Have you seen her highlights?


Not those highlights!!

I’m talking about those magazines!


In a previous post, we talked about using Highlights® Magazine in speech therapy. That post focused more on the use of Highlights® High Five™ for ages 2-6. Now that we have aged up in our house, we are accumulating copies of the next level for ages 6-12. So additional discussion seemed in order as summer passes quickly and we are all thinking up creative ideas for the upcoming school year.


The fun starts right inside the front cover with “Fun This Month”…

A “Mystery Photo” lends itself to descriptive terms and distinctive features of common objects (e.g., baseball, banana)

Use the “Tongue Twister” for articulation practice, or extra fun!

Follow some instructions and complete a craft

Work on paying attention to detail, identifying pictures or describing as you “Find the Pictures” within the magazine.

Target additional skills such as matching or finding hidden objects

Discuss “ways to” do various things such as “4 ways to celebrate trees” (April, 2017) or “5 ways to cheer up a friend” (August, 2017). Students can even work on additional skills while writing a poem about their favorite tree or writing a letter about why a friend is special.

Whew! That page may last half the month!

Maybe we should dive into the rest of the magazine…

Each issue has a short poem (sometimes rhyming, sometimes not) which includes great descriptive language and pictures to match. Address vocabulary skills and comprehension with these little gems!


Need conversation starters for those social skill groups? “Brain Play” has some great ones.

Working on listening and reading comprehension skills? Every issue has both fiction short stories and informational text to get the job done!

“My Sci” shows up each month with a scientific topic sure to intrigue a student or two…

“Goofus and Gallant” allows for great discussion of the Social Thinking ® concepts of Expected and Unexpected Behaviors.


Each issue contains new scenarios, including pictures. Maybe you can have a Goofus and Gallant poster in your speech room and add to it each month.

The Timbertoes are back with a comic strip for the older age group too. Sequence, retell, ask and answer questions…

What crafts or games can you make with groups this month? Maybe a “Binder Clip Butterfly” (April, 2017) or “Into the Hive” game (August, 2017).

“Paws and Think” allows for extra reasoning/critical thinking practice with higher level questions and picture clues.

“What’s Different”, using clues to solve puzzles, “Hidden Pictures”, jokes and riddles…

Have we reached the end yet?

Almost there…

Don’t overlook the inside of the back cover…for “Picture Puzzler”…find missing items or matching pairs.

And on the very back? “What’s wrong?” pictures are always amazing. Get those kids expressing themselves as they talk about the silly things; even reinforce the Social Thinking ® concepts of Expected and Unexpected Behaviors.

And that’s the end! I can’t wait to create month-long lessons for my new students this school year. I’m all about using one resource to target multiple goals and these magazines will certainly do the trick!

What one-resource activities do you like to use in therapy?

Make sure you follow our TpT store as we continue adding plans and resources to target multiple goals at one time!



Words, words, words…


In a previous post, we talked about layers of vocabulary including core vocabulary and tier 2 terms.

From linguistic concepts or the ability to describe to using context clues and affixes to determine the meaning of unknown words, vocabulary skills are overwhelmingly evident in preschool early learning standards and common core state standards. This is just one of the foundational language areas that is addressed in our book IEP Goal Writing for SLPs: Utilizing State Standards.

And we know that vocabulary skills are commonly addressed by SLPs for students with language disorders.


What is vitally important is that we, as SLPs, approach vocabulary instruction differently than that of a classroom teacher. The students on our caseloads who are struggling with vocabulary as part of their language disorder are already at a disadvantage – their foundation of semantics is lacking which makes it even more difficult to learn terms at the pace of classroom instruction. And they don’t pick up new words on their own through reading, instruction, or conversation. Their vocabulary deficits on top of additional language deficits and other co-morbid conditions also impact their background knowledge – which is correlated with vocabulary.

We talked in a previous post about Tier 3 words – those words that are content- and discipline-specific – and how that may not be the best place to focus our efforts. Does drilling students on definitions of words they need to know for a social studies unit separate you from a teacher or tutor?

What about teaching specific linguistic concepts?

How do you differentiate yourself from the teacher in the way you approach context clues, root words and affixes?

To better justify the SLP’s role in vocabulary instruction, maybe we should talk a little about the prerequisite skills for mastering the vocabulary skills required to access state and curriculum standards. All standards have prerequisite skills; all skills have prerequisite skills; all language skills have prerequisite skills.

