April 9, 2016

The SLP Commute - 5 Tips for Productive Drive Time

1300 miles.  That's how much work related driving I did last month.  Roughly 20 hours spent in the car.  That's almost a full day!  This can easily be wasted time, or I can choose to make it more productive.  Here are 5 tips for making your drive time more productive.


We spend a lot of time driving.  Commuting to/from work, traveling between schools/therapy sessions, and all the other day-to-day driving we do can really add up.  I work for a rural special education co-op in Central Texas.  The two school districts I serve are 35 miles away from each other.  I do my best to work out a schedule that minimizes travel time, but I still clock anywhere from 1000-1300 miles every month, and that only accounts for work related travel.  My personal driving easily doubles that number.  To give you a better perspective: I bought my vehicle BRAND NEW in August.  It's the beginning of April and I already have 19,000 miles on it.  That's a lot of driving.

As I drive I often think about how I can make more efficient use of my time.  Today I'm sharing 5 tips for making the most of drive time.

1. Brainstorm/Plan
I do my best thinking when I'm driving.  This also means that I have no way of writing down all of the fabulous ideas I come up with.  Solution: Voice recorded memos.  I will often use my voice recorder app to record my ideas while I am behind the wheel.  I have also used Siri to send myself a text message reminder about something I need to do right away.  Using the Bluetooth in my car and Siri allows me to remain hands free and safe, while still getting my ideas recorded while they are fresh.  Don't have or don't like Siri?  Try the Dragon Dictation speech to text app.

2. Read
Wait...what? Yes, read! Audio books are becoming more and more popular and are a great way to read on the go.  Audible is one way to listen while you drive.  The selection of books is large and they have an app, which makes listening on the go simple.  SYNC is another great and FREE way to get audio books.  This is a summer program in which audio books are available for FREE download throughout the summer.  You can download the books this summer, and have them to listen to when school starts back up in the fall.  Their target audience is teens ages 13+, but check out their 2016 list and you may see something that interests you.

3. Learn a New Language
Who wouldn't like to be bilingual?  I am currently working on learning Spanish.  I bought Rosetta Stone, but have also been looking at Duolingo because I was told it's free and easier to use on the go.

4. Listen to Podcasts/Audio Courses
There are a ton of great speech and education related podcasts to listen to.  Erik Raj has a post with great SLP podcasts.  You can read it HERE. Listening to podcasts while you drive can be a great way to grow as a clinician.  SpeechPathology.com also has some great audio courses available to their members that would be great to listen to while driving. Only drawback...no way to take notes while driving!

5. Rest and Recharge
Being productive during your drive time can also be as simple as taking some "me" time.  Sometimes I just want to listen to music and take a break from the chaos of my day.  My work commutes are really the only time I am alone in my car and have full control over the radio.  I can listen to any music I want to, or even just sit in silence.  It can be a great time to give myself pep talk or just dream about my next Disney cruise.  We need time to ourselves.  While it's not a massage or pedicure, your commute can still be relaxing if you allow it to be.  

Driving a lot can be exhausting and stressful.  I hope these tips help you to embrace your time in the car and begin to think of it as productive time, rather than wasted time.

Have any other suggestions for how to make the most of driving time or know of any great SLP podcasts to check out? Share in the comments below!

To get news and updates from Talkin' with Twang, click HERE to sign up for the monthly newsletter.

April 5, 2016

Water Fun in Speech!

Water in the speech room?  Crazy...no!  I'm linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share some speech therapy water fun!


Incorporating water into speech therapy can either result in great fun, a great mess, or both!  I have one favorite water activity that I save for days in which I'm feeling extra adventurous.  It involves water and...cars!


These are not just any cars...are "magic" cars (as my students call them). They change color with hot and cold water.  




My students love watching the cars change color and playing in the water.  I love that we get a TON of language practice.  The basic set up includes a cup of ice water, a cup of hot water (not too hot, though), the cars, and I also have paintbrushes available.  Students change the color of the cars by dipping them into the cups of water, or by painting them with the paintbrush dipped in either hot or cold water.  


As they play, we work on requesting (they request hot/cold water, a particular car, a paper towel, etc.), adjectives and opposites (wet/dry, hot/cold, full/empty, etc.), colors, basic sentence structure, vocabulary, and even some articulation!  

For students who need extra visual support, I use communication boards with pictures of cars, colors, and visuals for hot/cold, etc.  

These cars are so much fun, but it does require a little bit planning/prep.  Here are my suggestions for a successful color changing car water session:

*Allow for time to prepare cups of hot/cold water.  I like to include my students in this process, but you could also have it ready to go when the session begins. 

*Clear the table because spills are difficult to avoid. 

*Have paper towels handy for quick clean up.

*Plan your language targets and model correct forms while the students play. 

*The water temperatures don't stay hot/cold for very long, so don't expect it to last an entire session unless you have additional ice and a way to heat the water in your room.  

*Have visuals ready for students who may need them.  

*Be ready for fun and excitement!

This is such a fun way to incorporate water play into therapy.  For more great water play ideas, head over to Speech2Me and check out the other blogs that have linked up with The Frenzied SLPs.