Saturday, December 14, 2019

Wheel of What

Wheel of What is the kind of simple app that any clinician would benefit from having on an iPad. A spinner is useful in many situations, and with a digital one you won't have to dig one out! Plus an engagement factor of offering a digital version is always handy. With Wheel of What, a bonus is that you can create customized spinners in seconds.

One activity I like to do in social groups (even up to high school) is to make up our own games or "same but different" versions of other games. That vocabulary as well as the STOP strategy (Space, Time, Objects, People-- Ward & Jacobsen 2014) provides a guide to making this type of activity clinically focused. Recently, our group made up our own version of The Floor is Lava and had to consider Space (Where to Play), Time (how much time we had, also the order of events in the game and the if/thens), Objects (e.g. construction paper tiles and the spinner, also furniture), and People (cooperative or competitive roles, how would we Think of Others during the game to keep it positive).

Hope you find this free tool useful! What might you use it for? Let us know in the comments.

Considering your professional development schedule? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Check your public library...

Recently I was trying to get a copy of a book, Sally Gets A Job, that would align with a vocabulary set from one of my favorite apps, WWP-Vocabulary. The set featured good Tier-2 words such as skill, operate, career, successful, earn. Sally, dog hero of one of my favorite series, seemed a great match.

A quick search on Boston Public Library's website revealed that the book was right at my fingertips, free, via their connection to Hoopla, an electronic media service. Hoopla allows you to view books on a laptop or your iPad after signing in through your public library, if this service is offered to you locally.

So, this is just a suggestion to check out your library website's resources for picture book therapy materials. They may vary, of course (mine has connections to lots of picture and other books through Overdrive, but not Tumblebooks, which you may have), but probably offer you some great options of free materials!

Also, don't forget, EPIC! Books for Kids has scads of picture books, free for educators.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Self regulation on the road this holiday

At ASHA Convention this past week (some recaps to come), I was happy to record another podcast conversation with JD Gray of ASHA Voices, this time on self-regulation. We touched on mindful apps SLPs can use for themselves and as language/self-regulation activities for our students, but I always like simple tricks too.

For example, since I got a car with bluetooth, this has offered me lots of enjoyment on the road (music, podcasts, etc). But have you noticed the annoying habit when bluetoothing or USB connecting of your radio blasting the first song on your music list? In my case, it was "Aaron Burr, Sir" from Hamilton. "Aa" puts it first alphabetically. It made me actually hate the song eventually, though I love the musical. Regular jarring annoyance was eliminated by a simple trick after researching this problem, which I discovered many friends shared. Go to your music or iTunes app and download the sure-to-be-alphabetically-first (well worth the $.99) "A a a a a Very Good Song." It's like 10 minutes of silence, so when you connect your phone to your car, now you will hear what was playing or blessed, calming silence. You'll thank yourself, and your passengers will too.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Traveling to ASHA (or otherwise traveling)? Check out these two tools...

For me, planning + situational information = self-regulation + productivity + life is good.

When planning travel, I always TripIt. As you make any reservations and receive your confirmation emails about them, once you have opened a free TripIt account, you can forward them to What results is a sequenced itinerary with flights, hotels, rental cars and other pieces you may have arranged. Simply a lifesaver. TripIt also generally lets you check into flights from your itinerary. You can access it via web or available mobile apps.

Another indispensable tool is FlightAware. Use FlightAware (via the website, which works perfectly well on mobile, but apps are also available for free) to track not only the status of your flight, but if you are super anxious like me, also the status of the INCOMING PLANE (click on Where is my plane now?) Often this information is just not provided to you by airlines, so it is very reassuring. Or sometimes not.

Hope you have a great trip if you are going, and I'd love to see you at sessions 1048, 1338, and or 1836!

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Add YouTube Clips to Google Slides

As Google Apps (G-Suite) becomes more ubiquitous in school settings, it becomes more useful for SLPs to tap into the power of these tools. Whether conducting in-class therapy activities, or via a small group with your laptop, or even in my case frequently in the private practice setting in a room with an Apple TV, having a visual "space" to explore contexts, language, and strategies is important. Using Google Slides allows you that space- I often encourage thinking about presentation creators flexibly, as you don't need to be creating a whole series of slides or a "PowerPoint." It's just a space, and one that is much more easy to work with than that of a word processor, because of the whole fitting things into paragraphs aspect (and the nightmare of trying to insert and place an image in a doc as opposed to a slide).

Another tool you can consider within Google Slides is the ability to insert a YouTube clip.

On a Google Slide, that's Insert > Video > Search, which searches YouTube.

Once onscreen, you may want to drag the video corners to make a bit larger.

