Tuesday, August 4, 2020

"Personality Quiz" Activities

National Geographic Kids has a great page of personality quizzes i.e. what ____ are you? (ice cream flavor, planet, dinosaur). Each has just a few questions and provides an opportunity for expressing opinions, describing oneself, thinking figuratively, interpreting photo scenes, and developing vocabulary. 

Great for group work! I'll be adding National Geographic Kids to the Teletherapy Resource List. Thank you to my colleague Danielle Stalen for this cool idea.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Another example of pairing picture books and apps in teletherapy

I have previously mentioned I am a big fan of the Scaredy Squirrel (Melanie Watt) series that is helpfully available on EPIC! Books. Over a number of weeks I had my students in one group come to a decision on the order of reviewing and discussing the books in the series, which was good practice in expressing opinions and compromise. They find the books hilarious, so they are motivating (see the above link for some social cognitive analysis as well). I wanted to share a post-activity we conducted with the original book. Hoggan and Strong describe how narrative teaching activities can include "art" activities, which was what this was in essence. 

In the book, Squirrel is described as having constructed an emergency kit for all the unlikely things he is afraid of. So, as a group we created and shared emergency kits.

Here are the steps I followed:
1. Create a Google Slides presentation (and blank slide)

2. Use Insert>Image>Search the web to locate a "bag" for the kit, position and enlarge on slide.

3. Duplicate that slide for all in group (secondary click/right click on slide and select Duplicate). I put a text initial on each slide for each group member. Also click Share and make the presentation editable for anyone with the link.

4. Create a model (always), with same steps but using PNG in the search term which gives you transparent images (will look like they are over the bag, but this step is not necessary).

5. Present the activity and model and strong causals: I need iced coffee in the kit because I get Blue Zone in the afternoon. Also model how to insert an image or PNG (This provides good opportunity for following directions)

6. Copy the link and provide to group members in chat for the session (Zoom or Meet). Again, following directions. 

Here was one of the students' productions:

7. Have all work independently while chatting and then share. This is a good opportunity to use a clock, Sarah Ward/Kristen Jacobsen style, for time management.

Overall the activity provides great self-description opportunities, building of "people files" (Social Thinking®) and conversation.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Adapting Social Thinking®'s Levels of Independence for Teletherapy

I have previously discussed here how visual supports and displaying visual materials provide an important layer and level within the Continuum of Technology Integration (developed with Nathan Curtis of Waldo Country General) in both in-person and teletherapy sessions.

This Displaying/Discussing Visual Materials can support and scaffold: conversations, strategies, action plans related to communication.

One great visual and paradigm we have been using in teen groups is Social Thinking®'s 10 Levels to Living Independently, which with the right group just makes sense. Trust me, my message is not "YOU NEED TO DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN TO IMPROVE YOURSELF DURING THIS RIDICULOUS TIME." But, fact is these kids are spending more time alone, bored, and developing independence in managing themselves would sure be great for them and their parents.

So we have been using this model in a sequential manner along with other resources and discussion webs. Here's an example to check out, easily co-created during a conversation with Google Slides screen-shared. This model allows a lot of opportunities for parent communication and use of videos and other resources.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Dispatches from BU's graduate clinic: creative ideas from graduate students who can help YOU.

In my last post I described the ongoing/current problem about obtaining clinical placements for graduate students and highlighted reasons we should be prioritizing supporting graduate programs and taking supervision opportunities at this time. Comments on the post via Facebook and Twitter confirmed from other clinical coordinators at universities that this is indeed a problem.

In this post through a collaboration with Boston University (my alma mater) we are offering some great examples of activities graduate students created recently...help them and they will help you! Thanks again to Meghan Graham at BU for providing this material.

Book reading along with visual supports in Google Slides to discuss/contrast character thoughts and perspectives (icons from Story Grammar Marker®)

A description of using GIFs (my post on how here) in creative ways for linguistic targets.

Sorry if you don't like snakes! Kids do...

Here is an example of using Google Slides as a visual support for a camping theme- visuals that put students in the scene for discussion, narrative and procedural language, and another on using a picture book and categorical/descriptive targets (credit graduate student Francynne Pompedora)

Finally, simple images and sketching over them were used to scaffold post-book dramatic play and language within it: Little Critter: Me and My Grandma and riding on a train theme.

Again, please consider if you have the opportunity or can seek out the opportunity to support a graduate student placement this coming fall. Despite the uncertainty we all face, we can do this better together. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Support the Future of the Professions- Supervise a Graduate Student this Fall

I am hearing from some of my colleagues and friends at the graduate school level that they are finding it hard to secure placements for graduate students needing clinical practicum experiences this summer and fall. For many of us, what fall will look like is uncertain, everyone understands that. But I'd like to advance an idea: whatever it will look like, a graduate student will HELP YOU.

-graduate students can help shoulder your clinical work (ASHA is recommending 25% supervision)
-freeing you for other aspects of your workload
-and likely bringing a comfort and creativity with technology you may not have, for whatever degree of teletherapy you may be doing
-while being willing to physically distance within or outside of your physical space
-and providing you with a collaborative relationship where this may not be as "happening" given whatever your work situation is
-last and, and giving you a sense that you are helping in a situation that needs an unprecedented amount of helping.

