Saturday, February 29, 2020

10 years and 10 uses of my favorite app

This past week I noticed that I started this website 10 years ago (2/24/10). Time flies! I am grateful to all who have read it over the years, and for the opportunities it has provided me: opening doors to many friendships, presenting around the country (and Canada), many trips to ASHA Conventions, and publications there and elsewhere. Thanks everyone!

Of that decade, by far the simple but eminently useful app Pic Collage (free for iOS, Android, Windows) has been my favorite. I recall the day the awesome Sarah Ward showed it to me. It is a great resource for SLPs to make quick visual supports and to co-create with students. Here are 10 things you can do with Pic Collage:

Make a vocabulary board. Note that the Web Image Search makes this a very quick process to do with students (they can choose pictures associated well with vocab words (BING Search is nicely restricted)

Play! Play is about adding thoughts and ideas (see Social Thinking®'s We Thinkers). Here we decorated a treasure chest. Hands-on is great too but sometimes you may be lacking in materials or time. Note that any picture added by Web Image can then be double tapped to "Cutout."

More related to We Thinkers and Story Grammar Marker®- explore what different characters think about, you are therefore relating story events.

Make "Colorforms" from photos to retell/act out a story with dramatic play. In this case Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet.

Visualize to scaffold students' personal narrative. In this case we talked about how setting linked to actions and events.

Set the stage for cooperative play with yet another cooperative activity. These students created a sign before playing Lemonade Stand on the Echo Dot.

Target emotional vocabulary based on the 6 universal feelings (happy, sad, mad, scared, disgusted, suprprised). These high school students passed Pic Collage and added to kinds of angry (relate to Zones of Regulation®) after watching a Star Wars clip.

Create any kind of story. Here, setting, initiating event and reaction are visualized.

Use dual-focus vocabulary strategies (semantic and structural per Diane German).

Make curriculum language and categories more salient and visual. In this case a consumer science class was covering "ways to pay."

Make comics showing triggers/initiating events and use of tools and strategies such as self-talk.

Show circular sequences. Think of doing the same for Numeroff's If you Give... series.

OK, that's 12 instead of 10 but I couldn't decide which to share!

Friday, February 14, 2020

Try an Android Emulator

Mobile apps offer something in interactivity that webtools (i.e. those you access on a laptop, Chromebook, or desktop) may not always get you. There are several apps for iPad (also for Android) I love that are not approached by anything on the web: namely, the Toca Life app and Pic Collage (also available for Windows). You do have an option-- Android emulators are available that make an Android "device" run on the screen of your laptop or desktop. These are downloadable programs, so, no for Chromebooks.

One I have found runs successfully is BlueStacks. Download the program, access the Google Play Store on the screen (you'll need to sign in with a Google Account), and try a free app before making any purchases in order to make sure it works on your machine.

Here's Toca Life: Farm ($3.99) running on my Mac. You have to click instead of tap, and it seems not to have the screen recording feature.

An Android emulator may be useful in therapy activities if you:
-Want to use laptop or desktop in a classroom and not deal with connecting an iPad to the board or projector
-Don't have an iPad
-Do telepractice (sharing desktop control would mean the student could take over clicking on an app such as Toca Life: Farm)

Let me know if you have other uses for an Android emulator such as BlueStacks!

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Friday, February 7, 2020

Websites that Still Work!

In February I am going to closing in on blogging for 10 years in this space. Wow!

I recently discovered a VERY OLD weblist I used for some of my first presentations. It's on Diigo- anyone remember Diigo (I started bookmarking on delicious which went defunct soon after). A theme of this blog has been having a K├╝bler-Ross style understanding that some technology passes away.

But looking through this list, I wanted to note that some of the resources from 10 years ago are still quite useful. Keep in mind that some of these are flash-based and you'll want to use on a laptop or Chromebook:

Interactive games promoting understanding of civics, world schema, narrative language, cause-effect (also some iPad apps)

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab
Audio files with functional information (e.g. a phone message) good for building listening strategies

A very cool concept mapping website, make graphic organizers and discussion maps (also an iPad app for this one)

Jamestown Online Adventure
Consider making a graphic organizer or decision tree for this oldie but goodie aligning with social studies curriculum

Utah Education Network
Wide selection of interactive websites on K-12 curriculum topics- many promote categorization, narrative, cause-effect and conditional thinking, and make curriculum concepts and vocab visible.

Add text to pictures to form a "book"- good for descriptive language, "thinking with eyes," narrative

Sensory World Garden
Mindful activities about a yard setting/seasons

QR Scavenger Hunt
Make a quick scavenger hunt using QR codes- good for collaborative work, moving in a group, responding to questions. Also see other tools.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Some Tricks to Ease Language Sample Transcription Pain...

I do a lot of language sampling and analysis as part of evaluations- whether a more straightforward speech/language or social cognitive evaluation, it's an essential part of showing current functional strengths and weaknesses. And you know how much I dig narrative.

Periodically, I try to do some searching to see if there is anything tech-wise that can ease what can be some pain within this process. Speech-to-Text (STT) technology, in which a device or some kind of software is used to transcribe spoken language, continues to evolve. Best I know, we still can't play a recording into STT tools (such as those built into a Mac or Google Docs) and have it accurately transcribe. However, I found this idea recently and gave it a try, with nice results. Paraphrasing Leah Fessler of Quartz at Work (thanks for this post!), the steps are:

1. Find a quiet space.
2. Plug yourself in (you may benefit from using headphones with a mic).
3. Open a blank Google Doc (Note: only in Google Chrome)
4. Open the Voice Typing tool (Tools>Voice Typing)
5. Ensure the Voice Typing button appears.
6. Ensure your microphone is turned on and your language is set.
7. Listen to a small portion of your language sample recording (e.g. a sentence)
8. Click the microphone button, and repeat what your client/student said. Remember that you can say "comma" for commas and similar for other punctuation.
9. Turn Voice Typing off as you listen to the next part of your recording (whatever you can hold in your short term memory), then continue, repeating steps 7-9.
10. Watch along as you transcribe and make corrections and additions.

A few tips may be of help:
-I like the Voice Memos app for iPad. If using the app of the same name (this one native to the operating system, so free) on iPad or iPhone, make sure you turn your device Auto-Lock (in Settings>Display and Brightness) to something longer, like 5 min. I notice after auto-locking, my phone's Voice Memos app moves the recording back 20 seconds or so, which is annoying.
-You can use either app's 15 sec forward/back buttons liberally to re-listen or go forward.
-Finally, I think the above steps saved me time and boredom in the transcription process, but I used step 10 extensively. If you have a student with a lot of revisions or repetitions, you'll find you are better off doing a combination of typing and dictating (using dictation with the student's more fluent sentences).

Let me know if you try this and what you think, or if you have other strategies!