Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Getting Started in a New Speech Room

If you follow my Facebook or Instagram pages, you know that I have just begun moving into my new speech room!  It is a very exciting time.  I love being able to decorate the space and make it my own.  Here's a sneak peek for you (a full blog post will come later):

So if you are a brand new SLP like me or are moving to a new classroom, here's a few steps to help get you started:

1)  Tour your room early, if possible.  I had the opportunity to tour my school and room about a month and a half before my contract was set to begin.  I knew I had the summer free to dream up the perfect room and then find supplies to make it happen.  It gave me an idea of which areas could happen, such as my book nook (pictured above).  It also showed me that I had a certain number of filing cabinets, which meant I did or did not need crates, etc to supplement and add storage.

2)  Set a budget.  As a newbie with no income, it was difficult to swallow the realities of the cost of setting up a classroom.  I had one friend tell me she spent almost half of her paycheck her first year to pay for decorations, bulletin boards, and books.  I was determined not to do this, because I knew it wasn't realistic for me.  Set a dollar amount limit that you want to keep your costs under and stick to it.

3)  Prioritize your wants and needs.  For me, a rug was a huge priority.  My floors are all tile.  Not only did I not want to sit on the bare floor or have my students sitting on it, I felt a rug would add to the room and make it feel more welcoming.  By making a list of your top priorities in your room, you will be able to better stick to that budget.

4) Ask about any restrictions regarding decorations.  One of my friends is in a school that has very strict guidelines about decor (in fact, it's a whole teaching philosophy).  Some may allow you to do whatever you want.  There may be fire codes you have to follow.  You may not be able to put boxes close to the ceiling.  You may not be able to hang anything from the ceiling.  Check into these before doing anything.

5) Make it yours.  You can try and make it such that it will appeal to every child.  What I have learned is that not every child will appreciate it or enjoy it, no matter what you choose.  You are the one who will be spending the majority of the time in the office, so it needs to be a space you are comfortable in as well.  Obviously, it has to be kid-friendly and should be fairly gender-neutral.

6)  Gather ideas.   I started a Pinterest board just to collect all of the awesome ideas I found.   If you are interested, check it out my board here.

7) Consult other professionals.  I asked a lot of others about what they felt was necessary in their speech room.  This helped give me an idea of what I needed to purchase ahead of time.

8) Inventory everything.  I like to create a list of everything that is in the classroom so that if I am ever stuck, I can go back through that list quickly.  Otherwise, I would be stuck going through my materials closet frantically.  It may take some time at the beginning of the year, but you won't have to do it again, and it will serve as a great reference throughout the year.

9) Label everything that you own.  The last thing you want to happen is for your favorite game to walk away.  The school needs to know that it is your personal game/ activity.

10)  Try not to stress.  It is really easy to get stressed out about this closet or that bulletin board.  I am a perfectionist, so I tend to get stressed out when little things are slightly off.  It's something I'm working on.  I'm also learning to enjoy the process and that everything will come together in the end.

Those are a few steps to get you started.  I hope starting in a new position or starting in a new room goes smoothly for everyone this year!  I'll be thinking of you, especially since I'm in the same situation!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Insight Notes {app review}

Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork.  It seems endless sometimes, doesn't it?  Sometimes I wish people would come up with a solution to make it easier for us.  Well the creators of Insight Notes have tried to do just that with their app.  It was originally designed for psychotherapy, but they're wondering if it would be appropriate for SLPs to use as well.  So check it out with me and leave some feedback in the comments below.

Info about the app (directly from Insight Notes):
"Insight Notes is an iPad-based recordkeeping system designed to meet the needs of professionals who take notes or keep records on a per-client or per-project basis.  It is designed to be secure, simple, intuitive, and convenient.  Insight Notes was originally designed to meet the needs of health professionals who have strict security requirements and who wish to keep electronic notes, but do not need a multifaceted practice-management system tied to billing, insurance claims, scheduling, or invoicing."
Let's take a look inside, shall we?

First, set up your account with the following information:

Once you add a student/client, you can begin adding notes.  You have four options for notes- text, draw, scan, and progress.   Select the option you want from the menu that looks like this:


Once you have finished your note, you have the option to complete it, print it, or share it.  Once you hit complete, it will add your signature and contact information at the bottom.


