Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My new BFF: the I EARNED IT app!

Yes, it’s true! I have a new BFF.   
A free and awesome app that has put an end to the hours
I spend making token reinforcement charts for my students with autism and behavior challenges.  My life just got drastically easier!! 

It’s the handy little app called I EARNED THAT
Where, oh where, has this been all my life!?! 
My go-to expert on autism told me about it today and she is “so not techy” 
(her words, not mine) so she was stoked that I had never heard of it.  

HELLLOOOOO how did I not know about this? 
Have I been living under the proverbial rock? 
It’s apparently been around for years, so to many of you, this app may be old news, but to me it’s new AND MAGICAL!!!

I feel a little foolish doing a post about it since I’m probably the last SLP on planet Earth to hear about it but here it goes anyway. 
Besides, you may have been living under a rock just like me :) 
and I think that after all the joy it’s given me it deserves a little tribute. 

You can find it on iTunes for $1.99 but I chose to download the lite (and free) version.  
So far, it’s done the trick.  I can only have 1 student in it at a time, however.  

So I have a couple of students who really do not want to do.....well.... anything except what they want to do.  They’re really not fond of doing anything language related and are prone to showing me just how NOT FOND of it they are.  
They need lots of positive reinforcement and motivation. 
You know any little guys like that? 
I can see you nodding :) 
 So when I’m working with one of these students, I let him/her choose what he/he wants “to work for.”  I either give two choices or they immediately let me know what they want to work for- usually it’s candy, bubbles, computer time, iPad time, etc.  

This app lets me instantly take a photo of the item with my phone or iPad OR choose a photo from my camera roll! 

Today it was bubbles (he’s a big fan of the little wedding bubbles) for 1 little guy 
and dinosaur train on pbskids.org for another kiddo. 

After I’ve quickly taken a picture of what the child is “working for” the app makes a 3D jigsaw puzzle out of the photo.  I can choose the number of puzzles pieces I want the puzzle to have based on my student’s needs.   2?  4?  10?  20?  60? You choose! 

The screen shows the puzzle pieces face down.  
To reinforce the student, touch a puzzle piece while giving verbal praise and a glimpse of the reward will be revealed!! 

You can adjust the settings for visual and sound effects! The pieces can appear slowly with lots of fanfare or quietly and instantly.  

I set the app so that the pieces spin around and make all kinds of irresistible noises.  It really makes a BIG DEAL out of earning a puzzle piece which I love! 

When the last puzzle piece is in place and the whole picture is revealed, then the kiddos get their reward!! Woohoo!!  
Many bubbles were blown and none lived to tell about it :) 

In the end, everyone is happy! 
The SLP (that's me) got her therapy on and little dudes earned their rewards! 
All was right with the world and not one photo or symbol had to be printed, cut out and laminated.  In fact, there was not even one single velcro dot needed! 

Token reinforcement made easy!! 
I love easy! 

Do you use it? Love it? 
Can you tell me about any other APPs I need in my life? 
What do you do to reinforce your students? 
Please enlighten me.  I can't believe I just found out about this! 

Happy reinforcing! 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

back to school blues (please pardon this sappy post)

I miss you, blog.

I don't ever have the time or energy to visit you.  I'm not even sure I would even want my thoughts on paper.  They're just doing somersaults and loop-de-loops in my head.  Nonstop acrobatic thoughts.

This is the sad truth….right now my job is kicking my butt and hurting my heart.  
I've wanted to post about all the fun back to school activities I've been doing, but other matters have been weighing on me.

