Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Follow-Up on ASHA Schools: Tellagami

I had a terrific time attending and presenting at this past weekend's ASHA Schools Conference in Long Beach, CA. I have been to many ASHA Conventions (and will be presenting in Chicago, more info to come), but this was my first Schools Conference. It has a very different feel- more low-key and definitely user-friendly.  As presenters we were encouraged to engage our audiences and make our sessions as practical as possible, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed seeing the motivational, positive-psychology based opening session by Murray Banks, and sessions on executive functioning and instructional strategies for academic writing by Sylvia Diehl and Bonnie Singer, respectively. It was an honor to be invited and counted among the faculty of this great conference, and I would encourage you all to make it to this event at some point if you work in the schools.

I had the opportunity at the conference to present on one of my favorite topics: digital storytelling or content creation apps. For me, though not designed for speech and language, these apps serve as "blank slates" for us to simply create (for or with students) products that can target all manner of skills: academic language, concepts and vocabulary, narrative, expository text, sentence structure or social cognition. It all depends on what you ask the students to do.

A great example of these types of apps and always a favorite when I present it: Tellagami. This free app allows you to create a talking avatar (called a "Gami") and place it in context with any background image.

See Tellagami's YouTube channel for a few other ideas on how to use Tellagami.

Here's how to use Tellagami:

Photo Creative Commons Licensed for Remixing by HarshLight on Flickr
1. Save a background image using Safari. The app also has some pre-loaded contexts. Tap Background to load an image from the app or Camera Roll.
2. Customize your character's appearance (the app allows you to choose aspects such as skin color, hair, gender, clothes).
3. Choose an emotional state for the character.
4. Tap the Character button twice and you will be able to either type text for the character to speak, or record audio which the character will lip-sync.
5. When you are pleased with your creation, you can tap Share and save it to the Camera Roll as a video.

The app is super-simple to use and the results are often hysterical! Here are a few ways to think of Tellagami through the Language Lens:
-As the app allows you to place a single "speaker" in a context, it is a nice one to use to create "newscasts" or advertisements.
-In doing so, you can incorporate virtually any academic context by saving a picture and having a "reporter" avatar speak from that location.
-In turn, you can plan the creation using strategies to structure language such as story grammar or expository text structure, or use this opportunity to target areas of difficulty such as pronoun or tense use.
-Because audio can be recorded, the app can also be used as a motivating way to work with articulation, voice or fluency.
-From a social standpoint, you are limited to one character speaking at a time (though Tellagami kindly responded to me on Twitter that they are considering adding additional characters through an update). Nevertheless, the app could be used as another way to deliver a Social Story™ or perhaps an "advice column" on the expected and unexpected behaviors- based on the work of Social Thinking®- in a particular setting (which you of course would depict with a background photo).

I hope you enjoy Tellagami! The folks at ASHA Schools sure did!

What ideas do you have for using Tellagami? Let us know in the comments!

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