Think you'll either be at home OR at school and only one of those situations involves teletherapy? Take a look at this article (Boisvert & Hall, 2019) while it is free on ASHAWire and think more about workload management...and how a graduate student intern might fit into that.

I had a graduate student finishing up her Winter semester when COVID-19 hit Massachusetts. Continuing to have her "on" was immensely valuable for all of the above reasons. Summer semester rolled around and I took on another, and ditto.

Over the next several posts I'd like to share some examples of work graduate students have done during this crisis, with the goal of convincing you:
-to please reconsider if you said "no" to a graduate student for the upcoming semester
-to reach out to your local college and grad programs to see if you can be of help in providing clinical experiences
Otherwise all this stalls. And with efforts to increase diversity within our field ongoing, we all need to be part of that solution, too.

Kevin Buonanni, in his last semester at Emerson College in Boston, has done an excellent job co-running my social cognition groups (on Zoom) with me from May-June. Kevin brought a gaming expertise that I don't have, and has suggested many resources and approaches. I have a group that has had an Indiana Jones/archaeology/digging/earth/mindfulness theme and have long wanted to modify some Role-Playing Game (RPG) type activities with them but didn't know quite how. I recalled having some Indy RPG materials as a kid myself, though, and found this resource of out-of-print games on The Trove. As Kevin was progressing in his placement from duplicating activities he had seen me do to more independent planning, I asked him if he could take a look at those materials and plan an activity. I am SO glad I was not my usual control freak self and didn't say "Do ___." because what he came up with was so much better than what I envisioned. 

Kevin used Jamboard to make sketches that amounted to a storyboard of one of the scenes from the RPG, he then verbally communicated some narrative to the group members, offered choices for the way the story could go, and provided opportunities for them to contribute dialogue (conversation building) and sketches (collaborative play), for a great series of activities that will continue when the group reconvenes next week. 

In the second case, placing a maze on the Jam slide and asking the boys to each "imagine" what would be at the center of the maze.

Please check out this flyer--and share-- on what a graduate student can do for you this Fall (created by Meghan Graham, Clinical Assistant Professor at Boston University).

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

GIFs- simple animations

In a terrific recent PD I watched, Rachel Madel made a great point: why use static photos or drawings to demonstrate verbs, when we have GIFs. GIFs (arguably pronounced with a soft "g" or like the peanut butter) are a format that shows photos or cartoons as a short looping video. Like this:

The weather today in Boston got me like...

As Rachel said, GIFs can be great for verbs but also:
-basic narratives
-sentence formulation
-connection to curriculum
-figurative language
-are simple stimuli that don't require much sustained attention
-and not least of all, are cool.

GIFs live best in Google Slides, which would give you a place to put them in a flow of context, and you can place them next to typeable space for formulating and visually supporting language.

GIPHY is a great place to get GIFs. To put one in Slides, search for what you would like, select it and click through to it. Click Copy Link and copy the FULL link. Back in Google Slides Insert>Image> By URL. Click to select the image and click INSERT.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Juneteenth: a sequence and settings

Every context has language underpinnings. Why not use contexts that promote anti-racism?

Tomorrow is Juneteenth, the day that commemorates word of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching Texas, two and a half years after it was issued. It's history that isn't taught enough in schools.

So, sequence of events is critical to understand here. A number of books on EPIC! about Juneteenth are on point.

Using Google Street View is a great way to have students observe, describe, "think with their eyes," or complete a setting-based graphic organizer. A number of VA slave dwellings are rendered in Google Street View listed here and given more context here. Be sure to click through to View on Google Maps for the best visual/interactive experience.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020


Myvocabulary.com is a great source of contextual vocabulary lists. I found it recently when looking for lists like those contained in the terrific WWP-Vocabulary app. Working with vocabulary is a great way to aim for contextual therapy. From MyVocabulary, I have been using an A-Z list related to travel, an area of interest for my student. Go to the general interest area on this page to find similar thematic lists.

Research suggests that vocabulary depth, or ability to make connections between words and concepts in context, can be targeted with multiple exposures, providing explicit meanings, practice forming categories/taxonomies, as well as book reading and “playful” activities (Hadley, Dickinson, Hirsch-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2018). Bringing Words To Life breaks these techniques down with many engaging activities that are great for verbal exchanges in teletherapy. These can include:

-Word Associations: which word goes with far? Abroad or Aquatic? Why?
-Have you ever? Describe a time when you went somewhere aquatic.
-Applause, Applause! How much would you like to have an adventure? To stay in lodging that has atmosphere?
Which would…?/Examples: Which would be abroad: Disney World or Spain?
Making Choices: If any of the things I say might be examples of affordable, say “affordable”- if not, don’t say anything
Relating words in sentences: How does a host show hospitality?

It's very easy to support these activities visually as-you-go with Google Slides (Insert-Image-From the Web).

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Vote with your wallet...

Super Duper Publications, a leading producer of speech-language materials, has refused to make any kind of statement on racial inequality despite being asked many, many times and while continuing to use images of Black people in posts about their products and handouts. You can see some of the interactions around this on @themindfulslpodcast account. It's WRONG.

Some who would prefer me not to be political might have noticed that ship has sailed in the past few days. I once was left a note "NO POLITICS" when I mentioned in a presentation the PBS Kids wonderful website was in danger of losing funding. My platform, my podium, my right to say what I think here just as yes, it's Super Duper's right to say nothing, and your right to walk on by. BUT as a gay person (first time saying that here but I have mentioned my husband in presentations, Happy Pride 2020) I have always voted with my wallet and I encourage our profession to do so in this case. 

