April 19, 2019

The SLP's Guide to Simplifying Report Writing Using Google Docs

I am currently on my 34th evaluation of the year. It's only April. SOS.
Did you know Google Docs can save you SO MUCH time when writing reports?

Here are 3 tips for making report writing as quick, simple, and painless as possible-- using Google docs!

1. Observations

Unless you are required to do paper observations, I recommend typing observations into Google Docs. Not only will this method give you one less piece of paper to keep up with, but it also auto-saves as you write AND when the time comes to write your report, you can simply copy and paste the typed observation into your report! 

I know that articulation errors can be difficult to type using a standard keyboard and when I am doing an observation, I do not have time to use this handy IPA keyboard. So instead, I created a sort of shorthand to use within my observations.

If the child is exhibiting a phoneme substitution, I may type something like this:
"The fish(F>S) was fast(F>S).
This would indicate the student's /f/ went to an /s/.

If the child is exhibiting phonological processes, I typically type a key at the bottom of my observation prior to going into the classroom. It looks something like this :
FR=Fronting, ST=Stopping, GL=Gliding, V=Vowelization, FCD= Final Consonant Deletion
Then beside each error, I would type the code beside the mispronounced word. 
Example: "The kid(FR) went to the store(V) after work(FR,GL)."

2. Create Templates

If you do not already have templates for every test you use, then you're missing out! First, create  the bare bones of your report starting with the demographics section, then add headers for the social developmental history, observation, and teacher interview sections.

Next, create a template for each test that you use. Go ahead and create tables for your scores and add in a summary of the test. Leave blanks where you plan to describe the student's strengths and weaknesses within the assessment.

For any section that needs a name/specific age/pronoun/etc, highlight the text so that you don't forget to add in that important information! This keeps you from accidentally skimming past incorrect information when proofreading your report.

All of my templates are created in Google Docs so that I can work on them anytime I have a spare moment and computer access. I also have all of the blank templates located within a Team Google Drive that is shared with the other SLP within my district.

*FYI: I did not create all of the templates I use! Do a Google search to find some great examples of templates, then pick and choose the parts you need to create your own!

3. Voice Typing

This has been the BIGGEST game changer for me. Within Google Docs is a wonderful tool called "Voice Typing". Just give Google Docs access to your microphone (oh yeah, and be sure you're using a computer with a microphone) and you can TELL IT WHAT TO TYPE! I use this for days when I had to do a paper observation and when dictating the parent/teacher interviews.

I also talk about the student's strengths and weaknesses and let Google Docs type it for me.  This has saved me an immense amount of time because I talk so much faster than I type. (And honestly, Google Docs has great voice recognition, especially compared to Siri-- just watch out for the spelling of names!). 

How do you save time when writing reports? Have you used Google Docs?

October 20, 2018

Using Pumpkins in Speech-Language Therapy

Are you looking for a quick, easy, and affordable fall activity for your therapy sessions? You're in luck-- all you need is a bag of pumpkins!

I have used the following activities from ages preschool to 6th grade, although I am sure you could make them work with students of all ages.

When choosing a bag of pumpkins, I look for the following qualifications:

  • Variety of colors. I look for bags that include yellow, green, and orange pumpkins. 
  • Variety of textures. Often, these small bags of pumpkins will include some that are smooth and some that are bumpy. 
  • Variety of shapes. I like bags that contain some round, some oval, and some long, squash-shaped pumpkins.
  • Variety of patterns. I look for bags including pumpkins that are solid, spotted, and/or striped. 

Goals to target:

  • Comparing and contrasting. For younger students, you might have them draw two pumpkins, then compare/contrast them using a Venn diagram. For older students, you could compare/contrast together, but have the students write a paragraph (or two) comparing and contrasting the pumpkins.
  • Vocabulary. Pair these pumpkins with simple and fun songs, such as "5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate". My younger students love having the pumpkins to go along with the song, and can practice counting, actions, etc. as we go along with the song!
  • Joint attention. These pumpkins are as fun alternative to a ball when working on joint attention. Simply sit on the floor and roll the pumpkins back and forth. Also, pumpkins are great for joint attention because they are something different. Some children are intrigued to see and touch something so novel.
  • Parts of a whole. Students can choose a pumpkin to draw on their paper, then label the parts of the pumpkin. This is especially fun to do after discussing the pumpkin life cycle, as students are typically more aware of some of the parts of a pumpkin. 
  • Prepositions. Everybody gets a pumpkin and places it somewhere in the room. You can make this a "hide and seek" activity OR let everyone see where the pumpkins are but the student verbally discloses where the pumpkin is located (Ex: "My pumpkin is behind something you use to type" or "I see your pumpkin. It is under a blue chair.")
  • Body parts. With preschool students, we have worked on body part vocabulary by placing the pumpkin on various body parts, sort of like Simon Says. Students love to place their pumpkins behind their backs, between their hands, under their knees, and on their belly buttons! (As you can tell, you're also working on prepositions!)
  • Sorting by attribute. If you buy 2-3 bags of pumpkin, the students can work together to come up with attributes (categories) to sort the pumpkins by. You can sort by size, color, shape, or texture.
  • Describing. Use the EET with these pumpkins! Everyone gets a small pumpkin and fills out an EET worksheet over (or verbally describes) their pumpkin. Using the EET is always more fun when you have a hands-on object to pair it with!
Do you use pumpkins in therapy? How do you use them? Tell me below!


