August 31, 2016

16 Books For the First Week of School

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 One great way to break the ice with new students is to read a story to them. There are lots of great books themed around the beginning of the school year. I have compiled some of my favorites here:
  1.  The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn - This is a well-known classic. When Chester Raccoon is nervous about his first day of school, his mother teaches him a secret that will ensure he knows that she is with him always. Great for kids struggling with separation anxiety from their parents.
  2.  First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg - This is one of my favorites! The main character does not want to get out of bed on the first day of school, and imagines how horrible it will be. In a twist at the end it is revealed that the main character is a teacher. Can anyone else relate?
  3.  How Do Dinosaurs Go To School?by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague - With funny rhymes and hilarious pictures the authors describe how dinosaurs might act if they went to school. This would be a great book for younger readers and lends itself to talking about appropriate behavior at school.
  4.  Miss Malarkey Doesn't Live in Room 10 by Judy Finchler - When the main character's teacher moves into his apartment complex, he is hit by the realization that she doesn't live in her classroom after all. Sometimes it sure feels like I live in my Speech room...
  5.  Brand-new Pencils, Brand-new Books by Dianne deGroat - This story follows Gilbert through his first day of first grade. I like this book because it features realistic situations, from worrying about first grade being difficult, to learning about all the classroom rules, to eating in the cafeteria, etc. It's a very sweet book with innocent pictures.
  6.  Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes - Chrysanthemum loves her name. That is, until she starts school and the other children mock her for it. It is not until her teacher reveals an equally unusual name that the other children accept her. It's a cute story about fitting in and accepting others despite their differences.
  7.  Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate - This rhyming book follows Miss Bindergarten and her students as they get ready for class. A great book to talk about morning routines. This is a good choice for younger students.
  8.  A Tiger Tail: (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School) by Mike Boldt - Anya wakes up on the first day of school only to discover that she has grown a tiger tail. Fearing the jeers of the other children, she does everything to get out of having to go to school. When she finally does arrive to school she discovers that several other children have also sprouted animal body parts. Students really appreciate the funny story and hilarious pictures.
  9.  A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech - This book is pretty funny, too (as are the illustrations). Tillie attends Mr. Keene's school. Mr. Keene loves his school so much that he decrees that students and teachers will also have school on weekends, holidays, and break. Neither the students nor the teachers want to go to school every day, but because they don't want to hurt Mr. Keene's feelings no one wants to speak up. Finally, Tillie convinces Mr. Keene that she is needed at home to teach her little brother and dog new things. In the end Mr. Keene relents and gives teachers and students their free time back.
  10.  My Teacher's Secret Life by Stephen Krensky - This is a story about a student who believes all of his teachers live at school. He fantasizes about how his teachers act after the students leave. When he sees her at the park with her husband and daughter, he concludes that she must have a secret life. A good book to use for teachers to introduce themselves to students and share information about their own life.
  11.  Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry G. Allard - Another well-known favorite. Miss Nelson's class is full o misbehaving students. One day, Miss Nelson disappears and a new teacher shows up. Unlike sweet Miss Nelson, Miss Swamp is strict and direct. The students hypothesize what might have happened to Miss Nelson and fear that they will be stuck with Miss Swamp forever, until Miss Nelson returns. From now on, her students are perfect little angels. In the end it is revealed that Miss Swamp was Miss Nelson in disguise. A great book to talk appropriate classroom behaviors.
  12.  David Goes To School by David Shannon - I have never met a kid who didn't love the David books. In this edition, David gets in trouble around the classroom. This book is a great way to talk about classroom and school rules.
  13.  Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin - Pete the Cat is rocking his School Shoes in this book. Readers get to guess which part of school Pete is in after each page as they follow him through his school day. This is a great choice for younger students.
  14.  A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon - Camilla Cream likes to fit in to the point of where she refuses to eat lima beans only because her friends don't like them. But on the first day of school she wakes up with rainbow stripes all over her body! When she goes to school, her condition is such a big distraction to her classmates that the principal orders her to stay home. Doctors are working to help cure Camilla, but every treatment seems to exacerbate the problem. In the end, the cure is a large helping of lima beans. This is a great story about individual differences and trying to fit in.
  15.  This School Year Will Be the BEST! by Kay Winters - A teacher asks her students to share their wishes for the school year. A quick, easy read for younger students. You can also launch into a discussion about what your students are hoping for this school year.
  16.  The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing - This rhyming book follows the main character as she completes her back to school preparations and goes through the first day of school. A little hiccup occurs when the main character ends up in a different class than her best friend and is forced to make new friends. This is a good story to talk about forming new friendships.
Do you have a back-to-school book you love that is not listed here? Please share in the comments!

