Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Valentine to Doodle Buddy- Part 4

All you need is love and Doodle Buddy. Well, that's not true, but to complete my valentine to Doodle Buddy, here are a few final thoughts! Got more? Please let us know in the comments!

Comic Strip Conversations: Doodle Buddy is an easy place to implement Carol Gray's method of using sketching to indicate setting, people, scripts and perspectives (word/thought balloons) to preview or review a social situation.

Future Picture/Future Self in a Situation: Executive Function Specialists Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen have developed great methods and vocabulary for executive functioning therapy. Making a "future picture" involves using photo or making a sketch of a task based on what it is going to look like when it is done. Doodle Buddy is of course a great sketching tool-see the above mini-golf hole that we planned to make from pool noodles and a Playmobil farmhouse as an obstacle, which greatly helped the kids to work together to construct the hole. You can also add a photo as a background and annotate it with circles to highlight features of the future picture, as well as text annotations. A group of mine has had a great deal of difficulty with transitioning within and out of sessions, so Doodle Buddy assisted in previewing situations and talking about our "future self." This helped the students focus on the relevant spaces for transitioning through the waiting room, for example, the coat rack and not the feelings calendar on the desk, and objects such as coats, among other discussion points. One beauty of Doodle Buddy is that you can then change the background and talk about how the situation would be "same but different" in a different setting.

Provide nonverbal feedback in the moment: Doodle Buddy is also available on the iPhone. If the therapy context is not one in which I have my iPad handy, I keep shots such as the numbers from The Incredible 5-Point Scale available in my Favorites (in the Photos app). This enables me to provide quick, nonverbal feedback to a group without shouting over them or interrupting. This has been useful after teaching a group scales such as a "chaos" scale (1-5 ranging from no one talking to multiple people raising their voice chaotically, in which case I might display my device with a "4" on it when things are getting out of control) or topicality (1-5 ranging from connected comment/question to uncomfortable shift in topic, which I might use if a group member makes a comment that is a 4- WTC or Whopping Topic Change).

Thanks for enduring my poorly drawn visuals, which I have nonetheless found very useful in scaffolding language, social, and executive function skills!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Valentine to Doodle Buddy- Part 3

Love means never having to say "WHERE ARE MY MARKERS?"

In this exploration of the free app Doodle Buddy, I have been giving examples of how I find this deceptively simple app very useful on a day-to-day basis. Using one app in many ways is a suggested remedy for App Fatigue- being overwhelmed by an internal pressure to keep up with all the apps available- perhaps resulting in giving up on using technology, a contextual and engaging tool, in your work!

A few additional loving examples are offered below as we approach Valentine's Day, though I encourage you to add your ideas in the comments.

Visualizing an idea or story setting: I recently was reading along with a group the book Iron Thunder, the story of the critical battle between the ironclad ships Merrimack and Monitor during the Civil War. An important plot element is the main character's role during a key battle: to run between the turret and the wheelhouse to convey orders from the captain about what and where to shoot. This was a very spatial situation for students to grasp and benefitted from a sketch; this also allowed us to reference previous story elements such as the storm that damaged the speaking tube between the turret and wheelhouse. Visualizing in this way formed a scaffolding to cause-effects relationships in the story and its overall story grammar. This sketch above was actually made in Paper by Fifty-Three, a similar app, during a time where Doodle Buddy was in need of an update, but you can also see a sketch of the ship as an overall setting, based on a text passage.

Stickwriting Stories: Similar to the above idea, Stickwriting (Ukrainetz, 1998) is a "...strategy in which children represent the characters, settings, and sequences of actions with simple, chronologically or episodically organized stick-figure drawings. As a quick and easy representational strategy, pictography is applicable to both individual language intervention and inclusive classroom settings." Doodle Buddy provides all the tools needed to bring Stickwriting to any context, and engagement to boot. In the above picture, we used Stickwriting as a strategy alongside the We Can Make it Better program; in this series of stories, students are presented with social situations gone wrong and cued to "make it better" through social narrative problem solving and pose "instead of..." scenarios. Maria had refused to help Bob rake the leaves for jumping piles, and the student here illustrated how they could work together to make piles. I have found that it's helpful and more salient (and supportive of more oral narrative practice) for students to illustrate alternative scenarios rather than simply describe the actions.

Illustrate concepts on the fly: I work with an adult client who has significant regulation and processing issues. Doodle Buddy is often helpful for me to write/illustrate key ideas in lessons and discussions, and grabs his attention as well. Above you see a lesson about the structure of conversation and strategies for accepting/responding to others' opinions in interactions. Using Doodle Buddy has the additional benefit of providing a sharable visual to his caregivers about strategies we have addressed in sessions. Keep in mind you can also easily add text to a Doodle Buddy sketch.

Provide simple visuals about methodologies: If I don't have, say, a Zones of Regulation visual or Social Behavior Map handy, no problem. I can just do a quick drawing as you see above re: Zones. In some cases this enables me to provide a teen- or adult-friendly visual whereas the methodology visuals may be geared toward younger students.

A few last ideas will follow tomorrow!

Friday, February 12, 2016

My Valentine to Doodle Buddy-Part 2

Doodle Buddy is a many splendored thing.

