Sports and Occupation Association Task Cards: Free Trial

22 Oct



A great way to build vocabulary is to develop word association skills. These cards are similar to the animal association cards but use sports and occupation vocabulary.   When given a set of four words students compare and contrast  words to determine which word  does not belong in  the set of four (the odd one out).  They then give their reason for their selection. This involves a higher level of thought process and awareness of word meanings beyond memorizing definitions.

The cards lend themselves to a variety of goals to include building vocabulary through word associations skills, answering wh questions, and using negatives such as  does/doesn’t in sentences.   They may also be used  for eliciting spontaneous speech when  practicing articulation at a conversation level. I am finding them appopriate for 5th through 8th grade.

I am posting a set of 12 cards for you to try out. Just click on the free trial button and it will bring you to the link for the free download.  If you find them useful, please consider purchasing the full set at Teachers Pay Teachers.  Your purchases help off set the cost of this blog.sports-thumbnail

free trial buttonThe full set at Teachers Pay Teachers consists of  a total of 48,  2 x 3 inch double sided cards; Included are 32 sports cards, and 16 occupation cards.   To make more durable cards print them on  card stock.  They are  double sided card with a front and back.  The front side provides the  word association task and the back side provides the answer.  Students may use the QRC code to get a confirmation of their reasoning. You can download an  APP  on most mobile devices to scan and read the code.

The apple button will bring you directly to the cards in TeacherPay Teachers.

TPT button


SLP: Reinvent Thyself

15 Oct


It has been awhile since I have posted. I will try to explain what has happened since last school year.  You may remember I announced my retirement  last Spring.  You would think it would mean I have more time  to write on my blog. The truth is I wasn’t ready to take down the shingle quite yet. Getting retirement pay just meant I had a  safety net to go in another direction.  Being a  Speech and Language  Pathologist (SLP) is very much a part of my identity but I felt I wanted to enjoy life more and not have to worry about work everyday of the week.  I started to look for ways to make changes. Even us old timers need new experiences to revitalize.  I usually like to have my future planned out but this time I decided to see what would come my way.


I thought of doing contract work with a travel agency but I didn’t want to travel or move far from my home base. I had enough of that being part of a military family for so many years.  We had managed to accumulate  a house, 3 dogs, and 2 horses which didn’t make moving easy.  That is what happens when you stay in one place for 16 years. Ironically, I didn’t have to go far.  A former colleague started her own business providing substitute SLP service for the schools in our area.  She was overwhelmed with so many requests at the beginning of the school year she asked  if I would join her and relieve some of the load.  She was also suppose to be retired.

One of the difficulties school districts face  is covering for SLPs who need medical or family leave.  SLPs are entitled to this benefit  but it often becomes difficult  if it is  actually taken. The part-time position is difficult to fill.  Not having someone for an extended time means the district is liable for makeup time.   Often this ends up as an additional duty on the SLP when they come back.  Regular substitute teachers don’t meet the requirements of a certified SLP.  Some school districts hire SLPs from travel agencies but they are expensive  and the contract SLPs are not always familiar with the procedures and paperwork of a school setting.

This type of position was exactly what I was looking for.   We divided up the assignments and I was back in operation as an independent contractor. This time I felt in control of my own schedule.  I could choose the contracts  I wanted to work and take breaks throughout the school year. This is important if you are a grandparent with grandchildren out of the local area and want to be able to plan a trip now and then.


So I have been off to some new adventures this Fall, taking over as a substitute SLP.   It has been fun working with new staff and I have been getting to know  middle school students the last few weeks as I work a medical leave. It has some advantages.  So far schedules are already made and the paperwork is minimal compared to having my caseload.  I am finding that I am enjoying the older students who actually remain seated and have a more sophisticated sense of humor. I’ve also been able to get reaquainted with a few former students who moved to this school from past schools I worked at.

I do have some advice to SLPs who are retiring soon and considering this endeavor.  You need to be willing and flexible to work in a variety of settings and age ranges.  You need to be outgoing and learn your way around a building rather quickly.  It helps to have a few open ended materials of your own until you figure out what is available at the site.

My biggest mistake was leaving some of my materials at my former work site because I was certain I wouldn’t need them. I have been busy reprinting a lot of my materials on this site and TPT.  I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of them work for my middle school students also.

