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).






















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

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:

Character
Setting
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.



Monday, March 18, 2019

Google Earth's Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Who remembers this game? I actually was an 80s kid, so mine came in a box with a World Almanac (!) and several huge discs for the Apple IIe. It looked like this:



See video

First of all, show that video to your students to elicit laughs, questions and comments. There are also YouTube samples of the 90s Carmen Sandiego game and PBS TV Show (with the inescapable theme song). After my time, sadly.

THEN, check out this amazingly cool overlay on Google Earth developed with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (on full Chrome, laptop or Chromebook, or in the iOS Google Earth app under the Voyager menu). This Google Earth version of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego brings you through a simplified version of the game, and you can use for language underpinnings such as:
-identifying category items (continents and cities)
-spatial concepts
-making inferences
-describing (places, maybe with the EET)
-using research tools

You can zoom in on landmarks in the view window, but interacting with the menu will kick you out of the game. I'd recommend using this game as a way of teaching students to use tabs:
Tab 1- Run the game
Tab 2- Run Google Earth to get further info about the landmarks (Wikipedia articles appear- don't attack me, I know Wikipedia is not good for research, but it is good for general semantic knowledge about any topic)
Tab 3- use for research related to the clues

Enjoy the game- use it a lot and maybe they will make another one!

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

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Cookie's Crumby Pictures Address Self-Regulation

Sesame Street has been on a self-regulation initiative for the last several years. A series of skits called Cookie's Crumby Pictures parody popular movies and model strategies for listening, recalling directions, waiting one's turn and self-control. Children would not get the references to Karate Kid or When Harry Met Sally, but find the videos entertaining nevertheless. You can even sell them to older kids with a little effort. As always, a video that covers a social-emotional concept in the context of a story offers both a social cognition and narrative teaching opportunity. Check out this full playlist here, and a few sample videos are embedded below (email subscribers, click through to the full post).

Whole Body Listening:



"Thinking with the Eyes" (see Social Thinking®) and Problem Solving:




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

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Minecraft (and many other) activities at Code.org

I have previously mentioned here and here that coding activities, though designed for computer science and educational initiatives such as Hour of Code, have a lot of language underpinnings. They are engaging contexts to have students practice following directions, learn vocabulary, and use causal and conditional language in their verbal (or written) interactions. These activities are also great for "Group Plan" work (see Social Thinking®).

Additionally, I wrote about the idea of "flirting" with contexts that you really don't want to get deeply into. Minecraft is one example; kids find it very engaging but playing the actual game is something I don't have time to figure out, and may be hard to structure for efficient use of therapy time. In these cases I might use something defined that is related to the context, such as a video clip that might prompt narrative language.

As in the other coding resources I have highlighted, Code.org provides an easy to use, non technical interface. Intro videos set the context and provide directions, as well as a context for students to practice stating main ideas and the overall plan. Check out the Minecraft activity page- the Voyage Aquatic and Adventurer activities are great places to start, asking students to assemble series of blocks to move and perform simple actions. Code.org can be used without sign-in, but if you create a free account, it will save your progress. The website works on full web browsers (Mac/PC/Chromebook) or in the iPad Safari browser. You can also explore their activities from other contexts, such as "dance parties" incorporating music and app creators.


Friday, March 1, 2019

Power Cards with Pic Collage

Power Cards are a form of Social Narrative intervention first described by Elisa Gagnon in her book about the topic. Social Narratives are the umbrella that encompasses Carol Gray's Social Stories™ approach and are considered evidence-based. The Autism EBP Review Group of Chapel Hill describes them well:  “Narratives that describe social situations in some detail by highlighting relevant cues and offering examples of appropriate responding. Social narratives are individualized according to learner needs and typically are quite short, perhaps including pictures or other visual aids." As students get older and, honestly, sometimes tire of our direct teaching, Power Cards provide a hook to their areas of interest and secure the critical factor of engagement with the material we are attempting to present. This resource review provides a great overview of using a Power Card in conjunction with a student's interest in the TV show Survivor in order to teach sportsmanship behaviors.

I recently have been working with a middle school student who is interested in mermaids and The Little Mermaid in particular, and needs some assistance in a number of social learning areas. She's quick to roll her eyes and object when language presented to her is too "teachy." I discovered that the app Pic Collage (you know, one of my faves) was a good place to make a few Power Card samples for her team in a quick manner, particularly because of the Web Search feature that allowed me to search for engaging images. It is a little difficult to type at length in Pic Collage because of its small text field, so I typed into the Notes app and cut/pasted. This app allowed me to make 4 Power Cards efficiently, incorporating some concepts from Social Thinking® and Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen's situational awareness mnemonic. I was then able to send them to the team for "rollout" over a series of weeks, as we never want to bombard students with too many social narratives at once. Pic Collage products can be printed or shown on a device for review. You can also consider making the same in Book Creator.


I wanted to share these examples, you can download from Google Drive here.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Birthday!

Here at post 731, and next week is the 9 year Blogobirthday of SpeechTechie. Thanks for continuing to read!

At a recent conference, I presented how play-based apps can be contexts for all kinds of language targets within an engaging context (e.g. vocabulary, microstructure aspects of verbs, noun phrases, pronouns, causals, social langauge).

