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Preview: SpeechTechie- Technology, Apps and Lessons for SLPs and Teachers who like Words

SpeechTechie- Technology, Apps and Lessons for SLPs and Teachers who like Words

SpeechTechie is a blog designed to share technology resources that are useful in the everyday practice of speech-language pathology. Resources that are not generally presented as for clinical use are re-purposed here and viewed "through the language lens"

Updated: 2018-02-22T00:46:07.430-05:00


Considering Games with the FIVES Criteria


When considering whether a game-based or "game-like" app is useful for an intervention context, I've found that a number of characteristics or features related to the FIVES criteria can be considered. I actually was looking for a game-based app related to the Winter Olympics but came up short...until Fiete emailed me this morning with an announcement about Fiete Wintersports (I had already been a fan of their Summer Olympics app and was looking to see if they had a winter one). This app provides a good example of some aspects of FIVES that make it very worthwhile:

F- Fairly Priced?
The app is free to download and provides you with two sports- skiing and bobsled. 14 in total can be unlocked with one in-app purchase of $2.99. To me, fair, given the below.

With games, you want interactivity to be within limits. Fiete Sports has a timed aspect but you can't time out, and no matter what, you get a medal. There is no way to stall or go off-course with any of the sports. Each sport shows you how to interact with the screen VERY SIMPLY (e.g. tap quickly, tap and drag) as the sport launches. The activities are very short, promoting the possibility of children in a group having many turns, or you can divide the play of one event among several students.

Each sport gives you a visual sense of how it works- much of which would be new to young learners and build semantic knowledge. The visuals would promote verbal expression as students could be asked to describe how the event works, perhaps using a frame like Ward/Jacobsen's STOP- Space, Time, Objects, People. I found that using the app while mirroring to an Apple TV in my clinical setting kept all engaged with the visual, and commenting on the event.

E-Educationally Relevant?
An app about the Olympics relates to current events, social studies and geography. Though the app provides limited verbal information about the events or Olympics in general, it provides a post-activity to reviewing picture books or other texts about the Olympics, focusing on vocabulary, figurative language (see my book collection at EPIC Books for Kids, the "Winter Olympic Sports" series has some nice slang), or look up the Olympics on Newsela.

The app itself targets no clinical objectives- but the language you can elicit around it within your activities would elicit cause-effect statements of why the event went as it did, categorizations of sports (winter vs summer, individual vs. team, ones played on flat surfaces vs. hills), and any activities done around text as mentioned above. Pair with a YouTube video about sportsmanship and you can do some narrative language, observational and social cognitive work. As mentioned in my previous post, explore how to re-create events in "real life" play and target the group planning aspects of this!(image)

Free interactive book Dino Olympics


The Olympics start this week! The associated topics of sports and geography are great ways to engage students around language objectives. I discovered the free book for iPad Dino Olympics, created by the makers of Puppet Pals. The app is an interactive exploration of different dinosaurs' strengths and weaknesses when competing in Olympic events; it has delightfully silly animations that are extended and further contextualized when students tap on the screen.

In terms of language development, the book is a context for targeting:
-categorization (winter vs. summer events or ones which are easy/hard for the dinosaurs)
-connecting to the concept of multiple intelligences (in Social Thinking® parlance, different kinds of smarts, though it is the dinos' bodies, not their brains, that impact upon their success)
-labeling actions and using causals, "thinking with your eyes"- e.g. observing that Apatosaurus is not good at luge because his long body makes him bounce off the curves of the track.
-I also used this book with a post-activity of creating a "luge course"- a gym scooter on the floor makes a good simulation of this and planning obstacles for the course via sketching a "future picture" is an executive function activity (see the work of Sarah Ward and Kristin Jacobsen).


A Cat in Therapy


Some years ago at the ASHA Convention, I saw in the program a poster entitled "A Cat In Therapy: Cute, but Effective?" I thought this title intriguing and at the same time, funny, and I was sad to have not been able to locate the poster. Fiete Cats AR ($1.99) gives you the opportunity to test this proposition out. AR--Augmented Reality-- is technology that overlays digital content over our world, often through the camera. In this case, the app makes a cat appear in any room, including your treatment space, and offers a number of interactions:

-Name up to 3 cats
-Observe the cat's needs (think with your eyes)
-Pet and play with the cat
-Feed it when it gets dirty (from playing in paint)
-Provide him food and drink when hungry/thirsty
-Put him to bed
-Record your interactions to make a short movie (saves to Photos app)

My kitty using his litter box ON MY RUG! Oh, NO!

