Can you tell me how to get to…to the super inclusive, all loving…Sesame Street?

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I’ve got to admit there is a lot of nostalgia when I think of Sesame Street, both as a child and  mother.  They teach the basics in pre-readiness…not just academic reading but also social-emotional readiness.  Not to mention how impressive their longevity has been.  And now, Julia lives on Sesame Street and this has opened up even more opportunities for learning and understanding and awareness.


Julia from Sesame Street becomes overwhelmed when she hears sirens (Image: CBS NEWS)

This spirit from Christine Ferraro, a Sesame Street writer is just magical — “I would love her to be not Julia, the kid on ‘Sesame Street’ who has autism. I would like her to be just Julia.”  YES!!!!!


The interview with the puppeteer behind Julia and her son is really sweet (Image: CBS NEWS)

Make sure you also see this interview with the puppeteer behind Julia, Stacey Gordon, and her son with autism.  I love the part where shares  why Julia is so special to her…“It means that our kids are important enough to be seen in society. Having Julia on the show and seeing all of the characters treat her with compassion…it’s huge.”

Sesame Street – I love you! Thank you for more Sunny Days!

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“Bama Perks” from the ASHA Leader

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‘Bama Perks’ Beats Aphasia One Sip at a Time – article from ASHA Leader

In the March ’17 edition of ASHA Leader (and my morning’s facebook feed) I read an article about a communication program for adults with aphasia at the University of Alabama.  (That’s my grad school – Roll Tide!)  I’ve always said that you could throw an SLP into any space with any random materials (or even none at all) and we can facilitate communication therapy.  The SLPs at Bama are using coffee as their therapy tool.  I think this is so innovative and is creating such a meaningful environment for these adult clients! Check out the article and be ready to be inspired!  What therapy tools have you used in creative ways?

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Lesson of the day

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What do NPR, Jimmy Fallon, and an 8 year old have in common-

Today I learned that there are three particularly valuable sources of information…NPR, Jimmy Fallon, and 8 years olds!  All three had information about a brand new solar system that NASA announced yesterday.  If I had tuned into one of those sources last night I would have also been in the know.  Instead I was working on paperwork and indulging in the TV show “Hunted”.  It’s a good thing I have these other sources in my life!

Read the article on NPR about the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system NASA/JPL-Caltech

Read the article on NPR about the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system NASA/JPL-Caltech

Today, I was working with a future astronomer on his fluency goals.  All year he has been bringing in current event articles to his 2nd grade class related to space.  He told me that a new solar system had been identified with 7 earth-sized planets orbiting a small star. Scientists think there could be possibility for water,  which would lead to potential life.  So we immediately pulled up more articles online – I was fascinated!  I was bombarding him with questions – talk about role reversal!  And this was all discovered through telescopes and observations about shadows.  Did I forget to mention these planets are 40 light years away?!?!


NASA telescope reveals amazing discovery!

So I asked my husband if he had heard about this – thinking I was the carrier of breaking news.  He receives several science feeds from NPR and other sources, so, yes he was well aware.  I should have known better.

fallon planets

Then I asked my dad – figuring he was probably too busy being retired today to know about it.  “Oh yeah, I heard about it last night on The Tonight Show”.  Of course.

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Project-based learning is perfect for fluency goals

I learned today that even though I may not be up-to-date on the latest scientific discoveries, I sure can apply fluency enhancing strategies to the content!  It was an amazing source of material, particularly with the high interest level (meaning mine!) This student has been doing some project-based learning recently using his planet research to create a “Planet Mobile” with three facts for each planet.

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Three facts for each planet serve as exit tickets for other groups (and a source of information for me!)

My first grade groups are so interested in his project, they are using it as their exit ticket. He is making Neptune next, so I was starting to think about the next steps…looks  like we might have a whole other solar system to make!

So next time you find yourself needing to be more “in-the-know”, just turn to NPR, Jimmy Fallon, or an 8 year old!

emily purple

At the heart of collaboration

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It takes a village, right? I’m not the only one to work with my students on any given day. During the day at their school village, children could cross paths with their teacher, assistant, special ed teacher, OT, ESL teacher, special area teacher, SLP, bus driver, hearing impaired teacher, cafeteria worker, and their peers – just to name a few.   Many of my students receive direct teaching from 4 or more different adults each day.  Overlapping of skills being taught is common.  Transitions happen often.  The more we can collaborate on goal priorities, method of strategies, and common language the better results we will see.  It will be easier for the student because learning will be more streamlined, and it will be rewarding for us when we see results.  Working in the school setting, I have learned numerous educational strategies from my talented colleagues.  I am constantly looking for ways to incorporate math/literacy/science/social studies content into my therapy sessions. I am passionate about the communication skills I am teaching, so I get an extra spark when others are too!  After all, language is a foundation to all learning!

WH posters

I am very fortunate to work with a strong team of educators who look at the whole child, not just a set of goals.  A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation with one of our resource teachers about the different levels of comprehension skills our students were at.  We talked about the next steps for the reading skills and the language strategies I was teaching.  At the core of some of their struggles was a lack of understanding of WH- question concepts.  If I had a nickel for every time we practiced “If the questions asks who, the answer tells us a person”!  (No, actually I prefer chocolate over nickels, but I digress.) Knowing that this skill overlaps both of our areas of teaching, we brainstormed how to get some repetitive practice.  We decided that transitions could be our new friend.

WH bingo on door

The first part of our game plan was to decide to do a cycles style approach.  One week for each question stem going in the order of who-what-when-where-why.  (That’s the order I always say them so it was easier for me to remember).  I wrote them on my calendar – in pen.  I was tempted to stretch it out but I’m glad I committed myself to sticking with the weekly rotation so I can cycle back through them instead of feeling the urge to stay on one for mastery.  I made her some materials from my stockpile of WH?s.  For the first cycle, she is using the WH bingo boards on her door for an exit ticket.  The kids are drawing a card to answer each time they leave.  They are benefiting from repetition and peer models.

WH hats close WH hats

She is also making WH hats with her groups, which I LOVE!  This has increased their engagement and helps with memory recall because now it is an experience.

WH exit tickets WHq

I am using a different set of questions within the same WH theme during our “walk and talk” transition time.  We also get a question for our ticket in and another for our ticket out. The thing I love about routines is that once we teach it, the kids will keep me on track if I skip over it forgetfully.  As we continue to cycle through the WH questions we will be able to move from basic knowledge questions to more complex listening and reading comprehension questions.

The beauty of this collaborative conversation is that we identified a priority for our shared students.  Then using existing materials, we framed our current time more efficiently by squeezing in the WH? focus to transitions.  The students are hearing common language between the two of us so prompting is more effective.  Ahhh, teamwork!

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