Showing posts with label sentence formulation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sentence formulation. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Link Updates and One "for the Girls"

Some updates on other writings- so far this year I have had several columns published in ASHA Leader, in case you missed them:

May 1, 2014. Tech-Supported Wellness

April 1, 2014. 'Skitch' Up your Visual Aids

January 1, 2014. Zooming in on One Multitalented App

Recently I also posted for Mindwing Concepts on infusing use of Braidy, The Storybraid with Social Thinking's® terrific Incredible Flexible You program

When Lego's® Friends line of toys came on the market, marketed as "Lego for Girls," it met with some controversy about gendered branding. After all, there already was a Lego for Girls. It was called Lego.

Despite this, it seems girls do respond to the look and feel of Friends, and I appreciate any toy that develops hands-on, narrative and cooperative play. I also applaud Lego for their creation of a number of free, language-useful apps, even if the goal of these apps is to get people to buy more Lego. Minor critique aside, Lego does make a great product.

I recently found Lego Friends Story Maker app very useful in working with a small group of girls- the app is a pretty simple and limited scene creator, but in some cases it can be helpful to present only small arrays of choices. The goal can always be, how do we make a story of what we see here?

The app allows you to select from a variety of backgrounds (beach, school, etc) add characters and setting elements, as well as smaller props. As an added bonus, you can record an audio narration for your created scene, always a good opportunity to practice applicable speech and language targets or strategies.

Scene creators provide a context to develop all sorts of language targets, from concepts to description to sentence formulation. The app is limited in its text features (i.e. I'd really want to make a comic with it), but here's a place you can "app-smash." Just screenshot your scene and then add the photo to Strip Designer and you're good to add word and thought balloons and captions, helpful for scripting and other aspects of social development.

As in other cases, if you have any Friends or other Lego toys on hand, the app can help you practice play scripts and plans to enact with real-world toys.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Have a "Smashing" Saint Patrick's Day

"App Smashing" is a term I am starting to tell people about at workshops. Apps do discrete things, and no one app does everything. But we can capitalize on one app's capabilities when combined with another's- chiefly through saving a product to the camera roll. This provides both an opportunity for us to expand our tech comfort and for kids to follow multiple step directions. "App Smashing" was coined by Massachusetts educator Greg Kulowiec and you can learn more about it here.

St. Patrick's day can indeed be about more than the stereotypes (no comment, but I am too old, basically, anyway), and this week I used the context to do an activity about positive self-talk. In a brief lesson we illustrated how our self-talk can influence our feelings and therefore our social behaviors- it's the difference between "Lucky Thinking" and "Unlucky Thinking."

Students then used the free app St. Patrick's Day Booth Free to snap a selfie- you may have to try a few to make sure the top of the head is hat-ready- and add festive stuff. This app allows you to save to the camera roll (tap the download/box symbol).

Next, use a photo comic app such as Story Me or Strip Designer. Add the photo to a single-paned comic from the camera roll, and add a word balloon or thought balloon after working with the student around some "Lucky Thinking" from their day or week. This also targets sentence and narrative formulation as well as social cognition. 

See our model used with our center's doggie, Stella!

Have fun with App-Smashing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

"Diagnose" with Dr. Pet Play

The iPad is such an engaging gadget that we sometimes can be too focused on its screen--kids especially. For this reason, it is helpful to locate apps that provide context or creation, but let us break away from the screen to focus on the communication and learning aspects of the activity.

Dr. Pet Play by Pretendasaurus is an app that supports just that kind of context, turning the iPad into a pretend "medical device" that can be used in a play-based interaction with children. Just add a stuffed animal and the screens of the can be used to prompt questions and record answers given in play between kids, as in the video below.

The "examination" can be used to target many language concepts and vocabulary including feelings, body parts, gender, age, weight, and action words, as well as pronouns:

The app includes some fantastic interactive elements such as the ability to activate the camera and snap an image of the "patient," annotate the "X-Ray," and scan and control heart rate and temperature.

