Sunday, January 25, 2015

A TECHY TOOL for your speech room & PUSH IN

Hi everyone!! 
I'm so pumped to be blogging about a fancy way to collect quick data on your students---especially in the inclusion/push-in setting :) 
 I had the privilege of attending a technology conference called LACUE  {Louisiana Computer Using Educators} in New Orleans this past December.  
First of all, whooooo would turn down a chance to spend a work day in New Orleans (NOLA)? No one!!  Woohoo! 

Okayyy, sorry, I digress...
This was my second year to attend this amazing conference and I’m absolutely nuts about it!!
I promise this won’t be the last post with goodies from the conference.  
My mind is still spinning from all I soaked up, and today I present PLICKERS to you!! 

If you follow me on Instagram, (my absolute favorite form of social media) you've already gotten a sneak peek! 

Let me tell you why I'm excited about this....

I am a tally taking machine, and in my speech room,  I can tally until my heart's content!  Us SLPs cherish and protect and hover over our tally sheets like they’re our first born. 

Ugh, but when I go to the inclusion/push-in setting, there’s TOO MUCH GOING ON to take accurate data.  I don’t even bring my treasured tally sheets in there.  It’s like dragging my first born into a war zone. 

In the general ed. classroom, I either work with a small group in the class or (more often) do a language lesson for the whole class with my co-teacher alongside me. {You can read more about why and how I do inclusion here and here}

Whole class instruction is second nature to teachers. They’re in their comfy comfort zone, and they will have a nifty test at the end of the week to collect their data.  In the meantime,  I am OUT of my comfort zone.  In the classroom I just don’t have the control I have in my speech room, and it’s tough to take data while managing that large of a group (probably because I'm a pushover). Likewise, it’s hard to really get down and dirty in some great discussion while worrying about tallying correct and incorrect responses. We can’t be present and immersed in the learning while tending to our data/tally sheets!! Can ya feel me? 

Well, at this recent conference I discovered a trick for getting the data I crave while getting to still be present and.... I even get to leave my tally sheets in the speech room!  Yahoo!!  Don't be afraid it.    Let.    the tally sheets.     go.    
If you won't listen to me, listen to Bradley Cooper...

PLICKERS will work with any activity you do that involves questions.  Since I do inclusion in ELA, I like to use high interest passages that correlate with the novel or story we are reading in that grade level.  I keep the passages short because that leaves more time for discussion (the best "languagey" part of the lesson) and my kids with reading issues don’t get discouraged or burned out.  I sometimes grab passages from or other sources. Mostly I write them myself and play around with a lexile analyzer to make sure they're on grade level. You can find lots  of fun responding to text activities in my TPT store :) 

At my school, our current (and probably long term) focus is responding to text in writing. As SLPs, we allllll know that before kids can respond to text independently in writing,  they have to be able to be able to: 
1) respond to anything in general (put their thoughts in words)  
2) respond to text that has been read to them or read and discussed either through guided or independent reading  

Let’s face it, the list could go on and on and our students with language deficits struggle in school because they lack some crucial prerequisite skills they need in order to do what teachers expect...which is responding to text in every subject (or any question posed to them actually) in writing (i.e. on assessments). 
That's just what school is all about these days. 
Kids who can’t do that will likely score poorly on assessments. That’s all there is to it.  It’s so hard for our kids to express their knowledge. 

Since that is true, many of my IEP goals, although they may vary in specific skills or strategies, address answering questions in some form or other.  
If yours do, too, PLICKERS might make you as happy as it makes me.  
(Oh, by the way, I am in no way affiliated with this app nor did I receive any compensation for this blog post! This is just me being opinionated all on my own) 

Ok let me quit yapping and get on with it!!!  

1) A computer with an internet connection in order to access 
    (if it's connected to a projector or smart board, that's even better)
2) A mobile device (iPhone, iPad or android) with the free PLICKERS app
3) Access to a printer with black ink (because you will also need to print reuseable   
    answer cards for your students) 

Here's how I PLICKER and how you can, too!! 
Oh, and I promise that all of these steps are only necessary the first time you use it.  The whole process gets really fast after the first time.

