Friday, October 27, 2017

Haunted Listening Practice

Amazon's devices powered by Alexa provide great listening and social practice, as I mentioned in a previous post. This week I played the Haunted House skill* with a few groups, and though it wasn't perfect (some choices loop back to a conclusion you've already heard), it is free, engaged my students and helped us work on a few skills and strategies:

-The game is a choose-your-own-adventure style activity where a walkthrough of a "Haunted" House is narrated and you are provided with choices, thereby providing a narrative.
-We imposed a "round the table" rule for answering Alexa, in the process working on "group plan" and whole body listening.
-The auditory input gives you an opportunity to work on the skill of visualizing- consider using your Visualizing and Verbalizing® structure words or having the students sketch a collaborative "map" of the house and the events in different locations, Stickwriting Stories style (Incidentally, there's a good "Scary Visitor" story here to model).

*Alexa's skills are like apps, so to speak. To use these you will need an enabled device; The Echo Dot is a terrific and inexpensive device. You can enable skills via audio command as shown in the image, but there are several skills with this name. You might want to use the link in my second sentence or look it up in your Alexa app.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fun with Mentos

A few weeks ago a colleague started a group session by having the participants guess what was in a bag- and it was apple Mentos. This reminded me of the goofy series of 90s Mentos (the Freshmaker!) ads like this one:

I realized there are a number of good language opportunities in this series and subsequently have had fun using it in groups of teens:
-Wordless materials are often a good opportunity for students to practice narrative language and interpreting nonverbals (my students needed some cues with this, so it was definitely in their ZPD)
-A number of the commercials show someone breaking a "hidden rule" (e.g. we don't block people in when parking), a concept applicable across the day in social cognitive instruction.
-Ads are always fun for having students figure out the main idea or advertiser's intent/implied message: What do Mentos have to do with the situation?

Here are some more:

The Lunch Date

The Broken Shoe

The Car Movers

Fresh Paint

Associated activities:

-Play Foo Fighters' Big Me, which parodies these ads. What's the same and different?
-Eat Mentos!
-Do the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Naturally you can't do this in your room so it's an opportunity to have students figure out where you can do it, and practice walking and chatting together with bodies in a group. One of my HS students did a great job of evaluating where we could stage it so that we would not distract any nearby classrooms who might see us out the windows ("thinking with the eyes," among many Social Thinking® concepts)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

EdTech Talking with AAC

I wanted to share here a presentation I recently made which is online and may be of interest. I was happy to be asked by SpeechScience and Yapp Guru University to participate in their online AAC After Work conference with an "intermission" talk. As I explain frequently, I'm not much of an AAC expert as in my career I have mostly worked with students with more moderate communication needs. However, I based the talk on a collaborative article I wrote with Dr. Kerry Davis, who also generously contributed for me some visuals on EdTech providing a context for students using AAC. CEUs are not available for this presentation, but I hope you'll find some resources and strategies within regarding the "conversation" that can take place between the fields of educational technology and speech-language pathology. I also recommend you check out the SpeechScience podcast, which you can find in your Podcasts app.

Link to presentation on YouTube