Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

2011 was a great year, and thank you all for being with me through it! This year saw me moving into a new school, getting to work with some great people and organizations on presentations, and being invited to develop new apps with Barbara Fernandes and Smarty Ears! A big WOW of a year overall.

In 2012 I am looking forward to the above endeavors, in addition to regular content here on SpeechTechie.  I am thinking of a month or two on animation, in all its forms, and other Web 2.0 creation tools. Of course, I have a lot of apps I want to tell you about too!

I finally figured out how to find the most popular posts on my blog using Google Analytics, so here are the top 10 of 2011:

10. License Plate Generator
9. Welcome to Glogster EDU Week!
8. Seriously Silly Speech Therapy with Silly Bandz (Guest post by my pal Janelle Albrecht)
7. My Garden
6. Fake iPhone Text
5. When a Free App is not Worth it
4. Noddy Fun Time
3. Speech Buddies- Innovative Technology for Articulation
2. Use Flickr to Find Interesting Stimulus Pictures
1. Apps Worth Paying For

Interesting selection! It sort of cracks me up when what I think of as kind of a throwaway post like the one on Noddy Fun Time ends up with a large amount of hits.  I was proud to have guest posts by creative professionals like Janelle, Meghan Graham and Diana Richardson this year, as well as using themes such as Glogster. And of course we had the launches of Therapy App 411 and Essential Tech Skills 4 SLPs, which we will continue to tend to in the New Year. More of that to come!

I wish you all the happiest and healthiest of New Years! None of this world-ending business, either. ;-)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Language Builder and Assessment Options

I recently had several evaluations in which the students had variable ability to engage in traditional standardized assessments. Specifically, the often quite useful CELF-4 Formulated Sentences subtest, in which the student is asked to produce a sentence to correspond with a presented picture using a target word, put these particular kids at a dead-end of silence and "I don't know"s. The subtest features a series of colorful pictures designed to serve as contexts for target words that increase in abstraction and complexity (e.g. always, because, until), and though I had never really analyzed it before, I realized that it involved even more advanced aspects: perspective taking and self-talk.  For example, the "practice" picture in which the examiner asks the child to use the word when depicts a cafeteria scene in which all sorts of things are going on: kids sitting at a table, a child ordering food, another throwing out the contents of a tray. On-target responses could include anything from:

When is lunch?

to the more complex

When I finish my lunch, I throw away my tray.

In either case, and in most of the items, the child is asked in some sense to put themselves in the scene to be a voice within the picture.  Some kids, of course, struggle to do that, and as my students exhibited a level of frustration and anxiety that prompted me to discontinue this subtest after a few items, I was left with the need to quantify their syntactic abilities (and, oh well, no Core Language Score).  Language sampling was on the agenda, of course, but both kids were very engaged by the iPad, so I found myself turning to Mobile Education Store's Language Builder ($7.99, iPad only).

Language Builder is an open-ended tool within this app studio's line of apps in which audio can be recorded to match picture and language prompts.  Or, in this case, I used the most open-ended option in the app, simply asking my students to "Make a sentence about the picture." In both cases, it was an enjoyable and engaging experience for the child, and gave me key information about their sentence formulation abilities, along with transcribable (or demonstrable for parents) audio samples in response to the pictures.  Language Builder has different levels of "hints" that prompt various language structures, and could of course be used for all those kids that complete Formulated Sentences and don't do so well with it. I actually have also been using it in conjunction with the excellent Conversations with Conjunctions program (Catherine Harkins May, Pro-Ed), which involves the use of ASL signs for conjunctions in order to provide a visual and kinesthetic cue. Overall, it's a great go-to app to address the difficult-to-assess (and treat) area of complex sentence development!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Zite Personalized Magazine

All month I have been singing the praises of blogs as a route to professional development and therapy planning, and I am ending with a bit of a twist- Zite Personalized Magazine (Free, iPad only for now) an app that allows you to subscribe not to blogs but to topics. Select topics of interest and Zite will pull in posts from various news sources (including blogs) that correspond with your selections.  Here's my Zite home page:

Zite works somewhat like music app Pandora in that you can then further customize your feeds by giving a thumbs-up or -down to articles that appear or request more from the author, source, or subtopic.  It is easy to share articles by email or send to Twitter, Facebook or other services, making Zite a great tool for participating in your Personal Learning and Sharing Network.

Zite is somewhat more of a leisurely experience than using Google Reader as you don't have a number of unread posts to contend with; just read what you want! Because Zite allows you to set up multiple profiles within the app, it could also be a tool for helping older students do research or explore topics of interest and work on comprehension and language strategies.

This will be my last post until 2012- hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Fed Up With Lunch

I had sort of heard out of the corner of my ear that there was a courageous but anonymous teacher engaged in one of those "do something everyday and blog about it" initiatives, but one that could really make a difference. The author of Fed Up with Lunch (now also a book) committed to eat a usually quite gross school lunch every day and post about it, complete with photos, in order to make a statement about nutrition.  And guess what? It turns out "Mrs. Q" (I just love that pseudonym) is Chicago school-based SLP Sarah Wu. I was really excited when she contacted me and said she is a SpeechTechie reader! Her secret mission has concluded, but you can still read all about it in her archives, and her blog continues to be a resource for advocacy information about this important issue.  The story of "Mrs. Q" just goes to show how SLPs' "way with words" can be applied toward all kinds of good things. Her blog could also serve as a therapy material- think of what you could elicit for description regarding the photo below, to start! Please go and check out her blog; she is also on Twitter as @fedupwithlunch.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Edublog Awards, YAY SLPs, Thanks!!

The Edublog awards is sometimes the recipient of criticism for being about things educators supposedly shouldn't care about: validation, self-promotion, competition.  Fair enough, sure, there are elements of these things during "awards season." For me, though, it is really about ensuring that all these people who are sharing great ideas are actually READ. It sounds trite and eye-rolling but I definitely enjoyed nominating more than being nominated.

