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Sunday, February 22, 2015

What’s in Your Basket? Are You Ready for the TPT Sale?

The SLPs at TPT , sponsored by Speech Room News, are linking up to share what’s in our personal carts for the sale, and what resources we have that we want people to know about;

I spent the better part of Saturday evening going through my wish-list of TPT products, so I’d be ready for the sale - having made my “good” decisions in leisure.  It was really hard.  I decided which clip art resources I really wanted and put them all in my cart.  Then I looked at the total and got sticker shock.  It was $195.  And change.
So, then I went back through it again and tried to decide if there were any items I didn’t really need in the short-term.  SO, I managed to get it down to about $165.  That’s better, right?
Deep breath.
Then I saw another product. Another $5.  Deeper breath.

The problem is, there are so many good artists on TPT, and more joining every day.  Having spent a lot of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day re-vamping almost all of my product covers I found a need for more clip art that worked for specific topics.  I had always gone with bold and simple for covers, but was convinced by a blog post from a fellow SLP to make them more colorful and appealing.
So, at the top of my list are:

Peter and the Wolf and other fairy tale sets from EduClips: 

More from one of my favorite artists - AwayWithThePixels -  like these realistic animals

And more great backgrounds for building scenes to go with stories like these from Graphics from the Pond

I’m always on the lookout for images of kids doing things - great for speech therapy - so I’ve found a few I don’t already have, including this one from Teacherscrapbook

And what do I have in my store for shoppers looking for great resources on sale?  Well, my whole store is 20% off for the sale. Added to the TPT bonus that makes 28% off all of your purchases.
I always recommend my best-selling program for teaching Wh-questions.  It is basically a paper version that became the Question It app found on the iTunes app store.(  Parents and teachers begged me for years to publish it, but who had the time while raising a couple of kids and managing a huge caseload?  The original program, when I used it, used delayed prompting and errorless learning.  The main point of the strategy, however, is to teach which type of word answers which type of question.  Check it out here:

My AAC resources are also popular, especially my 6 Core Words book sets.  I’ve made a bundle of them here

Check out the AAC custom category in my TPT store for all of the augmentative communication resources.

Try my practice resources for aac users learning to use phrases and sentences. They're great for verbal kids with limited expressive language, too.

I also love my book companions, which have been adapted for kids with significant language disabilities.  Most of them contain picture communication boards to use with the book activities, all of them focus on language skills.  I have a custom category for Primary Book Adaptations, too. 

I have been adding to and updating my laguage-based life skills resources here

and don’t forget to check out my barrier games activities.  The bundle of the original 5 sets is here 
but I have added more themed sets since then.

Have a great sale, pick up some great resources. 
And, most of all, keep on talking.

The Order of Things: Can Your Students Sequence?

Being able to sequence events and actions is an extremely important skill.  Sequencing is needed to complete the steps of a task, to give directions (and follow them), to tell about an event, retell a story, have a conversation (which is its own unique sequence).   

When we’re talking about reading, we’re talking about sequencing the events in the story.  Being able to identify what happened first. What happened next. What happened last?  How did it end?  There is a lot involved with this.  Understanding serial order.  Moving left to right or up to down. 
As always, before reading the story, we want to activate the background knowledge the student has about sequencing things.  I start with relatively simple sequences such as parts of their day, or the steps to a familiar task (hand washing is always a good one to use).  

Then I set the purpose for reading: listen for what happened first.  What did the character do next (Or, what happened to the character next)?  What happened last?  We’ll talk about it as we read.  I’ll point out the order of events as we read.  

Then, the “After” activity will be about sequencing the events of the story.

I’ve posted here a simple sequence of events in the story The Snowy Day, by Jack Ezra Keats as an example.  This is one of three different sequencing activities I use in my companion resource for this book. (symbols are Symbol Stix from Simply drag them to your desktop to  use.

        Keep working and keep reading, step by step.

Have You Seen These Posts? Some great posts to check out.

     Before I continue with my shared reading strategies month, I wanted to post links to two great blog posts that relate to shared reading and to narrative development.
     The first is from a blogger I follow consistently, because of his insight and great tips.  Sean Sweeney works with the Story Grammar Marker from Mary Ellen Moreau and Mindwings Concepts.  I love, love the SGM.  I've used it for the more than 20 years it has been around.  My enthusiasm infected others in the district I worked for outside of Boston - which is where Sean is from - and it spread throughout.  Now districts everywhere are using it, and the company has expanded the concept tremendously. (Note:  I have no financial relationship with them, and am receiving no consideration of any kind for this post).
     So, I love it when Sean posts information about lessons using the SGM.  Here is one you should definitely check out from this week: Enjoy Using SGM Materials for Traditional and Graphical Stories .

     The second is from another blogger I follow, Jodie, at Growing Book by Book.  She had a great post this week also, on story retelling. She uses a rainbow story retelling bracelet with little ones to develop the skill and provide cues.  Here is her post.

