Thursday, October 17, 2013

Working around the App

It's important to emphasize that apps and the iPad itself are simply tools we can use in our work to address student objectives. Apps can provide or extend a context in which we are targeting particular skills, and I love talking about the activities that can be going on "around the app."  A few resources related to this recently came to my attention.

I have long been a fan of Toontastic, and whole-heartedly recommend the All-Access version to elementary SLPs. This stellar app is so engaging to students, and the full version allows access not only to a huge array of settings, characters and props, but also the ability to use photos of real-world or saved Google Image backgrounds (but be careful of copyright if sending to their website, ToonTube), or to integrate photos of students into character figures. With creation tools such as Toontastic, I often think of the product created as beside the point, as the students get so much language practice from the process. Using graphic organizers or story maps to plan the animation are valuable activities that can be going on around the app, but Launchpad also provides terrific "Paper Puppets" for you to use for practice and scaffolding. These full-color printouts can be cut, laminated and used as tools to immerse kids in the context of the app, before you even open the app! You can use them for storyboarding and role-play, or all sorts of creative extensions of the context.

In another example, Flummox and Friends is a resource I wrote about last year- it is the pilot episode of a children's TV series about social cognition. I was thrilled to hear that plans are moving forward to produce more episodes. Flummox and Friends, while not an app (yet) is a resource that fosters much activity around it- discussions, role play, etc. Just released also: an extension activity within the terrific Kid in Story app. This book-making app comes with the twist of allowing you to "cut out" a photo and insert it in a story. A template using the context of Flummox and Friends is now available in the community library. Just edit your stories and download the template from there, and you will be able to put students in photos with the Flummox gang and record language in response to prompts on the page. The story is a great context to build feelings vocabulary, an area lacking in many students.

What other ways do you work "around the app?" Let us know in the comments!

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