A Flexible Brain Revisited

10 Apr

 

 

I published a post quite a few years ago about making a flexible brain.  It was a very popular post at the time. I decided to re-publish this post because for me the jello brain lesson tended to come up in the month of April and is relevant for many today when using the popular Superflex  program by Michelle Garcia Winner who is author of Social Thinking Curriculums.  For those who do not know the program, There is a character, Superflex,  who conquers Rock Brain who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing and being rigid in his thinking pattern.

The lesson required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in an ever changing environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible brain. The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain and the mold itself for the inflexible version.

I was able to order a brain mold from a Halloween prop store.  Now there are quite a few alternatives where you can order a mold on line.  Just do a search for brain molds.  It was fairly inexpensive and I used it multiple times.

The manual did not give actual directions or a recipe for the mold.  I have a bad history with Jello molds from the 1970s. My jello would stick to the mold and never turn out and lose it’s shape. There was also the problem of trying to work in the time line of classes  at  two different  sites. I needed to be able to transport it.  I figured the Jello would melt and be over the table before the first session was up.

I researched Jello brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid even if it wasn’t in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.  So I settled for the following recipe. It worked well.

You need the following ingredients:

3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporated milk (12 ounce can), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable oil spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its shape for several hours. In between sessions I slipped it back into the mold and put it back in the refrigerator.

For the lesson, slips of paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns pulling  these out and talking  about them.

I debated the best method of getting the papers in the Jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold. This worked better than pouring the jello mixture over them. This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain kind of resealed itself and was in good shape after the papers were removed.  I reinserted the laminated papers into the same locations for the next group and used it again.

No one asked if they could eat it.  I wouldn’t recommend it after all that examination with tweezers and handling of papers.

I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.  The photo at the top is my original jello brain.

A Flexible Brain

17 Apr

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.

A Start to the New School Year for Speech Students

26 Aug

We often start the new school year trying to get acquainted with our students. There are the new incoming students you know nothing about except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. If there is more than that, often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t that accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get the last progress report.

Then there are the parents who want to give their child a fresh start in a new school and see if anyone will notice prior difficulties if nothing is said. This is usually the child with behavior challenges among other things. Don’t worry! The teacher will seek you out within the first couple of days.

I love those parents that have kept all the paperwork in a file folder and can give you up to date and missing copies. In some cases, technology has improved things by linking records across schools but sometimes it still takes awhile before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out student needs so you can get that schedule written.

Then there are your former students. There are your 1st graders working on sibilants who are sporting missing front teeth or new braces. That stubborn /r/ difficulty may have clicked in but you need to find that out because of course that child’s paperwork is due to be renewed the first couple of weeks of school. The best are those who were unintelligible a year or so ago and now speak clearly. The new teacher questions why they have speech on their records.

To start out the new year, I usually haul out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and I get an idea of where to start. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you can often find at Target, The Dollar Store or any party favors section. It would also be possible to use a dice or spinner with numbers. The questions can be written on a sheet of paper and numbered. I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.

To prepare for this, I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6. I make a corresponding list of numbers and have the students brainstorm conversation starters.

For example at the beginning of the school year they may come up with questions such as:

1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?

The students take turns throwing the ball at the target and then answering the questions according to the number area hit. The other students are then required to ask a follow up question according to the answer and topic.

I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.

I hope you find this post useful and have a good beginning to your school year.

Speech Therapy Tasks for our High School Level Students

26 Nov

I know finding speech therapy materials for high school students can be difficult.  I also know that some students still benefit from  having skills broken down into specific learning modules.  They get lost when presented passages containing complex sentences and unknown vocabulary. Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Cyber Sale so I thought I would take advantage by showcasing two of my products that work with the High School crowd.

Recently, I have been a substitute Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at a high school location.  I found at the  high school level it is often more relevant for students to bring their class work for speech therapy.  However, the students being served often forget and come empty handed.  I try to have activities on hand to make the time productive.  I thought I would showcase 2 activities that have worked well with encompassing what they are working on. They are Word Association Cards for vocabulary development  and Sentence Sequence Task Cards for complex sentence comprehension and development. There are free samples in the Vocabulary section of this blog for the Association cards and in the Expressive section for the Sentence Sequence Task Cards.  If you haven’t tried them yet you should.  If you want to get the full sets at my TPT store, they happen to be part of the  Cyber Sale which makes them a real bargain.