It's hard.  Our jobs are hard.  This year it's not the paperwork or duties or therapy that I struggle with. 
It's the being side by side with kids in crisis and knowing nothing you do will ever really be enough. 
Sitting next to kids who have slipped sooo far into the cracks that, try as you may, you cannot save.
Seeing kids who have learned- in their hurtful homes- that maybe it's better just not to speak.
The angry kids.  The scared ones.  The ill ones.  The huggers and the scowlers.
8, 9, 10 hours are not enough. Never enough time to truly get to everyone's needs.
Never enough manpower.  Never enough time… to fix things.  Make everything better. Like trying to wipe up a huge spill with single ply toilet paper that keeps tearing from the roll….
or running through quicksand.
When I'm not with them, I'm still thinking about them.
Thinking of ways to make it better.
When I wake up in the middle of the night I think about them.  I pray for them.
When I'm brushing my teeth - then too...
When I'm applying my concealer (very much of it these days) I'm thinking of the dilemmas…the seemingly hopeless situations.

I love my profession but my job….well, it's caused quite a few tears lately.

I am clinging to these words each day….

I'm not usually a downer (at least I hope I'm not) so please do excuse this little post in my moment of melancholy.  Perhaps it's because I just spent 2 days at CPI (crisis prevention intervention) training and the fact that we need that training at all makes me a little sad.
The fact that I had to apply it today - the very next day after the training- even worse.

If you are inclined to pray, please pray for my babies in crisis and their teams who are giving their all.  

May better days lie ahead. 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Articulation Test Center {an app review!}

If you are a big fan (like me) of Little Bee Speech's Articulation Station App, then I think you will love their new, improved Articulation Test Center App.  It’s a two-in-one tool a screener and a full assessment of articulation with all the crisp, kid-friendly photographs that we love from Articulation Station. 

Before I give you the lowdown, I should mention that I was given a free download of this handy app in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my very own. 

Perfect timing!! 
Last week was my very first week of school and I had new students who transferred to my school from out of district and out of state.  I jumped on the chance to use this app in order to assess these little guys. 

I watched the video tutorials first.  I’m not normally a tutorial-watching-SLP but this one was quick and painless and made using this app a snap.

Although this app gives you the option to have screen rotation which allows you to sit across from the student, I sat on the side of the children to adminster the test. 

I used the screener first.  I was so excited to see that you can choose the child’s age for the screener. If you do so, the app will only present the stimuli that is approrpriate for the child’s age.  

That was it.  
I was in love.  


The screener works very much like the full test so I am going to fill you in on my experience using the full test. 

First of all, In the settings, there plenty of smart setting choices.  For instance, you can turn off the option for the app to “say” the stimulus words when the picture is tapped.  I loved this option because I find my little ones very “tappy” with the screen which results in the stimulus word being said over and over again. 
Ever happen to you?  Oh yeah.  No more of that. 

I choose to administer the whole test but I was stoked to see that you can opt to assess only certain areas which would come in handy for re-evaluations for my students who only needed an /r/ assessment, for instance. 

The full test has 59 stimulus words but it still took very little time to administer- especially once I got familiar with marking the errors. 
No flipping pages- just flick, flick, flick.  
No hauling books around - just my iPad.  
~ Happy SLP right here ~

For each stimulus item, the target sounds in green at the top of the screen.  

When the students makes an error, you simply tap the sound until it turns red.  If it’s an approximation, tap the sound until it turns yellow.  
For omissions, you swipe the sound up and off of the screen. 

You can also record each production so you can listen to it later.  This is perfect for those days when I’m running around like a madwoman and don’t have time to mark errors right away. 

The app allows you to mark substitutions by tapping the arrow in the upper right corner which pulls up a pop up box with possible substitutions. Simply touch the sound substitution and drag it to the phoneme it substituted like I did here when my students substituted /s/ for "ch." 

In the same way, you can also indicate phonological processes (which I really like!)  Normally I keep track on those in my head.  
This way I don’t have to strain my brain :) 
I also really appreciate that it reminds me at what age the process I select should cease.  Good info! 

Again, you can also record each production so you can listen to it later. Call me crazy, but I love transcribing my students’ productions.  I need to see the productions in transcription to truly process the error patterns so I liked having the ability to listen and transcribe later ... dʒ^st tu mek ʃʊr aI dɪdənt mɪs ɛniθɪŋ

I would actually love it if the app came with a printable protocol.  
Does that make me old school? 

