Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Little Interaction Makes a Fun Vocab Lesson

Merriam-Webster is known for documenting the changing words of our language. Their Time Traveler website (accessible in any browser) will allow you to look up any recent year and see a list of words that had their "First Known Use" in that year.

Click on any site to see a definition; you may have to provide "kid-friendly" definitions. This site would be great if you want to incorporate engaging material or current events content, which often has many contexts for teaching narrative and expository text.

Many of the words featured are nouns. For a strategic focus you can teach semantic structures with a tool such as the Expanding Expression Tool. 

Escape Room (2012)
Green/Group: A recreational place
Blue/Do: It simulates a locked room according to a theme, you have to get out
?/What does it look like?: Room or series of rooms
What is it made of/Parts: Puzzles, codes, hints, themes
White/Where: Often in a mall or amusement center
What else do I know? I once did one that was a fallout shelter

Buy one, or the kit, but did you know you could make a template for classroom instruction, or use mine at this link? (please DO NOT request access, rather, you can click File> Make a Copy to copy to your Drive).

Friday, October 11, 2019

ASHA Voices Podcast

A few weeks ago I recorded a segment on ASHA's new podcast, ASHA Voices, with its host J.D. Gray. It came out this week. The episode and others that are available (through this link or Apple's Podcasts App) are worth a listen. In this one, Kim Murza discusses the need for creativity and "wearing many hats" as a school-based SLP, offering great tips. In my segment, we talked about visual tools such as Google Earth, "Fail" videos, Pic Collage and Book Creator (this was edited for time: note, search for "AFV fail videos"- family-friendly- when looking on YouTube). I hope you will give it a listen!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Make Different Versions of a Conversation with Pixton

Pixton is an online comic creator that I have loved for years. One thing I love about it is that you can create visuals that demonstrate communication behaviors or conversational moves that spark discussion and analysis (and practice) very quickly. Play around and make one strip (I use the classic free Pixton and screenshot my creations) and then note from your library you can make a copy of your strip like you do with Google Docs, and change the language or communicative move used. Voila! Another version! Consider handing one to each person in your group and having them explain what they see.

Pixton also is a great contextual tool- see all these settings? I haven't forgotten my previous topic run on context, and will return to it. Each of these offers many specific backgrounds within it to incorporate narrative language.

Create a simple two character comic and you can create examples of different WH questions to use in conversation, and their results:

You can contrast these with yes/no questions, which tend not to bear as much fruit:

And comments, and so forth. Create a lot of engaging visual supports for older students in a short period of time.

So again, 3 tips:
-Make sure your browser runs Flash (I had no problem with this using Chrome)
-Screenshot to save/print your strips (you could also put them on Google Slides, like I did here if you have trouble seeing the comics above, with instructional tips)

This post inspired by a lot of conversational work I have been doing with groups, and this post I thoroughly agree with by SLP Rebecca Reinking.

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

Friday, September 27, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 5)

So I made a thing. I have a free packet available on Teachers Pay Teachers describing the foundations and many examples of one of my favorite strategies: pairing picture books with apps for contextualized language intervention.

I usually capitalize that phrase because it is the title of a presentation I have done at ASHA Convention and other places with different versions (I like to call them sequels) since 2012! And guess what, if you are coming to Orlando, there will be a worldly version there! This session will be focused on building semantic/world knowledge, language tied to social studies concepts, and situational and social self awareness based on comparing our daily lives with that of other cultures:

In any case, I am happy to keep spreading the word about this strategy, which offers a balanced approach to using technology along with other materials, and mirrors across books and apps the techniques of co-engagement and stacking activities around a context (in pre and post-book fashion). I hope you will check out the free packet and please leave me a rating! My stars are looking kind of empty, with this being my first endeavor on TpT. Thanks!

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

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 4)

There's of course a difference between "helping students with homework" and working in context, and that's as Barbara Ehren calls it, "maintaining a therapeutic focus." Text mapping, or teaching expository text structures, is one tool that we can teach students in almost any context. Graphic organizers are most helpful as a visual tool in text mapping, and are generally more helpful when a) more than just beginning-middle-end or main idea-details boxes (research supports this too) and b) consistent, using graphic organizers or helping students create them with a similar look, feel and structure.

