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.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Repost: Play with Fireworks Virtually (IRL leave it to the professionals)

This post is a throwback for a free app that is still available- check it out. I'll be off for July and see you back in August. I am excited for adventures down in Cape Cod, then a visit to Shenandoah and a BIG National Parks trip from Utah to Vegas, hitting Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, and Zion! Have a great July!

Interactive apps have long been one of my favorite topics because they replicate world schema, and every schema has language that goes with it. As the 4th approaches (or other holidays in the future), you may have fireworks on your mind.

Apps give us a window to simulate removed events (and safely!), so you might be interested in Fireworks Lab. This free app allows students to organize and operate a fireworks display. The app is gloriously language-neutral, so students can be encouraged to label their choices in elaborated noun phrases (e.g. "green sparkly rocket") and then set them off.




A few supplemental ideas:
-The app is perfect for pairing with a written language or reading activity. Write or sequence cards with the different attributes of the fireworks and use these as a "plan" for the display.
-Have students research fireworks displays in your town, or for older students, pair with the story of this famous fireworks fail for a narrative activity. The article is safe to use with kids and has some good figurative language too!

Have a happy (and SAFE) 4th of July--and to my Canadian friends, Happy Canada Day!

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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

View and Describe a Landscape

WWF Free Rivers app (free, in another sense, for iOS and also Android devices) provides a cool, "immersive" experience where students can view a river and its effects on the landscape, weather, animals and people around it. The app uses augmented reality technology, overlaying a riverscape and also a world map over your teaching space (e.g. a floor or table). It is extremely easy to navigate and provides student-friendly language (and audio) about the water cycle, where you can make it rain and view above and below the clouds, the cause-effect of damming a river, and other material presented in a storytelling format. The app would be great for providing visual support and engagement in language such as:

-geographic features and landforms/continents (language/categories of social studies)
-weather processes (language/sequences of science)
-expository text structures such as cause-effect
-simpler observative social processes such as "thinking with the eyes" and "making a smart guess" (see work of social thinking)

See video demonstration here or below.

 Be sure to install this free app on your iPad for the upcoming school year- you'll surely find a context to use it in syncing with classroom curriculum!

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Make a Top 10 List!

I've said it before and I will say it again, visual supports are key for scaffolding understanding, supporting thinking and even eliciting language. I'm amazed that one format, creating Google Slides presentations with students, is as enthralling as it is. Apple TV (you can use an interactive whiteboard or just a projector in a classroom) helps for sure, but you'll be surprised how much students attend and generate language as you type into a slide and create something interactively.

A student of mine (entering 5th) has shown a lot of interest in comedy and SNL. It occurred to me that introducing the group to David Letterman's Top 10 Lists might be of interest, as well as a way to frame a review of a key idea we worked on all semester. You'll have to use your judgment and look around YouTube, but I found one that was not too risqué (#1 can be explained in different ways) regarding the lackluster accommodations at the Sochi Olympics, which gave us:
-narrative opportunities: what was the story here?
-many attempts to "get" figurative language, multiple meaning and humor



Following this activity we scaffolded our own Top Ten list around concepts and skills we had been focusing on for a few months: moderating talk time. This came pretty organically from items the kids suggested as well as some models of "what's going unexpectedly in what we are playing out right now" (e.g. I launched into a complete plot retelling of "E.T."). In this I was thrilled that the boys remembered a created acronym of mine ("LLLL=Long Lists Lose Listeners®," JK on the ®) and the 5 Point Scale of Talk Time we worked with as a group (view below). When complete, they asked me to review the whole thing David-Letterman-Style! Essentially the activity created a social narrative and was great to share with parents afterward.

Link to presentation (please do not request permission for me to share it with your account, but if you like you can go to the File Menu and Make a Copy, which will save to your account).






















