Thursday, April 17, 2014

Video Demo of Apple TV in Clinical Setting

At last weekend's ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute in Las Vegas, I presented a session entitled "Tech Up," detailing a variety of simple technologies that can be infused for productivity and engagement in the private practice setting (though the ideas, including this one involving Apple TV, are applicable to other settings). Apple TV is a small device that allows you to display content on a TV, and is especially helpful when you need to engage a group. Because this technology is pretty impossible to demonstrate in a conference setting (one never knows what the wifi situation will be), I made a short video at the Ely Center where I work and where we have been using Apple TVs in order to show this to the attendees- and you!

A couple of key points I want to reiterate in case you missed them in my babbling:
-The Apple TV is only $99 and can be attached via HDMI cable to any HDTV (now cheap- the one shown here cost about $400).
-It can then be used to "mirror" an iPad or iPhone so that anything viewable on the small screen will show up on the big screen- apps, videos, webpages.
-This is useful for "dedicated" speech-language apps (such as Tactus' Conversation TherAppy, shown here) as well as creative application of any apps that provide a visual context for speech, language, or social communication, as well as overall client education.
-The Apple TV and your device need to be on the same wifi network in order for the AirPlay button to show up in Control Center, as shown in the video but also here.
-My point about turning on the actual TV after mirroring is just one I have learned from experience, and usually just prevents distraction. However, once, after this poster popped up, I had to explain to a parent that her son had inquired what a "virgin" is (I pretended I didn't hear the question)- luckily, she was totally cool with it. You can also quickly dismiss the iTunes preview by tapping "down" on the remote.

Hopefully the video is helpful to you.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute 2014

I had the great opportunity to present at and attend the ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute at Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas this past weekend. It was a great learning experience, and as you know, Vegas is no fun at all.

I presented three sessions: Inside and Outside the Box Apps for Pediatrics/Adults (2 sessions) and Tech Up! (a sort of day-to-day incorporation of technology to increase productivity and engagement in private practice settings). All went well, and the audience was terrific!

On the first day, I attended several sessions before mine, and especially enjoyed Audrey Holland's presentation on new directions in aphasia therapy. She discussed the value of contextual, functional group therapy (including narrative, which I am all about) and applications of technology- here was my tweet from her session.

Oops, I said Skype twice. I guess I thought it was important.

Now, my background includes a clinical fellowship year working in adult neurogenic rehab, some work helping with the initial offerings of Boston University's Aphasia Resource Center (specifically, what was then known pre-iPad as the "Aphasia Computer Club), and development of presentations including apps for adults. I work extensively with adolescents in transition from high school and some adults with autism, but I am primarily working in pediatrics and with kid-related topics and interventions, so the "refresher" was certainly welcome.

I especially appreciated Dr. Holland's reference to a VERY recently published issue of Seminars in Speech and Language (February, 2014) dedicated to the use of mobile tech in aphasia treatment. As electronic access to journals is not so easy for those of us not-in-school, I immediately texted my graduate intern from BU and asked if she had time to download and send me the articles (she did- thanks, Lauren!). One in particular, delightfully co-written by Elizabeth Hoover, my graduate placement supervisor back in 1999, and classmate Anne Carney, ended up providing me with the following additional slide for my presentation:

What I loved about this new information was that it provided a powerful context to demonstrate some of these tools, particularly Keynote, Reader (which provides a clean, uncluttered view of many test-based webpages in Safari), and Speak Selection (which is one way to access text-to-speech) as tools for clients to access text.

On the matter of Keynote, it is really one of my go-to apps whenever I need a "blank slate" to work with when creating or displaying visuals, which is exactly how this article framed it. Keynote ($9.99, free on new iPads purchased after fall 2013) is in short Apple's version of PowerPoint, though in many ways I like it more. Look to Keynote as a way to create a slide or two to break down a concept, display pictures, or even create picture stories. How do you use Keynote? It's as simple as this image I created for a recent workshop:

So, the conference went well, and I hope this information is helpful for clinicians and educators working with clients of all ages and populations.

