Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fun with Mentos

A few weeks ago a colleague started a group session by having the participants guess what was in a bag- and it was apple Mentos. This reminded me of the goofy series of 90s Mentos (the Freshmaker!) ads like this one:




I realized there are a number of good language opportunities in this series and subsequently have had fun using it in groups of teens:
-Wordless materials are often a good opportunity for students to practice narrative language and interpreting nonverbals (my students needed some cues with this, so it was definitely in their ZPD)
-A number of the commercials show someone breaking a "hidden rule" (e.g. we don't block people in when parking), a concept applicable across the day in social cognitive instruction.
-Ads are always fun for having students figure out the main idea or advertiser's intent/implied message: What do Mentos have to do with the situation?

Here are some more:

The Lunch Date

The Broken Shoe

The Car Movers

Fresh Paint

Associated activities:

-Play Foo Fighters' Big Me, which parodies these ads. What's the same and different?
-Eat Mentos!
-Do the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Naturally you can't do this in your room so it's an opportunity to have students figure out where you can do it, and practice walking and chatting together with bodies in a group. One of my HS students did a great job of evaluating where we could stage it so that we would not distract any nearby classrooms who might see us out the windows ("thinking with the eyes," among many Social Thinking® concepts)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

EdTech Talking with AAC

I wanted to share here a presentation I recently made which is online and may be of interest. I was happy to be asked by SpeechScience and Yapp Guru University to participate in their online AAC After Work conference with an "intermission" talk. As I explain frequently, I'm not much of an AAC expert as in my career I have mostly worked with students with more moderate communication needs. However, I based the talk on a collaborative article I wrote with Dr. Kerry Davis, who also generously contributed for me some visuals on EdTech providing a context for students using AAC. CEUs are not available for this presentation, but I hope you'll find some resources and strategies within regarding the "conversation" that can take place between the fields of educational technology and speech-language pathology. I also recommend you check out the SpeechScience podcast, which you can find in your Podcasts app.

Link to presentation on YouTube

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Approaching iOS 11...carefully

For those of us that depend on our iPads to any extent in our work, a new operating system brings exciting new features, but some trepidation. As it should. Apple released iOS 11 two weeks ago, and it comes with some cool updates particularly for the iPad. Note also that not all devices currently "out there" will be prompted to install (i.e. "can run") iOS 11. This is just a function of the cycle of upgrading (and on the downside, the march toward obscelence). To see if your device can run iOS 11, check this list. Remember you can always google your device model number (on the back, wicked small) to find out what generation your device is. If you are not able to update, don't stress. This doesn't mean your device is useless at all. You may run into apps that you cannot download due to your use of an earlier operating system, or hear of updates to apps that are similarly not available to your device. Just keep on keepin' on and think about upgrading to a new device eventually. The 5th Generation iPad is quite reasonably priced at $329.

It seems that iOS 11 was a line in the sand Apple needed to draw with developers who have not updated their apps in some time, and they need to update their apps for compatibility or they will simply not launch once you have installed iOS 11. This is the real reason I wanted to write this post, to advise you to wait a bit before updating (a month, maybe?) and check compatibility of your indispensable apps before you update. They've made this really easy to do! THIS POST EXPLAINS HOW.

I went through this list and checked, and for me there was nothing I couldn't live without except the original Toontastic (I'm ok with the new Toontastic 3D, but before updating I need to save some animations I made in the original as I often talk about the applications of these types of apps in workshops).

Unfortunately, if the developer is no longer interested on keeping their app functioning, apps that remain incompatible will just take up space on your iPad. Check out these different ways to delete apps- I particularly like the 2nd way of deleting from Settings.

I look forward to talking about the cool features of iOS 11 in the weeks to come.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Organize yourself (and maybe others) via Google Keep

In the last few weeks, I started back to work after summer vacation and began my regular consults at several schools. I am focusing on taking better notes--and organizing them. Notes are of course a way we can keep data on students, but providing consultation through a private practice motivates me to provide the best services possible, which in turn means not forgetting nuggets of information that could/should turn into action items for me. Historically I have been a little scattered in this process, using a combo of Mac/iOS Notes, Evernote, Google Docs and, well, actual paper notes. Starting the year fresh, I am trying out Google Keep, and so far am loving it. Some reasons why:

