Saturday, July 19, 2014

Indonesia Bound---the Home Stretch!

In a few short days, my husband and I are embarking on the biggest trip so far in my life---Indonesia!  If you have followed my blog, you know that one of my kids is in the Peace Corps there, and I haven't seen her for over a year.  She's not coming home for a while, so we must go to her--I'm so proud of what she is doing and want to see where she has made friends and become an ambassador of good will.

The impact on this blog is that for a month (yes-- the trip will be that long), I'm not posting anything in terms of speech therapy.  You will see, however, pictures from a friendly colorful place on the the other side of the earth. I hope you enjoy this.  The images below summarize our first week's plans a little.

Indonesia is huge.  We are landing in Jakarta.

13 million people in this city!  Not staying here long---just enough to recover from the 20 something hours of air travel.

                             Then it's off to Bali.
 No comment needed here.

I'll post my own pictures later.  You get the idea.
One week in Bali, then three more weeks exploring the densely populated main island of Java.

See you!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Smoothie Time!

A teacher and I went rogue during Extended School Year---we actually prepared a nutritious healthy snack with the children.  The past two years, preparing and serving food in class have been forbidden in our school district. 

I've complied with this ridiculous policy even though:
  • my children can be motivated more to communicate for food than anything else
  • menu preparation is great for fine motor collaboration with the OT
  • there's the whole 'step by step' process in preparing a snack that is hard to replicate with other activities
  • food preparation can promote healthier eating
  • there's tons of vocabulary with food
  • etc.....

After watching the crappy lunches roll in, however, with kids refusing to eat anything at school, I just had to prepare one thing with them this summer, and it was Fruit Smoothies! Screen shots of the recipe booklet are here.  Link to download entire booklet is below.

 Ingredients were simple---banana, blueberries, plain yogurt, a little sugar, ice cubes.......

We checked with the parents first about allergies.

For non-verbal, or low verbal children, make sure you have their regular communication systems available.  Have pictures available for the bananas and blueberries.  My kids wanted to taste them right away, since they didn't understand the whole concept of delayed gratification. They loved the blender, peeling the banana, putting in blueberries one-by-one, and pouring the smoothie. 

For the record, my kids didn't want to actually taste the smoothie, so no nutrition policy laws were broken. If we were actually permitted to do this on a regular basis, the cycle of food rigidity would be altered for the better.  They had fun doing the prep work, and used a lot of language to make requests and comment.

Click here for the recipe booklet.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Going Paperless during Extended School Year--- the Google way

 Hi Everyone!   I'm having fun in Extended School Year, and this year, have gone completely paperless.   I had posted this last year---It holds true this year, and is working very well for me.  It sure beats carrying around 22 manila files of therapy notes every day!

------------------------------------------Here's the post from last year---------------

I hope everyone's summer is going fabulously!  Mine sure is--I'm working with about 22 little people during Extended School Year!    We are doing lots of fun things---the children all have significant disabilities, so they are working on requesting toys, playing games, reading adapted books, using iPad apps, making simple crafts.  That part is great!

What isn't always so great is the paperwork.  Each child has goals and during the 5 week session, I'm to write two reports for each child I work with (although the purpose of ESY really isn't to make progress---it's to prevent regression, but I still need data and a report).  Each session needs a therapy note, and each day needs some detailed planning.  ESY for me is in three sites--two elementary schools across town from each other; along with a home visit twice a week.  Most of the teachers and students are new to me.  The documentation required is part of my job, and I do it; however, most of the time, I don't have access to the basic necessity of a printer.  I am not on the internet server for the schools, since they aren't my usual places to work.  In the past, I coped by printing reams of paperwork and forms at my home, or driving to yet another school (my own) hoping that I could find a working printer there to print out lesson plans and therapy note forms.

This year, as much as possible, I've gone almost paperless for ESY.  Here's how:

1. Therapy note documentation using Google forms---this required a little bit of work prior to seeing the children, but I have been using Google Forms and Spreadsheets to record both anecdotal and objective data for each session. I was given paper copies of the children's IEPs prior to ESY, so I spent a couple of evenings transferring goals from the IEPs into a Google form.
I have a tutorial HERE, and although the tutorial specifically mentions the iPad as the tool for filling out a Google form, I have simply been using my laptop for all data purposes.  Google forms helps me to keep in my mind the specific goals I need to be thinking about for each kid. 
Go HERE for the tutorial.

At the very end of ESY, I will print out each spreadsheet (from my regular school) and pass it on to the child's regular speech pathologist, with my signatures (I've learned to allow a spot for my signature for each session after printing). 

Some people have wondered if Google forms and spreadsheets are confidential.  I maintain confidentiality by not including last names or personal information of the kids such as birthdates, medicaid information, or other identifying information in the Google form. Google forms is simply an efficient, paperless way to record session notes. Printing them out at the very end of ESY and putting the hard copy in the child's speech folder with added information works, while keeping information secure.

2. Lesson plans

Sample plans on Google drive
I do all of my planning in Google drive.  I make a table with the schedule, and then insert what I want to do with each child centered around some type of theme.  They may not be super detailed, but this plan helps me.  I'm on the network at most of my places (WiFi--not for printing, though), so I just open my laptop and can see what I'm supposed to be doing.

3. Attendance

I take attendance every day with Google forms.

Go HERE for a little lesson on how to do that.  You can take attendance with either an iPad or a computer, as long as you have access to Google.

Going paperless has allowed me to not have to carry cartons of files around.  When writing therapy notes, I simply open my laptop and fill out a form.  My notes are actually much more detailed with data and anecdotal comments than if I hand-wrote all of these notes, plus the notes are legible (my handwriting leaves a bit to be desired).  Most of the time, I insert a detailed account of the activities and the student's response.  I have detailed accounts of behavioral issues, and on a positive note--some communication breakthroughs that have happened. 

Extended School Year can be a little intense; however,  going mostly paperless has helped me with the work load and has enabled me to write more detailed notes, and spend less time doing so.  I've loved it!   I do realize I need to print these notes at the end of ESY, but that's nothing compared to lugging files around and printing all the time!  Google drive has helped me immensely.  I hope it helps you!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Guess the school lunch food! This is not 'Top Chef'

This is part of what was served our kids today---the remainder was lettuce salad (no dressing) and a very hard whole pear (plastic knives broke when trying to cut it).  Be the first to tell me what this main course, and I'll make an adapted e-book for you on a theme of your choice (appealing for those of you who are in special education). (CHCCS employees and my personal FB friends are not eligible).  If you guess in the comment section, tell me your email, or let me know what you think this 'food' is by emailing

For the life of me, I can't understand why a company that specializes in school food can't think about both presentation and nutrition when serving children.  Our kids went home hungry today.


I'm thinking of buying this book. If you are concerned about your kids' lunches at school, you should too!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ocean Unit Collection repost; Musings on ESY

I'm in the middle of Extended School Year.  For those of you who don't know what this is, it's essentially summer school for our children with significant disabilities who might regress during long breaks.  Most of my children have severe language and cognitive delays, and I'm finding that I really need to go back to basics.  These included working on communicative intent, imitation, joint referencing, and replacing behaviors with language.  Core vocabulary is lacking with many, so I work with teachers on using basic AAC in the classroom.  With some children, simple appropriate use of objects and toys is the focus of an activity.  

I love ESY in that the experience makes me a better therapist.  I meet many new children, and have repeat little friends from previous years.  I ponder what I would do with them differently if they were my permanent students, and then look at my own caseload to make sure I am doing everything I can to help them become functional communicators.  Summers such as this really do help me grow personally and professionally.

The bottom line is that I haven't had the need to get super creative with materials. This summer, the goal of therapy has not been reading a fancy book or creating paper plate sea animals, even though I do love making things with the kids. 

That being said, here's a repost from last year of many of my ocean-themed books and activities. 

---------------post from May 2013 below----------------------------------------------

Things are winding down at my school in preparation for our annual test-taking ritual.  This year---a little less frenzy, since scores won't be available for everyone until October.  This late date will eliminate retests (if a kid didn't pass in the past years, he or she had the joy of taking it again).  This year, there's a reprieve from that for both the kids and for the adults who have to administer the tests.  I'm happy!

For those of you who need materials centered around the beach or ocean theme, I've been collecting them over the years.  During summer ESY (extended school year), we typically celebrate the beach and ocean, so I have several adapted books and crafts in my tool chest.  Here they are!  All free as usual.

The Ocean Book Packet






  Crabs Everywhere 


Yellow Fish, Yellow Fish, What do you see?

Fish and Friends




Sand Art Fish

Let's Make JellyFish





Beach Fun Preposition Bingo





  Who Swims? Printable book and icons



Monday, June 23, 2014

Fireworks Everywhere! Printable book (Free as usual)

Fireworks Arcade app
This is a repost from last year.  I have loved my "Fireworks Everywhere" book, and kids seem to like to too.  I pair it with a fireworks app (free) found HERE. Image from the app is to the right. It's a simple cause and effect app complete with shooting fireworks and sound effects.

After reading my book, check out the Very Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle.
 There are fireworks in that book too! 

-------------------------(blog entry from last year is below) --------------------

I'm been a little slow with blogging lately, but ESY started this week and so I'm back to making materials.  I'm finding most of my kids this summer need simple, so I made a simple book, which follows the pattern of my other books.  Pictures and links below. 

I print out these books, laminate, and use velcro so the kids can match the pictures.  There's also a sentence strip so kids that are able will read the sentence for each page.  

After the book reading, a fourth of July craft is appropriate.  Check the PediaStaff Pinterest board!  Oodles of activities!

Click here to download Fireworks Everywhere in Boardmaker.

Click here to download Fireworks Everywhere in pdf.

Icons for matching


Sunday, June 22, 2014

What is on the Flowers? ---Spanish version (free printable)

My fellow SLP from Chicagoland has sent me a Spanish version of one of my books again.  Thank you Lindsey Leacox!

This book was originally "What is on the Flowers?".  I hope that those of you who work with Spanish speakers can use this Spanish version (Qué está en las flores?). 

If you want the original version in English, go HERE

Click here to download the book (Spanish version).

For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know that my daughter is in Indonesia in the Peace Corps.  She's not coming home anytime soon, so we have to go see her (flying there July 23). This is my travel haircut.  Just did it today!