Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Tomorrow I am part of Mindwing's Webinar Intersecting Story Grammar Marker® with Technology & Telepractice: Distance Learning During COVID19 Crisis and Beyond (live at 2:30PM EST and with available recording afterward)

On Thursday April 8, I will be presenting Reading with TLC's Hot Topic Webinar Applying Google Tools in Telepractice/Distance Learning (live and with available recording)

Also, ASHA members can receive the benefit of their free Learning Pass- take advantage then of Nathan Curtis' and my course Apps and Web-Based Materials for Telepractice.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Explore ideas in Edtech blogs

SLPs and special educators may not think to look to the world of general edtech in finding resources in general, or currently for telepractice. However, what edtech or instructional technology has to offer in addition to models and methodology, is spaces or tools and contexts for learning activities.

So check out:

Ditch that Textbook: many ideas here, perhaps start with this repository of editable Google Drawings graphic organizers (you bring the context- a book, movie, website)

Also check out Larry Ferlazzo's Websites of the Day and Free Tech for Teachers, which has tons of resources on using Google Tools e.g. Classroom.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

2 Good Sources of Mindfulness/Meditation Activities.

Meditation reduces stress and can protect your immune system. I am trying in these days of working-from-home to still have boundaries- days that are not work days. Like today.

So, briefly, it can be difficult to carve out 10 min to be still and mindful. But often these sessions will regulate and calm you in the moment, and the positive thinking patterns infused here become infectious, popping up where you need them: after hearing a scary news story, when you are in a negative spiral, in the middle of the night.

Deepak Chopra and Oprah are providing free a "Hope in Uncertain Times" series of meditations. The app is a bit clunky to navigate (the series has a cost icon with it but is free) but the content is very good.

My gold standard is Buddhify. Well worth the small cost for the app given the portable strategies you will learn. Try the Stress & Difficult Emotion category because, well, you know.

Stay healthy and have a good weekend.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Approaching "Whole Body Listening" is an important tool in teletherapy

After a week and a half doing telepractice with my groups, I notice one of the biggest lessons everyone is learning is regulating their body within the "group" meaning the Zoom Speaker View or Gallery View.

An anecdote on this is that I have a HS group with a client who has a lot of verbal stereotopy that is of course very difficult for him to control. As his first tele group was starting, this occured, and I was so proud of another client in the group who has really grown in his understanding of this peer. He said, "We can all just switch to Gallery View so that the camera doesn't pull to whose speaking as obviously." Just a great moment without shame. We then discussed as a group how to do this toggle and I made sure everyone could do it.

But Whole Body Listening is still "a tool, not a rule" as Suzanne Truesdale and Elizabeth Sautter have put it. We can gently encourage these behaviors while avoiding ableism or insisting that all make eye contact with the camera, or stay "still." There is, however, a difference between self-regulatory movements and behaviors and being disruptive on purpose or to seek attention, so we can walk that line. You can read about WBL in its original clinical conception by Truesdale here.

A visual I have used to target this concept is attached below, it was created/modified from an image by Lydia McDaniel, our grad student intern from Nova Southeastern.

For younger students, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen in this free digital form may be useful.

Some related concepts/tools are the 5 Point Scale, which I have used in many iterations with my groups, in this case emphasizing that balancing our talk time with others is one way to listen with our mouths and brain. 

In sessions I have also incorporated Social Thinking® concepts like Following the Group Plan vs Your Own Plan, Body in the Group, and Hidden Rules/Expected Behaviors. With a teen group, this article about annoying behaviors on Zoom spurred some good discussion and laughter and also involved main idea thinking/inferencing (i.e. read the heading of the described behavior and see if students can infer the gist of the paragraph)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

5 Things to Consider in Getting Started in Telepractice- A Conversation

Amy Reid, Nathan Curtis (of Waldo County General Hospital in Maine) and I met up on Zoom this afternoon for a conversation about getting started in telepractice. Apologies for audio imbalances and the quick-and-dirty nature of this recording, but I'm more about getting info in people's hands than polish. Amy and Nathan are largely considered among the "grandparents" of telepractice and any opportunity to have or listen in on a conversation with them is going to be beneficial.

In this session we talk about keeping it simple, allowing for imperfection, great sources of information, and context, among other things. Also, join ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice. I just did.