Yet again, timing dictated that I ended up "watching" the awards' live webcast at my patient (good) friends' house during their annual holiday dinner.  Thank God they have good wifi, and a little wine cut the tension ;-)

All in all, SLPs made an amazing showing in this years' event.  Besides being singled out by the organizers as being a great community and having 8 different specific SLP contributors shortlisted (sifted onto the final list of nominees based on some subjective measures of engagement with their blog), 6 different SLP resources were named as finalists (top 5 in their category).  It's a really big WOW.

Best New Blog- Speech Room News and All4MyChild.

Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog- Cindy L Meester's Blog and some other dude.


Best hashtag- #SLPeeps (the tag we use on twitter to reach other SLPs)

Best Use of Audio/Video/Podcast- A.T.TIPSCAST

A few years ago, there weren't too many of us SLPs in social media. Now people might start actually understanding what we do!

THANKS very much for all your support and votes.  Please be sure to check out all the nomination posts written by SLPs if you missed 'em.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: 3eanuts

As a kid, I really loved Peanuts.  I definitely identified with Linus (and yes, I had a security blanket that I kept around way too long).  As an adult, I guess I wasn't totally surprised to find out that Charles Schulz struggled with depression.  The blog 3eanuts plays with the conventions of the strip by posting truncated versions of the comic without its generally uplifting 4th panel. From its authors:

Charles Schulz's Peanuts comics often conceal the existential despair of their world with a closing joke at the characters' expense. With the last panel omitted, despair pervades all.

The result could be interesting to SLPs not only as a narrative intervention, but also to teach kids about self-talk in a humorous way, perhaps by having them replace the fourth panels with positive outcomes!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Running to Be Still

As someone who has made social media somewhat of a way of life, it is interesting to see other people I know get involved online for quite different reasons.  I am speaking of my personal friend Kristin McCarthy Macchi and her funny and moving blog Running to be Still, in which she documents the trials and triumphs of her son James, who is on the autism spectrum. As SLPs, it is important for us to see the perspective of the families of the children we work with, and being connected to blogs such as this one is one way to develop that understanding. Also be sure to check out Kristin's Facebook Page for other links and observations.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: The Kid Should See This

The Kid Should See This is a cute curation of videos and other materials from around the internet related to culture and education, kind of like a kids' version of Open Culture.  From the author:

There's just so much science, nature, music, arts, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven't seen. It's most likely not stuff that was made for them... But we don't underestimate kids around here. Off the grid-for-little-kids videos and other smart stuff collected by Rion Nakaya and her three year old co-curator.

The videos could provide a great context for a speech and language session, and included are fun sequences like this one (might be fun before an activity with the Cookie Doodle app):

Stop-Motion Biscuit Cake from Alan Travers on Vimeo.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Mindpop

I bumped into Mindpop when a friend of mine (a friend of the author) posted it on Facebook. The author, Nina Mitchell, introduces her blog: "I am a quirky young woman whose Mind went Pop. I was 26 when a stroke took away my limbs and speech. This stroke comic book is designed to make you think. Mindpop. Strokes are hell. They have dark comedy too. I live in Boston, just finished grad school, back to work." Mindpop is a good blog for SLPs to follow in order to fully understand the perspective of our patients who have had CVAs, but also possibly to recommend and/or use in counseling these patients.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Writing Prompts

Writing Prompts is a blog that presents attractive visual prompts that could be used for an oral presentation or piece of written work.  The prompts are imaginative and engaging, though they will obviously not work for all students.  Try using Writing Prompts with your favorite expository or narrative text structure graphic organizers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Night Light Stories

We often hear the question from parents: What can I do to help my child at home?

I try to keep a list of resources I can tell parents about, and here's one for you: Chris and Melissa Bugaj's Night Light Stories.  Chris, an Assistive Technology Specialist and SLP, and his wife Melissa, a classroom teacher, have created this blog and podcast featuring original stories "that light up the imagination of kids of all ages." Each story is relatable to children's lives and begins with a question that promotes "making connections," a strategy our students often have to employ in the classroom.  In addition to the stories (which can be heard on the blog itself, downloaded for free from iTunes or streamed though Instacast), the blog offers entries related to each story, with a review of Tier 2 (as in Isabel Beck's work, not RTI) vocabulary and fun activities for children and parents to complete together related to the context of the story.  The audio (particularly the shorter "Flashlight Stories"), vocab and activities would also be great for SLPs to use directly during sessions!  Check it out and please recommend it to your families.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Support SLPs Shortlisted in 2011 Edublog Awards!

The shortlist of nominees for the 2011 Edublog Awards was announced this weekend.  Though I was a little bummed a few deserving nominees didn't make it in, it was excellent that the event actually acknowledged SLPs as a standout and active group in the effort that defines the whole purpose of the awards- to acknowledge educators who are sharing through social media and help educators find and follow this content.  In this vein, I'd encourage you to check out other SLPs' nomination posts and the shortlist as a whole to find lots of great resources and maybe add them to your Google Reader, right? right? :-)

I'm really honored to be nominated in the Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog Category. Thanks a lot to Tanya Coyle of Lexical Linguist and Twitter Dagobah, Heidi Kay of PediaStaff, Chris Bugaj of A.T. Tipscast and the folks at all4mychild for the shout-outs.  Your support means a lot.

Click here to Vote!

So, please vote for all the SLPs and others in the mix!

Best Individual Blog- iLearn Technology (not an SLP but a great source of visual resources for our kids)

Best Group Blog- TherapyApp411 (whoo-hoo!)

Best New Blog- All4mychild and Speech Room News

Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog- Cindy L Meester and I are in there!

Best Twitter Hashtag- #slpeeps

Best Free Webtool- GlogsterEDU, a great tool for SLPs

Best Educational Media/Podcast-The Compendium Blog of The A.T.TIPSCAST

Best Educational Use of a Wiki- UDLTechToolkit

Best Open PD- Edcamps, open PD that is happy to have SLPs in attendance!