-I am embracing efforts at minimalism, which in this case are satisfied by using one resource (Google Apps) in many different ways.
-Keep looks like Post-its. This is pleasing.
-Within Keep, quickly click or tap to start and title a note. Notes are displayed in an array before you, and as opportunities arise, you can tap out of one note and into another. This is particularly useful in consultation as student names come up and new info is shared, or when running groups.
-Keep allows you to color-code and label notes for organization. Like other Google items, you can share and collaborate a note. Students' work products can be photographed and placed in a note for additional data. You also can make notes contain reminders or checklists.
-I have been keeping one note on each student in my charge and I see options ahead- I could either make these a monthly note or each note can be copied to Google Docs.
-So far I have been using Keep via its web version on the Mac, but there are apps available for iPad and iPhone and other platforms.
-Keep is free with a Google Account and you can log in from anywhere (I got turned off of Evernote when it only allowed you two devices).
-Students may also have access to Keep (or you can request the administrator to "turn it on," and it therefore provides another assistive tech possibility within their existing Google Accounts.


As I am taking notes in the cloud so to speak, I always only put student initials as identifying info.

This video provides a great tutorial from an educational perspective. Enjoy Google Keep if you try it!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Looking for engaging therapy ideas? Check out Anna Vagin's YouCue Feelings video series

Anna Vagin has been sharing wonderful ideas about using electronic media in therapy. Anna has a strong focus on social learning but her resources on using YouTube also have implications for narrative language, sentence formulation and categorization. I've long been a fan of her YouCue Feelings book (available also as a handy Kindle edition you can put in the Kindle app on your iPad), but she has also produced a series of short videos available on YouTube, including this one featuring recommendations for younger students.



Dr. Vagin (an SLP) shares broad ideas about resilience and friendship here, but the videos mentioned can also be used to work on more discrete skills. I often use her recommendations in conjunction with narrative tools like Story Grammar Marker® so that students "get" the narrative and have practice retelling it. Spins on story retelling such as analyzing the story elements of initiating event, response and plan from two different perspectives are suggested by the Bert and Ernie example (see specifically Mindwing's Perspective Taking or Critical Thinking Triangle maps). Also contained in this video are alignments with Zones of Regulation® and work on categorization (feeling words) and association. The app Lists for Writers is a good source of many lists including emotions and personality traits. Dr. Vagin recommends the use of whiteboards (which I love) but Book Creator or more simply, Doodle Buddy, can also be used for the sketching and association activities (e.g. plane and runway) she describes.

See Dr. Vagin's full offerings here.

Disclosure: author provides blog content for Mindwing Concepts, Inc.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

ASHA LALA Convention and a Tech Travel Point

I was very excited to have two 2-hr seminars accepted for the ASHA Convention in Los Angeles, this year being held November 9-11, 2017. Here are the details so you can add them to your planner if you are interested:

From Wikimedia 

Session Code: 1324
Title: Setting up the Sequel: Pairing Picture Book Series & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives
Day: Friday, November 10, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Marriott Room: Diamond 5
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 Hrs
Abstract: Another “sequel” to this popular presentation with installments at ASHA 2012-2016 describes pairings of book series and apps serving as intervention contexts. The presentation explores research-supported strategies for using picture books in intervention for language development, providing exemplars of contextual book and app pairings serving as visual, interactive post-reading activities.
Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and Adolescents
Learner Outcomes:
Learner Outcome 1: Identify language structures and contexts within picture book text and illustrations
Learner Outcome 2: Evaluate apps for key features indicating applicability in language interventions Learner Outcome 3: Describe session plans pairing books and apps based on contextual correspondence

Session Code: 1621
Title: "U Ought 2B in Pictures:" Creating Visual Supports With Apps Across a Range of Interventions
Day: Saturday, November 11, 2017
Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Los Angeles Convention Center Room: Concourse 152 (Lvl 1)
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 Hrs
Abstract: Creating visual supports is a process of co-engagement and co-creation that aligns easily with best practices and key methodologies in language intervention. This presentation will model resources for creating simple visual supports via apps, along with examples across a range of treatment areas and ages, including interventions for compliance and self-regulation, vocabulary, syntax, narrative and expository language and social cognition.
Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and Adolescents
Learner Outcomes:
Learner Outcome 1: Describe 3 roles of visual supports in language interventions
Learner Outcome 2: Differentiate between co-engagement and co-creation while using apps in visual support activities
Learner Outcome 3: Identify 3 features of apps facilitating ease of use in creating visual supports

My "Tech Travel Point," besides the ones I outlined in this column for the Leader, is that WOW hotels in big cities like LA can be expensive. Even with the convention discounts, the ones in LA were a lot, and I don't care about fancy-shmancy or being in the hubbub of a conference. This summer I had a lot of success using AirBnB for travel in Maine and, finding myself more interested in the "sharing economy," I found lots of options in LA. I'll let you know how it goes with the one I chose!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 4

In case you missed them, here are a few pieces I have written for ASHA and Mindwing Concepts. Happy Summer Reading! I'm off to Maine tomorrow with my Kindle.

