Learning and Sharing

Last week of summer therapy





This is the last week of summer speech therapy.  It has been lots of fun.  I found some good strategies to assist students with eliminating phonological processes, motor planning, expanding responses, and articulation.



Maura had good success using a descriptive sentence frame.  She chose pictures from a set of 3 to complete a sentence frame.  The noun picture was selected first and then two appropriate adjective pictures.  What a great tool for working on expanding utterances, describing words, and intelligibility.  The sentence frames are a freebie created by and available for download on http://www.teacherspayteachers.



Sometimes it isn’t easy to keep a 4 year old boy engaged for 30 minutes.  Word Joggers Jr. did the trick.  The token tower was an added bonus.  Liam was so motivated  to fill up that tower with tokens that he did some of his best work.  He really likes animals so we chose that category for play.  This game worked well for addressing word retrieval and phonological processing.  Word Joggers Jr. is available at



Z is using the aspiration trick for pre-vocalic voicing (pig=big).  These visuals are available at  This trick has worked well for him in summer therapy.



Zingo ranks as the #1 fav game in Room 99.  So many ways to use this motivating game.  Maggie practices CVC words, naming skills, and sentence construct I+have+_____.  Woohoo!


See you in September!


PS  I saw this Time Tracker used in a preschool classroom yesterday and knew I had to have one.  It is a Learning Resources product available at Toys r us.  Check it out-pTRU1-2882625reg

Visual and Auditory cues for keeping on track.

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Addressing reading comprehension and social thinking skills through co-teaching


There will be a new experience waiting for me when school starts in September.  I will be co-teaching with a resource teacher.  We will co-teach a language arts class with an emphasis on reading comprehension.  I am so looking forward to this new experience.

For many years I have integrated communication skills into classrooms by joining in cooperative learning exercises or “being a center” during center rotations.  I have planned and delivered small group lessons as well as whole class lessons.  We have called this collaboration.  To me, co-teaching will be a bit different than just collaborating.   Yes, we will team up and join forces and share our best strategies but I will get to be a teacher!  It will be interesting to see how it all turns out.

Our purpose for co-teaching is to address the needs of students we share who struggle with reading comprehension and social thinking.  In her book, I Get It! , Audra Jensen writes, “Reading comprehension is more than decoding words.  It depends less on language comprehension and more on a student’s social thinking ability”.  The resource teacher will bring her expertise as a reading teacher and I will bring what I know about social thinking skills.  Audra Jensen’s organized Book Chat approach looks interesting as a touchstone for what we will do.  This book is available at

I get it.

I found and read a fantastic article written by Susan Gately for TEACHING Exceptional Children,  Vol.  40,  No.  3, pp.  40-45 (  Gately writes , “As in social situations, the task and importance of understanding and interpreting various cues is necessary for effective comprehension of narrative texts.  To obtain reading comprehension, students must understand the author’s  vocabulary, style of writing, and story structure as well as characters’ social experiences and how these contribute to the development of motivations, goals, and actions within the story setting”.    She lists eight Strategies for Higher Order Reading Comprehension Skills:

  1. Priming background knowledge  helps to focus reading as a thinking activity.  The more readers know about a topic, the easier it is to connect the text with background knowledge.
  2. Picture Walks   To conduct a traditional picture walk, survey illustrations of a story, make predictions about the story, and confirm the predictions.  Be sure that any incorrect assumptions are repaired and not reinforced.
  3. Visual Maps  can be used when there are no illustrations to use to prime background knowledge.  This strategy will help students get “primed” for what they will read about characters, setting, and the problem faced by the characters.
  4. Think-Alouds and Reciprocal Teaching helps by modeling thinking about the text to students.  Think-alouds help students learn four strategies: predicting, questioning, clarifying, and summarizing.   In reciprocal teaching, the teacher stops often to share thoughts, for example, “When I read the words XYZ, I thought aboutABC” or “I’m confused about ABC.  Let’s see how I can figure this out.”
  5. Understanding Narrative Text Structure  starts with discovering who the main character of the text is and what he did.  Develop simple story frames of who-did-what events.  Events of the story can be written on sentence strips, organized by the students, and then matched to the cues in the story frames.
  6. Goal structure mapping  uses shapes, lines, and arrows to organize stories so that students understand how events of one character may influence the actions of another character.
  7. Emotional Thermometers help students gain a sense of various intensities of feelings.  Shades of color help students see the intensity of feeling in a concrete manner.
  8. Social Stories  can help students consider perspectives  of others in social situations and the perspective of various characters.