June 5, 2018

The Anxious SLP

Hi, my name is Kayla and I have anxiety.

Actually, I've had anxiety since elementary school. Tension headaches and migraines were my first symptoms. Elementary school, y'all. I was young.

I didn't realize it was anxiety causing these issues until I was in college. Early on, doctors said my headaches could be from posture. I went to the chiropractor with limited relief. Headaches worsened and alleviated depending on the year (such as who my teachers were and what classes I was taking), and sometimes even the time of year (big exams, social events, etc). I started to put two and two together. It started to make sense.

Then grad school happened. I went on anxiety medication. It was the greatest thing to happen to me. A tiny dose of Zoloft was enough to regulate my emotions and keep me in check. My headaches decreased dramatically. As a matter of fact, I don't know if I've had a migraine since 2012. Tension headaches still come and go, but much less often. I've actually been able to come off of my anxiety medication since I've been married.

I've become very in tune with my anxiety and when it worsens. Certain times of year when work becomes insanely busy. When I am alone for an extended period of time (ex: if my husband goes away on business trip). During the summer when I am "off" work and have too much time on my hands.

I've never been ashamed of my anxiety. I am very aware of my anxiety. I think being aware of your anxiety is the best thing you can do. The next best thing you can do is find a way to cope with it.

Coping with Anxiety

  • Apps, such as Stop, Breathe, Think. This app will give you a daily reminder to take time out for mindfulness. 
  • Exercise. Join a gym or go for daily walks.
  • YouTube has channels for yoga, such as Yoga with Adriene. Best of all, these videos are free. 
  • However, sometimes getting out and about (aka socializing!) is helpful as well. See if your community has a yoga class! Or any classes you'd be interested in joining, where you can be around other people. 
  • Watch what you're eating and drinking. Sometimes, caffeine can make anxiety worse. Junk food can make it worse, too! Try eating balanced meals and limiting caffeine (and alcohol).
  • Watch for the signs that anxiety is creeping up on you, and take time to reflect and relax. Catching anxiety early can ease the symptoms, IF you can tell when it's worsening.
  •  If these suggestions do not work for you, talk to your doctor. Sometimes, anxiety cannot be managed by diet, exercise, and mindfulness. Do NOT be ashamed to ask for help from your doctor. It doesn't mean a life sentence of anxiety medication. And even if it does... so what?
Anyone who struggles with anxiety, I want you to know you aren't alone. Whether you are in undergrad, grad school, your CF year, or working with your CCCs... you aren't alone. 

Also, I encourage you to watch for anxiety symptoms in your students. Sometimes, no one else will realize that a student is experiencing anxiety. Having gone through it myself, I feel a little more in tune with the signs and symptoms. Let your students also know... they aren't alone.

Friends, our jobs are stressful. Life is stressful. But you're never alone. ❤

If you experience anxiety, please leave a comment telling how you best cope with it. We can all learn from each other!

January 17, 2018

Using a Dollhouse In Play Based Speech Therapy

This is my dollhouse. It is one of my favorite toys to use in play-based speech therapy with preschoolers and kindergartners. Half of my caseload is made up of preschool and kindergarten children. That being said, I use a LOT of play-based therapy. I've found that by using a dollhouse, I can target almost any goal with these students! It is ESPECIALLY easy to use this activity with mixed groups because it's so natural and fluid to go back and forth between skills!

Practice categories by sorting furniture into the correct room, sort by function (things you sit on, things that use water, etc.), sort by color, or sort by size!

Use dollhouse family members and sort furniture to each person! "This is HIS chair, this is HER bathtub, this is THEIR table."

Tell what each dollhouse family member is doing! "He is showering, the baby is napping, she is swinging, they are cooking, etc." You can even practice future and paste tense using this same approach.

This sounds obvious, but you can practice naming common household objects. Hello, FUNCTIONAL!! You can use a dollhouse with the earliest of communicators.

Expanding MLU

Practice expanding upon a child's labels! When a child says "bed" you say "a BIG bed" or "jump on the bed"!  Anything the child says (and trust me, more than likely your student WILL talk while playing with the dollhouse) just expand upon it by 1-2 words!

