Saturday, May 20, 2023

High quality digital resources for narrative assessment

I am just wrapping up another semester supervising graduate students at BU's Academic Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic. In gaining baseline and post-treatment data, I am always steering them to look through the narrative level at microstructure aspects (e.g. complex sentences). For several semesters, we've been using the excellent resources at Columbia University's Leaders Project and their School Aged Language Assessment (SLAM) cards. These are easy to use and provide a criterion-referenced measure as well as a good simple language sample. Digitally, these are also all available for free at Boom Learning (search for Leader's Project). I recently noted some versions for preschool students including stories for prediction, and look forward to trying these out. 

I am not sure why I am finding this image amusing. That's just me, I guess.

I did a recent assessment also where I incorporated the CUBED, which provides free language assessment measures including narrative-- these are from the team who created the Story Champs® program. CUBED materials have been created for PK-Grade 3 and consist of a paragraph-level verbally presented story and range of assessment activities (e.g. retell, vocabulary description, and personal narrative prompt). The forms of the CUBED make it simple to provide a view of story grammar and complex sentence formulation. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

What's Going on in this Picture?

Any tech resource that is simple, reliable, with content worth more than one visit, and that will tie in with instructional strategies is one to save on your list. Such a thing is the New York Times' What's Going on in this Picture? The site provides a weekly Interesting Image and instructional tips.

You can consider using this content with:

-Instruction on story grammar, as each picture can be used to form a story

-Visualizing and Verbalizing® strategies

-tie-ins with forming inferences and Social Thinking® concepts such as Thinking with the Eyes 

-Thinking Routines such as those outlined here

The content here is also great for many age levels including adults!

Friday, April 14, 2023

A Quick Activity with Chat GPT

I have been doing clinical supervision at BU for a few semesters now. It's such a rewarding experience to work with the graduate students in their first clinical in-house experiences. I have a student who is working on a lot of semantics and language-based literacy activities with her client, including teaching story grammar as an organizational structure. We have been talking about building activities in context with pre-book and post-book activities, and her client is interested in planes and aviation. I suggested to her this book and this activity: what 10 words do you think ChatGPT will come up with that go with ___ (in this case, airport). The process of asking them to predict what the AI may say is an associative activity, and then the results will likely bring about new concepts and vocabulary.

See one of my favorite articles, The Magic of "Once Upon a Time": Narrative Teaching Strategies for more on pre-, during-, post-book (or other context-based) activities. 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

DALL-E, an AI image creation tool

Having been certified in Visualizing and Verbalizing® years ago, I've always found it an essential tool in my toolkit. Scaffolding students toward creating a mental image gestalt, guided by a schema of structure words that aid in descriptive details, is a process that has been useful across reading comprehension to conversation and even executive function (i.e picturing oneself performing a task).

These skills will continue to be important, but imagine if you have a tool that can combine a few elements and create an image you can see. That's a powerful bridge to this process! Also, I recently learned of aphantasia, which affects the ability to form mental imagery. Supporting other means of learning through visuals affirms this element of neurodiversity.

Check out DALL-E, another tool from Open AI, which allows you to enter a descriptive term to generate a range of corresponding images. DALL-E provides many examples which favor modes of art, for example, line drawings, digital art or watercolor, but you can also use fairly specific descriptors and vocabulary. A client for whom I identify vocabulary targets from his Pokemon interests, for example, is perfect for this kind of search using the words dual and region:

I'm sure SLPs can think of many more creative ways to use DALL-E, such as a series of images demonstrating basic concept words. If you have one, please let us know in the comments.

Friday, February 3, 2023

ChatGPT- maybe a series?

You probably have heard of ChatGPT, a free Artificial Intelligence chatbot that you can ask for all sorts of information. Yes, we have concerns about it being misused in academia, and I know it may be already blocked in your school building, but thought it would be worth exploring in this space. Ditch that Textbook (one of my faves) provides an exploration of it here, along with suggested classroom uses. For a specific SLP take, check out Bonnie Singer's post here.

For an initial idea on how ChatGPT can be useful in language intervention, let's consider vocabulary- which can be helpful to put in context! I have a student whom I see individually, though these ideas can be incorporated in groups. He loves Pokemon and comes each week with a card he has earned--these turn out to be rich sources of useful Tier 2 vocabulary, and it is motivating for him because he is always asking about the words. As we know, students need multiple exposures to new words, so we use semantic and structural techniques in reviewing and revisiting the words, including making this Jamboard (available through your Google apps):

-Vocab "stories" are so easy to co-create with students. Following the student's interest, we searched for a feline Pokemon and copied a PNG. 

-You can use the Background feature to search for Google Images (how we quickly took Sprigatito from Chicago, the student's choice, international to Venice).

