Thursday, October 29, 2020

Mindfulness "fails" for narrative and "thinking talk"

Metacognition is all wrapped up in our language, social and executive functioning. To read a great explanation of how, see this article from Singer and Bashir (1999), two of my faves in the field. 

Additionally, right now everyone, absolutely everyone, needs strategies for regulating ourselves. I have made it a focus in many of my sessions since March. 

Recently Chris Hemsworth of Thor fame, so familiar to most of your students, put out a number of humorous videos showing that mindfulness failure is all part of the process (note that there are 6 videos in the series/playlist).

These vids are useful in a number of ways in speech and language sessions:

-mindfulness exercises are a great entryway to metacognitive talk: "during that I was thinking about..."

-you can pair these with actual exercises, see MyLife, Stop, Breathe & Think Kids, Calm, Zen Den, or MindUp's Curriculum

-each video is actually a narrative snippet: character, setting, initiating event, plan, actions/attempts, conclusion, so is good for mapping

-I actually used these in some lessons about humor for a student struggling with humor use, teaching about types of humor including play (Ward/Jacobsen's "same but different" concept is related to that type of humor and these videos)

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Google Earth's Spooky Spots Quiz

You know I am a Google Earth Geek. Always have been, but in this time it is nice to be able to use the context of "going someplace" to engage my students. Google Earth's quizzes (find in the Explorer captain wheel tab) provide very structured experiences with the interactive globe, posing questions, providing images that prompt observation and discussion, and popping you into an interactive window to "look around." With Halloween coming, you can use the Spooky Spots quiz through nine multiple choice questions (it doesn't matter if you or your students know the answers) bringing you to spots around the globe. The content is free of violence but mentions "The Shining" and "Rosemary's Baby" so probably best for 5th grade or above. As each question is posed, unlabeled placemarks would allow you to ask students to observe potential locations (e.g. "that one looks like its Colorado."). Once answered, you can use the interactive window on the left to navigate the space (oooh an abandoned amusement park near Chernobyl) and work on description and conversation. You may be interested in asking group members to get more information on one of the topics and report back to the group (Wikipedia is fine for general knowledge!). 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Genius and the metalinguistics of popular songs

Genius is a great website for looking more deeply at any song, and most you can think of are covered on the website. Just locate the song, and highlighted sections of it are annotated in the right sidebar. Songs are motivating "texts" (provided you find ones appropriate enough AND motivating) for higher-level language skills (e.g. identifying sentence structures, vocabulary, figurative language, multiple meaning, and narrative, particularly for older students).

I thought to feature Genius because, anecdotally, I do some consulting for a suburban high school (currently remotely AND in person, Thank God I get to leave my house sometimes) and a particular student who wants nothing to do with me nonetheless needs a consult. I heard that his small ELA class is tackling Hamilton, so I insinuated myself into this situation and offered his teacher some content in Google Slides. I was thinking of facial expression work from the Disney+ recording, but ended up starting to package this more as metalinguistic discussions (he needs that)! I first discovered Genius because of its Hamilton lyrics analysis, so I also talked to his teacher, who was thankfully very open, about the site. Yay for language underpinnings! You can view what I came up with so far below or here. As always, please don't request permission for this Google Apps item; if you want to save or edit it, File>Make a Copy.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Therapeutic Gaming Can Be Messy...

 ...and that's ok. Particularly in social intervention contexts, it's important to facilitate natural situations. That includes trying and failing with games- either because the group doesn't like the game and wants to try something else, the game itself sucks, or for other reasons. Isn't that what friends do when they get together-- evolve "group plans" and move on when something doesn't work for the group (see Social Thinking® Group Plan concept)? I like to use games within intervention sessions as a seeming reward near the end, but in themselves they have working teachable moments and lots of opportunities for my students to practice self-regulating. In teletherapy, with or without cursor control (have the students tell you what to click on), you can try a flash game like this (seasonal!) corn maze. Flash games come in a wide range of quality but this one is not bad at all!

While accepting that games like this might not go perfectly in a group, we can prepare to facilitate success. Notice that button that says "walkthrough?" In this case it leads to a video that shows you a sped-up view of game moves. For most other games, you can find a walkthrough with a Google. This arms you with information so you can provide cues like "Oh, what do you think that quarter will be for? What might you buy in a corn maze? Oh, nice smart guess!"

Friday, October 2, 2020

Full Moon

October has two full moons, including the current one! Full Moon is a good example of the kind of game adaptable to therapy given a task analysis.

In this game you navigate a bunny through various levels to get what he wants. In the above level, to get the apple, you have to infer that you need to click on the light bulbs, discover that the middle one turns all the bulbs off, illuminate the apple (in the right tree) and click the apple to drop it to the bunny.

This game prompts:

-use of remote cursor control, or perhaps not (might be better if students have to tell you what to do)

-spacial concepts

-cause and effect reasoning

-observation, collaborating and conversation

It is untimed so you can move at any pace you wish. Plus it has thought balloons which I love in any context as a social cognitive symbol! Here's a walkthrough (always useful if you are going to use games in therapy).