Doing this has a number of advantages:
a) You can place helpful videos into lesson sequences within your Google Slides "decks" and therefore have them for subsequent groups, years, etc
b) Inserting the video here on a slide removes ads (sometimes) and distracting sidebar content
c) Your following slides can be a place to graphically/visually explore the ideas of the video in discussion with the group (e.g, a story map, see my post A Story of Shapes.

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Come see us at ASHA!

I am lucky to be presenting three sessions in Orlando at ASHA Convention in just a few weeks! Here are some details:

Imagine Integration: Incorporating Evidence-Based Methodologies in Telepractice
Session 1048
Thursday 11/21 10:30-12:30

It takes some imagination to translate evidence-based approaches into digital, interactive formats for telepractice activities! This session will model techniques in incorporating “clickable and typable” visuals in the process of implementing best-practice methodologies. Techniques and strategies will emphasize approaches in narrative language, sentence formulation, vocabulary, social cognition and self-regulation that can be infused across the client’s school day.

Learner Outcome(s):
List two resources SLPs can use to access clinically relevant research
Describe two clinical techniques applying technology with curriculum-based materials to complete evidence-based approaches in telepractice
State three ways to engage clients on curriculum-based content using digital and “hands-on” resources

Not Just for Mickey Mouse: Applying Animation Tools in Language and Social Interventions
Session 1338
Friday 11/22 7:30(!)-9:30 AM

It takes some imagination to translate evidence-based approaches into digital, interactive formats for telepractice activities! This session will model techniques in incorporating “clickable and typable” visuals in the process of implementing best-practice methodologies. Techniques and strategies will emphasize approaches in narrative language, sentence formulation, vocabulary, social cognition and self-regulation that can be infused across the client’s school day.

Learner Outcome(s):
List two resources SLPs can use to access clinically relevant research
Describe two clinical techniques applying technology with curriculum-based materials to complete evidence-based approaches in telepractice
State three ways to engage clients on curriculum-based content using digital and “hands-on” resources

Show Them the World (Knowledge): Pairing Picture Books & Apps for Contextualized Language Intervention
Session 1836
Saturday 11/23 11:30-12:30

Epcot has not cornered the market on simulating the world! Another edition of this popular presentation from ASHA 2012-2018 reviews pairings of picture books and apps that provide intervention contexts to expand semantic knowledge and align with social studies curriculum areas. This session will describe approaches using high- and low-tech materials targeting a range of language objectives.

Learner Outcome(s):
Identify 2 apps and picture books containing language structures and contexts within text, visuals and interactions
State 4 features of disciplinary language within social studies providing contexts for language intervention
Describe 2 session plans pairing texts and apps based on contextual overlappings

I hope to see some of you there!

Friday, October 25, 2019

More on ever-evolving language

Slang is less academic and current-events-related than the terms related to my last post on the birth of new words and their inclusion in Merriam-Webster. Conversational figurative language is nevertheless quite important to be able to follow if not use-- unawareness of it can lead to misunderstanding of narrative and situations. Let's face it: the teaching of old idioms is only useful for application in standardized tests that measure it, or old texts that try to avoid cliches anyway.

Last spring, a 43-year-old high school teacher began keeping track of slang in a Google Doc that went viral and became the subject of some news coverage. You can find the doc here.

Evolving language is a good thing for all educators and perhaps especially SLPs to track. Probably don't use too much of it to avoid rolled eyes! Last year I wrote up an observation and indicated some confusion about why a high school student kept repeating that he wanted "a snack" in the context of having been offered a snack by a teacher. I literally just realized what that was about as I was writing this post.

Urban Dictionary online is another good resource if you ever need it, but is quite profane, be warned. I pulled UD up to explain to two colleagues why it was important to cut off the use of "yo mama" jokes among a group of teens, who should have been reading the situation better in the presence of teachers.

The list veers into some edginess, nothing like UD, but use your judgment. It is a good resource for making discussion activities around the terms, perhaps a quiz with Kahoot for fun and engagement, and working on narrative language about when/where the terms might be used. I'd add shade/throwing shade, and don't come for me, as a good way to close this post!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

A Little Interaction Makes a Fun Vocab Lesson

Merriam-Webster is known for documenting the changing words of our language. Their Time Traveler website (accessible in any browser) will allow you to look up any recent year and see a list of words that had their "First Known Use" in that year.

Click on any site to see a definition; you may have to provide "kid-friendly" definitions. This site would be great if you want to incorporate engaging material or current events content, which often has many contexts for teaching narrative and expository text.

Many of the words featured are nouns. For a strategic focus you can teach semantic structures with a tool such as the Expanding Expression Tool. 