Here's the link and it's embedded below.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

iFakeText Message/Conversation Paths

iFakeText Message is a super simple visual tool you may be interested in exploring particularly for your teens in teletherapy. You can definitely find other tools like this if you have someone who feels strongly about having an Android look and feel. You can make mock text conversations for discussion in therapy, or if sharing your screen and giving cursor/keyboard control, you can have students make texts that fit a theme or conversational move. Add text and text type and you can download the image created, perhaps for use in a Google Slides.

Right now is a particularly critical time to know how to text in order to maintain connections with peers. Those who struggle with conversational skills will have difficulty with texting, so we can show them:

How to respond
How to respond depending on who it is
How to initiate with appropriate peers (maybe in conjunction w Social Thinking®'s Friendship Peer-A-Mid so these conversations are happening with peers at appropriate levels)
Hidden Rules for texting (e.g. reading when you are overtexting, oversharing, thinking about what time you are texting etc)

Anna Vagin has a wonderful new product named Conversation Paths available on her website that I highly recommend. An overview is below or at this link. The lessons here are very applicable to texting and tele lessons. Additionally there are a number of packets on TpT you might use in conjunction with this tool.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A Tidbit and another learning opportunity for you

Years ago, some months after I started this blog, Michael Towey of Waldo County General Hospital contacted me to discuss web-based resources that could be used in tele, as their program was becoming an important telepractice training center. I am forever grateful to him as this conversation turned into one of my first paid speaking gigs.

Michael is offering a 1-hour course Let’s Get Tele-Practical: Speech Telepractice Strategies for Success through XceptionalED. Please check it out if you are looking for training in this area, as many are right now. Michael is one of the pioneers of telepractice and I am sure you'll gain much valuable information from the session. If you want to see one of his articles (ahem, featuring the FIVES criteria for evaluating tech resources by, I don't know, some dude) you can do so here.

So, Tidbit: I mentioned this site a few weeks ago, but it is more relevant now. Like Into the Book/Into the Map mentioned yesterday, it's great to find sites that have enough content to keep you on a roll. Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab, designed for a different purpose but useful for SLPs, has audio messages very useful for working on auditory comprehension. These range from easy to harder and each have a quiz with them (so, consider screen sharing and transferring cursor control for the quiz to add engagement). Each activity has a photo, pre-discussion, targets such as idioms, the file to listen to, and the quiz.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Into the Book/Into the Map

Into the Book is an interactive website from PBS Wisconsin targeting language-based literacy strategies. It has light but engaging interactivity allowing students to view portions of text and click on possible responses, making it more fun than a simple multiple-choice kind of thing. The website has modules including summarizing, visualizing, questioning, prior knowledge, inferring, evaluating, making connections, and synthesizing, with multiple opportunities to practice the strategy for each, allowing you to "get on a roll" (follow this link and click Newer Post for more like it) contextually and strategically. The website is free and also gives a "key" that saves your progress with a student or group. The features above make it a good candidate to use in telepractice or (hopefully, eventually) in-person sessions. Recall my tutorial on screenshare and remote control, the use of which would add engagement. Consider pairing each module with a text that lends itself to the strategy, perhaps from Epic! Books for Kids.

Also take a look at their complementary site, Into the Map. I love maps for visuals and eliciting language, talking about stories, setting and spatial concepts, and this site lets students make basic maps including ones that tell a story, and practice following directions.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Repost: EPIC! Books free and very useful in context of telepractice

This is a repost from 5 years ago (I will do this here and there to point out resources useful in telepractice). EPIC! offers free educator accounts so you can read/discuss/question/paraphrase/focused language stimulate/recast when using a book synchronously (meaning over a telepractice portal) and currently free remote student access (meaning you can provide students with books to read asynchronously, also a mode of telepractice, assigning work/activities to be done when you are not there).

One of my favorite topics is using picture books and apps in contextual conjunction in language intervention, and in this post I want to let you know about an app that IS picture books (chapter books too).

Check out Epic!- Books for Kids (FREE), an eBook library of picture and chapter books that can be used to present language-enhancing books in interactions with your students. Epic! offers thousands of narrative and expository books from major publishers such as HarperCollins, Scholastic and National Geographic. The app/website offers features facilitating an engaging presentation of a book to a group of students via an iPad, including zoom in/out to page and "read to me" audio available for some books.

Be sure to register for an educator account, which you can do through the website (there is also an app but in tele you would want to use the site for simplicity)

Epic! features a number of books I have used for language development over the years, and I have been finding other great options through the app. For example, the books Scaredy Squirrel and Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt offer the following "Speechie" book features:
-A narrative structure featuring problem, reaction (or attempts to solve) and conclusion
-Many expository elements presented in an engaging, fun way, e.g. animals Squirrel is afraid will bite him, sequences and connections between items and their functions.
-Text features such as diagrams and flowcharts that are helpful for scaffolding understanding (and seen in textbooks that students must grapple with in their classrooms)
-Contexts to explore social cognition strategies such as Zones of Regulation and the CBT paradigm of risk vs. opportunity (i.e. reframing anxiety-producing situations as opportunities to learn).
-Potential to screen-shot illustrations and pair with Strip Designer to make comic strip conversations about the character's thoughts and perspectives.

In my presentations on this topic I often include this reference that is very on point regarding the utility of this app:

The act of reading books aloud interactively and using scaffolding to support children’s use of more advanced syntax, vocabulary and critical thinking is itself an activity which addresses language development (Beed, Hawkins, & Roller, 1991).

So, for a source of books "at your fingertips," give Epic! a try. For tips on interactive reading aloud, see here or here, as well as Jim Trelease's Read Aloud Handbook and Jane Gebers' Books are for Talking, Too!

Beed, P.L., Hawkins, E.M., & Roller, C.M. (1991). Moving learners toward independence: The power of scaffolded instruction. The Reading Teacher, 44(9), 648-655.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Making sure you are aware...PD opportunities

There are several great PD opportunities online this week:

CSHA and SpeechTherapyPD's Teletherapy Bootcamp (Monday 3/23)

SLP Telecon sponsored by SLP Toolkit, The Informed SLP, and Bjorem Speech Publications

Both are free, offer ASHA CEUs, and have live viewing or playback opportunities.

I'm registered for both; the agendas look very helpful for anyone figuring out how to continue to provide services within the current situation.

Friday, March 20, 2020

What to: Using Google Slides for simple session agendas and visuals in telepractice

Today I did my first telepractice session with a social group of four middle school boys (emerging telepratictioner here) and am thrilled with how it went! As I've said I am making efforts here to share resources and ideas helpful for those looking to make a rapid transition to telepractice in these crazy times.

In yesterday's post I demonstrated the screen sharing feature of telepractice platforms and used this during this session. My graduate student WY Lo created these visuals with me, and they served as a support during the session targeting concepts such as The Group Plan (see Social Thinking®), conversational skills using the 6 Second Story (Based on Mindwing Concepts' work) and a brief discussion of the concepts of Body in the Group (Social Thinking® again) vs Social Distancing when in the community for safety. On that slide (5) the stick figures are movable if you are not in Present mode, and you make a copy (see below)

6 Second Stories along with the expectation and elicitation of comments and questions are a great activity for any session and worked well in this telepractice environment (Gallery View toggled w Screen Share are probably best, I realized). These "moves" in conversation also align with the PEERS® Curriculum.

Here is the link to the presentation. As usual please do not ask for permission to this presentation; you can click File>Make a Copy and it will be editable to you in your Google Drive

Notice how this presentation is "no big deal" nor would it be a lot of SLP talking head. That's the point: keep it simple and visually supportive. Hope you all are doing well and thanks for the response on the posts.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

What to: Sharing Screens, Giving Remote Cursor Control, Using Interactive Websites in Distance Learning and Telepractice

Or, Telepractice with a Teddy Bear.

Continuing to work here to share information for those who are considering or working to transition to telepractice given the ongoing Coronavirus Emergency. I am going to focus on "what to" rather than "how to" but this post has a little of both. In presenting with some amazing experts, Amy Reid and Nathan Curtis of Waldo County General in Maine, I have liked to say "I'm not a telepractitioner, but I play one on TV." I'm the SLP/Instructional Tech Specialist, so there's some overlap, but I'm only an emerging telepractice SLP. But I hope this is helpful.

Using Zoom (you decide what tier and apply HIPAA procedures) and other platforms you can move from videoconference to screen sharing and then remote control/giving the mouse and keyboard control to the student participant, shown here in my video:

Main idea: screen sharing and giving interactive control to the student (you can always take it away) opens worlds of contextual activities. The one shown was Draw A Stickman (I'd recommend ep 1-2)

Using interactive websites allows you to work in context; just do a little task analysis. Draw a stickman lends itself to extracting a narrative, sequencing, and using verbs and causal and conditional structures (because, so, if/then).