ASHA Leader: 
July 2017, App it Up in the City of StarsMobile apps can help you make the most of your trip to convention in Los Angeles. 

April 2017, Joint Parent-Child App Play Can Bolster Language Development: SLPs can show parents how to harness apps to get their children talking at home.

January 2017, Using Apps to Meet Multidisciplinary Treatment Goals: App-based collaboration with other professionals can propel clients’ treatment progress.

Mindwing Concepts Blog (focusing on narrative and expository discourse and social communication through narrative):

Beach Stories

Narrative and Expository Language through Duck, Duck, Moose's free apps

4 (and More) Ways to Tell the Story Digitally

More on Social Detective Work with Social Thinking® and Social Skill Builder


Note: Author receives compensation for blog content from Mindwing Concepts Inc.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 3

One of the resources that has been helping me read more is Goodreads, a database of books and reviews. Goodreads integrates well with your Facebook account, and this is helpful both for pulling in friends and seeing what they are reading, and allowing you to post to Facebook about your own books. It creates kind of a positive peer pressure for reading, and this makes Goodreads a helpful tool for us, and potentially for clients as well. Encouraging clients to use Goodreads to find books similar to what they have enjoyed could potentially get them to read more, and also be an outlet to help them write about what they have read. A few other features of Goodreads that I enjoy:

-The mobile app is excellent, and in fact a little better than the website itself.
-Goodreads allows you to mark books as "Want to Read" and this is a good place to keep a list of this kind when you encounter book recommendations, preventing you from getting "stuck."
-The site provides recommendations based on what you have read and how you have star-reviewed books.
-It integrates with the Overdrive-Kindle connection (mentioned in my last post) so what you are reading through there is automatically added to your "Currently Reading." There are other features such as a Chrome extension that allows you to see which of your To-Read books are currently available on Overdrive.





Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 2

I think of reading as being similar to mindfulness (also in some circles a tool within speech-language pathology)-- in order to teach it, you have to be at least a little bit in the practice of it.

I realized some months ago that I wasn't reading as much as I used to read. This made me a bit ashamed and sad. I was an English and journalism major, for God's sake!

There were a few reasons why I had fallen into somewhat of a reading rut:
-I've become more of a minimalist and I feel I have enough books around the house. At this point, I'm not interested in adding more stuff.
-I know many love the feel and smell of books, but I am not necessarily enamored of physical books. Partly, there's the complications of reading in bed with the other half and not wanting the movement and light to be an issue.
-Given the above two factors, I had begun to convince myself that I can effectively continue as a reader using my iPad and iPhone. The night mode features of reading apps were particularly attractive here. Problem is...I didn't. The availability of other apps besides iBooks and Kindle just made too much of a distraction. Also, just try reading on one of these devices in sunlight?
-I had also immersed myself in informational reading and thought that fiction just wasn't really for me anymore. The issue here is that nonfiction books tend not to propel you forward as much as a good story.

Coming to a solution around these issues required me to think about several things:
1. Reading has many benefits personally as well as professionally, with studies demonstrating its connection to mindfulness itself (as someone who struggles with a touch of anxiety) and also emotional intelligence and empathy.
2. Pick the right tech tool for the right task.

So, since my technology was failing me, or I was failing within it, I bought a Kindle.


This might seem an overly simplistic conclusion, but this simple device pretty much solved my reading problem. My Kindle Paperwhite (bought refurbished from Amazon, incidentally) feels great in my hand, has an attractive look and interface, and it does what it does. I started Wild on April 9, and including that, have finished 8 books since then! And 2 audiobooks (via my iPhone)!

I have enjoyed all this immensely--well not always, I picked a few clunkers--and have felt some important cognitive-linguistic processes being awakened, as well as the mindfulness factor.

