5 Ways to Get Donations for Your Speech Room


So this week I have been trying to ready my speech room for the start of school next week. I actually went in early because I knew that my new classroom was going to need a LOT of organization and I didn't want to spend my entire teacher prep week sorting through 30 years of speech materials from the SLP before me! School budgets must have been entirely more awesome before my time, because it was an 80's speech material party in that room. From what I can tell, copy limits must also have been non-existent. But, I digress. So after spending my entire day sorting through throwing out all those boxes and papers with the very much appreciated help of my man, I came home to THIS:

A big box from Amazon was at front of my door, and to my surprise it was a gift from my Reddit donator!!! Thanks to Robert M (wherever you are) for fulfilling my Reddit teacher wish list! I opened this box and found ALL THE LAMINATING THINGS. There was card stock, laminating sheets from Scotch and Amazon (those ones in the brown boxes are Amazon laminating sheets) and even little mini laminating sheets so I can laminate every. single. thing. All my laminating dreams have come true. Well, except for a personal assistant to to print, laminate, and cut my materials... any volunteers? Anyways, this was the perfect ending to my busy (and dusty) day.

School budgets are still tight these days. At my school, the special education teachers (which includes me) get even less than the classroom teachers (who also do not get much money). It's simply not enough for all the things my students need. So here are 5 great places to get some help from some very generous people out in the world!

  1. The Reddit Teacher Gift Exchange - I participated in this for the first time this year, and, as you can tell from my excited ramblings above, it was great! It was also really easy. It is free and you just need to create a Reddit account to sign up. Then, just post your wishes (they suggest about $20 worth of wishes) and they match you up with a donor. I think this exchange is over for this year, but they host it every year beginning in August. They also have a gallery where you can look through what other teachers have received. It is really neat to see the different things teachers have been given from their donors. It makes me feel a little bit better about the world to see so many materials donated out of the kindness of people's hearts.
  2. Donors Choose - Myself and several teachers I know have used this website to help get funding for different materials. Once you sign up (it's free), you create a profile about what you teach, the grades you serve, and the school you work at. You an create a "project" for donors to help fund within 4 months. When you create a project, you will need to write a brief essay about what you need and how it will benefit your classroom. You can even list specific items through a "shopping cart" list. Last year, I did not put a lot of time into this site, but am hoping to give it more effort this year. I have seen teachers receive everything from paper and pencils to high-tech calculators and expensive book sets. I suggest making your profile more appealing to donors by putting a picture of you and your classroom (I avoid pictures of the kids for privacy violations). Use social media to help you out! You need to make people aware of your page for people to donate.
  3. Adopt A Classroom - This site is very similar to Donors Choose. Once you sign up, you can create "projects" that you are asking for help funding. The project will stay open for up to 90 days. While there is no essay required for this site when creating projects, you do need to write a description about your project. Using social media is also encouraged for this site as well to help find donors. The site also requires you to upload a picture for your account.
  4. Join your PTA - Seriously. Do it now. You won't regret it. I didn't understand the big deal about the PTA when I first started. I thought to myself that I didn't have actual kids of my own at school and therefore had no intentions of joining. But did you know that many PTAs offer financial support for teachers to purchase supplies for their classroom? Some PTAs even offer grants for continuing education. There is a small fee to join annually, but the return is well worth it. My PTA has been extremely supportive. They even help me decorate my room and put up signs for Better Hearing and Speech Month! 
  5. Apply to grants through your local community foundations - Local foundations often will give out grants to teachers for supplies and continuing education. I have applied every year for continuing education grants and have received a grant EVERY year to attend my state speech conference. My teacher friends have applied for the these same local grant programs to fund projects and have received materials for STEM labs, tablets, and character education programs. While it takes some effort to fill out the application, I think that SLPs have a good chance of receiving these grants since we work with so many grade levels and serve so many varying needs.
Have you used any of these resources? What resources do you like best to help fund your speech room?



Data Collection (with freebie!) {Linky}


I am teaming up with the Frenzied SLPs to talk about data collection! If you asked 100 SLPs how they keep data, you would probably get 100 different answers. But no matter how you take data, the important thing is to do it! Data is what drives your goals, therapy, planning, and IEPs... not to mention progress notes and medicaid. Here is a look at how I take data during my therapy sessions!

{affiliate links provided for your convenience}

I have tried a few different methods of taking data... and this is the method that has worked best so far for me! I use these address labels to take data during my sessions. I have a lot of groups and not a lot of time! These labels are portable and simple - just what I need. Each morning, I will write the names of the kids I am seeing that day in the corners of the labels and put the label sheet on my clipboard. During my sessions, I just jot down the target and record my data as we go along! I use a +/- system since it is easy to keep track of. If I give a prompt, I circle the + or - and write max, med, or min prompts at the bottom of the note. This helps me know how much help a student needed that day when looking back. 

