Thursday, January 21, 2021

Therapy Theme: Extreme Winter Sports

Extreme Winter Sports : Sports Travel Ideas : Travel Channel | Travel  Channel

Photo from Travel Channel

Are you a sports fan? Personally I'm not, but I know many of my students are! When I was thinking of my next blog post, I thought a winter sports theme would be great. To make it even better, why not focus on extreme sports? It's always fun to make things a little more interesting for our students. Honestly, putting together this post was the first time I had even heard of some of these. I couldn't find many articles on these specific sports, but there were plenty of YouTube videos! I know many of you love using videos in your sessions anyway. I hope this blog post gets you through the next month of therapy! 

I personally love these type of open ended activities because I don't feel as constrained to any particular goal. Majority of my caseload has language goals, so I can use these activities to target all different skills. If you have students with articulation goals in a mixed group, you can easily use the video to have students identify target words  with their sound. The possibilities are endless IMO :)

Here are some suggestions for activities:

Before Reading: Discuss any of the following (and see below for possible organizers to use).

- What are winter sports? How many winter sports can you come up with? What do you think the requirements of winter sports would be (e.g., location/gear)?

- How would you define the word "extreme?" What does it mean in the context of "extreme sports?" Discuss what extreme sports means, what it includes, person's experience, etc..

- How is it different from typical sports? 

- Use this article to answer any unknown questions.

- There is also this article on winter Olympic sports.

- Whatever sport you choose first, you can do some pre-reading discussion to activate knowledge such as: what gear might be required for such sport? What type of location is best for said sport?

- You can also talk about the character traits of the people doing these sports. Adventurous? Thrill-seeker? Daring? 

Extreme Sport #1: Snow Kiting

About Snow Kiting from CNN (~3 min )

Compilation video (no dialogue)

Extreme Sport #2: Ice Swimming

Extreme Sport #3: Ice Climbing: 

Extreme Sport #4: Speed Flying:

Speedriding: The New Frontier (~7 min)

Extreme Sport #5: Ski Biking

FYI: Any of the longer videos would be amazing to pair with Edpuzzle.

Other Videos & Articles:

Article on extreme sports (general): Are Extreme Sports Dangerous?
About X games: Nat Geo: X-Games 

Digital Graphic Organizers: These are ALL FREE and can be paired with these videos/pre-reading activity.

There you have it! I would love to know if you end up using these activities in therapy. I hope your students enjoy it, and that it made your month just a tad easier <3
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Understanding Humor

Do you have students on your caseload who have trouble understanding idioms, riddles, jokes, or sarcasm? I know I do! As SLP's, we know that understanding jokes or humor is actually a higher level thinking skill Often times, jokes include puns, words, or phrases that have more than one meaning. If our students struggle in this area, they are likely missing the humor in jokes they read or hear. 

Lets take a look at some jokes and break down the skills a student might need to understand it: 

Q: Why did the teacher have to wear sunglasses? 
A: Because her students were so bright.

Aside from being corny, this joke has the homonym "bright." Many jokes have multiple meaning words. If a student can't pick this up, they likely won't find it funny.

Here's another one that requires the ability to make an inference (as well as vocabulary knowledge):

Q: What do you call an old snowman?
A: A creek.

First, students have to know that a creek is a small body of water (vocabulary). Then, they have to make the connection between a creek and an old snowman. Isn't that wild? Who would have thought so much goes into understanding jokes!

Here's one more:

Q. What happens to a frog’s car when it breaks down?
A. It gets toad away.

ha. ha... OR NOT, if you missed the pun. A student would only find this funny if they understood the play on the word "toad."

All of this to say that humor involves a ton of language skills our students struggle with. If this is an area you think your students need to work on, jokes/comics would be a fun way to target these skills!

