Thursday, September 25, 2014

Welcome to Social Studies: Use Infographics as Language Contexts

As a companion to my column for the ASHA Leader App-Titude series, "Welcome to Science Class," this series explores how technology can serve as a context for teaching "language underpinnings" related to the social studies curriculum.

Have you ever heard of infographics? Infographics are visual representations of data and information, and have become popular as teaching tools, both as a presentation tool and creative context. Infographics boil down a particular topic to its essential information points, but can also contain higher-level analysis or evaluative content.

From a speech/language perspective, infographics can serve as tools that already display information broken down into key "language underpinnings," such as the expository text structures of list, sequence, description, compare/contrast, cause/effect, problem/solution, and persuasion. Additionally, they are by nature visual tools providing images and icons to support vocabulary, concepts and the relationships between them.

From a "Techie" perspective, infographics are free tools that are not only searchable via your iPad or Computer, displayable and zoomable (to limit information overload) through these same tools. They also are products that you can create (solo or with students) pretty easily with tech tools, thus providing them opportunity to practice the use of expository structures. Infographics can be saved in different ways, so do experiment with saving a PDF infographic to the iBooks app, an image infographic to your Photos app, or using on-screen navigation tools where ever they are housed.

To go with our theme of resources related to social studies, check out this excellent Pinterest board, Social Studies Infographics by Susan Pojer. My favorite: If you had to, could you survive doomsday?

You can also search Google for infographics on specific topics. A few great examples:
Latitude and Longitude (with key vocabulary and visuals)
An Infographic about the Greatest State (MA)! (with some fun lists and sequences)
Eight Great Ways to Be Thankful (with a social skills spin)
Where are Europeans going in the United States? (with context both around European flags and countries, and for making guesses about why these cities are so popular with tourists).

Also, check out my simple infographic I made with Piktochart!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Welcome to Social Studies: Barefoot World Atlas

As a companion to my column for the ASHA Leader App-Titude series, "Welcome to Science Class," this series explores how technology can serve as a context for teaching "language underpinnings" related to the social studies curriculum.

Continents, countries, and cities provide a great context for developing language skills. The sequential/hierarchical nature of these arbitrary (well, except continents) regions can confuse many of our students and therefore provides good ground for concept development. Additionally, the spacial and semantic aspects are rich, with so many places to be explored. At many points in our students' academic careers they are confronted by these topics--my 2nd graders were expected to learn not only the continents and oceans but the content on units regarding China, Mexico, and Ghana--marking a key entry point to educational relevance.

Back in my early days dabbling with technology integration, I sorely lamented the lack of interactive materials regarding continents and countries. While taking an educational web design class, I actually completed my project by creating web pages (the hard way) with some interactive elements such as FANCY images that changed when you rolled over them with your mouse! Wow! *sarcasm*

How I would have loved to have Barefoot World Atlas ($4.99), a "magical, interactive 3D globe" featuring small animations that can be used to build schema about world countries and much more. Barefoot World Atlas can be explored with the fingers or via multiple directories (e.g. Regions, Countries, alphabetical elements).


Each animation can be viewed closely along with a kid-friendly text explanation. Tap the speaker icon and it can be read aloud, and a real image is also provided for each!


Regions and Countries also have text/audio content, schematically presented in a language-based manner corresponding with the "Five Themes of Geography"


The app is a great example of F- Fair Pricing (compare to the price of a book!), is clearly I-Interactive, provides great V-Visuals, and is E-Educationally Relevant as described above... So is it S- Speechie/Specific to your objectives, resulting in true FIVES-friendliness? Depends on how you use it!

-Construct a small (or large) "Scavenger Hunt" with language clues about where the different elements can be found.
-Identify elements that are the "same but different" from those in your city/community and have kids describe the similarities and differences.
-Use the audio for listening activities and to give kids a break from listening to you for a few minutes!
-The content is filled with expository text structures such as lists, sequences, and cause-effect relationships. For these, and all of the above, consider using this app in conjunction with graphic organizers to build connections in language. Don't miss the potential alignment with these Common Core Standards in Literacy in History/Social Studies:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.3 Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5 Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).

Barefoot World Atlas is complete on its own but does have some nice expansion packs such as "Major Cities" and puzzle tasks, generally available for $.99.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Welcome to Social Studies: 5 Language-Enhancing Activities Made Possible by Google Earth

As a companion to my column for the ASHA Leader App-Titude series, "Welcome to Science Class," this series explores how technology can serve as a context for teaching "language underpinnings" related to the social studies curriculum.

