Thursday, May 16, 2019

Out of the Loop- a fun social game

Out of the Loop is a great game to try with any of your groups (free for iOS and Android, additional content packs with in-app purchases). I used both with a high school and upper elementary group. It first of all has figurative language in its title-- I asked two of my groups what this commonly used idiom means, and none of them knew. Teachable Moments!
-The game is played by entering player names and then passing the iPad to have each player (3+ players) follow the on-screen prompts.
-All players are shown a word except for one, who is Out of the Loop. Players need to position their screen so that no one sees, a good opportunity to emphasize Thinking with the Eyes (see work of Social Thinking®).
-You can also pre-teach the concept of bluffing and "going with the flow" (flexible thinking/adding thoughts) so that no one knows which player doesn't know the word.
-Prompts on-screen then tell players to ask a specific player a question about the word, so the responder needs to a) answer promptly so no one thinks they are "out" and b) not answer the question too specifically so players know they are "in".
-At the end all make guesses about in/out.
The game is a good opportunity to emphasize knowing others' names, which are shown on screen throughout as a helpful visual support. I also found in each case I played there were opportunities for language or perspective taking/Comic Strip Conversational review of "notes to self." Out of the Loop comes with a food category, and everyone likes talking about food!


Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Voice Headliner- A Fun way to Play with Sentences

Voice Headliner is a simple webtool you can use on any device. Choose a celebrity (these include Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Ellen, and others) and type a sentence up to 300 characters, and the site will speak what you wrote in an approximation of the celebrity's voice. This provides a motivating and silly way to work with sentence composition, vocabulary, or giving directions. The tool creates sharable videos as well.


Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Toca World unites many Story Grammar Settings

The free app Toca Life: World (available for iOS, Android, Kindle) works some device magic by uniting any of the Toca Life apps you have on your device. I've long been a fan of these sandbox-play apps that present a variety of scenes mirroring real life for sociodramatic play. Each scene is interactive such that you can manipulate objects and perform actions with characters. Look at Toca Life's settings through a language lens and you'll see many contexts for syntax (verbs, causals), semantics (categories, vocabulary) and discourse (telling a story). This past week I used the Toca Life: Vacation app to model an airport story for my student, and was thrilled to see him tell a same-but-different story (note that there is also a screen/audio recording feature in each app for your to make a movie of your stories with narration). Toca Life: World, in addition to bringing your places together, provides additional settings for purchase. I had fun with the ski resort making this model for one of my groups! 


Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Interactive Sites for Education

This blog began with many examinations of web resources (in the 9-years-ago pre-iPad era) and how their interactive, visual, and educationally relevant content also was very language-based (Speechie, forming the basis of the FIVES criteria). Simple web activities remain a great way to elicit language around a curriculum topic; when analyzing sites we can look for those that foster descriptive/defining, sequential, cause-effect or conditional language. Karen Ogen's Interactive Sites For Education is currently undergoing many updates but remains the best compendium of sites that can be used on laptops, desktops or Chromebooks (not iPad, as many are Flash-Based). Look to the site along with your creativity to find resources useful for targeting many concepts and language underpinnings within curriculum topics. For example, under Social Studies, and the subtopic of Calendar, this very useful resource from Starfall is linked:


The interactive allows you to use a functional calendar and identify key dates and decorate the month with seasonal images--time concepts are critical as concepts, connect to categories, and also relate to executive function.

Explore- be aware that as websites are jumping from Flash to other resources, some of the links may not work. I found the Flash resources worked in my Safari Browser on Mac, but Chrome presented some problems and so I installed the extension Flash Embed.

As another compendium of interactive websites (archive and "mine" the above if involved in telepractice as well) I also recommend the UEN Interactives collection.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Social Media is Filled With Stories

Exploring situations related to social media is right up our alley as social communication specialists. A client of mine recently started using some supervised group chatting and was making a few minor mistakes. Discussing social media is prime territory for understanding:
-metalinguistics: how text and photo-based communication may not carry the intended message due to lack of inflection, etc
-narrative language: what is the story of this communication? Could it comprise an initiating event that changes someone's thoughts/feelings
-hidden rules/curriculum: what are the overall unwritten guidelines about engaging in texting and other forms of social media?

I found the great visual resource from the Excuse My Speech Teacher's Pay Teachers' Store "To Text Or Not To Text" to be very useful and engaging for my student. The packet contains screen-looking visuals and interactions to determine "expected vs unexpected" (based on the acknowledged work of Social Thinking®) and how to respond, among other visuals. I actually reviewed these with groups onscreen/AppleTV.

The CyberSmart Curriculum (now updated, still FREE, and associated with Common Sense Education) provides great lesson plans for different grade levels and topics, including videos and interactive activities.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Google Earth's Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Who remembers this game? I actually was an 80s kid, so mine came in a box with a World Almanac (!) and several huge discs for the Apple IIe. It looked like this:



See video

First of all, show that video to your students to elicit laughs, questions and comments. There are also YouTube samples of the 90s Carmen Sandiego game and PBS TV Show (with the inescapable theme song). After my time, sadly.