Effective? Well, for sure the app is engaging, and provides a context for social observation, labeling actions, and using cause-effect and conditional structures.

This app is also a great pairing with picture books (narrative or expository) about cats. Consider making your own "picture book" with Book Creator, which would allow you to import screenshots or the videos recorded within the app. Students can write about their interactions with the cat, a context for any number of objectives.(image)

3 Ways to Motivate and add Narrative Complexity to Writing through Emoji


When targeting narrative language, one objective is to move students toward more complexity and elaboration with inclusion of elements such as character response (feelings) and plans. Additionally this can facilitate the microstructure within narratives including complex sentences (e.g. The Patriots turned the game around so we were excited but not surprised). This corresponds with movement toward a "landscape of consciousness" (Bruner, 1986) in mature narrative, describing mental states and emotions, as opposed to merely relating action.Emoji are fun, and incorporate one way students currently communicate- through texts, Instagram posts and even Venmo cash transfers, noted to be a place where people mark the rationale for the money with emoji. However, they can also serve as a visual support and scaffold for including the story grammar element of character response to events when students are writing personal or summary narratives. Here are 3 easy ways to include emoji- see also my previous post for Mindwing Concepts about this topic.On iPad through Predictive TextPredictive Text, when turned on (Settings>General>Keyboard>toggle on "Predictive") provides blocks of predicted text above the keyboard as you type. This is one example of how features previously only available as "assistive technology" have turned out to be incorporated in operating systems to benefit everyone. As you type a word for which an emoji is available, it will trigger an emoji suggestion in the Predictive. You can choose to replace the word with the emoji, rebus-style, or type the word and then type it again and replace with emoji. This also can save time versus having students scroll through pages of emoji within the keyboard.Equip your Mac or Chromebook with EmojiIf you have a Mac, the Mac App Store has a free app called Emoji Lite. You can search and copy any symbol into a word processing, presentation or other document. As we do lots of typing into a web browser, you can also add the Emoji Keyboard by EmojiOne™ to your Chrome Browser (also a good option for Chromebooks).Within Google DocsEasyPeasy. While writing in a Google Doc or Slides presentation, just use the Insert menu, select Special Characters, and change to emoji via the dropdown.[...]

Look to MedBridge for high quality PD courses


When it comes to professional development, it’s great to have options. The end of your certification maintenance interval can sneak up on you. Additionally, it seems of late unfortunately difficult for clinicians to obtain release time to attend professional development and continue our high level of training--I know this as a frequent PD speaker!Online learning has always been an option, and MedBridge has elevated the format with their professional development courses. After developing many offerings for PT and OT, they have reached into speech-language pathology in the past several years, and specifically have endeavored to create relevant courses for school-based clinicians. I was asked to create several courses for MedBridge in the past year (see disclosure), and have been very impressed with their process.The features of their courses and website are designed to leverage all of the possibilities of the format, for sure. First of all, the process of creating the course is geared toward maximizing learner engagement. Presenters go onsite to MedBridge’s studio and film their course in person (I felt like I was on TV myself!) so that the result is a high-quality video presentation. There are many additional features to their courses that make the experience comparable to attending PD sessions in person, including:Engaging visual presentations; these courses are more like watching a talk show than a PowerPointModeling of techniques with students and clients Q/A sessions with real professionals within the videos An easy-to-follow progression of “chapters” within each course, along with the ability to complete each course with breaks, at your own pace Downloadable handouts and extension activities for you to apply the material in the course Learning assessments that feature real-world, practical (but short) case studies followed by questions to gauge your own understanding of the material presented Multiple-part courses (each with CEU value) for in-depth learning Offerings for pediatric clinicians working in schools (there are also libraries for other populations) run a range including courses regarding English Language Learners, visual supports and Literacy development for students with autism, caseload and service delivery management in schools, preschool language, and language and literacy, among many others. A full listing of available courses is viewable here, but see my affiliate link below, however, if you would like to join at a reduced rate.Over the past several months, I myself completed two courses through my MedBridge membership:Balancing & Scheduling Speech-Language Workloads in Schools, presented by Kathleen Whitmire.In this course, Dr. Whitmire describes the workload model to managing productivity in the school setting. I had seen Dr. Whitmire previously, and her presentation years ago inspired me to implement the 3-1 Consultation model at my school, revolutionizing my role and teaching me how to be an effective collaborator and consultant. These skills are hugely important to my current work in private practice and consulting to schools. This course was very engaging and I found several elements to be helpful to me and potentially extremely helpful to clinicians first encountering these ideas. Dr. Whitmire describes “activity clusters” which help define the workload vs. caseload approach and will be very valuable to SLPs looking to open conversations with administrators about optimizing their role in their settings. Additionally, one major issue with transitioning to a workload and/or 3-1 approach is getting started. Dr. Whitmire offers some very do-able suggestions to taking these steps gradually. As is often the case within the MedBridge library, one course may lead to another. I plan also to take Dr. Whitmire’s courses in effective collaboration and educationally relevant speech-language services.Focusing on Friendship: Building Social Groups That W[...]

