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!