Language Lens:
-In addition to concepts and vocabulary, interactions using the app could be used along with Braidy, The Storybraid or Story Grammar Marker® to have students tell stories about why they came to the vet that day.
-To add more context and sequential/causal language, including "treatments," other props might be helpful. I have (and love) the Pretend and Play Vet Set.
-Interactions around the app can support social development, including Social Thinking's® concept of "sharing an imagination," important across all age levels.

This app can be downloaded in its free version, which has only a template for a cat, or the full version ($2.99), which has templates for 10 animals (chiefly different in the X-Ray image and the prompted questions).

So try Dr. Pet Play and take your kids way beyond the screen!

Disclosure: author is a consultant for provision of blog content to Mindwing Concepts, Inc, creators of Story Grammar Marker and Braidy the Storybraid.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Phrasal Verbs Machine

It's great to find an app that is focused on a particular skill, but also very contextual. Phrasal Verbs Machine (free) is a gorgeous example dedicated to building understanding of phrasal verbs- a verb paired with a preposition. These are known to be challenging to ESL/ELL populations but also are quite figurative in nature, and so are helpful to target metalinguistics for our more literal thinkers. The context of the app is "the circus world of The Amazing Phraso and his friends." Using the app, you can manipulate an old-fashioned "machine" to pair any of 100 phrasal verbs with prepositions.

In Phrasal Verbs View, you slide wheels to align verbs with paired prepositions, then tap view to see a terrific short animation of the phrase:

The animations play quite quickly but can be replayed. This activity is great for developing prediction and visualization skills by asking students what they think they will see in the machine for each combination.

In the "Exercise," the reverse situation is involved. An animation is played and you are asked to choose from a few choices to describe the animation, thus also working on main idea.

I hope you enjoy this unique and generously free app from Cambridge University Press- another example of a nicely designed app for older students!

Thanks to Richard Byrne at iPad Apps for School for pointing this app out.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ASHA 2013 Presentation: Pairing MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives

It's the week before the Chicago ASHA Convention and a lot of us are feeling the buzz! I hope some of you will be there and will come by my session. First, the details:

Session Code: 1156
Title: Pairing MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: McCormick Place Room: W196B
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour PDH(s): 1 Hrs

Abstract: Picture books historically are well-utilized tools to engage students in language comprehension/expression, and pair well with interactive apps with similar contexts. Revisiting a popular topic from ASHA 2012, this presentation describes the overlap between books and apps for various ages and the applicability of these visual tools toward intervention.

Speech-Language Pathology Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and Adolescents
Instructional Level: Introductory (Assumes little or no familiarity with the literature and professional practice within the areas covered)
Learner Outcomes:
Learner Outcome 1: Identify language structures and contexts within picturebook text and illustrations
Learner Outcome 2: Evaluate apps for key features indicating applicability in language interventions Learner Outcome 3: Describe pairings between books and apps based on contextual overlap

Next, a teaser.  This topic is of great interest to me as I often used picture books and technology together as a school-based SLP, and still do in my work in private practice. People think of me as a techie, but my real passion is context. This session is essentially about evaluating contextual materials--books and apps--for rich content that can be used in an overlapping manner to target language objectives.  Basically, we are looking for this:

The contextual overlap of books that contain key language structures, elements or strategies, and apps that are Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant, and Speechie, or useful for targeting speech and language objectives.

Take Mo Willem's Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late. Big Willems fan here. This installment of the always-a-hit Pigeon series finds the Pigeon cajoling the reader to let him stay up past his bedtime. In the process of reading, the book can be used to target:
-Time concepts: What hour is late?
-Narrative structure: the story can be mapped as a complete episode, with successive attempts to solve a problem.
-Body language and emotions: the Pigeon is always expressive, from hopeful to furious to drowsy.
-Figurative language and reading intent: the Pigeon tries to fool us with moves such as, "I hear there's a good show about birds on TV tonight. Should be very educational." 

This wonderful, entertaining book can be paired with apps that have students interact with the context of bedtime.  There are a number of apps with this context (e.g. Pepi Bath Lite), but let's look at PBS Kids Daniel Tiger's Day and Night ($2.99). In this app (for about grades K-1), kids can navigate the PBS character through all the steps of getting ready for bed, in the process developing familiarity with a daily routine, sequencing skills, temporal and causal language, descriptive language, and rhyming (through the use of a song). The app has a whole separate set of routines for the morning, providing a context for a "same but different" discussion. 

