Effective Informal Assessments & Learning Activities From TPT { Top 20 List }

Over the last three and a half years, I have gathered an extensive collection of informal assessments and learning activities from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). Most speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and educators know that TPT is an educational website that has a massive amount of instructional products for elementary through high school aged students. These activities are specially created by SLPs and educators to improve the communication, language, literacy, and overall academic skills of students. I have been an SLP for almost 12 years and have created numerous assessments and therapeutic activities to promote gains in my students’ speech-language skills. Some of which are available in my TPT store.  I truly love designing materials for my individual clients when I provide private speech language therapy and my elementary school aged students that I serve each week. Many of my resources are great for use by teachers with their students in the classroom as well to build language and literacy skills.

I have discovered that when working with children, it is necessary to have fun, engaging, and educationally relevant materials. It is definitely best practice to readily have informal assessments to gather baseline data that measure children’s knowledge prior to beginning therapy. This way you can accurately measure their growth and not target skills that they have already mastered. Similarly, it is important to have a variety of meaningful and interactive learning activities that will keep students motivated to learn. So, here is my top 20 list of Effective Informal Assessments & Learning Activities From TPT (Click on the link for direct access to products):

1)Speech-Language Therapy Informal Assessments Early Language
*This tool evaluates basic “wh” questions, yes/no questions,
divergent categorization (naming items in a category),
convergent categorization (naming category)

2) Basic Concepts Baseline Data & Progress Check Activity
* This activity evaluates spatial and qualitative concepts
(prepositions/adjectives)
* There is also an instructional level of activity provided.

3) Vocabulary Progress Monitoring
* This is an informal assessment that measures students’
knowledge and expression of semantic processing skills: object
function, associations, categories, similarities, differences,
synonyms, antonyms, multiple meanings, oral definitions of tier
1 words with attributes, oral definitions of tier 3 words
(academic), figurative language expressions

4) Speech Progress Monitoring
*This is a quick and easy data collection tool that measures
speech fluency or occurrence of stuttering as well as speech
intelligibility.

5) Oral Story Retelling Rubric
*Narrative development is a critical skill that is lacking in many
preschool and elementary school aged children. I created this
tool to have an informal assessment to measure their oral story
retelling skills according to key story elements. It’s best to audio
or video record a child’s speaking sample for an accurate
analysis.

6) Speech-Language Therapy Curriculum Assessments
*These are a series of informal assessments that measure
receptive E/LA curriculum vocabulary knowledge from the
Common Core State Standards.The assessments are in a cloze
sentence (fill-in-the blank) format with a word bank.

7) English/Language Arts Vocabulary Progress Monitoring
* This is a curriculum vocabulary progress monitoring tool that
measures children’s expressive E/LA vocabulary skills. There
are 10 word lists with 105 total words in the areas of: story
vocabulary, types of nouns, types of sentences, parts of
sentences, parts of speech, types of literature, types of writing,
text features, figurative language, and prefixes.

8) Guess What? Curriculum Vocabulary Bundle
* This bundle includes a series of 4 game sets to provide tons of
practice for children to learn E/LA curriculum words. To play the
game, a person selects a mystery word. Then others in the group
use the included semantic maps or question prompts to guess the
mystery word. The players take turns selecting a mystery word
for others to guess. Kids have fun learning while playing!

9) English/Language Arts Comprehensive Categorization Bundle
* Categorization is a language organization skill that helps kids
organize vocabulary, ideas, and academic concepts. They need
direct instruction in this area to improve their memory, word
retrieval, and overall language comprehension and verbal
expression. This bundle provides tons of practice with
categorization of curriculum vocabulary. There are 4 products
included: sorting, memory game, category book, and
categorization cards (tier I and tier III words).

10) English/Language Arts Common Core Standards Vocabulary 
   Bundle
* This is a task cards bundle that has 180 questions aligned with
2nd-5th grade E/LA common core standards. This product is
great for language therapy or use in the classroom during small
group instruction or whole group lessons. Skills address a variety
of vocabulary, grammar, and E/LA content questions in a
multiple choice format.

11) Back to School Baseline Bundle
* I use this product to collect baseline data as well as guided
practice during speech-language therapy sessions. It includes
practice with: synonyms, antonyms, homophones, homographs,
irregular plural nouns, irregular past tense verbs, and word
associations. I can easily differentiate instruction according to
students’ learning needs during sessions by varying the questions
asked.

12) Fall Speech-Language Activities Bundle
* In the fall, I use this bundle frequently for my students to
practice fall themed vocabulary according to associations,
multiple meaning words, and oral definitions with attributes
(Tier I and Tier III terms). Kids can also practice identifying
words when read definitions by the SLP or teacher from the
included question prompts. The kids enjoy playing the fall                 themed game board all season.

