I love Lucy (the other one)!

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I have had the opportunity to work in my church’s special needs class for the past few years.  The kids can have significant sensory, cognitive or medical issues that make it more challenging for them to be in a larger group (as we are part of a BIG church).  Our class offers sensory activities (swings, trampolines) and a modified curriculum for the weekly bible lesson (thanks Boardmaker and Kathy E.!).  My friend and room coordinator, the amazing Karen, recently bought some new materials for our class, and Lucy the Calming Companion (see above) was one of them!

She immediately became the favorite class pet and the kids loved how soft her fur is and how the weighted body was perfect for a snuggle!  I cracked open the accompanying story and we read all about how Lucy uses her strategies to feel calm and offers ideas that the kids can use too. What a fun companion to add into your Zones of Regulation tool box or counseling sessions!  You can adjust the amount of weight via the zipper on Lucy’s belly, as needed for each of your student’s sensory needs (wouldn’t that be great if WE could do that too??).  There is even a tutorial of how to wash Lucy when she gets a little too much love, grime or drool.

Lucy was  created by  Christy Bennett, an OT, and Stephanie Tishgarten.  A kickstarter fund gave this little pup a way to be shared and you can check out the website and video (including the real Lucy) about how Lucy, the Calming Companion, came to be.  You can order your own Lucy at this site as well!  For my friends with sensory needs, the wiggles or just those in need of some hypoallergenic hugs, Lucy is the perfect addition to our room!  I know you will love her too.

 

 

Where have you been all my SLP life?!

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Two of the smartest SLPs I know, Lydia Kopel and Elissa Kilduff, have recently become published authors!  The process to publish IEP Goal Writing for Speech Language Pathologists has been daunting, but our county has had the benefit of being the guinea pigs of the draft version of this fantastic resource!  Now before you roll your eyes and dismiss this as just another goal bank, think again.  This little orange treasure chest takes state common core standards (and the Early Learning Standards for PreK) and aligns them to the associated speech-language skill.  The PreK-12th grade resource includes the communication areas of: vocabulary, questions, summarize, main idea and details, critical thinking, pragmatics (YAY), syntax and morphology and articulation/phonological processes. Then, you look at the associated speech-language skill and it further breaks it down into steps to mastery in each area AND the prerequisites needed!

So what can you do with all of this amazing information?  Well, let me share with you how I have used it! It allows me to look at the grade level common core standards that my students are working on, what area of the core it addresses and the related speech-language skills for each standard.  Then, it also allows me to look at each area of communication (see list above) and the pre-requisite skills needed to achieve a goal.  For example, in the communication area of Summarizing (which is embedded throughout the grade levels in reading/literature/listening/speaking standards):

Skill:  Summarize # of details from a story.

Pre-requisite skills: answer questions, sequence concepts, identify narrative elements, retell, identify important/unimportant details.

This helps me identify the baseline of where my student is functioning with this skill, setting the goal and then being able to see how to scaffold backwards to fill in missing skills if my student isn’t progressing, or scaffold forwards to write higher level goals when they meet the initial one.  It is basically a SLP road map to navigate communication skill acquisition in a logical and sequential manner,  with the bonus of facilitating student success educationally!

There is even a section on Pragmatics (hallelujah!). These skills are a different animal of sorts, because social language acquisition is not necessarily linear. Michelle Garcia Winner notes that social language skills are often broadened across time rather than acquired in a progressive, vertical timeline like other areas of language.  Our students may not move on to higher level skills necessarily, but we can deepen and grow the skills that they do have within that skill set.  I love how this book breaks down the social skills into distinct areas with the embedded skills in each area. This is very helpful in talking with parents (or advocates) during the IEP process along with the visual of the Social Learning Tree from Social Thinking®.  I also share with my teachers, to help them understand what we are working on socially and how it may be related to what they are working on in the classroom.   This is a valuable tool to keep me focused and write specific, measurable goals for my students with social language impairments, an area that is often nebulous as compared to language or articulation.

If you make one purchase for yourself in the new year, consider making it THIS ONE as it will more than pay for itself in giving you a clear, well organized road map to making your goal writing and IEPs easier!  You too will be flipping through the pages saying, “Where have you been all my SLP life?!”

*No money or materials have been provided in exchange for this review.  It is simply my heartfelt endorsement of a fantastic product for SLPs!

 

Celebrating MLK Day with a social language craftivity!

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The life and words of Martin Luther King Jr. are embedded throughout the city of Atlanta (and beyond), where I live.  I love the idea of volunteering to honor his lifelong work by helping others on MLK Jr. Day.   The social challenges that sparked this Pastor’s passion for peace are complex and difficult for some of my students to understand.   With my younger students, I like to focus on the concept of why we should help others.  It fits beautifully into a social thinking framework of taking someone else’s perspective, thinking about how our actions and words make someone else feel and the value of doing something kind for another person, without expecting anything in return.

