Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Holiday Lesson...

One of my favorite holiday activities with students is to role-play giving and receiving gifts, and here are some updates on that.

You can do an actual gift exchange if time permits, or use an empty box or gift bag for pretend play, but there are some ways to tech up this lesson and add context, strategy and social cognition concepts, and engagement.

This coming week I am going to have students prepare for this activity by reading Llama Llama Holiday Drama (it's available on Kindle if you don't have time to get it). This book explores anxiety and mindfulness, and contains some good "hidden rules" about the season and the meaning of giving gifts. It is also multi-denominational.

I created a thinksheet for the activity which you can access here. Feel free to Make a Copy under File if you would like to modify it for your purposes.



As you can see, the preparation steps will target asking and answering questions, using wondering and People Files about others (Social Thinking®), as well as categorization and making choices. The "Levels of Like" concept is one I learned from SLP Jenny Sojat. She presented on this at a conference and uses this to make group decisions- poll group members to get them to state whether they love, like, are ok with (the "yes" line of compromise) or dislike an idea such as an outing, game, snack, etc. In this case students would just be using to to gauge another's opinion.

Have students save a photo of the "gift" they will be giving. On iPad you can look up photos in Safari, tap to enlarge, then tap and hold to save to the Photos app. If you want to add math concepts and flexible thinking, give them a budget and ask them to look up the item on Amazon.

I'd suggest "wrapping" the gift with Bag Game. It adds an element of a hidden item as the student hands the other student the iPad.

Pre-exchange, the 5 Point Scale provides a great tool. You can emphasize the perspectives and reactions of the giver at each level as well. I like to develop scales with students by using anchor points such as a 5 and 1 and having them label the other levels.



Then, exchange by having students deliver their iPad "gifts" to each other! Another good strategy is to provide an explicit challenge to students to generalize the concepts and report back. For example, ask students to be aware of their reactions when receiving gifts and report back on them. This is always a good narrative development activity as well.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Scene But Not Heard

Back in the day, I used to subscribe to Nick Jr. Magazine for its ads (great expository text contexts) and visual content. This included a comics section with a series called "Scene But Not Heard" by comic artist Sam Henderson. The adventures of Pink Guy and Bear are humorous, exaggerated, and related without words. Like wordless picture books, wordless videos and comics are helpful materials for students to work on interpreting nonverbal cues, "thinking with the eyes," and constructing narrative language and the microstructure (vocab, verbs, complex sentences) within it. In those days I used to collect the series and use laminated versions in classrooms for push-in services along with graphic organizers from Story Grammar Marker®. The content is engaging for mid-elementary through high school students.



Nick Jr. is no more, but I recently discovered that much of "Scene But Not Heard" is available digitally. Just Google it and then click Images, and you have a treasure trove. This feature about the series also contains a gallery. In either case you can:

-save the comic materials to your device (tap and hold on full size image on iPad, or ctrl/right click on a laptop).
-make a collection- you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader, Mac Preview, tap the share button on your iPad and then save as PDF to iBooks, or simply make a folder in your laptop or Google Drive.
-Use the zooming features contained by these technologies to zoom in on the action and limit the visual array (I like to use these to teach students to verbally mediate and "talk out" the nonverbal content).
-Consider integrating with Google Docs- insert a comic into a Doc and have students write a summary.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Realistic Expectations, and some tips

Technology that we like can tend to go away.

It's just how it works. Most technology resources have an element of planned obsolescence. I wanted to write about this because with the launch of iOS 11 this fall, many in our field discovered that a good number of their apps no longer worked, i.e. they wouldn't launch.

Why did this happen? 
Apple introduced a higher level 64-bit processor to its devices in 2013 and at that time began encouraging developers to update apps that were built for the 32-bit processor. That was 4 years ago. So Apple gave developers plenty of time to work on securing a longer life for their apps. With iOS 10, users began receiving messages when launching old apps that an update would be needed and the app would not work with future versions of iOS. That line was drawn with iOS 11, and something like 180,000 apps (mostly games, followed by education apps, see source) ceased to launch once the device was updated to the newest version of iOS.

Another why, which I can say from being involved in app development, is that creating technology is very difficult and complicated, and these creations are not intended to last forever. Kudos to Smarty Ears for keeping all their apps, including the five I worked on, up to date. I have had to mourn many web resources over the years and I knew the day would come for some apps to buy the farm as well. Let's pour one out for the original Toontastic, now replaced by Toontastic 3D, which I also like but perhaps not as much, and Tellagami, for now.

I could not find a reference indicating how long tech consumers should expect resources to work--hardware or software. But I'd say it's reasonable for us to expect about 3-5 years, even if we paid for that resource.

Things happen. People move on. So should we. Should we expect a company that floundered so much that they were sold and reabsorbed, or just went away, to update its apps? These things are unfortunate and disappointing, but it is what it is!

What can you do?
First of all, if you haven't updated to iOS 11 yet, I recommended previously that you do so carefully.
-Check first to see if there are apps you absolutely can't live without, or whose data you need to extract somehow. Settings>General>About>Applications. If apps you need are listed in the "No Updates Available" section, take note of these.

The App Compatibility/Sadness screen

-Contact developers, if you want to go that route, to see if there is going to be an update. Probably if they are still in that bin, it's unlikely.
-If there are a lot of apps on this screen that you can't live without, wait awhile...but only until you figure out how to replace them in your workflow.

Let go. If you hang back on your operating system too long, you are going to be missing out on updates to other apps and new releases.

BUT, once you update, unfortunately those non-functional 32-bit apps are not deleted and just take up space on your device like an annoying shell. I had the additional problem of my iPad being nearly full after updating. After deleting a lot of items like old video clips and photos, here's the process I followed:
-I navigated to the above screen (Settings>About>Applications) and took a photo on my phone of the apps at top of the list.
-I considered if there were any apps I wanted to wait a bit more on, and kept those in mind.
-I navigated to the easiest place to delete apps, Settings>General>iPad Storage

The App Storage Screen- Tap any app to Delete it. You can also find the icon on the home screen, tap-hold until it jiggles, then tap the X. Apps are hard to find this way, if you have many apps.

-This screen takes a moment to index, but lists all apps on the device. Most of your stragglers are probably going to be down at the bottom of the list as in my observation the non-updaters are smaller apps that performed discrete functions. Scroll down and tap on any app and it will bring you to a screen where you can tap Delete App. WAIT for Settings to kick you back to the storage screen rather than tapping Back or you are likely to cause a freeze.
-If Settings freezes anyway in this process, wait awhile or Force Quit it.
-I referred to my photo and deleted apps that I could let go of (most)
-Then I navigated back to the No Updates Available screen and repeated the process, after deleting the previous photo from my iPhone and taking a new one, until I only had a few apps I'm holding out for. Remember that if a deleted app is updated in the future (you'd have to check the App Store to find out if it reappeared), you always can reinstall.

This process was, frankly, a major pain in the ass. But having gone through it, I am happy to have a cleaner device and to have purged dozens of apps that I really wasn't using anyway. As I have 2 iPads, following this I backed up the "clean" one to iTunes, updated the 2nd one to iOS 11, then reset it and restored it from the backup of the clean iPad.

Moving on!
 
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