Work hard; play hard!

Work hard; play hard!
Consulting in Maui!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December- Party Planning

In our social skills class this month, we decided to work on party planning, party hosting and party etiquette. This was a brochure we created to review what we have been talking about for the last two weeks. We had the kids plan the food, beverages and the activities. They had to write out invitations to others. They also had to be responsible to bring at least one item for the party. Then we practiced greetings and conversational skills in a party setting. We also talked about making sure they thanked people for coming or were aware that they needed to thank their hosts also for having them. 
Our party is tomorrow! Wish us luck!!
We are having cookie decorating, hot cocoa, games with prizes, 
an estimation jar, and some holiday music. 
Sounds like fun! Here is hoping they have learned something in the process of the fun. We shall see after the party. We will then talk about what went well and what could have gone better. 
Happy Holidays To All of YOU! Amy

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Minimal Pairs SH and CH

For some reason, I have a few SH and CH kids in speech this year! So I whipped up some minimal pair cards and thought I may as well share them.
Click here for minimal pair SH and CH words and pictures.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Walk and Talks

I love to get my kids engaged in Walk and Talks! I use these for my social skills groups. The task is for them to walk around one circle of the hallway and keep talking about the same subject for the entire time. Then when they come to me in the hallway they can find another walk and talk partner or find a way to transition into another topic and Walk and Talk that topic.

Linking in again....

I know I have shared this before, but I thought it was worth a mention again. Today I took out the old baby links for conversation with two of my groups. The middle link is the topic; we chose "weekend" as our topic. Then each participant gets to add on a link when they respond or initiate with follow up comments or follow up questions. As you can see, it provides a nice visual of what each participant is contributing. In one of the groups there were eight students so their job was to create a conversational chain with each link representing a comment or question. I was playing the student who always was off topic so I didn't get to add my link to the conversational chain of the group. We talked about how that "breaks" the chain when you add comments that do not stick with the topic without transitioning it. My students always seem to understand this visual.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Eye Contact

So this may be a bit much, but it DID get my students' attention! They all got to take pictures with my big eyes today too. I picked them up at Michael's for $1.00. I do love a good bargain. I also love to hear the laughter of my students when I walk into a classroom and announce that we are working on eye contact with these big googly eyes on. Afterall, it is Halloween week! 
Laugh and have fun with your students; I promise you that the lessons will stick for a longer time. 
The kids each made their own stick with googly eyes on them. Then they hold these sticks to indicate where the eyes of the person that they are talking with are looking. This helps increase awareness of both the speaker and the listener as to where their eye contact is. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Feedback form for social skills- mainstream reporting back

Since the students in social skills set their goals in September, it is time to check in with their mainstream teachers for feedback. Here is the form we use for them to go around and ask how they have been doing on their goal. This also helps increase the awareness within their mainstream classes. Earlier, the students had to email their mainstream teachers what their chosen goal was and what the looked like and didn't look like. This sheet is earlier in the blog. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Frog and the log- prepositions and following directions

I am always looking for fun ways to teach prepositions and following directions. Here is a frog and log set. As you see, I laminated them so you can place the frogs behind the log and inside of the log. I just used my handy dandy exacto knife and cut a slit on the inside of the log so they could slip the frogs into the log. I give each student their own set of frogs and logs so they can both give and receive directions. We sometimes put up a barrier so that they don't have the visual cues and see if their partner's frogs and logs look the same. You could also use this on your wall and label the prepositions so that your students have a visual reminders of prepositions. As you see, I also made big and little frogs so they can add those concepts to their directions. Enjoy!

Frog on the log graphics you can use.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Wish I knew where I got this from a couple of weeks ago because it works like a charm! Thanks for sharing! Wish I could give you credit. 

Figured it out! Here is where the idea came from:

Pet Rocks in Speech??

