Motivation, humor, and more!

Record Your Own Speech Therapy News Segment with Newscaster Articulation

Record Your Own Speech Therapy News Segment with Newscaster Articulation

Lights, camera, action! Have you ever wanted to be a television newscaster? Well, today is your lucky day. Newscaster Articulation is my latest speech therapy app (iPad or iPhone) and it sets the stage for a mock television broadcast by taking advantage of video camera technology. Through Newscaster Articulation, students are able to video record themselves presenting realistic-looking television news segments.

Whoa really?!

Yes! All a student has to do is choose which speech sound he or she is working on. Pick from either /S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, or TH/.

Let’s say your student picked the /S/ sound. Now, go ahead and get even more specific with the /S/ sound sound.

Let’s do the initial /S/, shall we? Once your student finalizes his or her choice by tapping on it, he or she will be shown a sound-specific picture prompt at random that can be used as a visual reference to talk about. For example, here’s a sailboat (/S/ in the initial position).

Oh, not the biggest fan of a sailboat? No problem! Just have your student tap on the die and he or she will be given another sound-specific picture prompt. This time, it’s a soccer ball (/S/ in the initial position). Nice!

Now your student is ready to start his or her news segment! After tapping on the check mark, the video recording screen appears with the sound-specific picture prompt in the corner (in this case, the soccer ball)! Encourage your student to make up and verbalize a story about a soccer ball (or soccer, in general) while Newscaster Articulation video records the news segment. Afterwards, review the news segment by watching it together with your student to discuss his or her /S/ articulation progress and further practice proper /S/ pronunciation and /S/ articulation strategies.

The format of Newscaster Articulation is a departure from traditional articulation drill materials and is effective for students ages 6 and up. Because of the mock television broadcast approach, students enjoy video recording news segments with 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 talking about the news segments with the youngster, paraprofessionals in the classroom and/or parents at home can reinforce the targeted articulation skills while sharing a fun activity. Practicing these skills in environments outside the speech therapy setting increases opportunities for generalization.

My invitation to you!

I invite ya’ll to use Newscaster Articulation to spice up your speech therapy sessions. All of the sound-specific picture prompts are intended to initiate excitement and humor. And in all honesty, each news segment has the potential to spark stories that could lead almost anywhere. Even a sound-specific picture prompt that appears simple can trigger a unique thought that surprises all parties involved.

In closing . . .

Regardless of when, where, or how Newscaster Articulation is used within the speech therapy session, one thing is certain, children (as well as clinicians) will have a blast video recording news segments and talking about them . . . and in the process, all of the youngsters will continue to practice the correct pronunciation of their sounds. So what are you waiting for? Let your imagination run wild and have fun with this one of a kind video-based speech therapy material!

A Rock and Roll Song About Ninja Speech-Language Pathologists

Would you like to know the one thing that I could never ever live without? I’ll give you a hint – it starts with the letter M. No, it’s not not milkshakes (although I do absolutely adore chocolate milkshakes! Yum!) The answer to the initial question is music! Music is the one thing that I could never ever live without and I think that Prince Ea (one of my favorite YouTubers) said it best in this Instagram post that reads: “With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.” Isn’t that a terrific quote? It perfectly describes why I believe that music is the most important thing on this planet.

Do you listen to speech-language pathology music?

I know what you might be saying right now – “Speech-language pathology music?! There’s no such thing as speech-language pathology music!” And if you are, in fact, saying that, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong. There actually IS a such thing as speech-language pathology music. It might not be the most popular genre out there, but hey, maybe I can help the genre to grow?

Here’s my attempt at helping the genre grow!

My song is called Ninjas of Speech and it’s based off of the blog posted I wrote a while back titled 5 Ninja Characteristics All Speech Pathologists Have. Give the song a listen above or feel free to directly download the mp3 file HERE.

Ninjas of Speech (01:48)

I’ve got something to share about speech pathologists
There’s 5 ninja skills they share as characteristics
That help students reach black belt communication
Now here’s the list so please pay attention

Number 1 is speed of word and thought
To compress information in 30 minute blocks

Number 2 is strength and power
To tame the tongue in blocks of half an hour

Number 3 is stamina, our old friend
We don’t give up on clients until they reach the end
We’re patient, calm, and oh so understandings
Devoted, kind, and never demanding

Number 4 is all of our various techniques
We adapt material from week to week

Finally the last ninja trait of all, number 5 is our intelligence
To assess, diagnose, treat, and prevent

SLPs are ninjas of speech
SLPs are ninjas of speech

In closing . . .