    August 25, 2016

    Hosting Back to School Night as an SLP


    As an SLP, I feel like I only get to connect with most parents at their child's IEP once a year, so I make an effort to meet with parents during every opportunity I get. That's why I love Back to School Night ("B2SN")! I am fortunate enough to have a large enough room where I can accommodate more than one parent at a time. Are you feeling discouraged from participating in B2SN because you think your room is too small? Even if your Speech room is in a modified broom closet it can be done -- maybe  tables could be set up outside your room where you can do a lot of the activities described below. 

    B2SN is a great and valuable opportunity to let parents know you are there. Of course as an SLP, presentations are slightly different than those of a classroom teacher. Here are some helpful suggestions to ensure your B2SN is a success!

    1. Make sure parents know about it - Send out an e-mail blast to all your speech parents announcing that you will be present during B2SN. Let them know where your room is and what times you will be there. A day before the event, send out a reminder e-mail.

    2. At the entrance to your room, post a whiteboard or sign with some general instructions. That way, if parents arrive while you are engaged with another parent, they can figure out what to do with themselves while they wait.

    Who Am I? Superhero Edition
    3. Have fun activities! For my activity, I chose to do another "Who Am I?" activity. Remember this from two years ago? 

    4. Showcase your room! I created several "Stations" for parents to look at. I had a "Homework" station where parents could look at the different types of speech homework available; a "Social Skills" station, where parents could browse through my social skills curriculum; and a "Brag Tag" station that explained all about the brag tag system we are using this year.
    Homework Station

    Social Skills Station
    Brag Tag Station
    5. Have some candy available. Everyone loves free candy!

    6. Have a raffle. Even though the grand prize was only a $5 Jamba Juice gift card, I probably made one of my students' days.

    7. I didn't do this due to lack of time, but it would be great to showcase something made by students. This could be something like "All About Me" posters hung up around your room, students drawing a picture of themselves doing Speech, students completing a sentence frame (e.g., "My favorite part of Speech is..."), etc.

    8. This goes without saying -- make sure your room is tidy. Get rid of clutter and move confidential paperwork out of sight.

    B2SN is such a wonderful opportunity to connect with parents outside of IEPs. I'll be back again next year!

    August 23, 2016

    Tutorial: How to Create Textured Fonts Using Gimp

    After I had my Blog redesigned over the summer I was in awe over the glitter effect in the word "Wonder" in my Header. I was hell-bent on learning how to do this. I assumed it would take Photoshop (which I do not have). After some research I found a FREE program called Gimp that can be used to achieve many things that are done with Photoshop. I watched some videos online and taught myself how to achieve texture effects. Since these are great for breathing some life into TPT product covers, I thought I would write this tutorial. 

    First off, you will have to download and install Gimp. Once that is done, you are ready to go!

    1. Select File > New. A window will pop up in which you can specify the file size you want.

    2. Select the Text Icon in the Toolbox. You can then drag a text box onto the canvas and start typing whatever text you want to texturize.

    3.  Highlight your text and select the desired font and font size.

    4. Now it is time to add the texture you want. Go to File > Open as Layers. Find the file on your computer that you want to use (can be any digital paper). As a side note, I found that sometimes it helps to resize the file into a smaller image if it is very big.

    For my purposes, I chose red glitter paper.

    5. In the Layers Panel, Right-click the text layer and select "Alpha to Selection". You should now see a slight outline of your text through the texture layer.

    6. Next, select the texture layer, go to Select > Invert.

    7. Go to Edit > Cut.

    8. Go to Select > None.

    9. In the Layers Panel, right-click the top layer and select "Merge Down". Repeat.

    10. You can use the cutting tool to crop the image.

    11. Optional: To make the image transparent, go to Colors > Color to Alpha.

    12. To save the image, go to File > Export As... Save as PNG file to retain transparency.

    13. Ta-da!

    Now you can use your fancy text in a TPT product cover. Here is an example:

    See how you can use textures to highlight some other elements in your cover? In this case I chose red glitter to complement the red glitter drapes. I hope you have fun with this!

    August 15, 2016

    A Fresh Start

    If you visit this blog regularly, you may have noticed that there has been a dearth of updates over the past 18 months or so. This was due to some major life events (i.e. motherhood) – having to adjust to our new family addition while continuing to work full time as a school-based SLP left little to no time for blogging. Being a perfectionist I was admittedly feeling a bit discouraged, too – if I can’t blog consistently / do it well, I felt like I shouldn’t be doing it at all. Damn you, Type A personality!

    Things have finally calmed down a little bit in my personal life, and I am eager to get back into the swing of things! I figured the beginning of a new school year is the perfect time to do so. In order to motivate myself, I had the ladies at Blogs Fit For a Queen overhaul my blog template, giving this place a new look.

    I love the beginning of the school year and I am excited to share the fun things we are doing in my Speech room! Stay tuned...