If I can leave you with another tech tip, minimalism also attracted me to the use of Overdrive and my local library card. Overdrive works wonderfully with Kindle as you can "download" as a Kindle book (via the Overdrive app or website) and your Kindle device will auto-sync when on wifi and pick up that book- you only have two weeks though, so read (or listen- this is how I did my audiobooks too) fast!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 1

I have a language therapy client I have been working with for a number of years, as he is a private school student. Our work around his summer reading books has given me a lot of therapy ideas. Recently I wanted to design a note-taking sheet for him for chapters that he reads independently, as well as ones we review together. Currently he is reading Steinbeck's The Pearl...such misery, but thankfully short (and available on YouTube for me to do my "reading" when I am driving around town anyway). The goal is for him to read more mindfully (he speeds!) and improve comprehension, and the note-taking sheet incorporates a number of strategies we have been working on- Visualizing and Verbalizing®, using story grammar to summarize each chapter (we transitioned from using Story Grammar Marker® to Westby/Noel's SPACE Acronym as he has moved into high school), using Brain Frames to organize big ideas, and generating questions, connections, and vocabulary. I hope it might be useful if you are doing this kind of work.



And a tech tip related to this is that I like using slide-creators (Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote) to make visual supports and graphic organizers. The availability of tools for shapes and shading, as well as the ease of moving elements around makes it a snap. An added bonus of using Google Slides is that you can share with a student easily and they can just double click in any shape to add text.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mobile Tech Resources for People with Aphasia

June is Aphasia Awareness Month! Though I don't often get the opportunity to work with people with aphasia currently (did my Clinical Fellowship Year at Braintree Rehab in '99-'00, wow that hurts to write), as an alumni and once-adjunct at Boston University I go by to do a short volunteer presentation to their wonderful Aphasia Community Group. I wanted to share my handout here for anyone who would benefit from it- it may also give you ideas for functional uses of the operating system and simple apps for clients with other struggles.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Social Play With Amazon Echo Dot

I have to admit I bought an Echo Dot because I hate birds. You see, we live across from a park, which is lovely except that around February all sorts of loud birds descend and ruin my life. So it's great to have a device that you can ask, "Alexa, play ocean waves," at 4:45 am and drown all that courtship out.

The Echo Dot ($49.99) accesses Alexa, Amazon's "virtual personal assistant." She's like Siri but, to be honest, better. She recognizes pretty much everything you say, and I've discovered that goes for children as well. Siri remains decidedly like that aunt who doesn't like when children speak. Using Echo Dot involves a simple setup through an app on your phone or iPad, mostly to get it connected to Wifi, and then you are good to go. In addition to accessing music and information by request to Alexa, you can "enable skills" that are more or less like apps, and for the time being, free.



I have been popping my Dot into my bag occasionally to introduce it to my social groups, and it has been a big hit. The kids have some experience with Alexa and find her way cool. But from a FIVES point of view, Alexa is very Interactive and "Speechie," particularly when it comes to working on sharing talk time and using speaking and listening skills (as the Dot is just a speaker, search engine and connection to other programs and microphone to respond, essentially) .

I say this having tried only one activity, which I found via a search of Echo activities for kids and activated the skill simply by saying "Alexa, let's play 20 questions." Alexa's version of this is a game in which you decide the target object (before starting the game) and she asks the yes/no/partly questions. When playing this with a group it was helpful (and contextual!) for me to review a visual about Whole Body Listening Larry and also emphasize the Social Thinking® concept of The Group Plan (activities go best when we follow the group plan so that others think comfortable thoughts about us, rather than our own plan which might bring the activity off track):
A visual I made in Keynote and displayed on the Apple TV as we played

In this way, to the kids it seemed we were prepping for the activity with Alexa, but really we were targeting concepts that are important across the day. As usual, the technology can just provide a context to work on communication skills.

I look forward to trying out and sharing other activities with Alexa.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

New! Google Earth for Chrome

Some weeks back I discussed Google My Maps as a tool integrated with Google Apps (used by many districts) that can be used to target spatial concepts, description, and narrative while working with curriculum contexts. Recently, Google ported its excellent, but logistically complicated Google Earth program into its web browser, Google Chrome. So now you can use a vastly simplified (for the better) version of Google Earth right in your web browser. I refer to this for laptops and chromebook users, though the iPad version of Google Earth offers you a lot too. I've written about Google Earth a lot, and you may get some lesson ideas here and here and here, knowing that all of those suggestions will be easier in the Chrome version.

