Friday, November 26, 2021

ASHA Wrapup

ASHA Convention was different, but it happened! Thanks to all the organizers for providing a safe and very educational event. I was honored to present on Thursday to a great in-person crowd. 

The focus of the session was on "playful" activities for language and social interventions across the age levels.

A few resources I presented:


Improv games are supported in our literature and mirror the format and communicative behaviors of conversation. Be sure to teach the nuance of "yes, and..." and couple with lessons on when we say no, and that it is OK to disagree (avoid ableism and support neurodiversity)..


Books are their own therapy tool and give you great ideas for playful followups. In this case Spencer's New Pet gives lots of opportunity for nonverbal situational interpretation and narrative development. (see this post for tips on using Youtube to present picture books). Balloon Animals! app made a nice pairing for a playful post activity here, following a quick lesson to pre-load some social strategies. See my free booklet on Pairing Picture Books with Apps!


You can use game contexts (e.g. Minecraft, Pokemon) without ever actually playing those games. A recent example: I have been leveraging a student's interest in Pokemon to use Pokemon Adventure comics (available via my public library on Overdrive which exports to the Kindle app) for nonverbal and emotional interpretation, narrative retell, and identifying and working with vocabulary. The vocabulary words need not be in the text to be relevant and motivating!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 12, 2021

Free Options for Group Games

I have previously written about the motivational and engagement value (thus promoting communication) of "room based" games. Now that we have transitioned back to in-person groups, we are incorporating some distanced card play, but this tech-mediated piece still serves a purpose (kids can use their own devices, stay far apart). Jackbox is a bit pricey and I wanted to share a few free options I have tried out. 

VXN's Mutter Nonsense and Drawn Out offer good potential for building communication skills in a fun way (including joining in a paced manner, using humor, visualization, association).  Here's a trailer for Mutter Nonsense (think Apples to Apples).


I also recently discovered that Jeopardy Labs has millions of pre-made games that you can choose from, including many related to vocabulary and social skills. Choosing and using group topical interests can also be a great way to use a resource like Jeopardy Labs. Don't fully love the content of a board? Clone it and make some changes. Do I have anything else to say about Jeopardy? Stay tuned...


Speaking of play, if you're headed to ASHA Convention, come see my session next Thursday!

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Come See me in DC!

I'll be presenting in-person at the 2021 ASHA Convention in Washington, DC! I hope that if you are attending, you'll come by for my session on Thursday, November 18. This presentation is listed in the Telepractice category, and is partly informed by my experience earlier in the pandemic when that was the only option, but I assure you has many tips, tricks and resources applicable to in-person interventions. See you there!


Play on Words: Thoughtful Uses of “Game-Based” Apps and Resources In Language-Based Interventions 

Session Description
Playful activities provide an avenue for targeting language skills, social cognition, and executive functioning across the grade levels. This session will demonstrate how technology resources across several platforms can be “gamed” via pre- and post-activities to engage clients in developing skills across the domains of listening, speaking and thinking. Apps, webtools, and Alexa skill games will be discussed along with task analyses and sample lessons developed in real-time telepractice during the COVID-19 emergency. Activities particularly target group social interaction, participation, planning, organization, time management, and self-monitoring. The session will also discuss research and resources in our literature supporting the use of play in interventions across the grade levels, and how technology can be used thoughtfully within these contexts.



Thursday, October 21, 2021

Consider This: Meaningful Current Events

I'll wrap up Consider This with an example from this week. I have a student who is a Red Sox fanatic (a husband too) and they are of course in the playoffs. This story surfaced and has a lot of nuance to it, with targets regarding story grammar, perspective taking (which is really just story grammar times 2, 3, or however many people are involved), figurative language and body language. For brevity's sake I'll let you check out the link and the couple of videos there for the context.

This is the kind of scaffolded discussion that could take place via telepractice or in person, but I happen to be working with this student online. Zoom's annotation tools are a bit clunky (easy to click off your text box and need to make another, you scroll down on a webpage and they stay in the same place), but did the trick. If this annotation drives you nuts, it's an easy shift to Google Slides to toggle between tabs and use your preferred story grammar frame. In this case we just took some notes as we discussed; it's almost always better to provide visual support, which aids in working memory, processing, and further formulation.

Not to alienate any Astros fans, we did go on to note Correa's response to the incident was pretty positive, though there may be some nuance there too.

