Thursday, March 31, 2011

GlogsterEDU Week: Make your Glog Interactive with Links, Audio and Video!

For part 4 of Glogster EDU week (a.k.a. Thursday) here is a screencast covering some of the interactive features of Glogging: adding audio, video, and links to other web pages.  The audio/video aspects are ones that are very applicable to SLPs, as they allow us to work on listening skills and/or speech and language production in a manner that will be engaging to students!  Check out the screencast below, and learn why not all Schoolhouse Rock videos have stood the test of time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More GlogsterEDU Week!

Today's post in this series on GlogsterEDU, an online "poster" creator, covers adding the "G" to your Glog- graphics and images.  In this screencast I show how to save an image from a webpage and upload it to your Glog in order to add visual support.  In the video, I touch on the issue of Fair Use of images, so here's a reference if you want to learn about that further.  The steps shown in this screencast can also be used for any online image (e.g. on a webpage rather than through Google Image Search) or any other image file saved to your computer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GlogsterEDU Week Continues: Opening Your Account and Starting a Glog with Text!

To continue GlogsterEDU Week, a series of posts on the interactive "poster yourself" website GlogsterEDU, today I am featuring a screencast showing you how to set up an account, obtain student accounts (get 'em while you can for free, even if you don't use them), and start a Glog with text. If you are saying to yourself, "Glog?" a Glog is what you create with Glogster- basically a graphic blog.

Before we go on, I thought of two questions folks might have, so thought they would be good to answer up front.

1. Can you print your Glogs?  Not really.  The idea is that they will live online and you can get to them and display them anytime.   You could print out the webpage that the Glog is on, but I am not sure why you would want to.  It would take an enormous amount of expensive color toner, and would probably look cruddy.  Can you tell I am not a fan of printing?

2. Can you use GlogsterEDU on an iPad? No, because it is Flash-based and iPads do not run Flash.  There are some browsers that allow you to view Flash video, but this is actually a Flash-based interactive composer, so it would not work on an iPad. Let's see what develops there, I bet someday there'll be some sort of an app.

Sorry that the answers to both those questions were No-ish.

So, hope you enjoy the screencast below.  The focus is on getting started and using text boxes, one of the key ways you can make Glogster work for you as speech and language therapy.  Using text boxes, you and/or your students can add the language content to a Glog about any topic or theme.  I think Glogging is a great way to teach kids how to break a topic down in terms of text structure, using Glogster's text tools to create lists, sequences, descriptions, comparisons/contrasts, and cause-effect statements related to a topic (or just work on simple labeling and sentence formulation). Glogster is also a good avenue when you would like to step up kids' thinking beyond that "Knowledge" level of Bloom's Taxonomy.  Check out this list of projects that tap higher-level thinking (and therefore language) skills, many of which would make nice Glogster projects!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Welcome to GlogsterEDU Week!

I have been meaning to write about GlogsterEDU for some time, but have put it off because, though a wonderful and easy resource to use, it requires a series of posts to really do it justice. It was hard to commit. But here we go- It's GlogsterEDU week on SpeechTechie!

GlogsterEDU is a free (with some nice paid features) site based on the concept of "poster yourself." Yes, the idea is to offer an online, electronic and easy-to-use poster-maker for teachers and students to publish their cool creations related to the curriculum. Glogster started out more as a social network for teens and still exists that way, (like blogging, but graphic, hence the name) but has wisely embraced the education market and is fast becoming an extremely popular alternative to "Death by PowerPoint" assignments in schools.

Why Posters? We've probably all tried a poster project with our students at some point. Posters are a fun and engaging project to embark on with students, and clearly are language-based, what with their ability to incorporate lots of information and visuals. However, they can be prohibitively time-consuming if one wishes to have the kids design anything worth displaying, and with our population frequently having fine-motor issues limiting their writing and drawing can be tough. GlogsterEDU provides an interface that allows students (and teachers) to create well-designed projects in a fraction of the time of a traditional poster. Additionally, as a 21st-century poster-creator, GlogsterEDU allows you to embed audio, video, and links to websites to make your project truly interactive.  The main idea for SLPs is that GlogsterEDU can be one way to organize your visuals, text and links for an activity, series of activities, or theme, or help students to consolidate their learning about a topic in a graphic and engaging way!

This week, I am going to be covering GlogsterEDU with screencasts on how to use it, and a number of examples of how it can be used in SLP practice. To begin with, let's check out their "Best of" gallery, itself a Glog. Click around and explore the categories below to see what's possible with GlogsterEDU! Some of my favorites after exploring these examples:

And best of all, GlogsterEDU so easy to use, you'll be able to involve students in the process of creating Glogs. Tune in this week to see how!

