Electronic Incentive Chart (Points)!

incentive chart image squareHave you ever noticed how SLPs don’t have grades they can hold over students heads to motivate them to do their bests?

Of course you have!  My very first year, I allowed junior high kids to take a piece of candy with them when the left and smaller children to get a sticker if they had done a good job.  However, I soon found out that these systems were more headaches than they were worth for me.  Students can be so fussy when they haven’t “earned” candy or a sticker or couldn’t get the one that they wanted.

Some years ago, I started using paper incentive charts instead and it worked beautifully!  Initially, students only earned points for returning speech/language homework.  If they had a certain number of stickers on their incentive charts by the end of the year, they earned a party (popcorn party for the little ones and a pizza party for the older crowd).  I’m not sure which the students bought into more, the idea of an end-of-the-year reward party or being able to see their points accumulating and being in competition with their friends!  Either way, I found a system that worked.

But then, I thought: How can I make this even better?  2 years ago, I started incorporating other ways to earn points/stickers on the chart to reinforce behaviors I wanted to see repeated in the future, including:

  • 1 point = arriving on time
  • 1 point = for each of the required materials you bring to speech
  • 2 points = stating what you are working on
  • 2 points = explaining the concept you are working on
  • 5 points = identifying use of your goal in class
  • 10 points = homework

(Click here to get more info on the points system here).  The beautiful thing about this is that I give EXTRA points for anything I want to, including being encouraging of a peer, making a connection to something learned in a class, sharing a related experience that happened outside of school, etc.! Students were learning how to learn 😀

Students were also working harder than before!  I rewarded them for their efforts by letting them raid the prize box and choose an end of term prize every quarter when report cards were released (such as a full sized candy bar, nice school supplies, or a small trinket).

This was going great but after I made over my office last year (click here to see the “before” and watch the video below for the “after”), the paper chart just didn’t fit my decor!  (I know, so superficial).  However, necessity is the mother of invention and that gave me an idea.  To go with the sleek new clinical look of my office, I decided to make an electronic version of my points chart. Using Google Spreadsheets, I created a sheet and corresponding chart that work beautifully together.  When I add points on the spreadsheet, students see their bars on the chart fill up like magic!

My re-modeled (clinical style) office and the points chart on display:

Demonstration of the points chart:

Since making the above youtube video demonstrating this, I found that I could even just use one device instead of two (as mentioned in the video) to make this magic happen; my computer allows me to display a different screen on the computer than the one shown on the TV when they are connected.  Of course, if you don’t have access to a TV or projector (I know, I am very lucky in that regard), you can still use your computer and phone, or computer and tablet, or tablet and phone, etc. to make this magic happen.  🙂

Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you could just have the template without having to set it up?  Well, okay!

Do me a favor and follow my blog first though 😉

Then, CLICK HERE TO GET THE TEMPLATE and click “use template” in the upper right hand corner!  (Colors are completely customizable.  I just went with my school’s colors in the video but you can easily change that).

Why is there not an App for that? Speech and Language Test Scores should be at Our Fingertips!

I see so many posts in SLP facebook groups asking people to look up test scores for them because they didn’t bring the manuals home or left at at one of their schools. This is totally understandable because traveling SLPs have to carry so many items with them from day to day. Something is going to get left behind, either for necessity (we just can’t carry it all) or forgetfulness (we’ve got a lot to hold on to mentally as well as physically and our minds are taxed just as much as our backs and arms are from carrying these heavy loads).

Additionally, many of us that work for the same school district or practice share tests.  We may return them too hastily sometimes because we know others need to use them too or we may catch a mistake that requires re-scoring after the test has already been returned.

Wouldn’t it make so much sense to have the manuals (or at least the norms pages) posted on your websites? You could make them password protected or put them in a “subscribers-only” section to protect them from people who didn’t actually purchase the tests.   I think many of us SLPs in the trenches (and psychologists and other testers too for that matter) would really appreciate this service.

P.S. Test makers, it would be even better if it operated like a search engine, where you just input age and raw scores and it generates the scaled/standard scores and percentiles without us even having to visually scan a page looking for the right age and raw score combination.  You could even make this an app!!!  You have the technology…;)

Please share this post.  Let’s get the attention of the publishers so that they can help us make our work-lives just a little bit easier.

