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

Using Silly Sentences to Help Students Grow as Effective Communicators

posted on November 11th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Using Silly Sentences to Help Students Grow as Effective Communicators

Hey! Guess what? I made a new app called Silly Sentence Articulation and it's a hilariously good time. It took me about a zillion years to make and I'm beyond excited that it's NOW finally live on the Apple App Store for you to check out. You're gonna love it!

Want to know more about the new app?

Sure you do! Silly Sentence Articulation is a comprehensive collection of over 500 silly sentences (also known as absurdities) that were specifically designed for us speech-language pathologists to use with kiddos on our caseload who exhibit difficulty producing the following speech sounds: S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, and TH. It's intended to aid in the remediation of articulation impairments, as well as auditory and language difficulties because our clients often need practice in more than one area of communication.

Here's why I think students should be exposed to silly sentences:

Introducing our students to silly sentences serves two purposes - both necessary in effective problem solving and decision-making. First, it helps them become more aware of the need to logically analyze information and apply common sense reasoning to communication. Second, it helps them to begin to recognize absurdity as being a key component of humor, which assists in building emotional balance and intellectual growth. Pretty cool, if ya ask me!

Here's why I know all children will adore this app:

There's just so much audio for their ears to listen to! I spent a crazy amount of hours recording and re-recording the silly sentences AND the audio narrative that details WHY each and every sentence is silly. I poured my heart and soul into this particular app and I know that my wackiness will absolutely resonate with your students. And hopefully, it resonates with you, too!

So how about you give my latest app a try?

The silly sentence format within Silly Sentence Articulation is a departure from traditional articulation drill work and is effective for students ages 6 and up. Because of this unique format, clients enjoy saying the silly sentences to their friends and classmates outside of the speech therapy room, further practicing their communication skills and thereby facilitating the sometimes difficult stage of carrying over newly-acquired skills. By reviewing the silly sentences with the client, paraprofessionals in the classroom and/or parents at home can reinforce the client's skills while sharing a fun activity. And we all know that practicing communication skills in environments outside the speech therapy setting is how we can help generalization to occur.

In closing . . .

I invite you to download Silly Sentence Articulation RIGHT NOW because something tells me that it's just what you've been waiting for. I guarantee you that my silly sentences will initiate exciting and lively conversations within your speech therapy room. And the really cool thing is that every silly sentence has the potential for leading almost anywhere. Even a silly sentence that appears simple can trigger a unique thought process and complex response. There just ain't nothin' cooler than that, so let your imagination run wild and have a ball with Silly Sentence Articulation! (Oh, and tell your friends about it!)

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We Need to Start Talking About Emojis in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

posted on November 4th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
We Need to Start Talking About Emojis in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

Not too long ago, one of my 8th graders came to speech therapy visibly upset. I asked her what was wrong and she replied, "My friend hates me and I have proof! Here! Look!"

It all started with a text message.

She showed me her iPhone and pointed to a recent text message that she received from her friend. It was a happy birthday message that simply read HAPPY BDAY but there was something that came after the "word" BDAY that caused my student to think that her friend hated her. It was an emoji.

Emoji? Huh? What's an emoji?

As stated on Emojipedia.org, an emoji is a type of emoticon (emotion + icon) used on iPhones, iPads, Androids, Macs and Windows devices. The term emoji originated in Japan and means "picture letter" in Japanese. So in short, an emoji is a symbol or a picture that's used to communicate something to someone. For example, you know how when you text message a friend and then at the end of the text message you sometimes type characters that, when combined, look like a happy face (a colon, a dash, and then a closed parenthesis)? Well, that's sort of an emoji. Through those combined characters, you were able to positively communicate your friendship to that person in the form of a picture.

Back to the text message in question.

The emoji that her friend added at the end of HAPPY BDAY text message was a sad face and NOT a happy face. One would've thought that a happy face should've been added to the end of that message but that wasn't the case. So you can see why this 8th grader thought that her friend hated her. My student couldn't help but think that her friend was sad or even mad about the "BDAY."

A possible miscommunication?

I asked my student if she thought that maybe, JUST MAYBE, her friend might have mistakenly put a sad face at the end of the text message? MAYBE she actually meant to put a happy face? She looked at me with the most genuine eyes and said, "Hmm, well, maybe that's a possibility. I guess I should ask her about it later."

Fast forward a few days.

The next time I saw this student, I asked her about her text message debacle and she happily informed me that it was IN FACT a mistake and the sad face was supposed to be a happy face. Phew! Crisis averted!

This situation got me thinking about text messages and emojis.

We, as a society, are quickly adopting text messaging with emojis as a valid form of quick communication. And because more than half of my caseload consists of middle school-aged students (and I even have a private client starting soon who is in high school), it really isn't too crazy to think that they're engaging in that type of expressive communication with their friends and family. So with that being said, I've recently made a conscious decision to explore a few lessons and ideas that touch on the subject of understanding emojis because I believe that it's a functional thing to discuss with students who have communication difficulties. Imagine how many incorrect text messages might have been sent by students who have communication disorders! Or imagine how many text messages could have been misinterpreted by students with communication disorders! These are the problems that I'm hoping to solve by bringing up and discussing emojis to some of my students.

Pairing pictures with emojis is a good start.

One of the ways that I've been working to educate my students about emojis is by pairing realistic pictures with emojis. The emojis that I've been using throughout my sessions come from GetEmoji.com. This is a fantastic location that allows you to copy and paste emojis from a massive library of emojis. Here is a FREE pdf file that I created by copying and pasting a bunch of emojis into a a Microsoft Word document. I printed out the PDF file and then cut out all the emojis so I could spread them all over my table like THIS.

Next, I would show my students random realistic pictures that I had. These pictures could be anything from story starter cards you might have sitting in your speech therapy room to miscellaneous pages you might have ripped out from an age-appropriate magazine. Anything that realistically shows people doing something would work just fine. All you have to do is encourage your students to try to pick out which emoji they feel best describes the chosen picture.

Check out these examples:

After some minimal prompts and cues, my one group of students were able to verbalize how THESE PICTURES were better suited for negative emojis. The girl on the left was crying because she broke her doll, therefore, the emoji that best fit with her was the one that showed a tear drop coming from the sad face's eye. Whereas, the picture on the right showed a girl who was covered with mud, therefore, the emoji that looked like it was nervous and sweaty best fit her situation because they thought the girl was nervous that she might get yelled at by her mother for getting so dirty.

Other examples can be found in THESE PICTURES. The girls on the left were washing someone's car. This kind deed communicates that they are nice children, therefore, the group attached the emoji that had a halo over its head. And the picture on the right shows a girl in a bathing suit having summertime fun, so my students made the connection that the happy emoji wearing the sunglasses was most appropriate because they felt like the sunglasses represented the warmth of summer.

In closing . . .

What do you think? Do you think your older kiddos would connect with Emojis? Have you been doing something similar to this? If so, please do let me know because I seriously love enjoying hearing from awesome clinicians just like you!

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4 Imaginary Speech Therapy Apps That I Wish Were Real

posted on October 28th, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
4 Imaginary Speech Therapy Apps That I Wish Were Real

As you already know, I create some of the most fun and affordable speech therapy apps around. Apps like Multiple Choice Articulation, I Dare You Articulation, and Charades Articulation have been downloaded hundreds and hundreds of times and believe me, I'm working hard to continue to make new speech therapy apps just for you. But ya know what? There are a few speech therapy app ideas that I've had in my noggin for quite a while now and I haven't gotten around to making them. The reason why is because these particular ideas are a bit "out there." In fact, they're so "out there" that I don't even think it's possible to create 'em right now.

Would you like to know about these app ideas?

Sure you would (haha!) so that's why I wrote this blog post. Below you will find four of my favorite imaginary speech therapy app ideas that I wish I could make. Oh boy, if these apps were real, they would absolutely make my life as a school-based speech-language pathologist so much easier. My hope is that someone reading this post might be smart enough to actually create one (or all) of these apps. And if you do create 'em, please do let me know because I will totally purchase each and every single one!

A sneeze warning app!

This app would sound a warning noise right before a student sneezed all over me. The warning would give me enough time to grab a tissue for the student and to also whip out the hand sanitizer. Just gotta do what I gotta do to keep myself and my speech therapy room germ-free, ya know?

