As the 2013 fall term draws to an end, I find myself reflecting upon the big change I made in September! After 16 years in the same school and school district, I changed to a neighboring district.
I want to share some of the things I have learned over the last 4 months....
It's nice to know that there are SO MANY schools full of hard working and devoted staff working for our kids. The staff at my last school, and my new school (and in schools all through the country) are working so hard to embrace educational reform, and increased demands with fewer resources. I truly loved the staff and students at my last school, and I thought it would be difficult to open up my heart to a new school, but my new staff is just as amazing, and of course I love my caseload full of speech students!
Many of the paperwork/procedural demands are the same, and some are slightly different. I am working just as hard, in different ways, neither is better or worse, but I realize how badly I needed different.
My new district has a slightly different philosophy for service delivery, and I'm trying hard to be extra conscious of using curriculum and curricular targets as I work on my goals. Stay tuned in 2014 for ways I'm trying to make that work.
Finally, I'm glad I listened to that nagging voice in the back of my head that told me to seek change. It's been a good change. An SLP I once worked with, who had made several changes during her career (including the change from SLP to attorney and back) told me that every time she made a change, she was able to refine her skills as an SLP. I think this is turning out to be true for me.
Did YOU make a change during the 2013-2014 school year? Is it going well for you? I hope so! Please let me know in the comments below or on the ADVANCE Facebook page.
I am writing this blog as I'm enjoying my last day off from Thanksgiving break. This break is a much-needed one for me as there were no days scheduled off for teachers in my district since Labor Day! Through reading of other online SLP discussion groups, blogs, and in conversations with other school-based SLPs I know, the consensus is that our jobs aren't easy ones. There are plenty of days when we leave school annoyed, frustrated, irritated, and/or overwhelmed by our jobs and all that is expected of us. I know there are SLPs out there who used to work in the schools but left due to all of the politics, caseload sizes, and countless other reasons. I know I'm not alone in wishing I had another few days off from school to be at home with my family. However, I really try to keep my blog from a place for positive feelings and ideas, rather than one where I vent frustrations and aggravation with my job. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving season (which isn't celebrated enough because for some reasons retailers think the next holiday after Halloween is Christmas!), I'd like to talk about reasons I'm thankful for my job as a school-based SLP:
- I have a full-time, contracted job to go to every day. My career is in demand. I always feel badly for the elementary education teachers who need to substitute day-to-day (and therefore barely make ends meet) due to the lack of job openings.
- I get to work with children every day! Their enthusiasm, smiles, and stories make everyday enjoyable.
- I get to go to a job where I help others every day. My work makes a difference in someone else's life.
- I'm technically "off" from work for two months in the summer. I'd be lying if I didn't say this is probably my favorite perk of working in the schools. Not to mention that I was offWednesday-Monday(this is PA, theMondayafter Thanksgiving is a hunting day) for Thanksgiving and will have off from 12/21-1/1 for the holiday break in just a few short weeks!
- I spend most of my day talking.Anyone who knows me knows I love to talk. Getting paid to do one of my favorite pastimes? What could be better?
- Great coworkers! If I have to go to work every day (which I do!) I'm thankful I can spend it with people whose company I enjoy!
- It's fun! Being a school-based SLP can be a lot of fun - we get to play games - as I've blogged about previously there are tons of games out there that can make therapy fun while targeting students objectives. I love Taboo, Jr.and Apples to Apples, Jr. and probably enjoy playing those games as much as the kids do!
This is just a short list of mostly light-hearted reasons why I'm thankful for my job. Why are you thankful you're a school-based SLP?
There are more and more school speech therapy blogs popping up all over the internet, and in one I read recently, the SLP wrote about her week in therapy! (Check it out here: http://oldschoolspeech.blogspot.com/2013/11/therapy-week-in-review-11152013.html)
I loved reading this, and am definitely going to look into some of the fun activities she mentioned.
I'm way less creative and I am committed to my goal of using as much classroom curriculum as possible for language tasks. I do, however want to share SOME of my speech activities for last week!
My first and second graders are doing units on Pilgrims. I made a SUPER SIMPLE Boardmaker book about Pilgrims for the first graders using Thanksgiving type vocabulary (Pilgrims, Mayflower, England, Massachusetts, Wampanoag, Thanksgiving, it doesn't get more simple than that.) We worked on answering "wh" questions, and then creating some very simple sentences. I found this activity on Boardmaker Share: http://www.boardmakerachieve.com/Activity/1216258
Some older students and I worked on this Pilgrim Book from Enchanted Learning:http://www.enchantedlearning.com/books/holiday/thanksgiving/pilgrims/
(I have talked about Enchanted Learning before, and here's another plug. It's only $20 a year, very relevant, and you can use the printables to target many skills.)