Escape Room (2012)
Green/Group: A recreational place
Blue/Do: It simulates a locked room according to a theme, you have to get out
?/What does it look like?: Room or series of rooms
What is it made of/Parts: Puzzles, codes, hints, themes
White/Where: Often in a mall or amusement center
What else do I know? I once did one that was a fallout shelter

Buy one, or the kit, but did you know you could make a template for classroom instruction, or use mine at this link? (please DO NOT request access, rather, you can click File> Make a Copy to copy to your Drive).

Friday, October 11, 2019

ASHA Voices Podcast

A few weeks ago I recorded a segment on ASHA's new podcast, ASHA Voices, with its host J.D. Gray. It came out this week. The episode and others that are available (through this link or Apple's Podcasts App) are worth a listen. In this one, Kim Murza discusses the need for creativity and "wearing many hats" as a school-based SLP, offering great tips. In my segment, we talked about visual tools such as Google Earth, "Fail" videos, Pic Collage and Book Creator (this was edited for time: note, search for "AFV fail videos"- family-friendly- when looking on YouTube). I hope you will give it a listen!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Make Different Versions of a Conversation with Pixton

Pixton is an online comic creator that I have loved for years. One thing I love about it is that you can create visuals that demonstrate communication behaviors or conversational moves that spark discussion and analysis (and practice) very quickly. Play around and make one strip (I use the classic free Pixton and screenshot my creations) and then note from your library you can make a copy of your strip like you do with Google Docs, and change the language or communicative move used. Voila! Another version! Consider handing one to each person in your group and having them explain what they see.

Pixton also is a great contextual tool- see all these settings? I haven't forgotten my previous topic run on context, and will return to it. Each of these offers many specific backgrounds within it to incorporate narrative language.

Create a simple two character comic and you can create examples of different WH questions to use in conversation, and their results:

You can contrast these with yes/no questions, which tend not to bear as much fruit:

And comments, and so forth. Create a lot of engaging visual supports for older students in a short period of time.

So again, 3 tips:
-Make sure your browser runs Flash (I had no problem with this using Chrome)
-Screenshot to save/print your strips (you could also put them on Google Slides, like I did here if you have trouble seeing the comics above, with instructional tips)

This post inspired by a lot of conversational work I have been doing with groups, and this post I thoroughly agree with by SLP Rebecca Reinking.

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 5)

So I made a thing. I have a free packet available on Teachers Pay Teachers describing the foundations and many examples of one of my favorite strategies: pairing picture books with apps for contextualized language intervention.

I usually capitalize that phrase because it is the title of a presentation I have done at ASHA Convention and other places with different versions (I like to call them sequels) since 2012! And guess what, if you are coming to Orlando, there will be a worldly version there! This session will be focused on building semantic/world knowledge, language tied to social studies concepts, and situational and social self awareness based on comparing our daily lives with that of other cultures:

In any case, I am happy to keep spreading the word about this strategy, which offers a balanced approach to using technology along with other materials, and mirrors across books and apps the techniques of co-engagement and stacking activities around a context (in pre and post-book fashion). I hope you will check out the free packet and please leave me a rating! My stars are looking kind of empty, with this being my first endeavor on TpT. Thanks!

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 4)

There's of course a difference between "helping students with homework" and working in context, and that's as Barbara Ehren calls it, "maintaining a therapeutic focus." Text mapping, or teaching expository text structures, is one tool that we can teach students in almost any context. Graphic organizers are most helpful as a visual tool in text mapping, and are generally more helpful when a) more than just beginning-middle-end or main idea-details boxes (research supports this too) and b) consistent, using graphic organizers or helping students create them with a similar look, feel and structure.

For some more background information on this, I recommend Text Comprehension: Graphic Organizers to the Rescue and Expository Discourse Intervention for Adolescents With Language Disorders available on the ASHA Website.

Kidspiration and Inspiration for iPad remain my favorite apps for teaching the structure of any contextual block of language, whether that be a BrainPop video, a student or group's reading assignment, or a classroom topic reviewed more generally.

Both of these apps are free to try (for 5 activities). Kidspiration has the advantage of allowing for contextual basic or abstract categorization (sorting) with their Super Grouper mode, essentially also targeting the expository text structure of list or enumeration.

One strategy I have used is to look for expository categories in a narrative picture book e.g. "things on a beach" or "weather conditions." That way the picture book or other context can be used for retelling/summarizing as well as the categorization/semantic skills.

Take Scaredy Squirrel has a Birthday Party, available on EPIC! Books for Kids. You can create a Super Grouper Activity about two of the relevant contextual categories. Students can sort and write or audio record (tap the symbol, then the microphone) a "why" or association for each of the items.

These apps also allow you to make "diagrams" such as lists, sequences, cause-effect maps or story maps. You can move the bubbles around so you don't get stuck always making a "web," which really only corresponds to description. Look to Story Grammar Marker®/Thememaker®, Thinking Maps and BrainFrames for consistent structures you can translate. 

