Wednesday, December 28, 2016

My Time Machine


I'm one of the lucky ones---I've had a stable job for 24 years.  So stable, in fact, that I've worked at the same school, IN THE SAME ROOM, all of this time.  When I sit back and think about it, it has become my own personal time machine.  It doesn't seem like 24 years to me---actually time goes by in the blink of an eye.  One minute, you have toddlers, and the next, they're adults.  If you are lucky, you have some constant in your life (a house, a community, and in my case, a room) where you can reflect and observe the passage of time from a position of stability.  As I ponder from my speech room, here's what I know:


  • When I started in 1992, my computer had no hard drive. Everything was 5 1/2 inch floppies.
  • There were only 4 phones in the school (landlines).  A school receptionist wrote messages to us from outside callers and stuck them in our box.
  • The internet didn't exist.
  • IEPs were handwritten on carbon paper.
  • What's 504?
  • What's a computer mouse?
  • What's a cell phone?
  • I had a delightful caseload of about 25 kids; none in regular education classrooms had autism.
  • Augmentative communication was emerging.  Boardmaker wasn't in our school. I hand-drew lots of communication boards.
  • Kids of that time are now some of our parents.  
I feel a little like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.  As she is in the tornado, she watches her life literally flash before her eyes.  I'm sure you remember the scene. 

 Forgive me for my rambling.  I only have one month left in my time machine.  This has been a great ride.   Time for something new!    


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

PODDs Everywhere!

Hello Friends,

I'm literally counting down the days until I'm no longer at my school.  Retirement is awesome!
 So many doors are opening for me, both professionally and personally and I'm overwhelmed with happiness.

As one final work project, our assistive technology guru (Wendy Lybrand, MS, CCC-SLP) and I submitted a grant to the CHCCS Public School Foundation.  This grant was for each system-level classroom in the district to have a PODD.  What's a PODD, you might ask?  To see one in action, I invite you to watch this video.



So the grant was partially funded.  Our school system will have enough for printing and assembling ten PODD systems.  I'm ecstatic!

This communication system can be used individually or in a small group. I love it because both core and fringe vocabulary are presented, and this invites a conversation between the adult and the child.  At Ephesus, (where I will be working for 48 more days, ha ha), we have two classrooms that will benefit from the generosity of the Public School Foundation, and I couldn't be more grateful. I am leaving the students and teachers with a powerful communication tool in place.  Tears flow.





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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Job Opening!!!!!!!!!!!!!










Hi Friends!

I have had a speech-language pathologist dream job for 24 years:

  • Low caseload (30 or fewer kids)
  • Affluent school district (my Donors Choose requests get funded in a day)
  • Supportive SLP team (we meet biweekly)
  • Broad spectrum of children with disabilities
  • My own office space
  • Technology 
  • Highly qualified co-workers
  • Opportunities for collaboration

SO, NOW I'M RETIRING!!!!! 😊

This dream job can be yours.

It would be helpful if the new SLP has:
  • experience with AAC (if you don't know what this is, don't apply)
  • some level of self-confidence 
  • ability to work as part of a team (We SLPs need to follow guidelines and work together)
  • knowledge of autism (Our school system draws in a lot of families with children on the spectrum)
  • creative, innovative energy
 Chapel Hill is a wonderful place to live, raise a family, work, have fun.  It's expensive to buy a house or rent an apartment here, but there are neighboring communities where many of my colleagues live.  It's all doable.  I raised four children here, and they attended state colleges which were bargains.  I've never regretted moving here.  

If interested, please apply at the link below NOW. Interviews will be coming up in a few weeks.

You will need to create an NC DPI account
http://schooljobs.dpi.state.nc.us/Home

Here is the actual job listing:

Here's a link to my school, Ephesus Elementary.



I also work with 6 students at Morris Grove Elementary. Here's their link below. 
This is a beautiful school, nice people, wonderful kids. My job with both schools is both manageable and fun.  The kids make progress.





Love you all!

