Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 2

I think of reading as being similar to mindfulness (also in some circles a tool within speech-language pathology)-- in order to teach it, you have to be at least a little bit in the practice of it.

I realized some months ago that I wasn't reading as much as I used to read. This made me a bit ashamed and sad. I was an English and journalism major, for God's sake!

There were a few reasons why I had fallen into somewhat of a reading rut:
-I've become more of a minimalist and I feel I have enough books around the house. At this point, I'm not interested in adding more stuff.
-I know many love the feel and smell of books, but I am not necessarily enamored of physical books. Partly, there's the complications of reading in bed with the other half and not wanting the movement and light to be an issue.
-Given the above two factors, I had begun to convince myself that I can effectively continue as a reader using my iPad and iPhone. The night mode features of reading apps were particularly attractive here. Problem is...I didn't. The availability of other apps besides iBooks and Kindle just made too much of a distraction. Also, just try reading on one of these devices in sunlight?
-I had also immersed myself in informational reading and thought that fiction just wasn't really for me anymore. The issue here is that nonfiction books tend not to propel you forward as much as a good story.

Coming to a solution around these issues required me to think about several things:
1. Reading has many benefits personally as well as professionally, with studies demonstrating its connection to mindfulness itself (as someone who struggles with a touch of anxiety) and also emotional intelligence and empathy.
2. Pick the right tech tool for the right task.

So, since my technology was failing me, or I was failing within it, I bought a Kindle.

This might seem an overly simplistic conclusion, but this simple device pretty much solved my reading problem. My Kindle Paperwhite (bought refurbished from Amazon, incidentally) feels great in my hand, has an attractive look and interface, and it does what it does. I started Wild on April 9, and including that, have finished 8 books since then! And 2 audiobooks (via my iPhone)!

I have enjoyed all this immensely--well not always, I picked a few clunkers--and have felt some important cognitive-linguistic processes being awakened, as well as the mindfulness factor.

If I can leave you with another tech tip, minimalism also attracted me to the use of Overdrive and my local library card. Overdrive works wonderfully with Kindle as you can "download" as a Kindle book (via the Overdrive app or website) and your Kindle device will auto-sync when on wifi and pick up that book- you only have two weeks though, so read (or listen- this is how I did my audiobooks too) fast!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Reading, Part 1

I have a language therapy client I have been working with for a number of years, as he is a private school student. Our work around his summer reading books has given me a lot of therapy ideas. Recently I wanted to design a note-taking sheet for him for chapters that he reads independently, as well as ones we review together. Currently he is reading Steinbeck's The Pearl...such misery, but thankfully short (and available on YouTube for me to do my "reading" when I am driving around town anyway). The goal is for him to read more mindfully (he speeds!) and improve comprehension, and the note-taking sheet incorporates a number of strategies we have been working on- Visualizing and Verbalizing®, using story grammar to summarize each chapter (we transitioned from using Story Grammar Marker® to Westby/Noel's SPACE Acronym as he has moved into high school), using Brain Frames to organize big ideas, and generating questions, connections, and vocabulary. I hope it might be useful if you are doing this kind of work.

And a tech tip related to this is that I like using slide-creators (Google Slides, PowerPoint, Keynote) to make visual supports and graphic organizers. The availability of tools for shapes and shading, as well as the ease of moving elements around makes it a snap. An added bonus of using Google Slides is that you can share with a student easily and they can just double click in any shape to add text.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mobile Tech Resources for People with Aphasia

June is Aphasia Awareness Month! Though I don't often get the opportunity to work with people with aphasia currently (did my Clinical Fellowship Year at Braintree Rehab in '99-'00, wow that hurts to write), as an alumni and once-adjunct at Boston University I go by to do a short volunteer presentation to their wonderful Aphasia Community Group. I wanted to share my handout here for anyone who would benefit from it- it may also give you ideas for functional uses of the operating system and simple apps for clients with other struggles.