Showing posts with label SLP Organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SLP Organization. Show all posts

Planning Made Easier- Quick Tips for SLPs

Planning.. Is that a problem for you? I know a lot of SLPs and SPED teachers who think that is one of the biggest job problems, right after all of the paperwork. In fact, most of them say they'd like to leave the school system as soon as they reach full retirement age and then work somewhere else. They don't know what specific kind of job they want, but they all agree that it has to be one that does not require planning!

Making Planning Easier- Tips for SLPs from Looks-Like-Language
Of course, we can all plan for the week, but what can be done to make the process quicker and easier? My time spent planning has gotten easier over the years, so here are my tips in case they are helpful for you. If you are just starting out, you might as well face the fact that planning will take considerable time. However, there are ways that can make it quicker for next year!

Organize Your Caseload

First, I start with a master list of my students and goal areas that I made when determining groups at the beginning of the year. Click here if you want to see how I use it. While I do this on paper to keep a copy at home, a photo of it will work as well. I'm sure there must be some app out there that will do this, too. If so, please share!

Organize Materials

I keep my thematic materials in page protectors in a binder. Label the binders by theme or skill with this freebie!

Making Planning Easier- Tips for SLPs from Looks-Like-Language
When I need to plan for the month ahead, I look in the binder as the first step, pulling out any materials I have already made that can be adapted for the current year's students and goals. I also pull out a few open ended materials that are just plain fun. 

Try hanging them up on a bulletin board so your students can see them, too! Often I will switch my planned activity around when a student requests one of these activities, as long as I can still accomplish the goal, since students learn better when they are invested.

Keep Notes

One of the tips that really helps me is to jot down notes if I have figured out an especially creative or fun way to adapt a material to meet two wildly different goals. Do you have some groups that are like that? I have some where the kids actually have no goals in common! They just are available at the same time and can be at the same table together! These kind of groups make for some creative planning. Meeting 4-6 different goals in one hour a week with no overlaps gets you thinking about different ways to use the materials!

Making Planning Easier- Tips for SLPs from Looks-Like-Language

Search TpT the Quick Way!

Once I've pulled out the materials that I think will work for my current caseload and goals, I'm off to TpT to check out what freebies or paid products are available to fill in my other needs. Having this wonderful resource is amazing! Before TpT, I had to spend so many more hours planning and making materials. I didn't have the money to buy commercially available materials, and they just needed to be modified tremendously, anyway!  

It is very easy to refine your search on TpT, making it quick and easy! First, enter your skill or theme, in this case, Thanksgiving. Then choose your subject. If you click 'specialty,' you have the the choice of speech therapy.  Then enter your price range. If you want to look at freebies first, go under the member sponsored ads and click on 'sort by' to get 'most recently.'  This will let you start your search with the most recently posted freebies and work your way back in time, saving you from seeing sets that you may ave already downloaded. Quick and easy!

Two Fun Freebies!

I did exactly this in my search and came up with these two fun freebies to use this year!
Turkey Costume Bingo from Communication Blessings is a fun way to bridge from Halloween to Thanksgiving, as well as being a fun activity to complement many turkey books!
It is always great to have an open ended game around! This set from Gold Country SLP is fun and easy! It is also black and white, making photocopying easier!

If you like these ideas, be sure to download my FREE editable binder spine labels to make your life easier!

Helpful Tips and Easy Links for the Organized SLP

While summer is definitely a time to relax and recharge, most school SLPs often spend a good amount of time working, as well, even though they aren’t physically at the work location. They may or may not be getting paychecks, depending on if they had some of their salary held back, but there is still a lot to do! Whether you are organized or just wannabe, this summer series can help you out!
speech/language, therapy, SLP, links, free, materials, summer, organize

There’s no time during the school year to actually re-organize the materials that were used during the school year so you can easily find them when the school year revs back up in the fall! Some of us bring materials home, while others go back to school. Home has the benefits of air conditioning and a good movie while you are cleaning, but the drawback is that you have to carry everything back and forth. I go with working at home. Which do you do?