Once the test is done, you get the happy bee telling you you’re all done!
 If you’d like to, you can move on to the speech sample scenes to assess connected speech.  This is also a nice way to take a language sample even though this app wasn't designed for language assessment.  

There are three large sample scenes that are really colorful & irresistable. 
Lots to look at and totally interactive! 
If you tap an image, you get a nice close up and a conversation starter/prompt pops up. 
Talk about doing the work for you!! 
I didn’t even have to think of the questions! 
This could come in handy for those hectic days when I really feel fried.  
{Just keepin’ it real, y’all.}  

OR if you want to turn that option off, you can. 
Seeeee - the options just keep coming!  

After you rate the child intelligibility, you are done! 

Then here comes the best part- the results!!  
Little Bee Speech does a fantastic job of compiling the results in multiple ways.  
They really wrap up all of the data and let you view it many ways. 
Just beautiful. 
  1. You can view the errors marked according to position. The age the sound should be mastered is also indicated. I personally use different norms than the ones provided but this is great information. 

2.  The app creates a report that summarizes all of the information according to the child’s age.  It tells you recommendations about which sounds they need to address in therapy according to their age and which sounds are in error but developmentally acceptable. Again, it has done the thinking for us.  I actually love assessment so I kind of missed analyzing the data and coming up with my own conclusions (I’m nerdy like that) but this was a humongous time saver.   

3. Know what else I dig? You can print or email the results which is perfect for paper lovers like me. 

So let me sum it up, y'all: 

Overall, I think this app is the best iPad based articulation assessment tool out there, and I’ve tried them all!  
For an SLP on the go, it’s the perfect alternative to lugging around test booklets, and I don’t know any elementary student who wouldn’t respond well to it. 
 You can find it at iTunes for $49.99 BUT this week Little Bee Speech will have Articulation Test Center AND Articulation Station on SALE for back to school! Woohoo!! 
Both apps are 30% off from August 12-15! 
That means you could grab this app for $34.99 right now! 
  Don’t you just LOVE a sale!? 
So tell me, have you tried Articulation Test Center? I’d love to hear about your experience with this app!  Fill me in! 
Happy assessing to you! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Liebster Award: My First Blog Award and 11 Personal Secrets Revealed

Hooray!! My very first award!  
Julianne from Something To Talk About SLP nominated me for the Liebster Award! 
                                                         TA DA!! 

How cool is THAT?! Julianne is an excellent blogger and I'm just excited that she even reads mine!  So when Julianne chose me for this award, to be honest, I had to google what it even was! I had never heard of it but soon found out it was legit!

It seems that liebster is a German word meaning sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. Those are a lot of nice words! Aww shucks :) 

The Liebster Award is granted BY bloggers TO bloggers with fewer than 200 followers who they feel are "up and coming" and deserve some recognition and support to keep on truckin' - like a big bloggy hug and thumbs up!  
What a nice thing!
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Julianne, for nominating me! Please forgive me for taking so long to blog about it.  {It's kinda awkward blogging about yourself getting an award and it took me a long time to figure out how without being too bragalicious- I hope I succeed} 
If you haven’t done so already, go check out Julianne’s blog.  She has inspiring posts and great ideas for therapy! 
The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award
  1. Write a blog post thanking the blogger who nominated you for the Liebster Award, and link back to his or her blog.
  2.  Answer the 11 questions that your nominator asks you.
  3.  Post 11 random facts about yourself.
  4.  Nominate 5-11 bloggers of your own, with under 200 followers, whom you think are awesome and deserving of this honor.
  5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
  6. Display the Liebster Award logo on your page.
  7. List these rules in your post. (You can copy and paste them from here.)