Our speech students are often behind with developing vocabulary.  This affects them throughout all their classes. One way to boost vocabulary is to develop word association skills. They need to be able to compare and contrast new words to integrate them into the vocabulary they already have. I often tell them this analogy: Your brain is a closet with different shelves and drawers  holding different words. You try to place things together that are similar such as your socks in a sock drawer.   If you just try to memorize words without making connections with other words you know, it is like throwing everything  in one big pile on the floor and trying to find a brown sock to match another brown sock.   You won’t be able to find or remember what you have when you need it. It seems many of them can relate to this.   Therefore categorizing and making associations is an important skill to learn for their academic career.   This is a skill that gets better with practice.

High School students are often required to take notes on subjects that use a lot of   complex sentence forms.  They they need to be able to consolidate information and retain the meaning in their notes.  Sequencing events using complex sentence forms is a natural way to get students to produce complex sentences and practice this.  These cards present two different activities to address production and comprehension and promote better note taking.

In Activity 1, the students are instructed to use the main details of the three given sentences to form one complex sentence using connecting words such as; and, so, but, because, before, after, when, while, that, and then. In sentence production, students replace parts of the sentence with pronouns to prevent redundancy. They  need to consider which information is most important, hold information into memory, think about time sequence, and then manipulate the ideas into one sentence.  These skills are used in note taking as well as comprehending complex sentences in reading passages.

In Activity 2 the student is presented sentence examples. The students may have developed some of these while completing the first activity. One of the sentences does not have the same meaning as the other two or is an incorrect use of the conjunction.  The students are instructed to find the incorrect sentence. The answer is provided in a QR code in the lower right corner of the card  or by using the answer sheet. Students can correct the error sentence for additional practice.  Student are often motivated by using technology and appreciate the QR code. It means the cards can also be used for independent practice.

I hope you find these products useful and they free up your time from lesson planning. Happy Holidays

 

 

Forms & Letters

1 Jul

TX Forms & Letters

I have forms or templates I use on a regular basis to remain organized.  Everyone seems to have their own methods of keeping data.  You may be able to adapt some of them for your use.  Sometimes it’s just nice to have a source of inspiration and see what other people are doing.  I will post the template and an explanation on how I use it.

Speech Class Rules: I had a social pragmatics group brainstorm rules for our sessions.  We tried to make them as positive as possible.  If you need to print rules out quickly, here they are.

Homework rating scale:  I put this rating scale in a notebook with a speech assignment such as a poem, joke, or riddle.  I then make a goal with the student to get a rating of 5 for so many assignments before dismissal.  I can then use this information to determine how the student is generalizing their speech outside of the therapy room.

Goal Bank:  This is a list of goals and objectives I use  in most of my IEPs.  I find it saves time if I can cut and paste them into my I.E.P program and then tweak them for individual needs.

 

Resources

26 Jun

These are sites I frequently visit and use for therapy materials.  Most were previoulsy on the Blog Roll.  However the  Blog Roll was becoming too long for the side bar and I decided to give them their own page. Click on the names it will bring you to the sites.

Video Clips

20 Jun

These are videos I have used during  therapy to illustrate various concepts.

© Social Thinking Concepts

Differences

Conversation Skills

Conversation Skills by kimmartindean:  speak to the interest of your partner, turn taking, staying on topic.

Turn taking during a conversation from Social Skills Training. TD Social Skills channel  http://tdsocialskills.com.

Social Skills

20 Jun

These are the skills we need to interact with each other socially.  It includes nonverbal language as well as the spoken word.  Non verbal language includes things like  the expressions on our face, the tone and volume we use, and the body movements or proximity that we use when communicating.  It is the cues  we pick up from our listeners to know that they are listening  and understanding  what we say or maybe they need  a chance to talk or take a turn.   It involves  seeing the perspective of someone else and giving enough detail so that there is mutual understanding.   It’s speaking in a respectful way  or being able to repair hurt feelings if necessary.