I've written before about the use of Google Drawings to do similar work with graphic organizers. For a wealth of examples you can copy right into your Google Drive and use, see Matt Miller's terrific collection on Ditch That Textbook (an edtech blog I am excited to have just found).

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 3)

Being on a contextual roll can involve curriculum topics. SLPs can go this route without watering down our therapy and while emphasizing specific therapeutic targets. One of the best examples I have found of this approach was written up by Theresa Ukrainetz, a context maven (2017); I have used this quote to launch collaborative activities in workshops:

“SLPs can link to the curriculum with thematic whole-part treatment units. For example, a 6- to 8-week unit on the topic of national parks can address a small number of specific skills, perhaps one for each of vocabulary, syntax, discourse, and self-regulation that come together in communicative activities. The SLP can choose a particular park (e.g., Yellowstone National Park), features (e.g., geological formations), or issues common to many parks (e.g., being “loved to death” by high visitation rates). To encourage engagement, students can have choices of the culminating project (e.g., speech, brochure, newsletter). The SLP looks toward the classroom in selecting information sources and crafting treatment activities. An extended process of reading sources; taking notes; composing, practicing, revising, and delivering the presentation; and then reviewing performance allows RISE+ (Repeated opportunities for Intensive interaction with systematic Scaffolding of Explicitly targeted skills) within these integrated skill tasks (Ukrainetz, 2006, 2015a, 2015d). Additional practice opportunities for individual skills can occur through brief focused skill tasks (e.g., constructing 10 relative clause sentences to express two pieces of information, such as “Yellowstone Park's geysers are holes in the ground that release hot plumes of steam.” After the student achieves some competence in this controlled setting, the SLP moves to coaching application of the skills within related activities in the classroom.”

You all may know I'm a national parks nut, so this topic would definitely engage me as well. Here Ukrainetz focuses on gearing the context toward the creation of a product or artifact, but you could also consider mini-projects. To be specific, some ideas integrating technology and specific clinical targets related to the above:

1. Use EPIC! Books for Kids highly visual materials--great for SmartBoards--to set the context, in the process targeting vocabulary (tier 2 or 3), expository text structure (e.g. a list, sequence, cause-effect graphic organizer) or do a conjunction search on a page to promote understanding and use of complex syntax.

2. As I know from planning my trips, every National Park has a website, and in turn a printable map and guide (on the MAPS page). Following a model, for self-regulation/executive function have students summarize the important situational aspects of visiting a park (Space, Time, Objects, People by Ward/Jacobsen), maybe with a visual made in Pic Collage, an easy way to display text and photos, or on a Google Slide. For example:

Zion National Park
Space: close to Las Vegas, the Canyon area most popular, East side accessed by a tunnel, also a remote area in Northwest of park. 
Time: e.g. most popular times to visit, how to enter the park on shuttle.
Objects: WATER is vital for any visit in summer
People: Very popular park, parts people want to visit include Angels' Landing (EEK, no) and the Narrows.

3. The above could lead toward a prioritization activity in which students use Google Earth and add the top 3 attractions to "My Places," along with a written rationale/description targeting causal language, which would make an engaging presentation.

4. Target functional reading comprehension and conceptual reasoning by having students map out a budget for visiting a park and researching air and hotel costs with Kayak.

5. Lastly, Google Slides would also be a good landing spot for students to create one slide with 5 complex sentences about a park (perhaps with targets because, so, if, when, otherwise)

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Get on a Roll this Year (Part 2)

In the last post, I talked about how context can be your friend, not only in planning activities and engaging students, but also clinically. Incorporating curriculum topics is a key strategy for clinicians, but we need not be arbitrary about it. Please take these examples of contextual work as exactly that- examples. You can find out from teachers what they are working on and perhaps offer students a choice of topics to "roll with," especially if you are working on social objectives.

One tool I use frequently when making decisions as a group is the Levels of Like chart, a strategy I learned about from SLP Jenny Sojat. You can make one of these on a board to explore sample topics; it's also a good way to use Pic Collage:

Use Text tool to add the levels. Use the Web Image tool to search for images related to options being discussed. Poll students on their "thoughts" (good entry to perspective taking) and where each option lies. Try not to decide on something that anyone has below the OK level.

Let's say you explore pets as a topic. Pets are a nice entry point to curriculum as they relate to social studies (human interaction with environment, etc) and a number of science topics such as describing animal features, habitats etc. Some examples if you settle on, say, cats. Cats are cool!

