Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Still summer...so want some lemonade?

They say August is one long Sunday. Here in Massachusetts we still have about a month left until school even starts, so its difficult to see posts from friends across the country who have already started, as well as the ubiquitous "back to school" and "summer's almost over, so..." ads. It pulls you out of it a bit, you know? I've spent my summer working on getting fit, hiking and doing some traveling, so it's been great. But HOT!

So consider some Lemonade! Remember the old Lemonade Stand game? You are given weather information and need to decide several things: how many cups of lemonade to make, how much to charge for it, and how many signs to make to advertise your stand. In the process, we can engage students in a number of language and social competencies:
-"listening with the brain*" and language comprehension
-using visual supports, however we provide them
-applying functional math and problem solving
-causal and conditional language ("It's going to be hot, SO let's make more cups...")
-following a "group plan,*" i.e. making logical rather than silly decisions to sell as much as possible

*language from the Social Thinking® methodology

Here are two ways to play it.
-Classic Lemonade Stand is a free app for iOS that uses the 'ol Apple IIe text interface, but is still fun
-Toward the end of the school year, I played the Alexa version on Echo Dot (enable the skill by saying "Alexa, launch Lemonade Stand"). This free skill provided a few extra elements that I found helpful: more opportunity for auditory comprehension and listening work, turn taking in speaking, using visual supports, and processing the humor and figurative language offered in this particular skill.


I always like pairing activities for further context, and our students before playing worked together to make a lemonade stand "sign." This engaged them in pretend play and lots of conversation. This could be done with poster materials or with the free app Pic Collage as we did below (You could also do this with Google Drawings on a laptop):


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Presenting at ASHA Convention Boston 2018

As many of you know, Boston is quite proudly my own hometown. So although I would have gone to ASHA Convention regardless, I was thrilled to be involved with two proposals that were accepted for November's event. One is a collaboration with two wonderful colleagues from Waldo County General Hospital in Maine. Although I do not currently do telepractice, I have worked over the last several years with Amy Reid and Nathan Curtis and their staff there on the potential of tech tools within telepractice environments (e.g. apps and websites that can be used to set context and provide language-facilitating interactivity within a session). Here's some advance information on the sessions!



Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Individuals
Session Number: 1327
Title: Pairing Picture Books & Apps for Contextualized Intervention: Hub of History & Innovation Edition
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day:  Friday, November 16, 2018
Time:  8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Author(s): Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Another edition of this popular presentation from ASHA 2012-2017 describes pairings of picture books and apps setting intervention contexts related to science and social studies curriculum areas. Boston, a center of history and scientific innovation, is the perfect location for exploring connections between language intervention and these content area contexts, with picture books and apps providing tools for linguistic interactions.

Objectives:
-Identify 2 apps and picture books containing language structures and contexts within text, visuals and interactions
-State 4 features of disciplinary language within science and social studies providing contexts for language intervention
-Describe 2 session plans pairing books and apps based on contextual overlappings

Topic Area: Telepractice and Technology
Session Number: 1752
Title: Evolutionary Telepractice Approaches: Bridging the Gap Between Integrating Evidence-Based Methodologies & Methods of Delivery
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day:  Saturday, November 17, 2018
Time:  8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Author(s): Amy Reid (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Nathan Curtis (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)


Speech-Language Pathologists aim to meet the goal of evidence-based practice by integrating clinical expertise, scientific evidence, and client/patient/caregiver perspectives. This presentation discusses how to utilize evidence-based methodologies in telepractice. We will present the underlying research and methodologies as the framework upon which to make clinical decisions about context. We will share video demonstrations of materials and approaches.

Objectives:

List three ways to include evidence-based methodologies in telepractice sessions
Describe two clinical techniques applying technology with curriculum-based materials to complete evidence-based approaches in telepractice
State three ways to engage clients on curriculum-based content using digital and “hands-on” resources  


Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

On obvious signs and "hidden rules..."

Presenting a video can be a simple use of tech that can establish context, provide visual support, engage students in discussion, and open the door to a related post-activity addressing language skills. A good example is this video which features about 100 unnecessary signs such as:





The video moves quickly, but pause as many times as you want! You can also screenshot to pick and choose signs you'd like to explore (perhaps a good move to work on functional reading). Some ideas on using the video:
-Metalinguistics: what makes the message obvious and unnecessary?
-Social Cognition: the video can be used to have students practice "thinking with their eyes" for the greater context of what makes the sign silly, as well as engaging in humor. Using signs in therapy activities is also a good way to introduce the related Social Thinking® concept of "Hidden Rules" (related to Dr. Brenda Smith Myles' Hidden Curriculum); there are many (more complex than shown here) rules that we need to learn through observation and experience in order to be successful socially.
-Narrative Language: Have students discuss or sketch stories depicting why someone thought these particular signs were necessary. This context would also allow for working on complex language and conjunctions like if, because, and so.

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
 
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