Lifetime Achievement- Special Education Teacher and Mac Genius Meg Wilson

Thanks, and be sure to check out as many nominees as you can!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: Another Bundle of Blogs 4 U

In my previous post, I reminded you about the SLP Blogs Bundle, which you will need to re-subscribe to periodically so that you can view any new blogs added to the bundle in Google Reader.  Recently, I put together an additional and different bundle, the SLP Apps Roundup.  This bundle consists of some SLP and education-related blogs that feature iOS Apps, but also some general app review blogs.  These blogs, such as App Advice (also available as an app on your iOS Device and highlighting the blog's great App Guides and Lists), present many apps, some of which can be "repurposed" for therapy.  You'll need to use your critical thinking to decide if you want all of these blogs, and even more so when downloading apps, but I thought you might find the "Roundup" helpful.  You can subscribe to the Apps Roundup here.

GiggleApps is a great example of a blog that is worth following in this bundle or on its own.  The blog features in-depth reviews of apps for kids and will help you tease out those that might be applicable in therapy.  The mission statement of the blog: "Written by an iPhone loving mom, our goal is to find great apps for kids from toddler to teen. Apps that make you giggle and hopefully teach you something too."

Friday, December 2, 2011

Blog Awareness Month: The New Google Reader and SLP Blogs Bundle, Revisited

I have long been a proponent of using Google Reader to view blogs.  In fact, I will go further than just suggesting it and say that if you are looking at a lot of blogs and not using Google Reader (or an alternative), you probably shouldn't bother since you will be wasting so much time.  If you have a list of blogs you like to visit, it really does not make much sense to bookmark them and visit them individually.  You have no way of knowing whether the blog has posted anything recently, or alternately you will end up missing new posts.  Using the free and easy Google Reader service solves this problem by letting you view all your blogs in one place, and indicating which blogs have new posts. You have access to Google Reader if you have any kind of Google account, such as Gmail or Docs.  To add a blog to Reader, just click Subscribe and paste the URL of the blog, or type the name of the blog to search for its "feed."

Some time ago, I began building a "Bundle" of blogs written by SLPs in order to encourage others in our field to read these folks' contributions to the blogosphere.  There are many great SLPs currently blogging in order to discuss professional issues, resource reviews such as apps, books or websites, session plans, or just their take on life as an SLP.  The SLP Blogs Bundle allows you to subscribe to all these blogs (currently over 40) at once, and you may have already.  However, the Bundle does not refresh in your Reader when I have added new blogs to it. You have to go back and resubscribe, and you are of course welcome to unsubscribe from anyone in the Bundle whose writings you don't find as valuable as others.  They won't know you did it, I swear!

In the last months, a number of new resources have been added to the bundle, so don't miss 'em! Just a few highlights:
Jill Kuzma's Social and Emotional Skills Sharing Site- great ideas and visuals, many pages of resources and links to Pinterest Boards.
The Speech Dudes- really intelligent and funny analyses of topics related to Speech Language Pathology.
The Learning Curve- creative ideas and organizational tips for SLPs.
so to Speak- a very well-written and fun chronicle of SLP grad school.
Activity Tailor- more creative activity ideas for SLPs.
ProjectSLP- reflections on SLP practice.
Megan Panatier Bratti's great resources via her Avocado Tech Facebook Feed.

Again, just a few! There are many more great ones in the bundle...

Below is a video I made that goes through the recent changes to Google Reader, how to use it, and how to access the SLP Blogs Bundle.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blog Awareness Month!

December is Blog Awareness Month on SpeechTechie, a month of posts dedicated to blogs (and blog-related tools) of interest to SLPs!

Blogs, to be honest, have developed a little bit of a bad rap.  Though it was once quite trendy to have a blog, the term "blogger" now has some connotations that aren't so positive: wordiness, self-absorption...but enough about me. What do you think of me? Oh, I lost track of myself there.

from The Lawrence and Julie and Julia Project.

I blame the backlash against blogs at least partially on the film Julie and Julia.  Just about no one liked the whiny Julie blogging parts.

Another factor is the level of activity on "micro-blogging" sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, where people share information in more bite-sized chunks. That's very important, and I get (and share) tons of ideas from participating in these circles, but I definitely think there is something to be said for topic-focused blogs that explore ideas in more depth.

So this month I will be standing up for the blog as a source of information, perspective and, of course, of therapy tools.

I will start with one of my favorites: Zen Habits.  Zen Habits has simple and strong messages about how to deal with life's stresses, of which SLPs certainly have their share! Leo Babauta and his guest posters remind us how to breathe, simplify, focus, live in the moment, and be happy.  The blog has a great "start page" of posts you might want to begin with.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creating Your Own Materials with PowerPoint or Keynote

This info and video appears as part of our Essential Tech Skills 4 SLPs site but I wanted to make sure you ran across it, so am posting it here too! Apologies for the length of the video, but it was tough to make that mini-lesson more mini. The skills demoed here can be used to make your own visuals such as the PowerPoint cue cards I posted about some time ago.

SLPs often have the need to create customized materials such as picture sets and graphic organizers.  This generally takes us into the realm of desktop publishing, which can seem complicated.  However, we find that it is easy to repurpose a presentation program such as PowerPoint or Apple's Keynote in order to create a worksheet or a visual for a student.  Why these programs as opposed to Microsoft Word? Well, Word tends to want everything to fit in a word processed format, as in a typed report.  It is difficult to move text and images around as you please. Not so with PowerPoint and Keynote.  You can insert text boxes, images (see Part 3 of the Essential Tech Skills 4 SLPs site) or even draw items quite easily, click and move them around, and save them to print out and share with students (and colleagues)!

Check out this video on how to "Repurpose" these presentation programs to make any kind of visual or worksheet you would like:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Social Thinking and Current Events on YouTube

Kids with communication and Social Thinking difficulties appreciate discussing how public figures commit social foibles.  I recently explored these ideas with a few middle school groups in conjunction with some YouTube clips.

Both of these mini-lessons arose naturally out of the groups' discussion and interest, which is one reason why YouTube is such a great tool- I was able to pull up a video at a couple of taps (on my iPad) to deepen the context and guide some discussion and thinking that I probably wouldn't have been able to elicit without the video.

The first story we touched on was the recent controversy about the Red Sox pitchers who were exposed for drinking beer, eating fried chicken, and playing video games in the clubhouse during games.