1) Before going to class the first time, go to and make yourself a free account. Then download the iPhone APP here! If you are an android user, go here.  If you use any other smart phone, you can stop reading now... Sorry  :(   

 TIP FOR iPads- just go to the iPhone app link and 
download the iPhone version on your iPad like I did. 
Sneaky :)

This is important to note, Any mobile devices that use are the app will "talk" to the computer on which you are logged on to  Your computer logged in to PLICKERS will present questions and your app on your smart phone will scan and grab student answers through the camera lens. 

2) Ask your co-teacher for her class list with each child's assigned "number." My inclusion teacher just texted me a picture of her roll, and the kids already know their "number" which will come in handy as you will see. 
3) Go to and "add class." Enter each child's name in number order.  (The names of my students you will see on this blog post have been changed for confidentiality purposes). 

As you can see, this app can accommodate up to 43 students per class. 

4) After the student names are entered, each one will be assigned a PLICKER card for you to print.  The PLICKER card images look like a cross between a QR code and rorschach image.  I printed 2 PLICKER cards on each sheet of letter sized paper and that size worked just fine.  Bigger might be better, but I was conserving ink.   After you print these once, the kids can use them all year.  I collect them at the end of the lesson and then just pass them out to the students at the beginning of the next one.  I had my students write their name very teeny tiny in the corner since I don’t remember their numbers. Just be aware- do NOT laminate them unless you use matte lamination. If any of you actually ever find matter lamination, OMG let me know where, please.  

Your students will use these cards to answer multiple choice and/or true-false questions that you create!
The cards themselves have answer choices A, B, C, and D.  An example is shown below.  Students should twist/turn their card based to correspond to their answer. 

In the image above, the student would be giving the answer “B."  It's the choice that is upright! If the student wants to answer “A” he/she would turn it until “A” was at the top of his card like shown below. 

5) So now that your cards are ready and printed (you will never have to do this again FYI), you are ready to enter your custom questions.  First, find the passages or whatever activity (with questions) you want to use for therapy.  Enter the questions you want your students to answer into your PLICKERS account on your computer. You may want to only get data on inferencing abilities...or telling main idea.... or comparing/contrasting....or deciphering unknown words using context clues.  Whatever you want is just fine- you are the boss of your own PLICKERS! As you can see below, It's easy and self-explanatory. Everything you enter into can also be accessed in your PLICKERS app. 

* Now since we are awesome SLPs and know the importance of formulating oral answers (rather than only answering multiple choice questions), these questions will probably NOT be and should not be the whole focus of the lesson.  For instance, my students and I read and discuss passages that don’t any corresponding PLICKERS question.  I pose LOTS of questions throughout the lesson that kids answer orally during discussion, but then I occasionally throw in one that they have to answer with their PLICKERS card.  Make sense? 

This is an example of questions I entered for these short Mardi Gras passages based on the little passage  on the left. You can make as many as you'd like. 

YOU indicate the correct answers, and you can even choose more than 1 answer as correct.  
This is something our district has moved toward. 

6) After your questions are all entered, march proudly to class with your iPad or iPhone and the students'  PLICKER cards (or you can use this right in your speech room with small groups).  Next, do your therapy thing in class like only you can :)   
I put my passages on the projector (smart board/promethan board) and we discuss, orally answer questions of various difficulty, retell, etc.  When I'm ready to present a PLICKERS question, I make sure I'm logged on to the PLICKERS website. Then I choose the class question which will be projected onto the the smart board.  If I'm with a smaller group just have students view the screen.  I also open my PLICKERS app. 
They will work together; they are in sync! See? 

  If I've confused the heck out of you, you can read more and get un-confused at  

 * Earlier this month, we read short passages about New Year Traditions around the World.  We read and discussed several of the passages and my kids gave me lots of great language! Despite all of that, I had no hard data.  Usually, I resort to guessing percentages (shhhhh), but with PLICKERS I was able to get some real numbers during the next session :)  You'll see what I mean. 

7) After the question is presented (using the computer/, tell the students to answer with their PLICKERS card!  This was only tricky for the kids for the first couple of questions. (This was "lime for lymphoma awareness" day, by the way;) 

8) When the students raise their cards to answer, pick up your smart phone or iPad with the PLICKERS app open, and scan the room by touching the camera icon.