Ruth









Saturday, October 29, 2016

One-Sided Gerald--Using a Political Advertisement Video in a Social Skills Group

Happy Fall Everyone, and Happy Election Season!

The airwaves are full of political ads.  Most I tune out, but I came across one that has been passed around on Facebook which is very funny.  As I watched it, I was reminded of a previous blog post about using videos to teach students the difference between one-sided monologues and two-way conversations.  The video, "Please Re-Elect Gerald" is perfect for this lesson in teaching this concept.


Watch for yourself.



With your students, you can use these questions as talking points:

1.  Which style of talking is Gerald using?  (talking at or talking with)
      Explain why you think this.

2.  Look at the body language and facial expressions of the people around him.
     What do you think they are thinking?

3.  Why does Gerald's wife want him re-elected?

4.  What could Gerald do differently to bring his listeners into the conversation?

5.  How do you choose topics to talk about with people?  Do you think that everyone is interested in Gerald's conversation topics?  What else could he talk about?

I'm sure there are many other talking points in this video.  If you want to get creative, you can take screen shots of this at crucial intervals, project on a Smart Board and draw in thought bubbles. Students could then write the thoughts of the bored family members.

Have fun with this!   I'm rooting for Gerald!  This was an awesome ad.




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Monday, October 10, 2016

Halloween Night---book by Shannon Moore Fitzgerald; Free Companion Materials



Hello, Here in North Carolina today, we have been trapped in the Hurricane Matthew spiral.  Luckily, Chapel Hill has escaped most of the wrath, but for me personally, it has meant that the beautiful Hilton Head wedding for my daughter was scrapped.  Very sad for her and for all of us who wanted to celebrate this joy.   Maybe a redo in April?  I'll keep you posted.

picture taken of the wedding site before evacuating

I want to highlight a new Halloween book for those of you who work with younger kids.  It's entitled "Halloween Night" written by Shannon Moore Fitzgerald.  I had previously reviewed a Thanksgiving book by this same author, but this book is just as good with great artwork and simple language.


From Amazon:  A rollicking romp through Halloween! Kids of all ages will recognize the sights, sounds, and wonder of Halloween. With a rhyming pattern that is fun and catching, interesting vocabulary, and fun sound words, children will want to read or hear this book over and over. Appropriate for Preschool through upper elementary school audiences. Written and illustrated by Hillsborough, North Carolina author/artist, Shannon Moore Fitzgerald, this book is a rocking good time! Besides the fun text and clever illustrations drawing the reader or listener in, there are lesson resources in the back of the book for teachers, parents, grandparents, homeschoolers, or care givers to springboard children’s learning and creativity. When you wrap learning in fun kids are hooked! Halloween is a magical time, so take advantage of it.

I have taken the liberty of providing some visuals to go with this book. These visuals are from Smarty Symbols and are copyrighted. Please use only with this book.  I liked this book for use with my more challenged children because of the simple language and concepts. If I worked with regular education school aged children, the lessons provided in the back of the book are great for extending thinking and creativity.


Icons for your more challenged learners



Also included in the link below is a visual step by step for making a fun little lollipop ghost.


Pretty awesome book for Halloween.  Order from Amazon, download these visuals and you have a fun little unit!

Click HERE to download visuals free.




disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book to review but otherwise, gain nothing financially.  This blog contains a link to Amazon.  


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Frozen's Elsa and her Difficulties with Self-Regulation




I don't know about other speech-language pathologists, but I'm finding typical guided reading books a tad boring.  I apologize to whoever wrote all the level F books, but four of my students (third and fourth grade) have been stuck at that level for a while and are getting nowhere fast.
Level F books have riveting titles such as "Cleaning My Room", and "Farm Friends" that would make any third or fourth grader stuck there collapse in boredom while the vocabulary in such books is not enriching to say the least.


Since I'm really not a reading interventionist, and all of my students have IEP goals related to language comprehension (more global than just reading), I've taken a different route for a little while.  All of my kids love Disney, so we searched the Chapel Hill Library website to find books they would like.  The most recent one was Frozen.

