Using Sticky Notes for Speech Scheduling- Back to School

Using sticky notes to make speech schedules with less stress and more success! Looks Like Language

Scheduling is one of the most annoying things we do at the beginning of the school year, in my opinion! If  you missed part 1of my tips for scheduling, you can catch up here. You might also want to see my grouping hints here!

Don't Match the Colors!

Now that you have organized your groups, gotten your sticky notes done and made your color coded master schedule, you are ready for one of an SLP’s worst nightmares: scheduling! 

Take the sticky notes and place them on your schedule, following these rules:

Never place a sticky on the same colored spot.
Fill in all the colored spots first, leaving the white spots (with more flexibility) open until the end.
Place all of the group slots first, starting with your groups that have the most limited openings and the largest sized groups.
Next, do your students who have the most individual sessions, so you can spread them out over the week.
Then, fill in the rest of the sticky notes while humming your good luck mantra!

Keep putting your sticky notes on until your schedule is filled, If you get this done without encountering a problem, you win the Scheduler of the Year Award! That has never happened to me. (SIGH!)

Scheduling Problems

Inevitably, I get to a spot where someone doesn’t fit. I try first to find a sticky that will fit in the problem spot. Just pull it up and peek at what color is under it. If the switch works, great! If it looks like there will be multiple switches needed, I take a photo or a photocopy of the schedule at this point. 

Sometimes, a sequence of changes works and your problem is solved. Other times, you start making changes and it just gets worse. That is what the photo is for. If a muddle happens, look at your photo or photocopy and go back to where you were. Picking a different sticky note to make the switch usually works for me. 

In the worst case scenarios, pull off some of the stickies for your easier to group slots and stick them on the side of the schedule. (I love this because I won't end up losing track of one of the groups while figuring out the scheduling snafu!) Find new slots for your hard to schedule kids and then go back and fill in the easier kids.

Success! Now that your schedule works, put it in a page protector so that none of the sticky notes can accidentally fall off. Go make a photocopy to work from and keep your sticky original intact. It will come in handy when the teachers’ or your students’ schedules get changed! 

Last, but very important, go home and de-stress at the end of the day. I find that a glass of wine with dinner works wonders. What do you do to unwind at the beginning of the school year?

4 Steps to Easier Speech Scheduling!

This series of tips  can help your school year get off to a smoother start! We all need help there! If you missed my grouping tips, click here.

4 Steps to Easier Speech Scheduling from Looks Like Language

Color Makes It Better!

Scheduling for speech/language therapy is such a pain! I’ve tried many ways to schedule over the years and this is the system that has worked best for me! Maybe it’s because I am a quilter, too, but the color-coding really helps me out. 

With this method, I also use small colored sticky notes and a page protector, but it will work with just a paper, pencil, and any size sticky notes that you are willing to cut to size.

Before you get started with this step, though, have you thought about how you want to group your students? If you'd like some ideas, catch my grouping tips series here.

I used to cut the sticky parts of some sticky notes down to the size that will fit on your schedule, but look what I found at Staples this year! I just hope to see these in dollar stores soon!

Write the names of your students on the colored sticky notes that match their team color (even if I’ve just arbitrarily assigned it! A Team= yellow, B Team= blue, C Team= pink, D Team= green, for example.) There will be a color-coded sticky for every session that I need to schedule. This ensures that I don’t accidentally skip a session while scheduling and is very useful when making schedule changes.

My school has classes that are organized in groups or teams that have similar schedules, so the first thing that I do is to make a master schedule of time slots where the students are NOT available. The colored slots on the schedule indicate this. 

I often fill in what is scheduled during those time periods and the location to help me out on those days when I have to flex my schedule. I also like to fill in periods where I am allowed to take students, but it isn’t worth the fight unless necessary.  

If you do any block scheduling or push in times that have little flexibility, fill these in on your schedule now, too. By the way, I prefer using 'don't schedule' times because they usually fill up less of the schedule, but it is perfectly fine to do it the other way, too!

I just wish that my real schedules were this simple and this pretty! But a sloppy version can be made while you are sitting in those long meetings at the beginning of the school year, and it works quite well as long as you can read your own handwriting!

Do you have another system that works for you? Please share!

Hide and Seek: GYMNASIUM

Prizes and a lot of fun! Hi, friends! I want to thank Kim from Activity Tailor for this fantastic idea for a blog hop! See if you can figure out where we are hiding, doing speech/language therapy and sharing some useful tips! 
 Thirteen bloggers are hiding--hiding on different blogs and hiding in the school. They're here to show you that you can (and probably do) do therapy everywhere and that each locale has it's own benefits. For all their tips, hop from blog to blog. While you're there, jot down the author's blog/school location listed at the bottom of each post to enter into Rafflecopter.  
Please welcome my guest blogger, Ashley, from Sweet Southern Speech!