After watching this brief video, the kids had more of an idea of the story, and we were able to do a quick story map using Story Grammar Marker icons.  In our discussion we linked this to social thinking concepts such as expected and unexpected behaviors, "Team" vs. "Just Me" thinking, and keeping one's body with the group.

Recently we had election day and we got to talking about the presidential campaign.  Like many, I had gotten a huge kick out of the extremely inadvisable Herman Cain national campaign ad in which his campaign manager was shown smoking a cigarette. I showed this to the group without giving them a cue as to what the "wrap-up" of the ad would be. Their response was hysterical.  First of all, it was clear they were being good "social detectives" and "thinking with their eyes" about what they had seen.  They described it as "RANDOM!"  We had been working with the graphic novel "Social Fortune and Social Fate" and this linked well with one of the strategy codes suggested in the text- TAC: Think About Choices.  This "code," like that in a video game, unlocks the skill of thinking about what the consequences of one's social actions will be, which it was clear that the Cain camp had not done even a little bit in the matter of this ad (let's not get into other choices Cain allegedly made, all politics aside).  

Interestingly, a few of the kids reported that the "punchline" of this ad was not really the candidate's fault.  This exposed some faulty social thinking and an opportunity for a teachable moment about schema.  How does an ad end up on the air?  It goes through many steps including previewing and approval by many, many people, including the candidate.  It seems like someone should have caught this and made a better "choice," right?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ASHA Convention Wrap-Up: An Open Letter on the Importance of Open Technology.

I really love going to the ASHA convention (despite ASHAs tendency to write it in print without the definite article the, I have to insist on it). I've gone 6 years in a row: Miami, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Philly, and now San Diego. Clearly I really like the travel, the vibe of learning and whom I get to see at the convention.

This is not to say that there couldn't be some improvements each year, and I struggled with whether to write and publish this post lest it seem negative. However, as one of our technology spokespeople, I really feel strongly that I need to mention some points that would take this event from a good one to a GREAT one.  

These points of course are on message for my blog and in the area of technology, and I thought it best framed a certain way, and in the sense of What it Looks Like at a Conference when Access to Technology is Carefully Considered.  So here goes:

When Technology is Open and Carefully Considered at a Conference:
...there is a clear message to presenters that they are free to use their own equipment and devices in order to give the best presentation they possibly can.  As a result, we don’t have things like PowerPoints about iPad apps, which limit the power of that technology and don’t give attendees a sense of how things really work.
...we have a user-friendly web-based scheduling application that can be accessed on any device (including mobiles) and allows participants to select sessions, access all information including handouts, and even see which of their colleagues share interest in sessions so that discussions can happen before and after presentations (I have been to several that used SCHED and found this an awesome tool). and accessible wireless Internet is available to attendees and presenters consistently in all areas of the convention center, resulting in (gotta break this down a bit more because I think it is the most important one):
-presenters being able to demonstrate the abundance of resources related to Speech and Language Pathology while making presentations, without having to resort to using personal hotspots or flat screenshots.
-facilitation of the previously made points, particularly access to supporting materials so that attendees do not have to (and this was definitely partly their fault) wait in (long) lines to print out itineraries and handouts.
-instant access to websites and resources, including apps, so participants can explore as they are learning.
-use of QR codes- imagine if at every door, poster and exhibition booth a QR code linked us to a handout, resource or website for further learning.
-finally, greater opportunity to continue the conversation about sessions and backchannel using various outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and ASHA’s new Community portal. 

Again, these tips are made with the best of intentions and from experience in attending conferences in which these things are considered, with wonderful results.  Given that ASHA is reasonable to attend (admission fee-wise) relative to some conferences, I would be willing to pay a bit more to see these things happen. All meetings are subject to a technical glitch or twenty but if these possibilities were considered, I bet we will have an even better ASHA 2012.  I look forward to it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Edublog Awards Nominations for 2011

It's that time already.  The Edublog Awards were started about 7 years ago to counteract the trend of blocking social media in school districts and celebrate the educational power of these resources. Obviously social media has been transformative for me and my practice and I wanted to participate for that reason again this year. Additionally, winning the 2010 Best New Blog award in this incentive brought SpeechTechie a lot of recognition and new readership, so THANKS again to those who supported me in that round, and to Edublogs as well. Finally, I hope that others in our field will participate as well and write their own nomination posts (click through to see how) so that our #SLPeeps, Speech-Language Pathologists who are dedicated to sharing resources through social media "Represent" in this forum as we did last year.  It is tough to make a list like this because I wish I could nominate everyone for everything, but here goes:

Best individual blog- iLearn Technology's focus on edtech interactives and webtools for general educators consistently highlights resources that SLPs can put to use.

Best individual tweeter- @SLPTanya, our Twitter Yoda, who not only co-moderates #SLPchat, but also has taken to posing discussion-baiting questions throughout the week under the hashtag #SLPsnQs (always archiving each in chirpstories). This is all in addition to her dedication to interpersonal engagement on Twitter.

Best group blog- Though technically a podcast, I am going to give a shout-out to the folks at EdCeptional, a very thoughtful group discussion and shownote series on the role of technology in special education.

Best new blog- all4mychild presents incredibly thoughtful and sophisticated evaluations of apps (and books, in their books4all branch) and bridges student engagement with tech tools into other activities that elicit real-world, functional communication.

Best student blog- Though I have seen some terrific SLP grad student bloggers surface this year, I want to give recognition to Becoming OliviaSLP.  With humor, grace, professionalism and terrific production values, her vlog series is making me wish she were around when I was in grad school.

Best ed tech/resource sharing blog- Cindy L Meester has a great and very well-regarded blog that not only shares resources such as websites and apps in thematic posts (we love themes!) but also through an extensive curated list of static pages in her sidebar.  Check it out!

Most influential blog post- Barbara Fernandes' post for ASHAsphere- Gaming Into Education: Can Even Angry Birds Promote Learning?- is an extremely insightful and thorough example of therapeutic repurposing, showing how what is perhaps thought of as one of the most brainless apps is actually a goldmine of language- when we as SLPs make it so.