Memes: A meme is, in internet parlance, something that is shared, often for humor. Memes are essentially narratives and often take on a "same but different" theme with different versions of a meme. But animal memes are usually a story, so think narrative language. Be careful where you get your memes; you can save images from icanhazcheeseburger, find cute groups related to animals on Facebook, or search for kid-friendly memes. You can organize them for presentation in a Google Slides format like I did below:

Note that each one is a (partial) story involving observation and prediction.
Character: owner and cat
Setting: bathtub
Initiating event: The owner is taking a bath WHEN the cat comes to visit and perch on the faucet
Sequential events/reactions: you guess
Also a good figurative language term in slide 1.

Books: Pets feature in a ton of narrative/expository picture books. Try Creature Features or It's all about ME-ow, which have science and social extensions.

Apps: Lots of apps revolve around pets. Many are not great! But check out Toca Life: Pets to tell stories and play (also great for categories/following directions), and apps like How to Draw a Cat Step By Step are good contexts for following directions.

Videos: Phrasal Verbs Friends is a series of fun cat vids teaching about Phrasal Verbs (basically figurative language). Thanks FreeTech4Teachers for that suggestion. Also see the Simon's Cat series for wordless narratives.

More Academic: see what BrainPop, NewsELA or EPIC! Books have for material on cats and teach expository text structures and strategies.

I'll sign off with a meow, then!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Get on a roll this year!

Context helps us achieve flow in our work, both in our own and students' enjoyment of it, as well as ease of planning. A study by Gillam, Gillam and Reece (2012) also found context linked to EBP, with improvements in sentence and discourse formulation measures when "clinicians treated multiple linguistic targets using meaningful activities with high levels of topic continuity." What contexts you pick are up to you, but I have one suggestion to start: the playground and recess. A couple ideas in this flow:

Scratch Jr.
This free resource from MIT Media Lab is available as an iPad app or on Chromebooks. Coding is basically language teaching, a context for us to help students follow directions, work with characters and settings, and describe movements that result. It is also a big causal (because/so) and conditional (if/then) context. Scratch Jr. provides mini-curriculums including one allowing you to simulate playground games! The teaching guides here can be modified by taking a screenshot of the key directions, like so:

Tells you what to do...

Shows your students what to do
Not so complicated, and very fun!

Practice Playground Games
Make visual supports via Comic Strip Conversations (with marker and whiteboard or Doodle Buddy/Book Creator) and practice playing active games. This will give your students many language opportunities and also be skill-building activities for actual recess.

Pair with Picture Books about Recess
Try The Recess Queen (O'Neill) or Do Not Bring Your Dragon to Recess (Gassman), both providing context for social and narrative teaching opportunities.  Psst: find read-aloud video versions on YouTube.

Playground Physics
For upper elementary students, try this free app from the series of "Noticing Tools" from the New York Hall of Science. You can video students running or doing playground actions and measure speed and various scientific measures. Lots of narrative and expository language can ensue, as well as being a social context of moving to an outdoor space together and observing ("body in the group").

Also consider that a good chunk of the fun and instructive Zones of Regulation: Exploring Emotions app plays out in a playground setting, exploring how daily events change our zones and prompt us to use tools to regulate ourselves.

I'm sure you can think of many other activities going with this context, tech-related or not! Please let us know in the comments if you do.

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Summer Study Series on Mindwing

As you may know, I continue to blog monthly on the website of Mindwing Concepts Inc, creators of some of my favorite tools, Story Grammar Marker® and Thememaker. This summer I wrote four posts summarizing recent research and published articles. The goal of these is to provide summer "food for thought," each post with a little tech tie-in. In case you missed them, here they are:

An evidence-based inference and narrative curriculum (free) for you.

What is "rhetorical competence" and how does it connect to comprehending language in school?

Using science topics and curriculum as a context for developing expository language and use of causals at the sentence level.

Summarizing Lynne Hewitt's great tutorial on narrative language and ASD.

photo by LocusResearch on flickr

Note: author is paid consultant for Mindwing Concepts, Inc for provision of blog content and presentation material, but receives no compensation should you visit their website or purchase products.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Come check us out! 3 Presentations at ASHA Orlando in November!

I've been in solid vacation mode since the beginning of July. It's really been awesome. A week down in Cape Cod, then trips to 6 National Parks including Shenandoah, then the Utah "Mighty 5" of Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, that trip in the space of one week. Something everyone should do--maybe not the 5 parks in one week part, but we did well. I'm a hiker, not hardcore, but firmly believing being so enhances any trip to a National Park, bringing you beyond the "scenic drive" to awesome vistas and offering an incredible experience in the process. Utah particularly brought me the "opportunity" to work on my aeroacrophobia- a pretty debilitating fear of high open spaces. Canyonlands, for example, puts you on a 1000-foot mesa (2000 if you count the ledge down to the Colorado), on a trail 5-10 feet from no railing. This was worse for me than what became easier and unavoidable, high exposed ledges next to a canyon wall, which I tackled at every park after that. But an amazing time.

