January Bulletin Board

28 Dec

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe we are this far in our school year.  I will be putting up a new bulletin board when I get back to school.  I thought some of you would like to get a head start too.   This is not a new idea for me, but for some reason I didn’t  get a picture of  the bulletin board from last year.

I will keep to a winter theme by having students make  snowmen.  We have a die cutter that cuts out snowmen.  You could cut out 3 circles  small, medium, and large, for the students to stack and make a snow man if you don’t have die cutter.  Students can then use  scrap paper to make props and clothes for them.   Finally I had them make a sign for snowman to hold.  This gives them a chance to formulate relative clauses using descriptive phrases.  An example for a sentence would be.  “I am a snowman who is wearing a striped scarf and black hat”.  They get quite creative with this and can usually come up with several sentences that will apply. I have seen  flying snowmen with wings and snowmen who look like football players.

A snowman who………

This year I will make sure I take a picture of the bulletin board and post it.

Snowmen Galore

December Bulletin Board

25 Nov

It is time for a  switch on the  bulletin board again.  I try to make it look festive for the holiday season and the students always request to decorate it.  In the last few years  our school has become more culturally sensitive which makes it more of a challenge for what I can actually put up on the board.  I continue to search for materials that have speech therapy value and are not time intensive.

I already have a tree set up from November’s bulletin board.  I can move the limbs  a bit so it looks more like a fir tree.  I will use the teacher trick of tracing  the student’s hands on green paper and having them cut  them out for leaves.  I staple these on the tree to provide the fir part of the tree.  I will then have them make and  add paper ornaments.

paper ornament

I found this great paper ornament that meets the requirements.  It is a simple activity  that even the youngest children can complete and it allows practice  following directions and retelling a sequence.  It is found on  http://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2008/12/paper-flower-ornaments.html  I have access to plenty of colored paper and glue sticks so I won’t need to get additional materials.

This is a picture of how it turned out.

paper ornaments

Literacy Tools and Speech Therapy

11 Nov

It is not a surprise that a number of speech students are poor readers and do not like to read.  Their lack of the skills takes the enjoyment away from a good story.  Their poor reading ability often  keeps them at a level of stories that have immature topics compared to their interests.  It doesn’t take long before they find themselves way behind their peers.  They are stumbling through basal readers when their peers have moved on to chapter books.  Yet books are such a great tool to learn new vocabulary, learn story sequence, and develop the ability to make inferences. It is important to still give them exposure to higher level books.

A number of schools in my area compete in a competition called the “Battle of the Books”. Students are assigned books through the year, questions are derived from the stories, and then the questions are used for a type of knowledge bowl competition. The winning team is acknowledged by the school  library.  Some of my 5th graders I work with are unable to read the books and grasp the material.  They have a hard time including themselves in this competition. There are still ways to include them with technology. Text to speech books are available from a number of sources.

This school year I’ve become aware of new tools to bring literacy to my students with  poor reading ability.  They can enjoy appropriate reading and writing content when their reading skills are low.  Two such internet programs are  “Bookshare.org” and StoryBird.  I have added them to the blogroll.  Both programs are  free to classroom teachers or mentors who enroll students and are responsible for over seeing the material and content. The material is password protected but available to a core group.

Bookshare is available to students with print disabilities. As stated on the  Bookshare site, ” Through an award from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), Bookshare offers free memberships to U.S. schools and qualifying U.S. students.”   In this program, the mentor/teacher verifies that a  student  has a disability that prevents them from accessing literature without  accommodations. The books would typically be copywrite protected but are available to be downloaded through this program to assigned students.  The student has access to an assigned book on any computer by using an assigned  password.  Text is highlighted and read to them by the computer. All levels of reading ability are represented and a lot of the books are books being used in classrooms today as assigned reading.