At the end of the day, I peel off the labels I used and put them on the Daily Data Keeper page I have for each student. I keep a large data binder full of these papers! I use clear sheet protectors as a "folder" for each student with these forms in each sheet protector. I also use these forms to help me keep track of attendance, if the student was seen individually or in a group, accuracy, and any anecdotal notes. I have a lot of students to type up medicaid notes for - and this method of raw data collection has been a life saver to quickly type up my notes (especially if you are a medicaid procrastinating champ like me and cannot recall when you saw each student and what you did)!!! Lastly, my school is BIG into reporting data, so this makes it easy to pull out raw data and use it to chart progress or fill out rubrics. You can download my No Frills Daily Data Keeper at my store!

How do you keep your data? Comment below! Interested in linking up? Join the Frenzied SLPs here!



Speech in a Snap! October

My latest Speech in a Snap! is up just in time for the TPT 1 day boost sale tomorrow (8/19)! This packet is full of no-prep black and white activities for the entire month of October! I am particularly partial to this packet because October is my favorite time of the year :) Pumpkins, sweaters, hay rides, Halloween, candy... what's not to love?!

I have included a whole bunch of language activities, as well as reinforcer activities for any goal.

This mini-book is great for pumpkin vocabulary, sequencing, and retelling. Follow-up with the cut and paste pumpkin life cycle activity for continued exposure.

There are two levels of category activities included (receptive and expressive).

There are two following directions activities included - this one above, as well as a cut and glue prepositions page. All these pumpkins are getting me excited for October already... especially those pumpkin spice lattes! Anyways.. 

Check out these foldable Costume Clues books! The students can guess which person fits the clues and glue them in the flaps! These are great to bring home for extra practice describing and giving and guessing clues.

Work on comprehension with WH questions and foldables for story comprehension and retelling.

There are also a few activities for grammar and vocabulary!

And of course there are some activities that can target any goal! Dot art, roll and cover, a craft, and a reinforcer game!

You can check this packet out at my store here! Don't forget to use the code MORE15 for 28% off for TPT's 1 Day Boost Sale!  Enter to win a copy of this packet below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pumpkin spice lattes not included ;)



The Scoop on Student Loan Forgiveness for Speech Language Pathologists

I just sent my annual paperwork in to work towards forgiveness for my student loans. I would never go back and choose another path, but this path definitely wasn't cheap! If you are a speech pathologist in the same boat as me, there are a few different options out there to help get rid of some of that debt. I have spent a LOT of time figuring out how to get the most money forgiven that I can, so here are some of the things I have discovered along the way:

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness - Special education teachers can have up to $17,500 forgiven if you work in a low income school full-time for 5 consecutive years. After you complete your 5 years, you send in the paperwork and voila! You get this amount subtracted from what you owe and it is not considered taxable income. This forgiveness program seems to be pretty hit or miss for us SLPs. I have known some SLPs who have submitted their paperwork and the loans were forgiven with no questions asked. Other SLPs have tried again and again and are denied each time. It seems to be more difficult to get forgiveness if you do not have to have a teacher's license in your state (like me). I personally chose not to go with this program because of the inconsistency of acceptance of SLPs and I would have more forgiven with a different program.
  • Perkins Loan Forgiveness - All of your Perkins Loans can be forgiven as an SLP (Yay!). For every year you work for up to 5 years, a portion of your loans are forgiven. At the end of every year you work, submit the paperwork to your loan holder and portion of your debt disappears. I have personally used this loan forgiveness program and it is pretty easy! I recommend applying for deferment at the beginning of each school year in anticipation of cancellation of your loans. This way you do not have to pay a dime. I wish all forgiveness programs worked like this one!
  • Indian Health Services Program - If you are willing to relocate to work for a Native American or Alaskan native community, you can have up to $40,000 forgiven for agreeing to 2 years of employment. 
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness - While this program is a bit tricky to maneuver, it can be worth it if you are planning to work for a public place of employment (such as a school) and you have a lot of student loans. This is the program I have chosen to use. Here is how it works - if you work for 10 years/make 120 monthly payments on your loans, the remaining balance is forgiven tax-free. If you are thinking about pursuing this program, it is really important to have your loans consolidated into Federal Direct loans through the Department of Education. These are the only type of loans that will qualify. Any past payments made on the loans while they were not direct loans do not count towards forgiveness. The best way to maximize your forgiveness is to use income-based repayment (IBR). It is probably safe to say that if you are working for a public employer like a school, you are probably not raking in the cash. By switching to IBR, your payments are capped to 15% of your income (and only 10% if you are a new borrower after 2014). This way, you are not paying more than you have to and more will be forgiven at the end your 120 payments. Since most you us SLPs are females, it is important to note that the 120 payments do not need to be consecutive - so if you start a family and want to take some time off, you still can. Your monthly payments towards 120 will start counting again when you go back to work. In case you were wondering (because I did), if you apply for the teacher loan forgiveness program but also want to use this program, it will reset the 120 payment clock - so it does not make much sense to do that. I chose this program for a few reasons - 1) Schools are the place for me. I have worked in other settings and I just cannot see myself going anywhere else. 2) I have a fair amount of student loans and this is the best way for me to get the most amount of money forgiven. 3) With the IBR program, I am not stuck with payments I cannot afford.
These are some options for you if you work in a school or other public place of employment. Remember that these options are for federal loans only. Private loans do not currently qualify for any forgiveness programs. If you work for a private company - check to see if they have any options for loan repayment! I work per diem for a private rehab facility that offers full time therapists help paying your loans in exchange for working there for a certain amount of time. If that doesn't help - keep buying those lotto tickets ;)

I also play this trivia game app called Givling on my phone. You play to earn points towards winning your loans being forgiven! A girl can dream right? If you are interested in trying it out, here is my invite code: ED45646  Click here to read more about the Givling app!

Are you a speech pathologist who has had any of your loans forgiven? What has your experience been like?



New Year Goals


I just had my first meeting with my principal and assistant principal yesterday at my new elementary school (my home base) and I am getting SO excited for the new school year! Am I the only one who still gets pumped for the back-to-school season? It's ok. I fully embrace my nerdiness. I would like to think it is part of the SLP DNA and I just can't help it.

(This is me in back-to-school mode while my family and friends just don't understand)

While the rest of the world follows the calendar year and celebrates New Year's in January... I always feel that my own personal New Year's is really the beginning of the academic year. This is when I start fresh. I go back in just 3 weeks! This year I am setting some goals to keep myself organized and happy. I love my job but I need to keep balance in my life. So here are my goals to help keep me afloat this year!

  1. Doing a little paperwork every day: I am the champion of doing anything BUT medicaid or progress notes. I miraculously always get them done on time, but I end up having a personal pity paperwork party at the end of every month. As the end of the month draws near I get a huge pit in my stomach and it just adds so much stress to my already busy days! This year I plan on doing a little bit of paperwork every day so that I don't end up with a huge pile of work.  Staying after for 20 minutes is better than several hours later on.
  2. Not my circus, not my monkeys: I probably need this plastered to my wall in front of my desk at work. I like things organized and done correctly! But I have to accept that not everybody does things the same way. When I start to get stressed about what other people are (or are not) doing, I need to remember this little mantra. I can only be responsible for my own actions!
  3. Don't do paperwork during lunch: Being an SLP, I do not have a designated lunch time every day. I kind of just fit it in when I can. Those 10 minutes before an IEP meeting when you know a parent is going to be late - this is my typical lunch time. This just adds to feeling too busy and too stressed. As much as I can, I need to take a little break for twenty minutes while I eat my lunch. This helps me feel refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon.
  4. Take some language and literacy CEU courses: I have been asked to be on the literacy RTI team at my new school. It's been a while since I have done this type of work/intervention apart from phonemic awareness. Things seem to always be changing in the area of literacy and I need a refresher! Any suggestions on some good courses?
  5. Make friends with the teachers: I'm a little nervous to be at a new school with all new people. I am not great at branching out socially with people I don't know. At my last school, it took me a while to get to know people outside of the special ed department. But once I did - I formed some great relationships and did more co-teaching in the classroom (which I love). While I would be perfectly happy in my little speech corner with my special ed team... those other connections are important too!

So that's that! I am ready for the new school year to begin. What are your goals for the new year?


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

What's in Your Cart? 2015 BTS Linky Party

Oh man, I guess it is official. The back to school season is on it's way! The Teachers Pay Teachers back to school sale next is next week! I am super excited to stock up on some new items to prepare for the school year. Don't forget to use the code BTS15 this Monday and Tuesday to save up to 28%!

Here are some recommendations from my store to help you start the Fall season on the right foot:

Back to School Language Pack: This 54 page pack for receptive and expressive language has back to school themed activities for following directions, WH Questions, verb tenses, and listening comprehension. 

2015-2016 Speech Planner: This super-cute planner has everything you need to keep you organized for the school year.

Speech in a Snap! September: This has a ton of no-prep black and white activities with back to school and apple themes. Perfect for the busy back to school season!

Here's what's in my cart!

Nicole Allison's flip books look like a great way to start off the school year, especially since I will have a new group of students.

Have you seen this weekly home pack from Crazy Speech World? What a time-saver. Plus I'm all about those themes.

Getting lots of practice in for main idea can be difficult. I am looking forward to trying this out from Teach Speech 365!

Thanks to Jenna at Speech Room News for hosting this linky! Click to link up!

Comment below with what's in your cart! Any other suggestions?