Friday, February 12, 2021


i-Spy is a rich, simple interactive website that's like a Where's Waldo of New Zealand. You can play 5 different scenes and locate hidden animals, objects or people. I'd recommend the free play mode as the challenge mode is timed. A search icon will bring you to the general vicinity of the target with a visual cue. 

Activities like these are visually packed and not for all students, but for many can serve as "thinking with the eyes" collaborative "group plan" activities (both Social Thinking® terms) and also connect well to narrative elements of setting and action sequences. Consider researching or Google Earth-traveling to the places beforehand and filling out a setting map/graphic organizer

Saturday, February 6, 2021

Playing games with Jamboard (Whoonu)

I have been researching and using a lot of Google Jamboard recently, and realized that it provides a good "table" to play games. One of my faves ever is Cranium Whoonu, a great get-to-know-others game. In Whoonu, players have cards with activities, places, and things on them, and they make guesses about a target (rotating) player's favorite things. That player (the Whoozit) then sequences them in order from most (most points) to least favorite, and players take tokens indicating their score.

The full rules are here.

And here's a game template for you! Click to make a copy and edit to your heart's content. To use in a session, make a copy for your group, change sharing sessions to editable with the link, and share in Zoom, Google Classroom or wherever.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

A few Google Experiments for you

Google Experiments are, well, experimental websites that play with new features and aspects such as artificial intelligence (AI). These can show great use of the I- Interactive aspect of my FIVES criteria, as well as the V-Visual, and thereby be great contexts for language use. 

Check out QuickDraw, which gives you 20 seconds to draw an object. You have pause time to discuss strategy or features (think Expanding Expression Tool) with students, and this is especially fun if you can give remote cursor control. The AI will then verbally guess what you are drawing, often with funny results that are sure to get a reaction from your students!

Blob Opera is also a blast and a fun way to play and explore voice pitch with students, as well as vocabulary about it (e.g. bass, tenor).

Check out the full range of Google Experiments here.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Multiple Meaning Commercials

Sometimes it pays to watch the commercials! GEICO has been doing a series of humorous ads for home insurance where the homeowners make a complaint that turns out not to be what we thought they meant- rather an alternate meaning of their plight. Video can be a motivating way to explore metalinguistics with your students, and each of these has a social/situational awareness element as well (e.g. why passive aggressive comments from aunts--pronounced ants--can be a problem). 

Aunt Infestation

Fencing Problem

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Jamboard Icebreakers

Happy 2021! Not the happiest week, but I am still hopeful!

If you are like me, you may have students moving in and out of groups and introduction activities can be helpful in "breaking the ice" and helping them make connections. I tried one yesterday that was very successful and I wanted to share it with you.

This activity uses Jamboard which is part of Google Workspaces/Apps and all have access to it with a Google account (just go to your "waffle" in the upper right corner of any Google app and locate Jamboard). I created an image with shapes to use as a background for the "Jam." You could choose to label each space but I instead had the students think around an acronym I like to use for "people files" (credit Social Thinking® but the acronym is mine and feel free to use) with different aspects of our social memory/sharing about ourselves prompted by the letters in the word FILE:

FILE= F (Friends, Family, Pets, Where you live) I (Interests) L (Likes/Dislikes) E (Experiences, your stories, things you've done or would like to do).

The activity is located here. To use it:

1) Make a copy of the Jam in your Google account. Please do not request access, you can make a copy and it is yours to use. The background is not editable but you can make something similar in PowerPoint, save it as an image and Set as Background.

2) Use the top central frame viewer to duplicate the blank frames for a student group. You can see that mine is in there as a model (and can delete it). 

3). I recommend making frames for the group members and placing their name someplace on the frame to avoid chaos.

4.) To use in a group, I like to model how to use the sketch (top tool), image search (use Google Image Search for quick completion), and text box features while making an "example."

5) You can have students join the Jam under Share by making it editable to anyone with the link, or sharing it within Google Classroom.

6) You can foster time management/executive function and "matching the pace" of the group by toggling what you are sharing (if teletherapy) with Online Stopwatch. I prefer to use the analog clock and mark it up with Page Marker extension to show a timeframe the group will be working in (start, middle and end points ala Sarah Ward). 

6) Encouraging students to use images as much as possible will promote more verbal description (e.g. I used this picture because...) and conversation.

Have fun! I'd love to hear about your Jamboard activities in the comments!

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Wrapping up 2020. Thank God!

It was some year, for sure. In short, 2020 saw many of us becoming more tech-savvy because we had no choice and were working through an emergency. Still are. But there's hope ahead.

Myself, I admit to leaning in and then leaning out a bit. 2020 saw me writing about double the posts I had written in the past five years, because I wanted to be of use in the early days of the pandemic. Like everyone else I settled into "just keep swimming" mode and I hope weekly tidbits have been helpful enough. 