So, and to continue my angle of being practical, with some ongoing assistance from valued colleagues in a Facebook group I belong to, I'd like to offer as many alternatives as possible to using or purchasing Super Duper Materials (feel free to add in the comments).

1. Use context. I have never been a fan of SD in the first place for their production of almost exclusively decontextualized materials. Read Gillam (et al implied here), Ukrainetz, Wallach, Ehren.

2. Aim at discourse and narrative. Helping our students tell their stories is more critical than ever. You know I am an SGM® person but make your own graphic organizers with research-based story elements in Google Slides, use Somebody Wanted But So, whatever approach works for you to scaffold.

3. Read and discuss, plan post activities with books. Doing teletherapy, you can use an inexpensive document camera, Epic!, Vooks, YouTube or many other sources.

4. Use interactive websites and apps to build categories in context instead of category cards.

5. Create "magnet" activities with Google Slides. You could also do this to fill up an array of dots with stickers. Smart Notebook interactive pages also offer options.

6. Create products as a language and narrative process. Book Creator, Pixton, Toontastic offer options.

7. Make vocabulary cards, synonyms/antonyms as a selection process by the student. "What picture do you like?" (in Google Slides, Insert> Image> Search the Web). Be creative and search for examples/nonexamples.

8. Use E-text sources for "auditory memory" (whatever that is)

9. Teach conversational structure in real time instead of using topic cards.

10. Find relevant and currently used idioms by topic and make Pic Collages about them (made this one in 30 seconds)

11. (Tanya Coyle) Lessonpix allows for all different skin tones and editing to change skin tones of any pictures that lack that option automatically (fewer and fewer over the last several years). They have a ton of therapy materials you can create or already created.

12. (Laura Staley) I just bring a couple of books and some bubbles.

13. (Jen DW) I love using animated short films in therapy! Hair Love, MVP, Dia de los Muertos are on Youtube and feature POC characters. Disney+ has some great short films featuring diverse characters, too! Out (about a gay man coming out to his parents), Loop (about an autistic girl who doesn't talk), Float (about a baby that can fly), and Bao (about a Chinese mom whose dumpling comes to life) all feature POC characters. These are usually wordless or have few words, relying on the art to tell the story, so they are great for describing, sentence formulation, story retelling, inferring, predicting, interpreting emotions, etc.

I look forward to growing this list, and bypassing the pile of bags at ASHA Convention 202_ if it is even there. #dumpsuperduper. Using less stuff is good for the environment anyway. 

Monday, June 8, 2020


Shortcut by Donald Crews has always been one of my favorites to use in therapy. It's a personal narrative, so good for teaching story elements, with some suspense. This story has an important message about evaluating dangers- a family of kids had been told not to take the shortcut (railroad tracks) and is surprised by a freight train running off schedule. Suspense is built as the situation unfolds but the children escape safely- reporting at the end that they never talk about the event again, but also clearly have thought/felt about it because they never take the shortcut either (more landscape of consciousness).

Shortcut is also a good representation of black characters in a different time.

As I reported to the parents of group members this week, the book also points to a bigger picture/main idea relevant to our current time (here represented with Story Grammar Marker® icons, Note: Author has a contractual consultative relationship with Mindwing Concepts for provision of blog and presentation content, but receives not royalties should you buy their products).

Note: your use of story mapping need not always be super-pretty, this was in an email.

I found this book on YouTube and planned to turn off the sound and read it aloud. Working with a terrific graduate student in telepractice sessions, I prepped him to do the follow-up activity. I had always had my students make a map of the story, because the setting is so integral here. I sent my student a quick Jamboard sketch (remember, Jamboard available in your Google tools) of what his target might look like, guiding him that he could ask questions like: where did they start? where were they going? where did the road run? where did the tracks run (must make a "shortcut")? other setting elements so it could end up looking something like this?

As activities often show, the students had their own vision when engaging in collaborative drawing, and did more of a micro-setting look at the story. It ended up being more of a mood-board than our original vision. But especially now, it's important to let our students express themselves how they choose, and reinforce their cooperation, inclusion of narrative elements, sharing imagination and following a group plan (terms from Social Thinking®).

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Another week...

One of my students in a group session this week shared as his "low" that he is upset by all that is going on with racism and injustice in America and that "it's another layer on top of the layers the country has been dealing with." A wise way to put it.

I'm working on what I can do in my own community, but I wanted to work to elevate black voices in my sessions this week, in ways that might help my students process current events and also be goal-oriented. A conversation about race is about many things, but partly thoughts and perspectives and experiences, all wrapped up in narrative language. Experiences start with the landscape of action (Bruner, 1986) or ability to describe actions in the story as well as character and setting, but relate to the higher level landscape of consciousness/theory of mind ability to describe thoughts, feelings, plans and perspectives related to these events. Cognitive verbs such as think, know, remember, realize, guess also often form complex sentences as in I thought I should do something to help.