For some more background information on this, I recommend Text Comprehension: Graphic Organizers to the Rescue and Expository Discourse Intervention for Adolescents With Language Disorders available on the ASHA Website.

Kidspiration and Inspiration for iPad remain my favorite apps for teaching the structure of any contextual block of language, whether that be a BrainPop video, a student or group's reading assignment, or a classroom topic reviewed more generally.

Both of these apps are free to try (for 5 activities). Kidspiration has the advantage of allowing for contextual basic or abstract categorization (sorting) with their Super Grouper mode, essentially also targeting the expository text structure of list or enumeration.

One strategy I have used is to look for expository categories in a narrative picture book e.g. "things on a beach" or "weather conditions." That way the picture book or other context can be used for retelling/summarizing as well as the categorization/semantic skills.

Take Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party, available on EPIC! Books for Kids. You can create a Super Grouper Activity about two of the relevant contextual categories. Students can sort and write or audio record (tap the symbol, then the microphone) a "why" or association for each of the items.

These apps also allow you to make "diagrams" such as lists, sequences, cause-effect maps or story maps. You can move the bubbles around so you don't get stuck always making a "web," which really only corresponds to description. Look to Story Grammar Marker®/Thememaker®, Thinking Maps and BrainFrames for consistent structures you can translate. 

I've written before about the use of Google Drawings to do similar work with graphic organizers. For a wealth of examples you can copy right into your Google Drive and use, see Matt Miller's terrific collection on Ditch That Textbook (an edtech blog I am excited to have just found).

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 3)

Being on a contextual roll can involve curriculum topics. SLPs can go this route without watering down our therapy and while emphasizing specific therapeutic targets. One of the best examples I have found of this approach was written up by Theresa Ukrainetz, a context maven (2017); I have used this quote to launch collaborative activities in workshops:

“SLPs can link to the curriculum with thematic whole-part treatment units. For example, a 6- to 8-week unit on the topic of national parks can address a small number of specific skills, perhaps one for each of vocabulary, syntax, discourse, and self-regulation that come together in communicative activities. The SLP can choose a particular park (e.g., Yellowstone National Park), features (e.g., geological formations), or issues common to many parks (e.g., being “loved to death” by high visitation rates). To encourage engagement, students can have choices of the culminating project (e.g., speech, brochure, newsletter). The SLP looks toward the classroom in selecting information sources and crafting treatment activities. An extended process of reading sources; taking notes; composing, practicing, revising, and delivering the presentation; and then reviewing performance allows RISE+ (Repeated opportunities for Intensive interaction with systematic Scaffolding of Explicitly targeted skills) within these integrated skill tasks (Ukrainetz, 2006, 2015a, 2015d). Additional practice opportunities for individual skills can occur through brief focused skill tasks (e.g., constructing 10 relative clause sentences to express two pieces of information, such as “Yellowstone Park's geysers are holes in the ground that release hot plumes of steam.” After the student achieves some competence in this controlled setting, the SLP moves to coaching application of the skills within related activities in the classroom.”

You all may know I'm a national parks nut, so this topic would definitely engage me as well. Here Ukrainetz focuses on gearing the context toward the creation of a product or artifact, but you could also consider mini-projects. To be specific, some ideas integrating technology and specific clinical targets related to the above:

1. Use EPIC! Books for Kids highly visual materials--great for SmartBoards--to set the context, in the process targeting vocabulary (tier 2 or 3), expository text structure (e.g. a list, sequence, cause-effect graphic organizer) or do a conjunction search on a page to promote understanding and use of complex syntax.

2. As I know from planning my trips, every National Park has a website, and in turn a printable map and guide (on the MAPS page). Following a model, for self-regulation/executive function have students summarize the important situational aspects of visiting a park (Space, Time, Objects, People by Ward/Jacobsen), maybe with a visual made in Pic Collage, an easy way to display text and photos, or on a Google Slide. For example:

Zion National Park
Space: close to Las Vegas, the Canyon area most popular, East side accessed by a tunnel, also a remote area in Northwest of park. 
Time: e.g. most popular times to visit, how to enter the park on shuttle.
Objects: WATER is vital for any visit in summer
People: Very popular park, parts people want to visit include Angels' Landing (EEK, no) and the Narrows.

