Print and Go Games for St. Patrick's Day!

Once I was working with a young boy (let's call him "M") who communicated using PECS, and after much practice, I was so happy that he was making some progress with his symbol discrimination skills. FINALLY!

The next session with him, I had a student observer and sat at the table in a different position relative to him. With me in a different seat, we were back to ground zero. It was like he had never done the activity before in his life! 

That was a learning moment for me. Once an ASD student learns a skill in one context, keep applying that skill in as many different ways as possible and review, review, review!

Easy ways to keep reviewing skills are to use different types of activities and take advantage of holiday themes to review a variety of targets learned during the year. Why teach just the vocabulary for that day, which is used once a year, when you can have fun with the theme and review more functional language?

Get free print and go activities each month from Looks Like Language!
For this reason, I have an open-ended FREE St. Patrick's Day game set for you!
You can download it here.

And if you'd like to have access to the longer, free monthly sets for 2019, just sign up for my email list on the pop-up!












If you work with students using AAC, you will want to check out my friend Susan's new book: Making the Connection: A Practical Guide to Parents and Practitioners for Teaching the Nonverbal Child to Communicate with AAC.

One of the many useful tips I learned when reading this book was that research shows that successful AAC users depend upon having frequently used words remain in the same position so they can access them more quickly to get their message across.



It made me reflect back on when I was working with students like "M", who displayed problems with spatial perceptual skills, and wonder what could have happened if I had worked on expanding communication without moving symbols around.

I'll never know, but you could be more effective with your AAC students after reading the book! I certainly wish I had an easy to read book with so much information available to me then! Just click here if you'd like to check it out. And it is free if you have Kindle Unlimited!

Disclaimer: Susan is my friend, but I get no compensation for writing this and certainly wouldn't mention the book to you if I didn't know it could be very helpful!

Enjoy!

Teaching Kindness in February- A Free Print & Go Game Download

It is unbelievably important for educators to teach kindness skills and respect for different viewpoints and ways of life! I have some help for you with my free download.

To my way of thinking, having people be kind and respectful to each other makes the world a better place.

Join the Looks Like Language Newsletter!
Since the world seems to be both growing smaller, in terms of having access to information about anywhere in the world, yet growing more divided, let's do what we can to help promote peaceful interactions and acceptance of differences in hopes that our young people may make our world better.

A free print and go kindness board game from Looks Like Language!
Download the free kindness game board here.

If you'd like more options for mixed groups, have you signed up for my growing bundle of open-ended print and go games? Free for 2019 only, so don't wait! Click here or sign up on the pop-up!

Model kindness and help our kids be kind!

9 Reasons to Consider Working in a School Setting

Where to work? You are a lucky SLP if you have your choice of settings, but how to decide? I can weigh in on what I’ve learned from working in a school setting, although that was not my first choice.

I had always thought that I would work in a hospital setting since in the 80’s school SLPs were looked on as people who corrected lisps and /r/. After my clinical placement at Johns Hopkins Kennedy Krieger Institute, it was my dream to work there. But jobs weren’t available there and a school system wanted to hire me. Nothing like student loans and a need to eat to get you taking any job offered!

So, I started in the schools. Time for a disclaimer: An offer to write a blog post came to me from Therapy Travelers to receive money for writing about why to work in the school system. I usually don’t accept these offers, but the thought kept going through my mind- why did I stay in school systems all those years?

So, here are my reasons. Two people who respond with their reason will be chosen randomly to receive a $10 TpT gift card!

Why work in a school setting? 9 reasons to consider it!

Why work in a school setting?


1. After working in 13 different schools, I can tell you that each school has their own culture.  If one building is not a good fit for you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t love working in a different one!

2. You get to work with a wide variety of problem areas and severity levels in a school system. It’s not just /l/, /s/and/r/ anymore!

3. It is a great way to solidify your skills at treating various speech/language disorders in children as a new clinician and possibly using pre-existing IEP paperwork.

4. You can learn a lot over the years by observing special educators and having a chance to talk over problem behaviors with the other members of your student’s related service team even if you are the only SLP in the school.

5. While people mistakenly think that working in a school is a 9 to 3 job, you often have the flexibility of putting in the extra hours for planning and paperwork from home, which is great if you have a family.

6. If you have children, it is very helpful to often have overlapping school day hours and vacations to help reduce the need for child care.

7. Having the steady income and benefits from a school system is a plus, although changes in student population can affect your job even after working in a school for many years.

8. Working in a school broadens your horizons and increases your flexibility. You can make many decisions about your treatment plans, but a variety of factors are out of your control, so you learn to cope. You get exposed to a wider variety of cultures and socioeconomic levels than you would if you only work with private clients whose parents can afford therapy. It helps you learn what a diversified country we live in!


