Thursday, April 12, 2018

MA area SLPs and educators- Free EdCampAccess event May 5, 2018

I am happy to be helping to organize the EdCampAccess unconference again this year. Hope to see some of you there. Information is below!

EdCampAccess, in the tradition of EdCamps that have taken place around the world, is an unconference devoted to K -12 educators who work with struggling learners. It is not limited to special educators, but anyone who wants to reach students who struggle with reading, writing, organization, behaviors, executive function skills, etc. An unconference is a "collaborative conference" where the attendees build and create the experience. As is the format for unconferences, we do not schedule formal sessions in advance; instead, we do so together as a group at the start of the day via a crowdsourced session board. Attendees may choose to facilitate a session, lead or participate in discussions or attend sessions of interest to further their professional learning.

Some ideas likely to be discussed in sessions are already up on the EdCampAccess website, as is a link to free registration.

Where: Marshall Simonds Middle School, 114 Winn Street Burlington, MA
When: May 5, 2018- Registration begins at 8:30, 9:00-2:00
Cost: again, FREE

Organizers (on Twitter):
Patric Barbieri - @PatricBarbieri
Karen Janowski - @karenjan
Beth Lloyd - @lloydcrew
Sean Sweeney - @speechtechie

Friday, April 6, 2018

Using Google Slides as a Visual Support and "Workbook"

With my older students, I appreciate the role of technology as a visual support. Having a screen involved-- not necessarily to be touching or interacting with-- can be engaging, regulating and motivating. I often say I am fascinated by how much my students will attend and converse with the topic when I am simply typing into a slide. We do have Apple TV present in our clinical rooms, which helps, but the same effect can be provided when connected to a projector or interactive whiteboard, or just with a laptop on the table (less ideal but it works).

With one of my groups I am working on problem solving and self-regulation. Westby and Noel (2014) created a great acronym (BEST PLANS) for problem solving steps you can read about here. In an activity I incorporated this as well as Ward/Jacobsen's STOP strategy for situational awareness, and the 5 Point Scale. I was pleased with the group's engagement as I presented a made-up problem (similar to what they would face and probably struggle with at home), and the tools within Google Slides let me mark up the visuals (boxes, making stuff bold or underline, typing into shapes) as we came to some decisions. The link to this file is here and you can feel free to make a copy (File>Make a Copy) to your own Drive and change it up.

SlidesCarnival is a free resource featuring many engaging-looking Google Slides templates you can use for this sort of work.

Friday, March 30, 2018

News elsewhere...

Hi Folks,

An update on a few things I have had going on...

I am excited to be a featured speaker at ArSHA in Tucson in a few weeks! Hope to see some of you there.

SpeechTechie was named one of the Top Speech Pathology Blogs of 2018 by the website Speech Pathology Master's Programs. Many great resources are listed there. You can read the interview I provided for the website here.

I have written a number of columns for Mindwing Concepts and ASHA published over the past several months:

Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 1 (recapping resources provided at ASHA Convention)

Tech Tuesday: La La Land, Part 2 (recapping resources provided at ASHA Convention)

Tech Tuesday: Plotagon’s Emotions Connect to the 6 Universal Feelings

Apps that Ease Assessment of ASD and Social Learning (ASHA Leader)

Lastly, three courses I created for MedBridge are now available! You can join MedBridge to obtain CEUs through great courses; see my affiliate link for a discounted rate.

The courses are as follows:

Therapeutic Technology Use in Language Intervention For School-Age Clients
Tell Me a Story Part 1 
Tell Me a Story Part 2 

You can even see me in a tie! That is indeed a rare sight.

Disclosure: Author receives a consultation fee for providing blog content to Mindwing Concepts. Author has also contracted with MedBridge to provide three courses and is part of their affiliate partner program. He will receive a royalty when his courses are available and are completed by members. Additionally, he receives a commission for each membership purchased through his affiliate link.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Scratch's updated Getting Started page and Coding as a Language Activity

As I have mentioned here and here, coding is a naturalistic language activity in which we can engage students to build a number of skills: following directions, collaborating with peers, and expository language. This can extend to using if/then sentence constructions or explaining how they constructed a program. These activities need not take any programming expertise on your part, or extended amounts of activity time; simple, discrete activities can be conducted using the web-based (Flash in fact, so you'll need your laptop or a Chromebook) Scratch and their Getting Started page. Call it building "games" and your students will be hooked.

To get started with Scratch, you'll want to sign up for a free account. The Getting Started page has selected activities, but I would recommend downloading the entire set of "cards" and printing them on a color printer (you can also buy the whole set for $18.50)- the colors are helpful for students to find. You can also download the card set, send it to your iPad and have the visual be displayed from iBooks as the students use a laptop or Chromebook.