3. The above could lead toward a prioritization activity in which students use Google Earth and add the top 3 attractions to "My Places," along with a written rationale/description targeting causal language, which would make an engaging presentation.

4. Target functional reading comprehension and conceptual reasoning by having students map out a budget for visiting a park and researching air and hotel costs with Kayak.

5. Lastly, Google Slides would also be a good landing spot for students to create one slide with 5 complex sentences about a park (perhaps with targets because, so, if, when, otherwise)

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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 2)

In the last post, I talked about how context can be your friend, not only in planning activities and engaging students, but also clinically. Incorporating curriculum topics is a key strategy for clinicians, but we need not be arbitrary about it. Please take these examples of contextual work as exactly that- examples. You can find out from teachers what they are working on and perhaps offer students a choice of topics to "roll with," especially if you are working on social objectives.

One tool I use frequently when making decisions as a group is the Levels of Like chart, a strategy I learned about from SLP Jenny Sojat. You can make one of these on a board to explore sample topics; it's also a good way to use Pic Collage:

Use Text tool to add the levels. Use the Web Image tool to search for images related to options being discussed. Poll students on their "thoughts" (good entry to perspective taking) and where each option lies. Try not to decide on something that anyone has below the OK level.

Let's say you explore pets as a topic. Pets are a nice entry point to curriculum as they relate to social studies (human interaction with environment, etc) and a number of science topics such as describing animal features, habitats etc. Some examples if you settle on, say, cats. Cats are cool!

Memes: A meme is, in internet parlance, something that is shared, often for humor. Memes are essentially narratives and often take on a "same but different" theme with different versions of a meme. But animal memes are usually a story, so think narrative language. Be careful where you get your memes; you can save images from icanhazcheeseburger, find cute groups related to animals on Facebook, or search for kid-friendly memes. You can organize them for presentation in a Google Slides format like I did below:

Note that each one is a (partial) story involving observation and prediction.
Character: owner and cat
Setting: bathtub
Initiating event: The owner is taking a bath WHEN the cat comes to visit and perch on the faucet
Sequential events/reactions: you guess
Also a good figurative language term in slide 1.

Books: Pets feature in a ton of narrative/expository picture books. Try Creature Features or It's all about ME-ow, which have science and social extensions.

Apps: Lots of apps revolve around pets. Many are not great! But check out Toca Life: Pets to tell stories and play (also great for categories/following directions), and apps like How to Draw a Cat Step By Step are good contexts for following directions.

Videos: Phrasal Verbs Friends is a series of fun cat vids teaching about Phrasal Verbs (basically figurative language). Thanks FreeTech4Teachers for that suggestion. Also see the Simon's Cat series for wordless narratives.

More Academic: see what BrainPop, NewsELA or EPIC! Books have for material on cats and teach expository text structures and strategies.

I'll sign off with a meow, then!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Get on a roll this year!

Context helps us achieve flow in our work, both in our own and students' enjoyment of it, as well as ease of planning. A study by Gillam, Gillam and Reece (2012) also found context linked to EBP, with improvements in sentence and discourse formulation measures when "clinicians treated multiple linguistic targets using meaningful activities with high levels of topic continuity." What contexts you pick are up to you, but I have one suggestion to start: the playground and recess. A couple ideas in this flow:

Scratch Jr.
This free resource from MIT Media Lab is available as an iPad app or on Chromebooks. Coding is basically language teaching, a context for us to help students follow directions, work with characters and settings, and describe movements that result. It is also a big causal (because/so) and conditional (if/then) context. Scratch Jr. provides mini-curriculums including one allowing you to simulate playground games! The teaching guides here can be modified by taking a screenshot of the key directions, like so:

Tells you what to do...