I have long considered Google Earth (GE) to be one of the best free resources for developing language in the context of social studies content--though it is great for developing language related to math, science, and even language arts (since it is filled with settings in the story grammar sense). Google Earth is basically the inspiration for the V (Visual) aspect of the FIVES Criteria; it provides endless visual contexts for language, while remaining virtually language-neutral, making it a great stimulus for our scaffolding. For the purposes of this post, I will be talking about what can be done with the free Google Earth iPad app, which keeps getting more powerful, though surely more can be done with the desktop/laptop and Android (this being a Google product) versions.

1. Pull out GE for incidental teaching: I am currently doing some individual language therapy for a student using his class assignments as jumping off points for strategy work (e.g. use of Story Grammar Marker®, Expanding Expression Tool, and Visualizing and Verbalizing®). In working through some reading, he asked me what a gulf was--having my iPad right there, we quickly reviewed a few examples of gulfs and compared it, in sequence, to smaller bodies of water that are formed as water goes into the land: bays and harbors. Geographic features are definitional!

2. Take virtual field trips to regions/countries/states/landmarks/settings of books being studied and use to elicit spatial, descriptive and narrative language: Most major cities in Google Earth now contain "3D Buildings"- providing a great "wow" factor and much visual material to be described.

3. Employ the "Panoramio Photos" and Wikipedia Layers for more specific visual and linguistic material: Google Earth displays information in layers which can be turned on and off via the menu in the upper left corner. These include the 3D Buildings layer but also the moderated and geo-tagged Panoramio Photos (turning this layer on displays blue photo icons that can be tapped and displayed) and Wikipedia, which provides general information about locations (though the W icons can be a bit hard to find)



4. Tour Guide provides a more structured, curated view of landmarks: Sweep up from the bottom of the screen in any location to view Tour Guide- this shows brief animated fly-overs of locations as well as great photos for description.



5. Use Street View even for your youngest learners: Think about the category of community buildings. Street View lets you walk around any town or city and view examples of places in the community- personally relevant ones! Just drag the "Peg Guy" onto the street and you can begin to navigate- sweep your finger around to change view and double-tap to move down the street and describe. Kids love to visit their houses too!




Have fun with Google Earth- it's easy to get started with the tutorial that plays when you first open the app- it's also replayable (and a great following-directions activity) from the Settings menu in the app.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Welcome to Social Studies: Hoopa City

In this month's column for the ASHA Leader App-Titude series, I discussed how relevant science concepts and content can be used as a context for language therapy (see the great work of Barbara Ehren on curriculum-relevant interventions). Like science, social studies has much opportunity to teach language underpinnings involving the skills that our students can struggle with, thereby providing rationale for our interventions. Social Studies is full of narrative, vocabulary and definitions, sequences of events, categories and cause-effect relationships, as well as the spacial concepts needed to understand geography. This month I will be posting a series running parallel to this column exploring technology resources that can provide an easy context to build language skills supporting our students' success in social studies.

Up first, Hoopa City by Dr. Panda Games, one of my favorite publishers (available for iOS and Android, $2.99). Imagine the interactivity and engagement involved in a tool that allows you to build a city. I have always enjoyed aspects of SimCity for this, but it becomes very complex. Hoopa City can be used for the simplest city-building activities, but has enough complexity for us to engage even upper-elementary learners. Basically, Hoopa City allows you to add buildings and city features to an open space by tapping on a material (heart, coin, lightning bolt, road, brick, water, leaf) and then on a block of land to place the element. However, you can go far beyond the hospitals, shops, roads, houses, etc that go with a simple use of one material by combining materials. Simply select a different material and tap again on the space where you have placed an element of your city.



So, for example, if you tap a brick, then a square of land to place it, you create a house.

Tap the heart and then the same square you placed the house, it becomes a school!

I love the figurative and semantic combinations that can be discovered and discussed in this game, such as combining a brick and heart to create a building that nurtures, i.e. a school.

Once you have created buildings, Dr. Panda characters move about and interact with them subtly (you can't control, but can observe this). Now, you could use this game in an exploratory manner with students to see (and make guesses about while using if/then language) what combinations might produce, but it is helpful to have a guide, so see Geeks With Juniors comprehensive list of what you can create with Hoopa City.

Language (and Social Studies) Lens:
-Use Hoopa City to build categories such as community buildings, vehicles, bodies of water, types of stores, etc, as well as language around the functions and associations (e.g. what might be inside) of buildings.
-Pair with Doodle Buddy to sketch what might be inside of your buildings, thereby developing visualization and further description skills.
-Your "map" can be used as a writing or speaking activity for giving directions around the town or describing positions spatially (with left or right, etc or N, S, E, W).

Note: the one improvement I would suggest, besides some elaboration within the app of how to produce a few select combinations (I almost abandoned the app, until a bit more research unlocked this element), would be the ability to save and work on different cities. For now, you can sweep the "globe" and build cities in different locations. [EDIT: the free update released on 9/17/14 addressed this issue; you can now save multiple cities, making this app more useful for multiple students or groups]

What language and social studies applications do you see in Hoopa Cities? Let us know in the comments...


Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Back to School" Links

I have been enjoying a few weeks off before things pick up again! Though out of the traditional school schedule, my work still revolves around the academic year, with therapy groups starting in September as well as school consults, programming, and evals (and most of my presentations and trainings as well).

Over the summer, I had a great time blogging about research for Mindwing Concepts' blog and their "Summer Study Series." I have been making a lot of efforts over the past few years to connect with research that informs technology use, or per my usual message, intervention approaches that can be aligned with particular applications.

In July, we discussed an interesting study that compared structured narrative intervention in one classroom with more traditional (e.g. wh-questions, among other approaches) programming in another. The study was also the first to look at the efficacy of in-classroom discourse intervention by speech-language pathologists (Gillam, Olszewski, Fargo & Gillam, 2014). The link to the actual study was accidentally left out of that post, so you can find it here in full-text for ASHA members.

Just recently, we also looked at interesting research into typical expository language performance for the upper-elementary to high-school population. The study used a protocol similar to one I have used in the past, with some interesting tweaks such as setting clear expectations and providing schematic scaffolding and planning time prior to the students producing a language sample. Data has thus far been lacking to compare students' performance in terms of key factors such as linguistic complexity, so these are welcome findings. The link to the full-text, again free to ASHA members, is in the post describing the research of Heilmann & Malone (2014).

Additionally, I published a column for ASHA Leader about prepping for travel to the 2014 Orlando Convention (but helpful for all travelers). I am excited to be presenting at the convention a sequel to previous sessions- Pairing EVEN MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives (Session 1718, Saturday, November 22, 1-2pm)- on Saturday afternoon. Hopefully I will see some of you to talk with you about one of my favorite topics-- before you leave or head to Disney World!

As a tech tie-in, I'd like to mention the tool that I am finding the best resource for reading and annotating journal articles. Sente 6 for Mac and iPad allows you to build "libraries" of research articles and annotate and sync them across your account accessed on Mac or iPad (Free for up to 100 references per library and with 250MB of syncing). The advantages for me are that I tend to do this reading on my laptop, and tools such as Preview or Adobe Reader do not have the same features. Also, when highlighting, you can create notes that can be cut/pasted into another application or exported. Check it out if you like to read journal articles; there is a bit of a learning curve but nice support videos available.



Disclosure: Author is a contractor with Mindwing Concepts, Inc. for provision of blog content and professional development.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MarcoPolo Ocean

MarcoPolo Ocean (free for iPad and iPhone/iPod) is a well-designed app designed as a "sandbox" exploratory and interactive experience. The app targets science, technology, engineering and design (STEM) concepts around biodiversity, earth science and landscapes, construction and function of various ocean vehicles, and related vocabulary.

The app has six core activities that function as exploratory puzzles, with the additional features of zooming to other areas of the screen for additional exploration, as well as audio labeling and narration of actions or functions of the depicted elements.

Construction of an underwater reef is completed by dragging different elements to their highlighted spots

The boat construction activity includes many elements that can be described as well as compartment names such as hold, galley and bridge.


Language Lens:
-This app could be used to have children interact with scenes and vocabulary related to ocean or habitat units and practice labeling and vocabulary in those contexts.
-The construction activities (a boat and submarine) particularly focus on the parts and functions of these two vehicles, and so could be used to practice these semantic skills.
-The habitat building and exploration activities would lend themselves to pairing with Social Thinking®'s Incredible Flexible You curriculum for early learners, particularly the "Body in the Group" Volume, which centers around an ocean theme and narrative. In addition to the theme elements, the scenes show ocean creatures swimming in groups and out of groups, which can serve as a visual to apply the skill of identifying physical proximity as a social concept.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Find great photo contexts with Getty Images app

Photos have nearly endless applications in speech-language therapy: descriptive skills, focus on specific structures such as verbs or prepositions, social and executive functioning. Programs such as Visualizing and Verbalizing use photos to build schema and gestalt processing. Technology naturally makes obtaining such stimuli easier, and one such resource is the recently updated Getty Images app (free).

Getty Images is a source of over 60 million images, and though designed for creative and media professionals, its galleries are free to view. The free app allows you to search for photos tagged with a specific term (e.g. "kids" or something much more specific), add ones you like to a "lightbox" and display the photo full-screen within the app. Multiple lightboxes can be created and named to help you access photos you would like to view again.

As the images are designed for sale, the app naturally doesn't allow you to save them to the camera roll. Creating a free login for the service, however, will allow you to view the photo without a distracting watermark and use it within a session.



I did not want to potentially violate copyright by posting an image other than what is shared in the App Store, but you can see below the myriad of search terms and attributes attached to one photo, offering a sampling of what you can use to search for photos (and a hint that this app may be used to work on attributes as well)!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Reading and More: Overdrive Media Console

Purchasing books (e- or otherwise) and audiobooks is an expensive proposition, especially if you don't necessarily want to add them to a real or virtual collection for revisiting. This is one way our public libraries can come in handy. But did you know you can get many titles for free without even leaving your home?

Overdrive Media Console (free for iPhone, iPad and Android) has been around for some time, but has improved with its own updates for usability, in addition to the increased availability of e-materials through public libraries. Overdrive allows you to sign in to your local library with your login and password, then download or join waiting lists for e-books or audiobooks, all for free.

E-books can be quickly downloaded with a few taps and added to your Kindle app, while audiobooks (download while on wi-fi to avoid data charges) play in the Overdrive app themselves. This is the perfect summer app for you to grab a few titles for lounging on your porch, or perhaps an audiobook or two for a long drive. The only caveat is that you have to finish the title within a set period of time (in Boston, two weeks) or it disappears from your library (i.e. is returned). This is one reason I tend to use the app more for nonfiction, so I won't remain in suspense should there be a wait to re-download the book.




Currently I am working my way through my (2nd) download of Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath, in which he argues that what we perceive to be advantages and/or disadvantages may not actually be. In one chapter, he details the many people with dyslexia who have gone on to great success because--he claims--of the other qualities they have needed to develop, such as resilience and listening skills. Though certainly there are tons of people who have overcome learning disabilities to achieve wonderful success, I'm not sure I bought the "dyslexia universally helps you" argument at all (naturally, this chapter was controversial and spawned some criticism). However, Gladwell tells a good story, and I am glad I didn't have to pay $20 to read it, considering.

Overdrive is also a handy tool for SLPs and support teachers of any kind for free access to curriculum contexts such as books being read by our students in their classrooms. Over the years, I have found audiobooks to be a great way to utilize my commute time so that I could be on the same page, context-wise, and construct activities for my students when their classrooms include chapter books such as Number the Stars. 

Do note that my experience is based on using this app in conjunction with a membership in a large urban library, and I am not sure how your connections will serve you. However, I have seen this app recommended at workshops and elsewhere as a great resource for e-books. Hope you find a few free books to pass your summer time!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some TED Talks of interest to SLPs and Language Folks

Summer is a great time to slow down and think. TED Talks have long been one of my favorite ways to take in some new info- these short (varying from 5-20 min) presentation recordings are created at Technology-Entertainment (the E should be Education for as much as these talks address that area)-Design conferences around the world and feature leading researchers and creative people speaking on important topics. TED Talks are naturally facilitated by technology as they are available on YouTube and the free TED app.

All of the talks are food for summer thought but a few have caught my eye recently as relevant to speech and language:

Disability-led innovations for the masses- SLP and Assistive technology trainer Chris Bugaj, author of The Practical and Fun Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools and the A.T.TIPSCAST, explores the many examples of accommodations for people with disabilities (e.g. touch screens) that have become the norm, illuminating principles of Universal Design.

How to speak so that people want to listen- Sound consultant Julian Treasure discusses subtly "unexpected behaviors" in social communication and the effects of aspects of speech such as register and prosody, providing a good resource to use with clients working on these areas.

Autism — what we know (and what we don’t know yet)- Geneticist Wendy Chung shares what we know about autism, both from a genetic and developmental perspective.

What makes a word "real"?-English professor and linguist Anne Cuzan explores our evolving language and the notions that word changes reflect the populace's usage and not just our judgments of what should be "correct" English.

Use these as jumping off points to other talks- I am happy to have just discovered the "Words, words, words" playlist while writing this post!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Social Thinking Providers' Conference 2014

This past weekend, I was thrilled to be part of the Social Thinking® Providers' Conference in San Francisco, CA. I always leave this event (this was my third) with renewed energy and a ton of ideas informing my work, which nowadays centers around language therapy and a whole lot of social cognitive work with kids who have learning challenges in this area.

This year's agenda featured updates from Social Thinking founder Michelle Garcia Winner, of course, but also great presentations from prominent thinkers in social cognition such as Dr. Jed Baker, author of The Social Skills Picture Book among other works, and Kari Dunn Buron, creator of one of my favorite tools, The Incredible Five Point Scale.

Breakout sessions featured terrific information from Maryellen Rooney Moreau, creator of Story Grammar Marker, Jenny Sojat presenting a great therapy idea about teaching kids "levels of like" to address black/white thinking, Alana Fitchtelberg on great simple activities addressing the skills in the ILAUGH model, and Nancy Clements and Anna Cotton on Project Based Learning and Social Thinking.

Some specific ideas I walked away with:

Social Thinkng is about providing very accessible language to define super complex ideas at the level of therapy. (Michelle Garcia Winner)

It is very hard to teach kids "rules." Adults think it's awful to put a "Kick Me" sign on someone's back but if doing so with humorous or gentle intent, kids actually are showing each other they are "thinking of each other"- it's validating! Similar example, if a friend gets a good grade on a test an expected response can be: "You suck!" To kids that can handle it, we must teach nuance. (Michelle Garcia Winner)

A new concept in assessing and treating early learners in play contexts is the Social Thinking GPS (Group Play and Problem-Solving Scale): ME-based players are self-focused on their object-oriented play and include adults when adults join their attention "in a tunnel" or follow the child’s lead. WE-based players are emerging or emerged in their ability to socially attend to peers and able to engage in peer based play with varying levels of support. (Kari Palmer, Nancy Tarshis, Ryan Hendrix)

The idea around the 5 Point Scale is that more language is not working, so we systematize (see Simon Baron-Cohen's Empathizing-Systematizing Theory). Similarly, calming sequences are based on training of first responders and automaticity: "when this happens, we do this, this, and this." (Kari Dunn Buron)

Working with students around formulating "Levels" and sequencing items within them can target concrete thinking and build acceptance of shades of gray. Start with "Levels of Like" (e.g. foods, games) and creation of an "OK Line" can help students to compromise when making a group plan regarding an activity/compromise. (Jenny Sojat)

Try to avoid examples of "non-active listening" when working with resistant students (I recalled saying some of these myself, ruefully) :
• “There’s no reason to be so upset.” (Denial of Feelings)
• “Mrs. Peru was just doing her job.” (Defense of the other person)
• “I think you’re missing the point of the assignment, again.” (Blaming)
• “Just do it and get it over with.” (Advice)
• “That’s life. You don’t always get to do it your way (Philosophical response)
• “I feel so sorry for you!” (Pity)
"Sounds as if you (feel/thought)..." is a good way to start an active/empathetic listening statement. (Nancy Cotton)

---Intermission---

And then our Ely Center staff took advantage of flying all the way from Boston to the West Coast to...go to a Red Sox Game!



---End Intermission---

Jed Baker, an amazing speaker, discussed the efficacy of peer training at middle and high school level in changing a school climate to be supportive of students with social learning challenges. He also mentioned that response cost systems (e.g. Class Dojo, taking away points) should be used with students who are disregulated with positive emotion, not negative emotion.

Students can build social cognition and skills through project-based contexts (see Project-Based Learning). These interpersonal effectiveness videos are great resources for expected and unexpected behaviors in contexts of working in a group.  (Nancy Clements)

Finally, I was very happy to be presenting at this conference myself. My session was a new approach for me, presenting 3 different apps (Pic Collage, Keynote, Toontastic) that could be used for Social Thinking along with an analysis of their features and presentation of examples of how I have used them. The participants then had time between each resource to brainstorm at their tables and add ideas to a collaborative digital "wall." This in-depth "zooming in" on resources was a lot of fun and those who attended added many great new thoughts on how the apps could be used for social development.

Here are the 3 walls on Padlet, below (just use your mouse to move around the wall and "hover" on any boxes hidden in order to read them):







I highly recommend getting to a Social Thinking conference soon!

Social Thinking is based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner. See socialthinking.com for great products and free resources.

Disclosure: Author is employed by The Ely Center, LLC and is a contractor with Mindwing Concepts, Inc. for provision of blog content and professional development.
 
. Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...