Monday, February 12, 2018

TPT Sale and Gift Card Giveaway

Teachers Pay Teachers is a bargain at all times, and it's even more so on February 14 and 15 where there is a sitewide sale---Everything in my store will be 20% off and TPT will throw in an additional 5% when you type in the promo code  XOXO.  

I have been given a 10 dollar gift card by TPT to promote the sale!  If you would like to be considered for the gift card, you can enter in the running by sending your email to me at  We will randomly draw a name 9:00 a.m on February 14, and email the lucky winner the gift card code. Ten dollars will go far with this awesome sale!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Why I Quit

The past few months with a new job have allowed me to seriously reflect on personal happiness, health, and guilt-free options.

You probably all don't know my work history, but I started an awesome retirement in February 2017.
In July 2017, I then was hired on by the same school system as a part-time teacher (itinerant) for hearing impaired children.  At the time, it seemed like a perfect marriage between my former career as a speech-language pathologist, and my other former career as an educator for the deaf.  I was hired as the only teacher of the deaf for this district.

After beginning that new job in August, I resigned in January.  Why, you may ask?  After all, I was in fact very familiar with the school system, IEPs, community, and the special education field.  I did have 25 years experience with this same system.  What could go wrong?  With me, it was a lack of anticipation.

1. I didn't anticipate the work-related anxiety.  I started in August, and by September, I was having difficulty functioning at home.  The 'anxiety knot' (for lack of a better term) simply wouldn't go away.
The job was part-time, two and a half days a week, but even when I would leave it on Wednesday, it wasn't until Saturday that I could function. 
    The picture below is a screenshot of my resting heart rate, as measured by FitBit.  Basically it shows how well I've been sleeping at night. The lower the heart rate, the sounder the sleep.  Even though I was only working part time, my nights were filled with worry about my students, and feelings of angst about the job. I finally decided I wasn't getting paid enough to drag the worry around with me 24 hours a day.

2. I didn't anticipate how the lack of instructional funding would affect me.  North Carolina seems to expect that teachers purchase supplies out of pocket, and that was certainly true for me. I was forced to raid random bookrooms, purchase materials from Teachers Pay Teachers, submit DonorChoose grants, and otherwise beg for scraps.

3. I didn't anticipate that I wouldn't have enough time to teach the students.  Too many high needs students, too little time (I was only half time), too many schools, no instructional money---all leads back to reason number 1.

4. Myriad other reasons involving serious student equity issues, my own feelings of isolation in the job, no 'guide book', low pay, low morale in the entire special education department.  It was impossible to stay happy.  Since I already had health insurance and other benefits with my pension, there was no incentive to stay.  I hope that if any of you readers are seriously unhappy in a work setting, you feel free to explore other options. 

5. New job!  I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with the grandkids!   Isabel was born January 10 joining her big sister Lily! 

My hope is that the school administration will look at this particular position and make some changes.  Bumping it to full-time would be one---as of now, the position is still vacant.  With no benefits, and a half-time salary, few people will line up to even interview.  Other changes would be to include the teacher in a professional learning community to reduce the feelings of isolation.  Providing instructional funding would be a necessity, as well as adequate office space. Providing a mentor for a new teacher also seems vital. 
   Given the state of turmoil that NC education is in, changes are doubtful.  I can only hope, for the children's sake.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Accountable Talk® for Everyone---Shout out to Chapel Hill Schools SLP blog with free printable

My former SLP colleagues at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools put out a blog post from time to time.  They're busy, so their postings have been a little sporadic lately--I know how that goes.  Initial enthusiasm tapers off, and pretty soon, a blog post seems to be a monthly, then quarterly event.

Their latest post, Accountable Talk® for Everyone, is a particulary good one.  Buddy talk, Accountable Talk, small group discussions, partner work---these are all extremely challenging for language impaired children.  The child may know answers, but to explain thought processes, or to think about ideas from others' perpectives and provide verbal supports for your own opinions is difficult.  The author of this blog post, Sarah Smith, M.S,, CCC-SLP, has provided the readers with free visuals to aid a child duing Accountable Talk times in the classroom.  These are leveled flip books--one for beginners, and one for more advanced learners.

If you are interested in these free downloads, hop on over to the Chapel Hill Speech Pathologist blog by clicking here, find the link, and download.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A Child Imagines! Review of "When Nana Says..."

When I read When Nana Says.... by Shannon Moore Fitzgerald, I immediately traveled back in time to when my own children  were little.  Ben, my son, surrounded himself with his toy cars in his bed, driving them on his pillow, naming them, and ultimately sleeping with them.  My twin daughters possessed myriad beanie babies, stuffed animals, and other assorted items which covered their beds.  Sometimes it was hard to find a spot for the child to lay due to the treasured toys.  With all three children, after learning to read, this assortment of animals and cars was ultimately replaced by books piled around the beds---a great imagination in a young child stimulates a love for reading.

The author describes her book on her website (Bold Moves Studio) this way: "Leah Jane is a little girl with a big imagination, who is not quite ready for naptime. When Nana Says… brings readers along on Leah Jane’s adventure that lands her tucked in her comfy bed. Share this story with your preschooler and naptime might just become a lot more fun. When Nana Says… is the first book in the series Another Leah Jane Story, stories inspired by the real Leah Jane, a young girl, with a big imagination, a creative spirit, and a heart full of love."

