Set Yourself Up for Success

Whether you are leaving your office for winter break or just for the weekend, there are things you can do to set yourself up for success upon your return!

  • Leave your space clean. This may seem obvious, but put away materials you are done with! Wipe down your table, rinse out your mug, hang a 2015 calendar. You will be happy to come back to a clean space in January!  
  • Plan for January themes, books, classroom units. Now is a great time to submit requests for books from the library, or search for accessible e-books on Bookshare.com.  Know that a weather unit is coming up in 2nd grade? Prepare yourself with a couple weather-related books and activities. 
  • Schedule in priorities for January. Maybe you're already thinking about New Year's resolutions? Or maybe you're just keenly aware of the things you haven't had time for this fall. Now is a great time to schedule those priorities into your calendar! Schedule a time to discuss students with your supervising SLP. Have a webinar you've been meaning to watch? Choose an hour in January, and get it on the calendar. We are much more likely to do things we've put into our schedules, so set your priorities for the new year!
  • Make a list for your "Future Self". This is one that works for students, too! Many students are successful making their homework checklist the first thing they see when they open their binder. Maybe it's a to-do list, maybe it's more of a welcome back note, but you have things that are fresh in your mind now that won't be by the time you come back. Take a minute to jot down these thoughts so you can pick up where you left off!

Are there other things you do to prepare yourself or your office to come back in the New Year? What about your students? Share your tips and tricks with us! 

AC/AT? Sure, I can do that!

One of the many things I love about working for The Hello Foundation is the potential for a unique, challenging and uncharted contract position each year. From Hello There in Alaska and Montana to Assistive Technology consultant for a local Education Service District, these diverse opportunities are what keep me invigorated and loving what I do for a living.

Back in August Sharon Scheurer asked me if I’d be interested in interviewing for an assistive technology (AT) consultant position, something I’ve never done before. I contemplated, “Well, I love technology and AAC, so sure, why not?”. Unbeknownst to me, the job would be one of the most challenging and far reaching jobs of my 20+ year as a speech path AND I would be replacing not one but two AT consultants who ended up taking positions with neighboring schools districts. Boy, did I have some big shoes to fill!!!!

As luck would have it I learned that one of the exiting assistive technology consultants was a friend and former Hello Foundation contractor. She not only helped me prep me for the interview, but was allotted two days to impart her knowledge on all things assistive technology, which felt almost like a speed reading course. I had (and still do have) a lot to learn.

My desk is chronically covered in AT devices that need programming or repair. 

So, I bet you’re wondering what I do exactly, right? Great question! I provide AT consultation and evaluation for students in Functional Living Skills (FLS) classes at 7 different school sites, as well as 6 FLS Alternative classrooms in a brand new school for students needing both life skills and behavioral support. In addition, I also provide AT services for 8 different school sites in an ESD component district. Above is a picture of me at my home base, where I share an office with 3 SLPs and 2 SLP-As, with 3 OTs, 2 COTAs, 1 PT and 2 PT-As across the hall for easy collaboration. 

My AT services are as varied as the students I serve, from providing writing supports for students with learning disabilities to mounting eye gaze speech generating devices (SGD) on wheelchairs for students with orthopedic impairments. Below is a photo of Wryleigh. She had just received a 4th fitting for a her new electric wheelchair (not shown) so her AT team met to make adjustments to the mount for her eye gaze SGD as well as her head switches. Wryleigh will be aging out of school in June and wants to work as a travel agent.

WRYLEIGH WAS ALL SMILES AFTER THE ADJUSTMENTS WERE MADE!

  In this job, every week is different. I might . . .

  • Hold SETT (Student, Environment, Task, and Tools) meeting for a student with Down Syndrome whose staff want a speech generating device (SPG)
  • Program Accent 1000 and Vantage Lite as well as Dynavox Compass app and Proloquo2Go app on iPads
  • Train teacher and ed assistants on how, where and when to use SGD in classroom
  • Adjust wheelchair mount for iPad
  • Download Co:writer app (word prediction tool) on several middle school students’ iPads and conduct tutorial on how to use the app
  • Call PRC (Accent/Vantage Lite manufacturer) to initiate a device service repair
  • Research visual calendar apps for a non-literate student in a transition program
  • Attend monthly assistive technology PLCs to share resources, problem solve cases and create standards for AT services.
  • Install touch screen software and touch screen to FLS classroom computer
  • Create behavioral matching game and pragmatic communication book for student with autism

 . . . and so much more!

This photo fully captures the nerdiness of the AT/AAC crowd.

As you might imagine, continuing education is a huge part of this job. Here is a photo of the last AT PLC where we had “celebrity” AAC/AT gurus Sam Sennott, creator of Proloquo2Go, and Eric Sanders, Pacific University SLP Professor, who unveiled their latest research and tools for individuals with autism and complex disabilities, Universal Design Lab. I am excited that I will be able to pay it forward with my own presentation at our annual THF Winter Retreat on My Life as an AT Consultant. I'm looking forward to sharing low-, mid- and high-tech AAC devices as well as an array of apps to support academics and communication with my THF colleagues. 

