Friday, May 27, 2022


Nine years ago I had the opportunity to visit Sandy Hook and work with some educators along with Pamela Ely, the director of the Ely Center, LLC where I work, and Sheila and Maryellen Moreau of Mindwing Concepts. We talked for the day about supports in the area of social interaction and narrative language that might be helpful for the students trying to move on with their lives in the face of unspeakable events. I hoped that day that we might never have to grapple with such a horrible situation again, but here we are, and somewhat more depleted given the past few years.

Like you, I am sure, for me it is hard to find much to offer this week, but we can find strength in helping others.

A few ideas:

-Email someone offering a resource. This post, a PDF you have that has helped you, a journal article, whatever. Reaching out and helping is a tool.

-The Happiness Lab has a great episode on Languishing. I picked up a few ideas from it and this week taught a lesson based on one of the concepts discussed. You can listen to The Happiness Lab on Spotify or Apple/Google Podcasts.

-Newsela has a small kit related to the events in Uvalde. I used the piece on "Ways to stay calm when you're feeling stressed" with a group this week. 

-NYT has a robust resource list for talking and teaching about these events.

-Here's my self-care toolkit from this past winter.

Take care, folks.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Minecraft Education Edition

I have previously written about using contexts like Minecraft without getting into the thing itself. I've come around on this a bit and next time I'll talk about some simple uses of Minecraft (creative mode, I am still not interested in having kids kill each other in a game), but recently I discovered I CAN USE MINECRAFT EDU!

I had heard about Minecraft EDU for years but, not having an .edu email address, couldn't access it. I have been supervising at Boston University this semester and discovered my email address (plus having a Microsoft account at BU, so you need this too) was the key, as it probably is for many school-based clinicians reading this blog. MC EDU has many created "worlds" that are structured and relate to school topics, so are a nice place to start. 

So, if you have a .edu email, head first to MC EDU and sign in to create an account. From there, I find Minecraft most navigable on an iPad- simplified controls and such. For the EDU activities you'll need the free iPad app. Explore the worlds and see what you might like to use. They are not all amazing, but I highly recommend the very well-done world called The Mindful Knight. Through this activity I grabbed the attention of a student who I have struggled to help with practicing self-regulation strategies, and through several of the "quests" learned about the value of deep breaths and presence (e.g. Five Senses noting of things in the environment).

The deep breathing exercise is practiced by navigating the Knight to an elevator, with great visuals.

I apologize that this is still somewhat of a complicated resource to reach, with the necessity of the .edu address and MS account, but there's a work-around. Look on YouTube for "Mindful Knight Minecraft" and you'll find gameplay vids like this one that can make for good lessons, too!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Dino Tracker

Dino Tracker is a fictionalized interactive website that has been released as a promotion for Jurassic World Dominion, an upcoming film in the series. The premise of this film is that dinosaurs are no longer confined to Isla Nublar but living (and hunting) alongside humans. The purpose of the site is ostensibly to provide information to the public about "sightings" of various dinosaurs- the therapeutic potential in the site is scaffolding language around the locations (through a clickable Google-like map), the "descriptions" of the dinosaurs and cause-effect language of "Dos" and "Do Nots."

I was recently discussing with a colleague how high school students often have remaining difficulty with the geographic literacy aspects of continent-country-state or other division and how this connects to situational awareness and the ability to digest information about the world and current events. Browsing the world map provided could be an exciting (MS and HS students who can understand the artifice of the content) opportunity to review continents and some of the spatial strategies for recalling them, then moving down to more micro areas. The videos provided are a form of narrative and the "field report" expository text that can be mapped with graphic organizers, or used as a model to tell "same but different" creative item e.g. a report from another location.  Overall Dino Tracker represents how interactive websites designed for very different purposes can provide access to academic language- one strategy I like is to search for "interactive websites" and under tools set the time limit to the past month or week, you can find some gems.

Friday, May 6, 2022


LearnHip has some useful and simple activities designed for English language learners but also useful for speech and language therapy. It may be particularly useful as a warm-up or to make use of a short amount of extra time in a session. Some of the activities it includes: makers such as a scrambled sentence, reveal the picture and board game creator, conversation cards on a wide variety of themes (e.g. annoyances), and story cards and silly/engaging contexts such as describe the picture and what happens next (in the form of GIFs) "quizzes." Go Hip would be good to have in your bookmarks for classroom, group or teletherapy sessions for a variety of verbal expression objectives.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Simple visual engagement resources for youngsters

Whether doing tele- or in-person therapy, you should be aware of the cute, simple and useful resources of Dr.  Karen Fried at Oaklander training, such as the online sand tray and dollhouse interactive activities on the site (go to the tools and resources tab). There's apparently a whole approach to using these tools as psychological therapy with young children, but as a sort of stickerbook they have specific linguistic opportunities. Consider vocabulary, concepts, syntactic expansion, and storytelling!