Sunday, November 20, 2016

My SLP Story


Anthropology, English, Liberal Studies – OH MY!  Those were three of the FOUR different majors I declared by the time I was a junior in college, September 1979. By the junior year, we were supposed to know what we wanted to do. Ugh. Not me. I know I sound scattered-brained, but I had NO IDEA what to do. I loved Zoology, Botany and thought about taking a course in Genetics as well. Maybe I would become a geneticist. And then I became completely fascinated with the idea of majoring in Library Science and that was BEFORE technology took off! Wait, wait, wait--I forgot about my Latin course! Loved it and the professor was wonderful. Maybe I needed to major in a foreign language (already had six years of Spanish under my belt taken 7th through 12th grades). Yep, I was a hot mess when it came right down to making this decision. So, what did I do that first semester of the junior year? Why, I signed up for many different courses – including a second year of Latin and two classes from the department of Speech Pathology and Audiology at California State University, Sacramento.


Then IT happened. The first two weeks of those two SLP courses changed my direction in life FOREVER. Why on Earth did I make a life-altering decision in less than two weeks? Reason 1) The first SLP course was Language Development, taught by professor Dr. Colette Coleman. We’re talking sentence diagrams, language sampling, developmental charts, etc. Loved the topics and loved the professor. Reason 2) The second SLP course was Phonetics, taught by Dr. Morris Val Jones. I was completely enthralled learning the IPA, linguistics and transcription. Hmmm...this field sounded intriguing, so I asked some questions and did a little research. Later courses would involve a lot of anatomy and physiology, more on language development, and lots of other cool-sounding stuff. Yep, this was IT!!! I dumped everything else and jumped into Speech-Language Pathology. Yes, I knew it would be four years and two degrees, but that was totally fine. 

Little did I know that of the sixty (60) SLP students who started that semester, only nine (9) of us would walk across the stage at CSUS to accept our Master’s degrees. Dr. Mary Jane Rees warned all of us as juniors that very few would finish the program. I couldn’t believe what she was telling us, but remember resolving on the spot that I would be one of those who would finish. Don’t ever tell me I can’t do something!

Cool coincidence…. Remember those first two professors I mentioned? They became the first and second readers for my Master’s thesis. Let me tell you writing a thesis is a LOT of work, but there is no better way to become an proficient at deciphering research articles than to conduct your own study!



Looking back, the only regret I have is dropping the second year course in Latin. A few years ago, I found my former Latin professor online and emailed him telling him how much I enjoyed the first year and that I sincerely regretted not taking the second year.

32 years, dozens of schools, hundreds of students and patients later, I'm still happy I made this career choice. While I do think big changes need to happen in the public school setting, I still love being a part of changing student's lives and helping patients in the acute setting. I wouldn't trade it for the world! 

What's your SLP story?






Saturday, November 19, 2016

Articulation in Conversation - UPDATED!

Articulation in Conversation

Calling all SPEECHIE FREEBIES fans! I just updated my Articulation in Conversation forms. The basic procedure is the same, but I changed the fonts to bolder lettering. There are two forms included. 

One is horizontal, which is my favorite because it is easy to use it on a clipboard. Can you tell I’m a lefty? :)



I’ve also made one that is vertically-oriented, which you may prefer.

Why would you use these? Well, I use them all the time to measure articulation proficiency at the conversational level. My method is both QUICK and EASY.  First, print out one of the forms. Choose the sound you need to measure (for some strange reason R comes to mind!). Write every word said correctly on the left hand side of the form. All words incorrectly produced are written on the right hand side of the form. Total up ALL of the words and divide the number of words said correctly by the total number of words. You will get the percentage of words said correctly during that sample. I usually take 3-4 samples and average them together. This is what I report at progress monitoring time. I also use this method to exit students—simply use the data in your exit report.

Click on the photo above to head over to my TpT store and pick up your freebie!


Hope this makes your job easier!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tips & Tricks for SLPs

Today I'm pleased to be the guest blogger for Hallie over at Speech Time Fun as part of her series on Tips & Tricks for SLPs. Here are some tips about one of my favorite topics-using textbooks in speech therapy.

