Build your own larynx

anatomy UK

Voice trainers at Vocal Process have created this ‘Build your own tilting larynx’ template. Such a brilliant idea for teaching the understanding of how the vocal cords work. Download the original pdf with instructions here.

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How I got the name “Autumn Bryant – Speech Language Investigator”

Choosing a name for your online persona is no small feat.  It should be something that communicates both how you view yourself and what you feel is most important for others to know about you.

Given that, my original idea was to try to come up with a name that showcased my penchant for technology.  In my school district, I’m known as “The Techie SLP.”  However, my attempts to find a design or image to use as an avatar were a flop.  They looked like what people in the 70’s would have pictured for the future and I wasn’t happy with them.

I decided to go back to the drawing board and do some more reflecting.  Aside from liking technology, who am I as an SLP?  What part of the job do I like the best?

Pondering those questions, lead me right to what my online persona should be. Though I work in schools, believe it or not, working with children is not the part of the job I like best.  I enjoy working with adults just as much if not more.  For me, people are people, some are cool; some are not.  You get that in every age group so I’m not drawn to cutsie or kiddie stuff.  What part of the field then, am I drawn to?

Cracking the case!  My grandfather, grandmother, and aunt all did investigative work at the government level.  My uncle has a law degree from Northwestern.  My mother and our entire family has  the kind of investigative and inquisitive nature that made it hard for me to get away with shenanigans as a teen.  Fortunately for me though, I must have inherited some of that natural knack for asking the right questions, looking for clues, following up on leads, seeing the big picture, and connecting the dots.

When I get a new student from another state that comes in with word of an IEP but no records, I enjoy following the clues and the paper trail to find out where the student comes from, what happened to the missing records, and how I can get the file.

When a student just can’t seem to grasp a concept, I’m intrigued by the mystery of how their individual brain works, what part of the puzzle is missing for them, and figuring out the best ways to help them shade in the meanings that they were missing.

When I am overwhelmed with the logistics and paperwork of being an SLP, I am thrilled to come up with new ways to cut down on the time I spend doing tedious tasks so that I can increase my efficiency.  After all, necessity is the mother of invention and for me inventing and investigating are intrinsically linked.

Applying my detective skills to the field of communication makes me feel like I’m joining the family business.

Adding my actual name before the title, makes me feel like a James Bond-type spy.  That’s why my store is not just named “Autumn Bryant” or isn’t simply called by the title of “Speech Language Investigator.”  Putting them together gives them a ring that brings me joy every time I see it.

That’s how I got the name “Autumn Bryant – Speech Language Investigator.”

What does your online SLP name say about you?

What does your online SLP name say about you?

whats_in_a_nameThe bevy of SLP stores, blogs, and social media profiles out there these days, has brought us a bounty of resources and materials to use with our clients – just as they intended to do.

However, they’ve also brought an added benefit that was perhaps less intentional. A possibly unforeseen bonus of having such a diverse array of colleagues mingling online, though, is getting to see the cute, creative, and downright catchy names we have donned to represent ourselves.

Each SLP-selected name gives a glimpse into the personality of the man or woman behind the profile. Knowing that these names may attract (or repeal) potential followers, most SLP entrepreneurs and bloggers do not take the task of coming up with a name lightly. However, most blog-followers and material-buyers may never get to hear the story of how the name came to be and exactly what it represents to the SLP. Well, now’s our chance to hear it from the horses’ mouths.

Here’s how I got the name “Autumn Bryant – Speech Language Investigator” (click here)

If you are an SLP blogger or seller, please do tell….

How’d you get your online SLP name?

Vocabulary – HOW TO

kumquatI’ve been an SLP for 7 years and it has taken me nearly that entire time to find a systematic approach to vocabulary instruction that works for me and my students.  Incorporating elements of the vocabulary tier system and word-storage and retrieval strategies, here are the steps I use and that I give my students for learning new vocabulary words.
SLP Step 1: Select Tier 2 words for the student to learn.  Tier 2 vocabulary words are those that are beyond basic words (Tier 1) but not as complex or rare as field-specific vocabulary used almost exclusively for a particular subject area (Tier 3).  Tier 2 words occur frequently enough that students are likely to encounter them in multiple subject matters.  These include the language of directions, such as “Summarize,” “Correlate,” “Devise,” “Reiterate,” etc.  They also include words they will need in order to be informed consumers and independent, productive adults.  Tier 2 words can be selected from novels or text books that your students are already reading.  These do not have to be the words that the text book puts in bold.  Those are usually the Tier 3 words.  The words we want are those often found in the the instructions for assessments, homework, and activities.  Recently however, I decided to create a list of Tier 2 words by picking them from the commercials I watch on TV.  I chose words that you will need to know in order to make savvy purchasing decisions or even understand prescription instructions and labels.  (Get the list here).  This year, I’ve also been focusing on explicitly teaching the meaning of conjunction words used to form complex sentences.  (Get your complex sentence lesson plan here and your complex sentence wall posters here).
SLP Step 2: Once you have a list of words, conduct a baseline to gauge the student’s familiarity with the words receptively and expressively.

SLP Step 3: From your baseline, eliminate the words that the student already knows and focus on the remaining words.

Here are the strategies I give my students for how to learn these new words.

Student Step 1: Identify the word (Say it, write it, etc.)