Do any of you work with your speech kids in areas of the school NOT your speech room? Ever wonder how to integrate articulation and language goals in the gymnasium? Well, I’m going to focus this post on how to do just that!

Social language is key in gym class, right? It’s all about turn taking and sportsmanship here. Often gym classes work in units. It might be helpful to talk to the gym teachers and ask for their schedule. I do this then plan my therapy in advance to best prepare them for upcoming class. Role-playing a situation they may face in gym class is another great way to help kids. Give them some phrases like, “good shot,” “nice basket,” if they are playing basketball. Let’s say your student is not really athletically coordinated. Help them here by practicing a response if they perform poorly at a game in gym and someone makes fun of them.
Working on vocabulary? Make some flash cards with words to help them. Here are some I use: (gallop, pulse, energy, sets, endurance, frequency, repetitions, intensity, nutrition, respect, teamwork, responsibility, cooperation, overhand, underhand, balance, flexibility). I find kids need a visual representation of these words, so we will do an Internet search for images and I will have the students draw their own picture and make a vocabulary notebook.

Articulation goals are a good way to carry-over into “real world” practice utilizing the gym. Maybe go down to the gym if there isn’t a class going on and shoot hoops as rewards for using good speech sounds a certain number of times. Here are a few gym-related articulation goals I have used before: R (run, race, relay, rope, rebound, heart, curl, sport, cheer, practice) S (stand, sit-ups, stretch, base, basketball, race, skate, strength, strong, spirit.)

I hope this offers some ideas you can implement into your therapy sessions and sparks some ideas of integrating all areas of the school to challenge your students.

Ashley’s home base is Sweet Southern Speech, but today she’s in the:  GYMNASIUM! 

To enter the Hide and Seek Blog Hop raffle, collect the names of them here.

I want to thank Kim from Activity Tailor again for organizing this wonderful fun!  Have you found out where I am hiding yet?

Your next mystery stop is here:

Curious about the prizes?
Good Luck!

5 Grouping Tips for SLPs! Back to School

Are they apples or oranges?

Grouping speech/language therapy students and making schedules are some of the biggest stressors when going back to school! It is a tough time of year so I have been sharing tips I have learned to make difficult combinations of student behaviors/needs work.

I’m a big fan of spending less time talking myself in therapy and getting the students to interact more with each other. One way to do this is to group a student who has a good factual based set of language skills together with a student who needs this help. Talking about what he knows will help the student with social language problems, giving him a chance to apply rules such as watching facial expressions and body language to tell when he has said enough. Similarly, the student who is learning the vocabulary or sentence structure will have her chance to shine when modeling the social skills to pay attention to. Everybody is a winner! 

I hope that some of these tips gave you food for thought and helped reduce the beginning of the year stress a little! There will never be a schedule with all perfect groups, but with some forethought and planning, you can make treating difficult groups more manageable.

So, did we come up with the same 5 tips? If not, just comment below and let me know what I am missing! Hope your year is off to a good start!    

5 Grouping Tips for SLPs! Back to School

Scheduling can be a nightmare! If you missed the first part in this series, go here.

Who wants mac and cheese?

Last post I shared with you my ideas on how to organize for making groups, but I didn't really give any details about what you can do when you have a pretty disparate caseload. I think of this like having dinner with your kids when they are little and picky eaters. I don't want to eat the boxed macaroni and cheese that is their favorite right now, but they certainly can't have the slice of quiche and glass of wine that I want, either. So what is really important? That we sit down together, enjoy each other's company and not be hungry when we are done.  (So, the dinner I pictured never happened when my kids were little- a girl could dream!)

Speech/language therapy mismatched groups can accomplish the goal as long as you are able to find some tie to pull it all together! One way to do this is to take a look at that goal sheet you organized and think about what you need to say or do to elicit the responses for that goal. Then, look at the other goals on your list. Do any of your students need to learn to do just that? Voila, a group! You model, then prompt, and hopefully in not too long you will have a group the interacts with each other while accomplishing their goals!

Don't worry- they won't put you out of your job!

As lovely as this idea sounds, it doesn't always work. So here's another tip. 

Try thinking about HOW you plan to get the goal accomplished. What strengths can be used or what strategies can be taught to help your students to achieve their goals? Could any of your goals, and thus your students, be grouped together by using the same strategy? Remember, we are just looking for a dining room table to share. What is being served can be tailored to the individuals sitting at the table!

Not every scheduling problem can be fixed. Sometimes you just have to try your best and persevere, but I hope that this gave you some ideas that you can use!

What has been your worst grouping nightmare? How did you deal with it? I wonder...
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