Do you serve middle- or high school-aged students? They are often busy and over-scheduled. How can you most effectively use their time when you pull them for speech? Use their textbooks! You can use textbooks to target ANY speech goal. Yes-along with the obvious language and artic goals, I have also used school textbooks to target fluency, voice. You can do it all with one textbook. Using textbooks helps the student make a direct connection between what they are doing speech/language therapy and what goes on in the classroom. 


This post will focus on articulation and select language goals, since these are needs that are the most common. The two academic areas I tend to target the most are science and history classes. Those are two language-laden topics that can be very difficult for our students with weak language skills. As a result, I've become very familiar with the Earth Science and American History textbooks shown below. 





Now, what to do with these in speech/language therapy?  

Articulation. Yes, this is pretty straight forward. They hunt for words containing their sounds and write them down. Making up sentences and practicing those aloud is helpful because it not only targets speech sound production, but also syntax and semantics. They can read aloud, which is my activity of choice to improve carryover. Then they can paraphrase, which allows for more opportunities to work on generalization. Click below for a FREEBIE I use with my high school students, which makes this task a lot easier AND provides them with something to take home for practice.




Language. This is, of course, a HUGE area so let's break it down. 

Semantics is probably what I target most frequently. See the photo of the vocabulary words from California's Earth Science book (published by Prentice-Hall). The words in this book are very challenging. First, we take a picture walk, which is what I had to do for the page below because I have NO idea what batholith and laccolith mean! After checking the glossary, we proceed to the chapter itself as described below.




I have the students look at the photos/charts/illustrations, etc. on each page of a particular chapter or section before we talk about definitions. What does this picture show you? Describe it to me in your own words. Important: Don't overdo your time on the picture walk. It is meant to be a quick overview. Once your student has briefly described each picture, it is time to tackle the text. Find the terms that coordinate with each picture. Read the text to your student. Have your student read the text, too. Go back to the pictures so the student can coordinate what is written with what is pictured. If there is a term with no picture, look it up on the internet. Find an illustration that coordinates with the definition. Follow safe search practices while surfing on the internet! I emphasize the visuals because students with weak language skills need to learn to use visual supports. This is also an opportunity to discuss visualization techniques. Keep in mind: it is important for the student to tell you their definition of the word using descriptions that are comfortable to them BEFORE they can answer test questions about it!

Syntax, or word order, can be easily addressed using a textbook.  You as the SLP can choose a few words at a time for the student to put into sentences. For example, if your student is working on the chapter about volcanoes, you could choose "volcano," "before," "crater," and maybe add a verb like "flow." Your student can say a sentence aloud and/or write it down. I often have them do both. Include those vocabulary words!




Morphology, or grammar, is easily addressed with a textbook. My students often need to work on subject-verb agreement. I usually begin with a task to help me discover if student is able to identify sentences that contain incorrect grammar. Similar to the Grammaticality Judgment subtest on the CASL, you can also make up sentences, including some with incorrect grammar. Your student will need to determine if the sentence is grammatically correct or not and if not they must fix it. Example: "The presidents was a strong leader." Is that correct? How would you fix it? The activity can be extended by choosing a variety of singular and plural subjects from their books to pair with verbs. It works well to give them one subject and two forms of the verb to choose from (like a word bank). 




One other skill I like to target with a history book is map-reading skills. Check out the map below. What do YOU think this map is about? In this case, the map can be used to start a discussion about various native settlements and where they were (and are) located. Yep, I love history and totally enjoy discussing anything in a history book. Can you tell I'm the daughter of a retired high school history/social studies teacher?



Of course, there is much, much more that can be done with a textbook. I teach some of my students study skills where we focus on identifying key words, the main idea (with supporting details), summarizing, note-taking, inferences, fact/opinion and more. Our students often struggle with many of these skills and I find that using their textbooks helps to tie what we do in therapy directly with their academic work. 

I encourage you to explore your students' textbooks and try using them in therapy!


You might want to follow me-I'm in the midst of developing an exciting, useful set of speech/language forms that can be paired with ANY book for an activity that will connect what we do in speech and language with the classroom!




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Speechie Freebies October 2016

Here is a quick, no prep FREEBIE for you to use today! It is a set of Halloween-themed, black-ink only articulation worksheets. Kids can color the pumpkins, use paint dabbers, cover them with chips or even Halloween erasers! Then, the sheets can be sent home for practice. 

Click the picture below to head over to my TpT store to pick it up.