Find the right tool for the right task


I have a student who was struggling with map tests. Don't ask me whether I think students need to memorize maps nowadays but...anyway, he had to. He was very frustrated, but at least thought the whole thing was over. It's important to establish rationale-or the presence of pointless work that nonetheless is required and might develop our skills and strategies- I had to break it to him that many more map tests await.

He showed me that the recommended study guide was Quizlet, which he was using via a matching task:

Now don't get me wrong, Quizlet is GREAT, and I'd recommend it for many tasks such as reviewing vocab or even literary elements of novels, etc. It's also excellent that they have evolved to include visual elements. But in this case, you can probably see immediately why this might not be the best tool for this task. Studying a map requires literally and figuratively a "big picture." This is just one stack but the images of the countries are small and it's hard to relate part to whole.

I showed him an old standby, Sheppard Software, a website built in Flash so it must be used on a laptop or chromebook. He liked it much better, and here's where curriculum contexts can always be blended with a strategic focus. Reviewing a region in "Learn" mode (via big picture), we made up a silly sentence cueing the country names roughly from north to south. Anyone remember the old BrainCogs program? I loved that. In any case, the verbal mediation was meaningful to him. In Quiz mode we also practiced strategies based in language, helping to make the blob of countries have a meaning, "Oh, French Guiana is closer to France than Guyana is. Ecuador is literally on the Equator."

The experience of tackling this task reinforced a few things for me. Rationale. Tool Selection. Strategic Focus.(image)

Teaching in Social Media Contexts


Social Media is part of life--and a good context for targeting social cognition and narrative language. In general, social media is now one context for us all to be sharing our stories through words and pictures, and also is a way we send messages about ourselves and interact around them. Of course this should be self-monitored; I've shared with my students that I set an intention of at least 2 hours daily in which I don't look at Facebook or Instagram (if you have a goal, you need a measurable action plan). Don't always make it, but I'm trying.A few contexts in which I have used social media in the last several months:GCF Learn Free has great simple tutorials on social media outlets. These are good if you are working with individuals who want to begin to use social media as an interactive outlet (learning more about others and making connections).Related to this, I have been working with a wonderful SLP who uses Instagram photos (mine and many others) to help students "get the story" (situational awareness) implied by a photo, make inferences about relationships depicted in photos, etc. Identifying a few resources you can use with students (screenshot, perhaps, instead of showing them your feed) make for great lessons. These students have also stepped into sharing on Instagram with parental guidance.There are a number of good resources you can use to make mock text conversations, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat posts. These can be great for presenting narratives and exploring expected and unexpected social media behaviors. Just google and you'll find ones like Status Clone- they produce an image of a fake interaction that you can use in an activity. also has student-friendly versions of these for you to use for co-creation (see their FakeBook, Twister and SMS Generator).Here's an example (note: that's not an actual spoiler). On iPad, I haven't always found similar tools. Social Dummy performs similar functions but I would never use it in front of students because of its horrible name (Dummy meaning fake, not in the way it might be interpreted)! You can use this app to make teaching images saved to your photos app, however. A recent free tool is Texting Story Chat Maker, which allows you to make a dynamic video of a text conversation unfolding. These are additionally good contexts in which to explore the use of emoji, which are easily accessible on mobile devices.[...]