9. While working in 3 different school systems over the years was often hectic, it was never boring!

And if you try it and don’t like it, you can always change your mind later and step out into the world of private therapy, keeping your income steady as you build a client base. For me, working in school systems provided a much more interesting career than I ever imagined as a newly graduated therapist. 

What is your reason for working in the school setting?

Two lucky people who respond will each win a $10 TpT gift card!

Dream BIG with Martin Luther King, Jr & a free download!

Happy 2019!

I hope that this year will be a happy, healthy and productive year for you! Happy and healthy are up to you, but I can help out with productive!

Since I love helping out SLPs and SPED folks, I have started a new freebie set for older students this year. We can never have enough materials, can we?

There will a new, open-ended print and go game for you to use each month. More often if life events permit! 

Get a year's worth of free open ended games growing bundle at Looks Like Language!
This month, I have a free open-ended printable game board for incorporating a Martin Luther King, Jr. theme with therapy skills. Just print, go, be creative and have fun! Download it here.














I also have a special offer for this year only!
Every month, my newsletter subscribers will have access to an expanded version of the Friday Freebie!

Get a year's worth of free open ended games growing bundle at Looks Like Language!
You know that I love making materials with visuals that accommodate mixed levels/skills groups. The expanded freebies will help with exactly that!

All you have to do is sign up on the dreaded pop-up. Maybe not so dreaded this year?

Every month, you will get early access to my growing bundle of open-ended print and go game boards. The link will only be active for the current month, but you will get a new access link at the beginning of each month once you sign up.

It will only be free in 2019, so take advantage of the offer and sign up now!

Enjoy!

More Holiday Fun!

As life gets busier preparing for holidays, just remember that you have to take care of yourself too! When you reach a point that you say to yourself, "Oh, good! I still have time to .....," maybe it is time to cross something off your list and take some time to relax or do something nice for yourself! You deserve it!


Give yourself some extra time this week! Download 3 free resources from Looks Like Language!



I love the interactive, no print & no prep fun of Boom cards, so if you haven't checked them out- well, you should! The account is free, and so is this fun Christmas activity. Plus, it gives you back some time you would have spent planning this week since your kids will love it!
Give yourself some extra time this week! Download 3 free resources from Looks Like Language!



Are you more comfortable with printable fun? This free Christmas Fun mini set from my store lets you address skills for categories with a trim the tree activity. You can also work on producing sentences or comparing and contrasting with the fun bows and presents game! 







Give yourself some extra time this week! Download 3 free resources from Looks Like Language!


And you know that I have my weekly printable activity. This week you get the last part of my Holiday Match game. If you missed the first part, just click here.



Three freebies! I hope you feel appreciated! I'm taking a little break (we all deserve one!) but I'll be back in the New Year with an all-new idea for freebies!
Happy end of 2018!  

Enjoy!

2 Free Resources for Fun Holiday Help!

Do you get so busy preparing for the holidays that you just can't wait for vacation to arrive? I think our students may pick up on this, as well as feeling like they just can't wait to celebrate!

Click to download the free printable Holiday Matching Game.
Whatever the reason, sticking to the regular routines seems to get harder the closer the holiday gets. A little change in the 'work' level, while still teaching and reviewing skills, may be just what is needed this holiday season.

If you prefer to have printable materials that can be used in any location, you will want to download the updated version of my Open Ended Holiday Matching Game. Just click here to download the first set.

If you get my newsletter, you are in for a treat with double the amount of cards for additional ways to play! So be sure to open your email this week.

Have fun decorating for Christmas with this free interactive game for iPads.
For busy SLPs and parents, using the iPad may be the way to go! If so, you will want to check out the free Christmas Time interactive game for iPads and phones at my TpT store. Kids can play independently to decorate the house for Christmas or turn it into a more structured activity for teletherapy by reviewing work each turn.

Either way, I have you covered! Be sure to stop back weekly for more fun!

3 Tips for Making Sense of IEP Goals

A new student enters your caseload with an IEP and goals already set up for the year. Your first thought may be, “FANTASTIC! One less IEP to do!”  But as you dig in deeper, you begin to wonder what in the world is going on here.
The goals are all done, but they aren’t the kind you write.

Tips for Prioritizing Needs and Using Goals You Didn't Write
Maybe they are so long and in depth that you wonder how anyone could think a superhero SLP would get that done in a year.

Maybe they are so short and simplistic that you feel the student has nothing to gain from it.

Maybe you are just confused about why it was chosen at all.

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that we should give each other the benefit of the doubt, since there are so many different factors that come into play, depending on where you work, what your experience level is, and what your therapy framework is. 


Most of the time, there is something in a goal that you can work with.