A homework reminding hologram app!

This app would create a hologram of me. Then, after going into the setting part of the app, I could program it to send the Mr. Raj hologram over to my students' houses. The Mr. Raj hologram would knock on their doors and remind them to do their speech homework. This would absolutely do the trick and improve my homework return rate, for sure!

A missing game pieces app!

This app would be able to utilize GPS technology to somehow locate all of my missing game pieces that I just can't seem to find. For example, that one random Jenga block that vanished last week or those two puzzle pieces that disappeared last month. Where oh where could they be?!

A dream monitor app!

I don't know about you, but sometimes (err, lots of time) I have nightmares about IEPs and IEP meetings. This app is simple, it would monitor my dreams for me while I slept in an effort to stop bad IEP dreams before they happened. What I mean is if at any moment my pleasant dreams started to turn sour because crazy thoughts of IEPs started to rush the given dream, the app would automatically delete the IEP portions of my dream and replace them with more pleasant visions, like, ice cream. Or the beach. Or a puppy. Or maybe even combine all three: a puppy on a beach eating ice cream. Now that sounds like a much better dream than one that had to do with IEPs!

In closing . . .

My fingers and toes are crossed that someone out there can turn these imaginary speech therapy apps into a reality. If you're that special someone, get crackin' on programming those apps. I guarantee that you WILL become a millionaire. Enjoy the cash, buddy! ;-)

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Looking for the Best Website to Discover Perfect Videos for Speech Therapy? Look No Further!

posted on October 21st, 2014 by Erik X. Raj, M.S., CCC-SLP
Looking for the Best Website to Discover Perfect Videos for Speech Therapy? Look No Further!

I received an amazing email last week from a friend of mine. In the message, she wrote about how she loved my recent blog post about using YouTube within speech-language therapy sessions, but wondered if I had any suggestions on how to actually go about finding videos online that were appropriate for school-aged students.

My answer is YES!

I sure do have a suggestion that I know every single speech-language pathologist will adore. Have you ever heard of thekidshouldseethis.com? In short, The Kid Should See This is a growing online library of ridiculously fun and informative, "not-made-for-kids, but perfect for them" videos that are absolutely perfect for the students on our caseload. Each week Rion Nakaya (and her children, ages 3 and 6) update the website with new videos that they come across and let me tell you, the amount of solid videos that they post is nothing short of incredible.

They do all the hard work for us! How lucky are we?

What I love most about thekidshouldseethis.com is the fact that Rion really seems to understand that it's quite difficult to find high quality videos online that are both entertaining and educational. One really has to comb through lots of dirt before discovering a diamond. That's why I'm truly grateful for this website. Ya'll did the dirty work for me and for that, I'm so grateful.

Here are two of my favorite videos that I've recently incorporated into random speech-language therapy sessions:

This video about a huge dinosaur made out of balloons - it's a 2-minute long video that was a total hit with my elementary school students. We had an out-of-this-world conversation about the possible outcomes that might ruin the various balloon statues. This particular small group was working on improving their ability to predict possible outcomes in various scenarios. Because of this video, I was able to get them to ask and answer intelligent questions to each other like what if the balloons were outside and the wind suddenly started to blow? Or what if there was a prickly cactus next to some of the balloons? The list goes on and on. Show your students this vid!

This video about how crayons are made - it's a 5-ish minute video that was a surprise hit with my middle schoolers. It highlights exactly HOW crayons are made. I mean, think about it, crayons are something that our students use consistently, but they rarely take the time to think about HOW they are actually made. The small group of students who I showed this video to were working on improving their sequencing skills. After watching the video, I encouraged them to write out (in crayon, of course, haha!) the steps that they remembered about how crayons were made. Show your students this vid!

In closing . . .

As an SLP, I know that you'll agree with me when I say that my time, as a clinician, is extremely limited. This is why I give The Kid Should See This two thumbs WAY up. Thank you to Rion for exposing my students and me to such fantastic videos. The videos all triggered a tidal wave of beautiful conversations, and that's always such harmonious music to this SLP's ears. So dear reader, please do me a favor and check out The Kid Should See This as soon as possible. Oh, and tell 'em that Erik sent cha!

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