Why did I chose such a book?  Simple---the students were familiar with the plot. This became a shared language experience, and they used prior knowledge of the plot to learn new vocabulary and write about the story elements.  They were also extremely interested in this and attentive. (I like the attentive aspect.)

Language lesson aside, what I really wanted to share today was one student's spontaneous observation about Elsa---he described her as first being in the yellow zone, and then the red zone.  He obviously remembered the  Zones of Regulation classes and materials he had been exposed to.  The pictures (and the plot which he had memorized from the movie) helped him to make this connection.

Elsa attempts a strategy to avoid Red. She stays in Yellow a long time.

Red!!!!  (Trigger was jealously over Anna and Hans)
 It's a great thing when you can use a student's experience and knowledge about something such as a movie to connect to such a concept as self-regulation.  I think this worked since students sometimes watch the same movies daily, putting the plot and characters into long term memory.  The student then doesn't have to struggle with story comprehension AND learning new skills at the same time.  If your social skills groups are working with the Zones, try this book!   You don't need to even read the whole thing.  Elsa progresses up the zones in the first few pages.  Read the kids part of the book, and let them peruse the rest on their own after your zones lesson especially if you are like me and operate in 30 minute scheduled sessions.

always seems green to me!

On a personal level, some of you may remember my daughter who had been in the Peace Corps in Indonesia.  This weekend is her wedding!   We're thrilled.  (The wedding is in Hilton Head, however, and Hurricane Matthew is coming north.  We're hoping for no major event!





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Monday, September 12, 2016

Fall Products--Affordable Timesavers for your more Language-Challenged Kids

Our temperature here is dipping to the mid 80s---seems very cold compared to the mid to high 90s we've had for a long time!

I thought I was list here the fall goodies I have on Teachers Pay Teachers.  These units are affordable and comprehensive and real timesavers!  All of these are for our more language-challenged children.



Fall Leaves Activity and Literacy Packet
--This has interactive books, a craftivity, visuals for a scavenger hunt, and more!












Apple Literacy Packet
  Interactive books, Pom Pom apple tree craft with visuals, a worksheet, and visuals for all












Back to School Packet--for some of you school has just started.  Check this out!











I also have some mainly free items on my blog which center around fall and apples.
You can check those out here.

If you happen to be a poor CF and need a lift, email me and I can send you units free of charge.

Happy Fall!



Monday, September 5, 2016

Blaine Blows His Top--Book review and Free Printable

School has started down here in NC, along with the passage of tropical storm remnants.  Life goes on as usual!    

A speech-language pathologist, Bethany Vigilante, asked me to take a look at her book, Blaine Blows His Top, and review it.  This seemed like a great book to use with a social skills group (4/5th grade and middle school) so I did!

The character in this book is a young adult who works at a fitness center.  He and the other characters are realistically drawn, bordering on anime, and would be appealing to the pre-teen and teenage sect. He obviously has many frustrating events that happen during the day until it all reaches a climax where he lets his temper out.  The book is written in a catchy rhyme, and is sure to both entertain the students and act as a springboard in a discussion about identifying zones of regulation.  (The character, Blaine, moves through the zones.)

The whole book is great, but I like the ending where Blaine reflects about ways to avoid a blow up in the future.
 "I think it's important to say what I feel
 and not let it build up into an ordeal." 

Maria, Blaine's friend, also reflected on the impact of her own behavior (which ties into Social Thinking where students are taught about the impact of their behaviors on others):
 "My complaining had finally caused you to crack,
 I pushed you too far and you flew off the track."

I love using books such as this with social thinking groups, or with any student who has self-regulation difficulties, and it fits perfectly with a self regulation scale that I had published some time back.  

I have since revised this scale with the help of a fabulous occupational therapist, Tamika Harris, and we have added teacher strategies for helping students get to the 'green' zone.



I highly recommend that you purchase this book, "Blaine Blows His Top", and use it with this scale to teach and reinforce the concepts in self-regulation.  