On Technology Training


I highly recommend checking out a recent article published in ASHA Perspectives (yes, you need to be a SIG member, by which you get access to the unified SIG Perspectives journal) Technology Training in Speech-Language Pathology: A Focus on Tablets and Apps (Edwards & Dukhovny, 2017). The article is specific to technology integration in clinical training programs in universities, but the information is relevant not only to those in higher education, but clinical supervisors and clinicians in general. A few key points:

  • The authors site many rationales for integrating apps in intervention, including "client motivation, streamlined data-capturing, potential cost savings compared to printed materials, and the particular intervention advantages of visual, dynamic, and interactive presentation."
  • The goal of their work was also avoiding tech integration pitfalls such as "unclear paths to generalization," distracting features within apps, and focusing on implementation at the expense of client needs, as well as our field's tendency to utilize word of mouth and lay user reviews rather than more clinically oriented information.
  • The article recommends that "students and faculty need structured educational opportunities ranging from explicit instruction to guided exploration of relevant technologies."
  • It is noted that limited documentation is available on apps (at least within developer-provided information) and it is unlikely that studies will be conducted on low-cost resources. Consider also (my note) the recent death of hundreds of apps with iOS 11 and our need to always race against obsolescence.
  • Through a process of pre/post surveys and an AT "open house" at the university, the authors describe a process of instructing student clinicians on available resources and provide a rubric by which clinicians need to request new apps be made available with specific detail on their relationship to client needs.
Overall, the article represents an important (peer-reviewed!) comment on the state of technology integration in our field and outlines strategies and the need for training within clinical education programs. Of course, like all of us I would like to see more research emerge on apps, but continue to think it is unlikely for it to be widespread given the reasons sited above (low cost of resources, cost of research, transience of apps and their discrete functions). I can see why the authors would feel the need to say that evaluation rubrics do "not substitute for peer-reviewed intervention research." An additional point I would make is that the use of rubrics should be expanded beyond app requests and be made less "optional" than within the context described, though providing workshops and app request procedures for students is a great start. Truly, education within each course area should include information on technology and critical app evaluation (see my FIVES criteria). A use of rubrics in this way would promote alignment with clinical expertise and client values, the other prongs of EBP.  The authors also briefly mention how clinicians repurposed apps such as Quizlet, and I of course endorse the clinical opportunities connected to these apps, as this is the primary focus of this website.

See it at:
Edwards, J. & Dukhovny, E. (2017). Technology Training in Speech-Language Pathology: A Focus on Tablets and Apps. Perspect ASHA SIGs, 2 (SIG 10), 33–48. doi: 10.1044/persp2.SIG10.33(image)

A Holiday Lesson...


One of my favorite holiday activities with students is to role-play giving and receiving gifts, and here are some updates on that.You can do an actual gift exchange if time permits, or use an empty box or gift bag for pretend play, but there are some ways to tech up this lesson and add context, strategy and social cognition concepts, and engagement.This coming week I am going to have students prepare for this activity by reading Llama Llama Holiday Drama (it's available on Kindle if you don't have time to get it). This book explores anxiety and mindfulness, and contains some good "hidden rules" about the season and the meaning of giving gifts. It is also multi-denominational.I created a thinksheet for the activity which you can access here. Feel free to Make a Copy under File if you would like to modify it for your purposes.As you can see, the preparation steps will target asking and answering questions, using wondering and People Files about others (Social Thinking®), as well as categorization and making choices. The "Levels of Like" concept is one I learned from SLP Jenny Sojat. She presented on this at a conference and uses this to make group decisions- poll group members to get them to state whether they love, like, are ok with (the "yes" line of compromise) or dislike an idea such as an outing, game, snack, etc. In this case students would just be using to to gauge another's opinion.Have students save a photo of the "gift" they will be giving. On iPad you can look up photos in Safari, tap to enlarge, then tap and hold to save to the Photos app. If you want to add math concepts and flexible thinking, give them a budget and ask them to look up the item on Amazon.I'd suggest "wrapping" the gift with Bag Game. It adds an element of a hidden item as the student hands the other student the iPad.Pre-exchange, the 5 Point Scale provides a great tool. You can emphasize the perspectives and reactions of the giver at each level as well. I like to develop scales with students by using anchor points such as a 5 and 1 and having them label the other levels.Download my 5-Point Scale PPT template here.Then, exchange by having students deliver their iPad "gifts" to each other! Another good strategy is to provide an explicit challenge to students to generalize the concepts and report back. For example, ask students to be aware of their reactions when receiving gifts and report back on them. This is always a good narrative development activity as well.Happy Holidays![...]