My 3rd graders bring their Scholastic News newspapers to speech. We work on identifying the main idea and details, and summarizing the articles. I found some Graphic Organizers specific to the Scholastic News on the Scholastic website: http://sni.scholastic.com/SN4/09_17_12_SN4/Teaching-Resources
The preschool classroom I serve is doing an amazing unit on grocery store, and I love to just go in and play!
In some settings where SLPs work, the SLPs go to their jobs and do one thing and one thing only - work as a speech-language pathologist. However, we school-based SLPs have so many roles within the school that are above and beyond our official title on our teacher's contract. In reflecting on my career (13 years) as a school-based SLP, here are some of the non-SLP roles/jobs I've had: breakfast monitor, recess duty teacher, assistant holiday play director, bus duty teacher, office duty (covering for the secretary's lunch), public relations committee member, cooperating teacher for a graduate student...just to name a few.
This school year I have a new role to add to this list - a mentor for a new SLP. In my years working at two different districts I've never had the opportunity to serve as a mentor before, so it's a completely new experience for me. A bit about my "mentee" (is that the right word?) - she's not a new grad (already has her CCCs) and has experience working in the schools. However, none of her experience in the schools has been in my state. This complicates things a bit because although she's not "new" to the schools, my state considers her on the same level as a new grad.
So it puts me in an interesting spot. She's not new SLP and isn't new to the schools. So what kind of advice/suggestions/help can I offer? We're required to meet for a set number of hours per semester, so it ends up averaging to 1-2 hours of after school meetings per week (at my house with an active 7-year old running around no less!). Every week I try to think of things to talk about/suggestions to offer, but it isn't always easy. In my short time thus far as a mentor (she was hired in late September) here is what I've learned:
- Don't teach her things she already knows - always remember she has experience
- Let her lead the weekly discussions - what questions, concerns, student issues does she need extra help with. She's also been a great person for me to talk to about situations/students/cases
- Be yourself - I have a personality that others may enjoy or in some cases I remind people of nails on a chalkboard. I'm ok with that; however, it certainly made me nervous in the first two meetings.I'm happy to share that things seem to be going well so far!
- Accept that just because someone does something differently than you do doesn't make it incorrect nor does it make how you do things "wrong"
- Although we work in the same district sometimes two different elementary schools with two different staffs and administrators work very differently
- Young SLPs are full of great ideas!Seeing all of the fun/interesting/creative ideas she has takes me back to my early days as a school-based SLP!
So I look forward to finishing my role as a first-time mentor this school year. If she's willing, in a blog later this year I'll interview her to find out what it was like to be on the receiving end of my mentorship. Have you ever been asked to serve as a mentor for a new SLP in your school district? How did it go? What did you learn?
Today while walking into a classroom a student posed a similar question to me. I asked him what he thought I was doing in his classroom. He thought maybe to see a student (since he knows I see students in that room) or maybe to talk to his teacher (I believe he commented that I'm always talking to his teacher). Both logical guesses, but neither were actually correct. The interaction with this student made me think about how often we get out of my "speech room" and out into different classrooms in the building.
I remember first knowing about the "speech teacher" in my elementary school in fourth grade. However, all I knew about her was that her office was around the corner from the library and that she worked with two boys in my class on /r/ sounds. I don't recall her name, and I don't know if I ever knew her name. Back when I went to elementary school up through the earlier years of when I was working in the schools, the school-based speech-language pathologist was a lady who worked in a small room with groups of kids. She was not someone you saw walking around the hall, in your classroom, or out at recess. Over my years as an SLP in the schools, I realized that I didn't want to be the "mysterious speech teacher" who resides down the tiny hallway next to the guidance counselor's office. I wanted to be a known face and Mrs. Lill first to the students in my building, speech-language pathologist second.