If you are thinking of purchasing this book, it's available on Amazon. 




disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book to review but otherwise, gain nothing financially.  This blog contains a link to Amazon.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Plan Ahead for Thanksgiving---Review of an Awesome Children's Book, and Free Companion Activities

I love children's books, and especially love those with beautiful illustrations, clear language, and simple messages.  Today I was given a new book entitled Thanksgiving Weekend, and fell in love. The author and illustrator, Shannon Moore Fitzgerald, is local to our area, and you can check out her art, musings, and books at www.boldmovesstudio.com. She is a former elementary school teacher, author, artist, quilter, and lifelong lover of learning.

In this delightful book about Thanksgiving, the concepts including gratitude, fun, family, sharing, and love are each given their own page, with gorgeous illustrations, and lovely prose.  Each page is a work of art-- a combination of cloth applique and other media, simple enough to convey the main idea but offering enough visual support to provide a springboard for reinforcing vocabulary.

Whenever I find a new book, I always think of our children with language difficulties who need more visual supports, so I developed a set of visuals as an interactive aid for comprehension.  The visuals include icons to match with each page's concept, and a step-by-step set of instructions to make a 'Thankful Turkey' project.  You can download this for free at the end of this post.  The author has also provided nice suggestions at the end of the book for enrichment activities including suggestions for developing a 'gratitude graph', 'gratitude letters', and an Acrostic poem.  Although these didn't come with visual aids, it wouldn't be too difficult to scaffold some of these ideas visually for our EC population.
icons to add an interactive component
Thankful Turkey activity
















An Amazon reader wrote about this book: As a special educator and a parent of young children, I am always searching for great holiday and thematic books to read with my kids. I have found Thanksgiving books on turkeys and the history of Thanksgiving, but could never find a book that focuses on GRATITUDE and GIVING THANKS that was also appropriate for young children -- until now!!! I especially love how Fitzgerald's poetic words and beautiful illustrations highlight Thanksgiving vocabulary on each page, like GRATEFUL, SHARING, and BLESSINGS. This book will make you smile and warm your heart, no matter your age. I can't wait to read this at home and in my classroom!

Plan ahead for Thanksgiving!  It'll be here before you know it and this book will work great with your younger learners.


Click here to download the supplementary materials.



disclaimer:  I was given a copy of this book to review but otherwise, gain nothing financially.  This blog contains a link to Amazon.  


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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Back to School---Awesome SLP materials! TPT storewide sale!



It's back to school time (almost) and so TPT is throwing a sale!  All of my items are 20% off and then TPT is adding an extra amount off if you use the promotion code BestYear !  You can't go wrong.

I have several awesome items perfect for the more language-challenged children on your caseload. These also work if you are a special education teacher and want to emphasize language/literacy in your classroom centered around themes.

Check out my Apple Literacy Packet with interactive books, a craft, visuals, and nature scavenger hunt.  Kids love it!



A new item is a Friendship Packet.  Kids learn places in the school, learn verbs of friendship, and make a customized friendship booklet.


Finally there's a cute Back to School packet.  This also has interactive booklets, a craft with communication board and sequencing activities and vocabulary bingo.
















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In addition to selling items on TPT, I also purchase my teaching supplies from some very gifted SLPs.  I have a couple of recommendations for materials that I use all the time.








Super Power Speech has developed an awesome social skills packet with games, posters, and social stories centered around a super hero theme.  Check out Super Social Skills!









Nicole Allison has developed a large pack of articulation carryover materials.  Once I bought this, it was in constant use for those kids who have mastered specific sounds at a word level but need help with self monitoring and carryover.
Check out Articulation for Reading and Conversation!










I hope everyone has a great start to the new school year!  I know I will!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pokémon is Everywhere---Free printable interactive book

I hope everyone is having a good summer!   I am!   After a trip to Yellowstone, I'm a lady of leisure--no summer school work for me this year!