So, here's the plan:
Tuesday: How to set up your Glogster account, create a new Glog and add text.
Wednesday: Adding images and graphics.
Thursday: Adding links, audio and video.
Fri: A few last features and some more examples and ideas of Glogs related to SLP practice (If you have any you'd like to share, please email me!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Please Take this Short Survey

Please help out my pal and #SLPeep Barbara Fernandes of Geek SLP by taking this short survey about your use of iDevices (iPad/iPod/iPhone) if you are a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist.  Barbara sends her thanks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Touch of Class

A Touch of Class is a simple, fun game challenging students to classify animals according to specific characteristics:

A little robot runs through after you make your choices, awarding or subtracting points based on what you missed. This activity will create a lot of discussion and suspense, aligning well with curriculum topics and strategies around descriptive schema.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Your Recommendations on iPad Cases?

We work with a population that often leads us to be reluctant to hand over our breakable things, such as an iPad. Especially when using apps that incorporate movement and, sometimes, shaking of said iPad. Susan H. inquired on the SpeechTechie Facebook Page:

I would love to know your thoughts on iPad cases. They seem necessary with the school aged population. Currently my case only forms an easel in landscape, but I would love it to do portrait also for those apps that don't flip. Also my case is taking a licking- Recommendations appreciated!

I am reluctant to offer a recommendation at this time, only having bought the original Apple iPad case. Which I am reluctant to recommend. It may be the one that Susan is speaking of, actually, and though I have used it very gently, somehow looks nothing like the picture here:

Instead, it looks like I regularly sneeze on it full-force (I don't).

I have heard really good things about The Defender (see review on Speech Gadget here), but it doesn't seem to be what Susan has in mind in terms of stand-up-in-portrait mode capabilities.  So besides recommending that Susan consult the TiPB store (a good resource associated with an independent blog about all things iOS), I am going to throw it out to you, SpeechTechies.  Do you have a case in mind for Susan (oh, and Susan, do you have an original iPad or iPad 2)?  Do you all have anything to say about cases in general?  Please provide links where possible.  Thanks!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"There's an App for That"

Check out this very clever number from Sesame Street, "There's an App for That"

If you are using iOS devices with your students, this would be great fun to share with them. As a language-based project, perhaps have them "design" an app, with icon and description (working on the descriptive element of function) and place it on a big "iPod" bulletin board in your office.

Monday, March 21, 2011

HubBub Games

HubBub Games is a resource you might want to explore and bookmark for younger students or those with earlier developmental skills.  The Hub is apparently a TV network with a variety of kids' shows, and this site is a selection of interactives related to the programs and characters.  There are a whole bunch of games that would allow for multiple trials and visits in order to build concepts and skills.  To take just a few:

Jumping Adventure Game- Select a colored ramp to jump a truck, click to make it flip multiple times in the air, watch it land, drag the mouse to wash it all off (starters such as 1-2-3-Go, turn taking, "all clean")

3 Babies Game- Attend to a baby's requests (delivered via thought balloon) and take care of her needs for milk, sleep, diaper changes, and play (Wh-Questions, up/down, temporal words such as after/now).

Build a Burger- Using a Play-Doh Machine (!) deliver food to kids in a cafeteria as ordered (colors, shapes, food items, how questions, happy/sad).

Each of these interactives would be a good preview to working on pretend play with actual trucks, dolls, or Play-Doh.

What else did you find on the site that might be useful to SLPs? Let us know in the comments.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Portable PD, Part Two

Last week I posted about Flipboard, an iPad app that lets you take your favorite "feeds" (Twitter, Facebook, etc) on the go with you.  I mentioned that it is not my preferred way to view my Google Reader blogs, because I like to look at them individually and not all mashed up!  My favorite way to view Reader is actually at, but if I am on the train or reclining somewhere, I do like Reeder for both iPhone and iPad.  Reeder lets you review everything that has been posted recently in a particular blog and syncs the items you read back to Google Reader, so that when you return to the web interface you will know what you looked at!  Additionally, you can star items that you know you want to bookmark or think about in more depth later (something you can also do with Flipboard).  Reeder sets you back a few bucks ($2.99/$4.99 for iPhone and iPad, respectively, and it's worth getting both if you have both) but is definitely a good item to have on your iDevice.

I love the way Reeder's interface lets you tap, scroll, and pull to move to the next post

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Use Flickr to find Visualizing and Verbalizing photos, or interesting stimulus pictures.