A child can be intellectually gifted and still  have difficulties in this area.   A child that doesn’t have a good handle on these skills may have difficulty with peer interactions, be considered rude, or not communicate effectively with individuals or in a group.    They can be the most important skills needed to maintain friendships and employment later in life.

You may feel free to use any of the activities  for  children on your caseload, in your classrooms, or your individual child.  They are not meant to be  copied for commercial purposes or hijacked to another site.  I would rather you link here.

Pragmatic Language Goals and Objectives

  •  Cup pyramid:  a teamwork activity that builds communication and cooperation.                                  yarn tool
  • Who are you anyway? :  An activity that practices asking questions and using the information to draw a conclusion.
  •  Paper tower:   A teamwork activity that promotes cooperation and communication to accomplish a task.          . Cylinder paper tower
  • Tangram puzzles:  A teamwork activity that promotes problem solving, cooperation, and communication.  
  • Shamrock tanagram:  A puzzle for the month of March Leprachaun cartoon twist for expressions
  •  Barrier Game:  An activity that promotes perspective taking, positional vocabulary building, and accurate communication.
  • Eggs-actly trial set. barrier game using oval shapes.  single eggfree trial button
  • Full set of Eggs-actly cards at TPT     

brain 2

  •  Flexible brain jello recipe
  •  Role playing cards:  Real life scenarios for students to discuss or use when making skits.
  •  What do you say?:  Every day student situations.
  •   Jeopardy:  I use this game with my social language groups to make  students aware of the need for providing appropriate detail.  If questions do not contain appropriate detail there may be more than one answer for items in a category.

  •  Conversation Scaffold: A way to teach conversation skills within the structure of an activity.              Conversation strip 1
  •  Chutes and Marbles:  A teamwork activity that promotes communication and problem solving.  It promotes math/science concepts of slope and level.
  •  Previous command: This is a good warm up activity if you are doing language groups. There are written instructions connected to the title.  Unfortunately, the link to the free sample sound track in the instructions no longer works. However, here is a link to the the CD in case you want to investigate it further.  Music in motion: BODY JIVE CD
  • Crocodile Pass:   This activity encourages students to learn from mistakes and to move on.  It requires them to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict a pattern.  It also encourages using observation as a learning method.
  •  This activity was updated recently and 2 themed products were added.  It is ideal for a social gathering and the students won’t even know they are learning something. It is now in TPT as
  • Trial and Error Pass.

  • xploration of a brown bag:  An activity for exploration, problem solving, and seeing another perspective. It also forces students to think of descriptive words not connected with sight.
  •   Suction Cup Ball and Target:  This activity provides rehearsal for beginning a conversation, asking questions and answering questions on topic. It can be used as an ice breaker for a new group.
  •   Positive and Negative Statements:  Statements that can be sorted, and  used for discussion.
  •  It’s How you Say It:    I found that most of my social pragmatic cards did not have answers included.  I made these cards so that students could use them in small group activities  and would have an answer they could discuss.  Click on star for free sample cards.
  • free trial button  Click the button for 32  cards available at  TPT    
  •  Bad Thing, Good thing:  Cards that provide both perspectives for a given scenario. To down load  sample cards, click on the star.free trial button
  • Click on the button to get the  32 cards  on TPT  for “Bad Thing Good Thing”
  • The size of the problem. Click  on  the  star  for  a free  sample.free trial button
  • For the full set of 26 “Size of the Problem” cards at TPT click on the button.
  • Unexpected and Expected Task Cards, free sample
  • For the full set of 28 cards at TPT, click on the button

Buy these products in a bundle and get a discount.

© Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material for commercial purpose without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cynthia Montalbano and In Spontaneous Speech with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

A Very Simple Spider Web

11 Oct

The school year is in full swing.  I had a bit of a shaky start and that is why it seemed like I disappeared.  We have a lot of new staff to include a new principal, new psychologist,  and Learning Resource Teacher.    The new Learning Resource Teacher just started a week ago and a substitute teachers took her place until then.  As  if that weren’t  enough, rooms had changed over the summer and the resource room  was a newly emptied room.  That doesn’t work very well for a substitute teacher and many of you may relate to when chairs, tables and desks are not in rooms they are up for grabs.   I was left with the duty of getting things found and organized so a teacher could use the room with students.  In the spirit of “Good Thing”  and “Bad Thing”; new  procedures can be put into place because there is no one  left to remember the old ways except me, but I am also the only one that  is familiar with the history of  the special education files and students.  I felt like I had to wear many hats.  We also have a new program to complete our special education paperwork.  This  is really challenging my ability to be flexible and learn something new .  It is making me go through the procedures we tell the students to do; deep breaths, count to ten.  It is not OK to scream.

This  school year.  I have pretty much the same population as last year;  2  Life skills classrooms, general education K-5th, and a charter school K-6th.  I am doing push in for two Kindergarten classes and the 2  Life skills classrooms.  The need for social pragmatics groups continues to grow.    I am team teaching  3 social pragmatic groups  with the help of the school counselor. We are implementing material from 2nd Steps, Michelle Winner’s materials, and other things we find.

So getting on  to the topic,   We have been completing spider related activities.  Many of you may be familiar with the Spider Web Activity where students form a circle and toss a ball of yarn across while continuing to hang on to the yarn with one hand.  This creates a spider web in the center of the circle.  I have used it in the past for concepts such as across, left hand, right hand, over, and under.  It also works for teaching the  social pragmatic groups  the importance of working with a group.  If a student doesn’t keep their mind and eyes with the group, they drop the yarn and the web becomes messed up.  We have been talking about how you need to keep your eyes, your ears,  your brain, your body, and your heart with the group so everyone can learn and work together.

I came across this spider and decided it would make a good bulletin board project.   http://momitforward.com/craft-toilet-paper-spider .    It met my requirements for materials that are easy to find and cheap.  I found the eyes at the dollar store and already had the paper rolls and pipe cleaners.  I bought a can of black spray paint from Wal-Mart  for a total cost of $3.

I made a spider web out of yarn. and just stapled it to the bulletin board.  It is looking like this.  I added my pom pom spider from last year.

Spider web 1

The students will make spiders that look like this and add them to the web.  I added the crumpled paper on the back for some color.

IMG293 (1)

I like  my bulletin board activities to cover as many therapy objectives as possible. I use the  free app Story Kit to make pictured directions that my older students can record.  The younger students will practice following  directions and understanding the sequence.  The spiders also provide opportunity for problem solving and telling directions.  It is easy to see how they are made by just looking at them because the parts are all visible.  The Story Kit directions are in the process of being made so the audio is not all available yet. Story Kit formulates a storyboard that can be shared.    http://iphone.childrenslibrary.org/cgi-bin/view.py?b=rpdpipex66oskuofy2ua      The app formulates a  book with pages on your device.

last web

Trial and Error Pass

8 Apr

 

trial error button

This is an activity I use with my  social pragmatic groups.   The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving.  It is a good one to use for defeating  Rock Brain because to be successful students need to be willing to try  different moves.  For students  who fall apart when they are wrong,  it provides opportunity to defeat Glass Man.  This activity can be used to reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning.  It is important to talk about this before you begin so students have the tools to work through their feelings in a constructive manner.

This activity also teaches students to work together toward a common goal.  The solution will be found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually.  Students  also need to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.

This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students.  The object of the game is to cross  a   6×6 grid of steps using the correct pattern.  I lay the grid out on the floor so that students have a good view and can use motor movement.

thumbnail of grid

Pattern cards are made pattern C          A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected.  The judge takes one of the pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.  A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the stars in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step.    As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move.  A buzzer for a wrong move adds a game show feature and are available free as an app.   If it is the right step the student continues to move forward.  If it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again.  The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves.  This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across.  Everyone that was paying attention can then make the crossing.  Students should be reinforced for working as a team and not as an individual competition to make it to the finish.

It doesn’t take much to  make pattern cards  and a  grid  on your own.  However, if you prefer to have some of the work done for you, I am putting a set up on the TPT store for download at a minimum cost.