Additionally, we consider how a particular app or apps from a developer hits upon a particular play stage, moving from dramatic to removed-event sociodramatic play, thus targeting expanded semantic knowledge and cognition particularly for early learners.

Check out Bamba Birthday Cake and other apps from Bamba- at times simulating events a child would have experienced and in others moving into sociodramatic play (e.g. Bamba Post Office). This app is fre,e but you are better off paying (remember the F- Fair Pricing) a dollar or so in tokens on the home screen to offer students unlimited choices. I generally eschew in-app purchases and would prefer a full version were offered, as is the case with many other apps by this developer. However, this app fits the theme (we miss you, Toca Birthday Party) and this does a nice job with the context of making a cake, picking the birthday character and friend, and allowing for a "party," then taking a "photo!" At each step, descriptors can be used along with silly/absurd choices.



Saturday, February 2, 2019

Great Visual Resources from North Star Paths

Via Instagram recently I discovered the social-media-friendly resources from North Star Paths. Kristin Wiens and Paul Totzke have been creating and sharing great visuals and stop-motion animations about helpful topics in learning and self-regulation. I recently used this awesome visual support about visual supports in a presentation:


Note that visually cued instruction is an evidence based practice highlighted in this review by UNC Chapel Hill.

Their Free Downloads page contains many more- some of them would be helpful for professional development and consultation and others for direct use with students.

Also check out their Long Story Shortz page, particularly this stop-motion social narrative (also an EBP technique highlighted in the above document) about fidgets.


Thursday, January 31, 2019

ASHA Webinar Next Week (Also On-Demand)

I would like to invite anyone interested to tune in to an ASHA live webinar that I will be presenting on February 7, 2019. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: What SLPs Can Do With Images

. During this webinar, I will discuss apps and websites you can utilize for visual support during your practice, how to construct a lesson plan incorporating a tech source, and much more. By attending this webinar, you can earn 0.15 ASHA continuing education units (CEUs). Registration is now open for the live webinar. Register at the link above! If you can’t attend the live webinar, be sure to check out the on-demand version, which will be available for viewing from February 11, 2019 through February 7, 2020. Thanks!


Friday, January 18, 2019

Playing with Geography

Geoguessr is a web-based game that plops you into an unknown place so that you can attempt to guess where you are. The game incorporates Google Street View and allows you to "drive" around by clicking the arrows; you can also click and drag on the screen to take a "look" at the surroundings.


Students then use a map interface to zoom in on a continent and country and make a guess. The game then reveals the location and how far off you were in terms of miles.

This game can be used to work on academic language and a number of other skills:
-recognizing geographic features, continents and countries
-distance concepts and measurement
-"thinking with the eyes" (looking for clues ala Social Thinking®)
-pretending together via taking roles in "driving"
-persistence and self-talk

Many locations don't feature a ton of context so it is helpful to find a sign and perhaps use a web search to get some information about where one might be.

A participant at a workshop asked today if you can restrict yourself to say, the USA or important landmarks. No, but that gave me an idea. This game uses Google Street View which is accessible via Google Earth (via Chrome browser or the iPad app, just click on the little person icon and drag onto the map). You can certainly structure your own version of the game by placing students in Street View into a location that is more contextual or near a landmark, and instructing them that they can only use the arrows to figure out where they are!

Friday, January 11, 2019

A Story of Shapes

Last year, I started using the new Navigating the Zones kit with some of my groups, an extension of the Zones of Regulation curriculum. This interactive tool focuses on matching situations to feelings/Zone changes and- what I have always felt was the whole point of the curriculum- tools to regulate oneself given a challenge during the day. This is framed as a "Zones Pathway." Around the same time I started working with a HSer I had previously had in a group, this time with more of an academic language focus. I like to think I am not extremely boring, so was somewhat flummoxed when he nodded off 3 sessions in a row. It turned out this was happening across the day, due to an exhausting transition to a new school and involvement in sports. Google Slides came to the rescue as a venue to work this out by interactively creating a visual support and transfer the Zones Pathway concept to a venue engaging to him. Particularly the Slides feature of shapes was useful. Use the toolbar at the top to choose a rectangle, drag it out, and color code it using the paint can. The cool thing about shapes in Slides and Drawings is that you can double-click in them and they become a text tool:



My student enjoyed taking the reins in this activity and quickly creating the shapes himself and added text as we discussed. The tools came from an article we quickly searched for: "strategies to stay awake in class." He evaluated each and decided which ones might work for him to try.

An additional tip: if you locate a graphic organizer you like to use, if there is an image of it, you can insert it in a Slide, place shapes over it and the image/graphic organizer becomes typable. Of course working in Google Suite offers all kinds of opportunities to create and share templates with students and groups.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Happy 2019!

Hi Folks- hope all had a wonderful holiday and I wish you Happy New Year. Just wanted to recap here some of the most popular (viewed/shared) posts of 2018. I look forward to sharing new ideas in the new year!

Book Creator in Chrome

Teaching in Social Media Contexts

Book Creator as a Consult and Individual Therapy Tool

Using Google Slides as a Visual Support and "Workbook"

3 Ways to Motivate and Add Narrative Complexity through Emoji 

Building Context Through Technology

I've also been recapping my ASHA Presentations on the Mindwing Concepts Blog- part 1 here and part 2 (slightly delayed!) coming soon.

Image Credit Leland Francisco via Flickr (CC license)

 
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