The early steps of Lindamood-Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing program involve training students to describe a presented picture in detail, using "structure words" to help them organize and generate detail.  I have always found these techniques to make great, curriculum-relevant lessons (many kids are told to visualize what they read but do not really know how), even if you don't go exactly by the L-B book.

Rather than poring through magazines (I don't really have any) to find resources for this level of V/V, I really like Flickr's Interestingness Calendar.  On this page, Flickr features 6 photos per day, uploaded by users that are interesting in terms of content, color, and composition.  You would want to look ahead of time and bookmark the URLs of images you find appropriate for therapy.

I have found it helpful to combine V/V activities with Story Grammar Marker- after the picture is described in detail, it can serve as a story starter!

I need to emphasize that the Interestingness Calendar is something you can use to bookmark and/or save images you can use with students, but you should not go there and click around during a session.  Like all photography, some of the images are, well... provocative.  You can click through to an image and bookmark it in your browser or diigo.  You can save SOME Flickr images (some users do not allow you to download their pictures, understandably by selecting Actions above the full-size image, then View all Sizes, then click the size to download.  If this doesn't work, you can always bookmark and display the image on your laptop, iPad or iPod touch during a session.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Shamrock Optical Illusion

Some years ago I was looking for a St. Patrick's Day activity and stumbled upon this simple, great one related to the five senses. See, (pun intended) if you stare at a red object for 30 seconds or so, then look at a white background, it creates an illusion of a green floating object of the same shape, for most people. Kids really loved the activity and, the following year, I created a worksheet for it using PowerPoint that would allow it to be repeated at home. It gives kids a great opportunity to practice giving sequential directions to a peer or family member, and use causals in explaining why it happens. Give it a try yourself! The PowerPoint is embedded below; the first slide can be used to glue the red shamrock and provide a white space, and the second is the directions. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Click on the rectangle icon next to "Slide 1/2", then "Actions" to print this file.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mad Lib Generator

Kids enjoy completing Mad Libs, but what kind of skills would be tapped by having them create them, perhaps for another group?  Well, first of all, story or information structure, once a topic is generated...then sentence formulation, conventions and, of course, categories! Try out Madlibber with one of your groups and have them swap their creations.  Madlibber might be a nice followup to good old Wacky Web Tales, which could serve as a model.

Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for featuring this resource.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Portable PD, Part One

One of the most acclaimed iPad apps of the year is also one that can let you take your Personal Learning Network with you anywhere you go.  I'm speaking of FlipBoard, which lets you add a variety of "feeds" (for example, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, or any blog) and access it as an interactive magazine.  Yes, you literally can lie back and turn the pages and tap any entry to see more (i.e. when someone links to a video or article).

Image from

You can also interact with your feeds; you can add Twitter (or any Twitter list) to Flipboard, for example, and reply to others tweets, add to your favorite tweets, or retweet, right from the app.  It's a really fun way to access your PLN!
My Twitter feed, viewed in Flipboard
Adding "Sections" to Flipboard

A word about Google Reader in Flipboard: I have made it clear that I am a Reader addict, but I actually don't prefer viewing my blogs in Flipboard.  For one, it mixes them all the blogs up in order of who posted when (meaning it's one, unified chronological feed), and I like to make sure that I leave no item actually unread, or skimmed, and synched back to my Reader web page.  It's just how I am.  But more on that in Portable PD, Part Two, coming next week.

Oh, and did I mention that Flipboard is completely FREE?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sid the Science Kid

Sid the Science Kid is a great site from PBS kids, a companion to their TV program. The website has clips and full episodes of the series, which illustrates science concepts in kid-friendly ways. The games on the site can be used to target a variety of language skills, including but not limited to auditory comprehension (audio messages are given and the student needs to select items that correspond with the 5 senses, also there is a "Sid Sez" game about muscles, pictured below). This would be an appropriate site to use in correspondence with the K-1 science curriculum topics. Check out this site- what other skills do you see you could target here when "looking through a language lens?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Should you buy an iPad now?

Probably, yes.

We have all been witness to the flurry of blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, and news stories on the potential of the iPad for teaching and learning.  Though I was initially a bit delayed in drinking this particular flavor of Kool-aid, I am definitely a convert to this device's portability, versatility, interactivity, and the instantaneous student engagement that results whenever it is pulled out (see Heidi Hanks' post for a second on this, and Barbara Fernandes' for a third).  My one reservation is in the "versatility" area- the iPad still has its limitations with regards to producing work, especially written work, and though it contains a web browser, it cannot access many of the wonderful educational interactives out there that are Flash-based (and therefore should not be thought of as a replacement for a laptop).  However, all that said, the iPad and the cornucopia of apps available for it have proved an essential addition to my therapeutic toolkit since I bought it last Fall (and keep in mind that I say that as a part-time SLP currently- if I had a more diverse caseload I think I would be even more enthusiastic about the iPad).