Best twitter hashtag- #SLPeeps, a true online community in every sense of the word.

Best free web tool- Glogster EDU remains an accessible free tool, especially for SLPs who can share the one free login with many students on our caseload. SLPs can use Glogster to create interactive posters on any topic with images, graphics, animations, audio, and video

Best educational use of audio/video/visual/podcast- A.T.TIPSCAST's Assistive Tech Specialist and SLP Chris Bugaj presents low- and high-tech adaptations that make learning accessible to all students, one digestible (and always funny and engaging) tip at a time.

Best educational wiki- Karen Janowski's and Joyce Valenza's UDL tech toolkit is a one-stop (but extraordinarily robust) resource for implementing Universal Design for Learning across the curriculum.  How lucky am I to get to actually work with Karen in my district??

Best open PD/unconference/webinar series- I went to my first unconference this year at EdCamp Boston and it was one of the best PD experiences I have ever had.  Allow teachers to collaborate with each other, and watch what happens!

Best educational use of a social network- Born this past December, the monthly #slpchat moderated by @speechreka and @SLPTanya has engaged participants in a wide variety of topics- all leave having learned and shared!

Lifetime achievement- Connecticut special educator and Apple Distinguished Educator Meg Wilson is probably younger than I am, but has already established herself as the Queen of "Sharing Out"- from her groundbreaking iPodsibilities site to her adept, approachable hosting of the excellent MacReach podcast, to her involvement in I Education Apps Review. She's just amazing!

Please check out these great resources if you are not doing so already!  Hopefully some/all of these guys will be shortlisted, and I will let you know when the voting starts.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ASHA 2011 Wrap-up

Whew! What a trip the ASHA convention was, as always.  It was really a whirlwind this year as it seemed I had a ton of people I wanted to see and talk with. In between doing last preps for our own session and chatting with folks all over the place, I went to some great sessions. I am not sure I can even consolidate all the info into an additional post, but I will try!

In the meantime, if you haven't already, please check out the new site that my friends and colleagues Laura Goehner and Amy O'Neill developed for our presentation- Essential Tech Skills for SLPs. We envisioned this site as an updatable resource for SLPs to look at "one step at a time." If you feel you need help in the tech area, please visit it and look at it piece by piece (i.e. section 1A one weekend, section 1B the next), and try to practice the steps on your own.  The site ended up working well (after jumping through many wirey hoops to get Internet access at this frankly tech-challenged convention) as a guide for our presentation, rather than a PowerPoint. During the session I mentioned the several presentations that discussed the importance of self-talk for our students- self-talk was highlighted both Sara Ward in her amazing executive function short course and the terrific panel of presenters on language intervention in science and social studies (which I talk about today over on the ADVANCE Speech in the Schools Blog). This is relevant because SLPs OFTEN use negative self-talk about their tech skills- "I am just not good at it," "I can't do this." We should be aware of this and use more helpful talk- "I can try this a step at a time," "I can solve this problem." We hope our Essential Tech Skills site will be one resource for you.  It now lives in the right sidebar AND on the renamed Essential Skills page up the top of the blog.  Please share it with anyone you think may find it helpful.

Anyway, the ASHA convention has become for me much more than the CEUs and really about the people you can connect with inside and outside of the formal sessions.  Thank you Maggie McGary, ASHA's Social Media Director, for again organizing a fun "Tweetup" where all the #slpeeps who have engaged with each other on Twitter got to actually meet and socialize (while putting down our devices for once).  It was also great to receive some feedback as I walked around (and around and around and around) the HUUUUUUGE convention center.  Believe me, "Aren't you the SpeechTechie guy?" is music to my ears, and I so appreciate the people who read this blog.

Enough words, here are a few pictures (and OK, more words) from "the floor" of the exhibit hall and elsewhere.

Very cool poster session area at SDCC
MaryEllen Rooney Moreau presenting on Story Grammar Marker and the Critical Thinking Triangle

It does not at all threaten my masculinity to carry Braidy (the primer Story Grammar Marker) across a crowded convention center back to the exhibit hall. No, not at all...

Comparing apps with Barbara Fernandes!

It's all in the family at the Mindwing Concepts booth!

The crowd at AssistiveWare, including Eric Sailers

Megan Sutton of Tactus Therapy Apps (she was my graduate intern forever ago, so proud!)

The gang from all4mychild, Karen Head and Meghan Graham (whom I have also known forever and am so proud of, wow!) at the Social Adventures booth- the shirt says "I need my space," LOL.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Announcing the Essential Tech For SLPs Website!

Today we are launching a new website: Essential Tech for SLPs! This site was conceived and created by my colleagues Laura Goehner, Amy O'Neill and me as a way to fill in some self-reported gaps in techKnowledgey by SLPs who would like to become more savvy.

The content of the site (which is a static but updatable resource, not a blog- therefore don't try to subscribe) is our best effort to identify some skills that will lead to other skills, and provide written steps or video tutorials to support clinician's understanding and confidence in technology use.  We are presenting the site and content from it at our seminar TODAY at ASHA Convention in San Diego, so we hope it will serve as a resource for further learning not only for attendees but for anyone else who would like some instruction in technology that is geared toward SLPs.  The site is broken into 7 sections:

1. The Internet- managing/updating browsers and curating the content you find through bookmarking.
2. Professional Development through Technology- Accessing PD opportunities online and developing a Personal Learning/Sharing Network (PLN).
3. Picture This: Accessing, Downloading and Using Images- Using the key skill of finding and saving images from the internet on your computer or iDevice.
4. Create Your Own Materials: Repurposing programs you have on your computer to create customized worksheets and visuals.
5. Administrative Fun: Calendar and scheduling tools, and Google Docs for Productivity.
6. Got Interactive Whiteboards: Resources to get you started in using interactive whiteboards in your pull-out groups or within the classroom setting.
7. Managing your iDevice: a TON of tips to help you understand your iDevice better.