For a group of 4th-5th graders this week I read from Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes And Friendship available on Epic! Books, reviewed here by Kirkus Reviews. The poems have a white and black student each reflect on planned topics for a poetry project, in the process sharing stories and embedded "thoughts" that often require some inferencing. I read the book in part and then made it available in the students' free remote access library available through Epic! As a post-activity we completed a discussion web of sorts with the students' contributing their understanding of some of the characters' thoughts as extracted from the narratives. The thought bubble visual is from Story Grammar Marker® and available in their downloadable icon products. (Note: Author has a contractual consultative relationship with Mindwing Concepts for provision of blog and presentation content, but receives no royalties should you buy their products) Typable thought bubbles as always are available through Google Slides in the shapes>callouts menu.

I was happy to see that this book was included in Epic!'s Start a Conversation about Race collection- if you are looking for material over this time.

And to make it absolutely clear, #blacklivesmatter, this week and every week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Fallen London

If working with older students in language or social groups, Fallen London is one option of a very simple (technically) game you may find useful in teletherapy. This role playing game starts with creating a character and escaping a jail, and can be used for targets such as:
-visualization: the game runs more as a textual choose your own adventure, so you can encourage students to read and visualize, or visualize as you read.
-observation and commenting within the images provided.
-vocabulary and figurative language: the game starts with reference to a dirigible and all of my groups needed to google to figure out what that was, you also choose paths such as watchful, dangerous or shadowy so predicting what those might mean can be part of your discussion.
-agreeing on moves- we have just used one google login for a group and have them play as a single character.

You can read more about the background of the game here. I always follow the process, not product rule and am unsure how long my students will want to play. Abandoning group endeavors is OK, it's part of being in a group (and play).

Monday, June 1, 2020

Mr. Nussbaum's Learning Fun

Mr. Nussbaum's Learning + Fun is a collection of interactives that could be used to develop many language underpinnings (e.g. descriptive skills with the EET). For example this section of science games offers many opportunities. Some require a subscription (offered currently at a discount) but many are offered for free. Check it out- I'm adding to the Teletherapy Resources List.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some metaliguistics for you

I went to grammar school. I mean it was intense diagramming-sentences kind of grammar back then. I learned what the subjunctive mood was. Actually my mother taught my eighth grade ELA class, but that's another trauma to not talk about for now.

Anyway, for this reason as an SLP I've always had a lens on syntax, at least in its functional capactity of comprehending and producing complex sentences. This involves building some syntactic awareness of parts of speech and the functions of words. There is evidence that knowledge of parts of speech and how they go together impacts language and reading comprehension. Approaches like sentence combining are research supported and require this kind of awareness in students.

For these reasons, interactives around parts of speech can be considered on-point in our therapy. Check out Sheppard Software (overall) and their specific ELA interactives. Their Parts of Speech tutorial is adorbs and a fun visual way to explore the functions of nouns, adjectives, and verbs (note also that adjective+noun equals elaborated noun phrase which we can be measuring as microstructure in narrative).

The sparkly cloud

The sparkly cloud is hiding

Finding an interactive website of this type is helpful as you can follow the activities in a sequence, which helps with session flow. I have added this website to the Teletherapy Resources List.

As a child of this era also I loved Schoolhouse Rock and have used their engaging grammar videos in therapy to build awareness of parts of speech.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Pairing Picture Books With Apps in Teletherapy

I've long been a fan of the contextual approach described by Hoggan & Strong in their influential article The Magic of Once Upon A Time-- that of pairing a picture book with pre- during- and post- narrative/language teaching opportunties. I have been presenting about this with many iterations for years, and last year published a pamphlet about it (free) on Teachers Pay Teachers.

We can consider "apps" in this context as including websites and webtools. Last week I used a picture book via it's YouTube read-aloud. There are usually several versions available for any picture book, I like to make choices around the style of reading and a slide-show look. I mentioned I have been picking lots of picture books with emotional vocabulary or self-regulation themes. In this case, I liked this version of Good News, Bad News (Jeff Mack) also because the visuals were a little quick. It provided the opportunity for many stopping points targeting situational observation and use of association and causals:

"Now he has an umbrella, so that's good news. What do you think the bad news will be?"
"Hmm that went by kinda fast, what did you see as the good news there?"

One post activity suggested by Hoggan & Strong is an "art" activity! I set up a collaborative art activity with the group using Jamboard- an interactive/collab whiteboard that is part of the Google Suite (find it in your little "matrix" of Google Apps- upper right corner of Gmail, Drive etc). In cases where I have used Jamboard, I have just clicked on Share and made it editable to anyone with the link, then put that link in the chat of Zoom or Meet, and students navigated to it easily. In this case, I thought we could do a good news-bad news cause effect chain in a different setting- my students chose a supermarket, I started them off and it played out like this:

Here's the resulting Jam. It owes something to Nancy Tarshis, Ryan Hendrix, and Kari Palmer who presented a verbal play activity I once saw called "Yay! Oh No!" Our activity with some coaching involved:
-Student 1: The lights go out at the supermarket!
-Student 2: But good news- the rabbit has a flashlight
-Student 1: But then bad news, dinosaurs invade the supermarket.
-Me: But good news, they are herbivores and just wanted lettuce
-Student 2: Bad news- they have no money.
-Student 1: Good news- there's a cash machine
-Student 2: But it's broken!
-Student 1: a repairman comes (but we should make him an animal to fit the story)
And we all decided everyone gets money to shop!

