Archive | Happenings & Updates RSS feed for this section

Learning to Give Lesson Plans

1 Feb

Last year when the Points of Light Institute, generationOn awarded me the Teacher’s Aid Program Grant to build a technology component into our Speech & Language Therapy program, I committed to utilizing five generationOn service-learning lesson plans with my students.  Learning to Give is a youth service organization under the Points of Lights/ generationOn parent organization, that educates youth about the importance of philanthropy, the civil society sector, and civic engagement.   The Learning to Give website offers over 1,600 K-12 lesson plans and educational resources.  It is theirs mission is to foster  a greater sense of community and social responsibility in young people through volunteerism and giving.  One of the things I love about their site, is that they coded each lesson plan to a state standard (you can even look up your individual state for their specific curriculum standards), which means you can easily fit a service learning project into any aspect of your curriculum.  You can address the grade level curriculum standards while connecting students to their community, cultivating empathy and building awareness around the critical impact of  volunteerism on society.

These lesson plans work especially well for Speech Therapy in the school setting.  First, many of lesson plans are literacy-based, so based on your student’s IEP goals, you can target a variety of skills.    You can always start with a picture walk through of the book and have students predict what will happen in the story, go over key concepts before reading the story, include new vocabulary on your word walls, pause frequently to ask questions, check for comprehension, talk about how the characters are feeling and what motivates them to act the way they do.  Furthermore, the goal of any Speech & Langauge therapy is to help kids (or adults) be the most functional and effective communicators they can be.  Evidence-based practice indicates that a natural, meaningful context for communication is most effective for generalization of targeted skills.  Service-learning provides a wonderful opportunity to place students in meaningful communication contexts.

At PS20, some of our 2nd grade speech students read a book that illustrates how responsible citizens participate in their communities.  We read the book Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney and after identifying, describing and sequencing the behaviors of the main character, we extended the story to our own lives and brainstormed ways that we could make the world more beautiful.  Students picked one idea from a list they generated to elaborate on and illustrate.

Teachers and Speech Therapists alike definitely check out the Learning to Give site.  I can guarantee you’ll find some great lesson plans to incorporate into any unit of study in addition to monthly project ideas and a ton of other resources.  Let me know what you end up using! I’d love to hear how these lessons are supplementing curriculum standards to foster a greater sense of social responsibility in your classrooms.

Thank you Points of Light Institute, GenerationOn and Learning to Give for all the work you do and for creating this critically important, inspiring, user-friendly website.


Curriculum-based Therapy

23 Nov

Hi everyone! I have received so many great comments and emails about aligning Speech-Language Therapy goals with the Common Core Curriculum Standards.  It’s an important discussion as we continuously strive to create more opportunities for our students with language based learning disorders to master classroom curriculum.  The discussion also pushes us toward more collaboration with classroom teachers and helps to keep us on track as we strive toward a more evidenced based practice.

Many therapists out there have asked for advice in aligning IEP goals with the Common Core Standards.  I would also love to get more of the teachers I work with here at PS20 on board with this discussion.  Collaboration is pivotal in a student’s ability to generalize skills from the therapy room to the classroom and makes reinforcement of communication skills across multiple settings more efficient and more salient.

So here is my advice – DON’T reinvent the wheel! Print out the Common Core Standards for the grade level of interest. Start with the standards that are most obviously relevant to Speech & Language Therapy (ie. the Language and Reading standards). The language used in the Common Core Standards is very similar to the language we use to write goals and address the same underlying skills we are targeting with our students in Speech & Language therapy. Use the language they use when it applies to your student’s deficit area.

The extension pieces as we write our IEP goals, and the differences between a Common Core Standard and the goals we write for our students are:

  1. The goal we write is individually selected to meet our student’s needs based on assessment (In NYC we use the RIOT procedure for assessment: Review of records, Interviews with parents/teachers, Observations and Testing).
  2. We add our level of cueing/ prompting that each student needs. There is a hierarchy of prompting and cueing levels that we use in therapy that is very important to the work we do. We need to indicate whether the student will master a goal using modeled cues/prompts, picture/object prompts, verbal cues/prompts continuous/maximum cues/prompts, intermittent cues, minimal cues or if we will require an independent response.
  3. We add in the other components of a SMART goal, just like we’ve been doing for years.  We state the given time frame for mastery, and how we will measure progress (a checklist, rubric, language sample, etc.).