I would love to hear from other SLPs that have reinvented themselves. Have you been successful? Have you considered this as an option?

I have joined a blog link up for special education blogs. Just click on the button to find more special education blogs.

Are you a new SLP in the Public Schools?

23 Aug

Are you a new SLP working in the schools for the first time?  It can be quite overwhelming when you first walk through that school door. You are often the only SLP in the building so you are left to figure it out on your own. I first wrote on this topic in 2010 and I find that most of it is still  relevant today.  I thought it was worth a rewrite for our newest SLPs.Library-300px

When I first started working in the public schools, I was uncertain on how to start the school year. I did my school internship during the spring semester and therefore didn’t get the experience for the fall opening.  Everything was scheduled and running so I had no idea what I should expect.

My first school year was in a setting where I was the only SLP.  Since that first fateful day, I’ve started school years in about 25 different buildings in 10 different districts with every kind of mix of caseload you can imagine.   Some things have changed over those 30+ years, but much remains the same.  For your sanity, acknowledge that you will be overwhelmed for the next few weeks.  Even the most seasoned SLPs have that feeling the first week of school. `

The first week of school usually consists of meetings and trainings that may or may not be relevant to you.  This is where your ability to discriminate what is important comes in.  You will find much of the information you are given doesn’t pertain to you directly.   Try to stay tuned long enough so you get the information you need and don’t get overwhelmed by the stuff you can ignore. A lot of it is meant for general education teachers only.

You will need the following information. Try to obtain information on building schedules such as lunch, recess and any duties you may be assigned.  Staff meetings and child study meetings will be important for your schedule. You will need a list of teachers, grades they teach, and contact information such as phone numbers and emails.  Find out your technology person so you can get set up with a phone number and email.  Get important district numbers such as the Special Education Director and mentor SLPs if there are other SLPs in your district you can call when you need information.

Don’t forget to introduce yourself to the office secretary and custodian.  These can be important people to you during the school year so get off to a good impression.  The secretary may be able to give you class lists with teacher’s names.  This is very useful for scheduling and finding your students.  It is likely to change but at least it is a start. Gather all this information and post, file, or place it in a special notebook that will be easily available when you need it.

A floor plan of the building is helpful for finding your way around.  This may be posted as a fire alarm drill plan in your room. I am directionally challenged so maps are very important to me. One year I worked in a district that had two High Schools with flipped floor plans. I worked in both buildings.  I spent my year heading out in the opposite direction every time I stepped out of my room.  You would think I would have a 50% chance of being right but it didn’t work out that way.Sketch232133541

Try to get into your office/therapy room and see what furnishings and materials are available to you.  Sometimes you can switch out things like shelves, chairs and tables those first few days.  We use to have a room of unwanted furniture that went into district storage after that first week.  It was almost impossible to get furniture after that. It was also difficult to get rid of unwanted furniture.

One of the most important things to do is to get to know your teachers.  We may be tempted to do the more tangible things such as paperwork and bury ourselves in our office. Getting to know the people will be the most beneficial in the long-term.   The teachers you work with are your best resource and it’s good to have them working with you.   It’s important to introduce yourself so you are on speaking terms and they can recognize you. The teachers are most available on the non kid days so take advantage of that.

In my district case managers are required to make teachers aware of any special needs students in their classrooms.  Some my students have picture schedules and other items that need to be explained to their teachers. I give teachers IEP information or make sure they know how to access IEP information.  I request a copy of their class schedules with highlighted times when it would be best to see students from their rooms.  This comes in handy when I start scheduling.


Many places now use computer programs for electronic IEPs and Medicaid Billing.  This may require some training, but it doesn’t take long once you start using a program. I recommend finding a mentor if at all possible to answer questions.   Computers have helped with keeping paperwork organized, but I don’t think it has decreased it any.  The paperwork load continues to increase as the powers above keep adding one more form to fill out.  The rules can be quite different on how IEPs and CUM files are stored and who has access to them.  If you are lucky there will be a procedural notebook you can use as a reference.