Scene But Not Heard


Back in the day, I used to subscribe to Nick Jr. Magazine for its ads (great expository text contexts) and visual content. This included a comics section with a series called "Scene But Not Heard" by comic artist Sam Henderson. The adventures of Pink Guy and Bear are humorous, exaggerated, and related without words. Like wordless picture books, wordless videos and comics are helpful materials for students to work on interpreting nonverbal cues, "thinking with the eyes," and constructing narrative language and the microstructure (vocab, verbs, complex sentences) within it. In those days I used to collect the series and use laminated versions in classrooms for push-in services along with graphic organizers from Story Grammar Marker®. The content is engaging for mid-elementary through high school students.

Nick Jr. is no more, but I recently discovered that much of "Scene But Not Heard" is available digitally. Just Google it and then click Images, and you have a treasure trove. This feature about the series also contains a gallery. In either case you can:

-save the comic materials to your device (tap and hold on full size image on iPad, or ctrl/right click on a laptop).
-make a collection- you can use Adobe Acrobat Reader, Mac Preview, tap the share button on your iPad and then save as PDF to iBooks, or simply make a folder in your laptop or Google Drive.
-Use the zooming features contained by these technologies to zoom in on the action and limit the visual array (I like to use these to teach students to verbally mediate and "talk out" the nonverbal content).
-Consider integrating with Google Docs- insert a comic into a Doc and have students write a summary.(image)

Realistic Expectations, and some tips


Technology that we like can tend to go away.It's just how it works. Most technology resources have an element of planned obsolescence. I wanted to write about this because with the launch of iOS 11 this fall, many in our field discovered that a good number of their apps no longer worked, i.e. they wouldn't launch.Why did this happen? Apple introduced a higher level 64-bit processor to its devices in 2013 and at that time began encouraging developers to update apps that were built for the 32-bit processor. That was 4 years ago. So Apple gave developers plenty of time to work on securing a longer life for their apps. With iOS 10, users began receiving messages when launching old apps that an update would be needed and the app would not work with future versions of iOS. That line was drawn with iOS 11, and something like 180,000 apps (mostly games, followed by education apps, see source) ceased to launch once the device was updated to the newest version of iOS.Another why, which I can say from being involved in app development, is that creating technology is very difficult and complicated, and these creations are not intended to last forever. Kudos to Smarty Ears for keeping all their apps, including the five I worked on, up to date. I have had to mourn many web resources over the years and I knew the day would come for some apps to buy the farm as well. Let's pour one out for the original Toontastic, now replaced by Toontastic 3D, which I also like but perhaps not as much, and Tellagami, for now.I could not find a reference indicating how long tech consumers should expect resources to work--hardware or software. But I'd say it's reasonable for us to expect about 3-5 years, even if we paid for that resource.Things happen. People move on. So should we. Should we expect a company that floundered so much that they were sold and reabsorbed, or just went away, to update its apps? These things are unfortunate and disappointing, but it is what it is!What can you do?First of all, if you haven't updated to iOS 11 yet, I recommended previously that you do so carefully.-Check first to see if there are apps you absolutely can't live without, or whose data you need to extract somehow. Settings>General>About>Applications. If apps you need are listed in the "No Updates Available" section, take note of these.The App Compatibility/Sadness screen-Contact developers, if you want to go that route, to see if there is going to be an update. Probably if they are still in that bin, it's unlikely.-If there are a lot of apps on this screen that you can't live without, wait awhile...but only until you figure out how to replace them in your workflow.Let go. If you hang back on your operating system too long, you are going to be missing out on updates to other apps and new releases.BUT, once you update, unfortunately those non-functional 32-bit apps are not deleted and just take up space on your device like an annoying shell. I had the additional problem of my iPad being nearly full after updating. After deleting a lot of items like old video clips and photos, here's the process I followed:-I navigated to the above screen (Settings>About>Applications) and took a photo on my phone of the apps at top of the list.-I considered if there were any apps I wanted to wait a bit more on, and kept those in mind.-I navigated to the easiest place to delete apps, Settings>General>iPad StorageThe App Storage Screen- Tap any app to Delete it. You can also find the icon on the home screen, tap-hold until it jiggles, then tap the X. Apps are hard to find this way, if you have many apps.-This screen takes a moment to index, but lists all apps on the device. Most of your stragglers are probably going to be down at the bottom of the list as in my observation the n[...]