To go from the specific to more general, using current events can:

-activate students' interests

-provide contexts for story and expository text structure (and microstructure: sentence formulation and vocabulary)

-within the former, open doors to targeting social cognition, emotional vocabulary, or Zones®

My biggest trick in this regard has been keeping up with news myself, listening to the local news radio station, NPR, or subscribing to digests from local news sources to skim. As I've mentioned before, newsela is also a great go-to. I also have a student who loves CNN 10, a video resource.

Interested in professional development for your department, school, or organization? Sean is booking in-person or remote trainings for the 2021-2022 school year

Friday, October 15, 2021

Consider This: Civics!

Consider This has mostly been an exploration of resources used a bunch of different ways, but we also can consider how different curriculum topics can be used to target many speech and language and social communication objectives (and in this case, some resources that go with this idea). Speech and language pathologists can wrap interventions in contexts; check out this recent study, one that I'd like to describe in detail at some point, on science and Tier 2 vocabulary.

I think of civics as important world and social knowledge. Though it's unlikely to fix everything, we could do worse than helping students understand how government and laws work. Within civics contexts, there's much opportunity to target narrative, expository language, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and sentence formulation.

Years ago, Social Thinking® recommended Munro Leaf's (quite old) picture book Fair Play, which in its opening pages explores social norms in terms of moving from why we don't all get to do everything we want to do to why we have government. There are also several vignettes about a character he calls JustMe who behaves without considering others's needs that Social Thinking® formulated into a concept around JustMe vs Thinking about Others. We want to handle this topic with nuance and acknowledgement that everyone has JustMe "moments" to model the concept carefully, of course. The book is hard to find, but there is a read aloud version below. Skip the weird intro, consider handling the JustMe vignettes with further nuance, e.g. what the kids could have done to help JustMe be part of the group, and avoid the latter parts which are just way too harsh! I have generally used just up to about 4:30


In a much more straightforward way, iCivics remains a very useful tool. Sign in as a teacher and you can access lesson plans, worksheets, and of course the interactive games (varying in length, so explore) which can open up great expository conversations and vocabulary development. Sign-in also allows you to save games and pick up in later sessions. Recently I used Cast Your Vote with some students to explore the local election process and vocabulary like infrastructure, juvenile, enrollment, and minimum wage


Fablevision's Civics! An American Musical (free with signup) will delight fans of Hamilton and engages students in civics topics while targeting comprehension of primary sources. The language underpinnings, however, include situational interpretation of pictures and comprehension of texts. The game contains multiple paths you can return and reroute to (e.g. making a few musicals about a few different topics, if you have a group that gets into it), and again, saves your progress.


Civics topics are also great to explore with very simple resources such as newsela!

Interested in professional development for your department, school, or organization? Sean is booking in-person or remote trainings for the 2021-2022 school year

Friday, October 1, 2021

Consider This: Classtools.net

The V in the FIVES criteria is for Visual! Visual supports are a simple Evidence Based Practice- give students something to explore with their eyes and you can tap:

-description/main idea
-vocabulary
-narrative language and complex sentence formulation
-social/situational awareness
-their interests/humor!

Classtools.net is an oldie but goodie, and has been around forever. In addition to its classroom tools such as Random Name Picker, a simple Soundboard and such, there are many visual activities you can use to create an "opener" or have students create something themselves. This may be particularly useful for older students.

Consider These:

Twister: create a "tweet" from any character, tap main idea, perspective taking, sentence formulation

Image Labelling Tool: upload an image and create text "hotspots" for part/whole thinking, abstract or advanced categories, description

Breaking News and Headline Generators: main idea of a narrative or expository topic, with humor!

Image Reveal: Gameify "Thinking with the eyes"


Interested in professional development for your department, school, or organization? Sean is booking in-person or remote trainings for the 2021-2022 school year


Friday, September 24, 2021

Consider This: Videos about Mindfulness

Mindfulness should be considered right in the SLP wheelhouse. It a) is evidence-based, b) promotes self-regulation which underlies executive function, academic performance, social communication and c) practicing and discussing mindfulness encompasses expository language and metacognition (talking about thinking). 

Through the mandated teletherapy period and beyond, I have found videos about mindfulness to be particularly useful as they are visual, prompt practice, and serve for post activities

Check out this example:


It's great. Well-paced, specific, promoting a strategy that can be used without the video at other times, and an example of an abstract, complex idea. In using this I have needed to recast my students' understanding of it: Being present helps you be in the moment to pay attention, but also regulates your emotions away from thinking/feeling about the past or future. There's much personal narrative that can come from exploring this as well as descriptions of what we notice in the moment (often a complex sentence formulation prompt as well with any cognitive verb).