Yes, my articulation students (r group and s group) made "Our Rocks" and "Silly Stones" in our speech groups. Keep in mind that I work with middle school students! Some days they just crack me up. A couple of years ago I had an 8th grader who loved to write about her pet rock on my white board whenever she would come into the room and I wasn't there. Well, she came back to visit me this year and left the notorious "My Pet Rock Died" picture on my board. So my students asked me about the story and I told them about my Lexi and her Pet Rock. I also told her that Lexi worked on R's so I was fine that she always talked about her pet rock. It gave her plenty of times to practice her sounds. Well that gave me the idea to actually make "Our Rocks" in the R group. As you can imagine, the S Group did not want to be left behind so they made Silly Stones. 
You have to make articulation groups fun no matter what age, but in middle school you REALLY have to get creative sometimes and silly! You try saying "Our Rocks"; it takes a lot of concentration even when you DON'T struggle with the R sound! 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Follow Up Statements and Questions

We are always working on increasing our use of follow up questions and follow up statements to increase conversational skills and decrease the ego-centric nature that we operate out of so frequently at the middle school level. 
I created this document for our poster in our class so we have it displayed large and prominently in our social skills classroom! The students also have created their own posters for this unit and keep them in their binders to remind us during our Weekend Wrap Up sessions that it is their job not only to share but to also engage by asking follow up questions and making follow up statements. Today they will get chips to throw in the middle for each time they make one. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Social Skills and Goal Setting

We had the students assess themselves using the Skillstreaming Checklists (you can just google it and find the checklists for students, parents and teachers). During our first month we have the students go through their own checklist. We do it question by question in class so that the students take their time filling it out and the data more accurately reflects where they are functioning in terms of social skills. Then we have them bring the parent checklist home to have one or both of their parents fill it out on them. After that we graph both results, talk about the differences, others' perspectives and the importance of know what others think about in terms of your social skills. From there we highlight any item that there is a difference of at least two points (meaning....there is a number between one rater's scores versus the other rater's scores).
Next, we develop our personalized goal areas. We take a few things into consideration; scores in the 1-2 ratings are always areas of need, scores that have a discrepancy between raters need to also be carefully considered because there is possibly a lack of awareness in this area, and finally what we as social skills teachers think are blocking them the most in the school setting.
After we have these areas talked about, we ask the students to pick their top three areas that they need to work on based on the previously listed criteria in the above paragraph. We make them go over every one of these steps out loud in class because all of them need to begin to get better at "owning" their difficulties.
Now that they have (with our guidance) picked their top three, my co-teacher and I tell them we get to pick the one that they will start working on. It is here that we explain the difference between a democratic process versus a dictatorship ;-). We find that the majority of our social skills class has a difficult time taking feedback and directives without questioning or challenging it. It is good practice for them to experience a little bit of dictatorship within the classroom.
Now we are ready to get into the "get down and grungy" work of goal setting. This is the sheet we use to understand what their objective looks like and doesn't look like. We always start with what it DOESN'T look like. The students usually have no problems with that side. Then we move to what it does look like. We go through each student's form one-by-one so that they learn through other people.
Last, we have them email their teachers, dean and parents with this sheet to tell them that this is their current social skills goal that they are working on. They then ask them to hold them accountable. This gives people permission to call them on their choices or praise them for their choices. As you can imagine, some of our students don't like this "public" accountability. We, as social skills teachers, though LOVE it! You will see much better carryover and awareness of their skills by doing this.

Common Ground- Topics and Social Skills

We used this tool this week in our social skills class to try and reduce some of the ego-centric nature of our conversations with one another in the group. We paired the students up and gave the pair a copy of this sheet. They had to talk for ten minutes and come up with at least five topics that they were only interested in, five topics that the other person was only interested in and a minimum of five topics that they both were interested in. Then we talked about the importance of not having conversations only one-sided. The kids had some difficulty at first so we asked them to think about the question, "Would you like to talk about this subject for more than five minutes?" If so, then you could put that as one of "your" topics or "our" topics.

Click here for access to the worksheet.

Friday, September 12, 2014

So excited I finally ordered my SPEECH BUDDY!

I am so excited that I finally ordered my Speech Buddy kit. I will let you know how it works and my feedback on the new tool! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Garcia Winner's- Expected and Unexpected Behaviors

I have used Michelle Garcia Winner's book Social Fate and Social Fortune book. This worksheet is just one that I created directly from her book. It allows you to go through the unexpected behaviors, others' feelings and reactions to those behaviors and how you may feel after their reactions to you. Then the bottom half of the sheet talks about making another choice that is more expected and what the feelings and reactions might be in comparison and then how you might feel after doing something that others expect more in the specific situation. 
Then once you use the sheet to talk about other's behavior choices, you can also use it to problem solve through their own choices. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Build Your Social Skills

This is a visual for Building Your Social Skills. Each of the construction layers of the house represents a higher level in social skills. This sheet allows you to start the conversation and have the students examine where they might be in their own social skills development. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Circle Of Control

Click here for the link to print this sheet.

We all have those students that either think situations are more in their control than they really are or they don't recognize what they do and do not have control over so they get into other people's business. This can also limit their ability to see their own part in a situation or ability to solve a problem. This is just a quick sheet to go over what IS in their control and what is NOT in their control. There is no sense wasting time or energy on things that are not in our control. This can be useful with adults too as they get wrapped up situations.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Social Skills- On Target

Awhile back (okay....maybe many years ago when I was working with my buddy Rebecca P), I created an "On Target Social Skills" unit that we used. We always thought about further developing it, but we never really got around to it. Now I find myself teaching social skills again with a group or two that could probably use the concrete visual of this target concept. So here I go....I am going to try and further develop the sheets and keep adding smaller target sheets for specific skills. Here is my first attempt at trying to remember the intricacies about the initial very long ago. :-)

Click here for a link to the larger target.
Click here for a link to the mini targets that focus on turn-taking. 
Click here for a link to a larger target on turn-taking.  
Click here for a link to mini targets that focus on listening. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Social Skills Hierarchy Guide

 Click here to go to a printable document of the hierarchy form. 
Click here to go to a printable document of the hierarchy crime poster. 

 I created this form for my higher level social skills class. The group was having a difficult time figuring out what level of formality they could or SHOULD use with different groups. I explained to them that everyone has a level (Level 2). Even the President of the United States is a LEVEL 2 in his world. The President has parents, aunts and uncles that are above him in level of social interactions. So everyone is at a level two and has peers, siblings, cousins, etc. At your own level you can use a less formal form of interactions. Then when we talk with people at a Level 3, 4 or 5 for us we need to adjust our level of formality. We refer to it as Hierarchy Interactions and used this form to talk about why their tone or their level of formality was not appropriate for the situation. Then we talked about why using too high or too low of a hierarchy approach with certain groups may create misunderstandings or consequences. We also talked about how other perceive us when we make a mistake in this area of hierarchy.
We started the project out by asking questions....
  • Who are some people who you feel you can interact with freely? 
  • Do you change your tone with certain people? 
  • Are there some ways that you can communicate with your close friends that you probably wouldn't use with other people? If so, why? 
  • If you met the President of the United States, could you talk with him/her like you talk with your friends? If not, why? 
  • Do you talk with your teachers the same way you talk with your closest friends? (This is where my group struggled some.)
  • If you were pulled over by a police officer, would it be okay to use sarcasm with them? 
  • Do you think there are some people that your parents have to use a more formal approach with? 
  • Etc...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Simple Nouns and Adjectives

Click on link to find easier magnet words on Amazon. 

I love MAGNET words in speech! You can use them for so many things. This week my functional communication groups pulled them out for therapy. We found all of the adjective magnets (color coded, which made it easier) and put them up on my little office fridge. Yes, I do believe in using all spaces in my office as instruction spots!
Then they had to find three adjectives that could be used to describe them. They could only use the magnets on the fridge to start with. Eventually, we expanded to ones they could come up with on their own.
This may seem like an obvious use of the magnet words, but today my Functional Communication Groups were working on expanding their sentences a bit. So we used this lovely, blue cookie sheet and put a noun (monster) in the middle of it. Then we brainstormed on what words describe a monster. As you can see, I write on everything with white board markers. The kids had fun taking turns with their nouns and adjectives. Next we will move on to making sentences with the different adjective phrase possibilities.
Minnesota Winters (noun)- impossible, tiring, exhausting, brutal, dark, frigid, ridiculous, blustery, and never-ending (adjectives)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

March Into A New Contest- Multiple Meaning Word Challenge

March Into A New Contest!
Next month we will be starting another round with Multiple Meaning Words. So we are having a contest. The students are being challenged in groups (6th grade versus 7th grade versus 8th grade) to search out visual representations of multiple meaning words and google doc them to me or bring them to be directly. They get one point for each one they bring in or TWO points if it contains their sound that they work on for articulation.

Here you see it on our learning target for the month.
To the right you see the wall that has already started with some examples. I, of course, have laminated them so I can use them for the years and years to come.

Click here for the March Contest Announcement.

Click here for a link of children's books that would be great for this unit!  

Click here for a link to Guess the Homonym game.  

Click here for my PINTEREST board on multiple meaning words. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blurt and Buzzers- make for a fun language and listening activity!

Click here for a direct link to the buzzers.
You can get Travel Blurt of the full version of Blurt at most game stores or on Amazon or other similar sites.

I handed each team a buzzer and then I started reading the clues for the word. The first person to buzz in for the word got to guess the correct word given the meaning. If they were wrong the other teams or individuals could buzz in with the answer. I only read the clue one time so that they would work on listening skills and memory skills also.

Of course, you can have the students and teams take turns reading the clues too. This is great for all kids, especially your articulation and your fluency kids! LET'S FACE IT....reading out loud is good for most kids. They can all use the practice. 

I also have the full version of the Blurt game.

These have been great additions for my games this winter! Have I mentioned how LONG this Minnesota winter has been!?!?!?

I think this might be a game that will come to use during our staff spring break party that I throw in March!

ANSWER BUZZERS add fun to a language task!

How do you put more fun into a language activity? Why...add buzzers, of course! :-)

We pulled out an old memory game and set each student up with ten cards. Then I gave them a receptive language task of finding a card that matched my hint, such as: find one that flies, find one that you can wear, find one that smells, etc. The first kid to buzz in with their buzzer gets to make a sentence with the item on their card and turn their card over. The first one to have all of their ten cards turned over wins the game~!

As you see, if they are focusing on a specific objective such as using "is/are/am" in their sentences, I sometimes put that in writing on the table with a white board marker.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Lego Kits Have Come Out....

I have five bags that contain the same Legos. Every year we pull them out during our winter doldrums. This winter has been BRU-TAL! It seems like we are far from over, according to the weather forecast this morning. So the LEGOS have come out! This week we are focusing on giving and following directions. This seems like a simple task, that sometimes (okay, frequently) turns frustrating for the students. When this happens we do some free styling Legos and watch middle schoolers rely on "old school" fun to bring them back down and diffuse the situation. Then they restart again and adjust their creations into ones that might not be so difficult to describe to their peers. Yesterday, I used it with a group of 8th grade boys who thought they "HAD THIS". The group was composed of a student with fluency issues and students with articulation issues. This group is a very bright group of boys. You can guess what this means; yes, the first one quit 4 steps into the directions because of his frustration. I will bring him back to it, but yesterday was just not the time. I do caution you to tread carefully with groups that have 1 or more students dealing with ASD. You will need a lot of patience to keep their frustration in check. Maybe start off with breathing and yoga and then enter the room with the announcement that we will be working with LEGOS. :-)

Rumor has it, we might be sending a kit to another middle school in our district next month and FACETIMING directions with them. Wish us luck! Here is to spring coming to our rescue in a few months. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Do you know what your goals/objectives are?

