Monday, July 30, 2012

Super Duper Age Calculator - My Time Saver!

I frequently need to calculate chronological ages of my students for the purposes of writing reports and performing assessments. As many of you know, there is never enough time in the day to perform tasks as simple as this (i.e. I stink at math!) Discovering the free Super Duper Age Calculator app saved me a lot of time!

This free app is very straightforward in its use. Simply choose the test date and birth date and you are set! See below the break for screenshots of the Super Duper Age Calculator in action.

What useful app do you use to save time?

App Compatibility:

I was able to download this app onto my Android operating phone and use it without any problems. It is also compatible with the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.

Just input the testing & birth date 
First, select date of assessment

Next, enter birth date

Voila! Instant calculation!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Performance Cards

I was organizing my materials today and came across something that I began using towards the end of the year and will definitely continue with for the next. Speech performance cards!

Speech performance cards are used for students who need that extra incentive to cooperate during therapy sessions. Many of them were aware of the fact that they would not receive a grade for therapy and as a result didn’t put in much effort. For these students, I approached their teachers about having their performance in therapy play a role in their classroom grade. Luckily, the teachers were onboard!

At the end of a session, each student would receive a “grade” between 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest). I made sure to outline behaviors that can earn a score of 5. After a couple sessions I began to ask each of my students, “What do you think you deserve today?” They would also be prompted to tell me “why” e.g. “I think I should get a 4 because I was participating, and didn’t call out, but I was giggling with Andrew.” It was great to see the level of insight and awareness they had developed regarding the behavior of themselves and their peers!

After a “grade” was provided on the speech card, the student presented it to their teacher. The teacher would then incorporate it into their grade for the day (usually towards participation).

I found this to be a very useful system as students not only gained motivation to participate because they would get a “grade”, they also had to share the information with their teacher which further served as an incentive to perform and cooperate.

For those of you who need to add a bit more motivation into the mix I provide a sticker on a behavior chart for students who receive a 5 for the day. Students who receive 5 stickers in a row get a prize (I found candy bars to be super desirable)!

After using this system for a few days I began to have non-speech kiddos requesting to be seen for therapy!

What are some effective systems and techniques you’ve found to motivate your reluctant students?

If you download a copy of these editable performance cards, leave me a comment and let me know how it works out! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Too Loud? {Review}

Although I’ve been spending time with preschoolers this summer, I frequently think about my middle schoolers (crazy isn’t it?) and the beginning of the academic year in September. Recently, I have been trying to brainstorm potential tools and/or methods I can implement to improve management of my speech groups. In my earlier post I discussed the use of a stopwatch to help students become more independent in their time management abilities. That got me thinking about what can be done to manage students’ loudness. There have been frequent instances where I’ve had to remind excitable groups to “keep it down” or individual students to bring their voices down. One student, lets call him “Dennis”, has a very difficult time judging his vocal volume. Don’t worry, the first thing I checked was to see if he passed his audiological assessment, and indeed, he has. Consequently, his peers tell him to “stop yelling” or on occasion “shut up” (kids can be harsh). 

This brings me to today’s post. It is a free app called TooLoud? The developers advertise this app as a tool to assist in determining environments that are potentially harmful to your hearing. For a classroom teacher or clinician this provides a great visual that aids in student management of group or individual loudness levels. A numerical value measuring the decibel (dB) is displayed along with a live line graph and sliding bar that indicates the environmental increase/decrease in noise.

Live line graph provides real-time representation of noise

TooLoud? can be calibrated to establish a baseline, as it recommends you set its slider in a room that measures 25dB

The app prompts you to calibrate in a silent room

Levels of loudness that are deemed “dangerous” or too loud are indicated by a red line graph and bar. Additionally, a warning will appear on the screen.

When the app detects it is too loud, red will appear, along with this warning

To serve as motivation, I plan on offering a reward to individuals or groups who are able to stay out of the “red” for the duration of their therapy session. TooLoud? can also be used to have students “catch” or point out when their peer is in the red.

Not only do the visuals provided by this app help students to monitor and manage their own loudness, but they serve to increase their awareness about noise in general. After using this a few sessions my hope is that “Dennis” and his peers will be more cognizant of not only their loudness, but safe listening habits

App Compatibility:

TooLoud? is available for download to the iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. For those of you have a projector in your possesion, the iPad can be easily connected and projected onto a screen/wall. Unfortunarely, I have an Android operating system on my phone and am unable to access this app on it.  I guess I’ll be using my iPad for now!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Targeting Language Through Play

My summer vacation seems to have taken a bit of a turn. I had every intention of relaxing and using my free time to get organized for the upcoming school year and perhaps even plan my wedding (July 26, 2013!!!). However, an opportunity to work with the early intervention and preschool population arose that I could not pass up. After spending a year with my middle schoolers I definitely needed to jog my memory and re-familiarize myself with functional and multipurpose toys to use in order to support and develop language. I am using this post to do just that.  Here is a compilation of some of the things I’ve have found useful in the past, as well as toys I would like to utilize moving forward.


Kids can't seem to get enough of this game, although adults get tired of this one fast!

This is a classic game where an elephant blows butterflies out of his trunk and are caught with nets. Short utterances can be modeled (e.g. “Pick up,” “Ready, set go!” etc.) as well as requesting, and turn-taking behavior. Important spatial concepts regarding spatial relationship (e.g. front, behind, top), quantity, colors, directions, etc. can also be addressed.

Pound a Ball:

This toy allows you to target color matching, prepositions (e.g. in/out, up/down), requesting, turn-taking, cause/effect etc. Just me mindful of fingers during this activity as children tend to get very excited and  occasionally “miss” their target.

Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles:

Sound puzzles are a great way to teach sounds and basic words as well as cause/effect. The child's receptive language can easily be targeted  by asking them to “point to”, “show me”, or indicate “where?”


Bubbles are one of my favorite therapy tools because they can be used to assess language skills as well as promote its development. Skills such as eye contact, requesting, signing, sound production, word/phrase production, turn-taking, quantity, etc. can all be addressed.


Classic Jenga with an updated look.

Jenga is a classic no frills game that is a tried and true motivator. It reinforces turn-taking behavior and spruces up any speech/language activity. After producing a target sound, answering a question etc. have the student take a turn removing a block. I have also found this to be a great demonstration of concepts like “gentle”, “slow”, “rough”, “careful”, etc.

Shape Sorter

In addition to requesting and turn-taking, many concepts can be targeted with a shape sorter. Concepts include: prepositions ("in", "out", "on"), color, shapes, directions, full/empty (depending on type of sorter), quantity, etc.


Blocks are an essential part of any SLP’s toolkit as they encourage creativity as well as target prepositions, spatial relationships, directions, quantity, cause/effect, as well as social skills related to turn-taking, and sharing.

These are only a few examples of toys to utilize with the preschool population. I am fully aware that there are a plethora more available. However, I find that the simple toys/games/activities illicit the most language, as there are no bells and whistles to distract the child from their innate need to play.

I am very excited about my new summer position working with the little ones. I'm also extra pumped because I get the added bonus of a supplementary income.  I hope my piggie bank is ready for all the cash :)

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