Friday, September 14, 2018

Lookup

Lookup: An elegant dictionary ($2.99) would be a useful app for MS and HS clinicians to have in their library. The app contains cool, attractively designed posters that illustrate the meaning (more precisely, often a semantic association) to a word. The array of posters is not yet of true dictionary breadth, but the ones contained within would provide a great inspiration for students to make their own posters. Consider doing so with construction paper, or with Pic Collage or Google Drawings. The Expanding Expression Tool and Beck/McKeown/Kucan's contextual vocabulary strategies would be good methodologies to employ alongside the use of this app.


Here's an image I whipped up in 5 minutes using Google Drawings, related to a vocabulary word I heard targeted in a HS classroom this week:


To create this I:
-started a new drawing, go to docs.google.com/drawings, Google "Google Drawings" or from your Drive click New, then More, then Google Drawing.
-used Tools>Explore and looked up an image of "dollar"- dragged it in, selected it and copied/pasted a number of times, rotating and resizing.
-Used the Line>Scribble tool to draw a stick figure, then changed the line weight
-Added and reformatted text.

Here's a complete tutorial on using Google Drawings, a tool with many uses, particularly in Chromebook environments.

Creating visuals with Google tools has the advantage of creating collaborative and sharing opportunities between students and possibly making collections for studying. 

You'll find that the above features (web search, doodle, backgrounds, text) are also available in Pic Collage EDU.


Friday, September 7, 2018

More on Breathing

Breathing is an important tool that SLPs can employ in a variety of client populations. For our students with self-regulation difficulties, having tools they can use anywhere without disruption of the current situation they are in can be very important (see Zones). For us, too-- our jobs can be stressful, whether it is a difficult treatment situation, a contentious IEP meeting, or just going back to work after the summer (I AM STILL NOT REALLY READY)...we need tools.

I've always found any kind of mindful breathing to be useful, but this summer I stumbled upon a link from VICE News that led to some interesting science. One study sited here documents the effects of "coherent breathing" at a rate that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, leading to increased calm for people with varied conditions: "In subjects with MDD (major depressive disorder) treated with resonant breathing (coherent breathing with pursed lips resistive exhalation) at 4.5–6.5 breaths per minute (bpm), HRV (heart rate variability) increased and mood improved." Part of the technique is that one should avoid counting, say to 6, as that engages the sympathetic side too much.

I was easily able to find an app that therefore provided other cues so that breaths could be timed to correspond with the BPM guideline: The Breathing App (free for iOS). I have used this as a warm up for groups and also frequently for myself. The app provides different modes: in one, a ball enlarges as a visual for inhalation timing, and decreases in size for exhalation. I have found especially useful another mode which uses audio tones of different notes to time the same--great to use in the car when feeling just a tad anxious on the way to some work task. Check it out and try the technique!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Stories of Summer

In working with students individually or in groups, I find that sharing our own stories can be a very effective elicitation technique. I'm a social interactionist at heart, and it's just pragmatically appropriate. Tell a story about yourself and you seem like a real person to the child. This interaction then becomes a context for all kinds of targets: listening skills, visualization for comprehension, use of comments and questions, and the students' own narrative language.

This was described as the "Conversational Map" by McCabe and Rollins (1994): "In spontaneous interactions you have to tell a story to get a story. Almost everyone has experienced awkward silences in social situations. No one can think of a thing to say. However, the minute one person launches into a tale about locking keys in his or her car or leaving lights on in a parking lot, virtually all others in the group share a similar incident that happened to them. The exact content of a story prompt is not important per se. What is important is that children are asked to talk about experiences that mean something to them. In general, children are likely to tell their best stories about being hurt or scared. These are experiences that almost all children have had but are significant enough to any particular child to be worth talking about."

One tech twist I have on this technique is that I like to present a photo if possible. Photos provide visual support and extend students' understanding of the situation you are describing. The photo you use may also support their commenting or questioning about relevant parts of your story, or constructing inferences based on the way you present the story. They say "the best camera is the one you have with you," and it's true that this is one good use of our smartphones. Keep in mind that small mundane stories that we experience (a spill or broken thing, whatever) can also be good opportunities to photograph and use in therapy.

