Monday, August 27, 2012

Changes Ahead for School SLP's

As I return to school this fall, the topic of Common Core State Standards is on my mind. As a literacy coach, I spent a fair amount of time during the previous school year studying the ELA standards. The district I work for has implemented both reading and writing workshop models for several years and the standards fit nicely within those instructional frames. We've also used Fountas & Pinnell Phonics Lessons as our word study program for KG through 3rd grade. The phonics principles and instructional goals are beautifully aligned with the Common Core State Standards and the checklists and assessments included in the program will come in handy for pre and post testing. Another resource that I think will be instrumental in helping me to link academic performance with speech IEP goals and objectives is The Continuum of Literacy Learning (PreK-8) also created by Fountas & Pinnell. The curriculum goals in the continuum are highly correlated to the CCSS.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Speech Therapy Pensieve: Part 2

After talking with a few speech colleagues in my district, I am liking the idea of using Google forms to track student contacts even more. I decided to create two additional forms. One for screenings and consultation services and another to document meetings. I'm not sure that tracking these therapeutic activities will be any faster using an iPad but I like the idea of having all the data in one place. And maybe, once I start using the forms, I will be able to glean some trends or big ideas. I was afraid that my co-professionals would think it was a dorky idea and it would be too difficult. But as it turns out, some of my speech buddies are also interested in experimenting with ways to collect and interpret student data using their iPad. My thinking is that any data collection method needs to be quick. As school speech therapists, our time with students is often brief and we need to be able to use every instructional minute wisely. Data collection cannot be so cumbersome that it steals away lots of these minutes. I anticipate that I will want to make revisions to the forms as I begin using them. Below is a screenshot of the live form for tracking screening and consultation services. Under the live form is a view of what the columns in the Google spreadsheet will look like. Any suggestions, questions, or comments are very much appreciated.

Screenshot of the live form as it will appear on my iPad.


This shot shows what the buttons will look like on my iPad.
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Speech Therapy Pensieve: Part 1

A few days ago I came across two excellent blog posts from Ruth Morgan at Chapel Hill Snippets explaining how she uses Google forms to track student therapy contacts. As a literacy coach, I used Google forms to create my own digital conferring notebook and was itching to use the same approach with my speech therapy students. Ruth created an individual Google doc for each of her students which allowed her to display all therapy notes on a comprehensive spreadsheet. I liked this idea and may end up following Ruth's model but I also wanted to experiment with a single form that could capture all of my therapy notes for all of my students. Below is a screenshot of the live form I'm playing with as well as what the spreadsheet looks like. I will probably enter some dummy data to get a feel for how it will work or not work.

This is what the form will look like on my iPad.


This shot shows the headings for the data I want to collect.
Whenever I create a form in Google docs, I start with what information I will need and how I want it to look in the spreadsheet. In other words, I don't start by creating a form. I begin with sketching out a spreadsheet on paper, then go from there. I want my form to be simple, quick, and flexible. And I want the columns to fit across one sheet of paper in a landscape view. I usually do a test print of what the spreadsheet will look like before I finalize the questions on the form. In the future, when I need to print the information I have collected, I want it to be in a useful format. Please follow the links for the live form and the spreadsheet to take a look, ask any questions, and provide any suggestions or comments.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blogging Using My iPad

Kind of a boring post title. It may seem like a small thing but I've been interested in finding ways to work on multiple blog posts on the go for a while. I tend to write and publish in the early morning hours before work or late at night after finishing dishes, laundry, and school work. My work day is typically filled to the brim with activity but sometimes I have a spare minute or two that I would like to use to start drafting a post. My iPad together with the Blogsy app are making this more possible. Like many of the apps I most use frequently, Blogsy takes some effort to learn. I don't see that as a negative. My biggest issue with using my iPad to compose and post wasn't learning Blogsy but using the iPad's internal keyboard. I found that I just wasn't able to get my thoughts down fast enough. I invested in an Apple wireless keyboard which brought me instant relief. I splurged and swallowed the high price tag and I couldn't be happier. I can easily switch from the internal keyboard to the wireless keyboard according to my needs or the setting. Apple also has a trackpad that integrates with the keyboard but I don't feel the need for it. The arrow keys together with touching the screen works just dandy for me.

My keyboard is lightweight and portable. I love it!
 