Here are some examples of Common Core Standards aligned with Speech & Language IEP Goals.  You can click on the Common Core Standard to read what the curriculum expectations are for a student in the grade listed for each example:

Common Core Standard:  Reading Foundation Skills, Kindergarten

Speech-Language Therapy IEP Goal:  In one year, given cues ranging from visual plus auditory to auditory only in tasks with increasing difficulty via number of stimulus presented and number of answer choices, {FirstName} will segment sentences, blend and segment syllables, rhyme, blend and manipulate phonemes with 80% accuracy, measured 4 times annually using a rubric and a performance assessment task.

Common Core Standard: Language, Grade 1, Grade 2

Speech-Language Therapy IEP Goal:  In one year, given grade level vocabulary lists, or age appropriate every day words, {FirstName} will demonstrate an understanding of word meanings, relationships and nuances in word meanings by labeling and describing common objects, sorting common objects into categories, identifying antonyms, synonyms, and multiple meaning words, identifying real-life connections between words and their use and distinguishing shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g. walk, march, strut, prance) with 80% accuracy and general prompts, using checklists and performance assessment tasks to measure progress 4 times annually in structured therapy activities.

Common Core Standard:  From Speaking & Listening, Kindergarten, 1st Grade

Speech-Language Therapy IEP goal:  In one year, {FirstName} will participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts by following agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g. listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion) continuing a conversation through multiple exchanges, confirming understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally by asking and answering questions, asking and answering questions in order to seek help, get information or clarify, describing familiar people, places, things and events, and adding drawings/ visuals to provide additional details and speaking audibly to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in 8 out of 10 opportunities with general prompts, measured consecutively over 3 sessions across multiple settings using a checklist during unstructured therapy and classroom activities .

Hope this helps to provide a little direction for those of you who are working on this.  I would love any feedback, questions and further discussion on the topic as well, so please email me,  leave a comment or stop by my office if you are in the building!


The Stuttering Foundation- SALE

21 Nov

Teachers, Parents and Therapists!  If you have a child who stutters, take advantage of this Thanksgiving Special from The Stuttering Foundation and pick up some great resources for yourself or child.  Check out the online store here, but order by phone to receive 30% off of your order.

The stuttering foundation is a non-profit organization that offers a comprehensive collection of books, brochures, flyers and DVDs for parents, teachers and students.  The Stuttering Foundation also provides free online resources, services and support to those who stutter and their families, as well as support for research into the causes of stuttering.  So go ahead and browse the website for lots of great information about stuttering!

Thanksgiving Special

30% Off Everything when ordering
by phone!

Offer ends Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

Starting today, the Stuttering Foundation is offering 30% off our entire selection of resources for stuttering when you place your order over the phone. Call 800-992-9392.

View the e-catalog by clicking here.

In order to receive the special, you must call the toll-free number at 800-992-9392Online orders do NOT receive this discount. Our hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time on Monday and Tuesday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. Offer ends at 2 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2011. Shipping not included in discount.

Super Duper Core Curriculum Cards

16 Nov

From all of your emails (thank you!) I can see that there is great interest in aligning classroom and speech therapy activities with the Common Core State Standards.  So I’d like to share with you a great product to have on hand (in a speech therapy room, classroom or even in the home if you’re a parent) to help students develop a core curriculum vocabulary.

Many of the Common Core State Standards include vocabulary words that are found in Super Duper Publication’s Core Curriculum Vocabulary Cards.   The authors of this product reviewed several research studies to determine 100 words at each level that students need to know in order to participate in their classroom.

These card decks come in three levels (Pre-K through K, grades 1-3, and grades 2-4).  Each level comes in a compact, colorful tin (sorry, I love great packaging!) and the cards are divided into four separate card decks (Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies).  Each deck has 25 card pairs and each pair consists of the definition card and the vocabulary word card.  Both cards include the same graphic so matching the word to the definition can be simple.

I’ve been experimenting with using the cards in different ways.  Each grade level set comes with a booklet of different game ideas for how to use the cards.  I’m thinking of lending certain cards to individual students who may need picture prompts in the classroom.  They can also be used on a rotating word wall.  One thing I love about these cards is the language used on the definition cards.  It is very accessible and kid friendly, even for kids with language disorders.  Furthermore,  the graphics on the cards help make the definitions more salient.

Most of my readers know I am a big fan of the iPad because it cuts out the need for flash cards and handouts and simplifies the paper load.  While I would love to see these core curriculum cards available on the iPad, I also love that I can physically manipulate and rearrange these cards for certain games (ie. I can place them in various corners of the room and have students search for the correct card pairs this gets them up and moving and actively engaged), hang them on my word of the day wall, laminate and tape them to a students desk, or help teachers build some of these games into independent student centers.  These are things I wouldn’t be able to do on the iPad, so there is a time and a place for both formats.