I feel fairly confident that I am achieving this goal. I felt like I wasn't in my office all morning! It was my morning for outside bus duty where I greeted students upon their arrival and made sure they entered the building safety (and commented on several students lack of coats even though it was 27 degrees outside!). I went down to kindergarten to work with a student, where one commented, "Why does she always take so & so?" Next it was a mad dash to my room to get materials for centers in one of the Life Skills classrooms. Afterward, I headed to my room for about 10 minutes before I had to travel to the other end of the building to work with some fourth grade students in an RTii articulation group. This was followed by a articulation screening (which I did in an area outside of the student's room rather than drag him to the "speech room") and lunch. Was I even in my "speech office" for more than 15 minutes from the start of the school day to lunch? I doubt it! I did have some paperwork time in the afternoon due to a student absence and a special school webinar, but I also was back down in kindergarten and out on the playground working with students.
Is it nice to fly under the radar and spend most of the day in your speech office? Sure, in some cases, as I have experienced in the past. However, it is much better to get out of your office and get into other parts of your school! I'd much rather have a student comment on how often I visit his classroom or how often he sees me around the building in a day than wonder who the lipstick-wearing, wavy, dark-haired teacher with the with the loud voice is! That lady is me - Mrs. Lill, your school's speech-language pathologist!Do students in your building know who you are? How often are you in your speech office all day? Do you have days where you are out and about? Looking forward to hearing your comments!
I'm sure that most of us know that narrative language skills (the ability to tell/retell and understand stories) is a huge predictor of school success. One of the great things about being a school SLP, is that story telling and stories are a big piece of curriculum (and common core!) and it's not difficult to work on stories in a variety of ways. One of my latest favorite ways is, of course, using the IPAD!
Some of my favorite apps for storytelling include the following:
- The Surprise by Hamaguchi. The home version for one user is $4.99, the professional version is $9.99 for up to 30 users. The story is presented as a wordless animation, in which a little boy finds a dog and sneaks it into the house. Children can write and/or tell and record the story, then watch the story and listen to the narration. All story elements are part of the cute little movie. Find it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/youre-storyteller-surprise/id527223436?mt=8
- StoryMaker (SuperDuper free a version or $4.99 for the full version) Includes places, people and characters of items to add to page. Kids type the story (or you can type as they dictate) and again record. (tip...compare what typically developing kids can do as a reminder about what we need to work on with "our" speech and language kids. I discovered that my daughter had created a little narrative on her own...)
Find the free version here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/super-duper-storymaker-free/id560494137
Paid Version: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/super-duper-storymaker/id549220752?ign-mpt=uo%3D8
These are three pages of the story I found that my daughter had created. You can see that there a plenty of pictures available to add to the story, but you can also insert pictures from photos on your IPAD, and email the completed story to parents.
- Writing Prompts for Kids by Teacher Created Rescources. : I got this app for free on "Free App Friday", but see that it is now $1.99 in the app store. It is very simple and provides a situation, character, setting and object for kids to write about. Kids don't always enjoy writing, but anything on the IPAD is instantly motivating. Find it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/writing-prompts-for-kids/id533233202
- Story Builder $9.99 in the app store by Mobile Education Store LLC. A picture is presented with a series of prompts to encourage children to tell the story. You can fade the prompts as the child becomes more competent. What I love especially about this app is how the children have to vary their use of verb tenses and sentence types while thinking about what happened, as the story is introduced, and then moves through to completion.
Find it here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/storybuilder-for-ipad/id377631532?mt=8
Do you have any favorite apps for storytelling? Please share!
This is the last in my series of blogs over the past two months regarding using traditional board games in speech-language therapy. I hope you've enjoyed these blogs and maybe even added a new game to your shelf as a result!
The game I'll be discussing in this blog is Apples to Apples, Jr. This is the newest acquisition on my game shelf. I purchased it this summer at a well-known retailer in a summer clearance special. The great news is that this game is commercially-available just about anywhere, both in stores and online. Based on my research for this blog, the typical retail price is around $16.
If you've played the regular version of this popular game, the rules of the Jr. version are exactly the same. To save time/space, I'm not going to explain the rules of the game within the context of this blog. If you aren't familiar with them, here are the specific details of how to play this game:
When I worked at the middle/high school level I used the regular version of Apples to Apples with my students on the autism spectrum. It was great for practicing a variety of social language skills including:
- Respecting the opinion of others (The judge makes the final call!) - Lots of students have a hard time with this aspect of the game!
- Flexible thinking
- Perspective-taking - one of my former students said he knew when I was the judge to put a card that "made sense" versus being funny as he knew that's what I'd pick. This demonstrated that he was able to think about me and my thoughts because he was exactly right!