There is nothing worse to me than when I ask my students what their goals/objectives are in speech and they respond, "I don't know," or the obligatory shoulder shrug. Okay, maybe there are worse things, but this is one response I dread getting from them. don't know what you have been working on?!? Talk about lack of a learning target. This year, I was determined that every student could answer this the second I asked them. So that became our SEPTEMBER learning target. Now, every once in awhile, I will have one from the group verbalize what everyone's goals/objectives are. THEY CAN DO IT! :-) I also have them write it right on the therapy table in front of them. They seem to love to use the white board markers on the table. So this is just an easy tool to use to keep their targets in the forefront of their brain while they are working in the therapy room.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Head's Up App- In the classroom or resource room.

  So far I have added multiple meaning, antonyms and prefixes/suffixes. You can add a deck for each area of vocabulary!


Who doesn't love Ellen Degeneres?!? When I was traveling in Spain, I was talking with another life-long educator about the app "Head's Up". So, of course, I loaded it on to my IPAD (traveling companion) and thought about it on my long plane rides and even longer layovers in Paris and Washington DC.
How could I use this in my speech/language groups? At first, I just thought it might be a perfect game for working on description and listening. Then I saw its use for my carryover articulation kids and even for my kids who work on fluency. After that I noticed another paid deck for "make your own". Well that really opened up the possibilities! So the first one I made was multiple meaning. Next I am going to make an analogy one. I could use it for my articulation groups too, but I have other apps that are more geared towards that objective. So my articulation students will benefit from the language aspect of the new decks while they work on carryover of their skills in a more stressful task that involves time. I could see it for learning math facts, academic vocabulary, quizzing, to have multiple uses of my tools! CHECK IT OUT! I think you could easily use it in your resource room. Way to go Ellen! My students thoroughly enjoy the review video aspect of this game. After playing a deck, they frequently like to watch the video of them guessing or describing the cards in the deck.

 We started competing with other groups and with administration to see who could get the highest scores. The kids LOVED this.
Another variation is to have the person in the group sit down if the buzzer goes off during their time (Like the old game of Hot Potato). Careful if you have an overly competitive group here because this does AMP it up quite a bit. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rock, Paper Scissors for articulation and vocabulary

I know; I have been a bit inactive when it comes to creating for my blog. I have always wanted to make Rock, Paper Scissors cards for my speech groups. So finally I did it! I have the word doc also so you could change the targets on the cards. I put several targets (Articulation- r, l, s, sh, ch, k and g) and (Vocabulary- analogies, antonyms and multiple meaning words) on each card. This way I could use it with several of my groups and it could address multiple IEP objectives. (*You can email me for the word document so you can change the words or the targets on the cards.) You could use them for reading or math or just about anything you wanted to use them for in your classroom. 
More than two players: The way we played it this week was to divide all of the cards between players. We kept them in a pile and did not look at the cards. Then the first person puts down the card that is on the top of their pile. The next person goes and you see which person has the strongest card (rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper, and paper covers rock). The person with the strongest card gets to take the other person's cards. Then the strongest of those two cards goes up against the next players top card. You keep doing this until the final player in that round. If they are the same card then the first player that laid down the card is "safe" and gets to take their card back. The second player goes up against the next player. 
Two players: We played it two different ways. The first way we played it went quickly. We played it like the old card game of WAR. There are a lot of matches because there are only three cards. The next way was to deal out five cards to each person. Then you each choose one card to lay down. The strongest card takes both of the cards. If you have a tie then you choose another card from your hand of four cards now and lay that down. Every time you play a card you get to choose another card from the draw pile. So you always have five cards in your hand until the end. The player with the most cards at the end wins the game. 
So there you have it; I finally have my Rock, Paper, Scissors game with my target words on them.