Now, if you like these and want to see more, click the picture below to see the complete set. These sets (I have several) save me TONS of time every week! And the kids LOVE them, so it's a win-win.


Have a Happy (and safe) Halloween!!




Sunday, September 11, 2016

Pirate Day FREEBIE!

Ahoy Mateys! Today some us are linking up to bring you some fun speech/language therapy ideas for Pirate Day, which happens September 19th. 




Since it happens on a Monday, I’m going to call it Pirate WEEK in my speech room. One of the many items we will be having fun with in speech will be my FREEBIE Pirate Game Board for the TH sound. Click on the image below to go and grab this freebie!


Easy craft idea: Use a paper towel cardboard insert to make a spyglass. Kids can decorate it with construction paper, markers, stickers, etc. Or you can keep it very simple and not decorate it at all. See how many artic cards they they can spy and say using their scopes, especially those RRRR sounds!

If you are looking for more pirate activities, take a look in my store. I have several, including an eBook that I wrote with companion activities!





Have FUN!




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Best Year Ever! Bonus Sale Products and Tips from SLPs



We ALL have them….decks and decks of speech sound cards. Do you pull out some of the cards because they are not good choices for your students? Maybe you pull out a lot of the cards! Many of the popular card sets feature odd photos or pictures, vocabulary words that aren’t used in your geographic region or inappropriate speech sound contexts. After feeling frustrated with those limitations, I made a decision to DO something about it! And here is the result….



This set is for R, S and L in the initial, medial and final positions of words. These cards are bright, colorful photos that my students LOVE! Word choices include commonly used vocabulary.

Now, a word about medial sounds---especially our “friend” the R sound. I am VERY particular about medial R and how it is presented and practiced. ALL of the medial sounds in this set of cards are intervocalic. Intervocalic means in between two vowel sounds, as in "berry" and "cheering." This is especially important for the R sound. While I can’t specifically remember where I learned this concept; it was undoubtedly from either Pam Marshalla or Char Boshart. You will find students are more likely to be successful working on intervocalic R rather than other “medial” sound choices, such as "arm" or "bird." Why? When the R is followed by another consonant, it influenced by the following consonant and this often results in a mis-articulated R sound. Think of co-articulation or the articulation of two or more speech sounds together, so that one influences the other. Here are more examples of intervocalic R words:  parrot, cherry, arrow, giraffe. You can see that the R is in between two vowel sounds thereby reducing the coarticulatory effect. Try it and see what happens!

Now you have many reasons to go and purchase my Artic Pix cards! 


Wishing you the Best Year Ever!










Thursday, August 18, 2016

Schoolhouse Talk Speechie FREEBIES

Just in time for Back-to-School…..here is a NO PREP freebie for you! This includes a few pages from my go-to packet for BTS-Schoolhouse Talk Awesome Articulation Worksheets. 




Are you familiar with my Awesome Articulation Worksheet series? The packets include the following sounds: Initial and final S, L, R, TH, SH, CH, J, K, G, F, T, D, N, P, B, M and R, L, and S-blends. At the end of the packet, there are word lists for every page. Use these for progress monitoring! These are great for therapy (use paint dotters, bingo chips, markers). They can also be sent home as homework. These are literally print and GO!

Click below!




Wishing you a wonderful school year!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

What's in Your Cart? Linky Party for BTS 2016

It’s the night before…..the big TpT sale and I’m happy to link up with Jenna over at Speech Room News for her “What’s in My Cart?" linky party. The purpose of this link up is to feature a few items from my store that I think would be helpful to you as we begin the school year. I have a few other recommendations for you, too.


Here are a few items from my store that you need to check out.

First, is my Cycles Big Bundle. Do you have children who need who are unintelligible? The cycles approach is THE way to go! Implementation can be confusing, so I have condensed and clarified instructions that will have you up and running in no time.  To go with the instructions, I have NO PREP materials. Yes, you could gather your own, but I got tired of doing that and decided to make my own, coordinated activities.  Click below to check it out. 


Why do we make all of this stuff? Because we get TIRED of what we have and that brings me to my next item. Artic Pix!!!  These are bright, clear photos of words that are CAREFULLY chosen by me, a veteran SLP. Sounds include R, S and L in all position of words. The medial sounds are intervocalic—not tied to vowels. Go and check them out. Great for therapy and progress monitoring.

