Friday, June 8, 2018

Do Not Touch (By Nickelodeon)

Do Not Touch (By Nickelodeon) is a fun tongue-in-cheek free app for iOS that provides a nice warm-up activity. This augmented reality (AR) app overlays digital visuals in your real space; point the iPad at a floor or table and interactive animations will appear. As a language activity this can be used to have students share space, follow a "group plan," observe, describe and take turns. The interactive pieces such as the whack-a-mole also could be used to target spatial concepts (i.e. point the iPad up). As the app is free, it's nothing ventured, nothing gained, but two caveats: a) you need to have students who won't dysregulate from humor related to farting and poop (one activity has you shifting position to allow a poop-emoji to climb and dive into a toilet) b) you'll need iOS 11 to download the app. In context, this app could be a good dramatic play situation to pair with a book like Mo Willems' That is Not A Good Idea!


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Stop, Breathe & Think Kids

Stop, Breathe and Think Kids is a great free app that promotes age-appropriate mindfulness through video and play-based "missions." These can be a great way to start a session with youngsters and promote "portable" strategies/tools related to the Zones of Regulation®. The videos are also contextual, based in characters, settings and actions, so can be used in conjunction with narrative teaching strategies. The "Find a Mission" option in the app aligns a video with the students' current mood and emotion, thus allowing for teaching of feelings vocabulary. The app and its older brother Stop Breathe & Think, useful for older students, also offers a web app.


Friday, May 25, 2018

Price it Right

Price it Right is a free Amazon Alexa skill that provides for a terrific game-based activity. The skill allows you to have multiple players or play solo against another random user (you don't directly interact with that person). Through the game, items on Amazon are described (e.g. a humidifier or 12-pack of dog food) and you are asked to speak out a price estimate. Closest guess wins! The length is just right for a language activity, about 6 turns. I used this activity with several groups with some previewing to target:
-visualization: for comprehension it is helpful to visualize the spoken description of the item, perhaps you can even sketch it.
-smart guess/wacky guess (Social Thinking® concepts)
-world knowledge and perspective taking: students should develop a sense of what items cost. You can place this idea into narratives about asking parents for items, and the perspective taking aspects involved.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Video Tips from Students, Part 2

In my last post I discussed how sometimes a tip from a student about what might engage him or a group may lead to a great activity. Another example came from a student who offhandedly mentioned that he likes to watch EvanTube, which he said had fun "how-to" videos. I checked it out, and EvanTube is a "family-friendly" channel full of challenge videos, among other things. I discovered a number of them could be done with minimal or simple materials, and thought that the process of figuring out what is needed, the sequence and overall plan would be a good language, social and executive function activity. The two activities I did with my group turned out to be some of the most fun ones I had this year.

The 3 Marker Challenge turned out to align very well with our social goals as a group and Ward/Jacobsen's Get Ready/Do/Done (GRDD) model. We watched the video:



And interactively completed a GRDD graphic organizer that when complete would look like this (note that the numbers next to the do-steps are estimates of time in minutes, and we used a clock to map these out):


You can access this Google Drawings file here and if you like, make a copy for yourself (File>Make a Copy if signed into Google Drive) to use as a template. It was a very fun activity and we practiced a lot of different skills.

The following week, we tried another! First, we quickly did the Yanny/Laurel experiment (which, incidentally now has its own EvanTube vid), which is a good social activity that underscores that people have different perceptions and perspectives (but pssst. It's Laurel). Related to this is the channel's Backwards Word Challenge:



Great again for goals of executive function, social, and humor but also phonology and just listening! Similarly, we did a GRDD activity- I try not to gather materials for students but ask them to do it, and this included finding an app to do the task. You'll find a free one easily! The results were hilarious and all had a great time again practicing some important skills.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Video Tips from Students...Part 1

I use YouTube videos in social cognition groups for many purposes, and they often prompt clients to ask, "Can we watch...?" My rule is I have to watch it first so, "Not today, but maybe next time." Sometimes this leads to really engaging, fun contexts and lessons.

For example, I learned about Doge. Doge is a meme, basically, and series of silly animations often showing the inner monologue of a dog. My student asked about Call of Doge which was filled with explosions, so, uh, no. But then (showing flexibility in his response) he said, "Well OK...maybe watch Doge Adventure?" This turned out to be a silly music video BUT connected to the idea that different settings and events lead to different thoughts (narrative landscape of consciousness, anyone), so led to a good discussion and post activity drawing comics with thought balloons. It also paired well with the mindfulness-oriented picture book Puppy Mind, which my students probably wouldn't have bought my reading them without this video segue. I always like a balance of materials so I read the actual book. Another tip and lesson next time!