The app will immediately start "grabbing" students' answers based on what position they are holding up their PLICKERS card.  Their little names pop up above their heads as they are scanned. Each student's accuracy pops up on the computer screen as well, and you can instantly see who answered correctly or incorrectly. Their name will appear in green (for correct), red (for incorrect) or white if they haven’t answered yet. 

Here’s a photo of moi scanning the room.  It’s quick and easy.  The hardest part is getting the kids to keep their card still for a few seconds.

For the instant results to show to the class, click on LIVE VIEW on the computer screen. You can choose how you want the results to appear to the class.  
So after reading and discussing, this passage....

...students answered the following question and I chose how to display the live results.  There are 4 options: 

At first I only showed the whole class the bar graphs because it has no names. No one could get embarrassed for giving a wrong answer. After a while, my co-teacher convinced me to show the live view that had the children’s names and their answers (not just the anonymous bar graph).  The warm and fuzzy SLP in me cringed, but after doing that a couple of times, we suddenly started getting wayyyyy more correct answers!! She really knew her class.

 Also, it was interesting to see who chose certain answers.  Anyone who had a wrong answer got a chance to argue their side and justify their answer.  

9) NOW for the last step! EMBRACE THE DATA!

 I love being able to see how many of the10 questions each students answered were correctly/incorrectly.  I am able to get a percent accuracy (for answering questions) for every one of my students for every inclusive therapy session. 
How cool is that!!?? 
  I could have never done that before with my feeble attempts at tallying. Oh, and guess what...all of this data is saved on my PLICKERS account so that I can analyze it to death at a later time if the urge hits me :)   

My co-teacher was thrilled with the information the results gave her also. 
 Plus, it was fun!! 
Not the same old boring stuff.  

We were ecstatic to see some results like this below since we have really been working hard on using context clues . 

Also, based on the results, the teacher and I were able to see which skills were missed the most by the class as a whole.  For the New Year’s lesson, the questions that targeted “mood” were most often missed.  In contrast, our kids did fantastic on the questions that made them use context clues (like the one above). Hooray!  These graphs on the left show a tidbit of what we could view after class.  

Back in my therapy room, I could see how many of the 10 questions each and every one of my students missed, I was able to get a percent accuracy (for answering questions) for every one of my students.  
How cool is that!!?? 
I could have never done that before with my feeble attempts at tallying. Oh, and guess what...all of this data is saved on your PLICKERS account as long as you like so that you can analyze it to death at a later time if you wish :)   

Since our school is currently so focused on writing, I don’t know that many of my teacher cohorts would use this much, but many of them- mostly math teachers- have said they WILL use it for their “ticket out the door.”  
That would be fun in the speech room, too! 

Okay, I'm all PLICKERED out for now!
If you try it, I'd love to hear about your experience!! 
Better yet, how do YOU manage to collect data in the classroom? 


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sneaky Tricks for Inclusion {Pushing in}

Whew! I’m back in action. November was a killer.  All month I hoped to share with you my Thanksgiving themed therapy, but band season and the worst case of bronchitis I’ve ever had really nixed that idea.  I spent most of the month hanging by a thread...and no voice. How in the world does an SLP function with no voice? Not very well I can tell you! Even with all the vocal hygiene knowledge in the world, I still couldn’t kick the croaking.  In fact, I’m rocking the deep man voice now as I type :) 

So anywayyyyyy.....What I’m blogging about today is how I PUSH IN. 

We call it....

I’ve written about this topic before, but this time I want to share with you some activities I actually use that help me zone in on my own students’ performance while still addressing the whole class.  Most SLPs feel, myself included, that it’s nearly impossible to keep data and truly address our students’ individual needs in the classroom, but I have developed some sneaky strategies that help.  

Let me start by saying, I do not do strictly inclusion services with my language disordered/delayed students. I do a combination of inclusion and “pull out.” I think that’s the best of both worlds, but that’s just my humble opinion based on years of experience. Being in the classroom opens my eyes to what my students’ are struggling with, and it helps me to know what to really focus on when they’re with me in my speech room. 

First and foremost, My ELA inclusion teachers always email me their lesson plans which I use to plan my lessons.  If you have cooperative inclusion teachers like this, treat them like royalty and hang on to them for dear life :) I either plan around the theme (such as tall tales, Native American history, a certain novel, etc.) or I plan around the skill (main idea, inferencing, compare/contrast, figurative language, etc)  Sometimes I can hit on both when I’m really on my game :)   I try to write language goals for these students in such a way that any ELA skills can apply, or I “tag myself” on the reading comprehension goal on my students’ IEP if they also receive special education services. 

