Friday, October 6, 2017

How do I begin to say thank you?

It's been such a long time since I've written. There are lots of reasons for that. As our area was just about recovered from the "Great Flood" of 2016, my parents' home flooded in my hometown 100 miles from Baton Rouge. At the ages of 90 and 81, you can imagine how hard it was to see your parents displaced. Late spring and summer was tough, but it brought the opportunity to spend time with and "love on" family. I'm blessed to be a school SLP and with much of summer off, I got the chance to be caretaker for family members (both human and furry), especially my mom who underwent a major surgery. Long story short, my parents are now back in their homes, there are brighter days ahead, and we've reached the one year anniversary of the "Great Flood" that displaced so many friends and co-workers. While some are still rebuilding their home. and we still have 4 schools yet to be completed, most are back home. Now as Louisianais finally breathing a sign of relief, our hearts are heavy as we see our Texan neighbors, Florida friends and others suffering from natural disasters.  

Like I said, I've avoided post this a long time just because there aren't enough word to properly express my gratitude. I've tried my best via social media, but a year later, it's time to share the joy and generosity that came in the midst of the flooding. 

As soon as my blogger friends heard the news of the flooding taking place in Louisiana, the prayers and well wishes started coming. I was taken aback when I received a package (which I now know would be the first of many) from an SLP friend in Colorado, Amy Kunstle, who owns and operates 3dSLP.  It actually came on the night right before our students returned to school (for the first time in 3 weeks) What perfect timing!

These 5 boxes were meticulously packed with such care and attention to detail. Each box had a book, toys or manipulatives, a lesson plan and more - ranging from construction themed to rock/gem themed and folktale themed. I handed them out to our SLPs and they swapped them throughout the year. What a gift! The planning was all done for them! 


 Soon packages came in droves. SO MANY packages! After being out of school (and literally under water) for 3 weeks, school resumed in makeshift class rooms on shared campuses. As you can imagine, SLPs were crammed into utility closets which was, for once, just fine because they had lost everything and had nothing to put in those closets. Two SLPs actually did therapy in the PTO closet full of Sam's warehouse quantities of juice, candy, chips and paper towels. 

Thank goodness for these boxes. 


I quickly found myself doing NOTHING but unpacking boxes and distributing materials. 

I sorted and stacked then texted and emailed letting the SLPs know that the calvary had arrived. 
SLPs and friends of SLPs were sending their love in the form of crayons and Play-doh and smelly stickers.  Many of the school supplies came from the lovely Marilyn Vacel who is a loyal customer of my TpT store. Thank you so much, Marilyn. Your support did not go unnoticed. 

 The care packages came from places far and wide- like from Collette Tovee in Canada. Thank you, Collette! 

They came from native Louisianians who have moved away like Kari Fast who is currently practicing in Alaska.  Kari also sent us other SLP must haves...

Thank you, Kari XO

I delivered and the SLPs also came to pick up the treasures. Adele (pictured above) had only been able to recover her lunch box and a calendar from the flood waters at her school. The new supplies brought a sense of normalcy that was priceless.  Adele still isn't back in her school but she's currently in a temporary building waiting for her school to be rebuilt. 

Teresa Besson, just north of us in central Lousiana, sent her love in the form of rolling carts for these newly transient SLPs. 

Not having shelves or cabinets or a real space of their own, the carts brought smiles! Angela (pictured above) spent last school year on a makeshift campus situated near a swamp, complete with alligators on the roam! Angela has now moved back into her school building this August! Oh happy day!! She's sharing her speech space with Cheryl (shown below) who braved the gators, too! 

Cheryl lost about 28 years of speech materials in the flood, and her elderly parents lost everything in their home. Thank you to everyone who donated and helped Cheryl bounce back!

You did that! You donors who may be reading this! 

You sent the speechie essentials! Keep in mind, about 30% of the students of these SLPs were also displaced. They needed a little fun in their lives. Funny Bunny, Fisher-Price Little People and paint daubers will definitely help with that! Thanks to those of you who donated these. 

My sweet and sassy friend, Annie Doyle, sent Yeti Spaghetti (and much more) from New Hampshire. Thank you so much! Annie got to experience Louisiana firsthand (and alongside me) this summer when she attended the ASHA Connect Conference, and I got to hug her neck and drag her around the city! 

Ashley Rossi, my friend from Dallas, sent so many all prepped materials from her TpT store (and much more!) Thanks, Ashley. I actually saw these being used in therapy just last week! Ashley is now fully committed to supporting Texas SLPs affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

If you're reading this now like to know how to help them, please comment on this blog post and I can get that information to you. 

