Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wrapping up Appy-Picking Month: Topia World Builder

Topia World Builder is a quiet, gentle nature simulation...except for the subtle animals-eating-each-other thing.  This app has beautiful graphics and interactivity allowing you to create and populate worlds with pretend "animals," then observe what happens.  Touch to create, raise, sink or flatten land and you have an engaging way to teach the key vocabulary/category of geographic features: mountain ranges, valleys, rivers, oceans, harbors, capes, you name it!  Depending on which animals you put where, understated effects will visually show you predator-prey relationships, as well as breeding.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.

PHEW- Appy-Picking Month was fun but a bit tiring! I hope that you found what I intended here- a wide variety of apps that can be repurposed to meet speech and language goals while engaging our students.  

I am going to be taking a few weeks off, so see you after ASHA!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Speech4Good

The folks at Balbus Speech in my hometown of Boston have designed an innovative app to visualize speech.  Because I have few opportunities to work with fluency clients, Jessica Chase from the wonderful Consonantly Speaking offered to cross-post here as part of Appy-Picking Month. Thanks so much, Jessica!!  Please check out her great site. Thank you also to Balbus, who offered a few promotional codes to our readers.  If you are interested in entering the giveaway, click on over to the post on Jessica's site.

Back in June when I started my ABCs 4 SLPs series, I reviewed the Speech4Good application by Balbus Speech. Since then, they have updated their application and included a Lite version for users to try. In addition, I have been attending a workshop focusing on fluency assessment and therapy in which the application was recommended as one way to visually/auditorily practice fluency techniques.
Speech4Good is a clean, easy to navigate and use, application that primarily focuses on fluency disorders. The four different menus that one can access on the full version of the application include SpeechCenter, Library, Sharing, and Account.

SpeechCenter shows an oscilloscope (speech graph) which you can turn on and off, uses DAF in which you can turn on and off as well as adjust the delay, and allows you to record a persons' speech. The Library shows saved recordings and notes for sessions. You can also share files to e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook from the Library. Sharing allows you to view which files you have shared and where you sent them to. The Account menu allows you to log-in to Twitter or Facebook and shows a privacy policy. You can view more information about this application's use by reading my previous review here.

I like using the oscilloscope with my students for them to monitor their speech. I also like the ability to record sessions and take notes within the application. One thing that myself as well as many others have noted in previous reviews that we would like to see taken away but is still on the application is the ability to post to Twitter and Facebook. I understand that a user makes the choice to do so, but I do not see why anyone would ever want to share a confidential file with a social media site. E-mail is fine, but it makes me nervous with HIPAA that I might accidentally press the wrong button and load a confidential file to Facebook or Twitter.

Since I last wrote about the application, Balbus Speech has released a Lite version available for $4.99. This Lite version includes the oscilloscope (speech graph) and adjustable DAF. It does not allow the user to record speech, take notes, or save sessions. If you like the Lite version, you have the ability to upgrade to the full version within the application.

From working with a couple of voice and fluency students for the past couple months since school has started as well as attending a fluency workshop, I have learned more about fluency assessment and strategies. Since I am writing a second review of this application due to the fact that the other day was Stuttering Awareness Day, I would like to discuss how the Speech4Good application can be used for assessment and remediation of fluency disorders.

Assessment Using the Speech4Good Application:
  • Turn off the "Speech Graph" and the "DAF" to solely record a persons' speech while in conversation, repeating phrases, and reading.
  • Take notes following the session about secondary characteristics and types of dysfluencies and save the file to the application.
  • Replay the recording(s) as many times as needed to count the number of syllables stuttered and the total number of syllables to get a percentage of syllables stuttered.
  • Replay the recording(s) to determine the longest dysfluency, types of dysfluencies, and number of each type of dysfluency.
  • Use the information found in your speech report.
Treatment Using the Speech4Good Application:
  • Use easy onset and have the client watch the "Speech Graph" to see what a strategy such as easy onset looks like on the graph to help him or her visually monitor his or her speech.
  • Record a clients' speech and save it to the application. Play back the recording for the client to self-assess how many times and types of dysfluencies he or she had.
  • Plug headphones with a microphone into the iPhone to use the Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF) function. Determine the length of delay to use with the client.
  • Have the client practice his or her fluency modification or fluency strategies at home and e-mail you the files of his or her recordings to keep a record. He or she can also type notes as to environmental/emotional information that might be associated with the severity of stuttering on a given day. He or she can also rate himself or herself and the therapist can keep track of his or her ratings.
Speech4Good is available for the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad for $19.99. Speech4Good Lite is available for the same devices for $4.99.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Brainpop Jr. Movie of the Week

Brainpop's little sister, Brainpop Jr., released an app recently! Both apps provide a visual summary of curriculum topics, narrated by a robot, Moby, and a human pal. Annie and Moby have been on the web for some time, but I am happy to see them in the app world. Brainpop Jr. provides a free movie each week on topics spanning Science, Social Studies, Reading, Writing, Math, Health, Arts and Technology. The movies are short, extremely engaging for kids, and filled with expository text structures such as lists, sequences, descriptions, etc, as well as great vocabulary. As such, it provides a quick and easy way for SLPs to present curriculum information and work on strategies to help kids understand it. The app also provides access to some of the interactive features of the site, such as quizzes and "Belly-Up" comics related to the topics. Brainpop Jr. Movie of the week also allows you to login and view all movies, not just the free movie of the week, if your school district has a subscription.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.3 Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Pepi Bath Lite

Pepi Bath Lite (free) is a fun little app that can be used for sequencing skills.  You can choose a boy or girl character and bring them through the steps of doing their laundry or getting ready at the sink in the morning.  Be aware that the kids disrobe to their undies, so if you have a student that can't handle that, you might want to avoid it! That said, I think the free version is also better than the paid, which incorporates a toileting scene. Not something I would want to work on. I have a number of kids that repeatedly would ask for this app and wouldn't go too out of control with the bath context.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.4 Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: The Weather Channel

As Hurricane Sandy approaches our region, and I wonder how much it is going to mess up my work week, I am reminded of the utility of the (free) Weather Channel app. The iPad version of the app provides a nice animated opening visualizing the weather in your selected location (e.g. a sunny field, a puddle with raindrops). I found this useful to build descriptive skills with certain students, particularly in conjunction with the weather component of Kid's Journal, which I wrote about earlier this month. For higher level goals, the app provides video that could be used to align with weather as a curriculum topic, as it is repeatedly used throughout the grades. These are great to review with the schema-building question: what do all weather forecasts have in common? The maps feature of the app can be used as a visual to generate language about weather characteristics and geography, as well as predictions, as different features of weather can be highlighted: temperature, precipitation, etc.  Weather also can be used as part of a greater project, such as this webquest on weather.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Toca Tailor!

Super-bite-size post as I am about to board a plane.  Toca Boca has again outdone themselves in their incorporation of opportunities to build language and schema through play, this time with Toca Tailor ($.99 currently).  Tim Gunn would love this app, but so will many kids, who will be able to design outfits for characters using preset patterns and also photos, making the context for design limitless.  Toca Tailor also incorporates some augmented reality by allowing you to take a photo not only OF your creation, but with your creation. Great interactivity!

I don't think I was too pleased to have my model sitting on my head:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Appy-Picking Month- Plague, Inc

This one is for the right middle or high school student(s) who won't obsess over the macabre aspects of this engaging and very educationally relevant simulation game. Plague, Inc ($.99) is an app that challenges you to design and evolve a pathogen that has the greatest impact on infection and mortality worldwide.  Sounds a bit scary, yes, but it is Halloween, and there is absolutely no gore.  As the game begins, you can choose the country in which your infection starts, and through a simple game interface ("popping" bubbles as they appear worldwide), you earn points that allow you to "evolve" your pathogen in terms of its symptoms and abilities.  In the process, many real-world biology concepts related to anatomy and physiology can be explored; for example, adding the insomnia symptom reduces resistance to the disease.  New symptoms lead to yet more available new symptoms in an associative language process.  As your disease spreads, you can monitor its progress in various countries, getting real-world information about each location and effects of transportation (plane and water traffic) etc.  The pause feature will be useful in helping make sure you can stop and scaffold understanding and expression of curriculum concepts.

Thanks to Tool Zeit for pointing this one out to me (see their helpful podcast and video demo below)!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Podcasts

The Apple Podcasts (free) app released recently for iPad and iPhone provides a focused way for us to find and listen to educational podcasts.  Previously, podcasts were downloaded through the iTunes app, which was a bit more confusing and hidden.  With the current app, you can subscribe (receive updates) to, stream, or download podcasts.  I have always thought of podcasts as free learning tools that let you "reclaim" your drive time; these entertaining "talk shows" about subjects related to your work can teach you quite a bit! Additionally, just search the catalog for "kids" and there are quite a few you can use as a context to build auditory comprehension and strategies.
Many cars have an AUX port that can connect to an iPhone or iPad. You can also get a cheap FM transmitter that will broadcast audio from your device to an unused FM frequency. Doesn't everyone have a copy of Rhea Paul in his car?

Tap a Podcast episode title to stream it (be careful if you have limited data), or the arrow icon to download it to your Library
Where to start? Try EdCeptional, as seen above, MacReach, and A.T.TIPSCAST. I guarantee you will learn something with each drive time!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I am Linus, for sure.  I grew up somewhat of a Peanuts fanatic and have recently mentioned the potential of leveraging the comic strip's downbeat tone to develop narrative and positive social behaviors and self-talk. The Christmas special was transformed into a beautiful app last year, and I have to mention the wonderful Halloween one that was just released.  It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (at $4.99, probably only for Peanuts lovers) allows you to create and costume an avatar who shows up at a number of places in the story, trick or treating with the characters.  The story itself (if a bit mean) is ripe for narrative-building and discussion of the social behaviors of the characters.  The pages contain pop-up-like effects and the story also has a few other interactive elements such as bobbing for apples.  Enjoy, and reminisce with the kids!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: A Reminder about Scan

As I am getting ready for short workshops on QR Codes and emerging tech at Masscue's conference this week, and soon at ASHA, I wanted to again mention Scan.  Scan (free) is used to scan QR Codes you access or create yourself.  Check here for my entire series on QR Codes, including video tutorials.

This post is also timely because I have a Spooooky Halloween Lesson involving QR Codes and Story Mapping from last year I would love you to use, whether or not you have a Story Grammar Marker (though you should get one)!

Note: author is a contractor for Mindwing Concepts and provides blog content

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Teen Kids News

I have often noticed Teen Kids News playing on the TV while I am at the gym on weekends and wished it were around when I was a kid.  While not technically an app, Teen Kids News is a great way to employ your Safari app to present these short news stories to your students.  Kids don't want to hear adults blather on all the time, sometimes it is nice for them to get information from other kids!  Teen Kids News presents brief news stories (seemingly not YouTube-based, so probably not blocked on you) from kids' perspectives, but will also please you with their focus on health, well-being and inspirational teens. From a speech and language perspective, this resource will provide a good context for storytelling, expository text structure, social development, and modeling public speaking strategies:

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Fotopedia Series

The Fotopedia series of apps (free) is a terrific resource for eliciting language through visual exploration and connecting to curriculum topics.  There are apps on China, UNESCO World Heritage sites, US National Parks, and wild animals, topics frequently covered in the classroom.  Through rich, detailed photographs often linked to maps, along with informational text available for each picture, you can target categories and descriptive and expository language.  The Wild Friends app is one that could be used for picture stimuli if you are working through the Visualizing and Verbalizing program.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.4.1d Review the key ideas expressed and explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Weekend Music

Do you use music in your therapy? Especially as kids get older, music can provide a great conversation starter and really be part of kids' identity, making it a good context for an activity with a social-pragmatics or other group. Having kids introduce a song can be a great motivating guessing game (who liked it?) or fit into a discussion, analysis of a song (for story structure, vocabulary, etc) or "people file" activity (what aspects of the song go with the person?).

You can of course download songs using your iTunes app, but this becomes very quickly.  Two free apps, Pandora and Slacker (both for iPhone or iPad) allow you to create stations by genre (another good language piece, the category of genre) or artist.  With your free account, you cannot look up or play a specific song, but it will play related songs, and maybe eventually that song (you have a limited number of skips).

I will also mention Songza, also free, but BE REALLY CAREFUL.  The great thing about Songza is that you can play music for different times of day and activities/sensory needs (e.g. songs for "An Energy Boost"), but in the evening/late night categories these activities get "interesting."  It is worth checking out but I would not allow young kids to control or even perhaps see/know what the app is.

I myself am a huge fan of Spotify, and find it worth the $9.99/month fee for my own personal use.  Spotify is like Star Trek to me: "Computer, play [insert just about ANY song here]."  And it happens.  So if you are a music fan, it is worth looking into, and then bringing into a therapy session.  Spotify has wonderful iPhone and iPad apps, and also allows you to create playlists, which would be another great group cooperative activity for older students.

Spotify for iPad

Note that all these apps are rated 12+, which can be a reminder to let kids use them only with supervision and a degree of control. I should also add that if you feel you know little about today's music, this is probably an activity to avoid as you won't be able to screen very well. :-)

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1c Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Bump!

Bump (free) was originally popular when iPhones were pretty new.  The hook was this- Bump accessed your contacts (including your own contact information if it was added to the contacts app) and when you wanted to share your info, including Facebook, Twitter IDs, etc, with another person, both of you would open the Bump app and bump fists while holding your phones. Your phone would vibrate and next thing you knew, the other person's contact info is "magically" saved to your phone. Cool and sorta butch.

It got old, but Bump has bumped it up by allowing you not only to bump photos between devices (including iPad), but now something more clinically useful.  Check this out:

Thanks Fast Company for the vid.

I have written before about the fact that a picture is worth a thousand words when sharing info with families, which I do in my private practice work weekly.  So note that the process shown above also works with iPads.  Further note that once onscreen in your browser, the photo has a variety of ways to be shared, including right-clicking (PC) or ctrl-clicking (Mac) to get the link or simply clicking the Get Link icon:

This is info on a lesson we did on the strategy code "FOTO" from Social Thinking®'s  Social Fortune and Fate Comic
Being able to share a link to a photo using Bump is SOOOO much easier than emailing a photo from a iDevice to my computer, downloading the photo, then reattaching it to another email to parents, who themselves have to download the attached photo to view it. Just keep in mind that you wouldn't want to share photos of kids this way, as I have no sense that the photos that go to are confidential in any way. But for visuals like you see above, or pictures of a game, play set or creative activity, this is a great resource.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Introducing ATEval2Go!

I am very excited about a recent release, an app I helped develop for Smarty Ears Apps- ATEval2Go!  Author Chris Bugaj worked with us to design this app, which helps assistive technology professionals (a diverse group that tends to include SLPs like Chris) complete all aspects of an AT eval, including background information about the student or classroom, environmental observations and student goals, and recommended tools and strategies.  The app produces a report that can be emailed or exported, or copied/pasted into a word processing program for further editing.  I am proud of many of the innovative features of this app, including the ability to add images to a report or record audio or video, and also the ability for professionals using the app to draw from customizable banks of accommodations, goals and recommendations.  I have said quite a bit on this blog this month so I will let our video trailer...

...and the full tutorial showing all features of the app...

and, finally Chris' A.T.TIPSCAST episode about the app, speak for themselves!

I hope you will share ATEval2Go with any of the AT Evaluators in your lives! Thanks...

Disclosure: Author has a contractual relationship with Smarty Ears Apps and receives a portion of the profits of this app.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: iLift

I almost didn't make it to Appy-Picking today, so here's a quickie.  Busy week.

You might be surprised to hear that I did one of my clinical placements at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary Voice and Speech Lab; that specialty is so far from what I do now. It was a very interesting place, though, and I loved my work there.  MEEI is renowned not only for vocal pathology treatment in general but also for therapy for professional voice clients for nodules, hyperfunction, vocal abuse, etc.

You might be less surprised to hear that I like to sing karaoke quite a bit. I can also be seen quite often driving about town and singing songs in my car.  I know. Breath support. But it relieves stress. Anyway.

So this one may be of interest to the singers (karaoke or not) and voice peeps:

iLift ($2.99) is a pretty cool app; it can import any song contained in your Music library (or in Mail) on your device and let you manipulate it in various ways, including key change. Often a song that is out of reach (too low or high) for a singer, or strained and abusive, can be brought into range by a key change of one or two semitones or half-steps, and iLift lets you do this.  Once imported, the song stays in the app's library and you can play it in key or modified. Check it out or share with your voice-inclined pals!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Appy Picking Month: Photo Table Lite

Photo Table Lite (free) is a really fun way to present a series of pictures.  The app simulates a table in which you can touch photos and move them across the screen.  Flick the photo off the edge of the table and other photos come onto screen from your displayed album.

Your albums come from your Camera Roll photos that you have saved there.  Photo Table Lite limits you to 3 albums at a time; if you really love the app you can remove this limitation for the $9.99 full version.

Language Lens:
Photo display has all kinds of SLP uses from articulation targets to vocabulary, curriculum-related images or description activities and games.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.7 Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.

Thanks to Beth Lloyd at Thriving in School for pointing out this app to me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: OneReceipt

If you play in this park, you probably buy a lot of apps each year! I obviously do, and also buy a lot of books, games, and materials each year as part of my practice, not to mention the travel expenses.  This past week I saw OneReceipt mentioned on Lifehacker, and was very excited to think about what it could do for organizing my receipts for purchases related to my work in speech and language.  The free OneReceipt app is powered by your (free!) web-based account (and can also be accessed at and actually pulls all your receipts from your email.  You can also "capture" any printed receipt using the iPhone or iPad camera and it will be processed and added to your account (though this takes some time according to my testing of the app). Less paper! From your account, you can tag receipts in different categories and then use all this organized information come tax time:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Tizzy Seasons

Any app that targets understanding of time appeals to me as a clinician, because so many kids struggle with this area. Tizzy Seasons HD Lite provides you with 4 mini activities, one for each season.  These include feeding birds in the spring, blowing and popping bubbles in the summer, organizing a leaf collection in the fall, and dressing for the cold winter weather.  Each activity can be used to model various structures such as sequential words, verbs or cause-effect for early learners.  If you like what you see in the Lite version, the full version for $1.99 features four additional activities per season for a seasonstravaganza!

Thanks to Giggle Apps for pointing out this app to me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Starring You Storybooks

Starring You Storybooks is a freemium app from Jib Jab, which has previously been known for some pretty cool personalized web animations and greeting cards.  Freemium means that it is free to download the app and access/create one storybook; other book creations in the app can be purchased (. I have previously said that sometimes a free app is not worth it, but I think in the case of Starring You Storybooks, there will be value in having just the free portion of this app, which currently allows you to make one storybook: "Dancin' Feet." The fun piece of Jib Jab is that you can quickly and easily place a face into a target, and then that face is incorporated throughout the animations of the story, which are really impressive:

If you find yourself loving "Dancin' Feet" and are tempted by the in-app purchases (which I realize you might not be able to access in schools, for about $12 (2 months of the $2.99 book-a-month plan plus 2 additional $1.99 purchases), you could have 4 additional books and a lot of therapy time to target...

Language Lens:
-Just within "Dancin' Feet" and a few other stories, the books could be used to target rhyming, categories (the Dancin' story is essentially a list of many different types of dances) and simple story structure.

Common Core Connection: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.1.3 Describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

Thank you to the participant at my presentation at Macomb Intermediate School District who pointed out this app to me!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Videos App

The Videos app that comes pre-installed on your iPad as part of iOS is one that you might want to "pick" for use of videos in your therapy.  This video shows you how to move videos from iTunes to this app, and also another way to bypass blocking of YouTube so you are able to show selected videos from your iPad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: An iPad Essential on Mindful App Updating

Clearly in the mobile device world, it is very important to update your apps frequently.  Apps first of all can have bugs, and these are fixed by these updates.  More interestingly, new features and content are often introduced through app updates, and you won't know about these if you just tap through and select "Update All" in the App Store.

So, let me suggest the "Mindful" way of updating your apps.  When you see you have updates, hang on until you have time to give the updates page a little skim:

If you want to selectively update apps, iOS6 makes this much easier by not kicking you to the home screen every time you tap Update.  Nice!

Skimming will allow you to view what is new with each app (sometimes you have to tap More to see this content). Why does this matter? Recently, for a few examples, the "skim" showed me that Toontastic had added a new series of playsets, My Playhome a parents' bedroom, Bag Game and Social Adventures had added the ability to add your own pictures to the bag (now for limitless contexts) and lessons, respectively, and Skitch a new interface that everyone apparently hates.

This all has to do with Appy-Picking because we make informed choices each day about which apps to employ for clinical purposes.  New content and features in our apps should absolutely influence those choices!

Happy Updating!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: TripIt

TripIt (Free) is an app I have praised before. It's relevant here because hopefully a number of you are planning to go to the ASHA Convention in Atlanta next month, and I figured I would give it a shout-out again. TripIt is a free web-based service that keeps track of all aspects of your travel itinerary: flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. Once you download the app and create an account (in-app or on the web), each time you receive a travel confirmation email (use the same email for your bookings and TripIt), you simply forward the email to, and TripIt builds your itinerary.

Interestingly, I am convinced I have a language (or executive function? Sarah Ward, please chime in) issue related to temporal concepts. Before TripIt, I have arrived in Irish cities only to realize that I made a lodging reservation for the following night. I need to check calendars many, many times. My reference to days of the week during discussions is inevitably problematic. It is good that I can check travel plans many, many times, all in one place, TripIt. I would literally be lost without it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Zoo Champs

Though released to coincide with the 2012 Summer Olympics, and with a bit of a British feel, Zoo Champs ($1.99) is an interactive book that transcends seasons to grab the attention of any of your sports-interested learners (and probably those who are not!). Adorable graphics and animations, along with audio-supported text will allow you to explore categories, verbs, sequences and informational text with all kinds of learners.  Try acting out some of the sports "events" (except maybe synchronized swimming) for pragmatic and movement activities.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.1 Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Live Street View

There seems to be a slight theme here of righting a few of the wrongs (though there are many rights) of iOS 6. Many may remember that I am a Googlephile as well as an Apple Fanboy, so I am not so pleased to see Google's near-exile from iOS 6.  One of the niftiest features of the previous Maps app, which I avoided writing about in past months since I knew it was going away, was Google Street View. With the new Maps app, this feature is gone, but I wanted to show a very cool "for now" replacement.

Live Street View (Free version has minimal ads, $.99 gets you an ad-free experience) allows you to touch-navigate the globe, or search specific locations, and simply tap to enter street view. From there you can tap on the arrows to move down the worldwide and extensive database of streets and turn onto adjacent streets.

However, this app improves on previous Street View experiences by using your device's gyroscope.  When you move your device in different directions, it will change the view accordingly, providing more of an augmented reality experience!

Language Lens:
Geographic visualizers such as Street View are fantastically motivating ways to tie in with social studies curriculum at many levels, from local community to world geography, while targeting descriptive language and spatial concepts.  Apps such as this also have uses for working with adults!

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.4.3a Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Toca Train

I have always been a huge fan of Toca Boca apps.  I think they are play (and world) schema realized through interactive, beautiful, engaging apps. Toca Train ($1.99) is one of the more recent releases and doesn't disappoint in its overall experience and language-enhancing potential. Toca Train offers our often vehicle (and choo-coo) loving students the opportunity to run their own train, controlling speed, point of view, and passenger and cargo onloading and offloading:

Language Lens:
-Toca Train provides the opportunity to build concepts and prepositions (in/out, up/down, on/off, front/back) through view changes and actions, WH-questions regarding who is on the train, where you are going next, and why specific cargoes would be useful, as well as descriptive language.
-Toca Train could also be used for social-pragmatic and play-skill-building purposes in conjunction with a simple train set such as those available at IKEA.
-Consider pairing Toca Train with a narrative or expository picture book about trains such as Night Train, a great 5 Senses Book.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Appy Politically Incorrect Holiday!

Last year I had an accidental app discovery. I was looking up a site that outlined an iPad "exploration" workshop for teachers and Googled "iPad exploration," which displayed as a result the free iPad app European Exploration: The Age of Discovery. Many of us have a lot of ambivalence about Columbus Day and the results of these discoveries, but it is part of the curriculum and can be a good opportunity to teach perspective taking. The app itself, created by a public television station in Virginia, is a very nice simulation in which kids can hire captains (after obtaining biographies and evaluating characteristics and skills), outfit ships, and trace a route to the "New World." Upon landing, ships make discoveries of geographic features, goods and peoples:

The notion of the whole world being blacked out until explored by Europeans is worth "exploring" with your kids.
For a free app, this one has quite a lot to offer in terms of interactivity and built-in educational relevance (for older kids, too!), even if it could be more enlightened.

Language Lens:
-Many students in grades 5-6 may not have the schema of the world map or compass points quite solidly, and these are good categories and concepts for SLPs to review.
-This app goes very well with Jane Yolen's Encounter (see my post on this), which presents the European conquest from a tribal boy's perspective.  The picture book is very story-mappable.
-In my experience, when left to their own devices, many of the kids have the "executive function" moment of crossing the ocean, finding one thing, then plotting another very long trip rather than just going to the next nearest harbor (which would inevitably afford them another discovery).  This app is a good one to work on planning.
-The categorical nature of the discoveries (and also the vocabulary involved) provides a good opportunity for sorting and quick research activities ("What kind of gum did I find?")

A couple caveats: the app doesn't save games, but a game or two can usually be completed in a session. I also noticed an error in the app- we discovered the Rio Grande in like, Maine. This provided a nice post-app opportunity; I asked the kids to write a letter to the developer about how they used the app, what they liked about it, and what could be improved.

Common Core Connection: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Buildo Museum

We clearly love to use Halloween as a topic in October, and so do our kids.  Last year I got into the Buildo "sticker book" types of apps (geared toward adding characters and objects to a scene, like Colorforms) and was a bit confused when they released Buildo Museum in the spring. Museum, huh? Does it involve docents, audio guides, and bored children? Ohhhhh, it turns out it was a haunted museum.  OK.

Buildo Museum ($1.99) has an edge on other sticker book apps (see Clickysticky series, which I also like) because of its panoramic scenes, allowing you to sweep left or right to add more stuff, and also wacky sound effects.

Also see the other Buildo apps- Rescue is a favorite of mine.

Language Lens:
-Sticker book apps are a form of digital storytelling and can therefore be used to target all kinds of story structure, from simple action sequences to more cause-effect chains. At the micro level, you can also develop vocabulary, description, verb and pronoun use.  
-Kids can follow directions to create a scene, or direct each other in a barrier task.
-Screenshot the scene to extend to a writing activity.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.1.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Be sure to read Jeremy Legaspi's great post on app-dapting a multitude of Halloween-themed apps toward speech and language interventions.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Appy-Picking: Jasmine YouTube Client

If you have updated your iPad to the newest operating system, iOS6 (sorry, iPad 1 peeps, you can't), you may have noticed a few effects of the Apple-Google rivalry.  First of all, the Google-powered Maps app has been replaced with a controversial new app that sorta stinks, and which has prompted Apple to issue a near-unprecedented apology. Perhaps more on this later.  Another change is that the iOS-native YouTube app was removed from the new operating system. Oh, well. That TV icon was getting a little old, and poor Google will be crying all the way to the bank now that they don't have to give Apple a cut of ad revenue.

I have written a few times about the intervention possibilities of YouTube, though I know some cannot access it within your schools (see that link for workarounds).  Google is surely in the process of making their own YouTube app for iPad (there is already one for iPhone/iPod that you can install, but it will be small-sized/resolution-challenged). In the meantime, however, check out Jasmine, a nice, elegant, timely YouTube client that works exactly as you would expect it to work:

Keep in mind that when downloading Jasmine, you will receive an "age-restricted material" warning.  YouTube certainly can be racy, so don't ever allow kids to search for what they would like to watch, obviously. 

Common Core Connection: 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.5.2 Summarize a written text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Appy-Picking Month: Kid's Journal

Whoo! I made it to day 2 of Appy-Picking Month!

Today's pick is Kid's Journal ($1.99), a wonderfully simple creation app from educator Scott Meech's App of Approval.

Kid's Journal was designed as an easy way for kids to "reflect on their day," but it can be re-purposed in many ways for speech-language and special education interventions.

Using Kid's Journal, kids can tap to select their feeling, location, and weather (think categories) for the day, then write (or dictate to you) a sentence or two and take/add a picture.  Journal entries can be easily exported and shared via email.  Journals can be organized by individual students or groups if you like.

Language Lens:
-Kid's Journal can be used for home-school connections with a visual support for students to describe something they did in a session or during the school day. I used it every day with a particular student to place in his home notebook.
-Clinicians can bypass the "What did I do today?" prompt and have students write a sentence or two about just about anything, targeting curriculum vocabulary, sentence structure, categories, or social skills.  
-In addition to using the iPad camera, consider adding a saved image to the journal to support these targets. 

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.1e Use verbs to convey a sense of past, present, and future (e.g., Yesterday I walked home; Today I walk home; Tomorrow I will walk home).

Monday, October 1, 2012

October is Appy-Picking Month! (and LeafSnap)

Before I go any further, I must acknowledge that I stole the phrase "Appy-Picking" from the terrific EdCeptional podcast...imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Have you listened to EdCeptional lately?

I must confess that I am not a big fan of the fall. Many of us seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sufferers view haybales, pumpkins and mums as harbingers of death.  However, I don't want to snow on anyone's fall festival, and figured I should get with the autumnal spirit.

Therefore, I am declaring October "Appy-Picking Month" here on SpeechTechie, and will be featuring 31 (I hope) bite-size posts about apps you can use in your therapy or clinical work, with maybe a more rambly analytical post here and there (consider those the roads between apple fields)!

To start, let's look at Leafsnap, an innovative app developed by a number of educational giants such as Columbia University and the Smithsonian. Leafsnap is an "electronic field guide" to trees that is easily tied to curriculum around plants and seasons. I actually always use this one as an example of a curriculum-related interactive app, which I think are still few and far between. This free app uses technology similar to face recognition techniques to recognize and catalog plant species.  You can actually use this app to scan a leaf you pick up on a "walk" with your students, and the app will attempt to identify it! Leafsnap contains a lot of data about the Northeast U.S., and the plan is to expand that; I'd recommend you try out the app first before using it with students if you are not in the Northeast.

Image via FastCompany

Language Lens:
-Leafsnap can facilitate discussion of sequential differences between seasons, description, comparing/contrasting of leaves, and parts of trees (high-res pictures can be viewed for each species including individual parts- leaves, fruit, bark, etc), and the mapping interface can elicit all kinds of spatial language and relevant connections to students' own neighborhoods.

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.3.3 Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.