Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lists for Writers is also useful for SLPs

Lists for Writers ($2.99 for iOS/Android) is a resource of exactly that--lists of narrative elements that writers can use to jumpstart ideas. However, the same lists are useful as jumping off points for all kinds of language and social cognition lessons, or for exploring within a session themselves. I recently had fun with two budding writer clients (they are all over deviantart.com) exploring a list of phobias and how they could serve as a "kickoff" for a story, leading to much narrative and conversational practice within the session.

Some ideas for quick language lessons:
-Use the list of Modern Occupations and generate a list of equipment and actions relevant to a variety of occupations (think of Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen's model of Situational Awareness as Space-Time-Objects-People).
-The list of Modern Locations provides fodder for constructing setting maps.
-Sort the list of Dialog verbs into positive and negative behavior categories, or align with the list of Emotions.
-Apply Personality lists to material students are tackling in ELA or Social Studies to build descriptive skills and comprehension.

I am sure you can think of many more- let us know what you think of in the comments!

I will be presenting in the Washington, DC area in September for the Center for Communication and Learning, LLC- hope to see some of you there! Click here for details.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Make customized interactive “apps” with Tiny Tap

I’m just returning from speaking at a two-day conference in Florida for the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities hosted at Nova Southeastern University. The topic was “Apps in Context: Aligning Technology with Methodologies and Clinical Objectives for Students with Autism,” one which Dr. Carole Zangari and I put together for the varied (and terrific!) group of SLPs, OTs and teachers.

It was great seeing and working with Carole! Carole and I also wanted to honor Dr. Robin Parker, also a professor at Nova—sadly, Robin passed away last year. To me, Robin was a wonderful friend and supporter and force of nature, really, who had a passion for putting resources in people’s hands, including technology. We thank the many app developers who donated codes for participants in Robin’s name, including all4mychild, Mindwing Concepts, Mobile Education Store, Tactus Therapy, Bump Software, Bee Visual, Smarty Ears, Irmgard Raubenheimer, and LessonPix.

One “module” in the conference that I really enjoyed developing was the use of “authoring” apps: apps for you to create interactive activities in any context. Participants really gravitated toward the versatile Tiny Tap (free for iOS and Android), which allows you to make “apps,” so to speak, following a very simple series of steps!

Use the visual tools in Tiny Tap to create a "slide" or array. We discussed that though the tools are fine, and include text, drawing, image addition, etc, that you can create a visual in Pic Collage or Keynote (and screenshot it) perhaps easier if you are doing something more complicated for your slide.

For the context of the demonstration I used a Five-Point Scale activity (aligning with The Zones of Regulation), adding a screenshot of a scale I made in Keynote.

You can then "add an activity" to your slide/image- these include:
-recording audio questions which are answered by tapping on an area of the slide
-recording audio/sounds that play when an area of the slide is tapped ("Sound Board")
-cutting a Shape Puzzle so that the image can be used for categorization or sequencing
-and more "presentation" elements such as playing a video or recording a message to be played over the slide.

These options, like everything else in the app, are nicely explained as you go:

An example of cutting a Shape Puzzle to be put back in order by the student:

After recording an audio question, e.g. "This type of problem may ruin your day, and you probably need to ask for help in solving it," you trace an answer area that the student must tap to get the item "correct."

Upon saving your work, your lesson can be played and also shared if you create an account. Tiny Tap also gives you access to a library of many activities, some of them created by SLPs (some at cost). Though you see it demonstrated in a particular context here, hopefully you can think of many ways to use Tiny Tap! Be sure to check out Tiny Tap enthusiast SLP Ellen Weber's column on the app for ASHA Leader. Let us know some other ideas in the comments!

I will be presenting in the Washington, DC area in September for the Center for Communication and Learning, LLC- hope to see some of you there! Click here for details.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Storest ($2.99 for iPad), a superlative app, is one I have been exploring in therapy with my students. The app, from the makers of the fun Foldify series, simulates a store in ways that make unique uses of the iPad as a tool. Check it out in the video below:

Storest from Pixle on Vimeo.

The app works in two modes: a traditional drag-and-drop interface allowing you to shop in the different departments and pay with virtual money, and an innovative activity that requires you to print out paper items and money to play via a virtual cash register. Each item used in the cash register activity has a QR Code attached so it can be scanned by the "register," a great engagement factor for kids.

Storest is a nice app to look at using the FIVES Criteria:

Fairly Priced: At $2.99 Storest brings you many of the features of a (generally much more expensive) play cash register, and more. It can be used flexibly in two different activities and with a wide variety of age ranges.

Interactive: The interesting interface of both activities allows students to make choices as they engage in scaffolded play, and I love apps that bring students beyond the screen to interactions in the real world. In this case, the register becomes "part of the table" and you can arrange the other aspects of the activity (departments and products) to promote interaction among students.

Visual: In the traditional mode, departments are arranged visually in categories so that students can name items and work on identifying their association. The register mode well-represents a register and visually represents the items as they are scanned.

Educationally Relevant: Consider the following classroom tie-ins and educational standards that can be addressed with the app:
-Math, obviously, with the cost of items and use of play money for counting. This great set of cards can be used for following directions and math tasks.
-The MA Curriculum Standards in Social Studies include the following:
3. Use correctly the word because in the context of stories or personal experiences. (History)- I find that an interesting one as an SLP!
7. Use words relating to work, such as jobs, money, buying, and selling. (Economics)
8. Give examples of how family members, friends, or acquaintances use money directly or indirectly (e.g., credit card or check) to buy things they want. (Economics)

My students loved scanning the items- note the clock and "shopping baskets" used
Speechie or Specific to clinical objectives:
-The app lends itself to working on categories and describing functions of items in a store, as well as reasons one would buy them and associations between them.
-Once printed, the "store" can be arranged in a space so that students work on Social Thinking® concepts such as managing one's body in a group, following a group plan and playing roles of shopper and cashier. I often note my students struggle with the sequence of events when visiting a store (e.g. when to pay) as well as the arrangement of the store itself.
-The arrangement of items can be paired with post-activities such as using pictures of real supermarket aisles and describing their arrangement. I take a cue from executive function specialist Sarah Ward and use such pictures to describe the features of each section; take the bread aisle, which can proceed from stuffing to store breads, flavored breads, rolls, english muffins, etc. EF can also be promoted by presenting real-life tasks such as buying items for a party, and monitoring time for shopping using a clock.
-Pair the app with a picture book for further context and narrative language development. A Chair For My Mother by Vera Williams is a good one, though I am sure you can find many others.

Enjoy shopping!