The notes that came along with some of the donations were like icing on the cake. 
Tamatha Cauckwell Fishler or "Tami." also donated in spades. Thank you, friend. 

It seemed like Amazon gift cards came in bulk!! Amazing! 

Thank you Felice Clark, Jamie Kronenberger, and Mary Cooper (of Tennessee).  Mary has a son at LSU here in Baton Rouge, and she heard the stories of the flooding firsthand from her son, Taylor. This summer I got to meet her, give her a big down home hug and show her the sights in NOLA! 

Elizabeth Weathesrby shipped us stacks and stacks of bound items from her store as well as gift cards and her no-print products. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.  

 Erin Dunkle sent us a whole CD of no print products, stellar social skills products and so much more. Thanks, my friend. 

Every week or so I got a big box full of AAC materials (as well as apps) from Susan Berkowitz who actually went to grad school here in Lousiana at Tulane. Her products and all the other goodness she crammed in boxes were so appreciated. Thank you, Susan. 

Susan also scored us 4 of the most amazing interactive bluetooth plush toys from BlueBee Pals!  The displaced SLPs are still enjoying their precious BlueBee Pals! If you haven't seen these, you must go check them out!  

Susan wasn't the only one spending a small fortune on shipping.  
This giant box below came from Lyndsey Zurawski in Florida; she was determined to get these donated items to us.  Unfortunately, she recently rode out Hurricane Irma. Now our prayers are with YOU and your community.  Thank you so much, Lyndsey. 

The bunny game below is one of my absolute favorite therapy games. 
They came all the way from Long Island, NY courtesy of my dear friend Jessica Schulman along with lots of other loot!  And look! SMELLY MARKERS!  
SMELLY MARKERS!  = smiles! 

All of this (and more) arrived from Jamie Kronenberger. Jamie, if you read this, please connect with me. I'd love to know more about you and thank you for your generosity. 

Fellow blogger, Sarah Stevens, sent tons of materials donated by a group of TpT sellers (I wish I had a list of them). Sarah prepped and assembled them all herself and made sure we received them all. 
Thank you truly, Sarah. I hope to thank you in person one day! 

Thanks to everyone above! Thanks, Amy Beth (Speechasaurus) for contributing to this bundle of fun! It contained all of this goodness (above) and so much more...

YES, stickers ARE important, Sarah :)) This made me smile from ear to ear! 

And the stickers and office supplies kept coming. It was much better then Christmas. 

Being that I drove a VW bug at the time, I couldn't even keep up with the deliveries anymore. 
I asked them to come shopping. How fun is that?! 

Jeri has been in our district 13 years. I've had the pleasure of seeing her do therapy, and she is excellent (and lots of fun). She's also a bit obsessed with TpT so she was in hog heaven getting all of the fun donations. Right after the flood, she and I cleaned out a storage closet in the school she was sent to, and together we turned it into a therapy room. I distinctly remember her saying, "I don't even have smelly stickers." She does now :) and she's currently in a temporary building near her school that's being rebuilt.  

Speaking of hogs, Kristin Immike, another Texan neighbor went hog wild sending us therapy materials. I'm not kidding, the packages from her just kept coming. 

Thank you Kristin. I sincerely can't wait to meet you in person. 

Another beyond generous donor (also from Texas) was Mandi Schaumburg. I seriously considered contacting Mandi and Kristin to tell them they had done enough.... because the cards and boxes just kept coming.  It wasn't surprising to me that these same Texas SLPs (and others) have been spearheading Hurricane Harvey relief for affected SLPs in Texas. 

Such giving spirits! 

Thank you for the prayers and so much more, Mandi.

How about this fun Frozen donation (among others) from Karrie Molina? You made lots of little girls happy, Karrie. So did my darling Texan friend, Laura Deeken (whom I've got to hang out with twice during the last year), and blogger friend, Linda.  Thank y'all so very much! Laura is also currently involved in Hurrican Harvey relief. Small acts of kindness change lives! 

Even into the winter and spring, boxes arrived. The secretary and janitor seemed to be getting annoyed with me at this point (ha!). I would just stand there with my mouth wide open and my heart too big for my chest. 

The gift cards and packages and well wishes and prayers kept coming from everywhere. 
Rachel (from New Hampshire), Shanda and Manda (twins from Minnesota), Kim (from North Carolina),  Amy Roberts (a cherished blog reader from Alabama), Amy Robertson, Nanette Cote (from Illinois), Emily (fellow Louisianian), and Martha (generous donor) and made sure we did not feel forgotten. Thank you all! 

Thanks, too, to the Caddo Parish SLPs who showered us with Office Depot gift cards and my fellow blogger and friend, Kelly Hungaski, who coordinated donations that resulted in hundreds of dollars of Amazon gift cards! 

