Friday, February 14, 2020

Try an Android Emulator

Mobile apps offer something in interactivity that webtools (i.e. those you access on a laptop, Chromebook, or desktop) may not always get you. There are several apps for iPad (also for Android) I love that are not approached by anything on the web: namely, the Toca Life app and Pic Collage (also available for Windows). You do have an option-- Android emulators are available that make an Android "device" run on the screen of your laptop or desktop. These are downloadable programs, so, no for Chromebooks.

One I have found runs successfully is BlueStacks. Download the program, access the Google Play Store on the screen (you'll need to sign in with a Google Account), and try a free app before making any purchases in order to make sure it works on your machine.

Here's Toca Life: Farm ($3.99) running on my Mac. You have to click instead of tap, and it seems not to have the screen recording feature.

An Android emulator may be useful in therapy activities if you:
-Want to use laptop or desktop in a classroom and not deal with connecting an iPad to the board or projector
-Don't have an iPad
-Do telepractice (sharing desktop control would mean the student could take over clicking on an app such as Toca Life: Farm)

Let me know if you have other uses for an Android emulator such as BlueStacks!

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

Friday, February 7, 2020

Websites that Still Work!

In February I am going to closing in on blogging for 10 years in this space. Wow!

I recently discovered a VERY OLD weblist I used for some of my first presentations. It's on Diigo- anyone remember Diigo (I started bookmarking on delicious which went defunct soon after). A theme of this blog has been having a K├╝bler-Ross style understanding that some technology passes away.

But looking through this list, I wanted to note that some of the resources from 10 years ago are still quite useful. Keep in mind that some of these are flash-based and you'll want to use on a laptop or Chromebook:

Interactive games promoting understanding of civics, world schema, narrative language, cause-effect (also some iPad apps)

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
Audio files with functional information (e.g. a phone message) good for building listening strategies

A very cool concept mapping website, make graphic organizers and discussion maps (also an iPad app for this one)

Jamestown Online Adventure
Consider making a graphic organizer or decision tree for this oldie but goodie aligning with social studies curriculum

Utah Education Network
Wide selection of interactive websites on K-12 curriculum topics- many promote categorization, narrative, cause-effect and conditional thinking, and make curriculum concepts and vocab visible.

Add text to pictures to form a "book"- good for descriptive language, "thinking with eyes," narrative

Sensory World Garden
Mindful activities about a yard setting/seasons

QR Scavenger Hunt
Make a quick scavenger hunt using QR codes- good for collaborative work, moving in a group, responding to questions. Also see other tools.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Some Tricks to Ease Language Sample Transcription Pain...

I do a lot of language sampling and analysis as part of evaluations- whether a more straightforward speech/language or social cognitive evaluation, it's an essential part of showing current functional strengths and weaknesses. And you know how much I dig narrative.

Periodically, I try to do some searching to see if there is anything tech-wise that can ease what can be some pain within this process. Speech-to-Text (STT) technology, in which a device or some kind of software is used to transcribe spoken language, continues to evolve. Best I know, we still can't play a recording into STT tools (such as those built into a Mac or Google Docs) and have it accurately transcribe. However, I found this idea recently and gave it a try, with nice results. Paraphrasing Leah Fessler of Quartz at Work (thanks for this post!), the steps are:

1. Find a quiet space.
2. Plug yourself in (you may benefit from using headphones with a mic).
3. Open a blank Google Doc (Note: only in Google Chrome)
4. Open the Voice Typing tool (Tools>Voice Typing)
5. Ensure the Voice Typing button appears.
6. Ensure your microphone is turned on and your language is set.
7. Listen to a small portion of your language sample recording (e.g. a sentence)
8. Click the microphone button, and repeat what your client/student said. Remember that you can say "comma" for commas and similar for other punctuation.
9. Turn Voice Typing off as you listen to the next part of your recording (whatever you can hold in your short term memory), then continue, repeating steps 7-9.
10. Watch along as you transcribe and make corrections and additions.

A few tips may be of help:
-I like the Voice Memos app for iPad. If using the app of the same name (this one native to the operating system, so free) on iPad or iPhone, make sure you turn your device Auto-Lock (in Settings>Display and Brightness) to something longer, like 5 min. I notice after auto-locking, my phone's Voice Memos app moves the recording back 20 seconds or so, which is annoying.
-You can use either app's 15 sec forward/back buttons liberally to re-listen or go forward.
-Finally, I think the above steps saved me time and boredom in the transcription process, but I used step 10 extensively. If you have a student with a lot of revisions or repetitions, you'll find you are better off doing a combination of typing and dictating (using dictation with the student's more fluent sentences).

Let me know if you try this and what you think, or if you have other strategies!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Looking back at ASHA 2019!

I said awhile back that I would provide updates on ASHA Convention this year, and I never got to it! Well, I never got to it here. ASHA is always a great experience, and I was thrilled this year to have three presentation slots (my 10th year in a row presenting)! All went very well, and I certainly enjoyed the break from the weather in Boston.

Just to share with you a few resources and ideas...

My favorite new speaker (to me) that I saw was Cathy Alexander, who presented scads of fun, practical, contextual ideas for working on morphology and, for older students, morpholological awareness and vocabulary. You should check out her website and some of her resource offerings here.

I summarized two sessions I was involved with over on the Mindwing Concepts blog. You can see a discussion of integrating EBPs into telepractice (also useful for in-person therapists) here, and some info on my Pairing Picture Books with Apps update themed around "showing them the world" (semantics/social studies) here.

Though it started at 7:30 AM, I was very happy to have a good crowd for my 2-hour session Not Just For Mickey Mouse: Applying Animation Tools in Language and Social Interventions. You can get the gist of this one by giving my slides a skim at this link (with many research references for you).

