Thursday, February 13, 2014

Social Skill Products that I fell in LOVE with!

Hi friends!!! I recently got contacted by a sweet lady from Social Thinking® with the opportunity to review some of the products created by Michelle Garcia Winner. I was honored. I had recently heard so much about her and the advancements she has made within the social skills community, so I snatched this opportunity up in a heart beat. Since I was at the secondary level this year (junior high), I requested two items that could specifically target the age group that I provide services for. There are many products to choose from on the Social Thinking® website and they all seemed great!

The two products  I had the chance to use in my classroom and review are: 

Both products were very appealing to the eye when I first received them and the products appeared age appropriate. I often find it difficult to find age appropriate items for my junior high caseload. 

First I will talk about Should I or Shouldn't I?  It is a set of multiple card decks full of age appropriate scenarios for the middle school/high school population. You can see some examples from the pictures below that appear on the website. There are prompt and challenge cards with situation scenarios. There are also number cards. There are many ways you could use the stimulus cards. The way I found the game best utilized in my classroom was to have a student draw a card and answer the question. The other students in the group would then rate the students answer according to the rating scale that each of them were provided with (this comes with the game as well). I then had my students write down WHY they gave the rating that they did. It was really interesting to see WHY and it really ended up in some really beneficial discussion following each stimulus card. We found out that some people take certain words/answer differently and it increased my students social knowledge/awareness even after a few sessions using these cards. 
(Pictures from the Social Thinking® website)

Next, I will talk about Social Fortune, Social Fate. The concepts in this book were spot on and there was one child that has been a challenge for me this school year and when I introduced the concepts of this book, it truly was the "aha moment" he needed. This book is made up of various comics or anime stories that target various social scenarios that could occur for an older student.

(Pictures from the Social Thinking® website)

The anime alone was a hit with my students. There is a social fate and social fortune ending to each comic depending on which way you have the book facing. (See above) I first introduced the concept of social fortune, social fate by explaining how words can determine how someone else reacts. We have some control over how a situation plays out based on the words we choose and how we choose to proceed with the conversation. Many of my students needed to learn that "just because we think it and we think its good to be honest, doesn't mean its the RIGHT thing to say". I think it was another eye opening for my students to learn that social situations are everywhere! Everywhere! I had one student tell me "its like we live in a social world!!". I wanted to say "well DUH!!!!" I was SO very glad he picked up on that by himself though. With my students with social goals, it doesn't matter how many times YOU tell them, it matters when the student has THEIR aha moment and it makes sense in THEIR head. To be completely honest, some of my eighth graders thought the graphics were a little "young", but I still was able to incorporate the concepts of the book into social scenario discussions about situations that were occurring in their everyday lives. 

I highly, highly recommend these products. I don't just say that about all social products. I find it is rare to find products that target social skills that are appropriate and adaptable to fit each of my students and these two did just that! I hope you enjoyed this review as much as I enjoyed using the items in therapy. I think one of the cool things about these products too are the reasonable prices. These items are both under 25 dollars and the quality of the product for that price was impressive! 

I encourage each of you to go look at the Social Thinking® website and see if there is a product that would be beneficial for your caseload.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Muncher: White Chicken Chili

I know I have posted about white chicken chili before on here, but I made this recipe to freeze and store in preparation for my baby boy (due any day now) and LOVED IT once again! Bonus it is gluten free!

I found the recipe here from Design Wine Dine by Meg. 
This is a picture from her website that shows what the recipe looks like when it is done! 
For those skeptics out there, this is how mine looked when it was done! I first made this recipe when my husbands family was in town and it was a hit! 

I hope you try it out because it is seriously one of my favorite recipes now!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Graduate School Off Site Series: My public school rotation!

So today is post #2 in my series reflecting on my graduate school experience! One of my favorite off-site experiences was my school supervisors. Looking back, I was such a suck-up to these two supervisors! I remember saying something to Kelli (the first supervisor I spoke to on the phone), " I always like to go into my rotations with an open mind". Kelli replied "well I like your optimism Amy Minor". We started off on the right foot and I liked her immediately.

The university I attended was a medical based university, so I feel like were streamlined to go into the medical side of Speech Pathology. Since my hospital rotation didn't pan out as lovely as I had in my mind, I had a very open mind about the school based part of Speech Pathology. I got placed in Moore Public Schools and once again I had two different supervisors. I was at an elementary school 3 days a week and a junior high 2 days a week with my other supervisor Amy.

I went to my elementary school the first day and I was really overwhelmed at the amount of work there was to do. In my head, there were evaluations and treatments. BOY was I WRONG! There is duty, faculty meetings, RTI, morning announcements, more meetings, attempting to eat lunch, and planning. Kelli had "this way" with her kids and I thought to myself then wow she is SOO good at her job! I need to learn a lot from her because she knows what she is doing. I would watch her with the most difficult of kids and think-geez she does this so easily. It wasn't until after the sessions, that she would say "that was a difficult session for me" or "he really did well didn't he". Then I at that point realized that she didn't think she knew it all either! Well if she had been a SLP for years and she didn't know it all, then how in the world should I have to know it all. It really was a sense of relief to see her mind boggled about a session or two because it made me realize from a really early on time in my career that we are never going to "know it all" or "have a perfect day". There are going to be messed up sessions! Great sessions! Sessions where kids just need to talk about their home life! Sessions where a child just needs to be hugged! It was a very necessary part in my adventure to being a SLP.

The next day I met Amy. Not only did we share the same first name, but we were so much alike in how we did things, it was unreal. I immediate fell in love with the secondary level! She had such a passion for it that it really initiated my passion for the secondary level! I felt I could talk to the students without having to "fake talk" all day. I then began to realize that even though the public school was one rotation--there were two whole different worlds within the public school--elementary and secondary! The students eventually warmed up to me and the funniest part of this rotation was the students in the ID program began to call me "new Ms. Amy" and they called my supervisor "old Ms. Amy". It still is a joke between us to this day!