Finding comics/jokes appropriate for your students is super easy, and shouldn't take long. Since Thanksgiving is only a few days away, and to narrow my search, I typed "Thanksgiving comics" into google, and got a ton of results. I like looking on google images for easier finds. Add each comic to a google slide, and you're set for teletherapy! Here are a few I thought would be funny:

Thanksgiving Cartoons - Lessons - Tes Teach

Pickles - Thanksgiving Comics And Cartoons | The Cartoonist Group

5 Thanksgiving Comic Strip Prints to Honor the Season of Giving and  Gratitude | MUTTS

.                    .         .                

While reviewing these comics, you can ask students:
What do you think the X meant when he said...
What is the comic implying?
What do they mean by...
What makes this comic funny?
What does the word X mean?
If comics aren't your thing, you can also do jokes. Here's a bunch of Thanksgiving themed ones. If you're trying to extend the session, you can also have students create their own comics and share with group members using this website. I'm sure this would engage your students for several sessions! If you happen to be on break, you can still use these the week you return, OR search for winter themed jokes/comics.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! While this has been a year for the books, there is always something to be thankful for. 

Enjoy your long weekend <3

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Fall Themed Therapy Ideas

I can't believe another season of fall is here. Summer came and went, and in the blink of an eye, it's already October. Luckily, fall is one of my favorite seasons. Unluckily (is that even a word?), it's hard to enjoy this season with all the madness this year brings. Hopefully, this blog post makes your month a little easier. 

When I asked what you needed from me this year, many of you said you wanted ideas for themed therapy (appropriate for MS/HS of course). I compiled some of my favorite fall/halloween activities to keep your sessions fun & engaging. Many of the Halloween activities I posted last year, but I also added several new ones. I also added a general fall theme section in case you don't want to do anything holiday-ish.

General Fall Activities:

Open-Ended Activities:
Search for Fall images to target a variety of skills such as comprehension, syntax, and vocabulary!
Halloween Themed:

Videos (Connect to Edpuzzle to embed comprehension question):

Creepy Short Stories (READ MY DISCLAIMER): DISCLAIMER!!!: I shared these last year, but just so you know...some of these are a little disturbing. I only used select ones. The stories I found most appropriate for older students (7th grade and up) are: #3,7,25, and 26 (for this one, just edit out the bar part). Perhaps for HS students, you can find others. You can also edit as needed so they're more appropriate. My students loved them last year!

Halloween Taboo
Halloween Context Clues & Idioms
Halloween Vocabulary Word List: Maybe you want to do your own vocabulary activity using words associated with halloween? Here is a nice sample list! If you want to find others, just google "halloween tier 2 vocabulary words."


Enjoy and happy fall!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

My Teletherapy Experience So Far...

Earlier today, I posted what felt like a million stories about my experience with teletherapy these last few days. I realized after spending a nice chunk of time recording and uploading that the order was totally messed up. While I'm type B in basically every aspect of life, I'd be lying if I said it didn't bother me lol. So, I took them down, and here we are instead! I figure you can read this at your own leisure (haha, what's that these days), and refer back to it as needed. As I've said, it has only been a few days, but I wanted to share some tidbits that worked. Based on questions you've asked me, here were some hop topics:

1. Teletherapy Guidance: In NYC, SLP's (along with other providers) are expected to provide services based on IEP mandates. It’s basically our regular day but there's a lot of discrepancy between what the teachers in our schools are doing and what we have to do as therapists. It has definitely been frustrating trying to navigate this whole process without clear guidelines. Hopefully we get some reasonable expectations soon! 

2. Consent: It totally has felt like the beginning of the school year having to reach out to parents and gather information. The Department of Education provided us with a script that we were responsible to share with parents verbally over the phone. This was extremely time-consuming. I also had a lot of parents who didn't pick up. The best way I found to get consent was to basically stalk them. I also realized that when I get a call from a number I don't know, I usually don't pick up. So instead, I emailed and texted parents which got me way quicker responses.