Hallie Sherman from New York, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this summer, sent Moustache Smash, Crocodile Dentist, Yeti Spaghetii and smelly stickers down south to us! My one regret regarding ASHA Connect was not remembering to personally thank you in person, Hallie (because we were having to much fun!) Please accept my thanks now. 

Even the ultimate.....Pop Up Pirate....came to fill the therapy rooms with fun again! 

Then look at the love that came from Oregon state.... from my sweet friend Pam Dahm.^^^^^^
  She sent us oodles of her awesome TpT loot as well as...

 Melissa and Doug toys and Fisher-Price Little People. 

What SLP wouldn't love THAT?  I got to have some fun in with Pam this summer at ASHA Connect.  Thank you, Pam, for everything. 

Another cool thing that happened at ASHA Connect was that I got to meet Sarah and Lisa from SLP Toolkit! They amazingly donated 10 SLP Toolkit subscriptions to our district! Thanks again, ladies! 

Blogger Natalie Synders also mailed goodies of her own as well as a flash drive full of handy documents and activities for our SLPs. Of course, all of these are still being put to good use! My sincerest thanks to you, Natalie.  

Can you believe this? It just kept coming. 

Please click on their names to pay their sites a visit. 

Just when I would think the donations were done for good, my South Carolinian friends, Danielle Cullick and Amy Haselden, kept the goodness coming. Once again, our custodian lugged a giant box from Danielle up to me on the third floor of our building.  Thanks to you both. 

and my friend, Sparklle SLP of Ohio, (whom I got to make memories with this past July in New Orleans) sent supplies and this sweet note that I keep and treasure. 

Anyway, the moral of this blog post is that every note, card, box, package, prayer, email, text etc. meant to world to us here. Truthfully, it meant the world to me personally because it's my job to make sure our district SLPs are "okay" and supported. I couldn't have made them "okay" without you. 

YOU made them feel like they had what they needed for their kids. 
YOU made them feel like things were somewhat normal even though they definitely weren't. 
YOU made them feel like someone cared about their plight. 
YOU made them feel good about doing therapy under some really tough circumstances. 
Thank YOU ALL!  

With all the strive that the 2016-17 school year brought, our school system stands strong. Our score system performed so well (despite the flooding) that we are now the second highest ranked school system parish in the state of Louisiana. If you'd like to, please watch this documentary created 1 year post flood by clicking HERE. {Guaranteed to warm your heart}

Please, please, PLEASE if I missed your name, contact me! 
Amidst the frenzy of hauling boxes, unpacking, sorting and stacking, I may have mislabeled an item or missed a name.  I'd be devastated if anyone is left out. 

Thank you also to these other lovely donors who don't have website to link to (to my knowledge):

Roni Fruge (my sister)
Wendy Scronce, teacher
Becky Gaussiran (former APSB deaf educator)
Rachel Gerber, SLP
Jamie Kronenberger, SLP
Kari Fast, SLP
Randi Tascione, SLP
Martha Stilwell, SLP
Kimberly Pineda, SLP
Marilyn Vacel, SLP
Murray Brownsberg, SLP
Sherry Boudreaux, SLP
Amy Roberts, SLP
Karen Murray, SLP
Heather Hammock, SLP
Alicia Fox, SLP
Stacey Roth, SLP
Amy Robinson, SLP

To all I have listed and those I may have unintentionally missed...

Friday, May 26, 2017

Building Your Students' Vocabulary (part 4 in a series) #BookSnaps

Thanks for sticking with me through this series about vocabulary.
For those of you working with middle and high school students, 
this one is for YOU! 

We've all had them:
Students who turn their noses up at ELA assignments
Those who avoid participating in class 
The ones who don't or won't do assignments at all
Kids who are bored as can be in school
Students who just hate school in general 

Maybe it's time to....

If you're an SLP, you're likely working with students with language disorders - language is just plain hard for them. Do you like doing things you know you aren't good at? I know I don't.  I'm terrible at math so I avoid it like the plague. 

When anything is harder. students often dislike it- just like I dislike math. 
I hate cleaning, for example, but I have to do it as not to live in a pigpen.  
I trudge through by I fixing myself my favorite refreshing drink and putting on my favorite music while I get my chores on.

Why not use our students' favorite things in instruction, too?  
Motivated students work harder and are happier (good-bye behavior issues). 
Happy students = happy educators


Don't know Snapchat? Don't worry, you don't need to. 
Besides, your students can teach you anything you need to know.

Here's the good news - you don't even need a snapchat account to do this (but you're missing out on some fun); here's what you need to know:

1) I recommend this for high school students but middle school students would jump at the chance to do it, too! It will require you laying down some rules and expectations.