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

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper

Get ready for another fun adventure with Carmen Sandiego in Google Earth! This second game, The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper, is perfect for a one-session activity in which you can work on geographic/spatial concepts, categories such as world landmarks and continents, and making smart guesses (inferences). The game (spoiler alert) takes you to Cairo, New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Bejing, so is great for syncing with curriculum if your students are studying ancient civilizations or some of the associated countries. Again, it's a good idea to keep another tab open (if using Google Earth in your Chrome Browser) or flip back and forth from Safari on iPad to Google Earth app (where you can find this game under the "Explore" captain's wheel icon) and use Wikipedia or some other resource to provide additional language and context about the landmarks you see. The programming seems a bit more forgiving as you can activate other features such as street view on the landmarks without it kicking you out of the game, which was a problem with the first version initially. Have fun defeating VILE yet again!


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

Friday, June 7, 2019

"Fails" as Narrative Instruction

The Internet loves a "Fail," which Urban Dictionary defines as [noun, in this case] "a glorious lack of success." From a narrative standpoint, however, a fail is an initiating event, a critical story element to work with in our students' language. Graphic organizers reduce cognitive load and help students identify and internalize narrative structure, which assists with comprehension and production of narrative language. One level I like to work with my students around is the Reaction Sequence, which looks like:

Character
Setting
Initiating Event
Reaction (what the person DOES in response to the IE, note that this is not a Response or Feeling, which is part of the next level of narrative development, often called the Abbreviated Episode)


The Reaction Sequence is sometimes represented as Somebody Wanted But So. You can use SWBS, Story Grammar Marker®, Story Champs, or other approaches such as the Gillams' SKILL for your graphic organizers, or make your own. Good idea to have some sort of consistency in the icons or GOs you use, however.

So, the tech part: humor is great in therapy, but be careful about where you get your fails. I like America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV) as it is super family-friendly. Take this video compliation:




It provides a great 15-30 min activity in having students formulate the narrative of what they see. Of course, use the pause button, and a few other ideas
-Zoom in on character, some students have a difficult time reading nonverbal signals around age and relationship between people (a skill measured in assessments like the Social Thinking® Dynamic Assessment Protocol). Scaffold statements like "a brother and sister" or "a kid who is probably like, 8 years old."
-NOTE that with the above you are working on microstructure such as noun phrases and use of conjunctions (also linking between the story elements: "A group of kids is surfing at a beach WHEN a huge wave comes.")
-Zoom in on setting, many of my students would just say "outside"- scaffold specificity such as a beach, a lake, a hiking trail, and so on.
-Consider adding a pragmatic element with an ersatz barrier task- one student can watch and narrate, then show the video to the group.

May your summer be free of Fails!

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

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Use Google Earth to Preview Community Settings/Walks

Walking is important. I always notice that I get a broader view of students' overall social functioning when the group is moving around. A table provides a grounding space that often regulates students; they don't have to think about using their eyes to assess space and monitor their own physical presence as much at a table. So take a walk! A community or neighborhood walk provides the opportunity for pre-lessons and post-review of your activity.

One great resource for this is Google Earth. On the Google Chrome Web Browser or Chromebook, or via the iPad app, this free resource literally allows you to "walk" through any area using Street View. To jump into Street View, after searching for a key address (use the magnifying glass icon), drag and drop the yellow "Pegman" onto the map, any point on the blue lines that indicate Street View access:


Some lesson points:
-Have students observe and look for community locations, both while using the arrows and moving "down the street" in Street View and actually walking down the street. This is a "Thinking with the Eyes" (see Social Thinking®) task that could be made more structured with a scavenger hunt.
-I am all about crosswalks. The navigation of crosswalks is a safety and lifeskill but also social task that many students at all levels struggle with. I generally see my students continue to converse as they walk up to a crosswalk and then stand there, waiting for me to direct them. Previewing these areas is also helpful in Google Earth.


This particular crosswalk has no street light to tell you what to do. You need instead to observe cars coming from each direction, as well as their directional signals and the drivers' eye gaze, to determine when to initiate a cross. A lot of social cognition involved there! A screenshotted image such as this could also be imported into Google Drawings, where you can sketch stick figures for guidance (a form of Comic Strip Conversation).


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

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.
 
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