3. Scheduling: A few different things here, so I am splitting into parts.

  1. For the most part I think that we should try to follow our schedule as much as we can. It's not our responsibility to try to accommodate every single student and parent. The problem is that many of these parents have more than one child who is receiving services. Some parents have told me that the computer won't be available until X time. In those cases, I'm totally fine being flexible. I also took it as an opportunity to rearrange some groups that I thought would be better together. I think that since I won't have as many scheduling conflicts with teachers or classes, it's much easier for me to do this. I totally recommend doing the same if you've been struggling with mixed groups and you have some flexibility. I have a relatively decent caseload, so it's not too much of a headache for me. 

  1. In the last few days, I already ran into some issues with students still sleeping at certain times. I get it. It’s hard not having a routine for all of us. If you were a tween, would you really still be waking up at 6am if you didn’t have to? However, if we have a scheduled session, I expect you to be up just as you would for school. If you don't show up for a session with me after I reminded you, then I'm marking you absent. We shouldn't have to drive ourselves crazy about whether students will show up or not. I will say that the majority of my students who I have scheduled so far, have been showing up and that's very impressive. I'm going to see how the rest of the week goes. If students don't show up, then I will reach out to the parent and let the student be aware that if they miss sessions I will not be doing makeups. Moving forward it's up to them to show responsibility.

  1. Another huge scheduling help has been the ability to text my students. If there's ever a time I feel extra extra thankful for working with older students, it's right now. I would say that about 90% of my students have cell phones. I either ask parents for their number, email students directly, or found it through my school. I have no issues giving out my number to students. I PROMISE YOU we're not that cool that students will want to text us during non-working hours. If they do, I just don’t plan on responding until the next day. Just as I would if a parent reached out after 3:30pm.  Most of my students have had my number since last week and I haven't gotten any weird texts….yet. Having their number has helped because I have been able to text them to remind them about appointments and just to check if they're going to make it to our session. I don't plan on doing this forever but until we get into a routine I don't have an issue with it .It also avoids them missing it by accident.

  1.  If you are using Google classroom, then Google calendar has been a lifesaver. I literally never used calendars until this week and I already feel like a pro haha. After I've confirmed the time with the student, I create an invite on Google calendar and add the time and date of the session with my student. I make sure to include my students email address and then the invite automatically generates a Google meets room. You can also add a recurring reminder so if your day and time is consistent, you don't have to keep doing it each week. Once you save it, you could send it to the students. Then it goes on your calendar which is a nice visual so you can see what you need to do for the day.It’s also good evidence to show parents that they were reminded about a session. 

4. Platform: Another topic I seperated.

  1. I know there are a ton of platforms that you could be using to do your sessions. However, since my school is using Google classrooms, I plan on using Google meets. To be totally upfront here, I have no intentions of researching other platforms because Google meet serves me fine. I also  don't have the time, energy, or desire to do that lol. I don’t do complicated...I like simple.

  1. From my experience so far, Google meets has been great. There have been some tech difficulties when students enter like the video or mic not working, but I've been able to guide them. I expect that the first week will be full of these difficulties, but eventually it should be fine. My students have had no issues figuring out how to enter the classroom especially once they receive the invite.

  1. Some cool features and really the one that I'll probably use the most, is the fact that you could share your screen and they could share theirs. I have already been able to take advantage of that. I saw some posts about how to make PDF editable on meets so if that's something that you need, you should definitely look into it. There are also extensions that you could use.

5. Lesson Plans: The part that everyone is wondering about!! As soon as I realized we were doing teletherapy, I decided that I am NOT going to be creating my own lessons (unless needed for certain students or as a backup).

  1.  In general my students have a really hard time managing their work when they're in the building. The overall consensus from my students has been that they feel very overwhelmed by the amount of work they need to complete. They’re struggling to understand what they read or need to write without guidance. They have lost consistent support from teachers. I feel like it is unfair to expect them to complete any of my own assignments. 

  1.  I've asked all teachers in my school to add me to their Google classrooms. I plan on incorporating their language goals through their academic coursework. I typically do this anyway with a sprinkle of many of my own activities, but I think now more than ever we really need to be there to support our students academically.