On Chrome on a laptop or chromebook, all you need to do is navigate to Google Earth at earth.google.com. There you will have an interactive globe at your fingertips, to search or navigate via your mouse. Hit the ? key (you can do this across all Google tools) to see the keystrokes for navigating. I needed to do a little searching to discover that to tilt the view, you hold the shift key while clicking and dragging on your trackpad.

A view of one of my favorite places, Acadia National Park
Compared to using flat maps or Google Maps, Earth gives you a more "experiential" view of any place, with 3D buildings and geographic structures, as well as flying effects. For your students with Google accounts (and yourself), you can sign in and save "placemarks"- which can be a good way for you to plan an activity.

Some ideas:
-Use the Voyager feature in the left sidebar to go to pre-made tours with short videos with information.
-Use the "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature (the dice icon) in the left sidebar to "fly" to a random location on Earth and have students identify where it is using their knowledge of social studies vocabulary (hemisphere, continent, etc).
-Plan a "virtual field trip" to a location related to what students are studying and complete a graphic organizer describing that setting, or other post-activity. I recently discovered that by searching "USA" in the wonderful Epic Books for Kids app (free with educator account), you can access terrific visual books on all 50 States (Exploring the States is the name of the series); you can use these as a guide or structure for searches in Google Earth.

Check out the always-excellent Richard Byrne's video guide to the new Google Earth here.

 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Find on-point videos with Classhook

Classhook is a free service for educators that seeks to "hook" students with clips from popular culture (movies, TV, etc) that connect to academic concepts. I use video clips in many sessions to target narrative language as well as social cognitive concepts. Video is easy to access and naturally engaging to students, prompting observation, discussion and retelling opportunities, as well as post activities such as sketching or discussion webbing.

Classhook has a wide range of topics in which videos are catalogued. SLPs and literacy specialists would naturally be interested in the English and Communication categories, but also should look at Psychology and other disciplines as well. Additionally, using videos to link to concepts in any curriculum area and constructing language activities around them is a good way to incorporate educationally relevant interventions.


You can use Classhook on a laptop, Chromebook or a mobile device such as an iPad. I find it is a good practice to curate your own video links in a service such as Pinterest or Pocket.



Thursday, April 13, 2017

More on "board" games!

In my last post I discussed resources on YouTube that can be used as video models for taking on roles and social behaviors when playing games. Games certainly have a place in social learning situations, and can easily be aligned with particular concepts that kids are working to apply in their interactions. Having "attended" ASHA's online conference on interventions for adolescents and adults with ASD, I was particularly struck by Jed Baker's description on how he gets kids to work on "winning the invisible game" (e.g. following the hidden rules of games that make everyone feel positive about the activity).

For years I have loved the Family Pastimes games for their ability to provide varied cooperative game experiences. The games all have a narrative spin and specific character roles so I often introduce them using Story Grammar Marker® so my students "get the story" of the game, for example, being waiters at a diner needing to serve all the customers before the bus leaves (that one is Bus Depot Diner). I recently discovered quite accidentally that FP had put one of their simpler dice games in app format. Max the Cat ($1.99) ports the board game of the same name perfectly into an iPad version. As they describe it:

"We must help get the little Creatures safely home before Max, the Tomcat, catches them. In an exciting way, children learn logic, consultation and decision making. An important issue to discuss is also raised: we don’t like Max catching those Little Ones, yet we recognize that he is a natural hunter. How do we resolve this in our minds and hearts? Let’s talk it over." 

Indeed, sometimes the Family Pastimes games have a bit of a grim outcome, but all the kids I've worked with can deal. My students loved this app and I was happy to see that if a creature is caught (it's quite easy to avoid this by using the creatures' shortcuts and calling Max back to the porch for a treat) it's represented with a gentle whooshy effect. So help your students follow "invisible" rules like avoiding touching the iPad while someone else is taking his turn, consulting others before using any treats, and gently making suggestions. Notice how many opportunities there will be for them to use if/then conditional thinking and language. Gameplay does take about 20 minutes or so, and my only regrets are that there is no game-saving feature, and that the creatures' shortcuts are sometimes hard to use (make sure you play a practice game to figure out how this works). So check it out- it's great when an app is actually cheaper than the analog version of something!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

YouTube clips about board/card games can serve as video models.

