the beginning of words.  Overall, I found that these kiddos tried harder and made remarkably more progress with the skills that they had to chart at the end of each session than the ones they didn't.  They were devastated when they had to plot a point that was lower than the previous session. 
This is definitely something I will implement again this school year!  

If you would like to try it also, just download these free tracking charts HERE.   (Please kindly leave feedback after downloading). 

When my students reached their target, they always got a mini certificate along with a treat of some kind. 
You can find these mini certificates in both of my learning targets packets - HERE and HERE

I don't think we will ever find the perfect way to collect and document data.  
I'll probably be trying to figure that out until the day I hang up my tongue depressors.  
For now, I've decided to stick the way that works best for me.
What's your solution? I'd love to hear about how you tackle data! 
If you want to check out how some of the smartest ladies I know manage data, click on the links below! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Game Changer

Tomorrow is a big day.  
School started last week, but it's been full of meetings and back-to-school business. 
I found all of my students and gave them hugs. 
I listened to the "what I did this summer" stories. 
 I took some baseline data, and I even made a schedule.
I wrote a few IEPs for my new students.
OH, and I moved into a new teeny tiny room and got it therapy ready.
I read student records and typed up tally sheets. 
I even wrote a lesson plan. 
I'm feeling quite accomplished but, 
tomorrow is the first day of real deal therapy. 

Tomorrow I will hunt and scavenge for my babies as they scurry off to PE or enrichment, and haul them back to my teeny tiny room. 
I will introduce myself to new faces and go over my rules catch up with the old faces.
OH and I will see if my schedule works. 
If you're an SLP you know the first day of running through the "first attempt" schedule is always.....
well, let's just say it's interesting. 

Then once the dust has settled, I will talk to my students about their baseline data (where appropriate), and we will BEGIN our therapy adventure together.  

For a long time, I felt like I was the one who was "all-in" when it came to those little boogers' progress.  I felt like therapy was something I was imposing on them. 
 I wanted them to be as invested in it as I was. 
Well, all of last year and some of the year before that, I've tried something new in articulation therapy.  I've been using this so so so simple but handy little tool that I created. 
I don't know why in tarnation I've never shared it here on my blog before.  
(as a side note....tarnation sure is a funny word...)

BUT I digress... 
Only one printed page has really changed things. 
Each student and I are a therapy team now. 
I changed the way I was doing things and it's changed everything. 

Don't laugh. It's not rocket science, but this was the game changer....

This little paper pinned to my bulletin board... it's not much....but it is.
My students are so much more self aware about their place in the articulation therapy process. 
They can talk about their progress and goals, and they can self-assess at a glance. 

Therapy doesn't start with an activity anymore.  It starts with the steps to good speech...

For new students, I explain to them where they are starting in the therapy process (which is usually at isolation at the bottom of the staircase) and the steps we will go through as they learn sounds in longer and longer chunks of speech . . until the ultimate goal of “graduation” (which they are all excited about until it actually happens and they realize they can no longer attend therapy :)  

Before each therapy session, students (along with my help if needed) identify which “step” they are on, and we discuss that day’s “learning target” which coincides with it.  Then we pin them up on my magnet board.  I write their names next to their targets also.  

I use "I will" statements, but I also have "I can" statements.  You can find my learning targets at HERE and HERE.  Sometimes we need to discuss that they may be on different steps for different sounds they are addressing in therapy.
Okay, so I bet you're wondering what I do for language, fluency, etc. students! 
I'm trying something similar, but that will be a blog post of its very own.  (Patience is a virtue:) 

After the session, we re-assess, and if that day’s progress resulted in moving on to a new step, we note and celebrate that milestone. This continuous self-assessment helps students to become more aware of their goals and motivates them to move up the staircase! They also come to realize which steps are more difficult than others.  My board is up and ready for them to write and add their A-HA moments and milestones on! (another fun way of boosting self-awareness in the little guys). By the way, you this board is just a piece of foam board from Hobby Lobby with fabric wrapped around it.  The "today is a great day to learn" download can be found HERE

This little visual has also made my little guys try harder!!  
Nobody likes getting stuck on a step for too long!  

It has also brought me some satisfaction knowing my students are invested in and knowledgeable of their therapy process.  I feel that my students and I have become more of a team - working together to improve their speech skills! 
If you want to try it, you can download it (for free!) HERE.