Please read the complete article.  It is full of important information that will assist students with ASD in reading comprehension.

I have already been thinking about Emotional Thermometers.  While buying paint at Home Depot, I picked up these paint chips to use as visuals.


I think using the color blue would be great to point out the different shades to express the level of sadness a character might be feeling.


Red could be used for anger, green for calm/happy, and yellow for worried/anxious.

Back to the subject of co-teaching…   I am happy to say that the resource teacher approached me with the idea to co-teach.  She saw the positive results of the lunch buddies social skills groups and realized the potential benefits of working, I mean teaching, together.




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Want to see the fun we are having in summer speech therapy?





Here’s what’s happening during summer speech therapy-


We love interactive storybooks. They provide so many opportunities for multisensory language learning. These picture communication interactive storybooks are from













Maggie loves to get her hands on these books.



Cariboo is a super fun game for ages 3-6 yrs. My student is working on articulation so I modified it by making my own /l/ pictures. Instead of a plastic jewel in the treasure chest, I put a Skittle or Smartie (much more motivating). I bought this game on Amazon. I switch out the pictures depending on the needs of the student. Anderson is so motivated by this game that he is self-correcting /l/ and using 3-4 word utterances during play.

I created this social story for another student. She is struggling to just share space with her classmates.












The Social Skill Builder app for iPad is a great tool for this student. The interactive videos are helpful in assisting her with social problem solving and perspective taking. Here is a demo of the app-


Mouth Works app for iPad uses video modeling for speech sound production.  I don’t really like this app (as an adult it is annoying) but the young students like it.




A good ol’ game of Go Fish is always fun.  Liam is working on several skills during this  game.




I am missing my social skills groups and can’t wait to see them but I am having tons of fun in summer therapy!

My Best,


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Paying Attention and Being Mindful



I had a conversation last week, with the parent of one of my preschool students, about attention and what parents can do to help young children learn to pay attention.  We exchanged some ideas and then I came home to consult with some experts.  I asked myself “What does it mean when we ask kids to pay attention?” and “What are we really asking when we ask kids to pay attention?”.

In my heart and mind, Dr. Jean is Queen!  I went immediately to to read and re-read what Dr. Jean Feldman had to say about the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of young children.  She says that we “learn on our feet not on our seat”.  I love that and apply it every day.  In her article It’s All About Play Dr. Jean writes that “Play develops the executive function (impulse control, task initiation, delayed gratification)”.  Impulse control is necessary to be able to “pay attention”.  In this same article Dr. Jean refers to Gwen Dewar’s Cognitive Benefits of Play in which Dr. Dewar reports that kids pay more attention to academic tasks when they are given frequent, brief opportunities for free play.  Studies show that PE classes are not as effective as recess for cognitive benefits.  PE is too structured, but a recess break can be truly playful.  (





In a post at I read this:  When we ask children to “pay attention”, what we’re really asking them is something closer to the concept of being mindful.  What is mindfulness?  Jon Kabat-Zinn teaches that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”.  It’s developing awareness of what’s happening both outside and inside oneself and one’s physical being in the world.  I also read in this post “Attention is the gateway to learning”.  Wow, that powerful statement makes me want to know more!