Dispatches from ASHA, Part 3


A third session I attended at ASHA leads me to a tech-tie-in on this blog and was called Consider the Big Picture: Using Classroom Expectations to Guide Assessments and Develop Educationally Relevant Interventions (Chinen and Ireland). A take-away from this session was that diagnostic activities such as dynamic assessment and language sample analysis are essential to supplement testing components of evaluations.Now, I'm a HUGE narrative person, so consider that bias (if a focus on functional communication can be considered a bias). But as I was hiking through a park in LA with some friends I hadn't seen in awhile, I got meta for a moment. I thought about how much of the welcome and meaningful experience of hanging out with them again consisted of narratives. Spoiler alert: all of it.One resource recommended by Chinen and Ireland is called SUGAR (Sampling Utterances and Grammatical Analysis Revised), and a couple of keystrokes brought me to a brand new article from July, 2017 with updated research, language elicitation protocols and norms for ages 3-7;11.You all know how to read a research article, so besides a few points I will just say: PLEASE READ IT. The article would also make a great study-and-apply activity with colleaguesPavelko and Owens' aim is to make these vital assessment processes easier for busy clinicians, and they do:-"LSA (Language Sample Analysis) may be 'the only assessment measure that captures a speaker's typical and functional language use.'"-A recent survey of school-based SLPs revealed that only 2/3 had used LSA in the last year and of those, about half had only done so in no more than 10 cases.-The authors recommend using digital recording tools rather than attempting to transcribe live, which is stressful, inaccurate, and probably hampers clinicians' ability to elicit in a functional context. I like the Voice Memos app on my iPhone or Voice Memos for iPad. Tip: try to "rewind" as little as possible. Transcribe and get what you can. Then re-listen and edit.-Protocol and techniques are offered for eliciting (among others):"Ask process questions How did/do…What happened…Why did…Use “Tell me…” or “I wonder…” statements. Use Turnabouts Comment + cue for child to talkUse Narrative Elicitations Build on what the child says or what you know.Begin with 'Your mom says you… that sounds like fun. Tell me what happened.''I know that you… Tell me what happened.''Did you ever… Tell me what you did.'"So, the tech tie-in. Pavelko and Owens demonstrate simple uses of word processors to help clinicians quickly calculate total number of words, mean length of utterance in morphemes, words per sentence and clauses per sentence, and provide normative data for all of these for ages 3-7;11. These involve using the numbering feature and word count of MS Word; I would also point out that the same features are available in Apple's Pages and Google Docs.Clinicians might also benefit from the File>Duplicate option or Make a Copy in Google Docs when working with the sample and taking different measures, so as not to be confused by the required edits to the sample (e.g. using spaces to mark morphemes).In Google Docs, some of the techniques suggested:An important read. If working with older students I also recommend Hadley's Language Sampling Protocols for Eliciting Text-Level Discourse and Heilmann and Malone's Rules of the Game.[...]

Dispatches from ASHA, Part 2


My second session (I was super lucky this year!) at ASHA revolved around visual supports and the ease through technology tools of...Co-engagement: presenting a visual material and scaffolding language around itCo-creation: using a tool that allows us to make something (an image creator, animation tool, book maker, video shooter) and scaffolding language through the process of using the app (not worrying so much about the product).I stressed that we need to continue to provide visual supports to our students across the lifespan. Since everything to me is narrative in some form, I shared that when I arrived at the convention center I felt very dysregulated and confused by the layout, and that it was helpful for me to make a visual support of where my sessions would be over the two days!One type of visual support I discussed is the 5-Point Scale, which I have talked about here before. A theme of the presentation was that simple visual tools such as PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote are great for making visual supports because (feature-matching for us!) you can easily add images, text, and whatever and move them around. I sometimes make visual supports live with students on these tools and use the Apple TV to engage them visually and verbally (you can do this via a projector or interactive whiteboard in a classroom situation as well).I made a new 5-Point Scale for a group I have that is occasionally having difficulty with Tone:An additional visual support is to create comics, which also can be done using technology. I described how I find Pixton (web only, won't work on iPad) to be a still useful tool because it (feature-matching!)-has a simple mode for you to make a comic-has built-in characters and settings -once you make a comic, you can copy it and change aspects to show nuance/reaction change.I integrated Pixton into a discussion context with my group (co-engaging over 5 comics showing the different levels) and a game with Kahoot. Kahoot can be both a visual and interactive support as you can add photos and videos to your questions. At my presentation session we viewed these comic examples and the whole crowd played the game:View the examples here.Play the game here.Hope it was helpful for you to see this snippet of this session. Thanks to those who made it to this or my other session![...]