13) The Mitten Speech-Language Activities
*In the winter, I use this book companion set with my students
in grades 3-5. It includes articulation word lists, wh questions,
synonyms, antonyms, and tier 2 vocabulary practice.

14) Valentine’s Themed Categories & Associations
*This is an engaging holiday themed activity to address  2
critical language language processing skills: categories and
word associations. Kids can verbally name items in categories
and word associations as well as write responses on the
included writing practice pages.

15) Winter Land: English/Language Arts Activities
*My students are always asking to play Winter Land. They love
the game board from this product that I glued onto a larger
poster board and then laminated. I use it all winter with the
categorization task cards included and a variety of other
learning questions.

16) Non-Fiction Language Bundle
* This bundle is excellent for use during speech-language therapy
sessions or language arts lessons from February-March or year
round. It includes a Historical African American Unit that has
7 non-fiction passages, 46 comprehension questions, 70
context clues questions (tier 2 vocab),  compare/contrast
pages, and 7 word association practice opportunities. The
second product is a Historical Irish American Unit that has 6
non-fiction passages, 36 comprehension questions, 60 context
clues questions, compare/contrast pages, and 7 word
association practice opportunities. Additional units will be
added such as Historical American Women.

17) Beach Themed Multiple Meanings Memory Activity
* Spring and summer are two of my favorite seasons. I created
this product with beach photographs from my trips to Florida.
The learning cards have homophones and homographs
vocabulary that can be used to play a memory game. Children
can also practice stating definitions of words or using them in
sentences to convey the correct meanings.

18) Beach Themed Monster Trucks- Synonyms & Antonyms
*Many students struggle with word relationships including
synonyms and antonyms. This free activity contains plenty of
vocabulary practice for kids on task cards with “monster trucks”
in the background. These photographs were also taken during a
beach trip to Florida. My boy students especially enjoy this
activity!

19) Parent Handouts for Communication Disorders
* This is a free resource guide that SLPs can give to parents
that provides a quick overview of communication disorders. It
briefly outlines the difference between speech sound disorders
and language disorders. It also provides tips to improving
speech-language skills including interactive websites.

20) Speech-Language Therapy Technology Resource Guide
*This is a complimentary resource guide to help SLPs integrate
technology in therapy sessions. This will help vary activities in
sessions and keep kids engaged during group sessions.

I know that this is a long list, but considering I have an extensive amount of products in my personal TPT library, I wanted to make sure that I give you my top 20 list from my TPT store! 🙂 This is a great starting place for a new SLP/teacher or someone who wants some fresh materials to improve the communication, language, literacy, and academic skills of students.

Have a great remainder of the school year. Perhaps you can use a few of these effective informal assessment and learning activities with your students. I have 15 days remaining with my speech language students this year, but who’s counting! 🙂

Thanks for reading my blog today!

Tamara Anderson

Balancing SLP Life as a School Based SLP {10 Success Tips}

 

The job of a speech-language pathologist truly varies based on her work setting and it is essential to know how to skillfully balance and complete tasks. For SLPs in the school setting, I have learned ways that make it easier to get the job done with excellence. After all, you need to have the energy, materials, and enthusiasm to provide your students with engaging speech language therapy sessions.