Then it’s time to dig into those files.  I usually have files from new kids that have moved in.  These need to be looked at and updated fairly quickly.  Hopefully someone knows where the caseload files are and can direct you to them.    The first year is the roughest because you do not know kids from last year and the file represents all that you will know about a child.  I try not to get too hung up on what it says in the files.  Most of the time the worse cases in print are not really as complicated as they may seem at first reading.  Usually until you put a face to the file you will not remember much of it.  I usually read it over and put the goals and objectives on to my data sheets I use for recording information from therapy sessions.  This goal sheet is what I use when I do scheduling for therapy sessions because it is easier to manage a one page synopsis when scheduling and making groups.  I use a simple excel template for each child.   I update the sheet as new IEP goals are written annually.  The 1st year involved a lot of time to put them together.  After that I’ve saved them from year to year and it has saved me a lot of time and effort as I only need to do the new students.

There are a lot of apps out there to help with organization.  I typically run a to do list on my desk top  under headings such as permission to test,  testing due, report due, schedule parent meetings, IEP, and file paperwork.  As I go through files I started to place students under the headings.  I found that this relieved a lot of stress for me because I didn’t feel I had to keep it all in my memory bank. I try to look a month ahead which is not always easy to do.

I do not see students the first week of school.  The scheduling often changes after that first week and I found myself making too many changes.  A lot of kids need to become comfortable with their classmates and schedules.  I found that scheduling by grades and classroom worked best rather and then by goals. I found that I could differentiate within a small group rather than trying to get all articulation students together and all language together from several classrooms. I often took students on the off day of their specials schedule which meant it would be a special day in a classroom of the same grade. I avoided taking students from a special class because it was not fair or worth not having the motivation of the student.

I often spend the time the first day in the kindergarten room.  Teachers always benefit from a few extra hands to get kids settled and parents need reassurance that Johnny can do without them. I am often the case manager for one or more new  kindergarten students and need to get to know them. The rest of the week is spent organizing the schedule, getting meetings set for new move ins, and checking on kids I haven’t seen since last spring that may be able to test out.  I try to have everyone scheduled for services by the second week so I can do a test run.

Here is wishing you  a great beginning to your new school year. May your move ins have complete files. May your schedule have adequate breaks so you may actually have an adequate lunch break and your schedule have room for your ten 4th graders that can’t miss any core instruction.  Good Luck!

Free Trial Association Task Cards

31 Jul

cover Association cards

I recently added a new resource on Teachers Pay Teachers and as usual I made a trial version for my readers to try.  I used my association cards a lot last year and realized they really needed updating.  I decided to add pictures to make them more appealing.  I also made them double sided so that an answer could be given and QRC code could be added for reasoning.  This allows students to independently check their answers and  the use of technology can be  motivating.  The pictures are appropriate for older students so may be used beyond elementary age.

If you would like to try the free trial just click below.  free trial button                                    Association cards animal and householdtrialpdf

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back to School Sale starting tomorrow. If you would like the complete set please visit my store by clicking on the sale sign below or the cover at the top of this post.  You will be able to get them at a discount when you use the code.   I would really appreciate any comments you may have.


Have You Thought About Writing a Blog?

12 Jul



Are you thinking about  designing your own blog?  Do You feel you have ideas to share and writing appeals to you? Do you read other blogs and say,  “I can do this.” Maybe you have a TPT store and wonder if a blog would help it to become more successful.  The goals and motivations for writing a blog are as varied as the people out there.

The number of Speech Language Pathologist (SLPS) who are writing blogs has mushroomed over the last few years. This has definitely made it easier for beginning SLPs to get materials,  A bit harder for blog writers to come up with new material.  Gone are the days of blowing your budget on high-priced commercial products as  you try to meet all your student or client needs. Now there are high quality products made by our fellow  SLPs. Some are even presented as free on Blogs and Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT).  As a group we are creative bunch and  love to share and communicate.

Individuals often wonder if they have enough to write  about.  I started this blog in 2009 and here I am still writing 7 years later.  I found this to be less of a problem than you might think. Once you are tuned in to finding topics, they will present themselves.  Some times the oddest topics make it big.  I wrote once about pulling out pool noodles and balloons for a therapy session.  It was written on a  whim. I was running out of ideas for my early language learners and thought that other SLPs may have the same problem.  A colleague pointed out  that the  post was mentioned in the blog jam section of ASHA.   That was not the post I would think was worth mentioning. I was urprised to see it there.  Up until then I had kept my blog writing endeavors low-key.   I didn’t think many of my colleagues were aware  I was writing it.  All of a sudden I had some notoriety.