For older students (who would "get" more of the nuances of Willems' book), you could consider using an open-ended app such as My Story ($3.99) to create a book about bedtime routines, or at a higher level, a book about other arguments for staying up late!

The session will be covering books and apps (not these ones, these were a preview) for kids from early-late elementary and into middle school, but is meant to be generalized to whatever books and apps you'd like to choose. Hope to see some of you on the 14th! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Follow-Up on ASHA Schools: Tellagami

I had a terrific time attending and presenting at this past weekend's ASHA Schools Conference in Long Beach, CA. I have been to many ASHA Conventions (and will be presenting in Chicago, more info to come), but this was my first Schools Conference. It has a very different feel- more low-key and definitely user-friendly.  As presenters we were encouraged to engage our audiences and make our sessions as practical as possible, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed seeing the motivational, positive-psychology based opening session by Murray Banks, and sessions on executive functioning and instructional strategies for academic writing by Sylvia Diehl and Bonnie Singer, respectively. It was an honor to be invited and counted among the faculty of this great conference, and I would encourage you all to make it to this event at some point if you work in the schools.

I had the opportunity at the conference to present on one of my favorite topics: digital storytelling or content creation apps. For me, though not designed for speech and language, these apps serve as "blank slates" for us to simply create (for or with students) products that can target all manner of skills: academic language, concepts and vocabulary, narrative, expository text, sentence structure or social cognition. It all depends on what you ask the students to do.

A great example of these types of apps and always a favorite when I present it: Tellagami. This free app allows you to create a talking avatar (called a "Gami") and place it in context with any background image.

See Tellagami's YouTube channel for a few other ideas on how to use Tellagami.

Here's how to use Tellagami:

Photo Creative Commons Licensed for Remixing by HarshLight on Flickr
1. Save a background image using Safari. The app also has some pre-loaded contexts. Tap Background to load an image from the app or Camera Roll.
2. Customize your character's appearance (the app allows you to choose aspects such as skin color, hair, gender, clothes).
3. Choose an emotional state for the character.
4. Tap the Character button twice and you will be able to either type text for the character to speak, or record audio which the character will lip-sync.
5. When you are pleased with your creation, you can tap Share and save it to the Camera Roll as a video.

The app is super-simple to use and the results are often hysterical! Here are a few ways to think of Tellagami through the Language Lens:
-As the app allows you to place a single "speaker" in a context, it is a nice one to use to create "newscasts" or advertisements.
-In doing so, you can incorporate virtually any academic context by saving a picture and having a "reporter" avatar speak from that location.
-In turn, you can plan the creation using strategies to structure language such as story grammar or expository text structure, or use this opportunity to target areas of difficulty such as pronoun or tense use.
-Because audio can be recorded, the app can also be used as a motivating way to work with articulation, voice or fluency.
-From a social standpoint, you are limited to one character speaking at a time (though Tellagami kindly responded to me on Twitter that they are considering adding additional characters through an update). Nevertheless, the app could be used as another way to deliver a Social Story™ or perhaps an "advice column" on the expected and unexpected behaviors- based on the work of Social Thinking®- in a particular setting (which you of course would depict with a background photo).

I hope you enjoy Tellagami! The folks at ASHA Schools sure did!

What ideas do you have for using Tellagami? Let us know in the comments!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

mARch: Augmenting with Aurasma, Part 3- Using Text and Sharing your Work.

The last several posts here focused on using the Aurasma app to "augment," or layer discoverable visual information, over an image, specifically a book page. These same steps can be used to augment other materials- flash cards, posters, bulletin boards, printed images or student-created art. Part one showed how to use Aurasma's library of images and animations, and part 2 gave steps for using your own images and video as "auras."

In my previous series, I showed how QR codes could be used to display text for language stimulation.  This can be done with Aurasma, as well. However, while you can easily generate a QR code that displays text (I need to update this as I now think other QR generators are easier to use than Kaywa), Aurasma is image-based. So, you have to make your text into an image!  This is easy enough, as you can use a drawing app to write text and save that as an image to the camera roll, or use another app and take a screenshot of the text.