The boys did well with this playful narrative activity!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

A Model Lesson About Re-openings

I recorded this for a client who can not attend a makeup session offered for the holiday Monday, but thought it was also worth sharing here. As I watched our governor in MA announce the four phase reopening plan last week, I thought how it might be some important information to discuss in my social groups for a number of reasons:
-all students will need to utilize strong situational awareness in the community as we go forward, being aware of the restrictions and visual markers for social distancing etc.
-This plan is essentially a Five Point Scale and involves a lot of nuances, understanding why one phase is same but different (vocabulary from Sarah Ward and Kristen Jacobsen)  from the previous and future phase etc, as well as many IF/THENs
-Any lesson about time is also an executive function lesson.
-and so on...

I did discuss this plan with parents beforehand, emphasizing that:
-I am encouraging students to initiate conversations with them about the pandemic and what restrictions mean within their family.
-Just because something is open or now "allowed" does not necessarily mean every family is going to go forward with that- also a lesson in perspective taking.

And naturally, I did not present this activity as in the video below, there has been a lot more "stop and discuss" e.g. before moving to the next category having students predict what falls in each phase.

Resources shown in this video/following up:
-Fair Play read aloud (skip the odd opening first 50 seconds)- this book was recommended by Michelle Garcia Winner in her book Thinking About You, Thinking About Me for the lesson about JustMe thinking, but is also a great establisher of the main idea connections between government and social cognition
-Reopening Massachusetts visuals (if you're in MA, or you can do a same but different lesson)
-A Kahoot for students to play with what they learned. Again, you can make a same but different one if not in MA.

Video model lesson

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Demonstration of Pixton EDU- simple comic creation in teletherapy

Comics are motivating therapy tools that can be used to develop a narrative, work on physical description, emotional vocabulary, interpretation of nonverbals, or social behaviors and conversational moves. Pixton EDU provides much for free currently and as a webtool is very applicable to teletherapy. You can see some of my previous posts on Pixton here and here but in the video below I demo the current upgraded Pixton EDU. Email subscribers can click here for the video.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Some books I have been using on EPIC!

Given the current crisis and stay-at-home advisory (now transitioning to a safer-at-home advisory in MA) I have been focusing in groups on narrative, conversations, and social self-regulation tools. A few books that have opened up to discussion and followup activities (Recall that EPIC! offers free educator accounts):

The Lemonade Hurricane- an irked sister helps to teach her disregulated brother to calm himself. Play a version of Lemonade Stand online or on Alexa following the reading!

Sergio Sees the Good- this book is about negative bias, how we tend to notice and react more to negative things than positive. Good for a narrative activity after where students list positive things about their week, even "everyday positives" like a comfy bed.

Dictionary for a Better World- this book is useful over multiple sessions, has abstract vocabulary and challenges you can revisit with students for narrative or journaling.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Use science to build categories and following directions

GoReact is an activity (originally an app) from Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago that I originally wrote about for ASHA Leader. I was reminded of it recently when a HS student I work with had a chem project I needed to assist with.

GoReact can be used to explore the periodic table of elements and associate elements with practical, relatable objects they are used to make. Just click on any element.

Then, there is a Featured Reactions tab- this gives directions to assemble elements in different categories, e.g. health and beauty aids. It's a great interactive website to build categories, comprehension of direction, narrative about experience of products, and describing by function.

This website is a good pairing with the fun book 11 Experiments that Failed and maybe some simple experiments using household items

Thursday, May 14, 2020

A Fun Way to Explore Teleconference Social Behaviors (and another Discussion Web)

Let's be honest...Zoom and other Tele platforms are not just a now thing.
...school may be hybrid or more in the fall
...social distancing may continue for some time or have periods with flareups
...industries are discovering that working from home has benefits and some are making it the norm.

For these reasons, developing communication competencies for our sessions and beyond is an opportunity here! In my groups, we watched this amusing video (as far as I know available only on Facebook but you don't have to log in) and completed this discussion web with contributions from all.

See previous post about discussion webs as a way to scaffold complex language in teletherapy. In the process we also evaluated some of the behaviors shown and put them in a sequence from most to least expected (most distracting to others). This was a fun discussion and we were all able to acknowledge things we have done on Zoom that might have been "unexpected" and acknowledged our growth as well (self-awareness)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

A quick "Mining" of Smart Exchange for Useful Materials

Piggybacking on yesterday's post, I just wanted to demonstrate a brisk look at Smart Exchange. We need not focus only on ELA categories in any material but can be looking also at content areas and consider a) would this activity be Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant, and Speechie/Specific, i.e. you can identify specific objectives you can target with it and b) what can you do AROUND the activity?

For example, look at Fairy Tales and STEM- my plan for a social group today is to use a book about engineering and failure, then use Google Slides to have them design one of the options and share.

Here are 10 more I found on just a quick search:

Spring Calendar- Time concepts and building the macro of time for executive function!

Verb or Noun

Adjective Noun Riddles - These two follow along recent research for later language development especially that metalinguistics is important. Not only are parts of speech a curriculum area but our understanding of them helps us unpack complex language for comprehension.

Dressing for the Season 

What is Weather? - These two are similar. Weather is always one of my favorite educationally relevant language areas-- it's so tied up in categories, description, time, causals, conditionals, functional decision making. Think about pairing with the MarcoPolo Weather app.