Throughout my adventure at the elementary level, I learned it is NOT easy to be a school based SLP, but at the same time it wasn't as bad as I was told it was from my other friends that went through their school rotation. I think it had a lot to do with my 2 awesome supervisors. Anyways, I learned in elementary that I loved the older kids and the preschool kids weren't my favorite, but I enjoyed the sessions. (if you have been reading my blog for long you'd know there isn't much in life that I can't find joy in). There was one day that Kelli wanted me to start seeing a preschooler that she had been working with. I was prepared and everything, but with a preschooler I knew prep didn't mean success. So I over-prepped for each session, so if I needed to I could just pull things out of the air to go. Through some help from Kelli, I got much better at working with this little guy and eventually began to get creative on my own. I developed a visual schedule for him and a new rhyme. Da da da dada dog sound..... it was my dog sound rap! My preschooler LOVED it and was able to score a d initial because of it! I for the first time in my school experience saw that "aha moment" from a student and I was HOOKED!

At the secondary level, I didn't see as many of those aha moments regarding "traditional therapy" but I saw more aha moments re: life skills and social skills. Amy was so good at bringing in life skills to her therapy sessions and I really liked the idea of going from "prep for school success in elementary" to "prep for life success in secondary". Again let me reiterate--they were two entirely different worlds!!

Kelli and Amy are now two of my best life friends! They are actually my "back up family" in case I go into labor and my husband can't get there right away. Not only did I gain an appreciation for the school setting, an appreciation for the amount of work involved and love involved in the schools, but I gained two lifelong friends who continue to support me in every way possible. I now work alongside both of them and now I feel like I make a good contribution to our "team of friends". It makes me proud and it should make them proud that I am the SLP today in the schools because of both of them!

Take away message: just because your university is a school based program or medical based program, try to go into your settings with an open mind! You never know the direction your supervisors might lead you to and you never know what unknown passion they bring out in you! Your friends are going to have opinions about different rotations and of course listen to them, but try to not have their experiences influence yours.

Another take away message: Just because you don't like a rotation during grad school doesn't mean you won't come back around to it. I worked in skilled nursing for a year before I came to the schools (even though I happened to love my rotation). I had another friend who HATED, I meant HATED her school rotation. She went to work in the medical field for 2 years and ended up not liking,. She transitioned back into the schools and is now going to get her PhD in administration because she wants to be a principal. So you never know where your life will lead, so don't burn bridges just because you THINK you don't ever want to work in that setting....

Much love! I hope you enjoyed my story!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Valentine's Vocabulary Freebie

Good Morning All! Today I have a short and sweet vocabulary activity that you can use during the next few weeks. It includes some general course based vocabulary that I have had to define to my students lately (some of them are just added in from kids asking me what words meant). Head over to my TPT store to grab the freebie and be sure to check out my other vocabulary activities while you are there if that is something you target with your students. The vocabulary words are more on an elementary level, but secondary population caseload contains a lot of low level language goals. So with that being said it may or may not apply to your caseload specifically, but you might be able to pick and choose words from the 8 pages of vocabulary words that best fits your caseload!

Thanks for heading my way!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Four ways I use index cards in my speech classroom!

Today I am talking about how I use index cards in my speech room! I love index cards for so many reason and I am sure I use them in more than four ways, but I will only talk about four today.

1. The first way I use index cards is for stimuli. They are such an easy way to create stimulus cards specific for a student in ten minutes or less. For example, if I have a student working on subject verb agreement and I know we aren't going to have a lot of time, I will quickly jot down some verbs and some nouns on note cards. Then during the session, the student will choose a card from each pile and create a sentence using proper grammar structures. See! Quick!

2. The second way I use them is on the administrative side. Whenever I get a new referral or information about a student, I create a note card on the student. I use this as my "tracking system" for what I have completed during the process. If there is any important information on the student that I have received verbally, I write it down on my personal note card as well. I attach the note card to the file folder with all of the important paperwork I receive and I constantly have a running reminder of where I am in the referral process. So for example, I might have received only a goal sheet from the IEP holder for a move in student. I pull out a note card and put his name on it and put the paperwork in the attached folder. The teacher also states his grandma just died and so he is living with his uncle. I write that down on the note card so I remember this very important emotional situation for the student. This student "happens" to need new testing, so when I am done getting consent and done testing the student. I write on the note card: received consent, testing completed:qualified or did not qualify. When all of my referral process is completed (using many more steps than what I just vaguely listed) then all I do is shred the note card! 

3. I work with secondary students, so I have them write a lot of their answers down instead of say them verbally. I like this aspect because I can have the whole group create a sentence independently and then we review their sentences when everyone is finished or I can have them easily switch note cards and have the students critique each other's answers. I like this method of integrating written language into my session and it uses significantly less paper because we can fit 5-6 sentences per note card. 

4. The final way I use note cards in my session are to communicate to my speech students during a group. For example, if my fake student Jimmy is not paying attention and my other student is thinking about an answer to a question, I will quickly jot down on a note card "Jimmy, you need to pay attention to her answer please". This does 2 things. 1) it lets the student know I am observing a behavior that I don't necessarily like in my speech room. 2) It allows me to tell the student without disrupting the entire group. 

I hope you have learned some new techniques to using note cards in your speech room! I buy them in bulk at Staples at the beginning on the school year during their big teacher sale!

Thanks for listening! I am going to link up to Speech Time Fun's linky- so be sure to head over to her blog to learn how other's use index cards in their speech room!