August 31, 2015

Why I Dumped The Treasure Chest {LINKY}

When my students showed up to speech for the first time this year, the first question out of their mouths was "Where is the treasure box?"

I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the backlash.

"Well, guys. There is no more treasure box. This year we are doing something different that you will like even more."

The next thing that happened was the little scavengers found last year's treasure box and with excitement in their eyes said, "There it is! Are there toys in it?"

To which I had to reply, truthfully, "Nope. It's full of beans". 
(It really is. The treasure chest is now a sensory box! Also, the look on their faces is kind of priceless when you tell them the treasure box contains beans.)

Last year was my first year as an SLP. I decided to stick with the treasure box idea that the SLP before me had used. It was 1/3 of the way full with trinkets. Mostly frogs... she must have really liked frogs. I'm assuming the kids didn't since they were tons still left.

I excitedly went to the Dollar Tree, scouring the aisles for things students might like. Pencils, big erasers, small play dough containers, bouncy balls, Chinese finger traps, scented pens, creepy crawlies, bracelets, sticky notes, etc. The works. I was so proud of myself!

When the students filled up 5 punches on their punch card (this equates to 5 weeks for most of my students, but some filled it up sooner),  they were allowed to pick from the treasure box. 1 punch=1 session of hard work and good behavior. I thought the goodies would last forever. I was wrong.

It seems like in no time flat, the treasure box was depleted. The things that were left in the box were things that warranted remarks such as, "There's nothing good in here", "I don't want any of that stuff", "I already have this", "There's only boy/girl stuff left", etc. I was half bummed and half irritated. I was bummed because I really didn't want to let the kids down and I was irritated because they were being the slightest bit ungrateful in regards to their rewards.

When I explained to them that I would get more items soon, I would hear "You should buy food" (You're not a puppy, you do not need a treat.), "You should get Minecraft stuff" (NO! EXPENSIVE!), "You should put like, an iPad in there" (Uhh...Yeah... No.). My teacher funds were already dwindling and I would rather purchase useful therapy materials with my money, opposed to toys that would break almost immediately upon use or stickers that would get lost while walking back to class.

That's when I decided to dump the treasure chest.

At the end of the year, I let the students pick 2-3 things from the chest in order to empty it out before this school year. I went ahead and broke the news that next year, there would be no treasure box. The kids seemed okay with it. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do, but I knew it wouldn't involve the money it took to keep refilling prizes. 

Fast forward to this year and the beginning of the post. No more treasure in the box, only beans. 

Here's what I am doing instead.

These cards are awesome because once purchased, these rewards will cost you NOTHING in classroom funds throughout the year. I decided to reward my students with free activities instead of stickers or trinkets. And guess what?


When my students get 5 punches on their punch cards, I let my students choose a card from this packet. They can then redeem the card whenever they please! Most students would rather sit in the teachers chair, have iPad time, or not have to wear shoes anyways. Will I ever get to each alone again? Maybe not. It seems that eating lunch with the teacher is a highly preferred reward. (Not going to lie though, it's awesome that they want to spend that time with me!)

If you do not like what I have down as rewards, guess what...

Yes, these are editable! This product is also friendly for non-readers, as I have included pictures on one version of the cards.

This packet includes:
14 different prefilled text-only cards 
14 different prefilled text + photo cards
14 different blank cards where you can put your own text and/or photos

All you have to do is simply cut out the cards, laminate and let the child pick a card when they've earned their reward. Once they redeem the card, it goes back in the stack for students to choose from.

I put my cards in a 4x6 photo album. The child can flip through the pages and see the card they'd like to choose. They really, really like it.

I would like to add that I only use this for my 1st graders and up. For preschool and KG, I give them "Smellies". What is a smelly, you ask? Find out here, where I talk about it in depth!

Do any of you have treasure box alternatives? Feel free to share!

August 24, 2015

Data Collection {Linky!}

Hi everyone! I feel like it's been a little bit since I have posted, and to be honest, I've missed y'all! 
Check out The Frenzied SLPs on Facebook! Click here!

I am glad to see this topic come up in a linky party. Data collection is one of the biggest pains that we as special educators/SLPs must endure. All we want to do is provide awesome therapy, but somewhere in there, we have to grab a few pluses and minuses to make sure our kiddos are actually progressing somewhere in the midst of all the excitement! 