In my last post I talked about apps that are useful for many purposes and contexts being a great target for integrating technology- especially if you have come down with App Fatigue. One app in particular- Doodle Buddy- is deceptively simple but adaptable to many contexts and activities.

Before I go on (and on), I need to mention that Doodle Buddy's continued functioning as an app is a real gift from its developer, Pinger. Pinger originally developed the app and went on to focus on communications technologies--not communication skills technologies, but functions like texting. As iOS evolved, Doodle Buddy broke a few times, but the developer was responsive to pleas to update it (I assume these came from more sources than me), even though it has nothing to do with the focus of their company. The app was last updated, in fact, on February 3 of this year. So thanks, Pinger, for continuing to make this (free, I might add) app work.

Doodle Buddy does have ads in it, but I find these to be so unobtrusive as to be virtually unnoticeable. Nevertheless, if these bother you, you can remove them with a small in-app purchase under the wrench/settings menu.

So, 3 more uses for Doodle Buddy:

Make a play plan. I used Doodle Buddy here to preview a play activity from Social Thinking®'s Incredible Flexible You. The group benefited from talking in advance (and making suggestions about) how we could use a flipchart cardboard to be a boat, diving platform and cave, and the actions we could perform (a narrative action sequence or more) while we "shared imaginations."

Make a scene with stamps. Doodle Buddy's stamps can be as reinforcing as actual stamps or stickers. You can change the background, add a background from your photos (more on that later) or draw a grid for showing number of trials of a skill or target. See Jessica Gosnell's great 2011 article mentioning Doodle Buddy as an app that can be repurposed easily, and don't miss the link to her visual examples including the uses of stamps.

Develop description, categorization or other language underpinnings in the context of curriculum. Doodle Buddy is currently one of the easiest ways to draw on top of an image. You can save images from Safari and add them as a background in Doodle Buddy (tap the Tic Tac Toe icon). In this case, as a student was studying the Civil War, we used a resource to identify (generally) the Union vs. Confederate States- with a focus on the main ideas and trends e.g. the West was largely out of the picture, South vs. North as key spatial concepts as well. Annotating pictures can be useful to extract a story or other language concept from many curriculum topics.

A few more ideas will follow for Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Valentine to Doodle Buddy- Part 1

A theme in recent presentations is repeat attendees (yay!) who report that their initial excitement about integrating apps in their work has waned a bit. Thankfully, following the presentation and collaboration with their colleagues, a number of people have reported to me that they have renewed excitement and additional contexts where they think these tools will be helpful for their work.

The fact is, kids' excitement and engagement in using technology has NOT generally waned, nor has the potential for its usefulness. I think as the years have passed and there are more options and possibilities, for us as clinicians it has resulted in a tendency to become overwhelmed or tune out for other reasons. For this reason, many of my trainings have included modules on overcoming "App Fatigue," which I believe should be included in the DSM 6. App Fatigue symptoms include an inability to keep up with all of the evolving information about technology (while feeling one needs to do so), and a change in mindset from "I can do that" to "Why bother?" While questions about how much technology to use and when to use it are positive, we want to avoid these debilitating effects. Treatment can include positive self-talk ("However much technology I use is just the right amount") and cutting down on the number of apps one uses, but looking to increase the number of ways you use them creatively and contextually.

I'd prescribe Doodle Buddy, which in a mixed-metaphor here I would like to celebrate in a kind of valentine over the next few days. Doodle Buddy is a simple drawing tablet app which has so many uses (it's free for iOS and not available for Android, but Drawing Desk has similar features). Doodle Buddy has the features you'd expect in this kind of app and more: tools such as a marker, chalk or pencil in all the colors you'd want, text, and addition of template, color or photo backgrounds.

Let me count the ways I often find Doodle Buddy more useful than paper in various intervention contexts:
-Markers dry out and annoy me, causing me to have to think about more objects to bring into an intervention session, including the colors I might need for a particular context.
-Paper is bad for the earth, can cut you, and is yet another object I have to think about.
-Students tend to be more engaged when this app is used as opposed to pencil and paper (though both mediums are important to work in at different times).
-Anything you make with Doodle Buddy is sharable and becomes an artifact of treatment activities (you can save your screen to the Photos app and from there to Google Drive or other places).

To end with a specific use (more to come), I long ago lost my "felts" from the Visualizing and Verbalizing® training I attended many years ago. V and V is a methodology that supports formation of "gestalt imagery" (basically mental pictures and "mind movies") to aid in comprehension. In addition to reading comprehension I have found it useful in listening both in academic and social contexts; it aligns with the Social Thinking® concept of "sharing an imagination." Students gradually learn to internalize "structure words" (e.g. what, color, size, shape, where, background, movement) to describe a visualization of language. The meat of the program is in the "sentence by sentence" level where paragraph-length information or stories are presented and students form images of the story as it progresses. The "felts" provide structure as each sentence is imaged and, later, a frame for retelling- "Here I saw a caterpillar who is black with red rings- he's moving slowly down a branch looking for a twig to crawl out on..." You can see some research citations- not all from Lindamood-Bell!- here.

Felts are fun, and you can make new ones (crafts!) or make them from paper, but lately I like to use Doodle Buddy for this purpose. I don't need four different colored felts, papers, or markers to make this, and I can make it appear gradually with each sentence or story part we review:

More on Doodle Buddy tomorrow!