In any case, in the meantime I received the great news that all 3 of my submissions for ASHA Orlando were accepted. I am headed to Orlando next week to conduct follow-up workshops for Orange County Public Schools across two days, so it will feel like a second home over the coming months. I am happy to again be collaborating with the awesome clinicians and telepractice trainers at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast Maine (see below, Nathan Curtis and Amy Reid). As I have stated previously, I am not currently a telepractitioner, but my background in instructional technology has helped open great conversations about the role of tech in setting contexts for therapy activities. The info for each session is below; I hope to see some of you there!

Topic Area: Telepractice
Session Number: 1048
Title: Imagine Integration: Incorporating Evidence-Based Methodologies in Telepractice
Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day: Thursday, November 21, 2019
Time: 10:30 AM- 12:30 PM
Author(s): Nathan Curtis (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Amy Reid (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting), Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Individuals
Session Number: 1338
Title: Not Just for Mickey Mouse: Applying Animation Tools in Language & Social Interventions Session Format: Seminar 2-hours
Day: Friday, November 22, 2019
Time: 7:30 AM -9:30 AM
Author(s): Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Individuals
Session Number: 1836
Title: Show Them the World (Knowledge): Pairing Picture Books & Apps for Contextualized Language Intervention
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour
Day: Saturday, November 23, 2019
Time: 11:30 AM- 12:30 PM
Author(s): Sean Sweeney (PRESENTING AUTHOR: Author who will be presenting)

Considering your professional development schedule this year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Repost: Play with Fireworks Virtually (IRL leave it to the professionals)

This post is a throwback for a free app that is still available- check it out. I'll be off for July and see you back in August. I am excited for adventures down in Cape Cod, then a visit to Shenandoah and a BIG National Parks trip from Utah to Vegas, hitting Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, and Zion! Have a great July!

Interactive apps have long been one of my favorite topics because they replicate world schema, and every schema has language that goes with it. As the 4th approaches (or other holidays in the future), you may have fireworks on your mind.

Apps give us a window to simulate removed events (and safely!), so you might be interested in Fireworks Lab. This free app allows students to organize and operate a fireworks display. The app is gloriously language-neutral, so students can be encouraged to label their choices in elaborated noun phrases (e.g. "green sparkly rocket") and then set them off.

A few supplemental ideas:
-The app is perfect for pairing with a written language or reading activity. Write or sequence cards with the different attributes of the fireworks and use these as a "plan" for the display.
-Have students research fireworks displays in your town, or for older students, pair with the story of this famous fireworks fail for a narrative activity. The article is safe to use with kids and has some good figurative language too!

Have a happy (and SAFE) 4th of July--and to my Canadian friends, Happy Canada Day!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

View and Describe a Landscape

WWF Free Rivers app (free, in another sense, for iOS and also Android devices) provides a cool, "immersive" experience where students can view a river and its effects on the landscape, weather, animals and people around it. The app uses augmented reality technology, overlaying a riverscape and also a world map over your teaching space (e.g. a floor or table). It is extremely easy to navigate and provides student-friendly language (and audio) about the water cycle, where you can make it rain and view above and below the clouds, the cause-effect of damming a river, and other material presented in a storytelling format. The app would be great for providing visual support and engagement in language such as:

-geographic features and landforms/continents (language/categories of social studies)
-weather processes (language/sequences of science)
-expository text structures such as cause-effect
-simpler observative social processes such as "thinking with the eyes" and "making a smart guess" (see work of social thinking)

See video demonstration here or below.

 Be sure to install this free app on your iPad for the upcoming school year- you'll surely find a context to use it in syncing with classroom curriculum!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Make a Top 10 List!

I've said it before and I will say it again, visual supports are key for scaffolding understanding, supporting thinking and even eliciting language. I'm amazed that one format, creating Google Slides presentations with students, is as enthralling as it is. Apple TV (you can use an interactive whiteboard or just a projector in a classroom) helps for sure, but you'll be surprised how much students attend and generate language as you type into a slide and create something interactively.

A student of mine (entering 5th) has shown a lot of interest in comedy and SNL. It occurred to me that introducing the group to David Letterman's Top 10 Lists might be of interest, as well as a way to frame a review of a key idea we worked on all semester. You'll have to use your judgment and look around YouTube, but I found one that was not too risqué (#1 can be explained in different ways) regarding the lackluster accommodations at the Sochi Olympics, which gave us:
-narrative opportunities: what was the story here?
-many attempts to "get" figurative language, multiple meaning and humor

Following this activity we scaffolded our own Top Ten list around concepts and skills we had been focusing on for a few months: moderating talk time. This came pretty organically from items the kids suggested as well as some models of "what's going unexpectedly in what we are playing out right now" (e.g. I launched into a complete plot retelling of "E.T."). In this I was thrilled that the boys remembered a created acronym of mine ("LLLL=Long Lists Lose Listeners®," JK on the ®) and the 5 Point Scale of Talk Time we worked with as a group (view below). When complete, they asked me to review the whole thing David-Letterman-Style! Essentially the activity created a social narrative and was great to share with parents afterward.