Animal Classification

Five Food Groups- These two are based in categories, essential to semantics and description, as well as science.

What a Plant Needs to Grow

Animal Homes- As in this pair, science topics can also be contexts for sequencing and sentence formulation.

Park Map Skills- Maps are wrapped up in our understanding spatial concepts and executive function mind-maps of space and its layout. Pair with the free app Beep beep Alfie Atkins for map-making.

Remember from yesterday's post, Smart Exchange requires a free account to sign in, you'll need Smart Notebook Basic (also free) and you can edit files as you see fit.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Smart Notebook in Telepractice

SMART Notebook is free software designed for interactive whiteboards, but activities available for it work well in telepractice sessions. Notebook activities are similar to PowerPoints but have interactive elements that will be useful if you are giving students cursor control or perhaps just screen sharing with students making verbal choices. No need to re-invent the wheel, instead take a look at activities available on SMART Exchange, the free website (access w a free SMART account). You can look in ELA and SEL categories or find activities in Science or Social Studies with language underpinnings to target (categorization, sequencing, sentence formulation, etc).

For example, look at this activity created for National Pizza Day (see in quick-and-dirty demo below). The author modified The Little Red Hen Makes A Pizza (with language targeting suggestions) and then created a page where you can make a pizza. Features like Infinite Cloner make it so there's an image of sauce you can drag over to the pizza, but then the sauce is still there so you can drag over more. SMART Notebook files are editable so you can, say, change the title slide because it's no longer National Pizza Day, remove one of the videos if you want, and delete/modify the page where students vote on their favorite pizza (this uses a push-out-to-devices piece called SLS Online that you might not want to get into).

So, again, the components you need to get started here are SMART Notebook basic software. Go to SMART Exchange to download activities.

Here's a little demo video for you:

Monday, May 11, 2020

E-Learning For Kids interactive website

I just stumbled across the website E-Learning for Kids- it has tons of content applicable for a number of levels and in various subjects. You may gravitate toward Language Arts, but note that the other topics have content for teaching many language underpinnings (e.g. concepts in the Math activities, description in the Science activities. The lessons here would be good for screen sharing and having students verbalize choices, or with cursor control, and have engaging animations. I am adding E-Learning for Kids to the Teletherapy Resource List.

This activity in the Science area is about describing and categorizing based on smell (lots of 5 Senses activities in Science here). I also like that the Science area has theme related to places around the world.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Demonstration of one activity you could do with Pear Deck

Pear Deck is an add-on for Google Slides and, I understand, for other tools, allowing you to make Google Slides interactive. You can also do this by sharing any slide deck so students can edit it, but Pear Deck offers some attractive possibilities as well. You can do much with the free education account available and I am on a premium trial. In this video I show how the add-on works and how you can do an activity like "sketch a birthday gift" for someone in a teletherapy group. I'm sure after looking at it, you can think of many other creative ways to use the tool--I'd love to hear about what you come up with. I have used it a number of times in groups and it's very engaging and fun. In the video also you can see what your view will look like as an instructor vs. the student view, and I also discuss brain in the group/executive function/pace as skills we have worked on through using this tool. Thanks- for email subscribers, the video is here.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Video Modeling Texts

TextingStory is a free app for iPad or Android that is useful for modeling (co-engagement) or co-creating examples of the social pragmatics, conversational moves and hidden rules of texting. It is very easy to use, just select the "texters" and type messages, and it creates a video of the text conversation unfolding. You can send the video you produce to the Photos app and then to your computer or mirror your iPad and create the conversation based on contributions from clients. You can of course model conversations that go well and not so well. You also could consider this as a narrative building tool in that conversations sometimes create an "initiating event" and reaction, etc. This being a critical time for our students to build and maintain social connections, working with visual tools like this is very helpful.

In my group, we mapped the progress of this conversation, labeling elements of it:
-Opening/greeting (we had some divided discussion of whether this one was "cool," I asserted that I'm using it a lot with friends right now, a time when "check-ins" are important)
-Response/Comment (my student said "mention of popular thing)
-Response/plan to follow up

One approach I find important with teens as that the above tool adds engagement and allows for flexibility, showing there is not just one "script."

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Keeping it simple and a visual for you

I posted a bit back about a webinar Nathan Curtis and I did that is being offered for free through the ASHA Learning Pass (until end of June, 2020). In this we reviewed a "Continuum of Technology Integration" partly to demonstrate that it is OK to keep it simple. I've recently been applying and emphasizing even simpler activities as beneficial in telepractice, but especially during this emergency.

For that reason, I've added to the left/simpler side of that continuum so that it now looks like this:

...acknowledging the importance and value of those easy-to-execute, conversational activities. 

Elaborating on the verbal exchange and asynchronous types of activities are examples of conversational games/structured conversations like "high and low" (state the high of your week and low of the week, essentially two narratives or one linked with an adversative but for the low). 

I find it valuable to screenshare to provide visual support and structure for some of these, but you could do that with a small whiteboard on camera, too. 

One of my favorite conversational games is Two Truths and a Lie. This requires some planning when playing- what 3 things should I say? One strategy I always teach is to think of three true things and then change one slightly. On players' part there is a lot of listening and responding needed. This game also is a good way to work on the Social Thinking® concept of "People Files"- it's expected to remember things and show interest about others, and your social memory of others will help you start conversations. The mnemonic here of FILE is my own creation- what's the schema of what we remember about people. I always think of likes/dislikes as separate from interests e.g. I should remember he's a Sooners fan, he hates seafood, etc. 