Some topics work better than others of course.  I had visions of bad  comments flooding in and no one reading what I wrote. That never occurred.  I found that my audience was appreciative and my readers have  been more than kind.  I would not let that fear prevent me from writing.

As  I look back, some of my posts  were duds and some were surprisingly  well received.  Some took a while before people noticed them.  I have had a few occasions where free apps were offered if I reviewed the product.

The important thing is to be passionate about your topics and let your experiences come out in your writing and  have patience  if it seems no one is listening. Don’t be too hard on yourself at first. You will be surprised how much  your writing improves over time.

You don’t need to write everything at once. I typically write on a topic over multiple days.   I read it several times and make revisions. You don’t always know until after you hit that publish button if it is a good post. The draft button is my friend. I still feel  apprehensive every time I hit publish.  After you publish, it is strangely motivating to see how many people come to read and visit.  Comments are like gold stars.

I have read suggestions by others on how to get started writing a blog.  I get a chuckle because I didn’t have that list to follow when I started.  It shows you that you really don’t need the list.  I made mistakes along the way but I think I turned out all right anyway.  If I had followed a list mine would look something like this.

1. What is your goal?

I started out with a different goal than most people. At the time I was just looking for a place to store digital materials so they would be available when I needed them.  I had plenty of experience with not having materials when I started  new job settings.  It saved the day a number of times when I was able to bring it up on my iPad or print it out.  I decided I should put it up for sharing as long as I went through so much work. I wasn’t thinking of a commercial enterprise at the time.  Generally I was put off with too much advertising for products on other sites. Eventually I relented  to some advertising of  TPT products so I could have a self hosted site that was self-sustaining. It opened up new options.

2. Write frequently

It is important to write frequently so you establish an audience.  This is probably true at first. However, I didn’t put myself on a schedule.  I wrote on topics as they came up. Sometimes it was weekly because I wrote about groups that met weekly like my Social Pragmatic groups or Circle of Friends group.  An SLP work schedule can get pretty hectic as you know and I preferred the less pressure cooker approach. You need to have patience and just tell yourself it will grow slowly.  I saw most of my growth in the second year and each year increased.  I also listed resources separate from the Blog Posts so people would be inclined to visit later to find materials.

3. Where will I start? Will I use af free site or will I self host.?

I  started with mainly because I had a daughter going through college at the time and she had taken a class using it.  I figured I should take advantage of that college education.  I did not have one iota of  experience building a blog. I didn’t even know if it would work for me so free was good. Free sites give you an opportunity to learn the ropes before committing.  Free sites have their own communities of followers and a forum  that was also very helpful. It was like starting in a playpen. You could get an idea of what it is like and have a safety net. They had a good spam catcher and hacker prevention. I missed that later on when my self hosted site got hacked. I fortunately got bailed out by my host who told me about a good security widget. That saved the day.

The free site did have some inconveniences.  You had to agree  to  advertisements that would pop up not of your choosing.  It was usually relevant to your blog content like mine usually had to do with education. You were not allowed to use  your site for advertising or affiliates.  I think TPT advertising may be frowned on although I never got an official notice.   There was less creativity  because you used Word press templates rather than your own design. You didn’t have access to plugins  And wdgets which allow you to do more personal touches. Free sites are good way to see if you want to do this long term. It is possible to transfer your site to a self hosted site once you get established. It is also possible to carry your followers along with you. WordPress provided transfer instructions that worked.  If I can do it anyone can.

I learned it was important  to take careful consideration to the name you choose for your blog.  If you choose a free blog the url may have the host name in it. The name you choose becomes part of  the url.  In my case I used a nickname and not my blog name.  It became (  I regretted I started with this because it became confusing later on.  I decided to become self hosted later on and bought a domain name to correspond to the blog name.  It is important to research names that you can use in a domain so it will be less confusing when you make the switch.  Some domain names are already taken so be sure to check this out before you select a name.

I decided to become self hosting after 5 years.   How did I come to this decision?  It was a hobby I actually enjoyed.  I decided I wanted more control. There were a few times that my site over used the band width and was shut down.  I know, such a bad problem to have.  I decided I had outgrown my site and needed to get more serious about it. I also wanted more to say on how my site looked.