At first glance, these are pretty big social concepts, right?  However, when you look at Dr. King’s vision and the words of his sermons, you will see the essence of his message is to love and accept other people.  A big part of being able to do this is to be able to think about how other people might feel and think, in relationships to our words and actions.  In order to talk about this concept, we break big picture ideas into scaffolded steps,  like this helping hand wreath.

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I found these great free clip art hands  from Teacher’s Clipart on TPT.   I printed them, cut out the shapes, and then let my kids pick a hand.  Your students can also trace their hands on construction paper and cut them out too for an ink saving version with a fine motor bonus.  Add to the lesson with Readworks , a free website that has many articles at different comprehension levels/grades that help us talk about MLK in the context of history and social change like this second grade passage with great pictures.  It is important to talk about why we honor someone, what that looks like and how helping other people can do this.

Next, I ask the kids to think of a way they can help someone and we talk about the idiom “give someone a hand”.  They can then write or draw how they can help someone on their paper hand.   It doesn’t have to be formal volunteering, it can be as simple as bringing the garbage can in for an elderly neighbor, holding the door open for someone or picking up your room without your mom asking you to do it. The object is for their actions or words to help someone  (and in turn that person will have good thoughts and feelings about them)!  It can even be a “secret mission” as the point is not recognition for a good deed or even telling others what you did, but that doing for others makes us feel good too.  They often come back and share how it went and it is a great time to connect how their actions and words made other people feel.  I hope this activity lights a tiny flame of altruism that they carry throughout their lives and effects positive social change for them too.

How do you teach the bigger concepts of kindness and service?  Share here…

 

I’m Yeti, I’m Yeti! Are You?

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For a little winter fun, join myself (@SmartmouthSLP) along with SLPRunner, SparklleSLP and Speech2U for a Yeti themed blog hop on Instagram!  Answer a question, like the post, follow the SLP and complete the four hops to be entered to win four Yeti themed TPT products, a Yeti in My Spaghetti game AND a YETI mug to keep your coffee/tea/ hot cocoa warm all winter long!   Hop is open today through 1/8 at 8pm EST.  A winner will be drawn on 1/9/17 (it could be you)!

 

 

My Social Calendar.

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I loved the Kindness calendars that were floating around Facebook and Pinterest this holiday season, but why should kindness only be on the calendar during December?  So I made my own “social calendar” for January (you can click on the link below to print your own).   I tried to add ideas for my students to challenge themselves to stretch a bit socially this month, including adding some volunteer/service ideas.   You can make your own personalized version, if you have Powerpoint (the calendar templates for a whole year are available for free and you can add/edit to your heart’s desire). I’d love if you would share your calendar creations too!

I may make one to encourage my introverted self to step out a bit more in the social world this year too!  Happy New Year to you and hope to see you back here soon…

Heidi

Print your free copy here:  january-social-calendar

Peace & Joy

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Today is Christmas in the United States.  It’s a time where the world seems to pause for just a breath; everyone seems kinder and the world has a sparkle to it.  Thanks for taking the time to read along with me at my blog this year, and I hope you have gleaned some helpful ideas on social language.  I am enjoying the season with my family and will see you in the New Year!  Here’s to peace on Earth and goodwill towards all in 2017.

Ugly Sweaters and Inferences.

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Earlier this year, I posted about using T-shirt slogans for inferences.  Tis the season for ugly sweater parties, so why not extend this concept to the holidays too? I found this great freebie on TPT from LittleRed when you follow her store (you will get a pass code to download the clipart) with a variety of clip art holiday sweaters like the one in the picture above!. You can make your own slogan/picture activities for your late elementary through high school students to figure out the meaning  or guess who might wear these holiday sweaters.  If you don’t want to make your own, the internet is FULL of great examples. Preview first my friends, preview first, I saw a LOT of inappropriate sweaters (don’t use them, but they are sure to give you a laugh). On a related note, I also found a cool website, Stereotype Design, that gives a few sentences on a T shirt and you have to guess the movie ( well, hello figuring out the big picture from details!).

You can create a whole Pinterest board of ugly holiday sweaters/t-shirts to work on these skills as well (or just click for my board here; it’s a growing work in progress, just like me).  Walk them through a few examples to practice together, then see how they do!

The questions you can pose with the ugly sweaters could include:

What do you think the message or picture means (intent)?  

Is this literal or sarcastic?   If it’s humorous, what makes it funny?

Who might wear this?  Who would NEVER wear this?

What do you think other people might think or feel when they see this sweater?  

Where would it be okay to wear this sweater?  Where would it NOT be okay to wear this sweater? 

What first impression do you have of someone wearing this sweater?  

What background knowledge might you need to understand the slogan or picture?

Would you wear this sweater?  Why or why not?

If you disagree or are upset with a sweater picture or slogan, should you say something?  Why or why not?

*Ask your students to take pictures of any other interesting holiday sweaters that they see to extend this activity.  You can call it “operation sweater sleuth”! I would clearly state the rule that the slogan/pictures can’t have any profanity or inappropriate content, especially with your middle schoolers on up.

Any good, kid friendly holiday sweater slogans or pictures that you have seen recently?  Share here!