Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dr. Panda's Bus Driver

The Dr. Panda series continues to produce fun apps with educational possibilities. Specifically, the series of apps (and I need to write about the others) provides a context for exploring different settings and situations in the real world. Though made of "mini games," the apps are slow-paced and provide plenty of moments for breaking away from the screen and discussing what is going on. The slow pace also lends itself to taking turns and use with groups. Like other play-based apps, they also can serve as a context to rehearse a play scheme and then act it out with real toys, practicing play and language skills in the process. Think of the language and executive functioning skills involved with planning a real "bus route" with a play bus, people, and whatever you want to use to mark the route.

Dr. Panda's Bus Driver ($2.99) allows you to drive a bus through a randomly-generated (and beautifully rendered) world of winding roads through a mountainside community. You can't crash, so don't worry. The main action of the game involves picking up and dropping up passengers, controlling your speed over speed bumps, and engaging in mini games such as washing or painting your bus. As the game proceeds, you also have choices about which turns to take.

Language Lens:

-Passengers are "picked up" from different community spots, providing an option to slow down or stop and discuss the actions associated with the locations.

-Road signs prominent throughout the play are a good context to develop spatial concepts, also targeted in the maneuvering of the bus and other apparatus and selection of seats for the passengers.

-Consider pairing this app with Google Earth, as the Street View function can make for a fun "ride" through your students' own community with all the language involved.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

When apps go away, be creative!

I wrote about an app some time ago, and it is one of my favorite apps to revisit during this season of giving (even though Hanukah and Christmas were quite far apart this year), so I wanted to mention it again. The Gift Wrap App was used to "wrap" any image from your camera roll, and allow someone to "unwrap." It therefore can be used for a play and "sharing imagination" activity (see the work of Social Thinking®) to target a variety of language objectives, as well as social behaviors around receiving gifts. It also was a nice app to use to expand your comfort level in quickly saving and using images within apps.

Here's the thing: it's no longer available in the U.S. Store, as I discovered when I sat down to write this post. Crap! Though I have it on my iPad, you can't get it, at least for now.

I couldn't find anything else like it!

EDIT: Rachel Smith on Twitter (@lancslassrach) alerted me to the free Wrapped app (works better on iPad). It's a little less slick but serves the same purpose/features (see below)

but when I sat and thought about its process and features:

1. Save a photo of a gift using Safari
2. Add it to the app (or have student do steps 1-2) so it is "hidden"
3. Practice all the verbal and nonverbal behaviors that go with a gift exchange

...I realized that All4MyChild's Bag Game ($1.99, also available in the excellent Social Adventures app) could be used in just the same way! Just save the pic to the camera roll in Safari and choose "Hide Photo." Notice my racetrack pic on the camera roll.

The wrapping may be simple, and you can opt to skip the guessing game, but the idea is the same. The receiver can pinch to open the gift, and there you go!

Language Lens:
-Use this app to target the concept of "People Files" (per Social Thinking, also well explored in Thinking About You, Thinking About Me and the new Superflex Takes on One-Sided Sid, Un-Wonderer and the Team of Unthinkables), the expected knowledge we accumulate about others and use as a basis for interaction.
-Have kids use descriptive language and causals while selecting the photo from Google Images.
-Target verbal and nonverbal interactions while one child "gives" the gift to another by handing over the iPad, and on the receiving side as well.
-This activity also pairs well with Braidy/SGM® Character Maps about what we know about another person- likes and dislikes, as well as the Incredible 5-Point Scale. I created a 5-Point Scale of Gift Receiving with my students:

Common Core Connection:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.5 Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.2.6 Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Happy Holidays to you all!

Want to give me a gift? Vote for me for Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog in the 2013 Edublog Awards!

Click on the link above. Find "Speechtechie" and click on the arrow up button in lower left.
Sign in to with Facebook, Twitter or Google. You can "skip" letting listly post for you.
You haven't voted yet. Click the arrow up button again in my "rectangle." Now you've voted.
Voting is open until 12/18. Please also support other SLPs in the running. You can vote for all of us, even multiple resources in a category, but only once each. Thanks!