Here's a simple sample activity. You can't imagine the joy I saw on two 2nd graders' faces as they were successful in creating a program where you click a trackpad and a letter changes color:

In the process, they needed to practice: 
-stating the "big picture" of the activity (using when or if/then)
-following written directions
-"thinking with their eyes"
-navigating categories (of scripts- Events and Looks)

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Creator as a consult and individual therapy tool

In my last post, I described the newly available Book Creator for Chrome. Now in Chrome or via the iPad app, you can consider one of my favorite uses for Book Creator- "journaling" with students. In my various modes of service delivery, including school-based consultation and some individual therapy sessions with students I also see in group, I have turned to Book Creator because it:

-is an engaging way to provide visual support for social-cognitive, language organization and executive function methodologies and concepts.
-can I say engaging again? My students love the opportunity to co-create journal pages and add to sketches or other visuals.
-reminds me and students of what we talked about the last meeting, and results in kind of a cumulative toolkit.
-results are sharable- screenshot any page or export or share the link to the whole book.

You can start by having your student design his own "front page" (I usually leave out names):

Book Creator is a great place to sketch out and modify methodologies such as the Zones of Regulation (created here with emojis in an interactive discussion with a student):

It's an easy place to create Incredible Five Point Scales due to the space and availability of colors:

Create story maps and problem solve (icons from Story Grammar Marker®) walking through the steps of making a goal and action plan.

Expand students' thinking about situations and relationships (or non-relationships) with peers. In this case we were discussing patterns of behavior that the student should recognize and decide to avoid a peer.

Create Comic Strip Conversations to provide visual support during a review of a situation. In this case we incorporated the Superflex 5-Step Power Plan in our discussion accompanying the visual.

I'd love to hear if you are using Book Creator in this way, along with some of your "tricks!"

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Book Creator in Chrome

I've long sung the praises of the Book Creator app. It's definitely the best way to create an e-book due to it's elegant simplicity, ability to add any kind of content (text, photos, drawings, audio, video) and share in both PDF and ePub format. In our work, creating books can be used for narrative and expository language development, social cognitive strategies, metacognitive language strategies, speech practice, repetitive line books to develop microstructure, and so much more.

I recently had the opportunity to get to know Book Creator in Chrome (so, usable on Chromebooks or in any device running the Chrome browser (on iPad, still use the terrific app). It's a lovely port and works exactly the same as the app. One improvement, in the Chrome version you can search for images on Google, which is handy for quick co-creations with students. Sign up as a teacher and you can create 40 books for free (this account also allows you to delete books in your library). Learn about Book Creator here and sign up for your account here. If you are in a Google Apps (G-Suite) environment you can create books FOR your students and have them join your library (where they can read or create).

In my next post I'll talk about one of my favorite recent uses of Book Creator. Check out this great resource giving 50 ways to use Book Creator.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Considering Games with the FIVES Criteria

When considering whether a game-based or "game-like" app is useful for an intervention context, I've found that a number of characteristics or features related to the FIVES criteria can be considered. I actually was looking for a game-based app related to the Winter Olympics but came up short...until Fiete emailed me this morning with an announcement about Fiete Wintersports (I had already been a fan of their Summer Olympics app and was looking to see if they had a winter one). This app provides a good example of some aspects of FIVES that make it very worthwhile:

F- Fairly Priced?
The app is free to download and provides you with two sports- skiing and bobsled. 14 in total can be unlocked with one in-app purchase of $2.99. To me, fair, given the below.

With games, you want interactivity to be within limits. Fiete Sports has a timed aspect but you can't time out, and no matter what, you get a medal. There is no way to stall or go off-course with any of the sports. Each sport shows you how to interact with the screen VERY SIMPLY (e.g. tap quickly, tap and drag) as the sport launches. The activities are very short, promoting the possibility of children in a group having many turns, or you can divide the play of one event among several students.

Each sport gives you a visual sense of how it works- much of which would be new to young learners and build semantic knowledge. The visuals would promote verbal expression as students could be asked to describe how the event works, perhaps using a frame like Ward/Jacobsen's STOP- Space, Time, Objects, People. I found that using the app while mirroring to an Apple TV in my clinical setting kept all engaged with the visual, and commenting on the event.

E-Educationally Relevant?
An app about the Olympics relates to current events, social studies and geography. Though the app provides limited verbal information about the events or Olympics in general, it provides a post-activity to reviewing picture books or other texts about the Olympics, focusing on vocabulary, figurative language (see my book collection at EPIC Books for Kids, the "Winter Olympic Sports" series has some nice slang), or look up the Olympics on Newsela.