Shows your students what to do
Not so complicated, and very fun!

Practice Playground Games
Make visual supports via Comic Strip Conversations (with marker and whiteboard or Doodle Buddy/Book Creator) and practice playing active games. This will give your students many language opportunities and also be skill-building activities for actual recess.

Pair with Picture Books about Recess
Try The Recess Queen (O'Neill) or Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess (Gassman), both providing context for social and narrative teaching opportunities.  Psst: find read-aloud video versions on YouTube.

Playground Physics
For upper elementary students, try this free app from the series of "Noticing Tools" from the New York Hall of Science. You can video students running or doing playground actions and measure speed and various scientific measures. Lots of narrative and expository language can ensue, as well as being a social context of moving to an outdoor space together and observing ("body in the group").

Also consider that a good chunk of the fun and instructive Zones of Regulation: Exploring Emotions app plays out in a playground setting, exploring how daily events change our zones and prompt us to use tools to regulate ourselves.

I'm sure you can think of many other activities going with this context, tech-related or not! Please let us know in the comments if you do.

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summer Study Series on Mindwing

As you may know, I continue to blog monthly on the website of Mindwing Concepts Inc, creators of some of my favorite tools, Story Grammar Marker® and Thememaker. This summer I wrote four posts summarizing recent research and published articles. The goal of these is to provide summer "food for thought," each post with a little tech tie-in. In case you missed them, here they are:

An evidence-based inference and narrative curriculum (free) for you.

What is "rhetorical competence" and how does it connect to comprehending language in school?

Using science topics and curriculum as a context for developing expository language and use of causals at the sentence level.

Summarizing Lynne Hewitt's great tutorial on narrative language and ASD.

photo by LocusResearch on flickr

Note: author is paid consultant for Mindwing Concepts, Inc for provision of blog content and presentation material, but receives no compensation should you visit their website or purchase products.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Come check us out! 3 Presentations at ASHA Orlando in November!

I've been in solid vacation mode since the beginning of July. It's really been awesome. A week down in Cape Cod, then trips to 6 National Parks including Shenandoah, then the Utah "Mighty 5" of Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, that trip in the space of one week. Something everyone should do--maybe not the 5 parks in one week part, but we did well. I'm a hiker, not hardcore, but firmly believing being so enhances any trip to a National Park, bringing you beyond the "scenic drive" to awesome vistas and offering an incredible experience in the process. Utah particularly brought me the "opportunity" to work on my aeroacrophobia- a pretty debilitating fear of high open spaces. Canyonlands, for example, puts you on a 1000-foot mesa (2000 if you count the ledge down to the Colorado), on a trail 5-10 feet from no railing. This was worse for me than what became easier and unavoidable, high exposed ledges next to a canyon wall, which I tackled at every park after that. But an amazing time.

In any case, in the meantime I received the great news that all 3 of my submissions for ASHA Orlando were accepted. I am headed to Orlando next week to conduct follow-up workshops for Orange County Public Schools across two days, so it will feel like a second home over the coming months. I am happy to again be collaborating with the awesome clinicians and telepractice trainers at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast Maine (see below, Nathan Curtis and Amy Reid). As I have stated previously, I am not currently a telepractitioner, but my background in instructional technology has helped open great conversations about the role of tech in setting contexts for therapy activities. The info for each session is below; I hope to see some of you there!

Topic Area: Telepractice
Session Number: 1048
Title: Imagine Integration: Incorporating Evidence-Based Methodologies in Telepractice
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day: Thursday, November 21, 2019
Time: 10:30 AM- 12:30 PM
Author(s): Nathan Curtis (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Amy Reid (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Individuals
Session Number: 1338
Title: Not Just for Mickey Mouse: Applying Animation Tools in Language & Social Interventions Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day: Friday, November 22, 2019
Time: 7:30 AM -9:30 AM
Author(s): Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Individuals
Session Number: 1836
Title: Show Them the World (Knowledge): Pairing Picture Books & Apps for Contextualized Language Intervention
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day: Saturday, November 23, 2019
Time: 11:30 AM- 12:30 PM
Author(s): Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

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