Sunday, November 30, 2014

Calming, Part 4

Rounding out this series on apps to explore calming and self-regulation in the course of language intervention is the free app Epic Zen Garden. This title seems somewhat of a contradiction in terms as it hypes up your expectations for a "Zen" experience that just "is," but especially given the price it is a worthwhile app to explore. Zen Garden (let's just call it that, now) made a notable debut at a recent Apple event highlighting the power of the new interactive programming format called "Metal." The result is a beautiful graphical experience allowing you to explore the grounds of a house and engage in visual activities such as making a tree bloom, playing in a Koi pond, making patterns in the sand, releasing butterflies from a fountain, and viewing the house from afar. It's a simple experience but could be used as a sensory tool and for eliciting descriptive language. See also Beth Lloyd's great posts on apps for sensory seekers.

Friday, November 28, 2014

ASHA 2014 Takeaways!

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! For me, the holiday followed soon upon returning from the ASHA 2014 Convention in Orlando, where I presented and also attended many sessions.

It was fun being in Orlando, even with sort of crappy (cold, then rainy) weather. I rented a Yaris just like mine at home! Well, newer and nicer, but...

Overall I applaud ASHA for a great event. My hotel was easy to obtain and nice, the shuttles ran without a hitch, and the convention center was pretty easy to navigate! Along the way, I learned a lot:

At Carol Westby and Kristine Noel's session on Social Cognition and Emotional-Behavioral issues, they presented recent work on Theory of Mind (summarized in Topics in Language Disorders) and their framework for Narrative Intervention and Problem Solving, honed with incarcerated youth with language issues and also summarized in their article in that issue of TLD.

The mother and daughter team of SLP Henriette Langdon and Counselor Maxine Starr presented a helpful session on self-care and balance in our work as SLPs. They sited eight areas of balance to consider in living a healthier life.

The folks at Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children (Dorman, Lee, Gloria and Ritter), folks who have presented many informative sessions analyzing board games for speech and language aspects (repurposing!), applied their "language lens" to a number of apps and presented video on how they use them. I was happy to learn about Vocab Scenes ($1.99), which reminds me of the very useful but defunct Kerpoof website.

The Social Thinking® Team of Nancy Tarshis, Kari Palmer and Ryan Hendrix presented important new information on building resilience in our students with Social Cognition challenges. I can't wait to make some "potions" (colored oil/water jars with little objects inside emphasizing positive tools) and also to use the marshmallow test video to discuss self-talk.

Tara Roehl presented great ideas on integrating apps with contextual activities building language and executive functioning. Be sure to check out her resources on her blog and Pinterest.

I always love to see the "Divas Plus One" (this year including Whitmire, Singer, Appel--the plus one--, Wallach, and Malini) and their session celebrated the work of Barbara Ehren on curriculum-relevant therapy. This year Dr. Ehren was a recipient of ASHA Honors of the Association. You can view much of her work and influences on ASHAWire.

Many of the authors of a recent issue of Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools (Kahmi, Appel, Wallach, Gillam, Hadley) presented findings, reflections and best practices around clinical practices in language disorders. I will be studying this issue for some time.

It was great as always to see Michelle Garcia Winner, in this case discussing the important role of social attention and executive functioning in social cognition. You can read more of her and Pamela Crooke's ideas on this in a recent article.

I attended a terrific session on the overlappings and collaborative potential between cognitive behavioral therapy and speech and language pathology by Lynne Hewitt. You can see her work in a recent issue of Perspectives and view my tweets from this session, in a compilation of items shared by other attendees.

In addition to Barbara Ehren, several people I admire were honored at the ASHA Awards Ceremony, including language maven (and SpeechTechie supporter) Rhea Paul and my BU Professor Elizabeth Gavett, whom I am happy to see semesterly to give a talk in her class. All these folks have been critical in shaping my thinking over the years! Wonderful also to see John and Annie Glenn present the Glenn Award to Bill and Willie Geist. I have to admit that this was my first time attending the awards ceremony and it was an impressive production!

Saturday afternoon I attended a terrific presentation by Mindwing Concepts' Maryellen Rooney Moreau and Linda LaFontaine of the Curtis Blake Day School with awesome contextual tie-ins and many language activities conducted around the book Letting Swift River Go, which describes the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir outside of Boston.

I was proud to see my friend Beth Harmon present an extremely practical and fun session on pairing topic boards with the iPad to encourage use of core and fringe vocabulary along with word combinations. See some of her ideas at Sync Up Autism.

And my session- I was happy to have a really good crowd (despite the Saturday afternoon timeslot) show up to learn about contextual pairings of picture books and apps. Thanks for the tweets, Brittany and Angela:

PHEW! That was a lot to learn. Hopefully some of the links are helpful to you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

ASHA 2014 Orlando Session

I am excited to be presenting in Orlando next week, as well as having the opportunity to see great friends and get lots of ideas from attending sessions!

This year I am presenting another sequel to my Pairing Picture Books with Apps series. This is one of my favorite topics and I have at this point presented about 30 contextual pairings of books and apps. This year's session focuses on several categories of post-book language activities and examples within them.

Post-Book Art Activities- Reading picture books interactively with students can provide a context for drawing or creation within similar contexts, and models within books can influence the content and language use of students while creating a visual response (Bartelo, 1984). Apps provide an avenue to target language while creating visual artworks simply and quickly and omitting some of the time-consuming aspects of drawing or crafting.