Linky Rules!

Let me enlighten you with what I have tried.

1. I will be the first to admit that sometimes, when I have a group of 3-4 students (particularly language groups), sometimes their goals get jumbled in my head. Who has the follow 2 step directions goal and who has the 3 step direction goal? Who is supposed to be doing this independently and who needs the picture cues? I like to have the students' goals listed right in front of me. This is why each student that I work with has their own, individual data sheet that is kept in their speech folder. Their data sheet has their specific goals copied and pasted on the top of the page for quick reference. The speech folder stays in my room and they bring it to me at the beginning of the session. I get the data, close the folder, and they put it up at the end of the session. Last year I kept them in a binder by day of the week, but it get confusing when sometimes you have to mix groups up or a group is seen on a different day than usual.

2. At times, it can tough to be quickly switch data sheets when you have a group students. This is why, last year, I used the app Super Duper Data Tracker Pro.  It's nice because you can speak the students' goals into the iPad and it types them out for you. You can also choose if the child completed the task independently or required cues. Even better, it will graph the data for you AND you can email it to yourself! However, the app makes a ding noise every time you check correct/incorrect, etc. This happens even with the volume down on the iPad. This is distracting to many of my kids. However, the format makes it so easy to switch between kiddos and the goals are always listed in front of you.  There are lots of pros and a few cons to this app. In the end, the main reason I changed back to paper is because of the distracting sounds created by the app. 

3. I do not like writing the same thing over and over. It's busy work. This is the issue I have with most data collection systems that I have found. I have to hand write in all the student's information and goals each time I fill up their sheet. I am much more efficient when I can type, or of course, when I can copy and paste the information. This is why I created the product below. It's a PowerPoint document, so all you have to do is duplicate the slide to match however many students you have. Then, go through each child's IEP and copy and paste their goals into the top section, along with any other information you may need. This way, you only put the information in ONCE but can print the slide as many times as needed! as you move down the page, you notice there is room for 5 session on each page (and printed front to back, you have 10!) I do this and keep the paper in the child's folder. When the session rolls around, I do not have to write in what goal we worked on that day. I only have to write the number of the goals that corresponds with the ones listed at the top of the page. There is also room for notes! After each IEP meeting, I revise the goals for that student and it's ready to print for the next time I see them. Once the sheet it filled up, I put it in their working folder to use when progress report time comes back around. This system has worked really well for me, but this free product is also editable so you can really suit it to match your students' needs and your particular data collection style. 
Here's a freebie that *may* make your data collection a tad bit easier.

Psst: I also recommend Sublime Speech's SLP Starter Kit on TPT.  I let my articulation students who are close to graduating "grade" each other then graph their progress on the provided sheets. 

I hope something on here helped! Happy tracking!

August 1, 2015

Teacher Blogger Shirt from Teacher Shirts Online!

Hi everyone! I just wanted to take a minute to brag on on the website Teacher Shirts. They recently had promotion where they offered free t-shirts to anyone with a teacher blogger site. Being a school-based SLP with a blog (among other social media and teacher seller accounts) I decided to take advantage of this offer in order to give my blog some much needed exposure.

Imagine the surprise of my school staff when they saw my shirt. Many thought I was just being clever (Kayla SLP just sounds like I am advertising my first name job position), but upon seeing the back of my shirt, they started asking questions. 

Some responses that I received:
"Cute shirt!"
"Clever, I like it!"
"Wait. You blog?"
"Since when?"

Equally as popular was this:
"What's blogspot?"

Each response gave me a new opportunity to expose others to my blog and my Teachers Pay Teachers account. It allowed the teachers at my school to know me a little better and appreciate the extra work I do in addition to actually working at the school. 

Want to get one of your own? Go here to order a high-quality blogger t-shirt that displays your logo. The design tool is extremely easy and I love how easy it is to upload my OWN design onto a shirt, with my choice of color. 

If you don't yet have a brand or logo, you may decide to choose one that is pre-made. They even have options for an entire staff (think how cool your SPED staff would look if you had matching team t-shirts)! 

Disclaimer: This blog post was written per request of Teachers Shirts upon receiving my free teacher blogger t-shirt. Thoughts and opinions on the quality of the shirt itself are all mine.