I also think this could be a great set for parents to have at home to help transfer academic vocabulary to other contexts outside of school.  Parents can help their kids make new connections and expand their understanding of core vocabulary words by using the same words students hear in the classroom in other settings outside of school.  Since kids needs to use new words in a variety of contexts to help them retain the meaning, playing games with these cards at home is a great way for parents to help reinforce the language teachers are using in the classroom.

Teachers at PS20 feel free to stop by my room to borrow a set for your classroom.  I’d also be happy to discuss how you can use these cards in independent student centers in your room.  I would also love to hear other ways people are using these cards so feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email.

In Alignment

12 Sep

Yogis like to be in alignment.  So do Speech & Language Therapy goals in a school setting.  And now, here at PS20, all of the Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade Speech-Language therapy goals are aligned with the Common Core Curriculum Standards.

As explained in a previous post, the Common Core Standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education. Students who have Speech & Language disorders often have trouble mastering these skill sets.  Speech and language therapy in our school focuses on helping students with speech and language disorders access the classroom curriculum and master the skill sets defined in the Common Core Standards.

In an effort to increase collaboration with classroom teachers and in striving for a more interdisciplinary approach to Speech-Language therapy, I have spent time this summer dissecting the Common Core Standards and looking at ways to align student Speech/Language therapy goals to address grade level skill sets.

On the bulletin-board outside my classroom, teachers and parents can see which Common Core Standards we are addressing in therapy.  The big domains we work on in therapy are articulation, phonics, sequencing/ story retells, morphology, syntax, fluency,pragmatics/conversational skills and vocabulary/semantic relationships between words.  The language of the Common Core Standards are now reflected on student’s IEP‘s in their measurable annual goals.

Here is an example of an aligned goal:

“Given a general conversational prompt or when retelling an orally presented story, {FirstName} will orally construct sentences containing appropriate morphologic features (word endings) such as plurals (trees, dishes), possessive (boy’s), articles (a, an, the), present progressive -ing (running), regular and irregular past tense (spilled, wrote), third person singular (he walks), comparatives/superlatives (-er, -est), negation (not, or un as in unhappy), reflexive pronouns (themselves, myself) and prepositions (in, on, under, behind, beside, between, in front).”

A student with a language disorder may have difficulty discriminating between and using word endings and appropriate morphological features.  When you look at the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten, First and Second grade, students are expected to construct sentences that include a variety of  word forms, depending on the grade.

Each IEP goal will have a corresponding rubric that I can use to track where a student is at in September and measure growth throughout the year.  In the example above, I would be collecting a student’s language sample at 3 or 4 points over the course of the school year to see if their use of word endings and prepositions is increasing and approaching competency.

I’m excited to have finished with this little project as I know it will help us build upon our already strong and integrative special education program here at PS20.

Please feel free to contact me by email or stop by my office if you have questions or want to talk more about this!

Free or Inexpensive After School & Summer Programs

27 Jun

If you live in Manhattan or Brooklyn and are looking for free or inexpensive after school and summer programs for your child or your students, please click on the document link below.  The list consists of programs that are available to students from PS20 but after all of the research that went in to compiling this list I should be able to answer questions and help point you in the right direction if you are looking for something different!

Hard copies of this list will also be available in the main office at PS20.

Have a wonderful summer everyone!

Afterschool & Summer Programs PDF

Great Find for NYC Parents: Summer Fun Guide!

23 Jun


I have been getting a lot of questions from parents about after-school and summer programs for their kids.  I’m in the middle of a bigger-than-I-thought little project over here, putting together a spreadsheet of information to help navigate most of the free or affordable programs in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

While this is taking more time than I thought to compile, I wanted to share one great resource that I stumbled upon through my research on this topic.

It’s a website called Mommy Poppins – Things to do in NYC with Kids.  This website is written by local parents who find (mostly free) off-the-beaten-track enriching activities to do with kids.  They post new content every day and share what they think are the best weekend happenings every Wednesday.  The website covers activities in all 5 boroughs and consists of guides to help you find ClassesSummer Camps,Birthday Party IdeasMuseums and ExhibitsIndoor ActivitiesDay Trips and Travel Ideas and more.

Most relevant now is their Summer Fun Guide– and most of the activities they list are completely free!

Their event calendar features great things to do every day.  If you are looking for something specific, you can search the site or use the category tags to filter their information.  You can also sort posts by age or location by clicking on the colorful tabs underneath their logo.

Finally, if you sign up for their free newsletter, you’ll receive emails with all of their updates.

Enjoy looking around on their website and I’ll be back soon with a comprehensive list of after-school and summer programs!

%d bloggers like this: