Thursday, July 26, 2012

iPad Essentials: What can iBooks do for you?

iBooks is a free app from Apple (it doesn't come with your iPad but is the first app the App Store suggests when you open it) that is an increasingly interesting e-book app with implications for speech and language interventions.

Initially, I was myself skeptical about the potential of e-books, because I actually really appreciate the value of traditional paper, particularly picture books, in therapy activities. However, I think iBooks is worth SLPs' time for a few reasons:

  • Books published through the iTunes store (there are many free books there as well) are becoming  more interactive and therefore offer great opportunities for describing 3D pictures, completing tap-and-drag activities that can be used to target sorting, sequencing, and cause-effect, and narrating or discussing video clips.
  • iBooks can be used to access ePub books, the format of most downloadable books, which are themselves interactive in navigation via the use of tappable tables of contents. Additionally, when words are tapped/held in ePub books, the menu allows you to access a word definition, annotate via highlighting and notes, and activating text-to-speech, which has potential for targeting auditory comprehension as well as making material more accessible to struggling readers. You can see a good tutorial on the Speak Selection feature here from OTs with Apps.
  • iBooks can also be used to save and display PDF files such as those that come on the CD-ROMs accompanying some commercial materials, but more on this in the next post!
  • Presenting information through the glowy loveliness of the iPad can really grab students' attention and engage them even in less-than-fascinating material that is necessary for you to cover.
For a great example of a simpler iBook that could be used in speech-language sessions, check out Snapshot Picture Library's Baby Animals.  This book has adorable photographs of a variety of young animals and could be used to target descriptive skills, understanding of cause-effect relationships, and text structure.  For example, the book contains lists (enumeration-a key text structure, essentially abstract categorization you can teach through use of graphic organizers) of how different animals are born, how they protect themselves, and their native geographic habitats. This book would be a great choice for primary grades.

Thanks to a tweet today by Tony Vincent, I discovered another great series of iBooks that can be used to target language within the context of content material: ScienceWerkz. ScienceWerkz publishes fun, magazine-style eBooks with interactive features and video. Our World of Materials is free, and other books in the series such as Energy, Cells and Heat are currently on sale for $.99, a good buy if you work with upper elementary or middle school students.

Here's a nice video walkthrough of Our World of Materials. Check out that Clothing Materials interactive! I didn't know eBooks could function like interactive websites! In the embedded interactive, students can choose to clothe characters in different types of materials, including metal, and see the resulting effect, providing a great opportunity to elicit causal and descriptive language in context.

I will be discussing the connection between iBooks and PDFs in a future post.

How are you using the iBooks app in your work? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Headed to ASHA in Atlanta!

Hi Folks,

I am returning (gradually) from being on vacation for a couple of weeks, and one week pretty nicely disconnected, except for Facebook, which I can't seem to shake entirely. Through that time, however I was checking my personal gmail pretty regularly on my phone, because ASHA notifications typically come out the 2nd week of July.  The surely hardworking committee finally came through this Tuesday, and I was really pleasantly surprised to see that both of my submissions were approved. More to come as we get closer, but I wanted to let you know what I will be up to come November 15. Besides these two sessions, I will be helping out at the Smarty Ears booth, so be sure to stop by and say hi in the Exhibit Hall.

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School Age Children and Adolescents (SLP)
Session Number: 1042
Title: Pairing Picture Books With Apps to Contextually Target Language Objectives
Session Format: Oral Session (Seminar 1-Hour)
Day/Time: Thursday, Nov 15 -- 01:30 PM - 02:30 PM
Abstract: SLPs can easily harness emerging trends in mobile technology to engage students in new ways while addressing clinical objectives. Free and low-cost apps for iPad allow clinicians to utilize technologies such as Augmented Reality, Animation and ePub creation tools to visually target language structures. 

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School Age Children and Adolescents (SLP) 
Session Number: 1084 
Title: Applying Emerging Trends in iPad Apps in Speech-Language Interventions 
Session Format: Oral Session (Seminar 1-Hour) 
Day/Time: Thursday, Nov 15 -- 03:00 PM - 04:00 PM 
Abstract: Using picture books in speech-language therapy is an established practice that we can combine with the recent integration of iPad apps in interventions. This presentation describes the contextual overlap between books and apps for various ages, and models the alignment of these "old” and “new" visual tools with language objectives.

I am excited to attend the convention in Atlanta! Hope to see you there!