  Wanna know an other added bonus??? Administrators love that I am implementing self-assessment.  
It's also an easy way to explain the articulation therapy process to parents at IEP meetings and such. 

Hey, who knows.....maybe it could be a game changer for you, too! 

If you have a secret weapon that helps kids get "all in" I'd love to hear about it! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Surviving the First Week

OMG It's August!! 
You know what THAT means! 
At least for ME - and oodles of other school SLPs - that means...
BACK.    TO.    SCHOOL.  

Whether those three words make you cringe or make you tingly with excitement, it's coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it!

Today I'm teaming up with my fellow Frenzied SLPs to talk about 

Guess what? I went back to school last Thursday (for staff planning) and TODAY was my very first day with students. In my world, school year 2015-16 has officially begun! 

Don't hate me but......for me it is PURE EXCITEMENT. 
It wasn't always that way.  Let me tell you why it's changed. 

 For the past 6 years I've served as my school's "lead teacher." That means that I oversaw all of the faculty's parapros and special education staff- about 25 people in all.  I trained them in all matters.  I assisted in managing difficult cases (mostly severe behavior issues).   
I facilitated those tough conferences with irate parents.  I did scheduling for all sped. matters.  I read and vouched for all 150+ IEPs written in our huge school of almost 1,000 my spare time.

 I also carried a "half" of a caseload of children age 3 through 5th grade. If that wasn't enough, I  conducted screenings, RTI and evaluations.  I quickly started to dread going to work.  I dealt with discipline on a daily basis, and more and more, I got pulled away from my first love, speech and language pathology. 

In May, I expressed to my principal and director my desire to go back to doing what I love.  
This is my 20th year in the public schools, and I wanted to spend every minute of it knee deep in speech and language.  I got my wish, and I couldn't be more excited! 

Now you alllllll know that the job of a school SLP comes with a big, fat, long to-do list.  
Well,  I'm here to tell you my secrets for getting that baby checked off!! 

Summer days are precious, but getting to school before the year starts to organize your space  (and decorate, of course) is crucial so that you can hit the road working on day one!
Since we have outgrown our school,  I was "demoted" to a closet space.  I spent weeks before school getting it ready, and I'll be showing it to you soon here on my blog :) 


This is torture for me.  
I'm a social butterfly and I want to talk to my peeps, BUT it's the biggest productivity killer ever.  
There will be all year to chat; the first week is not the time.  Catch up quickly, and then go to your room and keep your door closed. Stay in your room as much as possible and nail down your to-do list.

Okay, there's one exception to this- IF you are new on campus you need to go out to your students' classrooms, sell yourself and start collaborating to your new coworkers! 

I get very antsy to start scheduling ASAP but there are actually more urgent matters to attend to.  After you've found out who your students are on campus (including who has moved away and which students identified as needing speech services have transferred in) and which teachers they are assigned to, make yourself a roster.  For me that includes splitting the school caseload with another full-time therapist.  Open each of student file and go straight to that page on the the IEP (annual plan) that outlines student accommodations.  Send those accommodations out to teachers STAT! 
I used to type them up on paper and have teachers sign that they've received them.  Now I just email them (with a confidentiality statement attached to my email) with a read receipt.  
Works perfectly.   Quick and easy and DONE.  CHECK!

Ugh it's possibly the worst part of our jobs.   
Is it just me, or is it a cruel, real-life version of Tetris?  
There really aren't any secrets; it's just trial and error with lots of caffeine and chocolate. 
Think creatively. You can see students of different grade levels together. Sometimes I amend IEPs to try different delivery models based on student progress or lack thereof.  Currently, I see some students in inclusion (you can read more about that here and here) while I pull others from PE for therapy. With some kiddos, I do "quick artic" sessions which can range from 5 to 15 minutes.  Those students are pulled right out of class into the hallway for quick artic drill multiple days a week, but it's for such a short period of time that they really don't miss much. I love that model for those students who either need to go to PE or just love to go to PE.  
Don't be afraid to think outside of the box! 

Get yourself a kick butt planner (I can't wait to show you mine soon!) because meetings and deadlines are a huge part of our job! 
To-do lists and planners are an SLP's BFF.  
Whether they're digital or good 'ole paper,  it's a necessity. 