Here's how you do it:

1. Use a drawing app such as Doodle Buddy to write single words to be displayed as images. For example, you can use a conjunction such as "after" to promote complex sentence formulation in context. You could also use vocabulary words. Doodle Buddy lets you save the image, but if you want to write longer text, you could just use an app such as Notes, and take a screenshot.

2. Follow the steps in previous posts to make the text an aura.

As stated in the opening posts, when you make an aura it is available in that version of Aurasma, on that device.  Auras can be shared between devices by emailing them as a link, however. These steps are a little complicated and were made more so in the newer version of Aurasma, but I thought I would share them anyway:

You would want to keep auras private on your own password-protected device, rather than sharing, if they contain images and video of students.

That's it for Aurasma! I look forward to sharing a few other apps this month to show you how augmented reality can be useful in your practice, but first, a Common Core Connection related to this post: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.6 Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

mARch: Augmenting with Aurasma, Part 2- Making it Your Own!

In the last post, we looked at how to use Aurasma's own library of images, animations and 3D models to create an "aura"- an image overlay that appears when you scan a visual material (usually, another image).

Like any great "Speechie" app, Aurasma allows you to use your own images or even videos as auras. As always, this equals limitless contexts for applying the app!

In this post, we will look at how to use materials from your photos app (aka camera roll and photo album) in the context of augmenting a visual material such as a book. It will be important that you have read Part 1, as I am not going to go through each step. I will just be saying how it is different to create an aura from your own photos or videos.

If you are not sure how to do this step, see this post about Saving Images to iPad.

OR, another option is to create your own images or video using the camera. If you want to augment a material with kids' own drawing or writing, shoot a picture of it!

Note that, as stated, an extra step is involved when using your own images or video- you have to name the image/video file (the overlay), and the aura (I usually keep it the same name). Also, if using a photo or video of a child, keep the file private, not public, when you create the aura (see last post's step 6)

The rest of the steps work the same as in Part 1!

If you are creating a video aura of speaking about a book connection, as I modeled above, a Common Core Connection for you:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

Next post, in wrapping up this look at Aurasma, we'll be looking at how to add an aura that displays text (since auras are images, can you guess how?) and how to share auras to other devices.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Buildo Museum

We clearly love to use Halloween as a topic in October, and so do our kids.  Last year I got into the Buildo "sticker book" types of apps (geared toward adding characters and objects to a scene, like Colorforms) and was a bit confused when they released Buildo Museum in the spring. Museum, huh? Does it involve docents, audio guides, and bored children? Ohhhhh, it turns out it was a haunted museum.  OK.

Buildo Museum ($1.99) has an edge on other sticker book apps (see Clickysticky series, which I also like) because of its panoramic scenes, allowing you to sweep left or right to add more stuff, and also wacky sound effects.

Also see the other Buildo apps- Rescue is a favorite of mine.

Language Lens:
-Sticker book apps are a form of digital storytelling and can therefore be used to target all kinds of story structure, from simple action sequences to more cause-effect chains. At the micro level, you can also develop vocabulary, description, verb and pronoun use.  
-Kids can follow directions to create a scene, or direct each other in a barrier task.
-Screenshot the scene to extend to a writing activity.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Be sure to read Jeremy Legaspi's great post on app-dapting a multitude of Halloween-themed apps toward speech and language interventions.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Kid's Journal

Whoo! I made it to day 2 of Appy-Picking Month!

Today's pick is Kid's Journal ($1.99), a wonderfully simple creation app from educator Scott Meech's App of Approval.

Kid's Journal was designed as an easy way for kids to "reflect on their day," but it can be re-purposed in many ways for speech-language and special education interventions.

Using Kid's Journal, kids can tap to select their feeling, location, and weather (think categories) for the day, then write (or dictate to you) a sentence or two and take/add a picture.  Journal entries can be easily exported and shared via email.  Journals can be organized by individual students or groups if you like.

Language Lens:
-Kid's Journal can be used for home-school connections with a visual support for students to describe something they did in a session or during the school day. I used it every day with a particular student to place in his home notebook.
-Clinicians can bypass the "What did I do today?" prompt and have students write a sentence or two about just about anything, targeting curriculum vocabulary, sentence structure, categories, or social skills.  
-In addition to using the iPad camera, consider adding a saved image to the journal to support these targets. 

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.1e Use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home).

Thursday, September 6, 2012

This post sponsored by Starbucks

During the school year, my body is about 10% Starbucks or Dunkin's iced coffee, so I am an authority on these places. Did you know that Starbucks offers a "Pick of the Week" app, book, or song? You can find the cards up on the counter or near the chaotic milk bar where I spill things. On the back of the card is a code you can redeem to get the item for free. Naturally you have to get to the store and get the card, since they want you to buy something. This week the pick is:

Scribblenauts Remix! I have been meaning to feature this app for sometime, and if you can't get your card, it is well worth the $.99.

Scribblenauts Remix is an iVersion of a classic Nintendo DS game that some of your students may have played in the past. It is basically a problem-solving game in which the character, Maxwell, is placed in various settings and faces a challenge.  You need to decide which objects from the app's HUGE library of items to place in the setting to help him meet the challenge. Objects are animated and responsive to your modifiers, so for example, a "huge bunny" will be huge and an "angry bunny" will be aggressive.

"Rainbow" was probably not necessary for this challenge.

The puzzles will be challenging (in a good way, requiring your scaffolding) for children with language difficulties.  Timing does not become a factor until late in the game.  When using games such as this with students, it is helpful for you to have a walkthrough (basically, the answers), so here is a good resource for that. BUT, one of the great things about Scribblenauts is the way it promotes creative thinking and problem solving; there is not just one way to solve any of the levels.

The app also has an open-ended mode called the "Playground"- choose from various settings, including a classroom, and add objects and interact with them. So, on to the...

Language Lens:
Scribblenauts is a great resource to target-
Description: adding attributes changes items, all items serve a function that can be described as well.
Story Grammar: the character of Maxwell is in various settings and faces problems, etc. The playground can also be used to develop the concept of setting and items inherent to settings.
Causality, Conditionality, Prediction: use language around why objects should be added, what would happen if they were added.
Social Learning: when kids work together to play this game, many "teachable moments" ensue!
[EDIT From Hanna B] Articulation- gear additions of objects around a particular sound.

Common Core Connection:

L.3.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. (Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions)

Relevant to use of and, or, but, because, so, if during use of this app

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wrapping Up (Maybe) Animonths: Draw a Stickman, Episode 2

I feel like I have possibly a few more posts on animation in me, but maybe not.  I saw The Hunger Games movie this weekend and my head is so cloudy...I loved it (HUGE fan of the books) and am consumed with thinking about it! It's affecting my executive we'll have to see.

Anyway, I was excited to recently receive an email from the folks at (I must have put myself on their mailing list) announcing the 2nd Episode of Draw a Stickman.  I had written about this website previously as a fun little exercise in cause and effect and narrative development.  Growing Kids Therapy also did a very good post on the activity recently with a number of language development suggestions.

Episode 2 takes your Stickman (and that's the fun, you get to draw the character and much of the relevant props) up a tree, and I don't want to give much more away!  Again, there are great story mapping, cause-effect and conditional discussions to be had while using this site.  I would recommend playing the episodes with kids in order, especially since Episode 2 actually interacts with Episode 1!  This kind of meta-awareness makes the site a possible pairing (for older kids who can get it) with books like The Three Pigs, The Character in the Book, or We are in a Book, all fun volumes in which characters become self-aware and interact with other stories.  Another way to place this website in a bigger context with extension activities is to use Domo Animate's Stickman theme and make some of your own Stickman Narratives, or do the same with DoInk! on your iPad.

From a technical perspective, the arrival of Episode 2 represents the continuation of the practice of developing great interactives on the web using HTML5 instead of Flash.  This is wonderful for iPad users as both Episode 1 and 2 can be accessed and played out right in your Safari browser.  There is an app available, but I am not sure why you would want to take up memory and icon space to access what you can use perfectly well in Safari.  Enjoy, and draw away!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Animonths- Explaining + Animation = Explanimation

When interactive whiteboards (IWBs) first arrived on the scene with their accompanying software, one of the best aspects was teachers' easy access to recording features so that they could preserve each lesson as a video file and share it later via their webpages or other means.  This assisted students who needed information repeated, and also made really good use of the visual teaching capabilities of IWBs.  It also is extremely motivating for students to be able to use this technology themselves in order to explain or apply a curriculum concept, and then hear/see their work and evaluate how well they did!

This kind of "screen recording," or "Explanimation" technology is now available through a number of easy-to-use apps.  In this post, I am going to highlight two I really like, though there are others that are popular and well-reviewed.  I was excited to see this technology applied in a very user-friendly app geared toward use with younger children, Doodlecast for Kids ($1.99, iPad only). In the words of Tickle Tap Apps "Doodlecast combines your drawing and voice to create short videos."  Check it out in action here:

Applying a language lens, this app has many potential uses:
-My graduate student intern and I have found that this app has been very motivating to several articulation students working at the sentence and carryover levels.  We use it in combination with articulation word lists and have the students make up sentences and stories using their target sounds.
-I have also found this to be a really useful tool when working with targets such as multiple meaning words, figurative language and vocabulary.
-The app has a built-in lens on setting and emotions, as the home screen allows you to pick settings such as "water" or "sky" such that those are pre-drawn on the screen, and you can add to them.  These aspects contribute to the app's usefulness as a narrative development tool.

There is now an older brother of Doodlecast For Kids, Doodlecast Pro ($3.99, iPad only) Though Doodlecast for Kids is recommended for ages 3-5, it's applicable for much older kids, and I have used it with middle school students. expands the functionality of Explanimation technology greatly by allowing you to insert images into the animation and adding more customizable tools.  As a result, you can take an image on any topic (see our Essential Tech Skill Tip regarding using Google Images on iPad) and draw and speak about it.

Both Doodlecast for Kids and Doodlecast Pro let you save the video to the iPad (it will be in the Photos app/Camera Roll, not the Videos app) for easy review/sharing at a later time. Videos can be uploaded to YouTube directly from the Doodlecast Pro app, or within the Photos app for videos created with Doodlecast for kids.

For a free app that is similar to Doodlecast Pro, try ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard or Educreations Interactive Whiteboard.  I do like that Doodlecast lets you save to your iPad where ShowMe, for example, only lets you export to their website.

So, readers, what do you think of Explanimation? What other uses do you see for this technology in Speech-Language Pathology?  Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Animonths: Art Maker

Though we in the states will have no idea what the context is about, since the app is based on Australian children's television show Play School, the new app Art Maker (currently FREE, iPad only) provides a great tool to harness animation for speech and language development. The app allows you to choose from  6 settings (beach, farm, etc), use a plain colored paper background, or a photo from your camera roll "to bring Play School into your world." After you add characters and other props, you record as you speak and move items around the screen in order to create an animated movie that is saved within the app.

The doggie built a sandcastle, but it is about to be destroyed by a wave!
Art Maker is essentially a simplified version of Toontastic, in that it allows you to just create one scene, but its look and feel (kind of a paper-and-fabric craftsy motif) are well worth checking out. I like that the app also allows you to take a snapshot of your scene. Also, when you click on any of the characters and props with a puzzle piece icon, you'll be able to assemble that element as a "puzzle" before using it in the scene (a good opportunity to work on describing by parts).

This app will definitely appeal to preschool and primary school students in order to target vocabulary, concepts, sentence formulation, cause and effect relationships, sequencing, narrative, social skills, and articulation, voice or fluency (with recorded feedback).

Friday, March 2, 2012

Animonths: Go! Animate's Quick Video Maker

Go! Animate's Quick Video Maker is a web tool (flash-based, not iPad friendly) you can use to create simple dialogues between animated characters in a particular setting.  Go! Animate allows you to do quite a bit, though with limitations, with your free account.  Within the Quick Video Maker itself, certain settings and characters require a "plus" account, and you are limited to 10 lines of dialogue. Creating the video is simple:

Go! Animate's Birthday Card Creator
Just type, and your characters will say what you like! The Quick Video Maker is somewhat like a simpler version of xtranormal.

Be aware, as I have said in my post about Domo Animate, Go! Animate is not moderated.  You will not want to click the Explore tab as you may encounter videos that have inappropriate language. Also, the human characters, particularly females, in Go! Animate are a bit more...developed. So I would limit use of those character sets to middle or high school students.  That said, there are a number of cute character sets for use with lower elementary students.

Why would SLPs want to use this tool? Click here for a video about the "language lens" and Go! Animate.

Click through to see the video...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Animonths: Domo Animate!

To continue the theme of highlighting resources that use animation as a tool for targeting speech and language goals, for the next few posts I am going to focus on the Go! Animate websites, starting with Domo Animate.  These webtools (Flash-based, so not available on iPad) allow you to use a simple interface to create short, animated movies.  Domo Animate (so named because it utilizes some anime characters such as Domo, but also has other character choices) is a great place to start for its simplicity and particular appropriateness for younger students. Go! Animate refers users to this site, which provides a moderated experience geared toward younger kids. You can use Domo Animate to make an animation with characters, setting, movement, facial expressions and word/thought bubbles (no speech).  It therefore is a great tool to target narrative and social skills/ Social Thinking™, as well as make a movie about any curriculum topic.

I made this short video demonstrating how to use Domo Animate (email subscribers, please click through to the post). Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Animonths: Toontastic's Birthday Bonus Sale

If you didn't already know, Toontastic for iPad is one of my favorite apps and, I think, one of the easiest and best ways to use animation in speech-language therapy. Toontastic is essentially a digital storytelling app created in response to its development team's (Launchpad Toys, a studio with a great educational lens) observation that Kindergarten is way fun and kids get to play quite a bit.  Then, they get to first grade and that pretty much fades away and they are expected to "write stories," with no bridge between the two.

Toontastic is designed to scaffold that transition, by providing kids with digital "toys" and "playsets" (characters and settings) and the ability to record the screen as you simultaneously move them around and speak narration and dialogue.  The app helps kids structure their stories according to the grammar of setup/conflict/challenge/ climax/resolution, which aligns well with other versions of story grammar (actually the one I use).

Toontastic lets you make your own characters and settings as well through a drawing tool, but right now they are offering a FANTASTIC deal through the end of February. Purchase the "Birthday Bonus" and receive all available playsets AND "all future toys" for the cost of $9.99*. Now, Toontastic itself is free, and comes with a number of playsets, but having all these available to you greatly extends the context and usefulness of the app.  Current offerings include:

History: create stories about the signing of the Declaration of Independence with the addition of Washington, Jefferson, and Franklin, Suffrage with Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul and Hope Goodrich, and Civil Rights with Rosa Parks (yes, there is a bus in another playset) MLK Jr and Thurgood Marshall. Great curriculum connections!
Wildlife: use habitats and animal interactions on a savanna, arctic scene and rainforest.
Monsters: Did you ever see my book review of Kat Kong? Pair that book with these playsets!

Among many others, including sports scenes, real-world schema and play skills in the "Town" and "Pets" themes, I could go on and on...

I hope that many SLPs will take advantage of this offering and target vocabulary, sentence formulation, concepts, narrative, curriculum contexts, articulation and fluency, and social and play skills using this app and its playsets, which more or less form a creative suite.  I just saw a tweet about this great book, Social Rules for Kids- here's an idea: make animations that apply each rule!

*This totally sounds like a sales pitch, but I think it's important to state that I wasn't compensated for this post, even with a code! I'm just that enthusiastic about this app...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


There have been a number of "Facebook emulators" that allowed you to create profile pages and posts for a fictional or historical person, but's Fakebook, seems to be the easiest to use, and I am also glad to see that it has stuck around (some of these have been a bit ethereal). Kids are obviously "into" Facebook, and even elementary students would be excited to create a fake profile, having seen siblings and parents use the site.  What you create with Fakebook, to be clear, is a static page with text, images and links- it is not a page that others can post on and interact with, i.e. not a real social networking profile.  So don't be scared.  Take Fakebook for what it is:

-An opportunity to use an exciting, motivating, and 21st century communication context to target language skills.
-A place to sequence/describe the events of a character's life and associate image and video links.
-A context to explore character perspectives (and multiple perspectives, as you can have other characters' respond).

You could use Fakebook to make a profile for a book character or figure from classroom content (maybe even an inanimate object such as a tree?) It's really quite easy to use (especially if you know your way around Facebook), and there is a video tutorial here!  The site has a save/edit function, so that you can return to your fake profile later and continue to work on it (you enter in a password when you save, and the site gives you a special URL where the profile is located).

I made this mini-profile of the Pigeon in just a few minutes:

Friday, January 13, 2012

Painting With Time

Painting with Time is a terrific FREE iPad (only) app that allows you to interact with a pre-loaded series of images in order to show the effects of time.  For example, Spring Comes to Boston, one of the available "time sequences" can be "painted" with the finger to reveal the changes that take place over the Spring months, at 3, 5, and 7 weeks.  You can also "slice" pictures in various ways to reveal changes at different points in time.

The center of this picture of Boston Common and Public Garden is "painted" with the 7 weeks paint, while the perimeter shows the scene at the beginning of Spring.  As a picture description activity, Painting with Time also gives you the opportunity to develop vocabulary and conceptual language.
The sequences in the gallery vary over different levels of time, from seasons to months, weeks, minutes and even a "beginning/middle/end" sequence with a mural and ice sculpture. I especially like the Messy Room sequence, showing the stages of cleaning up a teen's room at Start/15 minutes/30 minutes.  Kids with language and executive functioning difficulties have trouble with time concepts, and Painting with Time is a nice, no risk tool for you to use to target these skills. Additionally, causals and past/future tenses can be elicited when you discuss the scenes with students and make predictions about what it will look like after they paint. Painting with Time is essentially a picture description activity with a really fun twist!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Language Builder and Assessment Options

I recently had several evaluations in which the students had variable ability to engage in traditional standardized assessments. Specifically, the often quite useful CELF-4 Formulated Sentences subtest, in which the student is asked to produce a sentence to correspond with a presented picture using a target word, put these particular kids at a dead-end of silence and "I don't know"s. The subtest features a series of colorful pictures designed to serve as contexts for target words that increase in abstraction and complexity (e.g. always, because, until), and though I had never really analyzed it before, I realized that it involved even more advanced aspects: perspective taking and self-talk.  For example, the "practice" picture in which the examiner asks the child to use the word when depicts a cafeteria scene in which all sorts of things are going on: kids sitting at a table, a child ordering food, another throwing out the contents of a tray. On-target responses could include anything from:

When is lunch?

to the more complex

When I finish my lunch, I throw away my tray.

In either case, and in most of the items, the child is asked in some sense to put themselves in the scene to be a voice within the picture.  Some kids, of course, struggle to do that, and as my students exhibited a level of frustration and anxiety that prompted me to discontinue this subtest after a few items, I was left with the need to quantify their syntactic abilities (and, oh well, no Core Language Score).  Language sampling was on the agenda, of course, but both kids were very engaged by the iPad, so I found myself turning to Mobile Education Store's Language Builder ($7.99, iPad only).

Language Builder is an open-ended tool within this app studio's line of apps in which audio can be recorded to match picture and language prompts.  Or, in this case, I used the most open-ended option in the app, simply asking my students to "Make a sentence about the picture." In both cases, it was an enjoyable and engaging experience for the child, and gave me key information about their sentence formulation abilities, along with transcribable (or demonstrable for parents) audio samples in response to the pictures.  Language Builder has different levels of "hints" that prompt various language structures, and could of course be used for all those kids that complete Formulated Sentences and don't do so well with it. I actually have also been using it in conjunction with the excellent Conversations with Conjunctions program (Catherine Harkins May, Pro-Ed), which involves the use of ASL signs for conjunctions in order to provide a visual and kinesthetic cue. Overall, it's a great go-to app to address the difficult-to-assess (and treat) area of complex sentence development!
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