Friday, December 6, 2013

SLPs Make Great Showing (AGAIN) among 2013 Edublog Finalists- VOTE!

The finalists for the 2013 Edublog Awards were just announced, and voting is now open. The Edublog Awards is an annual initiative to promote the value of social media in education and share some great resources.  Speech-language-related blogs and resources again are well-represented among this year's finalists, so I would encourage you to go explore and vote. This year the voting is being done through, which you can sign into with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ accounts. You can vote for more than one favorite in each category (apparently you can only vote once, however) until Wednesday 12/18. The voting is truly live until the ceremony, as you can see where the candidates rank, so don't let your favorites flounder. Vote 'em up!

The Speech-Language (and Related) Folks in each category, go to This Link to vote. I am not going to link each resource as they are linked on the voting site, but these are all great resources to add to Feedly.

Best Individual Blog- Speech Peeps, Chapel Hill Snippets, Speech Adventures, If Only I Had Superpowers, PrAACtical AAC, Playing with Words 365

Best Group Blog- Speechie Freebies, ASHAsphere

Best New Blog- Rock Chalk Speech Talk, SLPs for Change, Speechy Musings

Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog- ahem, SpeechTechie, PrAACtical AAC, Speechy Musings

Most Influential Blog Post- The Speech Dudes' "There's no such thing as a free app, so get over it and pony up!", Busy Bee Speech's "Dear Teacher...Love, your SLP"

Best Twitter Hashtag- #slpeeps, #atchat

Best Podcast- A.T.TIPSCAST, Edceptional, Teach Me To Talk with Laura and Friends

Best Educational Wiki- UDL Tech Toolkit

Best Mobile App- ATEval2Go

Lifetime Achievement- Caroline Bowen, Jenn Alcorn

Vote away- thanks for all your support and I feel so honored to be nominated myself! Please, if I forgot any speech-language people, let me know in a comment, it's all a bit confusing to navigate.

Disclosure: author assisted in development of ATEval2Go app and continues to receive a small royalty related to the app (but support Chris Bugaj and Barbara Fernandes and vote!)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What can we do with a blank slate?

Many of our students need visuals. For these visual supports we often go to paper, whiteboards (I love to have some small ones handy), and now, apps. All of these methods work well for a quick sketch that supports an idea, a concept, a vocabulary word, a relationship. Technology can provide us access to more detailed visuals in the form of saved images, and can take this blank slate and add features such as dynamic annotation and voiceover.

One such tech-based blank slate is Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. I have been working with a small private school on integrating iPads in their curriculum, and we chose this app as one to start with. Teachers are often tempted to use only apps that are filled with content; these engage students, for sure, but I am a big fan of working with students in a process to create, using the classroom content as a context. This process tends involves more planning, collaboration, and of course, language than does the use of content-based apps (which of course can be leveraged in their own way). Recently I made a short(ish) tutorial on Educreations that I thought I would share here:

Educreations is one in a genre that includes the free ShowMe and Screenchomp, and also paid apps such as Explain Everything and Doodlecast Pro. The tutorial above also includes a view of Flickr Creative Commons and how to save photos from that resource, which is important to consider in using Educreations. Though you CAN just save Google Images and use them in an Educreations project, because this app saves to the web, you SHOUD NOT due to copyright issues (that process is OK to use if the saved photo will stay on your iPad for instructional purposes and not be republished to the web). If you save photos from Flickr Creative Commons, a process that just involves a few extra taps and a statement of where the images came from (see this link for a step-by-step), you are following copyright guidelines. Of course you can skirt all that by using your own drawings and images, or using one of the paid apps in this genre, such as Explain Everything or Doodlecast Pro, that allow you to save to the Camera Roll rather than the web.

So, what can you do with this kind of app?

What other ways have you used Educreations? Let us know in the comments.

Disclosure: Author contracts to Mindwing Concepts to contribute to their blog, and Mindwing Concepts provides professional development through a partnership with Ely Center, LLC, where this author is employed.