The app itself targets no clinical objectives- but the language you can elicit around it within your activities would elicit cause-effect statements of why the event went as it did, categorizations of sports (winter vs summer, individual vs. team, ones played on flat surfaces vs. hills), and any activities done around text as mentioned above. Pair with a YouTube video about sportsmanship and you can do some narrative language, observational and social cognitive work. As mentioned in my previous post, explore how to re-create events in "real life" play and target the group planning aspects of this!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Free interactive book Dino Olympics

The Olympics start this week! The associated topics of sports and geography are great ways to engage students around language objectives. I discovered the free book for iPad Dino Olympics, created by the makers of Puppet Pals. The app is an interactive exploration of different dinosaurs' strengths and weaknesses when competing in Olympic events; it has delightfully silly animations that are extended and further contextualized when students tap on the screen.

In terms of language development, the book is a context for targeting:
-categorization (winter vs. summer events or ones which are easy/hard for the dinosaurs)
-connecting to the concept of multiple intelligences (in Social Thinking® parlance, different kinds of smarts, though it is the dinos' bodies, not their brains, that impact upon their success)
-labeling actions and using causals, "thinking with your eyes"- e.g. observing that Apatosaurus is not good at luge because his long body makes him bounce off the curves of the track.
-I also used this book with a post-activity of creating a "luge course"- a gym scooter on the floor makes a good simulation of this and planning obstacles for the course via sketching a "future picture" is an executive function activity (see the work of Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen).

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Cat in Therapy

Some years ago at the ASHA Convention, I saw in the program a poster entitled "A Cat In Therapy: Cute, but Effective?" I thought this title intriguing and at the same time, funny, and I was sad to have not been able to locate the poster. Fiete Cats AR ($1.99) gives you the opportunity to test this proposition out. AR--Augmented Reality-- is technology that overlays digital content over our world, often through the camera. In this case, the app makes a cat appear in any room, including your treatment space, and offers a number of interactions:

-Name up to 3 cats
-Observe the cat's needs (think with your eyes)
-Pet and play with the cat
-Feed it when it gets dirty (from playing in paint)
-Provide him food and drink when hungry/thirsty
-Put him to bed
-Record your interactions to make a short movie (saves to Photos app)

My kitty using his litter box ON MY RUG! Oh, NO!

Effective? Well, for sure the app is engaging, and provides a context for social observation, labeling actions, and using cause-effect and conditional structures.

This app is also a great pairing with picture books (narrative or expository) about cats. Consider making your own "picture book" with Book Creator, which would allow you to import screenshots or the videos recorded within the app. Students can write about their interactions with the cat, a context for any number of objectives.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

3 Ways to Motivate and add Narrative Complexity to Writing through Emoji

When targeting narrative language, one objective is to move students toward more complexity and elaboration with inclusion of elements such as character response (feelings) and plans. Additionally this can facilitate the microstructure within narratives including complex sentences (e.g. The Patriots turned the game around so we were excited but not surprised). This corresponds with movement toward a "landscape of consciousness" (Bruner, 1986) in mature narrative, describing mental states and emotions, as opposed to merely relating action.

Emoji are fun, and incorporate one way students currently communicate- through texts, Instagram posts and even Venmo cash transfers, noted to be a place where people mark the rationale for the money with emoji. However, they can also serve as a visual support and scaffold for including the story grammar element of character response to events when students are writing personal or summary narratives. Here are 3 easy ways to include emoji- see also my previous post for Mindwing Concepts about this topic.

On iPad through Predictive Text
Predictive Text, when turned on (Settings>General>Keyboard>toggle on "Predictive") provides blocks of predicted text above the keyboard as you type. This is one example of how features previously only available as "assistive technology" have turned out to be incorporated in operating systems to benefit everyone. As you type a word for which an emoji is available, it will trigger an emoji suggestion in the Predictive. You can choose to replace the word with the emoji, rebus-style, or type the word and then type it again and replace with emoji. This also can save time versus having students scroll through pages of emoji within the keyboard.

Equip your Mac or Chromebook with Emoji
If you have a Mac, the Mac App Store has a free app called Emoji Lite. You can search and copy any symbol into a word processing, presentation or other document. As we do lots of typing into a web browser, you can also add the Emoji Keyboard by EmojiOne™ to your Chrome Browser (also a good option for Chromebooks).

Within Google Docs
EasyPeasy. While writing in a Google Doc or Slides presentation, just use the Insert menu, select Special Characters, and change to emoji via the dropdown.