Maybe I’ll make some more songs in the future. Would you be into that? Please let me know. 😉

A Rock and Roll Song About Ninja Speech-Language Pathologists

The Scars That We Have on Our Speech-Language Pathology Brains

Today I would like chat about the word scar. S-C-A-R. As human beings going through life and living in this unpredictable world, we accumulate a lot of scars on our bodies. For example, when I was young, like, REALLY young (I was a first grader), I was playing with some firecrackers (dangerous, I know!). Well, this one time, I didn’t throw the firecrackers fast enough after I lite them with matches and on that particular day, a few firecrackers exploded in my hand. And from that, I got a scar on the ring finger of my right hand.


Another example of a scar that I got was when I was little bit older, like 18 or 19 years old. Back then, I used to be in a rock and roll band. As I was playing my bass guitar this one time, the music simply took over and an injury was just around the corner! My bandmates and I were in a rehearsal studio and I decided to stand on top of the drum set as I was playing my bass guitar (like I said, the music totally took over!). Well, I lost my balance and I fell down and, long story short, my thigh got cut open by some sharp part of the drum set. I had to get a lot of stitches in that newly formed gash in my leg. It hurt. BIG TIME. But, all that to say, that’s yet another scar that I have.

Scars. Oh those painful events that cause scars.

I know what you might be saying. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Man, that guy Erik Raj, he’s going on and on about scars. And he’s going on and on about firecrackers and being in a rock and roll band. How does that stuff have anything to do with speech therapy?” Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. This is how it has to do with speech therapy. As clinicians, it’s important for us to realize and remember that we obtain scars from some of the things that we do in the speech therapy room. From the mistakes we make.

It’s important for us to learn from those mistakes that gave us scars.

Here’s an example of a scar that I got once within the speech therapy room. When I was a graduate student, I had the perfect opportunity to work with a fantastic child. He had a lot of great energy and one of the ways that we could keep his focus was to have him sit down on a yoga ball. I would be behind him, he would be sitting on his yoga ball, and I would help him to slowly rock back and forth during our session. That gentle rocking would keep him regulated and on task.

But I made a mistake one day that gave me a scar.

One of the things that I did on this particular day is I forgot some speech therapy material. It was on the other side of the room – not within arm’s reach. I was supporting his back as he was on the yoga ball so I took my hands off his back for about a half a second so I could grab that speech therapy material. BAD MOVE ON MY PART. In the blink of an eye, the kiddo somehow stood up on the yoga ball and fell right down.

Oh. My. Gosh!

I felt terrible. How could I let this happen?! I turned my back on this student for only a moment and that caused him to fall. And like I said, I was a graduate student and there were those two-way mirrors and my supervisor ran into the room! The parents ran in, too! The kiddo was crying! I was crying! It was a disaster.

But don’t worry, the kiddo was fine.

My client was just a little spooked. But guess what? This experience gave me a scar. It wasn’t a physical scar, though. It wasn’t one like with the firecrackers thing or the rock and roll thing. There was no physical mark on my skin, but it’s a scar that very much exists on my speech-language pathology brain, if you will. It’s a mistake that I think about. A lot. So with all of that being said, I think it’s important for us to reexamine our speech-language pathology brain. We need to think about it in the sense that you might have some therapy related scars here and there on your mind that have gotten there because of miscellaneous mistakes that you’ve made as a clinician.

Reexamining is what it’s all about.

The good thing about reexamining our speech-language pathology brains and looking for scars, is the fact that you can pinpoint when that scar happened and then you can think about the mistake that caused that scar to be there, and that’s a powerful learning opportunity for you. Because you are growing when you’re reexamining how that scar got there. Ya know what I mean?

Makin’ it physical.

Bringing you back to the physicality of the whole scar thing, that little scar on my finger, every single time I look at it, I always say to myself, “Man, you got that scar from when you were a youngster and you were playing with firecrackers. That was a mistake, you should NOT have been playing with firecrackers, dude.” That’s me learning from the mistake. I don’t play with firecrackers anymore, and that scar consistently reminds me to not do that.

And my leg, too.

Any time that I look down at my leg and I see that scar from when I fell through the drum set, I look down at my leg and I say, “Man, you probably shouldn’t be standing on top of drum sets. It’s not the safest thing to do.” And, ya know what? I haven’t done it since, haha! I learned from that mistake, for sure.

And yoga balls.

Every single time I see a yoga ball, seriously, I think back to that time as a graduate student and I think back to that mistake of turning my back on my client for that one moment. Seeing my client’s sad face because he was so scared that he fell down. That killed me. I think back to that moment and I say to myself, “That was a mistake and you, as a clinician, can learn from that mistake.” With all that being said, I never turn my back on my students. Ever.

