Friday, May 2, 2014

Stick Around: The Spectrum of Repurposing

Much of my efforts in writing and conducting trainings is geared toward helping SLPs and other educators see the potential use of apps and tools they might not have recognized initially as language-based. That has been the focus of this blog since its inception- "looking through a language lens"- even back when we were talking about interactive flash-based websites and webtools, way before apps.

I found great validation of my advocacy for "repurposing" in an article by Jessica Gosnell in the ASHA Leader in 2011, and consistently use this quote in sessions:

“A search focused only on a specific profile of dedicated apps (speech production, targeted language goals, augmentative communication) could miss many well-designed apps that offer motivating and fun learning opportunities. Using creativity, clinicians can reach beyond an app's intended target audience and purpose and adapt it to support interventions.”
-Jessica Gosnell (Children’s Hospital, Boston), “Apps, an Emerging Tool for SLPs,” ASHA Leader Online, October, 2011

I think as we progress in incorporating technology into our work thoughtfully, we are getting better at seeing these connections and potential uses of a wider variety of apps. Recently, I was presenting on apps for pediatric populations at the ASHA Healthcare and Business Institute and included a great recent release called Stick Around. This educational app allows the creation of puzzles featuring "stickers" that can be dragged on top of an image or array in order to develop labeling, sequencing, or describing in just about any context. As I was showing it with other apps that could be repurposed for language therapy, a participant asked, "Is this really even a repurposed app? It seems like language heaven!"

I replied, "Good point!" But the fact is, many in our field might not think to look past the icon and description (or even stumble upon it in the education category of the App Store), and it wasn't designed specifically for speech and language pathologists. So, while on the spectrum of repurposing, it's not such a stretch as using Bobbleshop- Bobble Head Avatar Maker for developing descriptive language, we all could use a push to see what a valuable app Stick Around could be.

Tony Vincent, an amazing resource on technology integration and the author of Stick Around (in partnership with Explain Everything creators Morris Cooke), definitely sees these connections between language and learning, and has presented for our peeps at conferences such as those held by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities in Florida. He designed Stick Around ($2.99, very Fairly Priced and meeting all other points of the FIVES Criteria) to be a blank slate where educators--and students--could create these self-checking puzzles for learning in all contexts. So let's take a look at it.

Stick Around may first look a bit daunting, but this is just because its interface allows for such a large array of options and customization. I figured the process out in about 10 min, but there are also great video tutorials available should you get stuck. Though it might seem strangely dairy-specific, in the shots below I am showing how to set up a puzzle that could be used for life skills and executive functioning ("feature teaching" ala Sarah Ward). You could think up all sorts of other contexts for puzzles (In Las Vegas, I modeled a puzzle labeling the casinos on the Vegas Strip from a screenshot using Google Earth- you need Stick Around on your iPad to access this file)!

Start with deciding the image you would like to use as a puzzle (the app also has templates such as Venn Diagrams and sequencing frames). In this case, on a community trip to the supermarket, we snapped this image of the dairy section. You can also save an image, but just be aware of copyright should you plan to share your puzzle (see my next post).

Using the Stick Around app (see above the array of sample projects to spur your imagination- try not to be intimidated by how beautiful their graphics look), begin a new project.

I created a blank project so that I could use a photo background. Tap the + to add this from your Photo Library or other source.

Your next step is the stickers. These can take various formats (Text, Image, or Drawing Sticker). Double tap the sticker to write the label, and you can also add a description via text or audio (a great feature for SLPs). Arrows can be added as well.

Create your Answer Key by drawing each of the "regions" where the sticker, if placed or pointed, will result in a correct answer when the puzzle is played. Make sure your regions don't overlap. While creating the Answer Key, you will want to place the sticker or its arrow head in the correct region to link the sticker and its region, as seen above.

Finally, you can tap Play and try out your project in puzzle form. As a great example of continuous improvement in apps, Stick Around recently added the faces indicating correct or incorrect answers when you tap "Check."

When you are done with your project, save it (when navigating back to My Projects, you will be prompted to give it a name and save, or you can give it a name in the Info tab). The Export button (arrow into box) allows you to send the project to the Puzzles section of the app (from Projects) so that it can be played but not edited.

One of the best features of Stick Around is that puzzles you create can be shared with others who have the app. From My Projects I simply exported this one to Dropbox, and if on an iPad with Stick Around installed, you can click this link to add it to your Projects and play it!

So, what are your thoughts? What can you imagine creating with Stick Around?

As always, Happy Repurposing!


  1. Thanks Sean! I'd been debating how to use stick around for my language kids and your post inspired me to make a body parts puzzle using the audio feature for non readers. It didn't take me 10 minutes though �� but it has opened up a realm of possibilities.