On of my goals might read something like this:
Little Johnny will apply language skills (such as making inferences, summarizing, telling main idea and details, comparing/contrasting, answering comprehension questions, deciphering unknown vocabulary using context clues, justifying answers, comprehending figurative language) in order to answer constructed response questions on assignments and tests with 80% accuracy over 10 assignments/tests. 

That’s just an example; for some kids my goals are very specific based on their disorder . It may be strictly listening/follow directions, strictly vocabulary, etc. but by 4th-5th grade it’s time to focus on a variety skills because that’s that they’re expected to do, and by this time I feel the focus of language therapy changes from bridging language gaps and remediating delays to helping them cope with the immediate demands of the classroom. Ultimately, our job as school SLPs is to help them be as successful as possible in the curriculum.  Yeah, I know, I know.  THAT can make us feel like a tutor or a paraprofessional, but I don’t feel that way because I do it my applying my language expertise which no para or tutor can do. 

First of all, when I go into a classroom, I have a helper hand out “voting squares” to each student. Every student gets a red and a green square.

Use whatever kind you'd like. These are some that I made which you can download for free.  If you don’t want to download them, just cut red and green squares of construction paper. >>>>>>>>>> 

These boost engagement; they keep every child paying attention because they will have to use them to vote.  More on those later :) 

My teacher cohorts focus on reading comprehension.  
What’s the prerequisite skill or stepping stone to reading comprehension? 
Well, listening comprehension, of course!! 
( I do write many students’ goals to target listening comprehension also). 
Most  teachers use long, taxing passages to target comprehension (because that's what's expected of them). I don’t know about you but It’s all about rigor in my district.  If your students are like mine, they struggle with those.  Due to their disabilities, they trudge slowly through the passages (if they can read them at all) and lose comprehension. Many times, they get tired and discouraged and start to “fake read” or shut down or get visibly frustrated.  
Why? It’s too hard for our babies who grapple with language.  
That’s why they need us....for our expert scaffolding! 

I typically use shorter, more manageable passages.  Usually they are even on grade level, but they’re more high-interest and always short.  In fact, my inclusion classes are the very reason I make many products with short, fun non-fiction passages that are perfect for inclusion grades 3-5 (or even higher depending on disability)  
I have a bunch of them in my Tpt Store.  

After everyone has their voting squares, I like to use the I DO, YOU DO, WE DO method.  I use the teacher’s document reader to project a little passage on the board. Here are some examples of the passages I used for Thanksgiving from my “Thanksgiving {responding to non-fiction text & more}” packet. 

Now you would think these would be easy for 4th grades; for example, but even with this small amount of text, the questions challenge them.

I read the first passage on the board and then pose the questions (as well as other questions that I come up with on the spot because that’s the nature of any SLP). 
If the question is just what one of my students needs to work on, I choose them to answer aloud. Sometimes I choose a student by “picking sticks” which is the method my teachers’ use.  Then that student answers aloud BUT all of the other students use their voting squares to “vote” for every single question. They hold up the green square if they agree with the answer and the red square if they do not. 

That gives me an idea of who knew the answer and who didn’t.  If I’m stressed about collecting data, I write each of my students’ names on a sticky note before I go to class, and I quickly tally each right/wrong voting. After everyone has voted, I typically choose a student to explain why he/she thinks the answer is correct. Likewise, I choose someone who raised a red voting square to explain why he/she thinks the answer is wrong.  Then I ask the student (who answered aloud) the question again to see if he is sticking with his answer or not and let him know if he’s correct. Then we discuss.  It’s work and it’s reading but the kids actually love it! Also, instead of spending so much time reading, we spend time discussing and responding which is what we, as SLPs, are all about! 

Now, I do realize that some kids may have their feelings hurt with this process, so if that’s the case, it may not work for your class. I make it clear from the beginning that it’s ok to be wrong and that the people who think you’re wrong may be the ones that are wrong! Heck, even I get things wrong! Once that attitude of it’s “ok to be wrong” is established, the kids love it. 