WHERE YOU WORK


Some school districts have IEPs scattered throughout the year. In the month before, you assess the students, whom you already know well after having them on your caseload for a while, and write new goals that continue from the current skill level. Lots of written work, but pretty straightforward.

Some school districts use IEP compendiums, purchased or self-made. The benefit to using computerized IEP goals is that it can cut back on the time you spend re-writing goals. 

Drawbacks can include:
• If the goals are detailed and specific, there may not be enough of them to cover all of your students’ varied needs.
• If the goals are broad, listing every skill needed to be able to do the functional skill in a year’s time, it can feel overwhelming. “I have to accomplish all of this! Are they out of their minds?”

Solutions can include:

• Finding out the way to add a goal that is not currently in the compendium so that your students’ specific need can be met.

• Figuring out which part of the lengthy set of skills shows where your students’ current needs are and addressing that specific section of the goal. Session notes document exactly what is being addressed and the data to document growth. Informal measures taken quarterly can look at the big picture to show that progress is being made toward the overall goal as well.


Some school districts put pressure on providers of special services to provide fewer services, write more goals, have higher levels of success, you name it. This can come about because of administrative pushes, funding issues, audit results, and probably a variety of other causes. This is the reality of therapy in schools. Do your best for your students within the parameters you’ve been given, decide to fight against it or move on to another job.


Use informal assessments and team input to help prioritize needs.

OUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL


With large caseloads, multiple schools, and varying degrees of practical experience, SLPS are doing the best they can. No one went into this field thinking it was a huge money-making career, so assume that we all have our students' interests at heart.

As beginning therapists, we all work on building up our resources: materials,  knowledge of strategies, the variety of student management techniques, ability to handle the overabundance of paperwork, and diversifying our therapy skill sets in general.

Maybe that goal that has you perplexed stems from a subtest score that the participants in the IEP meeting were especially concerned about.

Maybe the new therapist chose similar areas of student need for much of their caseload because they felt secure about helping students make improvements in groups while they learned to handle more diversity.

Maybe that one goal has enough flexibility built in that the therapist was better able to meet diverse group needs!

THERAPY FRAMEWORK


Face it, speech/language therapy covers a multitude of disabilities and skills!  We all have some aspect of communication that we are especially interested in, and that helps to personalize the lens that we use to assess students.

Especially for students with bigger delays and multiple needs! One of the hardest parts of our job is prioritizing what to work on when a student has delays in many skills so that you can have the biggest positive impact in their lives.

TIPS FOR PRIORITIZING NEEDS


Listen!
Listen to everyone on the student’s team to hear what they are all saying about the student’s weaknesses. Parents, who know their child best of all. Teachers, who observe the student in many school contexts, have knowledge of both strengths and weakness, and other students to compare against. Specialists, who bring their specific area knowledge to combine with yours and help the child as a whole.

Observe!
Informal assessment can occur at any time or any place during the school day. Build a relationship with your student’s teachers and find out what their concerns are. Watch the students in the room in between sessions when you are picking up and dropping off. Pay attention to their interactions with peers while you are on your way to the copying machine, or doing bus and lunchroom duties.

Think!
Think about what you know about the child’s language system and how this could be impacting the ability to function in the school. What strengths and weaknesses are a common theme in the team discussion? What communication needs can a part of any behavioral concerns? Is there a pattern showing that improvement in a specific area of communication deficits could help the student at multiple times of the school day? There’s your answer!

BRINGING IN RELATED SKILLS


At some point in the year, you will have reached a point where you feel comfortable with your therapy routines and materials for the specific aspects of students’ goals that you are taking data on since you are seeing progress.

Yes, you will! And every year it gets a bit easier.  But, for me at least, the discomfort level at the beginning of the school year never stopped. Kudos to you if you have managed it! 


When you reach a point that you can look beyond the next week or month, or your student shows that the basic aspects of the IEP goal have been learned, think about bringing in some of those skills that were not a priority at the beginning of the year. Keep on listening, because the student may have another priority need by now.

Or maybe there are some other areas of need that just tie in well with the types of activities the student is experiencing progress with. Some ideas are:

* The student who answers basic WH questions can play teacher and ask you or peers the questions.
* The student with improved memory strategies can apply the skills socially to remember information about peers for better social skills.
* The student who follows directions now can try giving the directions in an activity.
* The student who understands narrative structure in simple stories can use it to expand personal narratives or make them more concise.
* The student who uses expanded sentences in structure can work on social skills and reinforce the expanded sentences in a social activity.

Don’t be too fast to move on to new skills when you can incorporate newly learned skills with other areas of weakness. Combine your therapy expertise and framework with the IEP goals the student came with to meet as many of the student’s communication needs as you can. Your students will benefit!

Enjoy!
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