  1. I will say that it definitely feels overwhelming even for me to figure out what's going on in all the different google rooms, but I have somewhat of a plan for that: 

  •  I will choose a subject to focus on for several sessions. Maybe even each week depending on the activity. I will also try to choose tasks and assignments but I could incorporate strategies that we've already used. If it helps you can choose assignments that might take multiple sessions such as a writing unit. Every student probably has at least one class that is making them write an essay. You can incorporate SO MANY writing goals that way. Maybe in some classes they have to do a class novel and it would be super helpful if you could do read-alouds with them during sessions. I group my students based on grade so the majority of them will have the same type of work. If you have mixed grades, like I said, this might be a great time to try to regroup, but only if it benefits you. I'm selfish like that ;) 

Okay, I think that covers ALMOST everything. This is totally uncharted territory for many of us. I am figuring things out along the way and as I go, while also maintaining my home life. I feel anxious and nervous about what is to come, but I will try to do the best I can.I don't really have a choice. My main goal is to support my students. Everything else like nonsense paperwork is secondary. I don't care for busy work. I think we're all doing the best we can with whatever little information we've been given. Don't beat yourself up too much. Get creative and find what works for you!

Stay safe,

Monday, December 9, 2019

December Therapy

NINE. That’s how many days stand between me and winter break. I'm just over here trudging along....I think I can, I think I can. OK, I'll skip the small talk. I rounded up some great FREEBIES to get you through these next two weeks. I recommended choosing a few (READ: 2-3), and modifying for most groups! I tried to include a variety to fit all your needs.

Expressive Language:

Holiday Card Writing Outline: Every year, I do a holiday card writing activity with my students. I encourage students to write to a teacher to show their appreciation. If there’s time, they can do a family member too. This easily takes two sessions, especially if using the outline I created! I buy cards from dollar tree but you can save some $$ and have students make them on their own!!

Receptive Language:

Figurative Language:
Winter Idioms

Non-Fiction Text:

Fiction Text:

Winter Vocabulary List: You can do ANYTHING with this list! Have students write sentences using the words. Draw association maps. Write a holiday story. The possibilities are endless :)
- Winter Synonym Match-up: I don't love the snowman graphics, but it would be a cute activity for 6th graders!

A little bit of everything:
Winter Cooking Activity


Just For Fun:
Gingerbread Tasting: My coworkers and I started this last year! We grabbed different types of gingerbread cookies (German, American, and Russian), and had students try each one. They voted on their favorite and we had a running poll. Some groups filled out this chart to make it more of a language activity (if you feel like turning it into a session, great for working on sensory details)!

- Trader Joe's has a ugly sweater decorating kit! I did this two years ago and my students loved it! Perfect for the last week of school when kids are checked out, or as an end of session activity. Great for following directions and vocabulary! WARNING: It's messy.

I hope these help you get through the last two weeks of therapy! 

Let me know what you'll be up to.
Saturday, October 19, 2019

Halloween Roundup

Halloween was one of my favorite holidays growing up. I mean, who doesn't love collecting a bunch of free candy?! While my days of dressing up are long gone (I always forget to buy costumes in time....oops), I still enjoy having some fun in my therapy room. As promised, here are a bunch of FREE activities you can do with your older students. I sorted them based on skill, but check them all out, as I'm sure you can target more then one goal in mixed groups. This should totally last you through the 31st...and if you're in the mood, a bit longer. Happy Halloween!!


Halloween Would You Rather Questions

Candy Corn Comprehension Passage

History of Halloween (These are 2-5th gr. reading level)

Halloween MI Graphic Organizer (Pair this with any comprehension passage)

Variety of Halloween themed NewsELA articles

Creepy Short Stories (READ MY DISCLAIMER): DISCLAIMER!!!: I shared these last year, but just so you know...some of these are a little disturbing. I only used select ones. The stories I found most appropriate for older students (7th grade and up) are: #3,7,25, and 26 (for this one, just edit out the bar part). Perhaps for HS students, you can find others. You can also edit as needed so they're more appropriate. My students loved them last year!