This site will be updated periodically and will "live" in the right sidebar here at SpeechTechie for your further reference.  We hope it is helpful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Speech Buddies University: New Website

I previously posted about Speech Buddies, the innovative, FDA-Approved and research-supported devices that assist clients with tongue placement for accurate articulation of /r/, /l/, /s/ and /ch/ and /sh/- sorry, I am not bothering with IPA here! I have been using Speech Buddies with several cases at my school and was excited to be given the opportunity to preview their new FREE website available to clinicians, families, and kids. The new website allows clinicians additional opportunities to "connect" with clients and families through a controlled social interface.  Through these features, clinicians can assign various exercises and also generally communicate easily with parents to report results or give feedback.

I tested out the therapist portal which consists of a dashboard in which you can enter all of your students who are currently using speech buddies as part of their articulation program.  By selecting students, you can view recent activities and results, and elect to complete more exercises with the particular student.  When doing so, the student is presented with 10 stimulus words (you can select phoneme, word position and difficulty level, and whether the child is practicing with or without the Speech Buddy).  While the student is practicing, you can keep data with the student by marking their production "Great!" or "Keep Trying!" At the end of the exercise, the results are entered into the students online record for you to refer to when needed.

Overall, it's a simple interface that therapists (and students- as they can practice at home!) will find easy to use.  You can register for Speech Buddies University as of today and the login is free, so check it out.

BONUS- This website works GREAT on the iPad in your Safari browser!!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Viewing or Annotating ASHA Handouts on your iDevice

Personally, I welcome the demise of the traditional "Handout." All that wasted paper!

When attending ASHA, you can still (pretty) easily view presenter handouts, take notes on sessions, and even annotate (write over) the handout files on your iDevice!

Here are the steps:
1. Get acquainted with the Personal Scheduler.  I am noticing this process does not work well on mobile devices, so you'll need to use a computer to transfer handouts to your iDevice.
2. If a presenter has uploaded his or her files, they will be in the "View" info with the session, like this:

(and tsk, tsk if he/she hasn't, cause we were supposed to by 11/11, haha)
3. Control-click (Mac) or right-click (PC) on the link and select Save Link As.
4. Take note of where you saved the PDF, and email it to an email you have access to on your iDevice.
5. Check your email on your iDevice, and tap on the PDF file to download it.
6. Tap again on the file to open it.

7. Tap on the screen to view the "Action" Button (arrow pointing right).  This gives you the option to:
a. Open in iBooks.  The PDF file will save in your iBooks collection and you can read it while at the session.  If you want to take notes, the Notes app that comes with your device is a good option.
b. If you have installed a PDF annotation app, you will be able to open the document in that app by tapping "Open In..." My favorite is iAnnotate PDF ($9.99) but many like GoodReader ($4.99) or the free option, Neu.Annotate PDF.

Happy learning!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

PD opportunity- Ann Arbor, MI

Hi Folks, just wanted to let you know about this professional development workshop I am doing for SPEAK in Michigan.

“Outside the Box” iPad for SLPs- Apps Through a Language Lens!

Friday, February 10, 2012 8 am to 3 pm (registration starts at 7:30) at the Washtenaw ISD Ann Arbor, MI.

 **SPEAK is limited to 100 participants and need a minimum of 40 commitments by December 2, 2011 to make this course a go.  Please sign up if you are able and interested in attending- SPEAK requests that registration be limited to Speech-Language Pathologists.** 

Many great apps were developed specifically for SLP interventions, but countless treasures in the App Store were designed for other purposes and can be applied creatively in our therapies! This workshop models “repurposing” of apps designed for gaming, visual exploration related to curriculum areas, organization, and creation for use in speech and language interventions. Apps related to professional development and productivity will also be reviewed, and attendees will leave with resources and experience in critically evaluating apps for potential use in their interventions. This workshop will be primarily geared towards clinicians who work with school-aged children, however, much of the information can be generalized to adult populations.

Learning Objectives
Participants will be able to:
-Analyze Apps and utilize task analyses to isolate speech and language objectives in context. -Apply criteria to evaluate Apps for clinical use.
-Design therapy sessions using Apps, with Pre- or Post- activities targeting speech and language objectives in context.
-Access a reading list of free online resources for further learning and exploration.

$40 for SPEAK members in Washtenaw County 
$60 for non-SPEAK members

Lunch on your own.

Please visit the WISD website ( under Staff Development to sign up, or click here.

Contact Emily Petrous at or 734.994.8111 x1664 with questions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Draw A Stickman

Draw a Stickman is an extraordinarily fun little interactive movie that caused some buzz on the Interwebs recently.  The activity opens by asking you to, naturally, draw a Stickman.  I don't want to give too much away, but you will be asked to make a number of other simple drawings that save your Stickman from some predicaments that arise!

Language Lens
  • Draw a Stickman unfolds as a short narrative with a clear, if sometimes unexpected, connection between events.  It would be ripe for a story mapping activity and actually reminded me a lot of Remy Charlip's Fortunately, which would make a great pre- or post-context for using this website! 
  • While using the website, events that unfold provide a great opportunity to elicit and bombard causal and temporal language structures: when, after, because, so...
  • Students will likely want to repeat the activity, which will allow for differently styled Stickmen and descriptive language.
  • For more advanced students, you could consider storyboarding a sequel to Draw a Stickman: what would the user be asked to do and how would the story unfold?  This would be a great use of Doodle Buddy.
Note: Draw a Stickman appears to be part of the new generation of web development (HTML5) and therefore DOES work on your iPad in your Safari app!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Planning for ASHA Convention? Try the new Personal Scheduler

From experience in attending many ASHA conventions, I know that it's really important to take some time to plan your time! When you arrive at the convention center, you are likely to be overwhelmed and fall down, or cause someone to fall down, as I have in the past. To prevent unnecessary injuries, ASHA has provided us with a Personal Scheduler tool that will allow you to generate a "draft" list of sessions you might like to attend.  You can print your itinerary, save it as a PDF and, for the first time, send it to a calendar app such as iCal (the Calendar on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch- YAY!) or Outlook (*crickets chirping*).  I can't say there isn't room for improvement with this tool (and it still lacks some of the "social" aspects I have seen in other conference schedulers, which allow you to see which of your colleagues are going to which sessions), but these exporting features are a nice leap forward.  Check out the short video below to see how it works, and happy planning!