I've just started playing the Jr. version at the elementary level. I've been using it with 4th and 5th graders. Targeted skills I've worked on during this game (in addition to the social language skills listed above) include:
- Carryover of articulation and fluency targets
- Verbal expression/Semantic language/Vocabulary- it's great to practice nouns, adjectives, synonyms, antonyms, and associations.There have been several times in which the students don't know about a particular place or person mentioned on the card - great teaching opportunity!
As I've shared with all of the games I've blogged about previously, I always make a few modifications as needed based on the students in the group. These have included:
- Pre-sorting cards - this is especially important if playing the regular version of the game. There are cards that have double meanings (especially if you read the little comments on the bottom of the cards!) that are inappropriate.I haven't found any inappropriate cards in the Jr. version.
- Allowing students to trade in red cards - if students get a word they can't read, I allow them to make a trade.I want to work on the expressive language skills and don't want to limit their participation in the game due to any reading issues.
- No arguing or negotiating with the judge.Students have told me when they play at home they are allowed to try to convince the judge why their answers are the best; however I don't feel that is best for my students at school.If you want to allow room for negotiation, that's up to you- you're the judge on this one!
Have you ever played any of the different versions of Apples to Apples with your students? Are there any other games that you absolutely love to use in therapy that I haven't mentioned in my blog series? If so, feel free to comment on this blog. I'd love to hear about them!
I have written before about how I like to use movement in speech therapy for busy kids! It's motivating, it distracts them from "work" and provides sensory input. I often like to use swings during therapy, and often the swing is so motivating that children communicate much more than usual. The swinging provides proprioceptive input, which helps children feel more "in balance" and thus available for other learning and communication.
If you are fortunate to have a sensory room with a variety of indoor swings, make use of them! My two favorites for communication are the platform swing and a lycra tear drop type swing.
In my new position there is NOT a place for an indoor swing, but in a quest to use more of what is available in the school, I had a brain waive.
Yup! There are, of course plenty of playground swings! I love going outside to recess with my preschoolers. Inevitably they let me know that they want "up" on the swing, and after I help them up, I wait , wait , wait for an indication that they want to be pushed. Here are my own swing therapy rules for language-delayed preschoolers:
- Wait for communication attempts LONGER than feels comfortable
- Accept ANY attempts at communication, while guiding the child to the next level, the child wiggles his body, you say "you're telling me GO!"
- Swing the child a few times, and stop/hold the swing ...WAIT again to see if that child communicates
- If you are fortunate to have a peer model on the swing next to your student, push them too, and have them model communicative intent
Do you use swings or other playground equipment in therapy? Please discuss below or in the ADVANCE Facebook page. Talk to your OT about what they have available, and how much/what kind of swinging wors best for the children you share.
In today's blog about using games in school-based speech therapy, I want to talk about some quick, easy and fun games that work with students working on any targeted speech-language skills. The games I've discussed so far have all been ones that are the therapy activity for the day. However, sometimes you just want a down and dirty reinforcer to keep kids motivated while doing drill and practice activities. Below are some of my favorite ways to do it (all the while kids are, or at least they think they are, playing a "game").
1) Crocodile Dentist (Travel Version) - I first learned about this game while student teaching in the schools more than 15 years ago. My cooperating teacher was out, so I spent the day with another SLP in the district. She used this game as a reinforcer, and I was amazed how it didn't interfere with working on targets (since it is so quick and easy), yet was extremely motivating! Basically the kids do a targeted skill (whatever it may be) and then get to "push a tooth" afterward. Kids keep taking turns pushing teeth until the crocodile bites. I've used this with all ages of elementary school students. This game can be hard to find in stores as I had purchased my original one probably 10 years ago. I lucked out and found a second one for 50 cents at a yardsale a few years ago. It came in handy as the first one broke (after awhile a few of the teeth would pop back up after being pressed plus eventually the mouth wouldn't stay open). I have had kids be scared by this game (i.e., afraid it'll hurt if the crocodile bites them). Usually these fears are alleviated by letting the kids use the eraser end of a pencil to push down a tooth instead of fingers.
2) Tic Tac Tony - The SLP who covered my maternity leave 7 years ago introduced me to this game. I was fortunate enough to find it at a discount retailer for $8 that holiday season. From what others have told me, it is not easy to find any more. This game is ideal for preschool children, very early elementary children, and children who are developmentally younger. It's great to work on turn-taking, requesting and simply pairing as a reinforcer with any targeted speech-language skill. It's also great for fine motor skills such as putting the chip on the tail and holding the tail down and letting it go.