Feedback from Super Power Speech: "Wow. Just amazing pictures! Now I want them for all the sounds!!!" Yes, I'm working on it!



I’ve used books in therapy since I began my career in 1984. Many language goals can be targeted using books and here is a favorite – Corduroy, by Don Freeman. I  have made companion activities including  the following:

8 Vocabulary – Key Word cards,
8 Key word definition cards,
24 Story Sequencing cards,
8 Connector Word cards that coordinate with the sequencing cards,
30 Comprehension Question cards,
18 Social Skill/Pragmatic Questions & Scenarios,
24 Vocabulary cards,
24 Definition cards,
11 Story Props for retelling the story,
1 generic game board,
24 Yes/no questions with icons designed to enable a point-to response,
2 story maps designed for different levels of function,
Grammar activities targeting pronouns + has/have.
You will be able to target ALL of these skills, which is especially great in mixed language group therapy. Click the image below to check it out:


Need a planner? Here is a gorgeous one from Speech-Language Pirates. Wait, I used the singular verb form—I should have made that plural. There are FIVE versions of the planner and each is very reasonably priced. I’m picturing my favorite version, because, um, it’s PURPLE!


Pam of Small Talk SLP, makes a great line of products titled “Find it on the Go.”  What I love about these materials is that they are open-ended and can be used to target a wide variety of language structures. I highly recommend you check out her Find it on the Go for Fall.


Apraxia of speech. What to do? Here is a set of materials to help you out from Twin Speech and Language.  The twins usually make comprehensive sets and this packet is no exception! There are colorful graphics as well as  many pages done in black ink only. Targets include  VC, CV, CVC and CVCV words. Go and check it out!



Happy shopping! Wishing you the Best Year Ever!



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Product Review: Playtime for S-Clusters by the Activity Tailor

FUNtastic! That is the “word” that came to mind when I examined this wonderful set of activities from the Activity Tailor.


Are you an opportunistic therapist? What exactly does that mean? This means you help your students by taking advantage of every practice opportunity. Sometimes that takes experience and extra effort. But with this set of ideas and activities, it is much easier. Kim, the Activity Tailor, has a packet that fits this approach perfectly - Playtime for S-Clusters.


Like the title states, this wonderful set of ideas and materials focuses on S-Clusters. I have SO many students who omit the /s/ phoneme resulting in cluster-reduction. During a therapy session, it is very important for them to get in as many repetitions as possible. Kim’s packet makes it easy and FUN. AND it fits in perfectly with the cycles approach!

Here are some brief descriptions of some of the activities from her set.

Score! I have actually searched for this trash can unsuccessfully. It is shaped like a basketball hoop! Every time the child makes a basket, they shout “Score!” Simple, engaging and you will get lots of repetitions. It is indeed, a score.

Scoop Away. All you need is play-doh, a container and a spoon. The child says “Scoop” every time they lift out a ball of play-doh. I might have them practice “spoon,” as well.

For gross motor involvement, she has a game for them to play focusing on the /sk/ cluster. Game cards are included. Gets them up and moving while practicing! Double score!

Spoon drop is easy and fun.  All you need are spoons and a bucket. I remember playing a game like this at birthday parties. Again, simple, fun and effective.

Spider Crawl: Go and buy her packet to find out about this GREAT idea!  All you need are basic materials to make it. I love it and Halloween is coming (hint-hint).

Bee Sting: This activity addresses /st/ clusters. There is a gross and a fine motor version of this game.

Smelly! All you need are scratch and sniff stickers for this quick and easy activity.

Bubble Wrap Smash: Oh, I just LOVE this!  Don’t you love smashing bubble wrap? Therapy for the therapist, oh yes and the kids love it too. Key word: Smash!

There are several activities involving the word “snake.” This is a word even the youngest child knows and therefore, is an excellent target.

Swab Paintings: LOVE this idea! Easy to do, very little clean up and many opportunities for practice.

These are just a few of the therapy activities in this packet. All of them are all excellent and meet my criteria of fun, effective and quick to set up.

Now, I can’t go further without saying that Kim’s packet coordinates PERFECTLY with my Cycles for  S-Cluster Reduction! We both have “Listening Lists” designed for auditory bombardment, which is an important component of the cycles approach. I like that several of her activities incorporate gross motor skills, while mine are more fine-motor oriented.
If you have kids who need to work on S-Clusters, check out both packets!