Sunday, May 6, 2018

Tic Tac Toe with Echo Dot

Tic Tac Toe is a "skill" you can enable on the inexpensive Echo Dot just by asking Alexa to play it. Since we interact with Alexa only by speaking and listening, it will be important to make a visual sketch while playing the game. You and Alexa just pick positions (top left, top, top right, left, center, right) and so on, therefore providing a context to target: turn taking, concepts, listening skills, "thinking with the eyes," and self-regulation. As my group has been exploring a Star Wars theme, we sketched asteroids and stars instead of X's and O's. This game is also a good place for you to implement a gradual release of responsibility: I do it (I made the markers in the sketch), we do it (we'll all take turns making the markers).


Thursday, April 26, 2018

AR Treasure Hunt App

ARrrrrgh is a free app that lets you perform augmented reality treasure hunts, and is lots of fun (and meets the FIVES criteria). The title of the app is a play on both pirate-speak and AR, augmented reality, the technology that allows us to display digital information over the real world. Sounds complicated, but this app is very simple. One student goes into a space to hide a virtual treasure chest in the floor (in an open area, the camera is activated and can detect walls, furniture etc). The controls are very simple. The student is then prompted to hand over the iPad and the seeker(s) are given a visual guiding them toward an X that marks the spot. When they successfully navigate to that area of the room and dig, a "treasure" is revealed.
App Store Screenshots
My students greatly enjoyed this app! I'd suggest you try it out yourself first so you know how to guide them. Wi-fi connection is best. A number of skills can be worked on with this app:

  • Social Thinking®: The Group Plan, Thinking with the Eyes, Body in the Group, Smart Guess, Sharing Imagination (also this app could be a good play followup to We Thinkers Vol 2 which has a pirate-themed story/unit)
  • Executive function skills of spatial awareness, planning, time management (I had a highschooler who took an excessive amount of time to bury the treasure and a re-do helped him with this skill)
  • Language skills of spatial concepts and giving clues

Thursday, April 12, 2018

MA area SLPs and educators- Free EdCampAccess event May 5, 2018

I am happy to be helping to organize the EdCampAccess unconference again 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. An unconference is a "collaborative conference" where the attendees build and create the experience. As is the format for unconferences, we do not schedule formal sessions in advance; instead, we do so together as a group at the start of the day via a crowdsourced session board. Attendees may choose to facilitate a session, lead or participate in discussions or attend sessions of interest to further their professional learning.

Some ideas likely to be discussed in sessions are already up on the EdCampAccess website, as is a link to free registration.

Where: Marshall Simonds Middle School, 114 Winn Street Burlington, MA
When: May 5, 2018- Registration begins at 8:30, 9:00-2:00
Cost: again, FREE

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

Friday, April 6, 2018

Using Google Slides as a Visual Support and "Workbook"

With my older students, I appreciate the role of technology as a visual support. Having a screen involved-- not necessarily to be touching or interacting with-- can be engaging, regulating and motivating. I often say I am fascinated by how much my students will attend and converse with the topic when I am simply typing into a slide. We do have Apple TV present in our clinical rooms, which helps, but the same effect can be provided when connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard, or just with a laptop on the table (less ideal but it works).

With one of my groups I am working on problem solving and self-regulation. Westby and Noel (2014) created a great acronym (BEST PLANS) for problem solving steps you can read about here. In an activity I incorporated this as well as Ward/Jacobsen's STOP strategy for situational awareness, and the 5 Point Scale. I was pleased with the group's engagement as I presented a made-up problem (similar to what they would face and probably struggle with at home), and the tools within Google Slides let me mark up the visuals (boxes, making stuff bold or underline, typing into shapes) as we came to some decisions. The link to this file is here and you can feel free to make a copy (File>Make a Copy) to your own Drive and change it up.


SlidesCarnival is a free resource featuring many engaging-looking Google Slides templates you can use for this sort of work.

Friday, March 30, 2018

News elsewhere...

Hi Folks,

An update on a few things I have had going on...

I am excited to be a featured speaker at ArSHA in Tucson in a few weeks! Hope to see some of you there.

SpeechTechie was named one of the Top Speech Pathology Blogs of 2018 by the website Speech Pathology Master's Programs. Many great resources are listed there. You can read the interview I provided for the website here.

I have written a number of columns for Mindwing Concepts and ASHA published over the past several months:

Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 1 (recapping resources provided at ASHA Convention)

Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 2 (recapping resources provided at ASHA Convention)

Tech Tuesday: Plotagon’s Emotions Connect to the 6 Universal Feelings

Apps that Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning (ASHA Leader)

Lastly, three courses I created for MedBridge are now available! You can join MedBridge to obtain CEUs through great courses; see my affiliate link for a discounted rate.

The courses are as follows:

Therapeutic Technology Use in Language Intervention For School-Age Clients
Tell Me a Story Part 1 
Tell Me a Story Part 2 



You can even see me in a tie! That is indeed a rare sight.

Disclosure: Author receives a consultation fee for providing blog content to Mindwing Concepts. Author has also contracted with MedBridge to provide three courses and is part of their affiliate partner program. He will receive a royalty when his courses are available and are completed by members. Additionally, he receives a commission for each membership purchased through his affiliate link.
 
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