2) Your students use their account to take a photo of the text they are reading and create a snap (just getting to use their phone or other device in class will be a motivator in itself). They will undoubtedly be Snapchat saavy enough to work the app. The tricky part will be getting them to think about the skill assignment you've given them (citing evidence to support questions you pose, finding and describing unknown vocab words, identifying character traits, finding text that describes mood, and so on). The possibilities are endless!

3) Encourage them to be creative and use appropriate Snapchat captions and stickers. School should still be fun sometimes!

4) Let your kids know they do not have to snapchat the image at all (but they can) nor do they need to send it anyone. They just need to screenshot it, and email it directly to you from their device. 

5) Want to get them even more pumped about literacy? Print the booksnaps from your email (if you're lucky enough to have a hefty ink supply) and create a whole wall of booksnaps! Or a book!  Start a booksnap revolution! 

At least one educator, Tara Martin, actually uses her own Snapchat account to exchange booksnaps with her students. That makes me a little nervous, but you should check out how she uses Snapchat HERE

Want to know MORE about using Snapchat in instruction? 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Part 3 in a Series

I want to share with you some more tried and true strategies for teaching vocabulary. 

The first is LINCS from the University of Kansas. 

LINCS is a mnemonic device for ingraining new words. It helps students to make memorable connections and relationships between the word and it's meaning.

For example, I vividly remember the first time I heard the word minuscule as a child. I looked up the definition (because in contrast to many of my future students, I was bookish) and read that it meant "extremely small; tiny." In my mind I made a connection that "minuscule" sounded like "mini school" and to this day I invision a teeny tiny school anytime I hear the word minuscule. That's the type of thing that children with normal language do naturally. Unfortunately, our students with language impairments do not do it naturally. In fact, they have a hard time doing it at all - even with our training and lots of practice.

This is the LINCS strategy; a way to give a word meaning that will "stick."

L ist the parts 
I  dentify a reminding word 
N ote a linking story
C reate a linking picture
S elf test 

As you can tell, the strategy uses visual imagery and associations to create a (hopefully) powerful memory between a word and its meaning. The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning explains why it works:

Using the LINCS Strategy transforms  a potentially weak link between a word and its definition into a chain of very strong links. 

Research supporting the LINCS strategy is impressive. A study was conducted in a social studies class, and the LINCS strategy was taught to the students in that class. Learning disabled students in the class performed a mean of 53 percent correct on a pretest and then at a mean of 77 percent correct after learning and using the strategy. Interestingly enough, students in the control class who did not learn the strategy actually decreased from pretest to posttest.

You can read more about LINCS research and what the pretests and posttests consisted of here

There are countless examples of LINCS graphic organizers to be found online or you can use a sheet of paper or index card. 

Here is a video demonstrating the use of a "card" (sheet of paper or index card) which has plenty of room for even beginning writers: 

For older students who can squeeze more writing into a small space, this LINCS table (shown below) is very popular, and there are plenty of similar templates to be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Check out this video explaining the use of a LINCS table! 

You can see more examples and read more at this guest post by Nicole Allison @ Speech Rooms News

Now, LINCS isn't the only game in town. Teacher extraordinaire, Dr. Anita Archer, has her own methods of explicit vocabulary instruction. 

Check out this stellar vocab instruction from Dr. Anita Archer following reading a story aloud...

She does the same kind of thing with the older crowd, too. You can see more of her videos at her website here.

Dr. Anita Archer's method of teaching new words includes:

Introduce the Word.
- Write the word on the board or show it in a screen
- Pronounce the word or guide students in using their decoding skills to determine the pronunciation of the word. 
- Have students pronounce the word, repeating the word a number of times if the word is unfamiliar or difficult to proounce. 
Provide a student- friendly explanation of the word.
- Be sure that the definition contains only known words and is easy to understand.
Illustrate with examples. 
- The examples can be concrete, visual or verbal. 
(Verbal examples were used to illustrate concentrate, impressed and educated in the video above.)
Check students' understanding. This can be done various ways:
- Ask "deep processing questions" 
- Have students discern between examples and non-examples
- Have students generate their own examples. 

  • Research shows that a student in the 50th percentile (in terms of ability to comprehend subject matter taught in school) with no direct vocabulary instruction will score in the 50th percentile ranking.
  • The same student, after content-area terms have been taught in a strategic way, raises his/her comprehension ability to the 83rd percentile. 

TAKE AWAY: for ALL students, explicit vocabulary instruction WORKS! 

Please check back for the 4th part of my vocabulary series coming soon :) 

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget