Friday, January 19, 2024

What's the Hoopla?

Within sessions I strive to achieve what we might call media balance, using a variety of materials including hands-on, paper, and digital. If I feel the plan involves too much tech, I try to adjust. This has been a helpful model in supervising graduate students too. At the start of each semester, I encourage each of them to make sure they get a library card and visit the local library to practice identifying actual books they can use in therapy sessions. A library card is also essential for the resource I want to highlight here: hoopla!

hoopla is an extension of public libraries' digital resources (note: I speak as a Boston Public Library patron and this may not be available to all who read this- check with your library or their website!). Of course, Overdrive/Libby are great for digital books that sync to your Kindle app (I use on iPad or Mac), but I rediscovered hoopla entries recently when looking for books on my library's website. hoopla has a wide range of picture books, many on SEL topics from authors such as Julia Cook or Bryan Smith:


I have a learner who really gets into these books, posing great questions. Some SEL books can be a bit black and white, but with our teaching we can infuse nuance and neurodiversity-affirming approaches.

hoopla also has a range of short movies created from picture books, which can be terrific for media balance, engagement, and providing animation which creates narrative and interpretive opportunities.


I hope you find your way to hoopla!


Thursday, November 16, 2023

GratiTools (and say hi if you see me at ASHA2023 in Boston)

During this time of year, we often do the obligatory lessons about gratitude that go well with the thanksgiving holiday. From a language perspective, practicing gratitude involves reflecting, listing and describing life events, so it is a therapeutically relevant context for sure. However, I always emphasize that there is science behind it for self-regulation, and we should try to practice it all year round! Here's a good video to detail those points.


If you have students that need an engaging angle, Mr. Thankful made me (and them) smile. While the gratitude here is over-the-top, it provides a view of what the practice writ large looks like. At the end (2:02) there is a bit of religiosity, so stop it before that to avoid this particularly in public school settings.


As I have been writing about AI tools, thanks to Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand for sharing this simple tool that generates a thank you letter based on a simple list, which would make a great writing activity in the coming week.

Also, I'm at ASHA this week in my hometown- please say hi if you bump into me. I will be presenting in a MasterClass on innovations in telepractice, MC27: Telepractice Innovations: Current, Emerging, and What We Wish For. There is an additional fee to attend, but I will be sharing my slides here following the session. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

Have you done the Connections?

 ...is something my husband or I says to the other at some point every day since the spring. At that time, the New York Times added a daily puzzle that I thought was uniquely designed for SLPs and our love of categories as a foundation of semantics. 

Connections is free daily via the web on whatever device, and also now is in the NYT Games app (I do subscribe as I have gotten in the habit of doing at least Sunday to Wednesday's Crossword). They explain it best: 


And today's puzzle:



With Connections be careful of what we call in quizzer parlance "Pavlovs"- you are conditioned to jump at them. It can be tricky as one item may seem to go well with one group but actually a different category can be constructed. 

This can be a great activity for older clients or students as you can encourage forethought- eg let's think of at least two sets of 4 items before submitting any. You can also provide a growing schema that builds metalinguistics
-Straightforward semantic category
-Figurative language or idioms
-Words that are part of a phrase e.g another word goes before or after them all
-Group that works best if you say it aloud (hint for above)

It can be a good idea to do it yourself on one device and then show it to the client on another, where it is reset, so you know how to cue. There are a variety of daily posts that provide hints, such as Mashable's.

And most importantly...you can also make your own! Think of targeting reviewed vocabulary or concepts! Check out this one I made last Friday when a certain album came out, and click Create to make your own.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Using ChatGPT for Lesson Planning Ideas

I have posted here recently on the therapeutic uses of Generative AI for language activities, and have recently been impressed by the results of using it to obtain modifiable content useful in sessions. ChatGPT is great at coming up with elaborated lists. I am working with a student on self-advocacy in the community, an an example prompt to ChatGPT is as follows:


Not necessarily usable as a read-through with a student, but certainly a place to start in thinking about role-playing situations. 

With another student, the need for intervention in social problem solving has been recently highlighted. The student benefits from a hook, and is very into the pop/rap artist Lil Nas X. While the artist's racy content would never be a good context for our work, the student is allowed to listen to some songs at home, and the artist could certainly be useful as a kind of shell of a story.  An activity I am conducting is teaching the basics of problem solving using language structures such as OR, i.e. "we could do this OR this." See the books on problem solving by Shure

Searching on Chat GPT, I originally obtained a list of too-mature problems e.g. Nas is harrassed on social media because of his identity as a queer artist. Modifying the prompt with "kid friendly," I received a delightful set of problem solving scenarios. 


Again, these are usable with some creative modification. The outfits scenario, for example, could be solved with a drawing activity of creating several outfits. My student is not so into drawing, so we are using Pic Collage's new online web editor (pick blank canvas) along with a separate tab search-copy-paste for Google Image PNGs (no background as in the rainbow skirt) and the "remove background" feature. 



We are doing a similar activity for a client I supervise who has a big interest in Sonic the Hedgehog!


Thursday, August 24, 2023

Finding Categories Everywhere

This summer I became addicted to the New York Times' new Connections puzzle. I enjoyed each morning tackling this often-tricky categorization activity and comparing results (or sometimes providing or receiving hints) with my husband. I've always thought of categorization as one of the most important skills--it's how we organize information, and much expository text takes on a list structure--and our literature backs this up. Approaches like the EET also use Green-Group to target describing by category, among other attributes. We can be explicit with our students (see Ukrainetz' helpful RISE acronym) and teach that categories are important ways to organize and describe words and information. 

ABCYa provides a wealth of categories through its activities- you just have to look for them. 

Take Dress for the Weather- here you've got an engaging activity which contains both weather conditions and clothing items. Take screenshots of relevant items and paste into Jamboard and you've got a followup sort for repetition of the concept, category and skill. 



You can practice contextualized language intervention by locating a narrative picture book about weather, dogs and weather, or weather and clothing and target another skill within the same topic. 

Here's five more categories you can target with ABCYa:

Bandemonium: musical instruments
Find the technology: electronic devices
Make a House: Parts of a house, building materials
Seasonal Shuffle: seasons, months

I'm sure you can identify many more opportunities from this site.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Music LM

Proceeding from some ideas about the role of music in speech-language therapy (and social coaching), back in the spring I did some activities with MusicLM. This tool is available from Google's AI Test Kitchen, which is free, though you currently have to sign in with a personal Google account and may have to wait a short while to be approved. With Music LM you "Describe a musical idea and hear it come to life." More specifically, type an activity, setting, situation, style, mood, or specific musical instruments, and it will create several examples for you.


The language and/or social interaction can come in through providing schema with the above italicized connections to music, using this as a conversational "add a thought" type activity, and allowing flexibility- as maybe your clients will think of possibilities that fall out of these categories. You can also be more structured and gear a lesson around, say, emotional vocabulary.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Sing!

The title of this post is both an encouragement and some specific features I wanted to let you know about!

You first of all probably know singing is a hobby for me and a self-regulation strategy. My husband and I have been back on our BS and adding to our playlist monthly.

There are good resources and research for using music in speech and language therapy, and we of course know that for many of our students it is supported by the client values prong of EBP (a natural motivator and therapeutic avenue for those of you working with older clients as well). I've written before about using music for figurative language and narrative

If you are an Apple Music subscriber, they have recently added features they call Sing, including synced displayed lyrics (think literacy as well) and volume control for the vocals within lyrics. Meaning you can have the student(s) sing along with the artist, or be the artist on their own. 

This video shows how:


For the karaoke singers like me or those working in professional voice, did you know it is also pretty easy to change the key of a song? Why would you do this? Let The Honest Voice Co demonstrate:
@thehonestvoiceco Replying to @willow ♬ original sound - The Honest Voice Co.

As to how, however, that's easy. I currently use the app Anytune to do this. If you have the song purchased from iTunes and downloaded to your phone, you can simply import the song to the app and change the pitch or tempo (which may help with processing or speech production):

Below the soundwave on the left are tempo controls and on right is pitch


 

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Gartic Phone

Over the spring semester, in several of my social learning groups, we were experimenting with games that allowed for association, storytelling and humor (essentially the same skills used in improv games, which I also like to use non-digitally). It was helpful to use some free versions of games as opposed to the excellent games offered by Jackbox because a) I could hand over the reins to graduate students practicing independence and b) the students could perhaps use the games at home with family or friends at no charge and c) the varied ways the students needed to "join" the game allowed for practice in situational awareness and self-regulation. 

I found many great examples (and yes, some less-great) from this post on The Gamer, but I wanted to highlight Gartic Phone here. Gartic Phone is a "telephone" type game in which players label drawings successively in increasingly silly ways that become removed from the original meaning. There are a variety of ways to play including creating a story, such that it is worth revisiting over multiple sessions, and it is easily playable in 10 minutes once kids get the hang of joining. I often use bit.ly to shorten the URL for joining for games like these. Remember that these games can be worth spending time with pre-loading game-play "moves" that will help everyone to feel successful and/or revisiting results (I often screenshot to remind them of what went well).




Saturday, May 20, 2023

High quality digital resources for narrative assessment

I am just wrapping up another semester supervising graduate students at BU's Academic Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic. In gaining baseline and post-treatment data, I am always steering them to look through the narrative level at microstructure aspects (e.g. complex sentences). For several semesters, we've been using the excellent resources at Columbia University's Leaders Project and their School Aged Language Assessment (SLAM) cards. These are easy to use and provide a criterion-referenced measure as well as a good simple language sample. Digitally, these are also all available for free at Boom Learning (search for Leader's Project). I recently noted some versions for preschool students including stories for prediction, and look forward to trying these out. 

I am not sure why I am finding this image amusing. That's just me, I guess.

I did a recent assessment also where I incorporated the CUBED, which provides free language assessment measures including narrative-- these are from the team who created the Story Champs® program. CUBED materials have been created for PK-Grade 3 and consist of a paragraph-level verbally presented story and range of assessment activities (e.g. retell, vocabulary description, and personal narrative prompt). The forms of the CUBED make it simple to provide a view of story grammar and complex sentence formulation. 




Friday, April 21, 2023

What's Going on in this Picture?

Any tech resource that is simple, reliable, with content worth more than one visit, and that will tie in with instructional strategies is one to save on your list. Such a thing is the New York Times' What's Going on in this Picture? The site provides a weekly Interesting Image and instructional tips.


You can consider using this content with:

-Instruction on story grammar, as each picture can be used to form a story

-Visualizing and Verbalizing® strategies

-tie-ins with forming inferences and Social Thinking® concepts such as Thinking with the Eyes 

-Thinking Routines such as those outlined here

The content here is also great for many age levels including adults!

 
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