Speech Class Rocks!!!

It has been a fabulous start to the 2019-2020 school year in Speech Class!  I have been trying to combine as many classroom exercises within my speech lessons as possible and The students are progressing well.  Throughout the 2019-2020 school year, the students will be working on creating their own commercials, comparing character qualities within favorite Disney movies,  developing a speech board game, designing/building robots, and participating in other various science experiments. 

It is my philosophy that a student's speech and language skills ultimately improve when being able to discuss highly motivating topics with others. There will be several photos and lesson summaries to follow throughout this school year. I’m excited to share more updates soon because Speech Class and all of my students truly rock!!! 

Incorporating “STEM” activities within speech sessions

STEM projects enhance critical thinking skills and team collaboration!

STEM projects are the latest academic trend and judging by their results it is easy to see the reasons why.  STEM stands for ”Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.”  By incorporating a group project that tie together these key concepts as part of a speech lesson, students are able to work together on a motivating activity. They first enter into a group discussion, while using critical thinking skills to formulate a hypothesis and solve a problem. Our latest STEM project consisted of making turkey traps after reading the humorous story ”How To Catch A Turkey” by Adam Wallace and Andy Ellerton. The goal was to catch a turkey in order for it to be our speech mascot- very similar to the plot of our short story. The children used several materials including cardboard boxes, string, pipe cleaners, aluminum foil, construction paper, markers, masking tape, etc. I am very proud of all of my students who worked well together to express innovative ideas and build such creative designs for their turkey traps. “Talkative Tellie the Turkey” is now the official mascot for our speech classroom! ☺️🦃🍁

Hands-on activities with your children help to increase language skills!

Pairing Language With Hands-On Activities!

Did you know that the more conversations you share and valuable play time you spend with your child, the more language he/she absorbs? Try pairing simple short phrases, sentences, and even questions during fun, motivating activities together. For example- My son Anthony and I recently enjoyed this step-by-step food activity together in his Pre-K classroom. The task was to choose an animal to replicate with listed food items. During the activity I would either express in a sentence the action he was completing (sentence modeling) or I would ask him to find various items for our next task: "You are spreading the peanut butter", "I am puting the bagel on the plate", "Can you give me two strawberries?", "Put the blueberry on the banana slice." During moments when he wanted a little more assistance, I would step in when needed. At the end of each hands-on activity, try to give a brief recap in words of the steps you followed to get to the end result (example: ”First we got a bagel, Next we spread the peanut butter . . . , etc.”  A language overview summarizing all of the steps is always helpful. Anthony did an excellent job during this project and he later enthusiastically shared with his Dada at home all the ingredients he used to make his special owl snack! 🦉👍

Teaching the big “W’s” of Comprehension- Who? What? Where? When? and “Why?”

Teaching “Wh?” questions!

Focus on a student’s strengths when teaching the differences among ”Who?”, ”What?”, ”Where?”, ”When?”, and ”Why?” questions. For example if a student is a more visual learner, try to color code the questions and use a variety of visual cue cards. Try to empower the student by having him/her help choose the given pictures and colors for each cue card.  Another helpful strategy includes having the student highlight correct answers within photocopied stories using the same highlighted color for each type of question. If a student is more of an auditory learner, make sure to frequently repeat information and provide several spoken models. Finally, if a student is more of a tactile-kinesthetic learner, try to provide manipulatives that the child can hold to help him/her recall the differences among the lines of questioning. A total communication approach can also be implemented to help the students learn using several of their senses- senses of sight, hearing, and touch! 

Using “Proloquo 2 Go”, an iPad application to help children communicate their wants and needs.

Proloquo 2 Go communication iPad application.

Proloquo 2 Go!

Alternative Augmentative communication devices are often used when a child exhibits difficulties expressing his/her wants and needs. Proloquo 2 is a communication iPad application with visual picture symbols that enables a child to make desired requests. Voice output features are also included so that a child can receive multi-modality information in the forms of touching the buttons, hearing spoken labels, and seeing the pictured symbols. I am currectly using this device with one of my students and he has made tremendous progress with his communication skills!

Designing and making robots in speech class!

Excited about their completed robots!

Hopping Frogs- The ultimate articulation game that motivates students!

Practice following directions using Colorform stick-ons!

Scarborough’s woven strands of skilled reading!

Strong Connections Between Speech and Reading Skills.

This year my professional goals focus on the affects that speech sound disorders have on phonological awareness and reading skills.  Research has shown that young elementary school  students with speech sound disorders are at an increased risk of developing some form of phonological skill weakness, which often leads to futher reading difficulties. I will be in close collaboration with two of the school’s reading specialists and we will be sharing word lists, speech and reading activities, as well as data from our students’ progress. We will also be utilizing several of David Kilpatrick’s phonogical skill exercises during our student sessions. We are excited to undertake these professional goals and research projects together to determine whether a shared multi-modal team approach to speech and reading will garner increased progress within these skill areas. 

Using PECS and token board as part of DTI speech intervention

Speech Apraxia Exercises!

Speech Apraxia is a neurological condition that results in a disconnected signal sent from the brain to the oral-motor mouth muscles during speech production.  In order to help strengthen this pathway, speech therapists often complete a special set of exercises involving various sound pattern combinations (e.q., CV, VC, CVC, CCVC, CVCC, etc.).  Oral muscle weakness is not involved with this particular condition. These “Say and Do” worksheets from the Super Duper Inc. contain an excellent series of sound combinations for a child to practice each day.  In time, the student’s neurological pathways for speech production gradually strengthen.

Speech Graduates- October 2019!

Congratulations to these two special Graduates! It is always a bittersweet feeling- I will miss working them, but am so proud of their achievements and speech progress!!

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)

Picture Exchange Communication Program!

One mode of communication that I practice during my speech therapy sessions is a picture exchange communication system, in which a child has access to several visual choices (picture icons).  An ”I want _____” sentence board can also be used, so the child adds the desired picture to the sentence board.  This visual system helps form a bridge to spoken communication, enabling the child to first request using pictures and then eventually express verbal language. The more the children see the visual picture choices in their communication book and hear the correct matching spoken words, the more their expressive language skills will increase. 


Let’s Go Fishing!!!

One of the best ways to build a child’s expressive language skills is through repeated practice. Since these kinds of exercises and grammar drills can become monotonous at times, it helps to include motivating games like the one shown above. ”Go Fishing” is a fun game that includes different action pictures in back of every fish. The goal is to obtain two fish with the same exact picture. The child then expresses a complete sentence using the verbs ”is” or ”are” (e.g., ”He is reading book, She is swimming in the pool, etc.). Try incorporating these fun learning games at home as well. This particular language game can be purchased at www.superduperinc.com


Teamwork Effort To Create Volcanoes!

All of my second grade students did an excellent job problem solving and working together as a team to build their volcanoes. They first had to draft a plan, then construct their volcanoes using particular materials, and finally utilize a combination of baking soda, red food coloring dye, and vinegar to make their volcanoes erupt. I feel so proud of my students for making this project a huge success!!!

How are you feeling? 

Did you know that how a student is feeling has a direct impact on their ability to learn?  I always keep a chart listing different emotions at the front of my classroom.  It is helpful for students to identify a wide range of feelings, that are also represented by picures. I often utilize this chart when discussing character emotions and exploring the different feelings my own students are experiencing on a daily basis. If one of my students is feeling a little nervous, I often provide a 5 minute sensory break to help calm the body. If a few students tell me they feel tired and unmotivated, I break up the typical flow of the session with a fun learning game or movement break. It is very important to always be aware and in tune with how your students are feeling.  By tapping into those feelings and modifying your lesson as you see fit, you are providing another important bridge to learning in a very positive way for your students.

Creating Valentine Hearts For The Mary R. Fisher Elementary School’s Kindness Tree!

My speech students recently made valentine hearts for their teachers and loved ones, while sharing a special message about how to be a thoughtful friend or family member on one side of the heart! All of these beautiful hearts are displayed within the Mary R. Fisher Kindness Tree in the front lobby!! 

Fun With Verbs And Sentences!

Fun With Verbs and Sentences!

In my professional experience, students often demonstrate more progress when utilizing tactile, hands-on activities. One example includes using the motivating iPad app. “Fun With Verbs and Sentences.” Children have the opportunity to create complete sentences by tapping on the subjects, verbs, prepositional phrases, and/or direct objects of their choice. A video is then displayed that matches the sentence the student created and expressed. This is a whole learning, multisensory approach that helps students feel empowered while expressing language! 

Articulation Station!!!

Children learn to articulate their target sounds while using this motivating iPad app that records their voice and allows them to change the words and pictures on each screen.

Practice with asking detailed questions.

Asking Specific Questions

In my professional experience, one of the best ways for children to practice asking specific "Wh" questions is to play a guessing game. During this time the student narrows down the possible answer choices by asking questions about the person, place, or item you have in mind.  Perfect examples of these types of games include "20 questions", "Who Am I?", or "Guess Who?"  During these games children need to ask really specific questions in order to figure out the final answer.  Certain questions can range from "Does your person wear green glasses?", "Are you a type of transportation?", to "Where do you live?"  You can modify the lesson by providing question sentence starters on flashcards or providing a box of answer choices, while gradually fading out these various prompts over time.  By turning this language exercise into a fun game, it not only makes learning more motivating, but also makes it easier for a student to recall these types of question formats later.  It's time to start being a great detective by investigating through the art of questioning!!!

Role-Playing scenes from students’written Halloween stories!

Interactive Storybooks!

Higher Order Thinking Skills!

Empowering Students With Flexible Seating Options!

I am thrilled to inform everyone that my project "Empowering Students With Flexible Seating Options" has just been funded through the DonorsChoose.org.  I will now have several options available to suit each student's individual learning style.  I am very grateful for all of the donors who generously contributed to this project.  I will make sure to include pictures and updates on both this speech website and the Donors Choose website.  This is already a wonderful start to the school year 2018-2019!

Create A Scene!

Motivating Visual Tools!

Elementary school students often need engaging activities to help sustain their level of attention. One such activity involves using two copies of the same magnetic picture board (Create-A-Scene or Colorforms). The teacher places a border between her/him and the student and then proceeds to give directions. These directions should be clear and detailed in nature (e.g., colors, sizes, attributes,  specific placements, etc). At the end of the activity, the teacher and student can remove the border and compare the location of all magnetic pictured items. The goal is for both picture boards to mirror each other. It  can also be very fun and empowering for each child to be in the driver’s seat and practice giving directions to the teacher.  Enjoy these border activities with your children. It is an excellent way ro practice following directions and strengthen expressive language skills! 😊

Visualizing Techniques When Following Directions.

Repeat and Picture Spoken Information.

When listening to directions and spoken short stories, it can sometimes be difficult for  a student to recall all of the details. That is why I often implement various visual strategies. One technique is called “Repeat” and “Picture”. By having the student slow down to imagine all of the details, it helps to cement the information within the memory. You can ask the student specfic questions about his/her image to ensure true visualization is taking place (e.g., “Is the dog you are picturing tall or short?).  In my professional experience, most students perform better at processing verbal information when taking the time to use this important visualing strategy.

Fluency Strategies

Fluency Strategies Are Effective Speech Tools!

These visual fluency picture cards serve as very effective tools!  I have used these with several of my students who stutter.  This helpful strategy reminds them about using their smooth speech techniques.  These tools include taking breaths between phrases or natural pauses, speaking at a slow rate, streching out particular sounds, and using light articulatory contacts (light touching of the lip, tongue, and vocal folds when producing a sound). Parents can feel free to schedule a separate meeting with me, so that I can demonstrate these fluency strategies for home practice. 

Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers are an excellent way to work on a few different skills at the same time. Not only does the student improve his/her ability to recall and retell the main events of a story, but it also helps a student to increase executive functioning skills by enhancing the ability to organize tho

Motivating Sound Games!

Practicing speech sounds can sometimes feel a bit monotonous when carrying out the same kinds of routine exercises. That’s why it is so important  to try to vary the activities for elementary school children as much as possible to keep them engaged and motivated.  Try to make 2 copies of each picture that contain a targeted speech sound.  In the example above you see speech words that start with the /K/ sound.  You can play games like “Go Fish”, “Memory”, “UNO”, “Hidden Pictures”, and “Twister” with your speech words.  It takes a little extra work for teachers and parents, but a lifetime of fun memories and mastered speech skills for each child! 

Speech Driver and Learning to be Independent!

Sometimes just a simple visual cue is all a child needs in order to self correct.   I created this simple visual chart to help my students self monitor their own speech skills. The main goal in the end is to have them in the driver’s seat and in charge of their own speech goals.  One way to do this is have your child tape record his or her own speech. When the student plays back the recording, he/she can rate each of the 3 main areas above (rate, loudness, clarity of sounds) on a scale of 1 to 5. Once the child starts obtaining consistent “5”s on their charts with your rating approval, then those great speech habits start carrying over into spontaneous conversation! 

Staying on track!

Keeping on track with a given activity can be very challenging, especially when a child is distracted.  By having a type of token system and even rule cards in place, this helps the child follow a structured activity and lets him/her see there are only a certain number of items left to complete until theyo earn their reward.  By seeing there is an “end to the means”  and a motivating reward og game time is in sight, it can really help motivate the child to complete the activity.

“WH” questions during story time.

Pairing “wh” visual question cards that match your spoken question can really help students to gain a better understanding of each question. Try to gradually fade these cues over time when possible.

Braidy Story Grammar Program!

“Braidy”, a story bookmark!

Students have been using “Braidy” the Story Braid Puppet and bookmark during my speech classes to help them organize and recall the events of a story.  Significant progress has taken place when my students use graphic organizers and story puppets like these to help them recall the correct sequence of events.  Progress has increased from 70 to 86% accuracy when using these visial aides  before retelling the story.   Copies of the the “Story Braid” bookmark will be included in the student’s speech folder for home practice as well!