Hands-on games, i.e. board or card games, can be used in helpful social contexts and align with specific skills one is trying to teach. Realizing this week that my group could benefit from a solid model of how to play a particular game, I thought of shooting one with video, but realized that YouTube might be a resource. Though YouTube is not a great source of video modeling in general, it has specific material such as all kinds of brief "how to play"and review videos about commonly used games. We know what it looks like when we have to explain a game; it can be a lot of words. I sometimes go in that route when it's clear my students need to grapple with processing more language. In this case, I wanted them to work on some of the pieces that could be demonstrated more clearly in a video: contingency, prompt responses, moderating humor, and the situational awareness of the game. As it is a silly group, I wanted them to deal with a silly game.

We used this video about Bubble Talk, a simple family demonstration:



As a pre-lesson in a portable strategy, we talked about the Space, Time, Objects, and People aspects of the game. Having seen "a round," as opposed to my giving directions, we also made a goal for how many rounds we should play in our time period for the activity to feel complete and fun. Ward/Jacobson's 360 Thinking Time Tracker came in handy here to self-monitor our progress toward our goal. Finally, we talked about the expected behaviors (see Social Thinking® and particularly the Unthinkable Wasfunnyonce) that would help us meet our goal. All went great and the video, also an engaging way to bounce into other concepts, helped facilitate that.

Check out YouTube for models of many other games.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Near to MA? EdCamp Access is 4/8/17!

I am happy to be helping to organize the EdCamp Access again unconference this year. Hope to see some of you there. Information is below!



EdCampAccess, in the tradition of EdCamps that have taken place around the world, is an unconference devoted to K -12 educators who work with struggling learners. It is not limited to special educators, but anyone who wants to reach students who struggle with reading, writing, organization, behaviors, executive function skills, etc. It will start with a student panel and then evolve into a "collaborative conference" where the conference attendees help to build and create the experience. As is the format for unconferences, we do not schedule any sessions; instead, we do so together as a group at the start of the day. Attendees may choose to facilitate a session, lead discussions or attend sessions of interest to further their professional learning.
Where: Marshall Simonds Middle School, 114 Winn Street Burlington, MA
When: April 8, 2017
Registration begins at 8:30
9:00-2:00
Cost: FREE

Organizers:
Patric Barbieri - @PatricBarbieri
Karen Janowski - @karenjan
Beth Lloyd - @lloydcrew
Sean Sweeney - @speechtechie

REGISTER HERE

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Target spatial concepts, description, narrative with Google MyMaps

Google Earth has always been a great, though not exactly user-friendly, tool for making maps that can target language. Consider the way that certain novels your students have to tackle require an understanding of setting and shifts in setting. Or their 4th grade year and the focus on places they have never been, like 50 States and National Parks. A "virtual field trip" can be great for giving them some experiential hooks on which to hang all this narrative and expository language. The problem with Google Earth was always the saving and movement of files as well as the addition of content such as images, which actually required some HTML coding. Ick.

Now, your Google Account has these tools right in Drive, through a tool called MyMaps. From Drive (you need to use a more full featured web browser for this like on a laptop or Chromebook), select New, then More, and you will see MyMaps there. You can also just go to MyMaps. If you are accessing your education account and you don't see it there, contact your IT support person and ask to have it turned on (I turned it on for a school I consult with, quite easily through the administrator panel). With just a few clicks, MyMaps allows you to:
-Create a personalized map or tour
-Add placemarks for each important location, either on a macro level (across a wide geographic area) or micro, such as a neighborhood or park
-Name your placemarks and write a description
-Add a photo to the placemark. This is my favorite feature because you can do so from a Google Search, instantly creating a visual support.
-Embed YouTube clips related to the location, making your map more experiential
-Because this is all done in Drive, saving is automatic and collaboration features (sharing and editing between users) are also available.

Here's a nice tutorial to give you some more info:


Check out Google MyMaps and consider making a map for or with your students- it's also a great telepractice tool!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Make a "BIG" Visual Support

Visual supports are key to our work. A takeaway I always emphasize in my workshops is that we can use technology in simple ways to engage. Fact is, a visual support displayed via a screen as opposed to a piece of paper has a cool, glowing factor we can't dismiss.

Make it Big is a simple, free app for iPad that allows you to type in a message so that it is displayed in color and, naturally, big. Bigly if you want to go there.


Make it Big is therefore a tool for:
-Displaying a strategy to be targeted in a session
-Emphasizing a vocabulary word
-Presenting articulation targets
-Conversational repair/AAC for those with intelligibility issues.

At times the simplest tools can have a "big" impact.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Visuals and Movement are Key to Science-based Language

This website is 7 years old this month! Wow, another blog-iversary! I am always grateful for the connections and opportunities that have come from writing here, as well as the sense that I am doing something to help students with social and language learning issues. Thanks for reading! I'm taking off for school vacation next week, so see you in March.

I meet with a middle school student weekly for language therapy, working on narrative and expository language comprehension, vocabulary, and reading comprehension (via Visualizing and Verbalizing® and other techniques). I try also as much as possible to incorporate his texts and assignments to make the time seem worthwhile to him, and to apply strategies to the academic contexts that are useful to him (and to keeping up his grades)!

We often choose science assignments as a context, as weekly he has to complete activities like reading a chapter and "taking notes." Applying expository text structures (list, sequence, description, compare-contrast, cause effect) and practicing his ability to talk through text features (e.g. headings, figures, photos, sidebars, captions) here have helped the student, as does the work of Fang (2012) who outlined how science texts have tons of:

-Nominalization (e.g. “failure, evaporation, safeguarding”) and technical vocabulary, so we work on making connections to known words and
-Complicated noun phrases to break down: “The conversion of stored potential energy into kinetic energy can also be harnessed to power homes, factories and entire cities.” What’s converted? Energy. What kind of energy? Potential energy. What else do we know about the potential energy? It’s stored potential energy. Etc.

Doodle Buddy is a great, engaging way to write out and break down words and phrases like the above.

Besides these structural strategies, my student has benefited from using tech resources that provide visuals to scaffold the meaning of these complicated science passages. A few I have utilized on-the-fly when I knew he wasn't "getting it" include:

BrainPop: If you have school access, this resource is the best. You can log in with school subscription to the website or app and check out a 3-minute animated video on just about any relevant topic.

TED-Ed: Like its grownup counterpart, TED-Ed embeds key science or social studies concepts in a larger, practical discussion, which can be good for making pragmatic connections. I'd recommend a quick Google search to see if there is a video that would visualize a concept, rather than searching the site. This is how I found this great explanation of models of light, which frankly we were both struggling with based on the examples in the student's textbook.

TED-Ed video showing light behaving as waves.
In a pinch, whiteboard-like videos like those available at The Science Classroom do a good job of making a topic more visual and showing movement (i.e. sequence) where it is relevant.

Fang's article is great to check out for applying strategies to contextual work with students, particularly adolescents:
Fang, Z. (2012). Language correlates of disciplinary literacy. Topics in Language Disorders, 32 (1), 19-34.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Paper>Digital Paper>Annotated Paper

It used to be that taking the paper out of the "worksheet" equation involved several apps, usually at cost- one to scan and one to "annotate" or write/draw on the paper.  This process is a helpful one to know about because a) students can be more engaged in completing work electronically b) presenting paper in an electronic form can be important as an accommodation (e.g. because of difficulty writing or the need for speech-to-text or text-to-speech).

I recently was pleasantly surprised to notice that Adobe Acrobat Reader for iPad (free) has been updated to do it all- scan a piece of paper and allow you to draw or write on it. You can then share the completed work to Google Drive or other locations.



Unfortunately, this is another instance where iPad 2s are not supported for the latest version (and the scanning feature of this app), so see some iOS 10 blah blah blah here.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Practice Following Directions with Scratch Jr.

I've mentioned before that following directions (written or oral) is an oft-needed but not so engaging goal to address. Scratch Jr. is a free app that, like its senior (mentioned here and here) was created to teach coding and programming to youngsters. These applications use object-oriented codes that are simple to put together and work a lot like LEGOs.

A great way to start with Scratch Jr., and one in which you'll instantly see the potential for working on following directions and sequencing, is to use the intro activities. For example, students need to follow a few steps to make a car drive across the screen--a surprisingly thrilling activity for the class in which I conducted this lesson. The developers give you a great quick guide if you want to learn your way around the app first.

This simple program makes the car drive across the screen.

After using Scratch Jr., you'll likely find all sorts of contexts for it. A first grade teacher I worked with had her students program how baby polar bears "trail" their mothers, thus integrating work in following directions, coding, and science concepts. The variety of backgrounds and characters suggests potential for storytelling work as well, and these can be drawn, leading to limitless contexts. Students can also be encouraged to use strategies such as re-verbalizing directions and visualizing as I discussed in this post.

You can also create direction sheets of your own with or without text by screenshotting steps and then assembling them in Pic Collage, as I did below. In making a math "game," I encouraged the students to verbally mediate the pictured steps as is important when approaching picture sequencing tasks.


Working on skills in this context, you'll also know you are helping to address technology standards and perhaps starting to prepare your students for a career in programming!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Annotating Photos in iOS 10

Annotating a photo, or marking it up with text, highlights or shapes has many uses in language, social and executive function therapy. I have previously written about this topic with regard to Skitch. So, Skitch is no more, and though its functions were incorporated in Evernote, getting to them is almost too complicated to talk about here. The good news is that you can now annotate photos without a specialized app, because these features have been added to the Photos app for iPad and iPhone.

But first, some bad news. These features are part of iOS 10, which came out this past fall and was where Apple finally drew the line on the iPad 2. The iPad 2, now a 5 year-old line, cannot be updated to the latest version of the operating system. So...if you want to continue to be able to ride the tech train and you have an iPad 2, you might want to consider an upgrade. Not only for features available on the newest operating system, but also because as your operating system falls behind, so will your apps, and you'll soon find yourself not being able to install certain apps as they come out. I recommend the Gazelle service, which provides you with cash for trade-ins of old devices. The iPad Air 2 is a good model for clinicians to consider.

How to find out what model iPad you have.

How to find out what operating system version you are running.

How to update your iPad operating system.

Once you are up to date with iOS 10, you'll be able to annotate photos right in the Photos app. This will apply to photos you take with the camera or photos you save from Safari. Searching and saving photos from Safari brings you endless contexts for therapy, including finding images that scaffold language about curriculum topics.

Once you take or find an image you would like to add words or annotation to, you might first want to duplicate it. This would allow you to save the original and annotate a duplicate--especially useful if you may want to complete the same activity with multiple groups.

To Duplicate a photo, view it in the Photos app and tap the "Share Square."


Then tap Duplicate.


Now you will have two versions of the image, one of which you can annotate. To get started marking up the image, tap the "sliders" Edit icon in the upper right corner (next to Details). At the bottom of the menu on the left, tap the "..." icon, then Markup.


From there it is pretty self explanatory--you can familiarize yourself with the bottom menu, and how to add pen marks, change color and line thickness, add text and change its color, size and font.


In this case I was using this feature to make a visual activity with students before we took a community trip to 7-11 to get a snack. The activity aligned with Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen's situational awareness "STOP" acronym-- Space, Time, Objects and People.

For more ideas on annotating photos, you can check out my linked article in the first paragraph of this post. Those ideas pertained to Skitch, but you can now do them right in the Photos app with iOS 10.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Developing Categories with Toca Life Apps

In a recent post for Mindwing Concepts, I described and demonstrated how the various contexts within the Toca Life apps, specifically Toca Life: Farm ($2.99, also available for other platforms), can be used to build narrative language skills. I have recently been using these versatile sandbox apps in other ways, including targeting category development. If you are working in the school setting, especially, working in context just makes sense. Doing so allows you to tie in with classroom topics (in this case, the basics of plant life cycles and animal biology) and sync with the topics of picture books. This practice is also supported by emerging research; Gillam & Gillam (2012) conducted a study that "revealed signs of efficacy in an intervention approach in which clinicians treated multiple linguistic targets using meaningful activities with high levels of topic continuity."

Toca Life: Farm includes scenes such as a field, barn, farmhouse and farm store, each containing movable items in a variety of basic and more abstract categories relevant to the context. Just a few I have noted and used include:

Field: fruit, vegetables, tools, containers, vehicles, ways to water plants
Barn: animals, tools, machines, cleaning items, containers for plants
Farmhouse: rooms, furniture, meats, grains, vegetables, fruit, spices/condiments, school supplies, personal care items appliances, clothing, musical instruments
Store: food categories, dry goods/refrigerated items, containers, as well as a fabulous machine that allows you to "make" products, e.g. items made from milk

Field Scene

Farm Store Scene with Machine

In context you can approach this to target both receptive and expressive categories with students:
"Can you gather 3 tools we need for planting?"
"I just had the girl sit on the chair, bed, and then couch. What category are all these in?"

Check out this and other Toca Life apps (see the Toca Boca website to start) to develop contextual storytelling and semantic skills.

Gillam, S.L., Gillam, R.B., & Reece, K. (2012). Language Outcomes of Contextualized and Decontextualized Language Intervention: Results of an Early Efficacy Study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43(3), 276-291.

Disclosure: author is a paid consultant for Mindwing Concepts, Inc to provide blog and presentation content.
 
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