Lighting the Way Autism Conference – Sioux Falls, SD



I wanted to let everyone know about another wonderful community Autism Conference coming up in June 2016 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Augustana University is hosting Lighting the Way:  Autism Spectrum Disorders in our Community on June 9-10, 2016.  On June 9th, Dr. Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D, CCC-SLP will be presenting on Thursday:  Uniquely Human – A Different Way of Seeing Autism.  On Friday, Dr. Prizant will be speaking about strategies to prevent problem behavior through emotional regulation and relationship approaches.  On Friday, I will be speaking all day on the neurological underpinnings of learner on the autism spectrum, as well as presenting strategies to support social perspective taking skills, emotional awareness and management, and executive function supports.

For more information – check out the link here:



Autism Institute – Twin Cities, MN area


Hamline ASD Institute banner

For Educators in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region:

I wanted to let folks know that Hamline University in St. Paul, MN is putting on an Autism Spectrum Disorder Summer Institute on June 20 – 21. It is on campus in St. Paul. The fabulous Kari Dunn-Buron will be speaking about the neuroscience of challenging behavior, Leah Kuypers (Yay – Zones of Regulation!) will be speaking about strategies for students to make sense of challenging emotions, and I will be doing a session about strategies for teaching social understanding skills. You can also earn graduate credit through Hamline University if desired.

Maybe a little summer road trip to the Twin Cities is in order!  June is beautiful here!

Here is the link if you would like more information!


Interview with Jill…. from Scanlon Speech


I was recently invited by SLP blogger and author, Kimberly Scanlon to be a part of her “Interview with the Experts” blog series.    I wanted to share the interview with you.  In the interview, I share some thoughts and resources for weaving social/emotional learning into literacy activities.  I also share my newest saving grace for behavior management this year with my K-2 kids, my “minion mystery bag”.  Check out the interview here: Scanlon Speech – Interview with Jill Kuzma.


I also invite fellow SLPs to check out Kimberly’s blog here:  Scanlon Speech  She has some great posts about early literacy, vocabulary development, and has authored 2 books:  My Toddler Talks, and Learning to Read is a Ball (Scanlon book information here)

Special Thanks to Kimberly for thinking of me for her interview!  – Jill

Social Skills Video Bundle – from EverydaySpeech


EveryDay Speech icon

The folks at Everyday Speech have provided social skill educators with a fabulous resource – 80 + social skill videos for learners from early elementary school up through high school.  

Top 10 things I love about the Everyday Speech Social Skill videos:

10)  They use REAL kids!  It is so important for our learners to see real-live kids on social skill videos, rather than animation.  There are many opportunities to analyze subtle non-verbal cues and tone of voice changes with the kids on these videos.

EveryDay Speech SS video page 1

9)  Explicit social perspective taking tools – the videos use “thinking bubbles” insets of each person in the social scenario to clearly communicate what each person is thinking and intending.  This visual element of the videos is essential to teach kids about the hidden components of social communication.

8)   Accessibility!  These videos are accessible anywhere!  Mac, PC, iPads, Android tablets, smartphones.   You can use these tools with student groups using any form of technology.  You can even watch them “offline” on your iPad with the VHX app.  So, if you have spotty WiFi access in your classroom (like I do!), you can still use them easily with your students on an iPad.

7)  A variety of purchasing options!  Everyday Speech offers a variety of purchasing options, no matter how big (or small) your instructional budget is!  Probably, the best option is to purchase the yearly subscription and access ALL 80 videos (plus the new videos coming out this winter) for a yearly subscription rate of $49.95 right now (as of 9/27/15).  They also have other bundle packages to target specifically the elementary age videos, or the secondary age videos.  Think about this…. have you ever purchased a DVD from company creating video modeling sets – at $30-$40 per DVD?  I surely have.  You may get only 12-15 social skill vignettes on a DVD.  For a few dollars more, you will have instant access anywhere to 80+ social skill vignettes!

6)  Great for General Education classrooms!  Do you work in a school that has a school-wide character education initiative, or positive-behavior support framework?  Perhaps you are in a middle school that has weekly class meeting in your homerooms to target social issues.  These videos are perfect for these settings as well – each video lasts roughly 2-3 minutes – add in 10-15 minutes of group discussion time surrounding the topic, and you have a built-in resource for a weekly class meeting venue.

EveryDay Speech SS video page 2

5) Free downloadable social skill activities!  Everyday Speech also provides some free downloads – check them out here:

4) There’s an app for that….  EveryDay Speech also has apps for Social Skill instruction!   I have been using their app, Let’s Be Social:  Social Skills Development for about a year now and I love it!  (Link here:   There are over 40 written social scenarios as well as some video lessons that complement the social skills video bundle.  I have not gotten the new app, Let’s Learn Emotions yet, but I look forward to checking this out soon too!  (Link here:

Lets BeLets Learn emotios app icon

3) Created by a Speech-Language Pathologist!  SLPs are “my people” 🙂  All of the videos were written by Everyday Speech co-founder Brittany Lehane, CCC-SLP

2)  Free samples!  Who doesn’t love a free sample?  Check out 6 of their videos here: .  You can also view these free videos as a playlist on YouTube:

1) Lesson Plans… done. 🙂  Each video offers so many moments to pause, re-watch, role-play and discuss the social concept with groups.  Think about this…. 80 videos…. most folks are in school for 40-41 weeks a year.  You could use 2 videos a week and have a relevant resource for your social skill groups all year!

Browse all of the Everyday Speech videos with screenshots and brief descriptions here:   – This is a fabulous resource!!

Enjoy!  Jill

Identifying the “size” of a problem – New children’s book!


Social City book cover

Check out this great new children’s book and resource to teach kids how to figure out the “size of a problem.”    The authors are a team of educators from the Social Communication Clinic in Corvallis, Oregon.  The story helps children navigate through “Social City” to learn about how to figure out if a problem is a “bump”, “hill” or “mountain.”  

This would be a fabulous book for children especially between the ages of 4 – 9.  I really appreciated how the story defines the concept of a “little”, “medium” or “big” problems in a way that has a visual metaphor that makes sense to kids – and provides a description that makes sense to primary age learners.  While the book was primarily created to support children on the autism spectrum, or with social cognitive needs – I think this would be a fabulous resource for preschool classrooms, early childhood learning centers, and even kindergarten classrooms!

Following the story, the authors provide some helpful teaching resources in the Appendices.  They provide a fabulous summary visual of the sizes of problems and a lesson plan to use when implementing the book.

The book is available on Amazon (link is here).  What a great resource to support classroom social skills right away this fall!

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a free copy of this book by the publisher.  

Size of your Feelings with Disney Pixar’s Inside Out movie characters


Size of Feelings cover cropped

I saw the movie, Inside Out last week and was practically jumping out of my seat with exhilaration thinking about all of the teaching opportunities this movie brings forth.  I think my teenage sons were a bit embarrassed by me 😉  I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I purchased some Inside Out clip art, and was excited to make something with it… well, here is the next resource!

You can use these visuals to teach students to:

  • expand emotional vocabulary and understand gradations of feelings
  • identify what “size” of a feeling a child is having in the moment, talk about “body” clues that led up to the escalation of a feeling
  • describe a fictional character’s emotions and emotional change from a text or video clip
  • understand mental state emotions such as frustration, feeling ashamed, guilty, disappointed – with overlapping feelings

Get the visuals here and enjoy!  Sizes of Feelings with Disney Pixar’s Inside Out movie characters

Sizes of Feelings Mad

Size of Feelings  more

Size of Feelings Overlapping

Rubric to Measure Auditory Text Comprehension


Comprehension rubric

Guiding Quesitons Comp Rubric

Hello fellow SLPs!

If you are like me working in the school setting, much of your work with students centers around literacy and language.  Many of our students have receptive language IEP goals related to comprehension of language and texts read aloud to them.  As I learn more about the SLP’s role in supporting literacy through the lens of the Common Core and State-based learning standards, I find myself seeking new ways to measure comprehension goals that align more with classroom instruction.  Historically, my common method to measure comprehension was to write objectives to “answer WH questions” (with or without visual cues, or during the story presentation  vs. following a latency).  I would also write objectives to answer inferential questions, breaking down question types  in terms of inferring about the setting, character emotions/intentions, problem/solution, etc.

In the past year, I have been trying out some different service models of pushing into classrooms rather than working with “pull-out” groups.  I have found success in particular instances, and likewise, there are certainly some areas where I need to revise my approach for the upcoming school year.

However, as I have spent more time in the classroom, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to some inspiring interactive read-aloud techniques from the general education teachers I work with.  (I especially would like to thank “Mrs. “L” in 2nd grade! 🙂   While I have always relied on using children’s literature as the foundation for my speech-language work – my time spent in the general education setting has really inspired me to look beyond my status quo practices.

Over the past year, my personal staff development has centered on the Language and Literacy framework outlined by Fountas and Pinnell (   Mid-way through the past school year, I created a rubric for myself to measure comprehension in a different way with my students.  It is based on Fountas and Pinnell’s notion that comprehension should be a dynamic conversation between teachers and students  rather than a Q & A session.  Through that conversation context, students can demonstrate comprehension of literal knowledge (within the text), inferential comprehension including making connections (beyond the text) and higher level synthesis and critique about the text structure, vocabulary, author’s point of view, and overall the craft behind writing and illustration (about the text).  

I found this rubric to be the most helpful when I used texts that my students had already heard read aloud in their classrooms as my materials.  I found it to be an efficient use of time to use the texts that the students had already heard, when I needed to collect more formal comprehension data for progress reports or an upcoming IEP meeting.  I could use this rubric 3-4 times across a trimester for a student (equating to 9-12 scheduled measurement probes a year) to measure progress.  Yes, I continued to read texts to my students myself during sessions, when the target of our session related to teaching specific vocabulary and comprehension elements, but I found that using texts from the classroom was an effective way to gather data using this rubric for  me.

I wanted to share two documents with the readers… the first document is the Comprehension Rubric, and the second document contains specific question prompts that correspond with each category of the rubric to organize your “comprehending conversation.”  Please know… these tools are certainly far from being perfect.  Over the past school year I changed them continually.  I still see some changes ahead and I use the tools more and more this upcoming school year.  But, I finally feel like they are in a place where I can share them and hope that other people find them useful.  Perhaps they will be useful for you as you plan for your upcoming school year.  If I make changes as I roll along with the 2015-2016 school year as my own experience and professional development deepens, I will post revisions.

With that…. remember…. it’s only July!  Enjoy more of your summer everyone!  Jill

Here are the documents:

Comprehension Rubric Primary Grades K-2 – J.Kuzma

Guiding Questions for Comprehension Rubric Primary grades K-2 J. Kuzma

Minion Memory Mission – Working Memory Group Activity


Minion Memory Mission cover

It is a wonder what a little summer cognitive rest can do for a person’s creativity.  I cruised through June with very little motivation to do anything that required cognitive effort.  Early July brought forth worries that I would never have another creative idea.  Now, as I face mid-July, I feel like I am getting back into my groove.  🙂  The result = another FREE working memory activity for folks!

We are surrounded this summer with Minion Mania – this new movie will be all our elementary friends will be talking about in September.  So, after a search to purchase some Minion clip art (Thank you to DigitalSurvey on Etsy), I created another Working Memory activity.

It is called, Minion Memory Mission!  In this activity, students choose a mission and a “mission material” (object) for each of the three main characters, Stuart, Kevin and Bob.  The missions and objects are all silly and mis-matched, so this might be a great opportunity to work on the expressive language skill of explaining absurdities.  🙂   Students create mission statements for each minion, sharing them among the group.  Group members need to focus and attend to remember all of the details, to later recall the Minion Missions.

You can download the PDF activity materials here:  Minions Memory Mission – Game for Working Memory Skills

Here is a photo of the activity instructions…..

Minion Memory Mission Directions


I also purchased Clip Art of Etsy today for the Inside Out movie characters and Minions dressed as Marvel SuperHeros.  If my creative streak continues, I may dabble a bit with these characters.  Happy Summer!  – Jill

Game for Working Memory Skills – Suitcase Send Off


Suitcase Send off cover picSuitcase Send-Off game iinstructions

Happy Summer everyone!  I created a game that you can use to help students/clients work on improving their working memory skills.   The game will require a small amount of cutting/laminating on your part to put it together, and you will need to get 4 large size Altoid tins.

Players work on retaining and recalling information of up to 4 parts while using both visual and verbal prompts for recall.  The goal of the game is to pack 4 suitcases with an outfit for each season of the year.  Players need to remember which items have already been placed in each suitcase as the game progresses.   The game is best suited for 2-4 players between the ages of 6-12. Instructions and photos of the game set-up are included in the PDF file below.



Download the materials FREE here:  Suitcase Send Off Working Memory Game

Enjoy!  Jill

Website for Sharpening Brain Skills – Cranium Crunches


Craninium Crunches homepage

I found a great website for teens and adults to improve their BRAIN HEALTH!  Cranium Crunches  is a website that promotes brain health by offering games that improve processing speed, that can hone your attention to visual detail, and help you practice executive function skills.

The games have a higher level of difficulty, so I think they are best suited for teens or adults.  Here are a few of the games I tried out:

Find It! –  This game works on memory, attention to detail, and searching strategies.  In this game, players find hidden objects in a variety of pictures.

Cranium Crunches Find it

One of These Things is Not Like the Others….   This game works on processing speed and focus/attention skills.  In this game, players try to find a very subtle difference in one of nine pictures

Cranium Crunches What is Different

Find the Difference  – This game works on attention to detail, focus/attention and visual scanning.  There are 3 levels of play for this game, players needs to find anywhere from 3 – 9 changes between 2 pictures.

Cranium Crunches Spot the Difference

Match – This game works on processing speed, visual memory, and adaptability.  An image appears on the screen, and is then quickly replaced with a second image.  Players need to quickly determine if the image matches the previous one by clicking a thumbs up, or thumbs down.

Cranium Crunches Match

Check out this site!  And, be sure to click on their Brain Page link to learn more about brain health and executive function skills.  They also have a fabulous list of Resource Links to organizations that support cognitive development and brain health.