So, without further ado, here are the 10 most popular posts of 2020 in terms of page views:

10. What to: Using Google Slides for simple session agendas and visuals in telepractice

9. Demonstration of one activity you could do with Pear Deck

8. GIFs- simple animations

7. Mr. Nussbaum's Learning Fun

6. Explore ideas in EdTech Blogs

5. Creating a make-a-scene in Google Slides

4. Pairing Picture Books With Apps in Teletherapy

3. Vote with your wallet

2. ASHA Presentation 2019 on Telepractice

1. What to: Sharing Screens, Giving Remote Cursor Control, Using Interactive Websites in Distance Learning and Telepractice

Happy Holidays and here's to a brighter new year in 2021!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

As SLPs, at times we need to assist our students with work that is a bit pointless. I recall that Social Thinking® had some material about this; as students we are expected to follow the "group plan" and sometimes complete tedious tasks. Memorization of lists or passages is perhaps a good example. I recently needed to assist a student with memorizing a lengthy section from a book, I won't say which one. While the requirement was maybe in that zone of "Why tho?" it still was a good opportunity to apply Ehren's concept of the "strategic/therapeutic focus" and work on:

-ensuring comprehension of the passage as a whole and its vocabulary, sentence structure
-looking for opportunities for visualization
-noting language structure such as the flow from main idea to details in the passage, also several sentences had parallel structures that could be used as a memory trick i.e. adjective-infinitive, adjective-infinitive, adjective-infinitive.

Putting the passage in Google Docs and commenting in the sidebar with these memory tricks while discussing and eliciting paraphrasing and connections from the students made for a good teletherapy activity for a high schooler!

A quick Google search also found us this gem, which was great to leave my student with so that he could work on the actual memorization independently. allows you to paste a passage or ordered list, then provides strategies and prompts to help you work on memorizing the language. For example, the website manipulates your pasted text to provide first letter or beginning of line cues. 

I recall having to memorize this above passage from Henry IV, Part 1 in high school and I wish I had had this tool!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Scaffolding complex and abstract language through Google Slides: an example

I have mentioned here many times that I am often seeking to target language and social competencies through a self-regulation lens of late. An example of a context for this is the great series of videos from the Stop, Breathe and Think-Kids app, now available free in full on YouTube in this playlist, see the right sidebar for full list. 

SBT-K presents mindful activities in a playful, narrative way and so is very useful for elementary students. As SLPs we can think of mindfulness cues like these as potential narrative/expository prompts (What did you think of when it said...?), connections to metacognition and self-regulation/social strategies such as Zones of Regulation®.

For a particular client these past several weeks, I have been using this series as a "flow" and creating in-the-moment visuals in Google Slides while scaffolding complex/abstract/how-can-you-use-this kind of language. A few examples are below, and remember that screenshots/screengrabs are your friend!

The READ acronym is one that I learned from MY therapist- how lucky I am to have a super solution-focused CBT support during a pandemic, and it corresponds well actually to story grammar (icons from Story Grammar Marker®)

As I mentioned, these are visuals we formed as the student, my graduate intern and I had this conversation over teletherapy; it occurred to me in the moment that many mindfulness activities are focused on lists, which are organized expository thinking!

Friday, November 20, 2020


This is a good week to remind you of a simple resource to help you and your students. I have written about Calm before but it seems it is more important than ever. We all need to take moments each day to reset and breathe.

Calm can be used as an app on mobile devices or Apple TV but I find that the web interface offers more, and particularly like the Scenes feature which can be used for free. To do this:

-visit the website, linked above.
-login with Apple ID, Facebook or create an account with your email.
-in the left sidebar click Scenes and choose a scene. Some are more setting-based and some more ambient visuals. You can choose the volume of the audio that goes with the scene.

-click Calm in the upper left corner, then the scene itself (not the featured activities) to see it full screen.

Calm could be a great resource to help you meditate and breathe a few moments if you enjoy visuals for this kind of activity.

For students, same. Also consider a post activity for some of the more contextual visuals. What place you have visited did this scene remind you of (could then go there with Google Earth and get some more narrative/description from the students). What do you think you would experience with your 5 senses if you were actually in this location?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

ASHA Pandemic Pangs

Facebook's "Memories" feature is sometimes not so great during a pandemic. You look back with a bit of a pang, right? "I can't do that this year..." This is best channeled with some hope, particularly with good vaccine news this week, toward better days ahead. But still, seeing past ASHAs kind of hurt. I'd always be prepping to present and seeing friends and colleagues I'd only see there. One very packed room I presented to in 2013 did kind of make me go "Ew," given current contagion.

This year, I was invited by SIG 18 and was set to present "Play on Words: Thoughtful Uses of Game-Based Apps and Resources in Language-Based Interventions." That presentation doesn't really exist as of yet (maybe next year), but I thought it might be helpful to share my presentations, along with one on telepractice with Amy Reid and Nathan Curtis, from the last three years. Hopefully there might be some ideas in there that will help you in your work currently.

Here's the link.

Food for thought: a lot of what I have presented in the past has revolved around iPad apps and these have been less relevant in the emergency-telepractice era. However, Apple has just released new Macs with their own M1 Silicon chip (as opposed to previous Intel-made chips) and THEY WILL RUN IPAD APPS NATIVELY. Kind of a game-changer for teletherapy, methinks. I will be getting one soon as my Mac is circa 2013, anyway.