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Making Posters (and Puzzles)

Did you know you can take any PDF you have and print it poster-size? And in associated news, anything you make in say, Google Slides, Keynote or PowerPoint can be saved as a PDF, so therefore you can design your own posters about language topics and strategies.

One way I used this recently was to do a post-book activity related to Social Thinking®'s We Thinkers Vol 2 book Size of the Problem. The We Thinkers curriculum volumes target 10 core concepts to think about social interaction in fun and engaging ways that in my experience all students can benefit from. In this book, the characters Evan, Ellie, Jessie and Molly host a birthday party and invite their dinosaur friends. The dinosaurs of small, medium, and big size cause problems corresponding to their size. The book describes how to think about problems according to factors such as how much time they take to solve and if you need help.

The poster creation activity was a natural followup. Using the PDFs that come with the We Thinkers Manual, I printed out the scale in poster size, along with pictures of the problems from the book. These served as attention-keeping manipulatives (in a crinkle-free class) handed out to the kids and then we "assembled the poster." Providing a class with a large visual support gives them ownership of the concept/strategy and reminds their teacher and them to use it!

To turn any PDF into a poster, you'll first want to open it in the free Adobe Reader software on a laptop or desktop. You can follow these directions or the screenshot below to print as a poster. Note that changing the percentage/size will give you a bigger poster or more "pieces." Once it prints, you will have to trim some white to make it all fit together.

Hope you like this strategy!

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

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A good app to take self-data

Streaks is an award-winning app (Apple Design Awards) that allows you to keep track of up to 12 good habits/intentions and simply mark on the calendar when you have completed the task (e.g. read for 15 min). The app is designed for the "don't break the chain" concept, but you can indicate how often you intend the habit to be completed so that you still construct a streak.

This type of app would be helpful for us as clinicians who need to practice self-care routines in the New Year (decade). It also would be a tool for use with older clients who may need to practice speech exercises or positive social/language activities.

The same principles could be enacted using Google Calendar as a (free) data-taking tool; the benefits here would include the ability to add more text/data for tracking.

Happy New Year!

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

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wheel of What

Wheel of What is the kind of simple app that any clinician would benefit from having on an iPad. A spinner is useful in many situations, and with a digital one you won't have to dig one out! Plus an engagement factor of offering a digital version is always handy. With Wheel of What, a bonus is that you can create customized spinners in seconds.

One activity I like to do in social groups (even up to high school) is to make up our own games or "same but different" versions of other games. That vocabulary as well as the STOP strategy (Space, Time, Objects, People-- Ward & Jacobsen 2014) provides a guide to making this type of activity clinically focused. Recently, our group made up our own version of The Floor is Lava and had to consider Space (Where to Play), Time (how much time we had, also the order of events in the game and the if/thens), Objects (e.g. construction paper tiles and the spinner, also furniture), and People (cooperative or competitive roles, how would we Think of Others during the game to keep it positive).

Hope you find this free tool useful! What might you use it for? Let us know in the comments.

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

Friday, December 6, 2019

Check your public library...

Recently I was trying to get a copy of a book, Sally Gets A Job, that would align with a vocabulary set from one of my favorite apps, WWP-Vocabulary. The set featured good Tier-2 words such as skill, operate, career, successful, earn. Sally, dog hero of one of my favorite series, seemed a great match.

A quick search on Boston Public Library's website revealed that the book was right at my fingertips, free, via their connection to Hoopla, an electronic media service. Hoopla allows you to view books on a laptop or your iPad after signing in through your public library, if this service is offered to you locally.

So, this is just a suggestion to check out your library website's resources for picture book therapy materials. They may vary, of course (mine has connections to lots of picture and other books through Overdrive, but not Tumblebooks, which you may have), but probably offer you some great options of free materials!

Also, don't forget, EPIC! Books for Kids has scads of picture books, free for educators.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Self regulation on the road this holiday

At ASHA Convention this past week (some recaps to come), I was happy to record another podcast conversation with JD Gray of ASHA Voices, this time on self-regulation. We touched on mindful apps SLPs can use for themselves and as language/self-regulation activities for our students, but I always like simple tricks too.

For example, since I got a car with bluetooth, this has offered me lots of enjoyment on the road (music, podcasts, etc). But have you noticed the annoying habit when bluetoothing or USB connecting of your radio blasting the first song on your music list? In my case, it was "Aaron Burr, Sir" from Hamilton. "Aa" puts it first alphabetically. It made me actually hate the song eventually, though I love the musical. Regular jarring annoyance was eliminated by a simple trick after researching this problem, which I discovered many friends shared. Go to your music or iTunes app and download the sure-to-be-alphabetically-first (well worth the $.99) "A a a a a Very Good Song." It's like 10 minutes of silence, so when you connect your phone to your car, now you will hear what was playing or blessed, calming silence. You'll thank yourself, and your passengers will too.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Traveling to ASHA (or otherwise traveling)? Check out these two tools...

For me, planning + situational information = self-regulation + productivity + life is good.

When planning travel, I always TripIt. As you make any reservations and receive your confirmation emails about them, once you have opened a free TripIt account, you can forward them to What results is a sequenced itinerary with flights, hotels, rental cars and other pieces you may have arranged. Simply a lifesaver. TripIt also generally lets you check into flights from your itinerary. You can access it via web or available mobile apps.

Another indispensable tool is FlightAware. Use FlightAware (via the website, which works perfectly well on mobile, but apps are also available for free) to track not only the status of your flight, but if you are super anxious like me, also the status of the INCOMING PLANE (click on Where is my plane now?) Often this information is just not provided to you by airlines, so it is very reassuring. Or sometimes not.

Hope you have a great trip if you are going, and I'd love to see you at sessions 1048, 1338, and or 1836!

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