3) Dice - I kid you not, put a die in a kid's hand and regardless of what you're doing he/she will think you're "playing a game." They are cheap (you can get a six pack for $1 at most dollar stores!) and easy to find. I love to use dice for articulation drill and practice. For non-readers, hand the students a worksheet with target sound pictures on it. The students can roll the die onto the page and name whatever picture they landed on that number of times. For readers, students can roll and say the word that many times, say that many different words, or read/generate that many different sentences. It's a way to sneak in a ton of drill and practice, all the while the kids think they are playing a game!
Games in speech don't have to be time-consuming or complicated. Sometimes keeping it simple is best! What are your favorite "simple" games to use as a reinforcer in speech-language sessions?
As I finally hammered out the final changes to my schedule, figured out who the teachers and my students are at my new school, I've broken out the IPAD and revisited some of my favorite apps.
One APP I just LOVE is "Talk About It: Objects" by Hamaguchi Apps.
This is a well-organized app in which children are presented with one of 50 objects after touching a "play button." There is a guess box, which contains four sentences, each of which pertains to the target object. The guess box is presented three or four times (you can choose how many options you want to give the child through the settings tab) and each time the children have to indicate which of the sentences BEST describes the object. After selecting up to four of the best sentences, the sentences are hidden, and the child summarizes and records the information. There are clue questions to help them remember and organize the information. The child then listens to their summary to see if they remembered all the information. After completing 3-5 objects, there is a game for reinforcement. This is a wonderful app for speech group therapy! It targets narrative language skills, summarizing, vocabulary and language processing. There is a free light version, a home version for $5.99, and a school version for $19.99.
I recently downloaded another of the Hamaguchi apps, which targets story-telling skills. I can't wait to give it a try!
I hope you've found my suggestions of boards game to use in therapy useful so far. I have several more games I'll be blogging about in this ongoing series. How many of you have children on your caseload who like to be "silly"? How many of you know students who would crack up at this sentence, "The furry banana walks under a pink duck"? How many of you have children working on articulation, grammar, and/or semantic language targets on your caseload? If you answered, "Me!" to one or all of these questions, keep reading!
I bought the game "Very Silly Sentences" about four years ago at a national chain discount clothing store, that also has a small toy section, for around $6. This game is an updated version of a game called "Silly Sentences." "Very Silly Sentences" is available on numerous online retailers for less than $10. It is very simple game to learn and play. The recommended ages on the box are 4-7. The object of the game is to collect enough word cards to build two complete (and hopefully silly!) sentences. Please click here for a more in-depth explanation of the rules.
This game is a quick and easy game to learn, so unlike some of the other games I've discussed, very little pre-teaching of targeted skills needs to occur before using it in therapy. Here's a list of ways I've used this game in therapy:
- Parts of speech- if you have any language students learning about the parts of speech, this is a great game for reinforcing and using them to build sentences.
- Grammar- Ideal for students working on third person -s verb endings as that is the form of all the verbs in the game. It also is helpful for students who leave "functor" words out of their sentences, such as prepositions and articles.
- Syntax- Reinforces correct word order in sentences
- Articulation- As with just about any games, students can work on targeted sounds at both the word and sentence levels.
- Semantics- Although this game bills itself as an early reading game, I find it is an excellent tool for working on several different vocabulary-related skills. When students draw "noun" cards, they can tell you the category and/or a description using salient attributes. When students draw an "adjective" card, I have them generate a list of as many nouns as they can think of that go with the adjective.As the name of the game indicates, most of the sentences students make in this game are "silly," meaning the adjectives don't go with the nouns and the nouns can't perform the verbs.After the silly sentences are complete, I have students retell the sentence using words that would make sense.
Here are some adaptations to consider:
- Age Range- I think 4 is too young. I have used this game with students in grades 1 through 3, so approximately ages 6 to 9.
- Although there are two sides to the cards (shorter vs. longer sentences), I always use the longer sentence side.I find that if you use the shorter sides, often times the sentences end up being syntactically- or grammatically-incorrect due to not using all the different parts of speech.