Link to presentation (please do not request permission for me to share it with your account, but if you like you can go to the File Menu and Make a Copy, which will save to your account).

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Friday, June 14, 2019

The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper

Get ready for another fun adventure with Carmen Sandiego in Google Earth! This second game, The Tutankhamun's Mask Caper, is perfect for a one-session activity in which you can work on geographic/spatial concepts, categories such as world landmarks and continents, and making smart guesses (inferences). The game (spoiler alert) takes you to Cairo, New York, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Bejing, so is great for syncing with curriculum if your students are studying ancient civilizations or some of the associated countries. Again, it's a good idea to keep another tab open (if using Google Earth in your Chrome Browser) or flip back and forth from Safari on iPad to Google Earth app (where you can find this game under the "Explore" captain's wheel icon) and use Wikipedia or some other resource to provide additional language and context about the landmarks you see. The programming seems a bit more forgiving as you can activate other features such as street view on the landmarks without it kicking you out of the game, which was a problem with the first version initially. Have fun defeating VILE yet again!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, June 7, 2019

"Fails" as Narrative Instruction

The Internet loves a "Fail," which Urban Dictionary defines as [noun, in this case] "a glorious lack of success." From a narrative standpoint, however, a fail is an initiating event, a critical story element to work with in our students' language. Graphic organizers reduce cognitive load and help students identify and internalize narrative structure, which assists with comprehension and production of narrative language. One level I like to work with my students around is the Reaction Sequence, which looks like:

Initiating Event
Reaction (what the person DOES in response to the IE, note that this is not a Response or Feeling, which is part of the next level of narrative development, often called the Abbreviated Episode)

The Reaction Sequence is sometimes represented as Somebody Wanted But So. You can use SWBS, Story Grammar Marker®, Story Champs, or other approaches such as the Gillams' SKILL for your graphic organizers, or make your own. Good idea to have some sort of consistency in the icons or GOs you use, however.

So, the tech part: humor is great in therapy, but be careful about where you get your fails. I like America's Funniest Home Videos (AFV) as it is super family-friendly. Take this video compliation:

It provides a great 15-30 min activity in having students formulate the narrative of what they see. Of course, use the pause button, and a few other ideas
-Zoom in on character, some students have a difficult time reading nonverbal signals around age and relationship between people (a skill measured in assessments like the Social Thinking® Dynamic Assessment Protocol). Scaffold statements like "a brother and sister" or "a kid who is probably like, 8 years old."
-NOTE that with the above you are working on microstructure such as noun phrases and use of conjunctions (also linking between the story elements: "A group of kids is surfing at a beach WHEN a huge wave comes.")
-Zoom in on setting, many of my students would just say "outside"- scaffold specificity such as a beach, a lake, a hiking trail, and so on.
-Consider adding a pragmatic element with an ersatz barrier task- one student can watch and narrate, then show the video to the group.

May your summer be free of Fails!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Use Google Earth to Preview Community Settings/Walks

Walking is important. I always notice that I get a broader view of students' overall social functioning when the group is moving around. A table provides a grounding space that often regulates students; they don't have to think about using their eyes to assess space and monitor their own physical presence as much at a table. So take a walk! A community or neighborhood walk provides the opportunity for pre-lessons and post-review of your activity.

One great resource for this is Google Earth. On the Google Chrome Web Browser or Chromebook, or via the iPad app, this free resource literally allows you to "walk" through any area using Street View. To jump into Street View, after searching for a key address (use the magnifying glass icon), drag and drop the yellow "Pegman" onto the map, any point on the blue lines that indicate Street View access:

Some lesson points:
-Have students observe and look for community locations, both while using the arrows and moving "down the street" in Street View and actually walking down the street. This is a "Thinking with the Eyes" (see Social Thinking®) task that could be made more structured with a scavenger hunt.
-I am all about crosswalks. The navigation of crosswalks is a safety and lifeskill but also social task that many students at all levels struggle with. I generally see my students continue to converse as they walk up to a crosswalk and then stand there, waiting for me to direct them. Previewing these areas is also helpful in Google Earth.

This particular crosswalk has no street light to tell you what to do. You need instead to observe cars coming from each direction, as well as their directional signals and the drivers' eye gaze, to determine when to initiate a cross. A lot of social cognition involved there! A screenshotted image such as this could also be imported into Google Drawings, where you can sketch stick figures for guidance (a form of Comic Strip Conversation).