I also made a quick guide to how to send your itinerary to your iDevice after emailing it as shown in the video.  Again, this process isn't perfect- I found that there was a glitch with session titles if you add two in the same time slot (you may see the title of one selection repeated, though the session descriptions are accurate). Additionally, if you are in a different time zone than the convention, you may want to wait to actually add the itinerary to the calendar until you arrive, or just be willing to do the math as you review the sessions beforehand.  Also note, once you export your itinerary, it will not sync with the Personal Scheduler, i.e. any new sessions you add on the web will NOT be in your calendar.  So, you'll want to wait until you have given everything a thorough look before you export. See below for this guide:

ASHA Personal Scheduler to iDevice

If all that sounds too complicated, you can just print away or send yourself the PDF to access on your mobile device! Have fun!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

ASHA Here I Come!

I am very excited to be headed to the ASHA Convention in San Diego in Mid-November! It's going to be a really busy month, because I am also traveling to Florida next week to make a presentation for the NSSHLA Conference at NOVA Southeastern University.  Whoo-hoo!

So I will be planning to share a lot of resources from ASHA via posts and tweets, and I hope some of you can make it to a session I am presenting with two colleagues/friends, Laura Goehner and Amy O'Neill!  You can see the info below:

Topic Area: Business, Management, and Professional Issues 
Track: Schools, Technology/Social Media
Title: Technology 101: Basic Tech Skills to Enhance Your Speech-Language Practice
Session Code: 1104
Session Format: Seminar - 1 Hour Date:
Friday, November 18, 2011
Location: SDCC
Time: 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Room: 7A
Instructional Level: Introductory
Abstract: Many SLPs report an interest in developing technology skills to improve efficiency with administrative tasks and integration into assessments and interventions. This session will present a survey and demonstration of key technology skills, with a specific eye on how SLPs can apply these skills in their practice.
Learner Outcomes: Participants will be able to:
· identify key areas in which technology can enhance their practice.
· develop understanding and confidence in applying selected tech skills.
· access resources for further review and practice following the session demonstrations.

We plan this to be a fun, end-of-day session with a lot of interaction, allowing participants to ask questions about what they would like to learn about technology, both laptop/desktop and mobile, along with some presentations of key skills. Additionally, we will be unveiling a new website (not a blog) detailing essential tech skills and how-tos designed specifically for SLPs.  After the session, a link to this site will live here on SpeechTechie for all to see.  Hope you can make it, whether you are a somewhat nervous learner or would like to come to share your own expertise and tech tips!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

QR Codes Part 8: Wrapping Up! More Ways to Use QR for SLPs

This series has been really fun to write, and I appreciate all the feedback!  It's been busy here with all this content- November will be a little slower! I have several presentations scheduled and have to start writing evals! This final post (for now) in this series deals with a bunch of ideas on how to use QR as suggested recently by some SLPs and other educators.

For a ready-made halloween lesson plan for kids in upper elementary, MS or perhaps HS, please check out my crossover post on the Mindwing Concepts Blog.  It features a spooky story broken down into narrative elements, each with its own QR code for you to print.  I had a lot of fun with my students doing this find-scan-and-story-map activity!

Thank you to Tara Roehl of SpeechyKeenSLP who sent in these wonderful ideas:

1. I know someone at Palm, so they donated a bunch of old Palm phones in developer mode for me. I simply sync them to the clinic wifi and let the kids loose around the room/halls/clinic/building. I have a HP touch pad, so they can bring back their phone, touch it to the touchpad and we can all see what they found! 
2. Expected and Unexpected (see the Social Thinking methodology) behaviors around the building. We have QR codes on the front door, all around the lobby, in the halls and in each room. As an "intro" to the clinic they get to go around and find the QR codes to read what is expected or unexpected in our clinic! 
3. We have mandatory fire drills here this month. So we will be having the students find all the pieces to the "Drill" on QR codes, then see if they can put them in the correct order and complete the drill! 
4. Organization was a big puzzle for me. A way to tuck them away, remember what they are, preserve them, etc. We aren't laminating them, as the glare messes with the phones reading it. I went to Office Depot, got the "business card size name badge insert sheets" that you can put through your printer. They are the appropriate size to fit into the baseball card binder pages - so I store them in there in between!

A colleague of mine at school, came up with the clever idea of using QR Codes with the Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program.  QR codes could link to pictures to be used in the "Picture by Picture" level of V/V, or could link to the structure words that help students construct and describe mental images.

I also received a great suggestion via anonymous comment- "This is very easy to do. I actually gave my artic. kids their homework words in the QR Code. They are motivated to go home and see which words they need to practice." Thanks, commenter! 

Thank you also to Tanya Coyle, our Twitter Yoda, who initiated a discussion on Twitter about QR codes this week as part of her awesome #SLPsnQs series of discussions.  

Still curious about different ways you could use QR codes in your work? Check out this collaboratively developed presentation from Tom Barrett, educational technologist: 40 Interesting Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom. Tom has curated a whole slew of these presentations, created by educators adding slides to a collaborative Google Docs Presentation.  You can see all of the "Interesting Ways Presentations here.

Note: author is a contractor for Mindwing Concepts.

Horror Film Fest Revisited!

Last year I posted about a project I do with upper elementary students to develop story grammar, expository language and understanding of genre: a horror film fest.  Being back in the elementary school setting, I was thrilled to be able to revisit this theme.  I did notice that some of the films had become unavailable or changed URL location, so I wanted to update you with new links!

Again, all the films are short and relatively tame, violence and gore wise, in fact, most are more funny than scary.  However, you will want to preview these of course and apply your own standards. (Thriller- I just use the first 4 min as a story example) (this is an error on the site- the movie is actually called Tears of a Clown) (Blood Syrup) (the Maco Lights)

Additionally, my immensely talented Graduate Intern, Laura Kasparian, constructed this great BrainFrame that helped the students apply genre aspects and align with story grammar:

Monday, October 24, 2011

ClickySticky Halloween

ClickySticky Halloween, like others in its series, is a visual exploration and simple picture creation app (for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) that offers a lot of fun and language-building opportunities for its small price of $1.99.  The app has four visual scenes to choose from and complete in different ways, allowing for many repeat visits: the (grave)yard of a haunted house, a pumpkin to decorate, a collection of "treats," and kids to dress up in Halloween costumes. Each scene has engaging animations, such as bubbling potions or hovering ghosts.