As with all apps, you have a great settings menu here: 

And the biggest question on my mind, is it HIPAA compliant?  Well every time I exited out of the app, I got this screen below, which required a password:

Use in the SLP World:

As SLPs we generally have a required software that we use by our employers for billing, progress notes, IEPs, etc.  However, they don't necessarily mandate how we take/ collect our data.  Here are a couple of my thoughts on how we could use this app in our world.

-I think this would be a great app for in the nursing homes.  There were so many times that I was scrambling for a piece of paper to jot notes down.  This would be extremely easy to carry around and either type or write.  Nursing homes tend to have their own software system, as do most places SLPs work.  However, this would be great if you couldn't carry a laptop around with you.  You could type up notes and then transfer them to the software system later.  It also helps if you can't put your charges in right away--you can remember exactly what happened in your sessions!

-If you're not using the iPad for therapy that day, you could jot notes down by student.  Hit "complete" and that note cannot be edited.  This would be a great and easy way to eliminate lots of loose papers in files, especially since this app is HIPAA compliant!

-If you're not using the iPad for therapy that day, have the students take data themselves in a note.  They would find this highly motivating, I'm sure--the iPad always helps!

-This app could be great for meeting notes.  Maybe you feel like you can't write everything down in meetings and typing is faster.  Maybe you want a place to save meeting notes along with the child's data.  This would be a great way to do that.

Features to Add:

Now they want to know this..."This is a great app, but the thing that is missing that I really need for my practice is __________."  So let's talk about some of those _____s.

1) A way to upload a template.  They have a progress note template in there, but that doesn't necessarily work for our field.  It would be awesome to have a way to upload or own template for progress notes, evaluations, etc.
2) A way to add tables, graphs, etc.  I can draw these by hand in the "draw" note, but they don't always look pretty or get the job done very well.
3) Possibly a way to have more than one child's note open at once, perhaps a side-by-side type thing.  While this may be a bit complicated to do on the developer's side of things,  it would make group sessions a lot easier (instead of having to back out of every kid, go into another one, and so on).
4) A way to add more information about the client.  Right now, there is basically just his name under the client information.  It would be great to be able to add goals, likes, dislikes, etc.

So what do you think?  Could SLPs use this? 

Note: Insight Notes provided me with a copy of the app for my review. No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are mine. 

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Binders and Planners {linky party}

One thing that is a must for me is to be ORGANIZED.   I cannot live without my planner(s).  Lauren at Busy Bee Speech is hosting a Binders and Planners Linky party as part of her Organization Week!   Check it out here.


This year, I'm planning to use Lauren's planner actually!  Check out her adorable video preview of it:

When assembling my planner, I added my Speech Room Inventory Sheets at the back, so that I could have everything in one place!

My one big thing with my planners is that I like to have everything in ONE place.   I want a quick reference place for me to have with me at all times.   I haven't used it much yet, as I haven't been able to get into my room and read files yet.   Here's a peek into it right now though:

I will use it to keep track of my IEPs, other due dates,  monthly planning at a glance, and weekly planning among other things!

As far as binders go,  I used to use them all of the time.  It seemed like a great way to carry everything in one spot.  In fact, I had one binder per class in college and grad school.   However, I quickly learned that I thought they were bulky, difficult to fit into my purse/ bag, and took up a lot of space on shelves!  So all that to say, I typically don't use binders anymore and use folders, spiral binding, etc.  Just a personal preference thing.

The exception is when there is a product that I want to be protected more than just spiral binding, file folders, or in ziploc bags.  Here are a couple examples for you:

EBP Binder
Co-Articulation Binder

My thesis
Well, there you have it.  A quick peek into how I use planners and binders in my speech room!  How do you use planners and binders in your speech room? 

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Let's Talk About Books: Week 6 {linky}

Can you believe it is the middle of July already?  Wow...  Time is flying by!  I thought I had tons of time to prep for the school year...wrong!   So enjoy those last few moments of summer.

Today, I'm linky up for the 6th week of the Let's Talk About Books linky party with Deanna Jump.  Head on over here to see all of those who have linked up!   I wanted to talk about one of THE cutest books I've ever seen.  I read this in one of my social and language groups, and the students just loved it.

