Friday, September 14, 2018

Lookup

Lookup: An elegant dictionary ($2.99) would be a useful app for MS and HS clinicians to have in their library. The app contains cool, attractively designed posters that illustrate the meaning (more precisely, often a semantic association) to a word. The array of posters is not yet of true dictionary breadth, but the ones contained within would provide a great inspiration for students to make their own posters. Consider doing so with construction paper, or with Pic Collage or Google Drawings. The Expanding Expression Tool and Beck/McKeown/Kucan's contextual vocabulary strategies would be good methodologies to employ alongside the use of this app.


Here's an image I whipped up in 5 minutes using Google Drawings, related to a vocabulary word I heard targeted in a HS classroom this week:


To create this I:
-started a new drawing, go to docs.google.com/drawings, Google "Google Drawings" or from your Drive click New, then More, then Google Drawing.
-used Tools>Explore and looked up an image of "dollar"- dragged it in, selected it and copied/pasted a number of times, rotating and resizing.
-Used the Line>Scribble tool to draw a stick figure, then changed the line weight
-Added and reformatted text.

Here's a complete tutorial on using Google Drawings, a tool with many uses, particularly in Chromebook environments.

Creating visuals with Google tools has the advantage of creating collaborative and sharing opportunities between students and possibly making collections for studying. 

You'll find that the above features (web search, doodle, backgrounds, text) are also available in Pic Collage EDU.


Friday, September 7, 2018

More on Breathing

Breathing is an important tool that SLPs can employ in a variety of client populations. For our students with self-regulation difficulties, having tools they can use anywhere without disruption of the current situation they are in can be very important (see Zones). For us, too-- our jobs can be stressful, whether it is a difficult treatment situation, a contentious IEP meeting, or just going back to work after the summer (I AM STILL NOT REALLY READY)...we need tools.

I've always found any kind of mindful breathing to be useful, but this summer I stumbled upon a link from VICE News that led to some interesting science. One study sited here documents the effects of "coherent breathing" at a rate that balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, leading to increased calm for people with varied conditions: "In subjects with MDD (major depressive disorder) treated with resonant breathing (coherent breathing with pursed lips resistive exhalation) at 4.5–6.5 breaths per minute (bpm), HRV (heart rate variability) increased and mood improved." Part of the technique is that one should avoid counting, say to 6, as that engages the sympathetic side too much.

I was easily able to find an app that therefore provided other cues so that breaths could be timed to correspond with the BPM guideline: The Breathing App (free for iOS). I have used this as a warm up for groups and also frequently for myself. The app provides different modes: in one, a ball enlarges as a visual for inhalation timing, and decreases in size for exhalation. I have found especially useful another mode which uses audio tones of different notes to time the same--great to use in the car when feeling just a tad anxious on the way to some work task. Check it out and try the technique!

 
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