 

 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Revising Pinterest Boards

Updating and organizing Pinterest boards takes time. And by the way, if you aren't on Pinterest yet, you  should be. There are many generous and creative educators on Pinterest who simply love to share ideas. Personally,  I use my pin boards to collect resources and connect with other educators and speech therapists. Although I haven't encountered any, there are pinners out there that take the ideas and images of others, claim them as there own, and try to use them to generate a profit. I don't think that is a reason to avoid Pinterest. Exactly the opposite. The more I use Pinterest, the more critical I have become about what goes up on my boards. I tend to "like" many pins but only pin the ones that are actually usable. That being said, I admit I have been guilty of mindless pinning and have ended up with pins on my boards that are not what I thought they were.

I like being able to share my boards because sharing and collaborating are fun. Pinterest is also a great way to discover wonderful blogs. My pin boards are mostly professional in nature but like all social networking sites, using caution is called for. I've learned the hard way that just because someone is following you doesn't mean you want to follow them.

I've recently spent several hours, yes, hours reorganizing my pin boards and I'm still not done. I deleted pins, added pins, deleted likes, and renamed boards. I wanted my boards to reflect me, my interests, and my transition back to speech therapy. I "unfollowed" several pinners and not because I didn't enjoy their boards, I just felt I needed to be more focused. For me, Pinterest, like blogging, is about connecting with like-minded people and sharing for the sake of sharing. And also like blogging, it takes time and thought and a desire to give credit where credit is due.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Reading, Writing, Languaging

I know languaging isn't a word, but maybe it should be. As a literacy coach, I thought of reading and writing as processes and assisting students to be successful included assessing and observing these processes in action. I was never a big DIBELS fan, mostly because of how the tool was used, not because of the tool itself. I observed DIBELS being administered to waves of students and discrete DIBELS-like tasks used as learning targets for RtI. Troubling to say the least. I found using running records and writing samples to be superior to DIBELS for creating meaningful instruction. I admit that as a speech therapist I struggled with identifying therapy targets based on standardized assessment tools. I also think I over-relied on programs and worksheets. I didn't really have much of a clue about curriculum or instructional models such as workshop. Now I do. I've spent many years observing the positive impact that quality literacy instruction, where process is emphasized over tiny tasks, has on students with language learning difficulties. My hope is that I can meld my experience and knowledge as both a literacy coach and speech therapist to point therapy toward pertinent curricular objectives rather than discrete assessment tasks that may or may not impact a child's languaging process or academic achievement. Wow, that's quite a mouthful. It is easy to get preachy in June. I wonder if I'll feel the same way come December.

This Tagxedo was created with text from Wallach's July 2011 LSHSS article,
 Peeling the Onion of Auditory Processing Disorder: A Language/Curricular-
Based Perspective.
Peeling the onion refers to the idea that we need to be
 cautious about focusing on outer layers, such as discrete assessment tasks,
rather than examining curricular performance, which is at the core.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Plans for Evernote

This is how my notebooks appear on my
laptop. I can stack notebooks in a group.
Speech therapy is actually a blast but the paperwork is insane. Writing IEP's, medicaid documentation, and all the other reporting that is required can quickly take time that could be spent working directly with children, teachers, and parents. I have to admit that keeping track of therapy notes, instructional ideas, and parent contacts was always a big challenge for me. I've resolved to use the tools I learned about as a literacy coach to help me navigate the sea of paper that comes with working as a speech therapist in the schools. I'm hoping to use a combination of Evernote and Google docs. Since this spring, I've really bonded with Evernote. I want to use it as a substitute for a file cabinet of student folders. Pretty ambitious but worth it. I'm thinking I would organize my Evernote notebooks by grade level and assign student names as tags. I could also add tags such as grade level, the name of the child's teacher, and key words for speech difficulty such as fluency, articulation, or language. Then again, maybe it would be better to put all notes in one notebook and use tags and saved searches using a combination of tags. I need to think about how I will want to access the information for planning, IEP meetings, and intervention meetings. In the past, I used the audio note feature to record students during running records. Now I look forward to using it to take audio notes of speech students. This will be a great tool to show progress and assist students to self-monitor. I wonder how other speech therapists out there are using Evernote.

This is how my notebooks appear on my iPad. They are gray because I haven't added any notes to the notebooks
 yet. Also, stacked notebooks don't appear in the iPad app so it is important to add useful tags for the purpose of searching.
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