In closing . . .

How about you take a moment when you have some free time and think about some of the scars that you might have gotten on your speech-language pathology brain over the years. How did you get those scars? But, more importantly, what can you learn from those scars, because that’s what it’s all about, baby. It’s about learning and it’s all about growing. Let’s all reexamine our speech-language pathology brains!

The Scars That We Have on Our Speech-Language Pathology Brains

Tech Is Great in Speech Therapy, but Don’t Become Too Dependent on It

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about technology. We, as speech-language pathologists, we love technology. I mean, a lot of us are utilizing iPads in some of our daily therapeutic practice. A lot of us are utilizing computers, the Internet, and other things along those lines. And why do we do that? It’s all in an effort to better connect with today’s 21st century learners so that we can teach them what they need to know.

Today’s children are all about technology.

Our younger clients, they can’t imagine a world without mobile phones, tablets, etc. So, that’s why it’s so important for us, as practicing clinicians, to be aware of these technologies so that we can weave them into our speech-language therapy, whenever appropriate.

But here’s something to keep in mind . . .

Technology, it’s great, but technology has batteries. And we all know the thing about batteries; batteries run out of juice. Think about it – remember that one time you needed to use the GPS app on your phone? You pulled out your phone and you looked down at it and then all of a sudden it hit you . . . you only had 2% battery left!

On no!

Then you frantically typed in the address and started your drive and you were all like, “Oh. My. God. I’ve got to get to the destination before my phone dies.”  And then . . .  BAMM! The phone dies and you don’t even have the proper cord to charge your phone in your car.

What a drag.

All of these pieces of technology that are a part of our world, yes, they’re useful, but their battery lives are limited. The reason why I bring this whole battery conversation to the table is because I think we need to be much more mindful of the fact that the iPad that we’re using, it very well might run out of juice and what do we do then? On more than one occasion, I’ve been using my iPad with a student and I’m making a lot of great progress – we’re going through the given app, there’s a lot of great conversation that myself and the client are engaged in. But then I look down and the iPad died.

Total buzz kill!

Then, I find myself scrambling. Oh no! Plan B, what’s Plan B? I’m not going to lie to you, sometimes I didn’t have a Plan B. And, I’m willing to bet I’m not the only clinician out there that didn’t have a Plan B once the iPad died. The reason why I didn’t have a Plan B is because I put too much emphasis on the technology. I depended on it too much. I viewed the technology as something that won’t fail. But of course it does. It’s technology, it’s fragile. I mean, batteries run out of juice, right? Or sometimes we might accidentally drop whatever piece of technology we have on the floor and it might break and it won’t be able to turn on again. Those are prime examples of how technology can fail us.

So what should we do, then?

The answer to that question is simple, have a Plan B. When you’re planning your next amazing speech-language therapy session, be sure to have something in the mix that doesn’t have batteries. There are many, many, many things out there that don’t have batteries that sometimes we forget about. Because right now, in this technology driven age that we’re all a part of, we’re very fixated on the tech. And like I said, tech is great, but don’t forget about the other things. Like the pencils. Like the paper. Like the markers. Like the paint. Paint doesn’t have batteries. Markers don’t have batteries. Papers and pencils don’t have batteries. These are the tried and the true. They will forever be there. So, don’t turn your backs on these things. They love you very much and you should love them, too! Hehe!

A challenge for you.

I have a challenge for you – can you go one week within your speech-language therapy world without using some form of digital technology. Is it possible? Hmm. That’s a good question. I think the answer is yes. Or at least it should be something that we explore because we never want to become too dependent on technology.

But wait . . .

I’m not saying don’t use email during that week, because I think we have to use email. I mean, I’m constantly sending emails to different colleagues and sometimes I’m sending emails to parents, so that’s not what I’m speaking about when I bring up this non-tech challenge. What I’m really speaking about is the optional technology that you might use, face-to-face, with your client. Maybe it’s a computer? Or a laptop? Maybe it’s an iPad?

iPads are great.

Trust me, I love iPads but I want to remind you that iPads are not the end-all be-all. We need to not be so dependent on technology. We need to remember the other, very valid, non-digital speech therapy materials that exist in our world and we need to make sure that we utilize those as much as the other digital therapy materials that we are all so accustomed to using nowadays.

In closing . . .

As always, I love having these conversations with you. So, after you go a week without using technology, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know how it went. Was it hard? Was it easy? Was it easier than you expected it to be? These are great conversations for you and I to have because through our reflective discussions, we can grow and we can learn from one another. Cool? Cool!

Tech Is Great in Speech Therapy, but Don’t Become Too Dependent on It

I like to share things on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Sweet!