Friday, September 30, 2016

Tap Roulette- A useful therapy tool

Whenever including games or any situation where someone has to "go first," it can be a challenge even among students who don't have social learning challenges. We don't want these decisions to eat up our precious and limited therapy time. I do find that Social Thinking® and 5 Point Scales promote useful self-talk around this:
-Play involves 3 Parts: Setup, Play, Cleanup. Who goes first is part of setup and we don't want it to use up our time playing.
-Using a 5 Point Scale of Problems, going last should be thought of as a small or tiny problem.

However, we still sometimes come to a stalemate over who goes first.

Tap Roulette offers a free, quick, and fun solution that I think superior to the human-error-prone "Rock Paper Scissors" technique. Participants in whatever it is simply place one finger on the screen, tap PICK FINGER and after a roulette-style animation, a choice is made!

Tap Roulette also provides a fun way to work on categories; have students name items in a simple or complex category and run a contest to see which one "wins."

Friday, September 23, 2016

Kahoot! Create game show style activities!

Kahoot! is a website that allows you to create quizzes that are presented in an extremely engaging fashion, for free. I had seen Kahoot! used a number of times over the past few years, and recently I decided to use it with my social cognition groups. The kids who had used Kahoot! in their classrooms had a huge, excited response when I said we were going to use it!

At you can create your free account and build quizzes, discussions and surveys- all great ways to target language and have students explain ideas. Compose questions and accompany them with pictures (great for vocabulary or social cognition), then write multiple choice responses. You also can try some featured Kahoots if you don't want to reinvent the wheel or just want to gauge your students' response to this type of activity- there are searchable pre-made quizzes on a large variety of topics.

image from

Playing a Kahoot works like this:
-From, launch a particular activity.
-On screen will appear a PIN, and students can use their own or provided devices* to navigate to and enter this pin and a nickname for play (they love that part).
-You control the pace of the game as students respond to the questions, results are displayed and you will have moments to discuss (an important aspect that makes the site good for speech and language activities)
*Kahoots are best created on a desktop or laptop as you'll need to type and possibly add pictures or video. Students can play on any device that has a web browser- I like to use "Team mode" in bigger groups to foster collaboration. Devices do not need the Kahoot! app, but this app directs you immediately to enter the PIN, so it takes the web navigation part out for the student.

As I mentioned, Kahoot! is a great resource for vocabulary review or creating quizzes where students identify expository text structure key words, subordinate clause markers, or demonstrate morphological awareness. I have also transformed a number of "Thinksheets" from the Social Thinking® resources into quiz form. This was also a great context to work on skills while playing the game (e.g. Defeating DOF- The Destroyer of Fun from Superflex®)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

4th Generation Apple TV provides additional options for clinically useful content

Many school settings have incorporated Apple TV as an option for visual displays in classrooms, and the same possibilities can be applied in clinical settings. Apple TV is not a TV set, per se, but a internet-enabled "set-top" box that can be connected to an HDTV or a classroom projector/interactive whiteboard. The previous generations of Apple TV, as I have written about, offer the opportunity to use content within the software (e.g. YouTube) and to wirelessly display ("mirror") an iPad, iPhone, or Mac screen to the TV. This can be very handy in instruction or therapy using apps as all students in the group can see the visual, while interacting with the iPad as usual.

The fourth generation Apple TV*, released last fall, retains these possibilities and the accessible price of previous releases, while adding an App Store. Note: this is not available unless you upgrade to the newer Apple TV device; it is not just a software update. The App Store, along with the upgraded multitouch remote which serves as a controller for interaction within apps, unlocks a new world of content and interaction. A few examples:

My constantly recommended EPIC! Books for Kids is also available as a free app on Apple TV, and you can of course sign in with your free educator account. This offers the ability to display a huge variety of books (some with audio) on a TV screen (email subscribers, be sure to click through to full post to see videos below).

A video posted by Sean Sweeney (@speechtechie) on

Also, look for @speechtechie on Instagram!

Though the interactive potential of Apple TV is just being tapped, apps such as those from Sago Mini (I wrote about the language and play potential of its iPad apps for Mindwing Concepts) provide great interaction through the remote control.

A video posted by Sean Sweeney (@speechtechie) on

The App Store for Apple TV has nice finds in the Education, Kids and Family, and Health and Fitness categories (particularly if you are using any mindfulness training for self-regulation or fluency).

In short, if you are in a private clinical setting or have the potential to influence purchases at school, the 4th Generation Apple TV allows you to facilitate engagement among a group by displaying all your iPad apps on the big screen, plus the opportunity to shortcut the mirroring process and engage in a different way through its developing library of apps.

*Note: you can buy an HDMI cable for $5 on Amazon.