Go through each student's file and read, read, read.  Use the information you find to...  
A) ...create a "tally sheet" or data collection sheet for each student.  There is no "right" system for this. The "right" system is the one that works best for you!  I personally use a certain form that I created,  and I keep all of my students' data sheets in a binder with divider tabs.  I'll be sharing my data collection form here very soon! 
B) ...start planning the first week of therapy's activities! The kids are anxiously awaiting their first week of therapy (especially if they already know and love you).  Don't keep them waiting.  For me that first week will include getting to know each other and will be chock full of activities from my Back to School Fun Pack and taking some baseline data along with reinforcement from my School Time Quick Drill. 

In addition to data sheets, I am required to write a lesson plan. You can read more about that (and grab the editable form for free) HERE.   In addition to planning the activities, I make sure I have my learning targets, incentives and speech room rules ready. OH, and these handy dandy (and free) speech day/time notes! 

Okay,  that's weird I know.  I really do talk to myself.  You should have heard all of my yapping as I trudged through scheduling today, but that's not the kind of talk I'm talking about! 
I don't know about you, but positive self-talk works for me.  
Our jobs are fast-paced, high pressure and mentally and physically demanding.
"You got this!" "You are a machine, girl!" "OF COURSE I can do this!" never hurts to hear!
I've confessed here on my blog before that I can be prone to falling into negativity.  
In the words of Sweet Brown, "ain't nobody got time for that!" 
I also post signs around my room (and in the hall outside my room, too) to spread some encouragement.  Here are some of my favorites that I have printed from Pinterest: 

Positive messages like these really perk me up. 
On the toughest days, 
I rely on this sweet prayer from Mother Teresa (which I have near my desk) for encouragement:

You can download it here free. 

Occasionally I even adopt a musical anthem- which my family laughs at me for- that I blare in the mornings. 
This morning it was "Keep your Head Up" by Andy Grammer

 Hey! Whatever it takes! 

Here's wishing you a fabulous first week!  
Check off that to-do list! 
What are your secrets? I really want to know!
So do The Frenzied SLPs! Just follow these simple steps:
1) Write a blog post or facebook note with your tips for surviving the first week.  
2) Link up to any host blog.  Your link will show up on all of the host blogs
3) Please visit and comment on the two blogs before you and after you on the linky.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Best Thing I Learned This Summer

Boy, what a busy summer it has been!! 
I've taken a little rest from creating and blogging to give some attention to my family, my home and my friends. 
The school year is so busy that I sometimes feel that my students get the best of me and I have nothing left after the bell rings.  
Summer lets me give more of myself to those I love the most :) 

These dudes for instance: 

My husband and 2 boys spent a few sun-drenched days at the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama. 

During the day we read, soaked up the sun and rode the waves, and when the sun went down...
...hardcore family game night commenced.

OH!! and since we have a new baby in the house...our rescued kitty, Juni...I had to give lots of cuddles to my furbabies as well. I just know...summertime is their favorite time of the year because their mommy sits and they climb atop. 

My husband and I also jetted off to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in VEGAS!! It was our first time there (that calls for its own separate blog post) and I got to hang out with some of my favorite SLP bloggers and TPT sellers!!  It was so much fun and soooo motivating!

Speaking of my fellow bloggers, today I am linking up with my friends, the FRENZIED SLPS, to tell you about the best thing I learned this summer....

Besides the much needed family time, I've been spending time with my little core group of friends. We really need a badass name for ourselves.  
We are a hot mess of opinionated, half-crazy-in-a-good-way women just doing the best we can, but we are there for each other through thick and thin- sort of like a marriage- through good times and bad, in sickness and in health, etc., etc.,  
Unfortunately, one of my dearest friends, Rachel, has actually put this to the test.  At age 34, she has metastatic renal cell carcinoma. 
On the cancer scale, renal cell carcinoma is as horrbile as it gets. 
It's vile and wicked, and I hate it. 
Rachel has handled it with more grace and strength and courage than I could ever muster. 
This summer she hasn't just been my friend- she's been my teacher.  

Rachel's days are numbered {so she's been told for quite a while} 
but she still lives life in the front row.  
In fact, she has already outlived her life expectancy, and she just returned from a family excursion to New Orleans. 
That girl doesn't waste a second!
Even though she's functioning with only one lung at the moment, she sucks in each morsel of life's wonder and savors it like caviar. 
Actually she always has- at least for as long as I have known her.
I think it's a rare gift. 