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Out of the Loop- a fun social game

Out of the Loop is a great game to try with any of your groups (free for iOS and Android, additional content packs with in-app purchases). I used both with a high school and upper elementary group. It first of all has figurative language in its title-- I asked two of my groups what this commonly used idiom means, and none of them knew. Teachable Moments!
-The game is played by entering player names and then passing the iPad to have each player (3+ players) follow the on-screen prompts.
-All players are shown a word except for one, who is Out of the Loop. Players need to position their screen so that no one sees, a good opportunity to emphasize Thinking with the Eyes (see work of Social Thinking®).
-You can also pre-teach the concept of bluffing and "going with the flow" (flexible thinking/adding thoughts) so that no one knows which player doesn't know the word.
-Prompts on-screen then tell players to ask a specific player a question about the word, so the responder needs to a) answer promptly so no one thinks they are "out" and b) not answer the question too specifically so players know they are "in".
-At the end all make guesses about in/out.
The game is a good opportunity to emphasize knowing others' names, which are shown on screen throughout as a helpful visual support. I also found in each case I played there were opportunities for language or perspective taking/Comic Strip Conversational review of "notes to self." Out of the Loop comes with a food category, and everyone likes talking about food!

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Voice Headliner- A Fun way to Play with Sentences

Voice Headliner is a simple webtool you can use on any device. Choose a celebrity (these include Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Ellen, and others) and type a sentence up to 300 characters, and the site will speak what you wrote in an approximation of the celebrity's voice. This provides a motivating and silly way to work with sentence composition, vocabulary, or giving directions. The tool creates sharable videos as well.

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Toca World unites many Story Grammar Settings

The free app Toca Life: World (available for iOS, Android, Kindle) works some device magic by uniting any of the Toca Life apps you have on your device. I've long been a fan of these sandbox-play apps that present a variety of scenes mirroring real life for sociodramatic play. Each scene is interactive such that you can manipulate objects and perform actions with characters. Look at Toca Life's settings through a language lens and you'll see many contexts for syntax (verbs, causals), semantics (categories, vocabulary) and discourse (telling a story). This past week I used the Toca Life: Vacation app to model an airport story for my student, and was thrilled to see him tell a same-but-different story (note that there is also a screen/audio recording feature in each app for your to make a movie of your stories with narration). Toca Life: World, in addition to bringing your places together, provides additional settings for purchase. I had fun with the ski resort making this model for one of my groups! 

Considering your professional development schedule next year? Check out Sean's offerings for training sessions.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Interactive Sites for Education

This blog began with many examinations of web resources (in the 9-years-ago pre-iPad era) and how their interactive, visual, and educationally relevant content also was very language-based (Speechie, forming the basis of the FIVES criteria). Simple web activities remain a great way to elicit language around a curriculum topic; when analyzing sites we can look for those that foster descriptive/defining, sequential, cause-effect or conditional language. Karen Ogen's Interactive Sites For Education is currently undergoing many updates but remains the best compendium of sites that can be used on laptops, desktops or Chromebooks (not iPad, as many are Flash-Based). Look to the site along with your creativity to find resources useful for targeting many concepts and language underpinnings within curriculum topics. For example, under Social Studies, and the subtopic of Calendar, this very useful resource from Starfall is linked:

The interactive allows you to use a functional calendar and identify key dates and decorate the month with seasonal images--time concepts are critical as concepts, connect to categories, and also relate to executive function.

Explore- be aware that as websites are jumping from Flash to other resources, some of the links may not work. I found the Flash resources worked in my Safari Browser on Mac, but Chrome presented some problems and so I installed the extension Flash Embed.

As another compendium of interactive websites (archive and "mine" the above if involved in telepractice as well) I also recommend the UEN Interactives collection.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Social Media is Filled With Stories

Exploring situations related to social media is right up our alley as social communication specialists. A client of mine recently started using some supervised group chatting and was making a few minor mistakes. Discussing social media is prime territory for understanding:
-metalinguistics: how text and photo-based communication may not carry the intended message due to lack of inflection, etc
-narrative language: what is the story of this communication? Could it comprise an initiating event that changes someone's thoughts/feelings
-hidden rules/curriculum: what are the overall unwritten guidelines about engaging in texting and other forms of social media?

I found the great visual resource from the Excuse My Speech Teacher's Pay Teachers' Store "To Text Or Not To Text" to be very useful and engaging for my student. The packet contains screen-looking visuals and interactions to determine "expected vs unexpected" (based on the acknowledged work of Social Thinking®) and how to respond, among other visuals. I actually reviewed these with groups onscreen/AppleTV.

The CyberSmart Curriculum (now updated, still FREE, and associated with Common Sense Education) provides great lesson plans for different grade levels and topics, including videos and interactive activities.