Although firm with the naptime rule, Nana allowed Leah Jane to embrace her imagination from pretending to be a baby tiger, to a polka-dotted puppy. The artwork is a perfect match to the text  Each page is a treasure--collages of fabric art, embroidery, and applique.  Ultimately, Leah Jane would settle down for her naps, clearly helped along by her love for all things pretend.  

Any child who loves imaginary play will love this book, and will love comparing what he or she likes to Leah Jane's preferences.    Pretend play is the foundation for language and literacy development, and When Nana Says... embraces this fact.

If you are interested in purchasing this, you can purchase here on Amazon.
or check it out on the author's website.

Imagination fosters reading

The author provided me with this book free to review. Other than that, I have no financial gain from the sales.  These thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

AAC Core Literacy Packet for "LOOK" and "GO"

Hopefully, absence makes the heart grow fonder--at least I hope so in my blogging relationship with my readers.

 In August, after being retired from speech pathology for seven months, I took a job as a part-time deaf education teacher for my school system. I hadn't worked in the deaf education field since the early '80s, so needless to say, anxiety about the whole job thing crept in incessently day and night, and it took a while to convince myself that I actually was compentent, and could actually do good things with my little crew, ranging from age 3 to age 13 (I'm itinerant so I don't see them in one classroom--I go to four schools).  Life is an adventure, but for my hearing impaired kids, it truly is adventurous, with over half being from other countries--Guatemala, Philipines, and Iran.  I can't imagine the resilience it takes to being moved to another country in middle school and having to learn both American Sign Language and English, while your home and former languages were completely different.   Hats off to all of them!  You students have my undying admiration.    I wish I could highlight them here with beautiful pictures and biographies, but my readers will only be left to imagine.  They will be kept private, as they would want to be, as you and I want to be (except I do blog, so I choose not to be so private :)

So, now that I've settled into my new job, I returned to my love for augmentative communication, core vocabulary, and aided language stimulation.  Here's a packet for helping students learn basic core vocabulary "LOOK" and "GO".   Although most of my hearing impaired children use either speech or some form of sign language as their primary means of communication, I have a few extra special children that benefit from an emphasis on core vocabulary, with their communication augmented by symbol use.

This is a literacy/activity pack to go with the core words “look” and “go”. Core vocabulary words are the most frequently used words by children, and are essential for any augmentative communication system.  This pack meant for the more linguistically challenged students and is perfect for speech/special education collaboration. This is nice for integrating literacy and language activities.  Clip art is from Smarty Symbols, and is copyrighted.  Use the core 36 location board on page 33 to model the words, or use one the student already has.
Enclosed are:
“Look at Them Go” Interactive Book--pages 3-12
Icons for the “Look at Them Go” book– page 13
“Let’s Go Here” interactive book–pages 14-22
Icons for “Let’s Go Here” –page 23
“Green Means Go” craft Directions book –pages 24-29
Communication Board for craft—page 30
“Look Up! What do you see?” directions and checklist—pages 31-32
Sample 36 location core vocabulary communication board—page 33

Extension activities –page 34

Go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to check out the preview and to purchase if you wish.  If you have extra special students who are struggling with core vocabulary, you may wish to consider this purchase. As usual, if you are a starving CF, or struggling financially, email me at for a copy of this product.

Enjoy your fall weather. It's been warm in NC.  I want the leaves to turn.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"Like, Not Like"---Core Vocabulary Book to Print

Happy Summer everyone!  High temperature in NC today is predicted to be 100, so it's time to head to Canada, which I'll be doing in 5 days.  Are any of you readers from the Maritime Provinces? You'll see my husband and I cruising by, enjoying the cool weather.  

Two weeks ago, I attended a DPI institute taught by some folks at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies.  It was awesome, and if you have the time, please peruse their website. There is tons of information there and invaluable links---perfect if you teach children with complex communication needs.

I'm a fan of Tarheel Reader, and learned about one author (Reed A. Booke) who has put up some books which emphasize core vocabulary and simple repetitive vocabulary.  One in particular, "Like, Not Like", was all about core, so I downloaded it and changed out some of the pictures, (more for copyright purposes), and changed one word,"this", to "it" so that all of the words in the book were on the core 36 board. You can download the original book from Tarheel Reader, or download my version (link is at the bottom of this post.)  Here are other useful links:

No need for velcro with this book.  I would just model the words on the core boards and teach the word location on the student's devices or overlays.  Here are a few screen shots:

 It's easy to figure out the plot of this book, and it centers around the familiar topic of food likes and dislikes. Once you finish it, you and your students should make a classroom book of foods specific kids like and dislike.  Then you could work on choice making and rejecting.

Click here to download my version of this book.
It's free,


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Small moments

I've been relishing my time off!  Nothing beats retirement! Except looking forward to a wonderful part time job working with some exceptional kids (see previous blog post).

Anyway, this past week, I've done some serious walking, and have come across a few delightful friends from the animal kingdom.

Two doors from our house is a beautiful piece of property where James Taylor grew up. These guys were hanging out in the James Taylor front field when I strolled by. (That property has 20 acres, mine has about 1--in case you were wondering.)
Also near our house is a beautiful set of trails owned by the North Carolina Botanical Gardens. This guy and I had a stare-down going.
My husband and I have been going back and forth to Brevard from Chapel Hill a lot lately for family reasons.  We often take a break during driving.  This day was in a park in Morganton, NC where we encountered a newborn fawn parked on a trail by her mama.

We left quickly. I'm sure mama and fawn were fine.

I have so enjoyed these moments, and look forward to many more.