Why now? I have had a number of inquiries in the past months about the iPad, and my response has been that waiting for the arrival of iPad 2 would be wise.  iPad 2 was just announced this week for release on March 11, and as expected it is faster, thinner, and equipped with dual cameras for FaceTime, PhotoBooth, and video creation.  The pricing structure remains the same, with the 16G WiFi model (my recommended starting option as long as you know your district will let you put the device on their network- ask!!!) at $499.  Now is also a good time to consider whether you would be happy with a first-generation iPad at a greatly reduced price, as many fanboys (probably me too) will be selling theirs and Apple is offering refurbished models for pretty cheap.

So, I'd say go for it.  Before the buzz around iPad 3 starts (probably in 2012) and kills our buzz.

Check out this snippit from the video used at the iPad 2 announcement on Tues, featuring Howard Shane's (of the Children's Hospital, Boston- Communication Enhancement Center) thoughts on it being a "game-changer" for kids with autism). It actually made me a little verklempt.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Apps Worth Paying For...

In yesterday's post, I described how some apps that are attractively touted as "free" are really not worth using because of obtrusive ads or limitations designed to tempt us toward "in-app" purchases, with a virtual food app used as an example. I want to again emphasize that there are many specialized apps for SLPs that are definitely worth paying for (see my friends at Smarty Ears and RinnApps, to start), but there are also a wealth of "small change" apps that are better alternatives to free apps that won't function well in therapy.

A great example of this type of worthwhile app is the collection provided by Maverick Software. Maverick has developed a series of the same type of app mentioned in yesterday's post, but much more "tasteful" in that once you pay your $.99, you can do everything the full app is designed to do AND have the promise of free updates that add additional features. One of my favorites that I can't wait to use with students as the weather warms up is More Grillin'! This app allows students to choose from categories and sequence steps to "cook" a full meal, complete with movement effects, sizzling sounds and glowing coals.

Image from Maverick Software's Website

In addition to More Grillin', Maverick has apps to create cookies, pizza, toast, and even salad! Consider these as a precursor to pretend play, writing or actual cooking activities, or as cooperative play activities where one child "cooks" a meal for another.

In summary, I will again state that "Free" is great- and part of my thesis for technology selection- with a disclaimer that we must always evaluate whether the distractions or functional limitations inherent in the app (or website) should cause us to rule it out as a therapeutic resource. In the meantime, you should always try free apps out, and if you don't like them, that's what the jiggly/delete mode is for!

Note: Author was not compensated in any way for featuring these apps/developers.

When a Free App is Not Worth It...

We all are getting a bit spoiled by free apps. For our whole career, we have been willing to pay a small price for books, games, rewards for kids, or items that would enhance our therapy. Then the App Store came along, initially offering tons of free apps. Their value once established, app developers are now reasonably expecting us to pay a couple of dollars for their work, but I still often hear people (SLPs and non) profess that they vastly prefer to download free apps. While free is certainly great, I think ruling out paying a small fee for apps-and a larger fee for apps with more extensive clinical application- is a mistake for a few reasons. First of all, it's important to support the developers that are creating high-quality content that can be used for educational purposes. Reward them and they'll make more! Secondly, many apps are available for peanuts- $.99-$2.99- and provide potentially countless hours of language-stimulating activity. Sure, these small purchases can add up, but try putting yourself on a budget. Buying and redeeming iTunes gift cards (or requesting them as gifts, when asked) can be a great way to keep that spending under control. Thirdly, there is the menace of the "in-app purchase" within so-called "free" apps. Many apps are free when downloaded from iTunes, but then are extraordinarily limited in function until you shell out money through an in-app purchase. Take for example, some of the "virtual food creation" apps- these can be awesome for building vocabulary, sequencing, categories and collaboration between peers. I downloaded a certain sundae creation app, and not only does it bombard you with several ads for other apps upon launch, you then have only a tiny selection of choices within each category among a screen of tantalizing, but locked choices:

Do you really want to keep our kids from getting the kind of virtual ice cream they want? Or pay for every little sub-level of ice cream (or dish, syrup or topping)? I don't. To reference a different kind of dairy product, I think this kind of app development is cheesy.

To see an example of a different kind of delicious app that is certainly worth ordering, even if it is $.99, tune in tomorrow!