The Storybird site is particularly helpful for students who need visual material to get the creative juices flowing.  Artists have contributed beautiful art work that can be dragged and pulled to pages.  The students then add text to make their own stories.  The students can complete their own classroom libraries.  Students can make individual books/stories or collaborate.  It can maintain an interest level from low readers to the Talented and Gifted (TAG).  What a great classroom project to include everyone on the same playing field.

Please explore these options so that your student’s vocabulary and language abilities do not suffer because of poor reading skills.

Fall Bulletin Board

20 Oct

I’m a little late getting my bulletin board up for the Fall season.  However, I found something that can probably carry me until  winter.   I searched for something that I could use for therapy and looked appealing for Fall.

 I found an owl pattern that was simple to make, and used multiple shape and size vocabulary.  It would give an opportunity  for  sequencing of directions and I could add  preposition symbols to it to reinforce those concepts.  I used a die press to cut out most of the shape pieces for the owls.  I used  preposition icon symbols to put on the owls belly. 

The Owl pattern is found on this page http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/mshapesowl.htm

I used a tree as my background on the bulletin board.   I twisted  brown paper to make limbs and had them come together for the trunk.   I then added a half moon behind  and a rock below the tree.  This allowed opportunity for my students to place the owls according to the preposition sign they were given  for their owl.  They could place them in front, behind, beside, below, between, and next to an object or the tree.

I gave it a title  of “Who is Here?”   Here is a picture to give you an idea.

Fall bulletin board

Now Where did that Cheese go?

18 Sep

This may seem like a strange title to some of you. It makes sense when you know I am referring to a book by Spencer Johnson called “Who Moved my Cheese?”. It is a rather short story based on the processes people go through to cope with change. A friend recommended it years back when a work location of mine was making a lot of employment cuts. I found this book helped me to get the right perspective so I could move forward and make the needed changes. This seems to be happening a lot in the education setting. I recommend it to anyone going through a lot of changes. I see there is a children’s version now too.
I’m sure there are many more of you out there dealing with the same changes that I am. Employment cuts not only hurt the people who leave locations, but also those left behind to pick up the pieces. I think this especially holds true in the education setting where staff is required to do more with less and still be reassuring and good-humored with students who feel the impact of missed programs and staff. Some change is good as it allows us to develop in different directions and meet new people.
This brings me to why I’ve been somewhat absent from writing. When I ended the school year last Spring, my assignment was in one building with a rather large caseload/workload. Two classrooms for children receiving lifeskills training and the general education students made a significant caseload for one SLP in that building. I was told I would be staying in that building. On my return this Fall, I was surprised to find I no longer served the life skills program but was assigned to two elementary buildings with the use of a SLPA or speech assistant in one of the buildings. That has left me scrambling to adapt to a new building and personnel. Meanwhile the members of my special education team in the old building also changed. This means I do not have the same support personnel as in the past. I had developed friendships with them, so that hurt on an emotional level.
Working in two buildings brings its own challenges. This is not new to me but over the years things have changed to make it more difficult. New mandates have occurred that require special education team members to participate in meetings and collaborate with classroom teachers. It makes it more difficult when people are scattered across several schools operating on schedules that do not match. Also SLPs have taken on a major role of case management duties, particularly with children who have the eligibility of autism. This means many more meetings for behavior plans and consultation with staff. An SLP is not available for this same level of support when they are divided between two buildings. Yet teachers are asking for more support as the classroom sizes increase and children feel more overwhelmed. The scheduling is turning out to be a major hurdle.
On a brighter note, all SLP staff here have received I pads. I am having fun seeing how many different ways I can use it. It has to be one of the most versatile tools I have ever received to make therapy easier. It has an app called face time that I have already used to make contact with the SLPA at the other building. I envision having meetings with an I pad used as personnel reported in at a parent meeting. I may also use it as an observing tool as my SLPA conducts therapy.
So even though I have been an SLP for many years I am finding this year already filled with many challenges and a bit mind numbing. I am afraid that many of our new people are being overwhelmed as they begin their CFY year. Would anyone like to report in and say how they are managing?