THEN, check out this amazingly cool overlay on Google Earth developed with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (on full Chrome, laptop or Chromebook, or in the iOS Google Earth app under the Voyager menu). This Google Earth version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego brings you through a simplified version of the game, and you can use for language underpinnings such as:
-identifying category items (continents and cities)
-spatial concepts
-making inferences
-describing (places, maybe with the EET)
-using research tools

You can zoom in on landmarks in the view window, but interacting with the menu will kick you out of the game. I'd recommend using this game as a way of teaching students to use tabs:
Tab 1- Run the game
Tab 2- Run Google Earth to get further info about the landmarks (Wikipedia articles appear- don't attack me, I know Wikipedia is not good for research, but it is good for general semantic knowledge about any topic)
Tab 3- use for research related to the clues

Enjoy the game- use it a lot and maybe they will make another one!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Cookie's Crumby Pictures Address Self-Regulation

Sesame Street has been on a self-regulation initiative for the last several years. A series of skits called Cookie's Crumby Pictures parody popular movies and model strategies for listening, recalling directions, waiting one's turn and self-control. Children would not get the references to Karate Kid or When Harry Met Sally, but find the videos entertaining nevertheless. You can even sell them to older kids with a little effort. As always, a video that covers a social-emotional concept in the context of a story offers both a social cognition and narrative teaching opportunity. Check out this full playlist here, and a few sample videos are embedded below (email subscribers, click through to the full post).

Whole Body Listening:



"Thinking with the Eyes" (see Social Thinking®) and Problem Solving:




Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Minecraft (and many other) activities at Code.org

I have previously mentioned here and here that coding activities, though designed for computer science and educational initiatives such as Hour of Code, have a lot of language underpinnings. They are engaging contexts to have students practice following directions, learn vocabulary, and use causal and conditional language in their verbal (or written) interactions. These activities are also great for "Group Plan" work (see Social Thinking®).

Additionally, I wrote about the idea of "flirting" with contexts that you really don't want to get deeply into. Minecraft is one example; kids find it very engaging but playing the actual game is something I don't have time to figure out, and may be hard to structure for efficient use of therapy time. In these cases I might use something defined that is related to the context, such as a video clip that might prompt narrative language.

As in the other coding resources I have highlighted, Code.org provides an easy to use, non technical interface. Intro videos set the context and provide directions, as well as a context for students to practice stating main ideas and the overall plan. Check out the Minecraft activity page- the Voyage Aquatic and Adventurer activities are great places to start, asking students to assemble series of blocks to move and perform simple actions. Code.org can be used without sign-in, but if you create a free account, it will save your progress. The website works on full web browsers (Mac/PC/Chromebook) or in the iPad Safari browser. You can also explore their activities from other contexts, such as "dance parties" incorporating music and app creators.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Power Cards with Pic Collage

Power Cards are a form of Social Narrative intervention first described by Elisa Gagnon in her book about the topic. Social Narratives are the umbrella that encompasses Carol Gray's Social Stories™ approach and are considered evidence-based. The Autism EBP Review Group of Chapel Hill describes them well:  “Narratives that describe social situations in some detail by highlighting relevant cues and offering examples of appropriate responding. Social narratives are individualized according to learner needs and typically are quite short, perhaps including pictures or other visual aids." As students get older and, honestly, sometimes tire of our direct teaching, Power Cards provide a hook to their areas of interest and secure the critical factor of engagement with the material we are attempting to present. This resource review provides a great overview of using a Power Card in conjunction with a student's interest in the TV show Survivor in order to teach sportsmanship behaviors.

I recently have been working with a middle school student who is interested in mermaids and The Little Mermaid in particular, and needs some assistance in a number of social learning areas. She's quick to roll her eyes and object when language presented to her is too "teachy." I discovered that the app Pic Collage (you know, one of my faves) was a good place to make a few Power Card samples for her team in a quick manner, particularly because of the Web Search feature that allowed me to search for engaging images. It is a little difficult to type at length in Pic Collage because of its small text field, so I typed into the Notes app and cut/pasted. This app allowed me to make 4 Power Cards efficiently, incorporating some concepts from Social Thinking® and Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen's situational awareness mnemonic. I was then able to send them to the team for "rollout" over a series of weeks, as we never want to bombard students with too many social narratives at once. Pic Collage products can be printed or shown on a device for review. You can also consider making the same in Book Creator.


I wanted to share these examples, you can download from Google Drive here.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Birthday!

Here at post 731, and next week is the 9 year Blogobirthday of SpeechTechie. Thanks for continuing to read!

At a recent conference, I presented how play-based apps can be contexts for all kinds of language targets within an engaging context (e.g. vocabulary, microstructure aspects of verbs, noun phrases, pronouns, causals, social langauge).

Additionally, we consider how a particular app or apps from a developer hits upon a particular play stage, moving from dramatic to removed-event sociodramatic play, thus targeting expanded semantic knowledge and cognition particularly for early learners.

Check out Bamba Birthday Cake and other apps from Bamba- at times simulating events a child would have experienced and in others moving into sociodramatic play (e.g. Bamba Post Office). This app is fre,e but you are better off paying (remember the F- Fair Pricing) a dollar or so in tokens on the home screen to offer students unlimited choices. I generally eschew in-app purchases and would prefer a full version were offered, as is the case with many other apps by this developer. However, this app fits the theme (we miss you, Toca Birthday Party) and this does a nice job with the context of making a cake, picking the birthday character and friend, and allowing for a "party," then taking a "photo!" At each step, descriptors can be used along with silly/absurd choices.



 
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