I may have a few more posts related to this trip, but for now, I will leave you with a #selfie of me waiting to see Olivia Newton-John! I did make it to the strip a couple times...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

iPad Essentials: Window Shopping in the App Store

While recently conducting a few "iPad 101"-style workshops for educators and clinicians, including a webinar for ASHA available on-demand, I have been talking a lot about finding and getting ideas about helpful apps. I discussed this in a post a bit back mentioning resources including Smart Apps for Kids, Yapp Guru and Apps Gone Free, but it's also worth noting the "window shopping" one can do in the App Store app itself.

Although the information the App Store provides is far from comprehensive (I always recommend looking at app demos on YouTube before purchasing) and reviews can be quite skewed or unhelpful, it gives you a good visual "first pass" to new ideas. The App Store has also recently improved in its organization, which primarily is what we'll focus on in this post.

I use the term "window shopping" because the App Store is essentially a storefront from Apple and an avenue to display things that look attractive together-- collections! Upon opening the App Store, the Featured tab is an area that is a good idea to check out about once a week, primarily because Apple's "App of the Week" is always free. If Apple has singled an app out in this way out of the zillions available, you can be assured it is pretty neat-o, and many of the Apps of the Week are kid- or education-related.

Note also that the menu at the top of the App Store leads you to some relevant areas for SLPs and language interventionists. Tap Kids (and then an age range) and this will bring you to educational, creative, or game-based apps that may be repurposed for therapy and learning activities. 

Under the More tab, there are several areas to explore. The Education area has great curriculum-based apps that can be used to provide visual and interactive experiences with content...

...and includes terrific Collections, among them the Apps for Every Grade Collections- especially helpful for those who struggle to find relevant apps for Middle and High Schoolers.

The More tab in the top menu also brings you to the Medical category, which has many apps relevant to clinical work.

Exploring the App Store will lead you down new avenues and provide a great opportunity to hone your evaluation skills: which apps seem to be FIVES-Friendly: Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant, and "Speechie" or Specific to intervention objectives?

Happy window shopping!! Let us know if you find something good...

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My World for iPad

Many of you know I have a thing about maps! Maps are fascinating to examine, but from an SLP perspective can be used to target all kinds of skills: categories (i.e. continents, states, cities, capitals), spatial concepts, and clearly intersection with classroom curriculum.

Technology has made maps more interactive and therefore a more engaging context. My World for iPad ($.99) is a nice little tool to have if you would like to use geography as a way to build language skills. Specifically, you can zoom in to any location by pinching, or use the location functions of the device to identify where you are on the map (doable with many maps apps). The hook of My World is that it allows you to create a line and find out a) the distance of the path between places and b) the amount of time it would take to travel by plane or car. In both cases, students are engaged with a personal connection (their location, as measured in relation to locations relevant to classroom topics) and can be asked to apply language around distance or, more importantly for many of our students, time.

Using My World would benefit from some structure imposed on your part, for example the creation of a scavenger hunt/challenge to find distances and times and record them on a graphic organizer.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Workshop: Applying Technology to Support Social and Executive Functioning

Hi Folks, please spread the word about the following workshop being held by the Massachusetts Speech-Language Hearing Association.

Applying Technology to Support Social and Executive Functioning

Saturday, April 5, 2014, 8:30-3:30, Emerson College, Boston.

This workshop will demonstrate a variety of visual and interactive applications that can be used with students with difficulties in social cognition and executive functioning, particularly with a lens on addressing these issues in the educational environment. Webtools and apps for iPads will be covered, including those helpful for older students struggling to access the curriculum and manage their workload. Participants will have guided practice time throughout the day, as well as opportunities for sharing and collaborating with colleagues.

Learner Outcomes
1. Participants will describe a variety of tools applicable to students at various age levels to support social interaction in the school, community and home settings.
2. Participants will apply applications towards assisting students and parents with executive functioning: planning, organization, behavioral regulation and time management.
3. Participants will align technology tools with specific approaches supporting social and executive functioning, such as Story Grammar Marker® and The Incredible 5-Point Scale.

Find out more and register on the MSHA Website.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Have a "Smashing" Saint Patrick's Day

"App Smashing" is a term I am starting to tell people about at workshops. Apps do discrete things, and no one app does everything. But we can capitalize on one app's capabilities when combined with another's- chiefly through saving a product to the camera roll. This provides both an opportunity for us to expand our tech comfort and for kids to follow multiple step directions. "App Smashing" was coined by Massachusetts educator Greg Kulowiec and you can learn more about it here.

St. Patrick's day can indeed be about more than the stereotypes (no comment, but I am too old, basically, anyway), and this week I used the context to do an activity about positive self-talk. In a brief lesson we illustrated how our self-talk can influence our feelings and therefore our social behaviors- it's the difference between "Lucky Thinking" and "Unlucky Thinking."

Students then used the free app St. Patrick's Day Booth Free to snap a selfie- you may have to try a few to make sure the top of the head is hat-ready- and add festive stuff. This app allows you to save to the camera roll (tap the download/box symbol).

Next, use a photo comic app such as Story Me or Strip Designer. Add the photo to a single-paned comic from the camera roll, and add a word balloon or thought balloon after working with the student around some "Lucky Thinking" from their day or week. This also targets sentence and narrative formulation as well as social cognition. 

See our model used with our center's doggie, Stella!

Have fun with App-Smashing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Diagnose" with Dr. Pet Play

The iPad is such an engaging gadget that we sometimes can be too focused on its screen--kids especially. For this reason, it is helpful to locate apps that provide context or creation, but let us break away from the screen to focus on the communication and learning aspects of the activity.

Dr. Pet Play by Pretendasaurus is an app that supports just that kind of context, turning the iPad into a pretend "medical device" that can be used in a play-based interaction with children. Just add a stuffed animal and the screens of the can be used to prompt questions and record answers given in play between kids, as in the video below.

The "examination" can be used to target many language concepts and vocabulary including feelings, body parts, gender, age, weight, and action words, as well as pronouns:

The app includes some fantastic interactive elements such as the ability to activate the camera and snap an image of the "patient," annotate the "X-Ray," and scan and control heart rate and temperature.

Language Lens:
-In addition to concepts and vocabulary, interactions using the app could be used along with Braidy, The Storybraid or Story Grammar Marker® to have students tell stories about why they came to the vet that day.
-To add more context and sequential/causal language, including "treatments," other props might be helpful. I have (and love) the Pretend and Play Vet Set.
-Interactions around the app can support social development, including Social Thinking's® concept of "sharing an imagination," important across all age levels.

This app can be downloaded in its free version, which has only a template for a cat, or the full version ($2.99), which has templates for 10 animals (chiefly different in the X-Ray image and the prompted questions).

So try Dr. Pet Play and take your kids way beyond the screen!

Disclosure: author is a consultant for provision of blog content to Mindwing Concepts, Inc, creators of Story Grammar Marker and Braidy the Storybraid.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

AR Flashcards Space

Last mARch I focused on applications of augmented reality (AR) in education. Augmented reality is the technological process of accessing digital information in our analog world. Location or device orientation information, printed "markers" or other data are used, often in conjunction with a mobile device camera, to display relevant information. AR has a major "cool" factor and is very engaging for students to use- often they have not ever experienced anything quite like it!

AR can be quite simple to use as well, as is the case with apps such as AR Flashcards-Animal Alphabet, which I wrote about last year and also just won the 2013 Best Mobile App in Education Edublog Award. The folks who created this app have targeted another topic- the Solar System- in their new app AR Flashcards- Space ($.99)!

This app would be a fun tool to incorporate for students studying space, the solar system or an earth/sun/moon unit. After you print a set of colored flashcards (available here if you would like to preview them), launch the app and point your rear-facing camera at a card. The planet depicted will appear in dynamic 3-D. Tap the planet to hear its name (SLPs, let's acknowledge that the articulation of the students who recorded the planet names, well, has some errors) and another button will play a paragraph-length audio description of the planet.

Langauge Lens:
-The images that appear are great stimuli for descriptive language skills- what do you notice about the planets?
-The information played auditorily for each planet is schematic (focusing on category, e.g. gas planet, temperature and other features) so could be used for auditory comprehension activities or also perhaps to fill out a planetary scavenger hunt graphic organizer of facts about each planet.
-This app could also be paired with Aurasma to create your own content about the planets or another topic.

AR Flashcards-Space is well worth it for $.99!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travolta's Teachable Moment

YouTube is a great resource when it comes to finding timely video clips- just preview the exact one to make sure you know what you are showing.*

Sunday at the Oscars, John Travolta made somewhat of a gaffe by, I guess you could call it mis-introducing singer Idina Menzel, because it went far beyond simply mispronouncing her name. Your students are likely to have background information about this as the song she was singing is from the animated hit Frozen.

I know many have sympathy for Mr. Travolta for various reasons, but nevertheless, the humorous situation can be used as a teachable moment for students (and us)! Though we emphasize social concepts such as "People Files" (see Social Thinking® and the work of Michelle Garcia Winner) regularly, students still benefit from regular review of why it is important to at least use others' names purposefully, if not have deeper knowledge about them, and this situation seemed totally on point. Use YouTube to look up the occurrence, or see this link for video, and for an engaging twist, a little interactive that lets you "Travoltify" your students' names.

You can also show at least the beginning of the performance immediately after and discuss why it was important for Ms. Menzel to react professionally:

If you have been to one of Sarah Ward's workshops, her STOP strategy for situational awareness (Space, Time, Objects, People) goes well with this situation.

Space- onstage, backstage, audience, well, uh, the world.
Time- Before the show, each piece of the show is rehearsed several times. What happened right after this? What should Mr. Travolta do to make up for his mistake after this?
Objects- Paper (could have been used as memory aid), teleprompter.
People- What do we know about Mr. Travolta? What about Ms. Menzel- unfortunately this was a shining moment for her that got messed up a bit. What did others think about his mistake? What are the emotions involved for the speaker, singer, viewer. See this ad by the promoters of Idina Menzel's new Broadway show capitalizing on the humor of the story.

The concepts established with the clip can then be applied to activities emphasizing names and people files within the group.

*I also like to use apps such as TubeBox to save clips (avoiding connection/blocking problems in buildings) and remove distracting adds and sidebar clip libraries.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Phrasal Verbs Machine

It's great to find an app that is focused on a particular skill, but also very contextual. Phrasal Verbs Machine (free) is a gorgeous example dedicated to building understanding of phrasal verbs- a verb paired with a preposition. These are known to be challenging to ESL/ELL populations but also are quite figurative in nature, and so are helpful to target metalinguistics for our more literal thinkers. The context of the app is "the circus world of The Amazing Phraso and his friends." Using the app, you can manipulate an old-fashioned "machine" to pair any of 100 phrasal verbs with prepositions.

In Phrasal Verbs View, you slide wheels to align verbs with paired prepositions, then tap view to see a terrific short animation of the phrase:

The animations play quite quickly but can be replayed. This activity is great for developing prediction and visualization skills by asking students what they think they will see in the machine for each combination.

In the "Exercise," the reverse situation is involved. An animation is played and you are asked to choose from a few choices to describe the animation, thus also working on main idea.

I hope you enjoy this unique and generously free app from Cambridge University Press- another example of a nicely designed app for older students!

Thanks to Richard Byrne at iPad Apps for School for pointing this app out.

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