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!