Update Speech and Language Homework for your Whole Caseload Online!

speech homeworkI just asked this question on social media, “Does anyone have an electronic system for sending homework to students? I’m thinking something where parents and students can log in and select the homework just for that student without seeing anyone else’s. If so, how does that work for confidentiality?”

Thirty minutes later, I came up with my own solution: I found a way through Google Drive.  It may be a bit tedious to set up for a whole caseload, but afterward you can update homework quickly and easily and have an ongoing record (we know how SLPs love those).

 ***UPDATE***

Step 1: Create a folder and name it (I chose “2015 Speech/Language Homework”).

Step 2: Share the folder under the setting “Anyone with the link can view” (don’t worry, we’ll make it so they can’t see other students’ info).

Step 3: Copy the “Sharable URL”

Step 4: Add Google Docs or Google Spreadsheets or even other sub-folders to your main folder (1 for each student) and name them accordingly. (I’m naming mine by each student’s name since no one else will see them and it will make them easier for me to find when updating homework).

Step 5: Go into the share settings for that individual document/sheet/folder and change the permissions to “OFF – only certain people.”

Step 6: Go to “Advanced Settings” and add JUST the student/parent that the document/sub-folder is for!!!

Step 7: Post the Sharable URL to your website or e-mail signature for easy access for parents and students (and for yourself when you want to update and assign new homework).  You will be able to see ALL of the students’ folders/docs form that link but each parent and student will only be able to see their own files since you removed all of the others from their permissions while leaving access for that one family on that one file.

(Further notes on the options: If you chose to do a Doc, you may want to do “Insert Comment” to leave info on new assignments, that way the student will receive an e-mail when something new is there. If you do a spreadsheet instead, you can show the students how to set up “notification rules” through the tools menu to get an e-mail when you update it. The reason I suggested doing a whole folder is in case you want to upload other files and practice materials for specific students and house them there. Otherwise, you could just upload all practice materials to the main homework folder for all to see. You can leave links to specific files in each student’s document).

Remember, Google for Education is FERPA compliant.  (I’ve already spoken to my district’s attorneys about it).  ASHA says that in the school system, we only need to worry about being FERPA compliant, not HIPAA compliant (click here for more details).  However, if you get your own Google for business account, you can easily become HIPAA compliant by signing a BAA with Google.

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?

Google Techie – Life Hacks

Those who know me usually consider me somewhat of a techie, but really I just spend too much time on Google.

I don’t have any special training in the world of technology, I just google everything!  (Those who know me also know I’m a huge fan of the user-friendly nature of Google products).

Well, would you look at this.  Someone has put together an album of features you might not know that Google can do.  I must admit, some of these were new to me too but all of them look very useful.

Check out the album here: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/pictures/view/84273762/

 

Binder Clip Labels and Other School-based Life Hacks

I saw in an article called “37 Insanely Smart School Teacher Hacks” and thought I’d try it out since I was tired of always trying to peel labels off of my cardboard mailbox each year and every time a student is added or removed from my caseload.  

Using binder clips to label the mailbox slots will make re-alphabetizing a lot easier!

Since my mailbox is cardboard and a few years old, the sides were starting to buckle so I decided to also use the binder clips to reinforce the sides by placing them vertically directly under each horizontal shelf of the box.  It is working wonders 😀

Check out my pictures below and view the rest of Peggy Wang’s Teacher Hacks here:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/insanely-smart-school-teacher-hacks#499fzrh

 

P.S. The label itself is just masking tape – another life hack 😉

 

Tips for What to Do After a Minor Car Accident

 

1. Get the other driver’s A) Name, B) Phone Number, C) Insurance information D) License Plate Number, E) Driver’s License number F) (and if possible address).,

2. Get the EXACT address to wear the accident took place.

3) Stay at the scene until police arrive if possible OR proceed with the information above to the police station closest to the accident site w/ the other driver.

4) Take note of any damage to both vehicles.

5.) Take note of the color, model, and make of the other driver’s car and make sure it matches the one on the insurance card.

6) Take note of the name the driver tells you and make sure it matches the one on the insurance card.

7) Take note of any potential witnesses and get name and contact information for them as well.

8. Contact the other driver’s insurance company with this information to attempt filing a claim through them (so you won’t end up paying a deductible).

9) Contact your insurance company to report the accident and if necessary (ie. the other driver is uninsured, etc) file a claim through them. GOOD LUCK! Ahhh So many lessons learned today 😐