Hide object or dollhouse people within the house. Talk about where they are (under the bed, behind the bookshelf, between the fridge and the table).

Withhold furniture and dollhouse people in a clear plastic tote. Model requesting items from the box, then have your student request! Go back and forth between modeling and expecting your student to request an item.

It's easy to model "my turn" and "your turn" when you're using dollhouse people! Practice sentences like "my turn to swing" and "your turn to swing" (or "my turn to sleep" and "your turn to sleep"). Possibilities are endless!

Following Directions
Give 1-2 step directions using the furniture and dollhouse people! Example: "Put the boy in front on the stove" or "Before she goes to bed, give her a bath!"

Model articulation in natural conversation using the items you're playing with, while talking about what the dollhouse family is doing, etc. I've even put artic cards on the floors of each room and used that as an opportunity for additional practice. Ex: if your artic card says "snow", put it on the bedroom floor. Every time a dollhouse person enters the room, you can say "Oh no-- don't step on the SNOW!"

Use the dollhouse people to model expected vs unexpected behaviors. Talk about WHY one dollhouse person shouldn't shove another person, eat their food, or throw a tantrum when things don't go their way.

Possibilities are endless! Do you use a dollhouse in play-based therapy? Do you use any of the examples I gave? Do you do something different? Let me know in the comments!

December 27, 2017

App Review: Little Stories Pro by Little Bee Speech

This app has been an absolute lifesaver for me, as an SLP with a caseload of 60+ students. I see students from preschool-6th grade. I see mixed artic-language-fluency groups. I have kids that I see using the 5-Minute program. I see students of all cognitive abilities. And I've used this app with each and every one of them.

Little Stories boasts that it can be used to improve speech, language and literacy-- and I agree! I've used it for all three areas with success.

Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech

Working on articulation? Little Stories has you covered.
There are 82 stories included in this app. You can search stories by speech sound, therefore allowing you to pick stories that are loaded with your target sound! You can preview the words within the story before actually reading the story, to ensure that they are appropriate for your student(s). The story even tells the reading level so you can feel confident in your passage choices! When reading the story, you can choose to have the target words bolded, if you choose (I use this feature for children who are just starting to work on their sounds in reading passages, then I fade away as they begin to master the skill). The option for speech recording (where you can mark errors on incorrect productions) is one of my favorite features, however. I love letting the children hear back their productions AND the fact that data collection is made simple. Added bonus-- tongue twisters for each story! Because what student doesn't love a silly little challenge?

Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech
Working on language? Little Stories has you covered.
These same 82 stories are also easy to use with language students. Working on a certain point of view or verb tense? Guess what? The story preview allows you to see what POV and tenses are used in the story! After you've picked a story (don't forget you can check the reading level of the story before beginning), there are comprehension checks available. Target story retell by recording the child telling his version of the story. Work on 4 step sequencing by dragging and dropping chunks of the story into the correct order. Answer wh- questions by choosing from a field of four. Answer open-ended questions when you're doing, using personal connections. If you like the story and want to read more like it, there's an option for that! Simply take a peek at the "related stories" option.

Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech
Working on literacy? Little Stories has you covered.
Each story has a list of sight words included! You can even practice sight word flash cards before beginning the story, as a review. When reading the story, you can choose to bold the sight words if needed. If you're working with a younger child (or a child who is still an early reader), you can actually CHANGE the format of how the story is visually presented to make it easier for the child to navigate and read. If you're working on reading fluency, there is a timer option with with automatically calculate words per minute AND allows you to mark errors via a speech recording.

Photo From: Little Stories Pro (app) by Little Bee Speech

Mixed groups? Little Stories has you covered.
Take a look at the information presented above. Each story contains each of the elements (speech, language, and literacy). Even fluency can be targeted easily, thanks to the reading passages, opportunities for speech samples and recording options. No matter your target, you can use this app for your group. Honestly, it's my go to for quick-planned mixed-group therapy. You can even save the information under the students' names to keep up with data over time!

Sorry to be long winded, but I tried to cover everything that I'd want to know about an app before purchasing. It's important that you know just how much this app has to offer-- and boy does it offer a LOT!

Have you used this app? Are you still on the fence? Let me know in the comments!

*I received this app for free in exchange for a review. However, all opinions are my own. I love this app!

Until next time,

June 29, 2017

SLPs and Amazon Prime: A Love Story


Are you an SLP?

Are you a busy human being?

Are you ready to shop conveniently from home?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you NEED Amazon Prime!

"But I already use Amazon. Why do I need Amazon Prime?"