Some other sources of interactive websites:
-Look on Pinterest or Google in general or for a topic e.g. "interactive websites trees." (there are not many good speech-language specific interactive websites so remember, task analyze..."oh this one has categories.")*

-PBS Kids is ripe for Task Analysis

*flash based websites becoming outdated and may be an issue. If it doesn't work for you, keep looking. Develop a Google Doc or other repository of sites you like and share.

If you have other sources of interactives you like, please let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

ASHA presentation 2019 on Telepractice

Through this crisis I will be attempting to provide as much information as possible here to support clinicians working to support their students at a distance.

This presentation I did with Nathan Curtis and Amy Reid of Waldo County General Hospital (and shared here with their permission) is about the "what to" (best practices, EBP, and methodologies) of telepractice/distance learning rather than the "how to" (platform to use, technical aspects etc). For the how to (and "what to" also) I'd refer you to the amazing Tara Roehl, who is offering a "crash course" here.

The main ideas here are around the evolution of telepractice beyond the "what tos" and alignment with best practices. Simple technologies- authentic photos, PowerPoint- alignment with curriculum and themes, and use of story grammar strategies, narrative, expository resources and online videos are discussed (SGM® icons used w permission of Mindwing Concepts). Some slides will look blank as I needed to remove photos of children.

Access the presentation here (please do not request permission to edit the slides, you can simply go to the File menu and select Make a Copy and it will save to your Google Drive if you like)

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I'm here for you

The current situation with the global Coronavirus emergency is unprecedented in our lifetime and everyone is in varying degrees of shock and scramble. I plan to be here for you and posting much more frequently as one scramble many clinicians are having is in re-connecting and/or servicing their clients through technology. This is a rapidly evolving situation and I will do my best to help out here.

But first, a trick for you. We all need to stay calm. We all need to sleep. We all need to stay healthy mentally and physically.

One technique I learned from the excellent app Buddhify (I love how you can listen to a track and then try to apply it anytime you need) is helping me in these nights of fitful, worrying sleep. It's called "flip": basically, try to distance yourself from wandering, anxious thoughts by flipping to focus on your body, allowing sensations of anxiety to relax and resting in your breath. It's invaluable.

So let's start here. Listen to this short meditation here and please, breathe.

Friday, March 13, 2020

I'm on the ASHA Voices Podcast

I'm honored to be featured in another segment of the excellent ASHA Voices podcast; the episode dropped yesterday. you can listen here, below, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.  Our segment is at about 21:00. At ASHA Convention in November, host J.D. Gray and I had a conversation about tech-supported mindfulness. Apps provide some context for engaging us and students in mindful activities through visuals or engaging audio. These might be useful to you during this particularly stressful and anxiety-producing time. Some apps we discussed included:

Stop Breathe and Think (I also like the kids version, which is more playful and visual)
Calm (in web form, or grab the app)
Breathing App

Cut for time was our discussion of Buddhify, which I love for its strategic approach. These meditations offer techniques you can then use anytime, without the app guiding you.

Our segment fit in well with an excellent discussion of self-care and burnout by the creators of the podcast SLP Happy Hour Sarah and Sarie. I will be definitely listening to their episodes going forward.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Helpful resources on Coronavirus (and hygeine in general)

In the past week, my students have had a lot of questions and comments about the Coronavirus outbreak in the USA.

On our part, working in a clinical private practice setting in which a social part of many sessions is eating a snack, we've taken steps including:
-Frequently wiping down surfaces with Clorox wipes
-Lysol spraying surfaces, doorknobs and fabrics
-Ensuring hand washing or sanitizer use before and after snack, and between sessions for clinicians
-Mitigating risk by avoiding things like playing card-passing games while having snack (hand to mouth and cards and passing cards in games like Apples to Apples).

ASHA has produced a good set of suggestions for clinicians and practice managers during this situation. 

Instructionally, you may be interested in using this ongoing situation as a context for building social cognition, situational awareness and even expository language:
-NPR has shared a great comic which serves as a sensitive social narrative
-Many of my students have shared disinformation within groups; this served as a context to discuss relying on facts (Social Thinking®'s smart guess/wacky guess concept). Encourage reliance on news sources rather than looking at random videos on YouTube.
-Brainpop's free movie on the topic can be explored with expository text graphic organizers or Ward/Jacobsen's STOP strategy for situational awareness.

-You can also discuss the narrative and social aspects of stories like this.

I myself issued a small PSA this week. I hope it's helpful for you, especially Swifties:

Stay healthy and calm out there!