Student Step 2: Break the word into syllables
Student Step 3Picture (either draw or imagine) what the word sounds like – in other words, what other words does it remind you of (ones that rhyme with it, ones that start with the same syllable, etc.).   It’s important to insist that the student think of his/her own idea of what the word sounds like to him/her.  This will help with later recall later.  Also, the skill of recognizing familiar patterns between words is what allows us to make educated guesses about the meanings of new or unfamiliar words, seeing connections between prefixes, suffixes, roots/stems, and varying grammatical forms of the same base word.   (When asking students to draw what a word sounds like, reassure them that the quality of the artwork doesn’t matter.  Some students get hung up on not being able to draw well.  Let them know that stick figures and basic forms are fine as long as they can tell what they have drawn).

SLP Step 4: Explain to the student what the word really means.  You can use a variety of tools and strategies to do this.  Including using the Expanding Expression Tool (EET) to guide your own definition.  (I don’t use dictionary definitions, because I find them often confusing for students.  Many of them do the very thing we tell kids not to do, they use a form of the word to define the word).  In your definition, bombard the student with grammatically correct use of the target word but stating the word at the beginning of each feature’s description.

SLP Step 5: Ask the student if they’ve ever seen anything like what you described for the word’s meaning. 
Student Step 4: Picture what the word really means (based on the SLP’s description).
Student Step 5: Merge the picture of what the word sounds like with the picture of what it really means.
Student Step 6: Rehearse the word by saying it at least 3 times.

Student Step 7: Use the word in a sentence.


SLP Step 6:
Correct the grammar of the sentence if necessary and give examples of how to use the word correctly.

SLP Step 7: Bombard the student with correct use of the word again by telling a story using the word.  I like to do this by incorporating into a tale about a personal experience if possible. 

SLP Step 8: Ask the student follow-up questions about related experiences.  Incorporate the target vocabulary word into your question.

I introduce this process to students using very basic, Tier I words.  I do this so that they can learn the strategy without focusing on a new word meaning.  Once students have the hang of the process, we move on to our targeted Tier 2 words.  We can usually get through 2 or 3 in a session.  After introducing a few words, we review the ones that we worked on that day.  Then at the start of the next session, we review last week’s words before introducing new ones.  Delightfully, following this process I have found that students usually have a deep understanding of the words and recall them for the next session.  When they don’t, they are usually able to retrieve the words from their memory with a cue about what the word sounded like (making a verbal reference to the picture they drew of what it reminded them of).

I have done this with a focus on words with the same prefix or suffix as well.
After introducing a couple of words each week for a few weeks, you can begin to incorporate them into other games and activities like “Jeopardy,” “Who has…?,” Hangman (with semantic clues), Cross-word puzzles, or writing your own stories.
This year, I have also given my junior high students strategy cards to keep in their wallets.  The cards include reminders of the steps that students should use to store new words in their memories at home and at school because after all, speech/language therapy should be about teaching strategies and not just content.

Get your speech/language wallet cards here!

EXAMPLE: kumquat
Here’s an example of how to use these steps to introduce a word.
Student identifies the word: kumquat
Student breaks the word into syllables: Kum Quat
Student pictures what the word sounds like: For Kum Quat, the student may draw a picture of someone coming in the door while doing squats because, Kum Quat sounds like “Come Squat.”
SLP: Explain to the student what the word really means:  A kumquat is a kind of fruit.  Kumquats can be peeled and eaten or made into jams and jellies.  A kumquat looks kind of like an orange but it’s smaller than an orange.  A kumquat can be more oval shaped than round.
SLP: Ask the student if they’ve ever seen anything like what you described for the word’s meaning:  Have you ever seen a fruit that looks like an orange but smaller?  Do you think you would like jelly made out of a kumquat?

Student pictures what the word really means: (Student draws a picture of a small orangish fruit).

Student merges the picture of what the word sounds like with the picture of what it really means: (The student may draw a picture of a fit person, coming in the door, doing squats, while taking a bite out of a small orange fruit/kumquat).
Student rehearses the word by saying it at least 3 times: “Kumquat, Kumquat, Kumquat”
Student uses the word in a sentence: “I eat kumquats when I work out.”

SLP: Correct the grammar of the sentence if necessary and give examples of how to use the word correctly if necessary. 

SLP: Bombard the student with correct use of the word again by telling a story using the word.  One time, I went to the grocery store specifically looking for kumquats.  I didn’t find any, so I asked the store clerk where the kumquats were.  He took me over to the produce section.  When I looked in the bin, there were just oranges though.  I told him that I didn’t see any kumquats in there.  He asked me “Aren’t those kumquats.”  I told him, “No, those are oranges.  Kumquats are smaller.”  Then he said, “Oh, in that case I don’t think we carry kumquats.”  That’s a shame because I really wanted some.  I asked the clerk to ask his manager to order kumquats in the future.  

SLP: Ask the student follow-up questions about related experiences:  Kumquats, oranges, lemons, and limes are all citrus fruits.  Have you ever had a kumquat or another citrus fruit? 


This approach is inspired by a combination of strategies by Diane German (Word-Finding) and Nanci Bell (Visualizing and Verbalizing).  Sara L. Smith’s techniques (Expanding Expression Tool) can also be incorporated into the SLP’s or teacher’s explanation of a word’s meaning.