Playing in tele I found this visual support helpful both to aid in comprehension (write down the players' statements as they say them) and the flow of the game. It's good to hand the responsibility of "polling" to the person who makes the statements, and when you are not sitting in a circle, writing the students' names assists so they can "call" on each other for guesses (in person I encourage them to do this with eye gaze but that doesn't work so well in teletherapy. Also this is a visual aid for learning names, often a challenge. 

Click here for the slide, email subscribers or readers on the blog as well. As always with shared items, please do not request edit access. You can edit if you like by clicking File>Make a Copy or Download as PPT.

Anyone have other "conversation games" they like to play that require minimal materials? Please let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 4, 2020

May the 4th Be With You

You may not have time to incorporate this into today's sessions, but there's some generalizable ideas here anyway. May the 4th is of course the punny/meme-y Star Wars "holiday" when we can wish everyone all The Force. Using topics of interest to our students is motivating, especially in tough times, and can incorporate many goals around language. LEGO clips (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Adventures, others) are widely available on YouTube and frequently wordless, thus tapping interpretation of nonverbals and situational cues.

Training is a fun such clip.

You can use this clip in teletherapy to:
-Work on narrating or composing sentences about the story
-Use chat to have students write lines of dialogue, working on conversational language (see Anna Vagin's ideas about this)
-Guide a discussion web about a question like "What's something you had to practice to get better at?"

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Teletherapy Interactive Websites, Apps, Videos and other Resources List

I have been working on a list for some time that has been available in the sidebar of the blog, but wanted to wait until it got a bit beefier before making any kind of deal about it. The list sections include:

Interactive websites useful in teletherapy

Video resources

Mobile apps useful in teletherapy

Sources of e-text

Professional development (mostly free) related to telepractice

As I say in the document, it is a work in progress. If you have items you would like to share for addition, please email me (link on the website).

Please do not request edit access to the document, it is available as View Only. You could go to the file menu and select Add to My Drive and you would be able to see any updates added on an ongoing basis. Feel free also to download, but you would not see updates in that case as it is a Google Document.

Thanks and feel free to share. The doc is available at this link, in the sidebar, and below.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sharing your iPad Screen during teletherapy

iPad apps can still be very useful in teletherapy even though you cannot really give cursor control. I discussed one workaround for this in this post using Bluestacks- an option you can experiment with. But since many iPad apps are Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant and "Speechie" (see my FIVES criteria info), and some of them are your go-to tools, there is still a lot we can do by showing them on screen (with the techniques in the video below, then screenshare in your teleplatform) and having conversations about what is seen, and having students make choices.

A reader and experienced teletherapist, Maureen Harper of GlobalSLPTherapy, put this very well and I am using her quote to me in an email with permission (she also contributed to a resource list I will be writing about tomorrow):

You are correct that using ipad apps limits the client from being able to directly control the app. As I have used ipad apps though, I have found them to be extremely motivating for the client to give me directions on what to do. They love being the "teacher". They have proven to be a great asset in expressive language development.

So, I'm not a great video-maker. I forgot even to shoot this in landscape, but it does the trick in offering a few updated options for showing your iPad screen in teletherapy. Email subscribers, here is the video.
For Mac: use the built-in free QuickTime application
For PC: Look at LonelyScreenReflector or AirServer (note these last two also work for Android devices)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Kickoffs, and a free webinar!

Ok, I may be veering a little too much from the "here's this useful tech" message lately by talking about feelings and stuff. But this post does have some purposes as well.

Many of you know I am a huge fan of narrative as a functional, multi-point language target, and of Story Grammar Marker® in particular (also see StoryChamps (Peterson), SKILL (Gillam), EmPOWER/BrainFrames by the brilliant Bonnie Singer and Anthony Bashir, Thinking Maps, for a range of discourse development tools. Story Grammar Marker works through a sequence(s) of linked icons, my favorite of which is the Kickoff, representing the initiating event of a narrative. A kickoff is what starts a story (good analogy from football/soccer), like a lightning storm, or a Zoom lunch bunch with classmates. It's represented by this icon:

I love the clever and memorable aspect of the Kickoff, but it's also a representation of many of our students' Zone of Proximal Development-- language they have to learn to formulate whether they are in grade 2 or grade 10. Zooming in on a Kickoff helps us understand what has actually happened, in real life or in literature or a video. It's may be a problem or just "a development," and links to understanding of characters, perspective taking, setting, and Theory of Mind/perspective taking elements like feeling, thoughts, and plan.

So, to go "out there"- through this crisis I have just somehow sensed signs from my grandmother Nomie Murphy, passed away many years ago. These have included a summer plant (Dusty Miller) favorite of hers, which I don't usually plant but did last year, and which lived through the winter in my back porch plant box, though they aren't supposed to. A few other things have made me feel her presence like she's saying, "Hey, it'll be ok." I'm not particularly religious, but I'm pretty spiritual.