- As with any game, depending on the age of the students, you may need to pre-sort the cards and eliminate certain words.I find the prepositions are tricky to use/understand at times, especially ones such as "to" or "toward." I prefer using the concrete prepositions with younger students (i.e., in, on, under).Pre-sorting may also be necessary for articulation groups to make sure the word cards contain the students' speech targets.
When I first bought this game and read the directions, I wasn't sure what the students would think. Would they see the age range of 4-7 and think it is a "babyish" game? Would they find building sentences a "boring" task? I am pleased to tell you that I was mistaken. I had a group of second graders and a group of third graders last year who regularly requested this game over any other options on my shelf. School has been in session for nearly a month, and as I'm writing this I now realize that I have yet to play this with any of my students this year. I think I'll need to write it in some lesson plans for next week! I hope you consider including "Very Silly Sentences" in your lesson plans sometime in the future!
A couple of blogs ago, I discussed an amazing sensory bean bin I love to use in therapy. Since every SLP should have an arsenal of sensory items I want to share another fave!
These spinning tops are a huge motivation for kids who benefit from visual input. Attach the spinning top to the little shooter, wind it, and push the button to let go. It took me a while to figure out how to stack the tops as they spin, but once you get the trick of it, kids LOVE it. It is not super easy to attach the spinning top to the shooter, which is a bonus because after spinning the top and waiting for it to stop, I just wait to see what the child will do. Usually the child attempts and fails to attach it himself. I wait and wait (sometimes waiting is hard, but it’s super important!). Some children glancing at me and the spinning top (that all important gaze shift which is all that I need to spin the top again. Other children show that they want more spinning by handing me the spinning top, or verbalizing. It’s important to accept any and all attempts at communication.
I have worked my way through a few of these sets because they do wear out, but they are certainly well worth the $10 or so they cost.
The game in today's blog is probably one you've never heard of called "In a Pickle." I have yet to meet a student who had heard of this game or played it before I've introduced it in a session. I bought this game at a large "box" retail store for about $10 nearly 10 years ago having only read the back of the box and knowing nothing else about it. Unlike the other two games I've blogged about in this series, "In a Pickle" is still commercially-available for a reasonable price.
The directions of this game are easy once you experience it. Basically, the box is full of cards with nouns on them. Each player starts with five cards. The object of the game is to make rows (and "win" rows) by adding cards that are either "bigger" or "smaller" than the on the table. For the sake of keeping this blog a reasonable length, please read here for more thorough directions:
The best (and simplest) explanation of the strategy for this game was provided to me by a student several years ago. "I look for the biggest small things and the smallest big things" when deciding which card to place on a row on his turn. The game is completely language-based. Some of the speech- language concepts that can be worked on while playing "In a Pickle" include:
- Comparison and contrasting - I always remind students to "picture" the words in their heads. This is especially good for students who may already be working on such skills through programs such as Visualizing and Verbalizing.
- Multiple meaning words - Some of the cards in this game are pretty straight-forward. How many different things can "shopping cart" mean? However, there are numerous words in the game that can have multiple meanings as nouns (i.e., spring). The more meanings students can think of for words, the more options they have for placing the card in a row.
- Categorization - Many of the cards are open for interpretation depending on "what kind" it is. For example, the words "ear" and "neck."A "mouse's ear" and a "human's ear" are quite different in size.Same with a "human's neck" versus a "giraffe's neck!"
- Flexible thinking - When I worked with middle and high school students on the autism spectrum I used this game all the time for encouraging flexible thinking and multiple meanings/interpretations of words. As surprising as this may sound, even the most rigid students enjoyed this game.
- Articulation - I love this game for carryover of /r/ sounds. I'll sort through the cards and give the students ONLY nouns with /r/s in them (some examples include, "world," "horse," "theater"). Plus, every time a student puts a card down, I require them to say the sentence, "A _____ is bigger/smaller than a ______" for extra /r/ practice.
A few modifications I've made with this game:
- Age - Although the recommended ages on the game are 10+, I have used this game with children a bit younger (3rdgrade, 8/9 years old).To use this game with younger children, make sure to sort out some of the words that you think will be unfamiliar to them and eliminate some of the words that are very open to interpretation (i.e., wisdom).
- In the directions, the group is supposed to decide whether or not a card placed on a row makes sense. As I tell the students, I am the judge, and I make the final call.
- When students are working on a row of four, I allow them to add bigger OR smaller words to either end of the row (the directions say only larger ones are allowed at that point in the game). This offers more practice opportunity instead of having a bunch of kids "passing" because they don't have any "good" cards.