After four months into this new position, I find myself learning quickly and gaining confidence yet realize there is so much more to learn and discover in this cutting edge field. As my friend told me when I took this position, “Your head will be bursting with information, but you will love what you do.” I feel like a new SLP all over again.

'Tis the Season . . . for the THF Holiday Party!

Festive is our middle name! We are merry! We are bright! And because of all of those things, it only seems natural that this event is one that most THFers look forward to all year long. It's a night for all of us to put on our sparkly clothes, head downtown, and enjoy an evening with our work family (who we never get to see enough of). And why? Well, here's what Soliday said to all of us earlier in the week in an email:   

The party is a gift from Hello to say thank you for your work and commitment to kids. We could save the money or Soliday could take it as profit but that’s not what we’re about. We’d much rather have a party with everyone else. Our success stems from our culture of community. This is how we build it.

And that about sums it up. This is a truly remarkable community to be a part of, and I look forward to seeing what 2015 holds for each and every one of us.

Research Tuesday: Receptive Vocab Growth in ELL Students

Gah! It's Research Tuesday again! Funny how it happens every single month right around the same time, and yet it always sneaks up on me. I chose an article that's almost a year old this month, but I really liked the subject matter and hey, it's not that old, right? Right. So, on with it already!

Research Tuesday: longitudinal study of receptive vocabulary skills of ELL students

The Details: Wood Jackson, C., Schatschneider, C., & Leacox, L. (2014). Longitudinal Analysis of Receptive Vocabulary Growth in Young Spanish English–Speaking Children From Migrant Families. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 45, 45-51. Retrieved December 8, 2014, from http://lshss.pubs.asha.org/Article.aspx?articleid=1795167

The Question: The authors were curious about the receptive vocabulary growth trajectories for young students who were Spanish-speaking English Language Learners (ELLs) from low Socio-Economic Status (SES), migrant family homes. 

The Method: The authors attempted to study 111 preschool and kindergarten students enrolled in the Panhandle Area Education Consortium (PAEC) for Migrant Education, all of whom were ELL and from families with parents registered as migrant workers. Due to the nature of the population, only 64 students were present for more than one evaluation session, and that is the final number of children studied. Each of those 64 children were tested using the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-4 (PPVT), the Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test—Spanish Bilingual Edition  and the Test de Vocabulario en Imagenes Peabody (TVIP) at 6- to 12- month intervals until they completed 2nd grade. The results of these assessments were put through a variety of statistical analyses and growth curve models. In addition, parent surveys regarding parental education levels and home language use were conducted via phone. Finally, a Language Environmental Analysis (LENA) device was used to analyze the language environment in the classroom.

The Results: Overall, the participants demonstrated significantly lower vocabulary skills than their same-aged, non-migrant and non-ELL peers. They also demonstrated significant growth in their English receptive vocabulary skills between kindergarten and second grade. Additionally, the researchers were able to correlate initial performance in L1 to overall vocabulary growth in L2, suggesting that L1 proficiency is linked to ease and success acquisition of L2, regardless of other factors such as classroom design. The results of the L1 kindergarten scores were, in fact, predictive of the L2 vocabulary acquisition rate. Strong L1 skills (including the richness of language at home) were a reliable tool for predicting students who were at-risk for later difficulties related to L2 vocabulary acquisition. Finally, there was a decline in L1 standard scores over time, which is typical of most ELL students.

The Take-Away: This was the sort of study that you read and go, "Well, yeah. Of course. That all makes sense." In a way, though, those are the best kind of studies for me, because they help to solidify my thinking about how I do things, and bring that critical evidence base to my practice. It also brings up the familiar questions surrounding best practices with ELLs (always, always do a dynamic assessment!), and the familiar frustrations around poor implementation of those practices. But I can imagine a program which used preschool vocabulary assessments to make data-driven decisions about students needing intensive vocabulary enrichment. And then an SLP and teacher co-intervening, with ongoing progress monitoring, and a home program and . . . le sigh. Guess I'll file that away in my, "Programs to Set-Up When I Win the Lottery" file :-) And speaking of, if you won the lottery, what sort of program would you fund??

December 2014 Clinician of the Month

Sasha began working in Grandview, WA in the early days of our Hello There! approach, over 4 years ago. During her time there, she has worked together with a mix of district employees, contractors, and other Hello SLPs, but her attention to individual students and support for her assistants has remained high. As co-workers and administrators have come to value her professionalism and measured, friendly approach, she has taken on a leadership role in the speech department, supporting newer clinicians and collaborating to address issues, such as service model and workload.

Co-workers in Grandview describe her as smart, funny, knowledgeable, and a great asset to their team. “She stays calm, cool, and collected… and can always find the positive."  They note her support professionally, as well as personally, and say, "She always has a smile on her face and she greets us with hugs every time she comes to Grandview.” One of her Hello colleagues commented, “I’d go back to [any placement] in a second if I had the opportunity to work with Sasha again!"

Sasha blesses all of us at The Hello Foundation, as well, with her varied experiences and valuable resources. She is quick to provide ideas and share resources with colleagues.

Thank you, Sasha, for truly providing high quality service - and touching so many! Congratulations on being our December 2014 THF Clinician of the Month!