Telling stories need not be completely free-form, but can be tied into specific strategies. I try to keep mine short enough to allow for conversational appropriateness and foster use of comments and questions (see Mindwing Concepts' 6 Second Story conversational scaffold). We can also progress from explicitly visual techniques like sketching to using Visualizing and Verbalizing®'s structure words to promote visualization, comprehension and responses.

Here are a few examples of photos (that I was just taking anyway, as a selfie enthusiast) that served as good therapy materials and summer stories, along with model narratives:

I bought a new car this summer, but left it at home when I went for a week down the Cape. I heard from my neighbor that a car parked right near it somehow went on fire! We don't know how, but everyone was OK. I was worried about the car but glad it didn't get damaged.



I went to see the Taylor Swift concert at the end of July at Gillette Stadium. They gave us all wristbands and I wasn't sure why. It turned out they lit up all around the stadium in synch with the music to make patterns. It was a cool surprise!


We went to Scarborough Beach in Maine in August. It turns out a foreign ship had docked nearby and brought a new seaweed with it, which was out of control. It stunk and made the water really gross. We found some areas on the beach to swim that didn't have the seaweed.


I went for a hike on the Welch and Dickey Loop in New Hampshire. It was beautiful but harder than expected. I'm afraid of open high spaces and it had a lot of those. This steep ledge was wet from rain the day before and I slipped and almost slid backwards down it. Thankfully I grabbed onto a tree and was safe!



Have fun telling your stories!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Building Context through Technology

In my last post, I discussed how some Star Wars conversation led a group of mine to some engaging self-regulation activities incorporating movement. I always like extending themes, and observe that both watching short videos and, for some reason, watching me type into a presentation slide both get kids talking! I found a Star Wars template easily and we used this "blank space" to map out some social narratives related to play, thinking, self-talk and regulation, and social cognition after reviewing some short videos.

In this video Obi-Wan uses a Jedi Mind Trick. It was a great context to analyze the narrative, in our case with Story Grammar Marker®, but also could be approached with other strategies.
 

I feigned some blanks in my knowledge and together we summarized that:
Character: Obi Wan
Setting: Tattoine
Initiating Event: The Rebels have put plans for the Death Star, which show how to destroy it, on R2-D2. The stormtroopers stop the group and want identification
Response: Calm
Plan: Get past the stormtroopers
Action: Uses a Jedi Mind Trick to get past
Conclusion: They continue on their mission

The narrative could also be flipped and analyzed from Luke's perspective, who at this point is mystified by Obi Wan's powers.

In addition to talking through the narrative elements, focusing on cause-effect relationships, we also talked about the theme of Jedi Mind Tricks as a way to talk about changing thoughts of ourselves and others (awareness of self-talk) in both pretend and real ways (see above re: simple uses of PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote for visual support):


We also role-played JMTs just for fun and playfulness.


Follow-ups! Contexts that get kids talking and thinking about concepts, skills and strategies are always worth repeating, so see also:

-Rey ineffectively using her skills, then succeeding after regulating herself better.
-Yoda's statement of "There is no try" prompted a great conversation and narratives in my group about times they had effectively tried, and the role of failure in learning.
-In a fun followup contextual activity, my students worked in small groups to make a "same but different" version of this activity using the free Scratch Jr. app, instead of a car in the city driving a Star Wars vehicle across space or the desert.
-The book Darth Vader and Son (Jeffrey Brown) is filled with comics building mini-narratives incorporating perspective taking and inference.

May the Force be with YOU this school year!


Friday, August 17, 2018

Incorporating Movement in Sessions

A theme of my agendas for sessions last year included engaging my students more in movement. Movement at the beginning of or during sessions promotes self-regulation (it can be a Green Zone of Regulation® "tool") and following a Group Plan (via Social Thinking®) but also can be a way to practice the language of giving and following directions. Anytime we get our regulation-challenged kids up from a table also gives us a lot of teachable moments. With one group last year I did short movement activities we framed as "Jedi Training" as they were all interested in Star Wars. I noted they liked doing activities like planks in unison or one at a time, providing opportunities to "think with their eyes."

Check out Sworkit Kids (free for iOS and Android) which has short "workouts" with exercises shown via video models (also touching on an EBP). It's simple, and you can skip exercises and do what you want within a 5 minute "activity." A lot of these have kids on the floor so you may want to get some mats of some kind. I'm going to try these this year with a few different groups as part of "Jedi" or other themed "training."


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.


 
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