Dispatches from ASHA, Part 1


ASHA Convention was quite a production in Los Angeles this past week. I wanted to share a few snippets from my own presentations as well as some tech tie-ins from others', so I will be posting those over the next week or so.My session Setting up the Sequel: Pairing Picture Book Series & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives focused on using picture book series along with apps for pre- or post-book activities. One key idea is that we can use narrative teaching strategies and other language scaffolds in the process of using both books and apps.I presented some ideas about working in context within interventions, including the following:Context allows for easier planning and semantically/narratively deeper intervention.Contextualized language intervention is supported by studies such as (Gillam et al, 2012): “signs of efficacy in an intervention approach in which clinicians treated multiple linguistic targets using meaningful activities with high levels of topic continuity.”SLPs should maintain “therapeutic focus” (build skills and strategies) within meaningful context- book series are one way to approach this (Ukrainetz, 2007, Ehren, 2000).We can analyze series for characteristics between books (or apps) that lend themselves to language interventions.One series I reviewed was the Sally sequels (by Huneck, available with your free educator account in the app/website Epic! Books for Kids. The "Speechie" characteristics of this series include that they are simple narrative action sequences that can also be told at higher levels of narrative (see stage model in this article and this figure), they include many different settings, figurative language, and opportunities to scaffold cognitive verbs--Sally the dog "thinks about" many different things, decides, realizes, discovers and so on. Books like these that give many openings to language elicitation--where the illustration might prompt more verbalization to go beyond what the text states--are also good therapy tools. In the same way, apps that have language-neutral visuals without a lot of talking or noise are good candidates for our use. Take the Toca Life series (with a Farm, Vacation, School, Office, City and Town, Stable and Hospital) as one that has embedded language opportunities with categories in each scene, opportunities to demonstrate actions and create stories.Toca Life: City pairs well with Sally Discovers New York (Huneck)An additional main point of this session is that stories can be told in many different ways (see the developmental sequence link above) and found almost anywhere. Since we were in Hollywood and talking sequels I provided a tie-in to "bad" sequels and analyzed them with different narrative forms. Check out this "climactic" (strangely boring and seeming to affect only the 10 people they cast in the film) clip from Speed 2, and an analysis via Story Grammar Marker's 6 Second Story™, which we can use to scaffold a kernel of conversation: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> Consider therefore how we can use different levels of narrative development to scaffold elaboration using fun and motivating contexts such as film clips as well.Gillam, S. L., Gillam, R. B., Reece, K., Nippold, M., & Schneider, P. (2012). Language Outcomes of Contextualized and Decontextualized Language Intervention: Results of an Early Efficacy Study. Language, Speech & Hearing Services In Schools, 43(3), 276-291. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2011/11-0022)Ukrainetz, T. A. (2007). Contextualized language intervention: Scaffolding PreK-12 literacy achievement. Pro-ed.Ehren, B. J. (2000). Maintaining a Therapeutic Focus and Shar[...]



newsela is a very nice resource of electronic news articles designed with education in mind, another e-resource to have in your toolkit along with EPIC! Books and ReadWorks. The site offers quite a lot to educators for free, and a "pro" tier is available. You can access it through a web browser or free app for iPad.

News articles serve a number of purposes in speech and language interventions:
-context for use of graphic organizers teaching narrative or expository language structures
-opportunity to pose questions and elicit discussion with use of discussion webs (see Hoggan and Strong's mention of discussion webs as a narrative teaching strategy)
-newsela is geared around "text sets" and themes as well as daily news, and also allows you to change the reading level of each article
-within each article is scaled vocabulary known as "Power Words"- these are presented with student-friendly definitions that align with Isabel Beck et al's recommendations for building robust vocabulary.
-presenting this material digitally will add a level of engagement; newsela integrates nicely with Google Classroom.