I bring you Too Hot To Hug by Steve Smallman and Gee Biscoe.

Here's a description from Amazon:
 "When Rupert finds a golden egg, he takes it home to show to Mum and Dad. Then suddenly: Tap! Tap! Crack! out hatches a baby fire dragon! From then on, Crumpet the dragon is Rupert's best friend. But soon Crumpet starts to grow. And as he grows, he gets ...HOTTER! An original and amusing text with a touching message of belonging and acceptance. Both children and adults will love the adorable hero of this heart-warming tale. The characters are brought to life by the illustrator of Gruff the Grump and Bumble."
Here's a quick peek through some of the book:

I used this book mainly for the social concepts in it of acceptance, belonging, and being friends (as it mentions above).  I also used it for practice retelling stories, answering WH-questions, formulating sentences, and verb tense (I had them change it while retelling).

Have you read this book?  How would you use it in your classroom/ speech room? 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

New Adventure: Yapp Guru

Happy Monday everyone!  I'd like to tell you about an exciting new adventure that I am going to be a part of.   It's called Yapp Guru!!

What is Yapp Guru? 
It is a website that is a place where you can search for apps to use in therapy.  The apps are voted on, rated, and reviewed by a panel of identified experts.  Instead of searching through endless blog posts and the vast world that is Google, you can come to one site to read about these apps.  Exciting right??   
I was asked to be an expert on this panel, which I am just thrilled about and am so honored to have been selected!!

Where You Come In
So I need your help!  If you would like to help this site get up and running, please consider registering on the Yapp Guru site.  You can also vote on the apps and leave your own comments!  To register, go here.  It's completely FREE!

That's not all....

Head on over to Yapp Guru's Facebook page.  Once the page hits 1,000 likes, one of the followers will win a $100 iTunes gift card! 

I hope you're excited about this!  It will be a great resource for all SLPs (and OTs) who like to use apps in therapy! 

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Let's Talk About Books: Week 5 {linky}

It's another week and another chance to talk about books!  Every week, Deanna Jump hosts a linky party to talk about books we have been reading or like to use in our classroom!  I love hearing about how others have used books and get some new ideas for my speech room.   Check out last week's post here.

Recently, I was able to proofread a brand new book, and I am so excited about it!! It's called There Was A Speech Teacher Who Swallowed Some Dice by Pat Mervine.

Description (from Amazon):

"A wacky Speech Teacher starts swallowing everything she needs to do speech/language therapy in her school! What could possibly happen? Better look out when those dice begin to roll! "There Was a Speech Teacher Who Swallowed Some Dice" is a delightfully silly way to introduce students to many of the materials used in speech therapy, and ends with a Speech Room Scavenger Hunt."
Here are some pictures from the book to give you a flavor of it!

Here's the review I wrote on Amazon:
"This book is perfect for SLPs and explaining what happens in speech therapy to our students/clients. This is a great book to use any time during the year, but especially at the beginning to help introduce the students to speech therapy and what to expect. The book is fun and wacky, with the "speech teacher" swallowing things like dice, glue, tongue depressors, sound cards, and the prize box. If you like the "There Was An Old Lady..." Series, you will love this!"
I plan to use this book during the first week of therapy to help students get used to what we will be doing throughout the year!

What is your favorite book to use during the first week of therapy?    

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fourth of July Sales

Before you head off to fun vacations or fun around the town, I wanted to alert you to a couple of sales that are going on!  There are affiliate links in the post for your convenience.

The first is the TpT sale.  This is one that is being held by some SLP Bloggers, not a site-wide sale.   You can take 15-20% off of items in the bloggers' stores on July 4 and 5.

You can check out my store here.  Below you can find some of the newer products in the store as well as one that is specifically for summer!

Summer Lovin'

Back to the Drawing Board

Making Sense of Idioms

Speech/Language Folders

The other sale I want to alert you to is on Educents!   First, head on over to Educents and sign up for a free account.  They are offering $5 off to every Home Sweet Speech Room reader who signs up!

Then, once you have an account, Home Sweet Speech Room readers can get 10% off the entire site AND free shipping when you spend $75.  You just have to enter in the code: Fireworks0Speech at check out!  

There are a lot of books out there right now, so be sure to check them out!!

Happy Shopping! :)

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