- The directions say a student can't add descriptors before the nouns (i.e., noodles - egg noodles vs. lo mein noodles); however I work so much on categorization and descriptions with my students that I encourage this! (see above under "categorization")
How many of you have heard of this game before? Have any of you played "In a Pickle" in therapy with students? If not, I hope I introduced you to a new game to add to your shelf!
This year, I am a newbie in a school district after 16 years. It is equally exciting and terrifying! I really want to not only be a GOOD SLP but a great one! As a result, it was with great interest I read the following summary from a blog about the ASHA schools conference summarizing a survey by SLP great Wayne Secord. Here are some of the most important points:
"Wayne Secord presented the results of a questionnaire that had been presented to each state's top two speech-language pathologists (each state determined the qualifications and chose SLP from the schools and one from health care). The idea was for the answers to this questionnaire to illuminate what sets these great SLPs apart. According to the results, the top 10 characteristics shared by SLPs deemed excellent by their peers are:
10. They remember their priorities.
9. They aren't afraid to take risks.
8. They try difficult things.
7. They understand change and they understand change is hard.
6. They achieve situational mastery (knowing the system in which they work).
5. They do a few things well-really well.
4. They always have an academic endpoint in mind for everything they do.
3. They learn crossover knowledge from general education teachers and other team members.
2. They truly believe in teamwork and collaboration.
1. They listen-all the time.
"When you think about these characteristics it seems so obvious," Secord said. "But to truly embrace all of them takes a very special person."
(From ASHA Leader August 1st)
It is not easy to address the above while trying to figure out the layout of the school, match teachers' names to faces, learn about new kids, paperwork and computer systems. I plan to work on just a few of the above and realize I have already taken the leap by making this change.
How do YOU plan to be great this year!
In today's blog, I'm continuing my series regarding traditional board games that I've successfully used in speech-language sessions. Last time, I blogged about a two-in-one game tin that I love. This blog is about the second game in the tin, Taboo Jr. Like Outburst Jr., I don't think it is available in stores any more, but you can purchase it on Amazon, but it is much cheaper on ebay. There are also a few free apps that go by various names that can serve as a substitute if you can't find the actual game.
For those of you unfamiliar with this game, the gist of it is that you need to give clues to get your partner to guess the word on your card without saying any of the "taboo" words printed on the card. Teams have 1 minute to guess as many words as possible. Just reading that brief description alone should clue you in as to why this is a great game to use with students working on receptive and expressive semantic language skills. For a more detailed description of the directions, please see this link. Although this gives directions to the teen/adult version of the game, the rules and principles remain the same.
One thing that is quite important when playing Taboo Jr. is that students need to have been pre-taught certain skills in order to play this game successfully. It is very important for students to know about salient attributes and giving good, specific descriptions of vocabulary words. It is also very useful if students have practiced verbal categorization and association skills. I've found that explicit instruction of skills followed by doing simple "describing and guessing" guided practice games with picture cards has led to carryover of skills when playing this game.
As you now know if you've been reading this series of blogs, I'm in favor of adapting the "how to" of the game and the rules to suit your students' needs! Here are some simple ways to adapt this game for students of varying ages and needs:
- Instead of doing teams of two (per the directions), each child is his/her own team.Children rotate doing each of the jobs (describer, guesser, timer, taboo word "squeaker"). This way the students partner up with different students each turn.Both the describer and the guesser can earn points for each correct response, reinforcing the importance of being successful performing each skill. I find that some kids are great describers and others are great guessers. By taking turns with different partners doing these skills, no one is penalized for being weak with a specific skill.
- There are times I will play with the students (in the way described above). I find this is important the first time the group plays the game.This gives me a chance to model the skills required in order to be successful describers and guessers.Plus I can use "think alouds" to model strategies.
- Sort through the cards before the game. There are a few dated references or words/places/people/characters students who have limited experiential knowledge may struggle with.The point of the game is to practice language skills and not be penalized for never having heard of "Little Red Riding Hood."
I've found that children really enjoy this game. I've never met a student who hasn't had a blast being the "squeaker" especially when a peer says a "taboo" word on his/her card! I have to be honest, back in the early to mid 90s (the game was first published in 1989) I remember playing the non-junior version of this game many times with friends and family members. It is one of my favorite language-rich board games of all time. I'd love to hear any thoughts you have on Taboo Jr!