The past two weeks, I've suddenly become aware of Pokemon Go.  I downloaded the app into my phone and stumbled around a park a bit, finding three of them, before deleting the whole thing.  It made me look more like a zombie than I wanted, ha ha.  However, I do recognize that lots of people are really enjoying this, so I perused some public domain photos and created an interactive book for the kids.  Go play Pokemon Go outside with your students, then come back and read a book together! This is a free download.  Picture symbols are from Smarty Symbols---I do have a professional license for using these.  Please don't reuse them on another product. Photo credits are provided in the pdf document where needed.



 Click here to download this free book.  Have fun!
Smarty Symbols



Yellowstone was great, by the way.  We put over 5000 miles on the car and visited or drove through 18 states.  Have to go again.



Monday, July 4, 2016

AAC Device Implementation Form---Free Download

By Ruth Morgan, M.S. CCC-SLP and Ashley Robinson, M.S. CCC-SLP

About a month ago, an esteemed colleague of mine, Ashley Robinson, and I published a model for AAC device implementation.  We stated that the high tech device often recommended for a student was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of developing successful communication in a natural environment. Many factors need to be in place.

Since that time, many of you have viewed this post.  As with many blogs, ideas are presented but here there needed to be a more tangible document to accompany these stellar thoughts, so Ashley and I have developed a handy form to go with this iceberg model.  It is basically a set of yes/no questions, with space for a short action plan to go with each 'no' answer.  Helpful links are embedded in the form itself.  Questions follow the same categories as those presented in the iceberg model.  We have envisioned that the child's IEP team (with an AT professional) would meet and discuss these points, one by one, and problem-solve, assigning team members for different actions.  The actual form is three pages. You can download it free at the link below.

screenshot--one of three pages

The key is teamwork.  No one person can successfully implement AAC whether that person is a parent, an SLP, or teacher.  This form will help to guide a team to think about different parameters in AAC implementation and use.  Please let us know if we need to add or edit questions.  I'm sure we will be revising as time goes on with your help.





Author Bios:

Ruth Morgan is a full-time speech language pathologist at Ephesus Elementary school and author of Chapel Hill Snippets. You can find her materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Ashley Robinson splits her time between providing speech language pathology services at the secondary level and working as part of the district Assistive Technology team. She is the author of everydayaac.com.

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Saturday, July 2, 2016

I'm Back!

Hi Friends,

I've been traveling on a long road trip to Yellowstone and back, seeing lots in between.
(I never knew that Kansas had so much wheat, or that the Badlands originated from volcanic ash)
Now, no ESY this year, just a much needed summer off!  I'll be posting new materials and speech thoughts soon.

18 states
22 days
5500 miles

Awesome!


Sunday, June 5, 2016

AAC Devices: Merely the Tip of the Iceberg-- There’s More to Good AAC Implementation Than Meets the Eye

By Ruth Morgan M.S. CCC-SLP  and Ashley Robinson M.S. CCC-SLP, ATP


As an SLP, how often have you heard this?:  “I saw XYZ new device and I think it would be great for my student,” or “Last night I saw XYZ device on tv and it was a miracle!”


High tech AAC devices are just the tip of the iceberg of things that need to be in place to make students successful communicators. Here are 10 other key components.

Image by Ruth Morgan; Use but please credit
  1. Systematically organized core and fringe vocabulary. Here are some examples:
  2. Peer language models. This doesn’t even have to be other device users. Kids need to see other kids using language. Here's a great example of kids modeling kid behavior on a communication device.
  3. Opportunities for functional communication (including commenting, asking questions, greetings/salutations, requesting, and rejecting). Not just making choices
    • The Communication Matrix is one of many tools that allows you to see a range of communicative functions
  4. Data collection methods
  5. Lite Tech backups should always be in place for high tech devices. Batteries tend to die at the most inopportune times. Here is an article in ASHA blog that explains the making of a lite-tech communication notebook.
  6. Room for growth. Students need to be able to combine symbols to make more complex language. Always be thinking ahead.
  7. IEPs with SMART goals
The ASHA Leader Blog has a nice post with Tricks to Take the Pain out of Writing Treatment Goals
  1. Training and planning time for staff. This is crucial!!!
  2. Adult modeling of AAC use. PrAACtical AAC has a collection of posts describing the importance of aided language input
  3. Stakeholder support (including parents and administration) for funding of devices and implementation of all of the above! Here is a blog article about the ineffectiveness of compartmentalizing communication.


If teams focus solely on the device (the tip of the iceberg), then you may very well end up with a really expensive bookend or fancy choice board.  What’s underneath the surface is vital to successful implementation.


Author Bios:

Ruth Morgan is a full-time speech language pathologist at Ephesus Elementary school and author of Chapel Hill Snippets. You can find her materials on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Ashley Robinson splits her time between providing speech language pathology services at the secondary level and working as part of the district Assistive Technology team. She is the author of everydayaac.com.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day Musings from Washington DC

My husband and I took a weekend jaunt to the capitol on Memorial Day.  Even though I have been to DC many times, I had never been to Arlington Cemetery, and also hadn't seen the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial near the mall area.  As I get older, I am realizing the supreme sacrifice so many of our young men and women have made.   The young soldier's grave in the photo below showed he was awarded the Medal of Honor.  You can look all Medal of Honor recipients up on the internet.  This soldier died in Korea.


Then we walked by this---Robert Kennedy's grave.  I realize most of you who are reading this don't know much about RFK, but I acutely remember the morning before school that my mother turned on the TV to the news of his shooting, and then death.  He had just won the California Democratic primary.  Who knows how his assassination changed the course of history.    (He has the most simple grave marker in the cemetery.)


Lastly, I wish that people on both sides (Republican and Democrat) would hold this as one of their guiding principals as they campaign for office. This was a Franklin Roosevelt quote engraved in granite at his memorial.
  Enough said.








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Saturday, May 21, 2016

mCLASS---Helping or Holding Back my Language-Impaired Students





In North Carolina, our kindergarten through third-grade teachers will administer reading assessments, one-on-one, using the state mandated system known as mCLASS Reading 3D.  Children have also been given this assessment in the beginning of the year and middle of the year.  The publisher, Amplify, has created this video which would make us all want to go purchase this assessment immediately! It makes this sound like assessment utopia!


In my opinion, there's good and bad with everything especially when mixing business with education-- Amplify does sell a lot of products to assess and enhance reading and math skills (as do many other companies). I have nothing against progress monitoring, and one-on-one assessment time with kids, and think it's good when assessment causes adults to reflect on the effectiveness of ongoing instruction.

That being said, I do have a couple of thoughts about our EC population and mClass.


  • I have children who can read a simple book, but the digital mClass assessment won't actually measure the book-reading skills because the same child can't fully answer the 'concepts about print' portion of the test.  Once the child can't answer those questions, he is essentially prevented from moving forward in the test.  There needs to be greater flexibility as to when to stop the assessment.  
  • I have children who can read higher level text decoding, but written language is very difficult.  mCLASS requires the child to pass a 'writing about reading' component before advancing in text levels.  As a result, some of my students have essentially plateaued for the whole of the school year.  For my language impaired students, reading and writing are two separate tasks--writing abilities should not hold back instructional reading levels.  By depriving these students of higher level text, the school (or mCLASS) is limiting these students from learning the language concepts presented in reading text at their age level. I groan with frustration when my language impaired students in 3rd grade bring first grade level books to me from their independent book box ALL YEAR.  They don't seem too excited about reading them, and neither am I.  I have hated to see the 'writing about reading' part of the assessment preventing the students from moving up.  We work on it during our speech/language sessions, but it's very frustrating.  
 A couple of esteemed colleagues, who are not in special education, have also expressed their thoughts about mCLASS in EdNC. They are much more knowledgeable about this than I am (since one is a teacher and one is a literacy coach) and have presented well-balanced opinions on this topic. 





If any of you have thoughts about literacy instruction, assessment, and inclusion, speak up here!
My students struggle with this.