There are so many reasons to sign up for Amazon Prime. Let's explore!
  • Free 2-Day Shipping. This is the biggest perk, in my opinion. If you suddenly decide that you want to do a craft, but you're missing pieces to complete the craft (example: 500 Foam Barn Stickers*, and YES, I have ordered these more than once!), you can order it and it will be at your house in 2 days with FREE SHIPPING. If you are planning to do a book lesson, but the library doesn't have the book you need, you can order it and have it in 2 days! What about products in bulk? If you can't make it to a Sam's or Costco, never fear! You can order 60 Glue Sticks from Amazon* at a fair price. You can't do that at Walmart or the Dollar Tree! Amazon can send almost anything to your house within 2 days. (Psst-- certain areas even have same day delivery options!)
  • Free Unlimited Photo Storage.YES, you heard right! All those pics you have clogging up your computer and phone? What about all those PECS pics you've taken that you aren't using at the moment? Move them over to Amazon Prime! They'll store them for you!
  • Prime Reading and access to Kindle Lending Library. Borrow and reading books for FREE using these services. As a book-a-holic, I cannot complain. I can read books for free, right from my phone or iPad! Search for children's books that you can use in therapy as well. Nothing beats FREE!
  • Amazon Instant Videos. This one doesn't really have to do with being an SLP, but... it's free movies! You can stream videos (sort of like Netflix) for free with Amazon Prime. That's just another great perk that comes free with the membership.
  • BONUS: Coming Soon... Amazon Prime Wardrobe! Amazon Prime has a new service coming out, similar to Stitch Fix! I know many SLPs and teachers LOVE Stitch Fix, so I can't wait to see what Amazon has in store for Prime customers!

So here's what you can do. You can try Amazon Prime for free! Click my affiliate link here (Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial) or on the photo below and you can sign up for a free trial. Be sure to try out as many perks as possible during your trial. As an SLP-Amazon-Prime-Lover (for over 5 years now), I cannot recommend it enough!
*Post contains affiliate links.

June 24, 2017

SLP Now Review: Can It Help the Busy SLP?

Kayla SLP Affiliate Link

Hi, all! I am here today to review SLP Now, a membership site for SLPs that you may have already heard about. But what SLP settings can benefit from this membership? What is the purpose behind this membership? What does it do for the busy SLP? Let's explore.

I have been using SLP Now for over a year now, as a school SLP, and let me tell you something. It is a game changer! SLP Now is useful for both clinic AND school SLPs. It's optimized for students preschool through high school, with the largest focus on skills needed for PreK-5th grade (perfect for me, because those are the grades I work with). You know your students and you know what grade levels they are performing at, so you can pick and choose the skills best suited for the children on your caseload.

Speaking of skills... this membership offers skill packs for grammar, language (comprehension), vocabulary, and articulation. Specific skills are offered within each area, and there are currently 20 skill packs available, including packs for synonyms, idioms, verbs and narrative language.  The best part is that there are more skill packs to come, and as a member, you will have access to each skill pack as it is released!

Do you do themed therapy? I do! I love using themes because I feel it keeps both me AND my students on track and engaged. Well, SLP Now has you covered. Right now there are almost 50 themed packs available on the site. Yes, you heard right. ALMOST 50!!! Each theme includes a parent letter, 2 books to use with the theme (physical books not included, obviously, but that's what Amazon and libraries are for!), vocab cards, comprehension cards, an activity, a craft AND a reading passage. There is literally something for every child on your caseload. Personally, I enjoy using books in therapy. If you don't, the themed therapy may not be the most beneficial part of the membership for your. However, you can still use the reading passages, crafts and vocabulary portions!

But what's the purpose? What can it do for me as an SLP? For me, the biggest benefit is to reduce my time spent planning and prepping so that I can have more time actually doing therapy! The membership is laid out in such a way that you can select a skill (or theme) and print. It's that simple! However, it also helps with establishing baselines for your students (each skill pack includes a page to help you determine the child's current level), keep data (yes, also included!), and keep parents involved with themed therapy newsletters. It also cuts out the guesswork of "what will I be doing next week in therapy?!". Simply pick a theme and go from there!

One of my FAVORITE parts of the membership, however, is the Facebook group! Marisha, the creator of SLP Now, is always available to answer any questions you have, and you can bounce ideas off of each other within the SLP Now community!

There is a monthly and a yearly option for the membership, so you can always try for a month to see if it will work for you. If so, I recommend signing up for the yearly membership because it offers a discount (opposed to paying month by month for a year).

And if you want in on a secret... there are some very exciting things in the works that you'll want to be a part of! Keep an eye on SLP Now to see what's coming next!

Want to see more? Join today using the code KAYLASLP and get $10 off*! I would love for your life to become easier via the use of this site. It has significantly reduced my therapy plan-and-prep time.... so click here to join!

Have you used SLP Now? What are your thoughts? What do you find most useful?

**The code KAYLASLP is an affiliate code. You will get 10% off and I will get a small percentage for referring you to the site.