Cancer is taking her health, but it has not stolen anything else - not her humor or her faith or her her passion for the things she loves the most- or her general pizazz.  
I should mention she's one of the most gifted teachers I've ever had the pleasure of working alongside and she remains one my son's favorite teachers.  Well, like I said, now she is teaching me. 
Over the past year, she's schooled me (and everyone else blessed enough to know her) on how to truly live.

If you're so inclined,  follow her story on Caring Bridge (RachelBabin2). Also, please pray for her adoring husband and young sons.  If only we all had her positive outlook on life.  She inspires me, and I'm so lucky to be able to say she's my friend. 

Here is a recent post from her.  It's long, but I promise it is worth the read. 


So the best thing that I learned this summer....I learned from my friend, Rachel. 

As cliche' as it sounds, I have learned not to waste a moment. 
I hope to keep this lesson with me always as a gift from her.

I will stop waiting for the weekend, for the next school break, or for the next holiday to drink up all the goodness life has to offer.  I will stop wishing the week away just to get to Friday night. 

I will choose joy and optimism and hope over sadness and negativity and bitterness

I will notice the greatness in little moments and soak them up and swim in them.
The little moments are what make our big life.

I will tell and show people how you feel about them NOW- not on their birthday or Christmas or Thanksgiving.

I will be happy for each moment. 
They make up my life, and I only get one of those. 

I admit I have a tendency to fall into negativity, to have a pity party, to be cynical and to complain and harp on hardships. For example, today I have a pretty bad cold and I'm in the midst of moving into a closet-of-a-therapy-room- next-to-a-toilet and my house is dirty and I have to get a mammogram next week and I'm worried about my son starting his senior year and all that entails...and I wish I wasn't going back to school in two weeks.... BUT YA KNOW WHAT....I will choose to find the joy.  Bring it on, life. 

I am grateful for it. 

Life is good and beautiful, and I will breathe in every little whiff of it... 
and stare at my children and memorize their young faces....
and smile at people on the street and at the grocery store and everywhere I go... 
and hug my dad a little longer and hold my mom's hand....
and dance with my husband in the kitchen and laugh really loud and hard until I cry happy tears....
and sing obnoxiously loud and proud to the car radio and go out for ice cream late at night...
and tell my friends I love them while I can. 

 I am changing my focus to joy.  
I have learned that life is too short not to live it in the front row. 
  Thanks for the lesson, Rachel." title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Louisiana Teacher Blogger MEETUP and a SWAG BAG

I have been soooo M.I.A since school let out for the summer!
Get it? 

I have been too busy living life and loving life to blog, but BOY have I been inspired!....because this past Saturday I attended the first annual Louisiana Teacher Blogger Meet Up!!

It.    was.    so.   much.   fun! 

Big shout out to Jasmine at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain who made it all happen, to Jessica at Pride and Primary who hosted us at her fabulous school in Baton Rouge, Mayfair Lab School, and Kristi from Pelicans and Pipsqueaks who also shared the load. You were all hostesses extraordinaire! 

So many community sponsors pitched in to make it a big success!! 

There was literally no detail overlooked, and everyone won a door prize! 
I scored this super cute pencil door sign from the talented Tallahassee Sunday.  
I think it will make the fact that I have to move rooms a little less painful :) 

I was blown away by everyone’s enthusiasm.  
So many die hard teachers and brilliant minds in that room. 
Not to mention that their love for what they do- and for their students- was obvious.  

Jasmine was very gracious in asking me to present to the group.  
I was like.... WHAT?  ME?  WHY? 

Slight panic and extreme procrastination set in, but I whipped up a little presentation.

Being a MAC person in a PC world, I had some technical difficulties, but my audience was so lovely that it didn’t matter.  

In the end I just shot from the hip.  
I mean, us educators are pros at winging it, right? 

I  shared about my experience with blogging, selling on TpT,   
OH, and pinterest, and facebook and instagram. 
OH MY!! 

  I hope I left them with some useful tidbits :) 
To be honest, I could talk about that stuff all day. 

Jessica from Pride and Primary also gave fun and informative presentation about blogging.  It really made me want to kick my blogging up a notch! 