With self hosting, I bought a theme that I could manipulate the background and display.  I got access to plugins and widgets.  I got rid of pop up advertising and  could do my own advertising.  As TPT grew I was able to cover the cost of the blog.  Hopefully everyone benefited from the improvements.  I must end with a  warm thankyou to all of you who have supported the blog.








The Last Pair Pear Tree

2 Jun

pear tree2016I have written before about how I have an end of the year tradition of putting up a pear tree. The students add pears on which  they have written  homophones or homonyms.  I give them a sucker in exchange for putting the pear up.  It becomes a bit of a competition and a learning experience.  It amazes me that students still come up with new ones after about 8 years of collecting them.

The tree is special because It is in  remembrance of my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Pilatski who had great ways to engage her students. I have fond memories of her.  She would like that it became a tradition.  Also one of my colleagues bought the pear die a few years back  in remembrance of her mother, a former teacher,  who also collected homonyms. It made my paper cutting so much easier.

I say this is the last pair/pear tree because I am retiring at the end of this school year and I don’t know if the tradition will be continued.  It still is a very nice  finale for my bulletin board.  I hope you have enjoyed all the art work my students have completed in their quest to give and follow directions in speech class.

I am retiring, but Speech Therapy still runs in my veins.  I will need to see how I reinvent myself.


The Order of Things Comparative Task Cards

14 May


order of things pin

My caseload includes  6th and 7th graders this year so I have had to dig out  activities for older students. These are a remake of comparative cards I have used in the past.  I have used them with my general education 4th and 5th graders as a speech task for articulation skills and they are able to do them.  My 6th and 7th grade language learners often need review of the vocabulary and the memory component is often a challenge. I like that they are direct instruction for what is needed in academics and the common core.

My orignal set of task cards only had printed words.  I decided it would be useful to provide answers so students can independently check them.  This expands the ability of using them with partners if you are teaching a small class.  Pictures bring some  eye appeal  and a bit of cuing even for the older students. I try to make the pictures appropriate for an older more sophisticated eye.  Bubble heads do not go over very big with my teens.

The premise of these cards is very simple. Four items are listed along  with a  descriptive term.  Students reorder the items according to the descriptive term.  It seems simple but actually requires quite a few skills.  They need to have knowledge of the vocabulary listed and descriptive details for measurement so comparisons can be made.  They also need to use their short term  memory in oder to change the order.  The task lends itself to thinking about comparative vocabulary and using er, and est word endings. If you want to test them out, click on the button below and you will get a set of 12 task cards to try out.

free trial button

The order of things free sample 

If you would like a full set, I have them listed on TPT

TPT button

End of Year Speech Therapy Celebrations

7 May

snow cone machineHow many of you do some sort of end of the year celebration?  I usually do something for  the  last day of speech class. I think it is important to acknowledge the effort students have made in speech class and the progress towards their goals.  Celebrations are not as prevalent in the school environment as in past years.  It seems they have suffered from not being politically correct or there just not enough time with all the accountability.  I think they are valuable teaching moments though.  Our students are missing out on the social communication that goes along with a social gathering.

There are social pragmatic skills that are learned from participating in a party.  A carefully planned platter of cheese and crackers and a pitcher of water or juice works well for teaching basic table manners. Prepare just enough to make it around the table.  Of course you need to check about allergies before doing this. I would still have some in reserve for the unexpected to happen.

Some students may not have much experienced with a sit down meal in a group.  I remember one particular social group  that needed a script to follow on serving. They didn’t think about looking ahead to see the amount of portions on the plate and helped themselves to multiple servings.  They needed to be schooled about looking ahead to make sure there was enough for everyone.  They may also need to be schooled  about asking politely  for the drink, using please and thankyou, and asking the next person if they would like some.

If you have worked on conversation skills in the past, it is a good place to see the culmination of skills;  introducing a topic, staying on topic, exiting a topic, and including everyone.

I find icy parties are also a good therapy tool for the end of the year.  My early language learners enjoy following directions for the treat.  The syrup is economical and available in a sugar-free form for my student with medical restrictions on sugar.  I have an icy machine but you may be able to uses a blender.  I  found I needed to keep in control of the bottles for proper portion control.