Organizing TIP:
Place 1 original of the worksheets that you find useful, with a yellow highlighter mark in the corner, in a page protector for storage with similar themed materials. Keep them in binders based on skill or theme. If you’d like to read more, check out this post.


Invariably, we get some student(s) who have a disorder we aren’t as familiar with, a severity level that needs a lot of practice, or who just needs more strategies than usual. This sends us back to the drawing board to learn more, maybe getting those CEU’s in a useful way, and become a bit more prepared to address those needs again in the fall.

Learning TIP!
It can be very difficult to find classes to take that are in your area, cover what you need to learn and fit your schedule, all at the same time.  I signed up for online CEUs this year and I am really glad that I did! 

If you work with a moderately to severely handicapped population, it seems like you can never have enough materials for your students to learn the skills. Either you have to practice the same skill over and over with different themes and presentations so that they gain some mastery, or you have such varied learning styles that one size does not fit all. You’ve had this experience, I’m sure!

Preparing TIP:
There are so many wonderful free downloads available to fill out your theme based or skill based sets of materials! Make some notes as you are cleaning and re-organizing to help you in your search!

This summer, I’d like to help you with all of this, whether you are an organized SLP or a Wannabe!  Every week I will post some online links for learning resources and free materials to download based on speech/language skills or themes. While links change all the time, if you check in weekly they should still be working! Let me know if there are any areas that you would particularly like to see covered. Enjoy!

5 Dollar Store Must-Haves for SLPs!

Shopping at the dollar store has made my SLP life so much easier! Thanks to Talkin’ With Twang for this linky idea!
I’ve made so many purchases from the Dollar Store to organize my therapy room, provide student prizes and find fun, inexpensive materials for therapy. I really had to think about what to include so this post wouldn’t be too long. Here's what I decided on:

Organizing: Materials

I posted here about how much I like using page protectors. While I buy them online, I really the pretty colors of the $1 binders and I love how easily they fit on a shelf or in a filing cabinet. Pop your TpT product pages in a page protector with the game and spinners in a separate one. Store the game cards in a plastic zip bag and stick them in with the game. Put all of this in a binder, along with similar materials, and you are ready to grab it and go! See how easy? Pictured is the game board from my Talk About SH- Spring packet.

Organizing: For My Students

I love having basic supplies that I need for every session within easy reach. A cute basket can hold whatever you need on your table and make it easy for students to pass around. My go-to items include a small dry erase board, varied colors of dry erase markers so students have choices, small make-up sponges for erasers, and of course, the basic pens, pencils, erasers and scissors in a cup.  All of the containers came from the Dollar Store. 
TIP: Be sure to keep your permanent markers stored somewhere else! If a student uses the wrong marker, just write over the permanent marker and erase while wet. After few tries, the permanent marker will erase.

Organizing: Just for Me!

Don’t we deserve a treat, too?  I couldn’t resist this cute little colored cork board to keep my To Do items on. It is small, so I can hang it up right near me while I work. That way, at the end of the day, my notes of what I need to get out, copy or prepare before the next session will be in one spot. The binder clips are cute for hanging small items that get lost easily, too!

Fun and Inexpensive:

I was so excited to find this 100 day poster! My students love big board games and this fits the bill! Just change ‘days’ to ‘sounds’ and your students can race their way to 100 productions! I’d play to let them keep moving their cute little vehicles (Dollar Store erasers!) on space for every correct sound production at whatever level they are working on. When they make a mistake, they have to stop there for the next student to take a turn. Can anyone make it to 100 before time is out?

Check out the erasers in this picture. They make great game pieces! (They are lousy erasers, though!)


While I have tried many prizes from the Dollar Store, these are the all time favorite with my older kids. They come in varied colors, with some even having their own carrying case. I only give out prizes about once a quarter, and with my caseload, it is very much worth the money I’ve spent to have a daily point system that lets them work toward a prize!

I’m sure you’ve shopped there, too! Do you agree that it should be named the Ten Dollar Store? Maybe more? What is your favorite purchase? 

For more ideas, remember to stop back in to Talkin’ With Twang!

How to Organize and Save Time- 3 SLP Tips

Organized? Yes, please!