The best part was just hanging out, talking and picking each others’ brains!
 I think we made some new friendships that will carry on. 
Check me out with Michelle Lendahand from Lendahand's Printables, and Darleen Chautin from First Grade Love 

That day I took away: 

1) a wonderful feeling of comradery
2) a swell of pride about being a Louisiana blogger
3) some cool new friends

I hope to get together with this fabulous group again soon! 

Before we left we exchanged gifts.  I hit the jackpot with mine.  

{Jasmine, you did NOT stick your own $5-$10 rule!} 

Then we were showered with some amazing SWAG!

Wanna be all decked out like us?
{you know you do}

Two lucky people will win all the swag pictured here! 
{That disk is from Erin Cobb, y'all! Eeeeek}
Just enter the rafflecopter below! 
 Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A springtime favorite of mine

Hey y’all!! 
It’s springtime at last!!  We've been getting ready for Earth Day tomorrow...

but today we are started bugging out in my speech room!

If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that we had some creepy crawly fun...all while addressing artic and language goals of course!  The You’re Bugging Me game was slightly disgusting but also FUN today during artic therapy, and it sure elicited lots of language for my language students!! 

Check it out HERE! Each child gets a Velcro armband which is loaded up with bugs.  They roll a die to see how many bugs they get to take OFF, and whoever gets all of their bugs off first, wins the game!! Besides that, I just used the Velcro bugs for reinforcing language and correct articulation during drill. 
No one could resist the bugs! 

Check out my little guy all covered in them!  
Lots of squeals and tons of requests for "more,"  "on," "off," "green one," "bugs please,"  "my turn," etc.!  We also looked at them through a tiny magnifying glass. 
Ooohs and ahhhs followed :)

This little girl below wanted all the bugs to be twins (since she is one and thinks they all need a sister).  She earned the twin insects with lots of articulation drill! 

The last 2 days have been TOO beautiful here in the deep south to NOT do some fun spring activities!! I'm so excited for the fun Spring and Summer activities I've got lined up in these last few weeks of school! 

Of course, if you're an SLP, you know allllllll about that "go-to" springtime know.... the one about the caterpillar and his binge eating....but I wanted to share with you one of my very favorite storybooks for spring that I suspect you've never heard of...

Ladybug on the Move
 by Richard Fowler

By the way, I should clarify that I am not associated with the author or any affiliates in any way. 
I just happen to love this book! 

This is NOT your ordinary storybook.  It’s hands-on!! I LOVE that it’s interactive, and it’s a clever way to introduce print awareness and tracking to our young students! 

As soon as I take the ladybug out of the little clear pocket on the front cover and show how she can glide along the print as I read the first page, my students are just itching for their turn to move the ladybug, too. 

It’s the perfect opportunity to explain that the ladybug moves along the words because the words that are the best part of the book;  they tell the story! If my kiddos want to be "in charge" of the ladybug, they must move her along the words while I read.  It’s a sneaky way to get my preschoolers and kindergartners to attend to print.  For my higher kindergartners, first graders, and so on, it’s a cool way to get them pumped about tracking print. 

You can see that my ladybug has been beat up and repaired many times over the years. I think my book is almost 20 years old, but it’s still in bookstores. 
You can find it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but it goes for a pretty penny these days!  Oh, by the way, don't worry about losing the ladybug; the book includes a pattern for making another one should that happen! 

Richard Fowler has similar interactive books with the same concept that are a little easier on the pocketbook.  In fact, today I ordered Honeybee’s Busy Day  and There's a Mouse about the House for a steal.  (Same concept!)
So as I read, or as the students read (if they are readers), the children get to push the ladybug over the print. It’s not rocket science, but it’s hugely motivating to them!  It also keeps their eyes glued to the page. I don’t know about you, but with my kids that’s a major accomplishment!

We keep reading, and the ladybug keeps moving. She slips under objects (with slits) on each page. That part is a little tricky. I always tell my kids to only slip her halfway through so that we can turn the page and she doesn’t fall down.   

It really is a beautiful book with a fun storyline.  Ladybug is looking for a home, but none of the other critters want her invading their space (except these oogey slugs above and she wants no part of that).

My little ones need a little help opening the slit to move the ladybug through, but I tell you, they’re giddy with excitement and would read this book again and again. 
Check out one my favorite little people moving that ladybug like a boss!! 


What's YOUR favorite spring themed book for therapy? 
I would really love to know! 

Hope spring has sprung in your neck of the woods! 


Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget