Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Valentine to Doodle Buddy- Part 1

A theme in recent presentations is repeat attendees (yay!) who report that their initial excitement about integrating apps in their work has waned a bit. Thankfully, following the presentation and collaboration with their colleagues, a number of people have reported to me that they have renewed excitement and additional contexts where they think these tools will be helpful for their work.

The fact is, kids' excitement and engagement in using technology has NOT generally waned, nor has the potential for its usefulness. I think as the years have passed and there are more options and possibilities, for us as clinicians it has resulted in a tendency to become overwhelmed or tune out for other reasons. For this reason, many of my trainings have included modules on overcoming "App Fatigue," which I believe should be included in the DSM 6. App Fatigue symptoms include an inability to keep up with all of the evolving information about technology (while feeling one needs to do so), and a change in mindset from "I can do that" to "Why bother?" While questions about how much technology to use and when to use it are positive, we want to avoid these debilitating effects. Treatment can include positive self-talk ("However much technology I use is just the right amount") and cutting down on the number of apps one uses, but looking to increase the number of ways you use them creatively and contextually.

I'd prescribe Doodle Buddy, which in a mixed-metaphor here I would like to celebrate in a kind of valentine over the next few days. Doodle Buddy is a simple drawing tablet app which has so many uses (it's free for iOS and not available for Android, but Drawing Desk has similar features). Doodle Buddy has the features you'd expect in this kind of app and more: tools such as a marker, chalk or pencil in all the colors you'd want, text, and addition of template, color or photo backgrounds.

Let me count the ways I often find Doodle Buddy more useful than paper in various intervention contexts:
-Markers dry out and annoy me, causing me to have to think about more objects to bring into an intervention session, including the colors I might need for a particular context.
-Paper is bad for the earth, can cut you, and is yet another object I have to think about.
-Students tend to be more engaged when this app is used as opposed to pencil and paper (though both mediums are important to work in at different times).
-Anything you make with Doodle Buddy is sharable and becomes an artifact of treatment activities (you can save your screen to the Photos app and from there to Google Drive or other places).

To end with a specific use (more to come), I long ago lost my "felts" from the Visualizing and Verbalizing® training I attended many years ago. V and V is a methodology that supports formation of "gestalt imagery" (basically mental pictures and "mind movies") to aid in comprehension. In addition to reading comprehension I have found it useful in listening both in academic and social contexts; it aligns with the Social Thinking® concept of "sharing an imagination." Students gradually learn to internalize "structure words" (e.g. what, color, size, shape, where, background, movement) to describe a visualization of language. The meat of the program is in the "sentence by sentence" level where paragraph-length information or stories are presented and students form images of the story as it progresses. The "felts" provide structure as each sentence is imaged and, later, a frame for retelling- "Here I saw a caterpillar who is black with red rings- he's moving slowly down a branch looking for a twig to crawl out on..." You can see some research citations- not all from Lindamood-Bell!- here.

Felts are fun, and you can make new ones (crafts!) or make them from paper, but lately I like to use Doodle Buddy for this purpose. I don't need four different colored felts, papers, or markers to make this, and I can make it appear gradually with each sentence or story part we review:

More on Doodle Buddy tomorrow!

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