Motivation, humor, and ideas that every school-based
speech-language pathologist will love!

Being Able to Text Message Your Speech Therapy Materials and Assessments Would Be Amazing

posted on November 22nd, 2015 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Being Able to Text Message Your Speech Therapy Materials and Assessments Would Be Amazing

Have you ever been in the crumby situation where you're smack in the middle of a speech therapy session and you reach into your bag to grab something you need . . . and then all of a sudden . . . you realize that it's not there? Then you temporarily pause the session to dump everything out of the bag onto the floor to see if maybe, just maybe, you might have missed it? It happens to me often. I'm usually all like, "Ouch!" when I come to the painful realization that, "Yup, I did it again. I forgot (insert important speech therapy thing here)."

How frustrating!

Last academic school year was the first time in my career that I had to travel between two buildings. That took some getting used to because it was the first time that I had to split my speech and language therapy stuff between two different places. To add to my confusion, that was also around when I first started to see private clients during the evenings in their homes, too. So on an almost every other daily basis I would catch myself thinking, "Did I leave that one important speech therapy thing at someone's house? Or is it in the trunk of my car? Or maybe I left it at the elementary school? Or maybe the middle school? Wait, maybe it's in my apartment?"


Research has shown us that a majority of adults in the United States have smartphones and actively engage in text messaging. So with that in mind, I can't help but imagine how cool it would be if all our speech therapy materials and assessments had their very own smartphones? That way, I could text message them if I every forgot them! That might sound nuts, but try to picture the following scenario:

A text message conversation with my Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation (GFTA)

  • Me: Hi Goldy. I'm at the elementary school right now. Where U at?
  • GFTA: Sup Erik. Nah, I'm not at the elementary school. U left me here yesterday @ the middle school. I'm just chillin' - watching Netflix on ur iPad. How's it going @ the elementary school?
  • Me: Oh man! I wasn't supposed to leave U at the middle school! I meant to put U in my bag to bring U here 2day cuz I have to do an assessment w/ a 2nd grader after lunch.
  • GFTA: That sucks.
  • Me: Yeah.
  • GFTA: Ok. I'm gonna get back to my Netflix now. TTYL!
  • Me: No wait!
  • GFTA: ...?
  • Me: Can you come over 2 the elementary school in a bit so I can do the assessment I was talking about?
  • GTFA: Nah, I'm getting my Netflix on.
  • Me: Seriously?! We are BFF and you're gonna do me like that?!
  • GFTA: JK! Yea I'll pause Netflix and come right over so and me and the 2nd grader can all have an assessment party!
  • Me: Woo hoo! Thnx!
  • GFTA: See ya in about 20 min. I just requested an Uber so he should be here soon. I'll text you when I'm in the school's parking lot so you can buzz me in.
  • Me: Sounds good.

In closing . . .

Wouldn't that be spectacular? I'd never have to worry about forgetting or misplacing my speech therapy materials and assessments ever again. If only our speech stuff had access to smartphones, right? That would seriously rock! My fingers are crossed that technology somehow makes all of this possible sooner than later because my forgetful brain would be so so SO happy. Haha!

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Introducing Speech Therapy Students to the Idea of Speaking on the School's Loudspeaker

posted on November 3rd, 2015 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Introducing Speech Therapy Students to the Idea of Speaking on the School's Loudspeaker

One of my most favorite things about being a school-based speech-language pathologist is that at the start of each school day, you usually get to hear some morning announcements on the loudspeaker. And those morning announcements, they’re usually done by students. For example, if you work in an elementary or middle school, you might hear a boy saying the Pledge of Allegiance. Or you might hear a girl announcing the daily lunch menu. Or maybe you might hear students announcing a rundown of what after-school activities are scheduled for that particular day. The list goes on and on with how school-settings choose to utilize their loudspeaker as an awesome provider of school-related info and happenings.

How about getting your students in on the loudspeaker fun?

Last year, I had a fantastic middle school student who loved all things related to the weather. On any given day, he would be able to tell you the expected temperatures for the week. Was it going to be sunny? Was it going to be snowy? If you needed that information, he had ya covered! This future meteorologist genuinely enjoyed sharing this type of useful news with anyone who wanted to know. So it just made sense when the idea was thrown out there to see if that student might be interested in doing a consistent weather announcement over the loudspeaker.

The youngster jumped at the opportunity!

After hashing out the details, it was decided that the student would be able to have each Friday as his very own weather announcement day. So every Friday, for about 45 to 60 seconds, he would share his weekend weather report with pure excitement and enthusiasm. It was informative, well organized, and a prime example of what successful communication looked like. Every single time he did his weather report, HE ROCKED IT!

But we started small to build up his confidence.

If you're thinking about incorporating the school's loudspeaker somehow into the school lives of students on your caseload, it's important that you don't just "throw 'em into the water without teaching 'em to swim first." What I mean by that is, you need to start small so that your students feel comfortable. For example, months before my student got in front of the loudspeaker's microphone, he practiced weather reports within my speech therapy room. As you know, the speech therapy room is a safe environment, and my speech therapy room at this school usually only had around three or four other people in it at a time (including myself). This smaller audience allowed our young weatherman to experiment with crafting a weather report that was filled with appropriate vocabulary and ideal vocal inflections.

As his confidence grew, so did the audience.

Once it was obvious that he was gaining confidence, I would invite other students and school personnel into the speech therapy room for a few moments to watch him as he gave his weather report. After each weather report, he was attacked with loads of smiles and high fives. With each new week, he got better and better. Thus, he was more than ready when the big day came for him to "step up on the main stage" for his loudspeaker debut.

It doesn't just have to be weather reports.

I was talking to my friend Susan Cohen (who is a one of the coolest New Jersey SLPs around). She's also a fan of utilizing the loudspeaker whenever possible with students on her caseload. In the past, she has collaborated with the school nurse and counselor to come up with unique themes for students on her caseload to announce to the school community over their school's loudspeaker. From health tips to test taking tips to Better Hearing & Speech Month tips, there's no shortage of content that could be shared during the morning announcements (especially when you collaborate with other educators within your school building).

So many goals and objectives can be targeted, too!

  • Have a student working on perfecting aspects of his articulation? Loudspeaker it up!
  • Have a student working on practicing specific fluency shaping or stuttering modification techniques? Loudspeaker it up!
  • Have a student working on increasing her volume during speaking situations? Loudspeaker it up!

Record the loudspeaker to further the experience.

There's nothing better than when a student has the ability to self-rate himself/herself. If you have an iPad (or an iPhone), consider recording the loudspeaker message that the student gives so you both can listen back to it during a later speech therapy session. Ask the students various questions about the recording such as, "How do you think you did?" and "What was your favorite part and why?" Questions like these could open up new ways of thinking about the attempted communication intent and could serve to further solidify whatever the students' goals and objectives are.

In closing . . .

This loudspeaker idea isn't for everyone. Some kiddos are quite shy, and I get it (I was VERY shy as a kiddo). But ya know what? You never know unless you throw it out there. See if some of your students might be interested in getting in front of the microphone to strut their awesome communication skills over the loudspeaker. And if you give this idea a try, please let me know how it goes. Have fun!

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6 Ghost Jokes that will Make Speech-Language Pathologists Shriek with Delight

posted on October 27th, 2015 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
6 Ghost Jokes that will Make Speech-Language Pathologists Shriek with Delight

It's that lovely time of the year again. It's Halloween time! I'm pretty sure that a large number of students on your caseload are extremely excited for costumes, candy, and all things spooky. So, in the spirit of spooky (and good, clean fun), I've come up with some child-friendly ghost jokes that you can share with your students and SLP colleagues over the next few days leading up to October 31st.

Enjoy these SPOOKtacular ghost jokes!

And just a quick disclaimer before we continue, I'm not responsible for any of your hospital bills if you accidentally laugh your head off because of these amazing jokes. You've been warned! Cool? Cool! LOL!

Question: What do ghost SLPs order to drink at Starbucks?
Answer: Coffee with SCREAM and sugar.

Question: How do ghost SLPs get to the ASHA Convention?
Answer: On a SCAREplane operated by American SCARElines.

Question: What did the ghost SLP say to her hardworking ghost student?
Answer: You're really doing a BOOtiful job today in SCREECH-language therapy.

Question: What kind of mistake does a ghost student make in speech therapy?
Answer: A little BOO-BOO!

Question: Where do some ghost SLPs go after their work day is done?
Answer: To their local day-SCARE centers to pick up their ghost sons and daughters!

Question: What do ghost SLPs give their ghost students on the last day of speech therapy?
Answer: Ice SCREAM to eat and GHOUL-Aid to drink.

In closing . . .

If ghost jokes aren't really your thing, that's totally fine because last year I wrote a post called 6 Zombie Jokes that will Make Speech-Language Pathologists Giggle to Death. So, between the jokes about ghosts and the jokes about zombies, you're bound to have a rollerGHOSTER of a good time! Happy Halloween to all. ;-)

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5 Analogies to Help Your Speech Therapy Students Better Understand the Importance of Home Practice

posted on October 7th, 2015 by Erik X. Raj, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
5 Analogies to Help Your Speech Therapy Students Better Understand the Importance of Home Practice

It's a cliche saying, but it's one that's absolutely true: Practice. Makes. Perfect! Over the last few months, I've been putting a lot of thought into how I can better encourage my speech therapy students to actually practice their speech at home. The reason why is because (and you know this) the more a student practices at home, the faster he will meet those goals and objectives. And the more she practices at home, the stronger her communication abilities will get. So, how can I help them to better understand this?

Practice makes perfect.

Trust me, I've told students on my caseload "practice makes perfect" over and over again. I've even contemplated getting that sentence tattooed on my forehead because I've said it that often. Well, the tattoo thing might be pushing it, but you know what I mean, right? I say it and I say it, and yet, an overwhelming majority of my students don't feel the need to practice at home. Why?

My friend Jen to the rescue!

I have a good buddy named Jen Ernst (Hi Jen!). She is a fantastic SLP and this past summer she and I were chatting about my little dilemma. Then, like the SLP superstar that she is, she threw some amazing advice my way that seriously blew my mind. She told me to think basketball.


"Here's a basketball analogy you might like." She said to me.

"I say this, or a variation of it, to a number of my students. Think about playing basketball. Now, think about one part of playing basketball: dribbling. How awesome of a dribbler would you become if you went to the gym and practiced twice a week for 30 minutes? You probably would get a little bit better, but you wouldn't be the all-star on the court. What would you need to do to be the best player you could be? Practice every single day, even if your team didn't work out that day. You could dribble out on the sidewalk, in your garage, or at the park. The more you practiced, the more amazing your dribbling would become. After a while, you would be dazzling everyone with your expert dribbling skills."

Jen went on with, "Well, the same thing works for speech. If you just practice your speech twice a week for 30 minutes with me, it's only getting to get a little bit better. But, if you practice every single day, in lots of different places, you're going to develop expert speech skills and dazzle everyone when you talk to them."

That analogy stuck with me. I loved it!

Well, I finally used her basketball analogy last month with a private articulation client I've been working together with and it really resonated with this particular 4th grader. You know how sometimes you can just SEE that light switch go on in a child's mind? That's what I saw and I loved it! And after I told him Jen's basketball analogy, I showed him THIS AMAZING BASKETBALL TRICKS VIDEO on YouTube to further drive the point home. The basketball analogy paired with the basketball video – it was the perfect combination. He was sold. He was all in. I just KNEW IT!

Practice makes perfect.

It's been almost a month and let me tell you, my private client's articulation is improving at a very fast rate. Mom has even told me that she caught him looking at the mirror in his room and practicing some of my tips and tricks ON HIS OWN. He is practicing. He motivated. He believes that practice makes perfect.

It doesn't have to be a basketball analogy.

Basketball might not be your student's thing. That's fine. Use Jen's basketball analogy as a template, but plug in whatever works best with what your student is a fan of. Here are 4 that you might consider:

  • Is your student a fan of the culinary arts? If so, you could compare speech practice to cooking. The best chefs and bakers didn't get that way overnight. Their first time in the kitchen was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their culinary creations. Yum!
  • Is your student a fan of the painting? If so, you could compare speech practice to painting works of art. The best artists didn't get that way overnight. Their first time in front of a blank canvas was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their painting. Yes!
  • Is your student a fan of music? If so, you could compare speech practice to being in a band. The best musicians didn’t get that way overnight. Their first time on a stage was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their tunes. Rock on!
  • Is your student a fan of video games? If so, you could compare the speech practice to video game programming. The best video game creators didn't get that way overnight. Their first time in front of a computer was sloppy, but with practice, they were able to perfect their programming skills. Hooray!

In closing . . .

Between Jen's basketball analogy and the other 4 analogies I came up with, I think you have more than enough ideas to try with all of your students. Give them a go and keep me posted. And ya never know, one of these gems just might be THE THING take helps your student to see just how powerful practice is. Practice makes perfect.

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