My answers to Julianne's questions: 
1.   Are you a morning person or night owl? 
      I am such a night person, especially when I'm on break from school.  I always end up staying up wayyy too late reading, watching TV, crocheting or creating TpT materials.  Before too long,  I completely have my days and nights mixed up. I have never been nor ever will be a morning person, but I really wish I was! 
2.  What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? 
      OMG I love banana ice cream - even better - with walnuts in the mix.   I'm not much of a "sweets person," but I am a sucker for banana ice cream.
3.  What is your favorite summer memory?  
      My favorite summer memory is just the summer routine I had growing up in a small town (which is 1 square mile). Each day of summer, my best friend and I would take off on our bikes in the morning, and we often didn't come home until dusk.  We made the rounds to all of our friends' homes, spying on boys we had crushes on and looking for any adventure we could find. The freedom of summertime - drinking from the water hoses in random yards, setting up slip-in-slides on one of our yards, and just sitting in the grass telling secrets made for a fun childhood.
4.   Are you a chocolate person or a candy person? 
      Actually, I am not much of either.  I love salty treats! Pickles, olives, chips, and nuts are my vices, but I DO have a little weakness for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Laffy Taffy! 
5.  Are you a cat person or a dog person? 
      I love animals of all kinds and I actually do have cats, but I am a dog fanatic.  I have an 8 year old Lhasa Apso named Lola who is the furry love of my life.  When Lola was just a few years old I lost my first 2 doggie loves, Maggie and Bailey, who lived 15 and 16 happy years with my little family.  They gave me more happy moments than I could ever count.  I can't imagine ever living without a dog. 
6.  What do you want to be when you grow up? 
      I want to be too many things, and I keep adding to the list all the time!  My dream since childhood was to be writer, and as long as I can remember, I wanted to own a bookstore... until Kindle squashed that dream.  I'd love to be a restaurateur (old school Cajun cooking!), a travel agent, or a graphic designer.  Even more so, I can't wait to be a grandmother!
7.   What is one thing you try to do everyday?  
      I try to express gratitude to God everyday.  I feel so blessed to have a happy, healthy, family, to still have my parents, and to have overcome the obstacles I've faced in my 41 years.  I'm so thankful for the beautiful life God has given me that sometimes I feel my heart may burst.  
8.   What is your favorite childhood movie?  
      Ohhhhh myyyy goshhh.  This is soooo hard.  The first thing that pops into my head is the Neverending Story (circa 1984), but ET is a close second, and let's not forget I named my firstborn after Ferris Bueller's Day Off! 
9.   Who inspires you?  
      My mom inspires me to the Nth degree.  She is almost 80 and can do anything.  She is the strongest and most selfless person I've ever met.  She truly lives by the golden rule- treating everyone as her equal and treating them as she would want to be treated. She goes above and beyond for everyone from pauper to prince, taking in those who need, reaching out to those who others may ignore.  She'll also give you a good kick in the butt when needed.  My mom is a bad ass. 
10.  Where do you want to travel to (a place you have not been before)?  
      I am dying to travel to Europe, but how will ever I choose what to see there!!?  I want to see it all.  Every inch of it.  In fact, please tell me your favorite places.
11.  If you were a cookie, what would you be and why?  
      I would probably be a macadamia nut cookie because I'm sweet but definitely nutty.  

11 random facts about me       

       1. As a preteen, I caught my loooooonnng hair on fire running past a candle.  It    
            sounded like bees buzzing around my head.  Thanks to my mom's quick        
            move of throwing a blanket over my head and dousing me in the tub, I lived  
            to tell about it.  My hair never grew past my shoulders again. Bummer.
       2. All the through the 80s I thought I was Madonna.  I dressed like her "to the 
           max" and even used eyeliner to draw on her little mole.  I still have all of her 
           albums (on vinyl of course).
       3. The man I married was my neighbor from the age of 4 to the day we married.  
           We used to run outside at night and meet at the corner between our homes 
           to steal one last kiss. Our parents still have homes on the same block which 
           makes visits back home super convenient! 
       4. My parent and in laws' first language was French.  I am part of the first  
           generation of our family whose first language is English.  We are true blue 
           Cajuns  (and I should note we all speak correctly contrary to common  
       5. I drew the house plans for our current multi level home on graph paper.  1  
           foot = 1 square of graph paper.  Don't ever tell me I can't do something. 
       6. I'm petrified of frogs of all kinds.  In high school I stopped leaving my house 
           after dark, and my mom sent me to therapy for it.  Didn't work all that great-       
           moving off to college where there were less frogs worked better.   I chose my  
           college major (communication disorders) because it didn't require biology (ie. 
           frogs). My husband and sons are on permanent frog watch.  
       7.  I play the piano. 
             8. My dad never yelled at me once in my whole life (and trust me, I deserved   
                 some yelling!) He set the bar very high for all men in my life. 
9           9. I'm a complete foodie and everywhere we go, my husband and I try all the    
                 local dives.  They're actually on our vacation itinerary. 
           10. I wish I was outdoorsy, but I just am not.  Perhaps this is frog related. 
           11. Since my sons are grown, for my 40th birthday, I ditched my big SUV and  
                 bought myself a baby blue VW Beetle convertible!