SGM's icons, while awesome, aren't the kind of visuals you see just everywhere. So you can imagine my surprise, while on a VERY RAINY walk yesterday on a customary path of late, I walked by this on the sidewalk and had to do a double-back:

Right near the supermarket I frequently accompanied my grandmother to, Stop & Shop, right near where I also thought she might be a Forsythia bush that "spoke to me." What can I say, it's a time.

I'm still a little shook.

What does it mean? Is it acknowledging, "Yeah, you're in a Kickoff," saying more are to come, or what? Anyway.

So, this post does have a useful point from Planet Earth. Show YOUR Kickoffs, even meta-ones like the kickoff that's a kickoff, as therapy activities supported visually. In this visual I conducted a conversation with a SGM-familiar client who asked, "Did you drop it there?" We focused on use of the feeling icon (confused) and thinking bubble (random! Good vocab word/idiom. I didn't want to get into the whole sign-from-grandmother thing). The story/picture made for a good scaffolded retell, as well.

On a Google Slide, natch. The SGM icons are available digitally on the Mindwing website ($7.95)

And if you've come this far with me (don't blame you if not), my second useful point is that I will be co-presenting a FREE webinar-- Technology Tools to Engage Children in Science & Social Studies During Distance Learning Sessions-- with Maryellen Rooney Moreau on Thursday at 2:30, click here to register, replay available later.

Phew, that was a lot to unload. Stay safe, sane and healthy folks.

Disclosure: Sean receives a consulting fee for blog writing and presentations here and there from Mindwing Concepts, whose methodology and products he values among the best in the field. He does not receive any royalties from product purchases,

Monday, April 27, 2020

Chateau Meddybemps

Chateau Meddybemps is a rich site with many activities you might consider in teletherapy, particularly for young students and for those you are experimenting with incorporation of interactive websites. Activities on this site might be ones you screen share and have the student observe the visuals and verbalize choices, or offer many opportunities for remote cursor control. For students who need buildup of skills in using the mouse in therapy, there are simple mouse skills activities. Also, there are a number of PDF based printable "activity centers" that you may be able to use for play on both sides if you've got willing parents.

Check out the Super Menu for activities like this one in which students can organize a zoo, thereby targeting naming, animal sounds, describing and using causals.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Creating a make-a-scene in Google Slides

Make-a-scenes are like Colorforms, for people who remember those. They present a setting, and allow for choices of elements to put in the setting. They therefore can work on thematic vocabulary, categories, syntax such as verbs, present progressive or causals, or on several levels of narrative- descriptive if choices are just items in a setting, action sequence if actions, or reaction sequence if more initiating events/problems.

Pic Collage has always been my go to for this, but if you want to involve some simple interaction in a teletherapy session, try with Google Slides. Even if you are using Google Hangouts Meet you have the potential to share the Google Slide file with the student so they can choose elements.

Here's a short video showing some tricks on creating a Make-a-scene in Google Slides. Have a good, safe, and as-positive-as-possible weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Videos and Discussion Webs

(sorry email subscribers for that last incomplete email, I hit Publish too soon)

Discussion webs are described in one of my favorite articles, The Magic of Once Upon A Time: Narrative Teaching Strategies (Hoggan & Strong, 1994). How nerdy that I have favorite journal articles, but anyway it was very influential for me and helped me see all of the activities that could spring from (any) context.

Copy and pas- I mean, quoting the article liberally: The discussion web (Alverman, 1991; Duthie, 1986) is a graphic aid that is used to support ideas during conversation about the story. Through its use, speech-language pathologists can guide students to discuss more complex ideas and concepts. The speech-language pathologist begins the discussion by asking an inferential or abstract question—for example, “Does the elephant deserve to be kicked out of the jungle?” The students then discuss, either as a whole group or with a partner, the reasons the elephant should or should not be kicked out (Appendix E).

Using the discussion web, the students can discuss their own reasons and react to opposing views. The language used during the exchange of reasons provides meaningful oral language practice. The discussion web does not have to focus on an issue found in the story. The speech-language pathologist can center the web around a related topic, giving students an opportunity to discuss issues of personal relevance. Discussion-web practice often begins with students working in pairs; one student then acts as a spokesperson and presents responses to a larger group, eventually leading to a whole-class discussion. When each pair is allowed to present only one reason to the larger group, students learn to prioritize and prepare for the final discussion.

Appendix E:

This was a tough week. The outbreak is still surging in Boston. It was a vacation week for us, but that of course didn't happen. The marathon didn't happen. Tuesday, it was announced that school is canceled for the remainder of the school year (expected, but still a gut punch, and we cried). Among other things. But we are healthy and working here, and have a lot to be grateful for. 

I was inspired by a video released by the Boston Globe on Monday and shared by a friend on Facebook: Here's the link.

We discussed this video in my groups as it prompts a lot of inferential and main idea thinking, and also is essentially Bostonian self-talk that serves as an Inner Coach Green Zone tool.

This would be an example of a discussion web you could use to provide a visual support for questions and responses- often writing down language and ideas helps students revise themselves and add on to what others have said as well. In Google Slides, shapes are your typable friend.

As always with Google shares, please don't request editing access. You can grab this slide for yourself by going to File>Make a Copy or File>Download as PPT

As an additional challenge/conversation prompt, I asked my group members to show the video to someone in their family and talk about it, and notified families about this in a follow-up email.

I hope this serves as helpful in its content, in its potential for use as-is over the coming week, and as an example of discussion webbing in response to a video.