Why? It saves you time in the long run and reduces frustration, at least for me! Thanks to the Frenzied SLPS for another great topic and invite to link up! Here's 3 quick and easy tips!

Organization is crucial for me, since I absolutely hate wasting time trying to find things I need. Whether you are at home planning for the next day, with kids, dinner and laundry waiting for you, or at school with a ton of paperwork to do, who wants to spend time thinking of all those things feeling frustrated while trying to find what you need?

Add to that the fact that I have worked in many schools over many years, accumulating materials for students from 13 months to 19 years old, moving my stuff from school to home to school almost yearly…. Well, you can see that I have had a lot of reasons and a lot of practice getting organized!

First Tip

It is oh-so-easy to do and has saved me many times. When you print your first, beautiful clean copy of a worksheet, take a yellow highlighter and write your initials in the top right corner.  It won’t show up when you photocopy. Resist the temptation to ever use it- that mark lets you know that it is the original and, possibly, your last copy.

My second tip?

Page protectors! For many years, I stored all of my photocopies in file folders in filing cabinets.  Then, I started to change jobs and move everything home regularly. I found that I could store more in the same space if I got rid of all of the file folders and recycled the extra copies. Take a page protector and place all of your highlighted beautiful worksheets for the same skill in that page protector.

Then, take all of these page protectors, for example plurals, possessives, verb tenses, etc. and put them in a binder marked Syntax. Easy to do, right?  A thin binder will fit in a filing cabinet as easily as a file folder and when you have a syntax goal heavy caseload one year, all you have to do is pull out that binder and see what you want to photocopy.

Third tip? 

What about when you find out that you have only that last, beautiful yellow highlighted copy left and no time to get  to the photocopy machine?  Reusable pockets and dry erase markers to the rescue!  I use these often since it saves on photocopying and my students like being able to choose the color they want to use for the work. They manage to get a little free drawing time in, too, while I am helping the other student in the group or recording data.

Did you find any of these tips helpful?  
How about a FREE, editable system for labeling those binders? Get it at my store for free!

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!

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...

5 Grouping Tips for SLPs! Back to School- Organize Goals

The beginning of the school year can be so stressful!  I'm sharing hints that I've learned over my many years as an SLP. If you missed the first, catch it here.

What else are boring back to school meetings for?

This is a low tech tip that you can carry anywhere (especially to those boring beginning of the year meetings!)  I divide a sheet of paper into 8 sections by folding it and put a different goal area I need to address this year in each box, using general skill types rather than specific IEP goals. I fill in the names of students receiving group therapy in the boxes that fit their needs best. This lets me easily see who has goals in common, as well as what kind of materials I need to get out, prepare or go shopping for. 

Organizing your caseload- tip 2 from Looks-Like-Language

Goals for individual therapy or for students whose groups worked last year are abbreviated on the back of the list.
I make separate lists when I am in different schools or have students too disparate in ages/skill levels to group together.
I keep this low tech organizer tucked in a page protector with my other organizing sheets and schedules until I know the students and have worked out most of the kinks in my schedule.

I have gotten up to 15+ schedule revisions in some years where it just never settled down! What is the maximum number of schedule changes you have had? Why? Do you have any hints for how to keep this from happening? We'd all be so grateful if you let us in on the secret!

5 Grouping Tips for SLPs! Back to School Part 1

SLP Back to School - Tip 1

Grouping students and making schedules are some of the biggest SLP stressors when going back to school! There are so many factors to keep in mind and so much to do that I find it to be a stressful time of year, but I have figured out some tips to consider over the years that might help you out.

When needed, I have grouped my students together simply because they wouldn't fight or because they were the only ones who would fit in that time slot. While this isn't optimal, it does expand your skills for carrying out activities in multiple ways! Even if you have students who won't fight and will tolerate each other, I've found that you get better communicative interactions when they actually like to be with each other.

Games help in situations like these by giving you a common activity to address different needs. With my older students, I have found using short video or YouTube clips is another good way to go. Hands on activities and crafts are always engaging for the younger crowd.

I hope that I have given you some food for thought with this quick tip! What is your favorite grouping tip? Let's see if we came up with the same ones! 

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