After I do the reading for one or 2 passages, I have them choral read along with me for a couple more passages (WE DO) and then we answer the questions.  We continue to vote. Then I put them in pairs or groups and give each group a passage to read, discuss, and present. When the group comes up and presents and tells the answers to the questions on the cards, everyone votes.  They defend their answers and change them if needed.  Oh! and we are always working on answering in complete sentences with good grammar and restating the question, etc.  Getting the gist?  

The students are freaking out (in a fun way) about the things people do for Christmas in other countries. 

My very favorite is the Easter Around the world passages. 

Recently we did Pecos Bill passages because we were focusing on tall tales.

Sometimes I just have a passage we focus on the whole lesson -like if they’ve just read a chapter in a novel. During novel studies. I make questions to go with the novel (in fact I did this for the wonderful book My Louisiana Sky).
  For those I write questions on various levels (1, 2, and 3) and I number them so I remember their difficulty level.  Here is an example of some I did for our novel:

Just to make it more fun, I put them in boxes that I’ve numbered 1, 2, 3.  Each child is called on to answer a question and gets to pick if they want to answer an easy question (1), a “medium” question (2) or a hard question (3).  

You see, they can earn that many of our school dollars if they get it correct OR sometimes I split the class in half - or boys against girls- and they can earn that many points for their team when they answer. Yep, we keep score on the board! 

It’s interesting to see who is confident about answering questions and who is not.  As we did with the short passages activity, everyone votes about whether they think the answer is correct or not (and you can tally that if you wish). 

Of course, based on what I observe from my students in class, we focus on down and dirty when they come to my room for more intensive small group therapy. 

This month we will also be doing a little grammar in inclusion. It makes me sad that there’s not as much focus on grammar these days.  I mean, if our big push is to make kids better writers, they need to know grammar! 

After some grammar review we’ll be doing madlibs as a whole class (still voting with our voting square on each part of speech) of Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman carols.   YES, we are definitely singing our new wacky new versions once our madlib is complete!  We will also be incorporating some grammar practice with color-by-grammar that’s in my packet of Christmas passages.  

This coming week I’m excited to try something new that I learned about at a technology conferenece I attended this past week.  I’ll be blogging about it after I actually use it but if you want a sneak peek, it’s called PLICKERS.  It’s an app that allows all students to answer multiple choice questions (not my favorite but I want to try) by raising a card and reports data for each child! Here’s a photo from their website. 

No more tallying on a sticky note for me.  I am still trying to think of a way to incorporate oral answering for the person I call on and multiple choice answering for everyone else. Stay tuned!  I'm excited about trying it! 

If you want to see some other cool technology I use featuring altered reality, check out last December’s blog post here.  
You can catch other therapy ideas for the month of December there as well :) 

What tricks do you use for inclusion? I would really love to hear about them!! 

Happy pushing in! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Super Sweet SLP Frenzy!!

There’s something SWEET happening RIGHT NOW!! 

My SLP blogger friends and I are throwing what very well might be the LAST FACEBOOK FRENZY (due to changes on facebook that go into affect next week)! 

Be sure to scoop up all 22 speech and language freebies. It all starts at my facebook page !  Be sure not to procrastinate because the freebies will all disappear tomorrow (Oct. 27) at 10:00 PM EST! 

Don’t miss out! 

I hope you LOVE our freebies and get tons of use out of them!  If you do, we'd love to hear from you :)) YOUR feedback is what motivates us to keep creating! 



Monday, October 13, 2014

Wanna know what I've got planned for October?

Happy October, y’all!!  
September was ROUGH and I’m really glad it’s behind me.  
TODAY is glorious fall break! Whoop! This is what I'm doing this morning....

I have a HORRIBLE habit of mixing up my nights and days during school breaks so I’m really trying NOT to do that this time.  I mean, it really makes returning to school (and my 5:45 alarm) harder than it needs to be.  
Solution: continue to wake up at dawn even though I’m on break 
So here I am up early and actually back on my blog!  

Sooooo since we’re both here, wanna know what I have planned for therapy this month? 

So far this month I have been using a few of my favorite games in therapy.  I’ve used Acrobats and Monster Mash in artic therapy and also in language therapy with the EET.  