Think about a typically-developing baby’s first 12-18 months and the vocabulary skills they develop. They typically identify and label nouns, then verbs, with a pronoun or two stuck in there (mine, mine, mine!). They start picking up on adjectives (colors, sizes, shapes) and adverbs. They continue to grow from there and expand their semantic skills – there is definitely overlap but there is a general developmental hierarchy.

We learn to match and sort before we develop specific spatial or temporal concepts. You need to have knowledge of quantitative and qualitative concepts before you can use comparatives and superlatives. All of these skills, as well as those adjectives and adverbs, help us categorize and describe leading us to the ability to compare and contrast. We increase our vocabulary of antonyms and synonyms, become more proficient in using context and word parts to learn new words and have a greater understanding that some words have multiple meanings.

Whew! That’s a lot of skills! That doesn’t even take into account the various levels and steps to master each of those prerequisite skills.

What do you consider your role in vocabulary as a school-based SLP?

Stay tuned for tips on goal-writing for a variety of these vocabulary skills.

How important IS that interpreter anyway?

If you ask us, pretty important!!!


We are coming across increasing numbers of ELL students in our schools – those who are bilingual or monolingual, whose first language is one other than English.  Are you noticing this where you work?

Many of us may not have access to a bilingual SLP for that student’s primary language.  Some of us may have a test normed with a Spanish speaking population, but there aren’t that many options out there…and languages other than Spanish? Nope!   Some of the students may be fluent in their native language but may tell you they prefer English.  Others may not speak fluently in either language.

Language difference does not equal language disorder!

There are also a variety of normal processes related to second language learning. Some of the students brought to our attention are just in the process of learning English.  As SLPs, we certainly want to identify if the student has a language impairment; however, we don’t want to place them in special education if their primary language is within normal limits and they are learning English typically.

So when is it necessary to collaborate with an interpreter?  Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s not.

For the student who uses very little English, you would typically use an interpreter (if a bilingual SLP is not available) – kind of a no-brainer.  For the student who speaks some or quite a bit of English, you have to determine in which language he is stronger; how well does he understand and speak English?  One thing to look at is his CALP (Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) level.  A student can receive a score of 1-6 (negligible-very advanced).  In our experience, a CALP score of 4 (fluent) or lower, would necessitate working with an interpreter for some level of testing in the first language.  If the CALP score is above 4, the individual should have enough English to take standardized tests; however, it is possible the student has some language skills in the first language that are not present in English – collaboration with interpreters can help you discern these skills. Also, the student may still be demonstrating some of those normal processes of second language acquisition we just talked about!

Gaining background information and a case history from the parent(s) is also vital to making accurate determinations with ELL students. You may need an interpreter when doing this – whether through questionnaires or interviews.  The answers to some of the questions can help point you in certain directions during your assessment. For example, maybe there are other siblings in the household and parents indicate that this child did not develop language at the same rate as the other child(ren).  That’s a big red flag.  But it doesn’t automatically mean this student is disordered in their first language and lead you to believe that you don’t need an interpreter!

Think of the role of the interpreter and the purpose of your testing. You need to determine if the student has a language disorder. You have to tease out if what the student demonstrated difficulties with is due to second language acquisition or due to a language impairment. The interpreter will be invaluable in helping you through this process.

Certified interpreters are definitely the best for this process! They are specially trained to work with professionals in administering assessments. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will discuss some tips on effective collaboration with interpreters.

How do you determine when to call in an interpreter? Comment below

Planning to co-teach?

In the previous post, we discussed getting out of the speech room and into the classroom. We touched on the various models of co-teaching (descriptions found in this printable) and encouraged school-based SLPs to give it a try!

In this post, we’d like to provide some suggestions on how to PLAN for this service delivery model. So keep reading for some tips and your free printable lesson plan template.

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But first, let’s talk about the benefit of this model for students with AND WITHOUT disabilities…

For students with disabilities, this model can effectively increase participation in class, achievement and test scores, social skills and self-esteem. It can increase teacher expectations and generalization of skills. And of course, it helps reduce the missing of class activities.

For students without disabilities, this model can provide exposure to varied instructional strategies and activities. It can also provide additional help to those at-risk with specific skills. It definitely helps increase tolerance of differences. And it absolutely DOES NOT impede their achievement.

So we know the models (or check out the free printable in our last post for a refresher), we know why it’s a good idea (for some, not all students), we’ve found a teaching partner to take it on with us…now how do we plan for it?

First, pick a time to plan together and decide what you will need to accomplish during this time.

Always have a back-up plan in case meeting face-to-face it is out of the question…because it will happen!

Some suggestions – a daily or weekly face-to-face check in and debriefing; a planning notebook; email; post-it notes; phone calls.

Any other thoughts or systems that have worked for you? Comment below!

During the planning session, SLP and teacher will want discuss the following:

Teacher’s role

  • discuss the curriculum content and objectives for the lesson including topics, concepts, activities, outcomes, and methods of instruction
  • discuss common problems in the content

SLP’s role

  • discuss accommodations/modifications, strategies needed for instruction, materials, and activities
  • discuss the specific IEP objectives to be targeted

Together you want to be sure to discuss the co-teaching approach you plan to use; keeping in mind that more than one may be used in any given lesson. Room arrangement is also very important including where your speech-language students will be for each part of the lesson.

Since student assessment is important to both the teacher and SLP, you will want to be sure to talk about how this will take place for the lesson along with the specific supports needed for any given students.

Based on the lesson you’ve planned, don’t forget to outline the tasks you each will need to accomplish before, during and after the lesson. This includes material preparation, who will teach what, and who will assess what.

We have included a free 2-page lesson plan template that can help guide your planning session.

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Download it here




What are your go-to resources for planning for your co-teaching lessons?


The CF experience: Mentor and mentee growing together

Back to school time is rapidly approaching! Are you ready???

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So you’re starting your CF this school year.

Congratulations on completing (surviving?) a grueling graduate school adventure. We know you learned a lot, studied a lot, practiced A LOT. We’re here to tell you that you will fall back on that experience often as you start your career. But this CF experience will greatly shape you from this point on.

So make the most of it!

Not a CF or SLP-to-be? Keep reading for tips for CF mentors!

Your mentor is definitely observing you during direct treatment, possibly testing and hopefully supporting you in preparation of (and maybe at) your first staffings/meetings. Take advantage of this time with an experienced SLP. Make sure they provide you with feedback – preferably written – and use the constructive comments to keep growing.

Get your free feedback form here (and keep reading for additional freebies)!

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Implement your mentor’s suggestions, tweak them to meet your needs, share your thoughts on how it worked. Ask for advice on difficult cases or tasks.

To put it mildly, paperwork is abundant as a school-based SLP. Your mentor probably has some great tricks up her sleeve!

Have a group you can’t wrangle?

Ask her to observe and discuss some tips or strategies.

Have some goals you’re unsure how to target?

Talk it through.

This is what the CF experience is all about! To refine your skills under supervision, be supported as you implement all you’ve learned, and to begin the process of continued growth and learning as a SLP.

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Check out this free printable to help you keep track of all the experiences you and your mentor will share.


What are you hoping to gain from your CF experience?

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So you’re mentoring a CF this school year.

Whether it’s your first mentoring experience or you’ve done it many times before, it is an opportunity to grow your skills in various ways. You will learn about yourself – your strengths and weaknesses – and inspire a new SLP.

So make the most of it.

Not a CF mentor? Keep reading and save for when this great opportunity becomes available!

You’ll spend valuable time each month with your CF. You’ll observe therapy or testing, you’ll talk about strategies. You’ll provide constructive criticism and PRAISE. Remember how far these new SLPs have come. Think about how far you’ve come since you completed your CF experience. And take this opportunity to learn and grow even more.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our day-to-day (busy) lives as school-based SLPs that we get stuck in our ways. Step back and watch what that new SLP is doing – look at it as a type of continuing education for you. You may see this CF implement a strategy in a way you’ve never thought…or you may come up with these new ideas as you help her grow. Either way, it’s practically guaranteed that you will grow and discover new tricks. A new way to get a /r/, an innovative approach to curriculum-based instruction, an inventive material for comprehension…

Tackling a grouping issue you haven’t encountered before?

Talking through the challenges with your CF will enlighten you for when it inevitably happens to you.

Stuck in a rut of IEP goals?

Working with your CF to write and implement hers will no doubt give you new ideas for next time.

This is what mentoring is all about! Sharing what you know and admitting what you don’t. Working together to find the answers and growing together.

Check out our freebies for CF mentorship including a CF feedback form, checklist of experiences and log of activity/visitslog pic

What do you hope to gain as you mentor a CF?



Come live this life with us…

We are so glad you have chosen to visit our blog, Living the Speech Life. We are two SLPs who have spent their careers working in the school system and wouldn’t have it any other way. Through this blog, we hope to share our passions with you. Join us as we take on school-based SLP adventures. From supporting the Common Core State Standards to writing IEP goals and everything in between: collaborating with general education teachers, data collection, curriculum-based intervention…

We know there are a TON of SLP blogs out there. We hope you’ll come back to visit us soon!

Living The Speech Life blog for school-based SLPs by Elissa Kilduff and Lydia Kopel