     Stay tuned.  I'll be posting this week's regular post shortly.  In the meantime, keep on reading.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shared Reading for Comparing and Contrasting: Can You Tell What’s Same and Different?

The book that I use most often for example purposes is one about a trip to the zoo. (It’s actually called A Trip to the Zoo).  

On the first day, I’ll do a “picture walk” through the book, to see if the children can identify any of the pictures, see if they can tell me where the story takes place and what the boys see.  Can they name the animals?   What kinds of animals do you see at the zoo?  Will they see whales?  
I may do a categorization activity the first day (pets, farm, wild, etc), with a before and after activity that capitalizes on that skill and those vocabulary words.  

Or I might start off with a describing activity.  We might describe someone in the room, or pick something with which everyone is familiar; preferably something visible.  
The “After” activity will be about describing an animal (or animals) after the purpose has been set for listening to the words the author uses to describe the animals and looking at the illustrations.  
I’ll use a graphic organizer to help make the describing visual, and focus on things like size and color and pattern, number of feet, type of “covering” (fur, scales, etc).
Then the next day, having worked with descriptions, I’ll move on to comparisons.  So now, I’m going to do the picture walk and point out - or have students identify - some similarities and differences between the animals. 
We might do a comparison between two children in the classroom.  
Then I’ll set the purpose for them to listen again to the describing words and look at the illustrations and see if they can identify how some of the animals are similar and how they are different.  
The “After” activity is - you got it - comparing and contrasting two animals.  I generally use the tiger and zebra.  That’s easy.  Again, use lots of visuals.  

And for aac users, let's make sure they can find the word in their aac systems.  (The simple Venn diagram image above uses Symbol Stix, familiar to most aac users in classrooms, and to many special ed students).  You can click and drag the image above to your desktop to use as an example for your students.
More on shared reading next week. Until then, keep reading!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Shared Reading - Are You Reading to Your Students?

There is a good body of research and literature that indicates the importance of shared reading with students/children.  

One of the best resources for information is the Center for Literacy & Disabilities Studies at UNC- Chapel Hill (  
Below are a few key points Karen Erickson makes about it: 
  • Shared reading is usually done with beginning readers, as a way to instill a love of reading, develop language and literacy skills, and provide access to a wide variety of literature.
  • When teachers think out loud during shared reading, they model for students how to deal with unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts, text features and structures.  Teachers need to model strategies in order for students to learn to use them.
  • For students in special education who are just developing - or have not developed - literacy skills, it is an essential classroom tool for increasing background knowledge, providing access to texts, and increasing important language skills.
  • Shared reading is not about students learning to answer questions; it is about developing a love for reading and beginning to use emergent reading skills.
  • Students should eventually be turning pages, “reading” repeated lines, making comments, and even asking questions.
When I work with students with complex communication needs, I plan to read the same book for the week (5 days), with a different language based purpose each day.  
Karen Erickson talks about building a love of books, and setting purposes like knowing when to turn the page, following the words on the page, pointing out a part the student likes or doesn’t like.  In addition to exposing kids to reading a variety of fun books, I’m usually looking to build language skills like categorizing, describing, comparing, sequencing, retelling.
Click on the image below to download a simple shared reading guide, or click on this link HERE to download the full handout (for free) from my TPT store.

For the rest of February, I will be posting an example each week of a before and after reading purpose activity with selected children’s books. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 2, 2015

It's time for another Movie Clip Monday link-up with Techie Turtle.

This week I'm going to remind you all about my small start-up YouTube Channel, where I have posted a series of short AAC Basics videos on a variety of aac topics.

The very first one I made, creatively called "AAC Basics #1" is about the difference between static and dynamic display speech generating aac devices.

The comparison, in short, shows us that static display devices are less expensive, but offer less vocabulary, require some physical dexterity to change overlay pages, and are too limiting to be considered as primary aac devices because they are just not robust enough.  Dynamic display devices, on the other hand, while being much more expensive,  offer often limitless vocabulary possibilities for generating any message, offer multiple access modalities for the user who is unable to reliably point, offer opportunities to use or develop literacy skills and syntax skills.

It's a short clip, so take a quick peek.  I'll be back later with February's blog topic: Shared Reading with Students with Significant Language or Complex Communication Needs.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Speech Pathologists' Blog Hop for Free Valentine's Resources -For the Love of Speech

Some of the Speech-Language Pathologists on the Teachers Pay Teachers site have joined together to offer a variety of FREE speech and language resources for Valentine's Day.  The materials have been sorted by target, with a couple of different resources for each objective.  So come check it out, grab some free resources and ideas.

My free offering is about sequencing.  Sequencing is a very important skill for making it through daily living activities, for having conversations, developing personal narratives, re-telling and telling stories.  Sequencing ties into many other language skills, as well as academic skills.

Try my free I Heart Sequences: Sequencing for Life Skills.   

You can find it here.

Now, check out the next stop in the hop: NW Speech Therapy.  And have a very happy Valentine's Day!
click here