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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

App review: iTAP Test of Articulation and Phonology by Smarty Ears

The future in education is going digital.  I record my therapy notes digitally, Google drive contains all of my forms and documents, and teachers do their mClass reading assessments using an iPad.   It's only logical that articulation assessments would follow suit. I noticed that the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation 3 has a digital option, and now Smarty Ears has the iTap Test of Articulation and Phonology.    
                               

    iTap is administered in the same way that most paper articulation tests are administered.  The child names a series of pictures that contain target phonemes and consonant clusters in single words.  The options for marking errors include deletion, cluster reduction, substitution, assimilation, and distortion.  The examiner records on the ipad the errors the child made.  At the end, there is a small multisyllable probe.  

Rather than providing a detailed tutorial myself, the author of the app has provided a video which explains all of the features.  You can watch that HERE.

video screen shot

As with any app, assessment, or program, there are things that are great, and some areas for growth.

What's great:
  • This is an awesome tool for PROGRESS MONITORING.   This year, I have three boys with significant phonological disorders.  I take data on specific sounds daily, but to get an overall picture of progress, I like to assess informally.  Paper test protocols are expensive, so this assessment can give a good picture of progress without using up your test forms.  
  • Once you finish an assessment, this app generates a report.  All words/sounds in error are compiled into something which makes a little sense without having to sit there with the manual and charts.  
  • The app itself is easy to use.  You have to take some time to practice scoring, and figuring out which sound and phonological process button to press, but my graduate student intern learned this in no time....quicker than me.
  • The pictures for eliciting sounds are well done.  Some words, I had to orally tell the child, but that is true for other articulation assessments too, especially for students with vocabulary delays.
  • The app developer is quick to respond to suggestions and ideas for improvement.  This is an extremely important feature.  Unlike paper assessments, if you notice a mistake, app bug, or have a suggestion, the turn around time to upgrade and update the app can be a couple of weeks.  The app you buy now will only get better!   I also have a copy of the Smarty Ears Sunny Test of Articulation, and upgrades have improved it immensely over the years!  
Areas to think about before purchasing:

  • I work for a school system and our assessment kit for articulation has one central player (in our case it's the Goldman-Fristoe).  This is not going to change anytime soon.  For placement purposes and eligibility, all kids need to be assessed the same way and it's hard for an app to compete with such a solid bedrock which has been standardized and used with such a large number of children.   I plan on continuing to follow our district guidelines for assessment when placing and re-evaluating children within the special education assessment process.  That being said, this app is extremely useful for monitoring progress of children who are currently in therapy.  
  • If a child has a severe phonological disorder where multiple processes might be playing a part in a single word, this app has limitations on how many errors you can actually record.  For example, my child had a voicing error and substitution for one blend.  I could only record one. There is a notes feature in the app, but that wasn't quite the same as being able to record as the child is articulating the word.
  • It would be nice if the app could automatically determine the phonological process based on the error recorded.  Sometimes, for example, I recorded an error as substitution when it actually was assimilation.
  • If your student only has one sound error, or a frontal or lateral /s/ distortion, this is not the test for you in my opinion.  This assessment is for children who have phonological disorders such as assimilation, cluster reduction, and multiple substitutions.    
  • I didn't have access to the manual or the normative data.  I did look up the other reviews of this app from other bloggers and they seemed to indicate that the norming sample was rather limited to Texas and a limited number of children.  For that reason, if your test absolutely needs valid standard scores, you may either want to find another assessment, or wait until this developer publishes their data and then determine whether the norming sample is adequate for where you live.
All in all, I plan on continuing to use this app to monitor progress in my students with phonological process problems.  As I said, this app is new, and is only getting better as time goes on due to quick follow-up by the people at Smarty Ears.  This is a nice tool for those of us who travel, and it's nice to have a quick means to measure overall progress in a child.


Disclaimer: I received this app via promo code from the developer. No compensation was received to review them and my opinions are strictly my own. Apps and the features within them change frequently as app updates are released.This developer has an excellent track record of supporting their apps and providing frequent updates.



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