                                       and my nominees are.....

1)Jeanette from Speak Well Read Well 
Speak Well Read Well is my go-to blog when I want to discover a new children's book to use in therapy. Not only does Jeanette explain how she uses the books she loves, she has great suggestions for crafts and activities. Occasionally, she even posts an author interview! She's been an SLP over 20 years and her passion for doing literature based therapy is beautifully displayed on her blog.  
Jeanette, I hope you'll accept this Liebster award!  

2) Kelly at Speech2U 
Kelly is clearly a talented SLP, but what makes her blog so special is that she is hilarious.  Her blog seriously makes me laugh out loud for real.  Kelly is informative and gives great therapy ideas while being entertaining and just clever.  Her quips about raising her equally hilarious son always leave me smiling, too.  TAG, Kelly, YOU just won the Liebster Award! :)) I can't wait to read what you're blogging about next!

3. Meredith at the Peachie Speechie
If you haven't been to this speech and language blog, you are missing out on some fun, fresh ideas for therapy.  It's a great mix of DIY activities, themed book lessons, handy tips and Meredith's ingenious 100 word challenges for articulation.  OH and she recently added the cutest SLP tees (and bags and mugs and pins- oh my! ) ever known to mankind. 
Meredith! I love your blog! 

4.  Abby at Schoolhouse Talk
I love that Abby mixes it up with speech therapy blog posts as well as motivational posts and personal tidbits. She has simple but brilliant ideas for therapy with the littie ones as well as fun craftivities!  I always look forward to her short "funny Friday" post, too!  YOU have been nominated, Abby!  I think YOU and your schoolhouse ROCKS! 

First, let me say I covet the name of this blog.  Being a self-proclaimed word nerd, this blog speaks my language.  If you are prone to being bookish, you should go directly to this little blog post haste.  It just makes me happy.  It makes me feel not alone in my thinking when I choose to spend my Friday nights having a hot date with a novel.  All fellow readers (and grammar gurus)click now and thank me later.  
This is just a little award, Word Nerds, but feel free to pretend it's a Pulitzer Prize. :)

           1. What's your favorite vacation destination?
           2. If you won the lottery, what would be your first splurge? 
           3. If you could learn to do anything at all, what would it be? 
           4. Since clothes "maketh the man (or woman)" what does what you're wearing 
               right now say about you? 
           5. What was your favorite childhood game? 
           6. What's the #1 most played song on your  smart phone?
           7. If you could close one fast food restaurant due to their disgusting food, which 
               one would it be? 
           8. What's your beverage of choice? 
           9. What's your favorite meal or the best thing you've ever eaten?
          10. What movie deserves a sequel? 
          11. What's your greatest accomplishment thus far? 

   Let’s keep the blogger love going....it's your turn to nominate! 

         Now in my house when someone brags or toots their own horn, my son, Riley, always finishes off the conversation by saying "hash tag humble brag" so I think it's only appropriate to leave you with this.....

Thanks for tolerating this bragalicious post and celebrating my happy news with me 
(if you read this far:)