Once pictures are created, they can be saved to the picture roll or emailed. The therapy uses of such an app are many and varied, and a few I have targeted include:
-Eliciting causals in the context of selecting halloween treats and costumes.
-Constructing absurd costume combinations and prompting kids to explain why they don't make sense.
-Using categories such as body parts, costume types (superhero, animal, etc), and junk food.
-Employing the app as a barrier task where one child asks another to construct a scene using spatial concepts.
-Targeting story grammar at the Action Sequence level by having a student construct the graveyard scene with animations, along with story mapping and development of more sophisticated verb use (e.g. attack, descend).

ClickySticky Halloween is a universal app available from the App Store. It will function without wi-fi connection, and is accessed through tap/drag gestures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

LearnEnglish Kids' Haunted House

The British Council's LearnEnglish Kids' Haunted House is a fun activity you might consider exploring Halloween week with your kids.  The activity contains six creepy rooms filled with scary surprises, and kids are tasked to find one item in each room beginning with a certain letter.

The clues are presented in a rather unsettling voice, so make sure you preview it and use with "no tears" kind of kids!
Language Lens:
This fun Halloween activity can be used to target semantic skills (rooms in a house, furniture) temporal structures- "When you click on the ____, it _____"- and phonemic cueing.

You might also be interested in Carving a Pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

QR Codes Part 7: Another Lesson Plan Using QR

As part of a teen social skill group recently, I used this strange-but-cool resource from Australia that allows you to make a visual "art cube" of your interests using Google Images or YouTube clips.

The kids worked in 2 groups to assemble a cube with their favorite things (in this case, 3 kids per subgroup, so each got to pick 2 sides of the cube).

Choose the category All, then you can select what type of media to insert in the cube (Google Images and YouTube are  the best choices).
The great thing about creating the cube this way (besides the kids being really engaged in sharing things about themselves) is that we could then get together and share cubes, and the kids in the opposite group had to guess who had added what to the cube.  We were therefore working on remembering things about others, an important skill.

QR Codes served to provide a fun extension activity the following week.  Once a completed cube is saved, you can view it on the site, and when you click on each side of the cube you get the option to View Source:

When you view the source of each side of the cube, it brings you to the exact URL of the Images and YouTube videos.  Guess what you can do with those URLs? Make QR Codes of course!!  The week after completing the cube, I created QR codes with Kaywa, printed and hid the QR codes around the area, and the kids did a hunt/scan/"Oh yeah that one was something that _____ picked!" Additionally, the kids used a checklist to mark off what they had found and make a guess about the person based on the picture (e.g. "She likes pickup trucks- I bet she likes the outdoors?" We got together after the hunt and discussed the guesses.  Again, many of these strategies are based on ideas in Michelle Garcia Winner's Think Social! curriuculum, so I highly recommend you check out that book!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

QR Codes Part 6: QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator

In previous posts, I showed how you can use Kaywa to generate individual QR codes for URLs, images, or text.  If you want to create an activity that involves students moving around and scanning many QRs (i.e. a scavenger/treasure hunt) with text questions, prompts or stimuli,'s QR Code Treasure Hunt Generator is a good resource to do this quickly.  You can use the website to enter in text questions and answers, and it instantly gives you many QRs to print:

The website gives you a specific format to enter in questions and answers, and allows you to go back and edit the hunt later if you enter a code.  It would be a good idea to save, cut and paste your hunts from Word or Google Docs so that you can keep an editable copy yourself!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Quick Tour of iOS5 on iPad

Apple has been much in the news lately as, besides Steve Job's passing, they have released a new phone, the iPhone 4S, and a new operating system for existing iPads and iPhones (and newer iPod Touches).   I have not bought the iPhone 4S since I am happy with my 4, but I am tempted by its new artificially intelligent personal assistant, Siri.  Siri helps you accomplish many tasks with voice commands such as texting, emailing, Internet searching, and adding items to the calendar.  While this new feature is limited to those with the iPhone 4S, we all can give our iPads and iPhones a new brain and enhancements by upgrading to iOS5.  I did a little video review of iOS 5 which you can see below; it is a pretty significant step for the operating system and will usher us into the "Post-PC" era.  After upgrading to iOS5, you will no longer need to connect your device to a computer (or have one, for that matter) to sync and backup your data.  I continue to say that it is important to have a laptop at least for work production, accessing Google docs (which are not so iPad-friendly) etc.  Sorry the quality is not the best, it's still hard to make a recording where the hand gestures are important to see.

Note: I did read that the split keyboard is designed to help you when you are holding the iPad with 2 hands, so you can type with your thumbs.  That makes sense. Note also that the multitouch gestures I demo here only will work on iPad 2.

I definitely recommend this upgrade (allow your iPad about 2 hrs to complete it), but definitely read this guide first.  Some other good reads:

Top 10 iOS5 Features you should know about (App Advice)
Top 10 iCloud Features you should know about (App Advice)
How to set up Wi-Fi Sync for iOS5 (CNET)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

QR Codes Part 5: QR Reader for Desktops/Laptops

In recent posts I have discussed mobile apps for using QR Codes in speech-language sessions, but there is also at least one application that is an option if your desktop or laptop has a webcam.  I have had good success with QRreader, which is free and runs on both Mac and PC. Simply navigate to that link and install the application.  It is Adobe AIR-based, so don't be surprised when you get prompts for periodic Adobe updates.

Once installed, the QRreader works much like a mobile app.  Open the application and your webcam will be activated.  Hold up the printed QR code to the center of the targets (this takes a bit more finagling than with a mobile app, as you are holding a flimsy piece of paper).  QRreader will then display the text, website or image encoded in your QR!

Like this:

Next week, a QR Scavenger Hunt creator that lets you make and print a bunch of QRs at once!