Post-Book Discussion Webs- Visual diagrams can be used to map elements of a text or topic to develop categorization and association skills; webs can also be employed to have students respond to higher-level evaluative questions (Alverman, 1991). Apps use a touch-screen interface to create visual webs, and also can provide a context for topically related webbing and discussion.

Post-Book Dramatic Play- Acting out elements of or related to a story can be used to target sequencing skills, sentence formulation and overall story comprehension, and enhances children’s ability to explain ideas (Putnam, 1991). Apps can provide visuals that scaffold language and sequencing during the process of play.

Post-Book Story Grammar Cueing- Teaching students story elements such as character, setting, initiating event and conclusion has been shown to improve narrative comprehension and formulation (Davies, Shanks & Davies, 2004), and a number of apps can assist with visualizing and practicing this process.

Each of these categories provide a framework for choosing apps and books that go together contextually. I hope many of you can make it, but if you can't, check out a quick example of a post-book art activity in my post over at Daily Genius, spreading the word about a similar session I am presenting at EdTechTeacher's iPad Summit Boston.

The details of the session are as follows:

Session Code: 1718
Title: Pairing EVEN MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives Day: Saturday, November 22, 2014
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: Orange County Convention Center Room: W414CD
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour

Abstract: Support for using picture books in intervention is long-standing and relevant to the development of language skills. Books pair with apps with similar contexts to serve as visual, interactive post-reading activities. Revisiting a popular topic from ASHA 2012-2013, this presentation describes overlaps between books and apps and suggestions for interventions.
Speech-Language Pathology Topic Area: Language and Learning in School Age Children and Adolescents
Instructional Level: Introductory (Assumes little or no familiarity with the literature and professional practice within the areas covered)

Learner Outcome 1: Describe resources helpful in book and app selection for language intervention Learner Outcome 2: Identify key categories of post-book language activities that align with app use Learner Outcome 3: Discuss the contextual overlap of presented books and apps and their potential use in language intervention

Alverman, D. (1991). The discussion web: A graphic aid for learning across the curriculum. The Reading Teacher, 45, 92-99.

Bartelo, D. M. (1984).Getting the picture of reading and writing: A look at the drawings, composing, and oral language of limited English proficiency children. Plymouth, NH: Ply- mouth State College. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 245 533)

Davies, P., Shanks, B., & Davies, K. (2004). Improving narrative skills in young children with delayed language development. Educational Review, 56, 271-286.

Putnam, L. (1991). Dramatizing nonfiction with emerging readers. Language Arts, 68, 463-469.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Calming, Part 3

Incorporation of mindfulness techniques, regardless of instructional discipline, is a strategy that has more than emerging evidence. A systematic review of studies of mindfulness training for students and adults with developmental disabilities found significant effects on a range of areas, documenting reduced aggression and anxiety and increased social skills and academic performance (Hwang & Kearney, 2012). Many programs such as Mindful Schools are being implemented school-wide, teachers are being encouraged to practice mindfulness and leading treatment practices incorporate activities such as Yoga classes.

For our students who struggle with managing their own thoughts, and so are led in tangential/oppositional/anxious/dysregulated directions impacting their communication, mindfulness can be incorporated in small ways. Books, videos and audio files focused on awareness of and strategies around thinking can be very engaging, and also serve as language activities by virtue of eliciting descriptive and metacognitive language.

I highly recommend the Cosmic Kids YouTube channel for a start for short meditation activities for your young students. The Zen Den series are short, beautifully produced, visual meditations focused on a variety of calming thinking strategies. I have field-tested these with a range of groups, with great responses from both girls and boys. The fact that the clips are on YouTube makes a great connection to home, as meditation is meant to be done regularly, even for short periods of time.

Even if that carryover is not achieved, clips such as Master the Monkey establish a concrete connection and vocabulary for an abstract concept: our mind can be like a hyperactive monkey and we can practice strategies to keep it present:

Movies in My Mind presents a fun visualization exercise for which you can conduct a language-based debriefing after the fact: "What did you see on the other side of that door?"

Getting Wanty discusses a specific situation of wanting something in a store, but can be applied to many other situations involving "JustMe" vs. Thinking of Others and social behavior (see the work of Social Thinking®).

See also the great Yoga Adventures videos that put yoga in the context of settings and "stories," again offering connections to language activities and themes.

Hwang, Y, & Kearney, P. (2012). A systematic review of mindfulness intervention for individuals with developmental disabilities: Long-term practice and long lasting effects. Research in Developmental Disabilities. 34, 314-326

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Calming, Part 2

Many of our students have difficulty regulating themselves around problem situations--or situations that are not even really a problem. These students benefit from strategies such as building causal language, using visual tools such as The Incredible Five Point Scale (my favorite being the Problem Scale from Disaster to Glitch), The Zones of Regulation, and self-talk. Lynne Hewitt recently wrote a great article on the connections between Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology, so do check that out as well.

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame (Free) provides a fun context to explore these strategies with your young students (PS-grade 1). The app presents five episodes including frustration about getting dressed, separating from a parent at school, and a block tower that falls down. Interactive activities guide the student to help the "monster" use diaphragmatic breathing, visualize plans, and choose a plan to solve the problem.

In addition to the above resources, the app also aligns well with use of Braidy the Storybraid and The Incredible Flexible You Program (TIFY), the five episodes being individual Abbreviated Episodes containing character, setting, kickoff event, response, plan and conclusion, and relating to the social cognitive instruction in TIFY. See also Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobson's terrific work on executive functioning and making a "future picture" to accomplish tasks.

Disclosure: Author is a contractor with Mindwing Concepts, Inc.  for provision of blog content and professional development.