I think we need to be good models and show our students what it means to pay attention and to be mindful.  Here are some of the tips that I learned during my investigation:

  • Give limited choices. Selective attention is common and limiting choices can help focus a child’s attention on the present.
  • Be consistent.  If a child knows what the rules are and they are consistently enforced then he/she is more likely to be responsive the first time he/she is asked.
  • Encourage children to use their words to plan and control their behavior, for example, “what do we need to put on before we go out to play when it’s raining?”.   Language is a major route to good social relationships, which are often jeopardized because the impulsive child  can be annoying to peers in play or cooperative learning situations.
  • Use words along with actions when showing or explaining  something new to a child; language is the ultimate mediator of attention.  (my personal favorite)
  • Let attention span develop naturally by also allowing time for a child to become actively engaged in a task without interruption.
  • Practice what you preach!  If your idea of winding down is watching TV for hours while your head is buried in your smart phone, your child will probably adopt the same habits.  Be good role models.


My Best,

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Partner Yoga Poses


Lunch Buddies love yoga!  So far, our experiences with yoga poses have been individual within the group.  Starting this fall, I would like for our group to try partner poses.  Partner yoga poses provide yet another platform for teaching the importance of getting along, being mindful (paying attention on purpose) when interacting with one another, working together/cooperation,being gentle with each other, and yes, perspective.

Shari Vilchez-Blatt at Karma Kids Yoga lists the following benefits of partner poses:

  • eye-contact  (Lunch Buddies call this “thinking with your eyes”)
  • trust
  • balance and coordination
  • teamwork
  • creativity
  • communication
  • FUN!

Go to  for examples of partner poses.



Doesn’t this Garden of Flowers pose look fun!


Here is a video of children practicing partner poses:


Attention parents of Lunch Buddies when you are shopping for back to school supplies please add a yoga mat to that list.



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The Social Navigator









I just bought a new social skills app called The Social Navigator.  It is designed to be “both a behavior management device and a teaching tool”.  As my students progress, their need for visual supports changes.  With our goal of self-monitoring and self-management, The Social Navigator looks like a fine addition to our app library.

Go to: for the science behind the design of this app.  Lorraine Millan, the app’s creator, is the mother of a child with special needs.  It is her mission to “expand competent and compassionate care” to socially challenged individuals and their families.

To start, the student answers a few questions:

Where are you?                  relative's house

What do you want to be able to do?                     get something

The Social Navigator will then provide strategies and reminders  reminders

The student is then given the opportunity to check the skills they used.  Next, they self-check by answering questions such as “Did you get what you wanted?” , “Was everyone satisfied?” and “Overall, how did the suggestions work?”.

The Social Navigator documents behavior and tracks progress.

It looks great “on paper” but the true test will be how the students like it.  We will certainly put it to the test!

My Best,


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The Pacing Board




I started summer ESY speech therapy this week.  There are 20 students on my caseload and only 1 requiring social skills coaching.  So I had to pull out some of my best visual strategies that were gathering dust while I was busy with other  communication disorders.  Several of my summer students have unintelligible conversational speech.  A couple of them have trouble initiating and sequencing words in sentences.  One student struggles to  sequence syllables in words.  Two students delete final consonants.  One student has a fluency disorder.  The one therapy tool that I can use with all these students is a pacing board.  It is easy to make, easy to use and easy to share with parents and teachers.

As a visual-motor cueing system, the pacing board is often not used to its fullest potential.  This is how I am using pacing boards this summer…





This one is used for increasing utterances.  The green dot indicates the beginning of the utterance and the red dot indicates the end.  The student will choose which center she wants to go to.  Then she will tap out the big sentence.  The teacher and I will model for her and her responses will be imitated at first with the goal to fade the pacing board for a spontaneous sentence.



This pacing board is used for syllable sequencing.  The pretty butterflies have glitter on them which adds a tactile element as the student touches each one.


These “cushy” Buzz Lightyear stickers make a great pacing board for my student working on fluency.




Watch this wonderful video clip called Keeping Pace.  It explains the how and why of the pacing board strategy.

My best,


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