My kids who are new to using the EET are needing lots of practice so we’ve been reading about and describing bats.  The acrobat game was perfect for reinforcement while describing (green group, blue do, etc).  We’ve also used the “monster spinner” in Monster Mash to describe the silly monsters.  I got this pair of games for 10 bucks in the 90s and now they’re considered rare gems. Go figure!

I'm also partial to a few games I've made :) 

If you're looking for something like this >>>
you can find the owl themed board in my Halloween Trivia and Games product and the game board on bottom in my Open-Ended Game boards for August thru December. 

Some kids just can’t sit.  You have any of those
HA! of course you do!! 

For them, we have been using this inflatable spider ring toss game (that I snagged at Oriental Trading).  

One of my little guys with autism is very motivated to communicate to throw the rings and my active artic and language boys are alllll about the competition of it.  
It will also be a friendly competition at our end of the month “Halloween party.” 
{You can read about last year's Halloween party here}

Of course we are doing plenty of quick artic drill, too. Can you tell I love Halloween? 
If you don't quick drill, you might want to try it.  It's strangely addictive! 
I just posted this new one this morning.  It just makes me happy.  

For my language students, we are also using EET for writing.  
I like to use these pages that give visual reminders for the EET categories (and lines to write on) and then have my kiddos use the information to form a well developed paragraph (hopefully!) 

We've already written all about FALL!


Here is some fall paragraphs proudly posted on my board! 
Do you work on writing?  I resisted it for years, but then realized that my students’ major problem with writing was that they didn’t realize that what they need to write is just EXACTLY what they said aloud. 

So many of my kids who have come so far in language therapy (and can orally SAY the answers) don’t WRITE THEM DOWN the same way the said it. 

They haven’t made the connection that they should write exactly what they said.  

SOOOO I’ve begun audio taping them and having them listen back and write exactly what they said. It’s helped them make that connection.  Writing has become a big part of my speechie life.  

My pet peeve?  Fragments and run-ons?? Do you feel my pain. I have a FREEBIE to tackle that issue.  Check it out HERE.   Unfortunately, our curriculum moved away from emphasizing grammar for many years, but it has come full circle, and GRAMMAR IS MAKING A COMEBACK. Whoop! I plan on using that freebie this inclusion next week! 

Another freebie I’ll be using this month is my Halloween Stamp-a-Story.  Grab that one, too!! 

I use it for artic AND language groups! You can read about how I use my stamp-a-stories HERE and HERE

Last year we did lots of pumpkin dot art and we may do that, also, if we have time.  I blogged about it HERE if you're curious :) 

Last week I tried out a pumpkin craft that I made instead or dot art.  Based on the giant mess we made doing it, it needs some tweaking :) but I hope to have that craft posted in my TPT store once I’ve worked out the kinks.  

For my little bitties, I’m going to be using these pumpkin patch sticker scenes that I scored from Oriental Trading (again). I LOVE their sticker scenes. They’re easy enough for my 3 and 4 year olds and keep them talking and engaged. 

My older hard-to-please crowd will be making Magic Potions in the next couple of weeks.  It’s an open ended activity so I can use it for all of my groups
 {mixed groups, too... Whoop!} 

I was planning on using roll and cover activities from my Halloween Fun Pack, but a couple of my sped teachers have temporarily stolen them from my room to use in math with their kids who need practice with counting.  I should be annoyed, but I love when they use speechie materials in their special ed. classrooms. :))

Of course there has been lots of speech homework- and there will be all month long- because I’m tough like that.  LOL 

My kids get our PBIS bucks (called Colts Cash) when they are responsible enough to return their Halloween homework signed :)

<<< This little dude is no artist, but I don’t care as long as he practices his words! 

...and here's something fun....

I was completely ecstatic and shocked and touched to find a Cariboo game on my doorstep Saturday morning! A parent of one of my former students who moved to Alabama years ago saw on Facebook that I was looking for a Cariboo game.  She passed through Louisiana to see family this weekend and left their copy of Cariboo on my doorstep!! WHAT!!?? How amazing is that!? I can’t thank her enough for going out of her way to do that.  What a beautiful surprise!!  
On my day off today, I hope to whip up something Halloween themed to use with my new Cariboo game! 

I hope your speech room is full of fun and learning this October! 
What do YOU have planned!? I really want to hear about it! 


 If you'd like to hear and see more from me, I'd love it if you'd follow me...everywhere:)