Halloween Context Clues & Idioms

Halloween Vocabulary Word List: Maybe you want to do your own vocabulary activity using words associated with halloween? Here is a nice sample list! If you want to find others, just google "halloween tier 2 vocabulary words."


Halloween Writing Prompts

Halloween Story Cube

Social Skills:

Candy Corn STEM Challenge (great for group activity)


Food Sorting FREEBIE


Candy Corn 100 Trials Open Ended Artic

Halloween Articulation Word List


Halloween Articulation, Language, and Social Skills Exit Slips

If you came across an activity you think I should share, let me know!
Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Writing Samples

       Writing samples are one of the first tasks I ask my students to do upon returning to school. For new students, it gives me an idea of their written language skills. For returning students, it gives me a chance to see their progress from the previous year. When I first started out, I'd typically ask students to write about their summer. It seemed easy enough, but to be honest, didn't really give me enough information. Then, for the past few years, I've shown students two pictures and asked them to write a story based on one of the pictures. Having them generate a narrative guaranteed I'd get a decent amount of writing, and students generally enjoying being creative. It was also a perfect assessment of their story grammar. 

       As the school year started though, I wanted to rethink my writing sample procedure. I came across a few articles that stressed the importance of expository discourse. 

        According to this article, “expository discourse, the use of language to convey information, is particularly worthy of attention because it is the predominant genre used in the classroom beginning in fourth grade and continuing through high school (Nippold & Scott, 2010). During these years, students are expected to use expository discourse when writing term papers, essays, and reports that focus on complex topics in disciplines such as biology, economics, history, and social studies. Success with expository discourse requires, among many things, a more sophisticated level of syntactic development than do other genres..."

       Several of the articles go on to say that in order to explain the complex ideas required in expository discourse, one must have complex language. As SLP's this makes so much sense, and taking a sample of this type of writing can really shed some light on our students. It also gives us an idea of how they might function in the classroom.

        Based on this, I decided to change up my prompts. I was able to find some great ideas here. I gave my students three options based on those examples. If you're curious, I chose the following (PS: remove the word "essay" so your students don't freak like mine did haha. I asked for a full page, but accepted half a page because....middle school):

Girls and boys often enjoy playing the same sport. Some people believe that girls and boys should be able to play on the same team. What is your opinion on this issue? Write an essay stating your opinion and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail.

Your principal has asked students to suggest a school rule that should be changed. Think of one rule that you would like to have changed. Write a letter convincing your principal that this rule should be changed. Be sure to support your opinion with convincing reasons and evidence. 

Your school principal is considering a new policy that will require all students to wear uniforms. What is your position concerning this issue? Write a letter to your principal stating your position and supporting it with convincing reasons. Be sure to explain your reasons in detail. [For this one, I told students they could focus on either not having any hw, or being able to use their cell phone in school]

       I have to say, the response to having to write based on one of these prompts wasn't so bad. Many students felt passionate about school uniforms or not having any HW, so I got some decent samples!

So what exactly am I assessing? Here are just some skills that I typically lookout for:
  • Sentence structure: Do they use a variety of complex/compound, or mostly simple sentences?Are they using run-ons or fragments?)
  • Vocabulary/semantics: Are they using a variety of words to express their ideas? Do they repeat ideas throughout their essay? Do they use precise vocabulary, or stick to words like "stuff" and "things?"
  • Use of transition words
  • Punctuation/capitalization 
  • Ability to provide sufficient reasons and explanations
  • Writing stamina: How much did they write in the given time frame? Were they able to write at least a page?
  • Organization/cohesion: Do their ideas flow from one to the next? Am I able to follow their logic?
There you have it! I hope this helps you get started with collecting samples from your students. If you're doing something different, I'd love to hear about it! 

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments!

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