If school based SLPs only had to complete evaluations and instruct students during therapy sessions, SLP life would be MUCH easier. However, you may start to feel like a professional juggler once you throw in attending special education eligibility meetings,  IEP meetings, re-evaluation meetings, data collection, writing reports, medicaid billing, team meetings, etc.  I have discovered 10 helpful tips that will ensure that you are effectively balancing your SLP life as a school based SLP. No, I don’t have a magic wand to make your paperwork or computer work disappear. Sorry…so sorry. The good news is that I have 10 success tips that will help you manage the therapy, paperwork, and meeting aspects of your job.
THERAPY TIPS:
1) Gather seasonal/holiday themed materials on Thursdays and Fridays before the season changes or upcoming holiday. Keep them in an accessible place that is near your therapy table.
*Fiction/non-fiction books (with companions/related activities)
*Speech-language activities from Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT)
*Token boards (fall, winter, spring, summer, holidays)
*Game boards
*Sports games (football, basketball, soccer, baseball)
*Seasonal worksheets for mixed articulation/language goals
*iPad activities
2) Vary activities in monthly sessions to maintain engagement.
Students can sense when you are not interested or excited about   an activity. It’s okay to switch activities from one that you initially   planned on using that day. Remember to try your best to make sessions meaningful, educationally relevant, yet fun!
PAPERWORK TIPS:
3) Use progress monitoring forms for articulation, speech fluency, and language objectives.
* Store master copies in a binder near therapy table.
* Put forms in students’ group therapy folder so that you can easily
   use them on data collection days (e.g. I organize attendance
   sheets, data sheets, therapy printables in folders per group).
* Remember that you do NOT have to take therapy data in every
   session!
4) Schedule time to write IEPs and evaluation reports.
It will hold you accountable with getting paperwork done with less stress. If you didn’t get to complete what you planned, just scratch it out in your planner and re-assign it to another day’s task list.
5) Arrive to work early or stay late to complete documentation.
I think it’s important to set boundaries between SLP work life and personal life. I recommend that you avoid bringing home student files, IEP work, evaluation reports, or medicaid billing.
If you have children, you may try arranging for extended childcare
hours 2 days a week so that you can arrive early or stay late at work to complete documentation. You may be surprised how a slight adjustment will improve your efficiency.
EVALUATION & MEETING TIPS:
6) Schedule daily tasks in your planner.
Write down meeting dates and times. Note changes to usual schedule such as testing student vs. typical therapy session.
7) Schedule time for lunch (social meeting).
I think that it is important to give yourself at least 30 minutes that does not involve you eating at your desk while checking emails or doing other paperwork.
8) Schedule time to test students for upcoming speech/language screenings, comprehensive evaluations, and re-evaluations.
Contact SLP testers in your district if they are available to help lighten your testing load.
9) Learn to politely say no.
I know that you may want to help serve as a team member on special school projects, committees, and clubs. However, you most likely don’t have time to attend these extra meetings.  It’s perfectly ok to say no without feeling guilty.
Instead, you can attend after school events (e.g. concerts, literacy night) to support your students and build rapport with families when you can.
10) Request to be excused from some meetings.
With parental permission, you can be excused from IEP meetings. Since SLPs typically have high caseloads and often must cancel therapy sessions to attend meetings, it is appropriate to be excused from attending an IEP meeting. However, you should always use your professional judgement when asking to be excused. This will need to be documented in the IEP online documentation or meeting minutes. It is best to send home speech therapy updates and proposed goals & objectives in advance when possible.
Check out my TPT store for time-saving theme based activities and progress monitoring tools. These resources are engaging therapy materials and will simplify the data collection process with your students!
Thanks for reading the blog. These tips help me tremendously during the school year. I’m now in the final stretch of the school year, but first it’s time for SPRING BREAK!
Tamara Anderson

Communication Success Tips

Hey everyone! I hope you all are having a wonderful July so far! I am truly enjoying my summer. I try to do something productive and fun each day. That’s why I have 2 new resources to tell you about in my Building Successful Lives curriculum store.

 

I created Communication Success Tips (for children ages 12-36 month) so that speech-language pathologists, educators, and parents can use this guide to foster communication development in children’s everyday routines. I thought of this idea last Sunday afternoon as I was reflecting about the fact that my sweet little niece would be 18 months the next day. I couldn’t believe it! I am blessed that I am able to visit her regularly. It is such a joy to watch her as she grows and learns! As an SLP, I of course am all about those developmental milestones and thinking about all the things she can do now and what she needs to learn next.

Here’s a picture of her last Monday when she turned 18 months old!

Isn’t she adorable?! 🙂

You can access this COMPLIMENTARY digital download here.

My next resource guide in this series that I specially designed is Communication Success Tips for Colleagues.

 

My idea behind creating this was to remind SLPs and educators including myself of tips needed to build and maintain healthy relationships at work. I believe that effective communication skills are the foundation for healthy relationships. Colleagues are more productive when communication is clear and they feel valued by others.

I hope that you love this new resource guide as much as I do! You can access this COMPLIMENTARY digital download here.

Have an excellent week!

Tamara Anderson

Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Hey everyone. Today is a start of another week. For those of you that follow me on social media, you most likely saw last week’s motto: Change Your Mind, Change Your Life. One of my desires through this #buildingsuccessfullives blog and social media is to encourage others. I realize that EVERYONE can use some inspiration.  

I really do believe that if you deliberately change your perspective about life’s circumstances your life will change too! Most of the time, your outlook WILL drastically improve your day. Although your circumstances may not automatically change, you control your response. 

One of my passions is definitely building successful lives of children with special needs that I work with during the school year and equipping speech-language pathologists and educators with the tools to do the same. However, it’s much bigger than that. 

SAY WHAT? I desire for young adults to know that they too can build a successful, balanced, and fulfilled life for themselves. Yes, work is important. But what about your relationships with others, are they healthy? Do you think positively? Are you a glass half full person?

Stay tuned…more to come and remember. Change your mind, change your life! Use #inspireBSL and #inspireSLP to share your weekly inspirations on Instagram and Twitter. 

Make sure that you subscribe to this blog by entering your email on the right side of this page where it says “subscribe by email.”  That way you won’t miss an article! 

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Tamara Anderson

Stay current with all the latest best practices guidance in communication, language, and literacy. Join the community of those receiving complimentary materials!