-Sticky notes were used to create the loose "story" (also scaffolded with Story Grammar Marker®)

Back to ChatGPT. Access this by clicking the link, click try ChatGPT, login with your Google, and pose a query. In our case it was "Write a story about a feline Pokemon using the words...(vocab above, another opportunity for the student to generate the words)." The cool and engaging result was as follows:

Yes, wordy, but with opportunities to scaffold comprehension and yet more vocabulary. The student was amazed and so was I!

Saturday, January 21, 2023

More on using music in therapy

Music is motivating, self-regulating and full of language. Recently I have used songs with individuals and groups in a couple of specific ways.

For an individual client I see, I have been working to incorporate many of his interests as part of a neurodiversity-affirming approach. When he mentioned liking the Beatles, I instantly knew this could be a great path to engagement. We started with "Here Comes the Sun" and using Wikipedia to look up some details about the song brought some great conversation. In addition, the famous album cover of "Abbey Road" brought some Visualizing and Verbalizing-style picture description into the session. Songs with lyrics are available on YouTube and through this we discussed figurative language with this song and "Yesterday."

Simple sketches helped with some back and forth- "Wait, 'Here Comes the Sun' is about the sun coming right at us and crashing into us, right?" "Is 'Yesterday' literally about yesterday?"

For a group activity focusing on different kinds of conversations, I was inspired by this TikTok, in which a teacher polled her students for opinions on the #1 song when she was their age. This made a good executive function activity- what would this look like if we did this? What do you need to know? What objects do we need? See Ward/Jacobsen's Get Ready, Do, Done model. All comments were welcome and I was pleased to learn some new slang when one of the kids reported that Heart's "Alone" (showing the music video in this case provided some extra visual engagement- such big hair!) was "mid," meaning "just OK." 

Do you have other ways you like to incorporate music? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Revisiting Breathwork with Breathwrk

I can't say enough about the app Breathwrk and what it has done for me, and taught me personally. I've mentioned I struggle here and there with SAD and some other layers. Whether thought- or experience-driven or sometimes just an undercurrent of mismatched energy, using breathing techniques to regulate is very effective for me, and as you can see in this app, backed by science. Try it yourself for free and I'd actually recommend this as exactly the kind of app that is worth paying for a full subscription. 

Additionally, Breathwrk can be very useful clinically. Whether teaching Zones of Regulation® tools or Autism Level Up (see the writeup, instantly usable, as well as many resources at the website), an approach strongly and specifically endorsed by the autistic community, who identify emotional and energy regulation as a priority, breathing techniques as regulation tools can be solidly in our wheelhouse as SLPs. The app has a fun, visual approach to practicing techniques that clients can access elsewhere. I especially appreciate the brain-based science blurbs that accompany each technique. Breathwork can be quick and simple as a tool that may appeal to those who are not so into lengthier mindfulness exercises, and can also complement these.

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Exploring Emotional Vocabulary

Check out Hume AI's website for a number of maps of various types of nonverbals that may be useful to you in therapy activities, particularly with teens, young adults or adults. I say that because some of the content on the website-- particularly the expressive language map-- is more mature. 

I'd suggest starting with the facial expression "galaxy" as I labeled it with students. Click within a cluster and explore nearby facial expression to discuss, for example, what makes surprised look surprised, in terms of what the face is doing.

We used this as a preparatory set with students before checking out videos with some kind of prevailing emotion. Anna Vagin has a great list on her site (and you'll really benefit from her email newsletters) and you can also check out resources such as this one from A Fresh Breath on TpT.

Scroll down on the main site and you'll see other datasets such as Emotional Speech, "Recordings of sentences being spoken in dozens of emotional intonations around the world"

Thursday, November 17, 2022

You Are The Historian- First Thanksgiving

Museums appealing to children are often a great source of interactive websites. I liked this website years ago (see the blast from the past) and the now Plimoth-Pawtuxet Museum has redesigned it with a modern look and perspective. Pre-and a little post-Thanksgiving, you could bring some groups through this "adventure," the conceit being you are a teenage reporter investigating some Wampanoag and Pilgrim sites. I might be biased as a Massachusetts guy, but it's a nice site for students to practice discussing what they see in pictures, processing information, and there are some sequencing and word-fill interactives. There is a lot of content here and seemingly no way to save progress, but you could just visit a few of the sites or keep tabs open if you want to continue. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Book Creator Templates (including Thanksgiving!)

Book Creator has long been a stellar app/webtool and recently I discovered that they have templates to "remix." You can add templates to your app and do a collaborative work on your iPad among students, or if in a Chromebook environment your free account will allow you to share with students' Google accounts easily. This is an attractive option because, well, they are attractive and you don't have to design the book yourself. Richard Byrne describes the magic ink and autodraw features here.

These "activity books" are filled with language underpinnings like storytelling opportunities, semantic knowledge and vocabulary. You can easily copy and modify any page to cater to your students before starting the activity. For example, on this page below, you can zoom in on a map and have kids in the group find out where others live (generally) for spatial/academic/biographical knowledge of others. Additionally, with this template, gratitude is literally good for your brain to practice all year long.