In addition to other videos by the Partnership in Education, you can explore ones for various age levels from Cosmic Kids, MyLife, or Headspace.

It's a good idea to do this kind of activity with regularity (it need not take more than 10 minutes) or in a series as mindfulness is really about developing a practice.  I always think of it as a toolkit (aligning with models like Zones®), so it is also wise to find videos that promote different strategies such as presence, above, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.

Interested in professional development for your department, school, or organization? Sean is booking in-person or remote trainings for the 2021-2022 school year

Friday, September 17, 2021

Consider This: Make A Scene

Tech-based scenes, in which story grammar settings are presented and we can add characters and objects, suggest the creation of stories and other language targets. One of the simplest series of tools for this is the apps from, well-titled, make a scene (inexpensively priced at $.99 for iOS, Amazon devices and Android Tablets). These include themes that can be used to build semantics such as Dinosaurs, Jungle, Polar Adventure and Transport. The apps are simple, promoting use for many grade levels ranging down to preschool. Additionally, each app contains related scenes to choose from for a variety of stories to create.

Make A Scene: Transport. Create a traffic jam for an "initiating event!"

Consider This:
-Make A Scene apps and websites (fewer options) function like a stickerbook or (if you remember) Colorforms for very simple co-creation activities.
-The iPad remains alive as a great tool for clinicians to have on hand for its portability, ease of use, and functions such as screenshotting which allow you to revisit previous creations and the language involved with them. The iPad can also be mirrored to computer screens for use in telepractice, or connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard in a classroom.
-In addition to story creation, scene creators can be used to target microstructure aspects: vocabulary, elaborated noun and verb phrases, syntax and sentence formulation e.g. temporal and causal clauses.
-Scene creation begs for pairing of apps with picture books of similar themes to set a larger context in therapy activities. See my free booklet on this topic on Teachers Pay Teachers.
-Particularly for telepractice, to allow for interactivity it is easy to create your own scenes in Google Slides. Students can interact with the scene through remote cursor control or setting the sharing settings to allow the student to edit the Slides. 

Interested in professional development for your department, school, or organization? Sean is booking in-person or remote trainings for the 2021-2022 school year

Friday, September 10, 2021

Consider This: Visual electronic books on EPIC!

I'm sick of talking about COVID. Obvi it's still with us, but I thought I'd frame the path forward instead of backward, and 6 parts of "Lessons from COVID" was enough anyway. A new school year, so Consider This. In coming posts I will be encouraging flexible thinking, planning, and contextualizing of language interventions fostered by simple tech resources. 

I'm still a working clinician of course but have the privilege of doing consulting as well. This week I was discussing with an amazing SLP colleague a "way forward" for social learning lessons for a group of moderate to high-support high-schoolers. With delivery in their dedicated classroom, use of the board and projector is really helpful for keeping up engagement. We had at our fingertips a book she had identified, 125 True Stories of Amazing Animal Friendships, a great visual resource from National Geographic.


Interactive read-alouds, though still effective, get tougher as students get older. They no longer gather around in a circle on the carpet, do they? We thought of digitizing through Slides (easy enough, and one option), but then I thought to check EPIC! It had the book! Hopefully you know this repository of digital books offers (still!) free accounts to educators. Consider also this entire publisher's library and other visual treasures, which help us see how a resource like this can be useful beyond the primary grades.

Yes, you can zoom in...

So Consider This, in brief, and comment with other thoughts, please!
-Each entry, and there are many, can be mapped as a narrative
-The book as a whole is also an expository example and graphic organizers can be used for list, sequence, cause-effect etc.
-Our primary interest here was social "same but different" thinking. Many of these episodes can be used to extract human friendship "hidden rules" 
-Conversation building: what connections can you make in your experiences with pets?
-EPIC is very vocab-friendly. Click on a word and you get a definition.


What other ideas do you have when you Consider This?

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Lessons from COVID, part 6: (e-)Books are more useful than ever!

Picture (or other) books as an excellent therapy tool has always been one of my themes. In this post/video I demonstrate how to use Overdrive, which is one option for obtaining free e-books using your public library access. The tools here can be useful for tele-, individual, small group or classroom-based therapy. 

Check out the video here: 



 
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