I like this party even better than a popcorn party   because it is the easiest to clean up.  Usually it is just wiping the table. We have an ice cube maker in the staff refrigerator so I only need to get a few syrup bottles and bring my icy maker, plastic spoons and cups.  The smaller clear cups actually work the best because you can make layers of color and watch them blend.  You can work on a lot of descriptive vocabulary with an icy party.

I made a pdf of the communication board for those who would like to use it. free download button


Free Tier II Vocabulary Task Card Challenge

22 Mar

Tier II vocab button

Happy Spring everyone!  We have Spring break here so I finally have time to finish a project. I have been working on this one for a while and have tried out a version of these vocabulary cards with my 4th  through 6th graders.  I seem to have quite a few students with low vocabulary this year.  The Common Core State Standards put a strong emphasis on nonfiction, and informational text.  If they have difficulty with vocabulary it affects their comprehension.  The teachers are beginning to really notice with test preparation in full swing.

 I  had a student transfer in with a goal that referred to Tier II Vocabulary.    I decided to  investigated  so I could address his goal.   Tier II Vocabulary  turned out to be those  words that occur frequently in academic  text. Students may find these words when reading Science, Social Studies and English text   I wanted something that would make the most impact for my students and also have a  way to track progress.   I decided to make a list of words  from Tier II vocabulary lists and then use them in the contexts of short paragraphs.  This way I could also address comprehension and making inferences from text. There are two different activities. One involves describing the meaning of words and the other is answering comprehension questions.  One set requires students to find the answers from given answers and the other is answering the questions and referring to the answers.  The level of support can be quite flexible depending on how you cut and fold them.ccbutton

 The words used on my task cards are not a complete compilation and come from a variety of 3rd and 4th grade vocabulary lists.  I used what  made sense in the context  of the paragraphs I wrote.  I used a total of 106 words.  A few are used more than once and cover multiple meaning. I now can write a goal for teaching Ter II Vocabulary to 80% and measure it. I love making data collection simple. 

I made a trial set for you to try.  It gives you an idea of what they look like up trial button

If you find these fit your needs, there is a full set available on TPT,  just click the button below.

TPT button

What animal is it? Question Activity

12 Mar


Do you have a collection of stuffed animals that seems to reproduce before your very eyes?  I do.   I inherited a collection of Beanie Babies from my children when they left home.  They were so adorable that I had difficulty parting with them.  Naturally they ended up in my  room of misfit toys, my therapy room.  I have them stored in a shoe storage unit that fits over a door.  As people noticed them they added more to the collection.  After I started using them for therapy, I found how valuable they truly are.

The animals are very enticing even to some of my older students who have moved on to Minecraft. I  have used them for calming distraught Kindergarten students.  Teachers  have borrowed one for the day to get a student through trauma.  Students have used them when they forgot theirs on a “Read to your stuffed animal day.”

I have used them when reading animal stories.  Students take a animal from a grab bag and  listen for the part of the story where  their animal shows up.  It keeps them focused on the story and gives something for their hands to hold.

I have some unusual ones that become a help for expanding vocabulary.   For example, some students have not had exposure to a jelly fish.  I know my stuffed animal is not an exact replica  but does give the idea.   This leads  to a discussion to what is different about a real jellyfish and the stuffed version.  My jellyfish has the typical stuffed animal round eyes which led to the question, “Do jellyfish have eyes?”.    We explored this on the iPad and it provided a very interesting topic.

They are great for categorization according to traits.  A favorite activity I made up is ” Mystery Animal”.  I especially like this activity for its use of questions and cognitive skills. It is a memory and cognitive task to remember the details and use that information in a meaningful way. I have a velvet box that is the mystery box.  One student hides an animal in the box and the other students ask questions to determine its identity.  The rule is they need to ask a descriptive question before they can identify the animal. Some of  my students have difficulty coming up with relevant questions or ask the same questions several times.  I made this communication board to help them with formulating questions.


This is a pdf version you may be able to download and print  for use.   What animal

They have been used as rewards for behavior plans.  Students earn animal babysitting priveledges and  swap one out occasionally.  This keeps the incentive going.  It is nice to have an incentive that doesn’t need funding or involve food.

Amazingly, I have only lost a few over the years.  They seem to find their way back to my room at the end of the school year.