Sessions at ASHA Convention 2017


Hope to see some of you at ASHA Convention next week! My two sessions are as follows- Advance Handouts are available on the ASHA Planner.Session Code: 1324Title: Setting up the Sequel: Pairing Picture Book Series & Apps to Contextually Address Language ObjectivesDay: Friday, November 10, 2017Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AMLocation: Marriott Room: Diamond 5Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 HrsAbstract: Another “sequel” to this popular presentation with installments at ASHA 2012-2016 describes pairings of book series and apps serving as intervention contexts. The presentation explores research-supported strategies for using picture books in intervention for language development, providing exemplars of contextual book and app pairings serving as visual, interactive post-reading activities.Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and AdolescentsLearner Outcomes:Learner Outcome 1: Identify language structures and contexts within picture book text and illustrationsLearner Outcome 2: Evaluate apps for key features indicating applicability in language interventions Learner Outcome 3: Describe session plans pairing books and apps based on contextual correspondenceSession Code: 1621Title: "U Ought 2B in Pictures:" Creating Visual Supports With Apps Across a Range of InterventionsDay: Saturday, November 11, 2017Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AMLocation: Los Angeles Convention Center Room: Concourse 152 (Lvl 1)Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 HrsAbstract: Creating visual supports is a process of co-engagement and co-creation that aligns easily with best practices and key methodologies in language intervention. This presentation will model resources for creating simple visual supports via apps, along with examples across a range of treatment areas and ages, including interventions for compliance and self-regulation, vocabulary, syntax, narrative and expository language and social cognition.Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and AdolescentsLearner Outcomes:Learner Outcome 1: Describe 3 roles of visual supports in language interventionsLearner Outcome 2: Differentiate between co-engagement and co-creation while using apps in visual support activitiesLearner Outcome 3: Identify 3 features of apps facilitating ease of use in creating visual supports[...]

Haunted Listening Practice


Amazon's devices powered by Alexa provide great listening and social practice, as I mentioned in a previous post. This week I played the Haunted House skill* with a few groups, and though it wasn't perfect (some choices loop back to a conclusion you've already heard), it is free, engaged my students and helped us work on a few skills and strategies:

-The game is a choose-your-own-adventure style activity where a walkthrough of a "Haunted" House is narrated and you are provided with choices, thereby providing a narrative.
-We imposed a "round the table" rule for answering Alexa, in the process working on "group plan" and whole body listening.
-The auditory input gives you an opportunity to work on the skill of visualizing- consider using your Visualizing and Verbalizing® structure words or having the students sketch a collaborative "map" of the house and the events in different locations, Stickwriting Stories style (Incidentally, there's a good "Scary Visitor" story here to model).

*Alexa's skills are like apps, so to speak. To use these you will need an enabled device; The Echo Dot is a terrific and inexpensive device. You can enable skills via audio command as shown in the image, but there are several skills with this name. You might want to use the link in my second sentence or look it up in your Alexa app.


Fun with Mentos


A few weeks ago a colleague started a group session by having the participants guess what was in a bag- and it was apple Mentos. This reminded me of the goofy series of 90s Mentos (the Freshmaker!) ads like this one:

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I realized there are a number of good language opportunities in this series and subsequently have had fun using it in groups of teens:
-Wordless materials are often a good opportunity for students to practice narrative language and interpreting nonverbals (my students needed some cues with this, so it was definitely in their ZPD)
-A number of the commercials show someone breaking a "hidden rule" (e.g. we don't block people in when parking), a concept applicable across the day in social cognitive instruction.
-Ads are always fun for having students figure out the main idea or advertiser's intent/implied message: What do Mentos have to do with the situation?

Here are some more:

The Lunch Date

The Broken Shoe

The Car Movers

Fresh Paint

Associated activities:

-Play Foo Fighters' Big Me, which parodies these ads. What's the same and different?
-Eat Mentos!
-Do the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment. Naturally you can't do this in your room so it's an opportunity to have students figure out where you can do it, and practice walking and chatting together with bodies in a group. One of my HS students did a great job of evaluating where we could stage it so that we would not distract any nearby classrooms who might see us out the windows ("thinking with the eyes," among many Social Thinking® concepts)


EdTech Talking with AAC


I wanted to share here a presentation I recently made which is online and may be of interest. I was happy to be asked by SpeechScience and Yapp Guru University to participate in their online AAC After Work conference with an "intermission" talk. As I explain frequently, I'm not much of an AAC expert as in my career I have mostly worked with students with more moderate communication needs. However, I based the talk on a collaborative article I wrote with Dr. Kerry Davis, who also generously contributed for me some visuals on EdTech providing a context for students using AAC. CEUs are not available for this presentation, but I hope you'll find some resources and strategies within regarding the "conversation" that can take place between the fields of educational technology and speech-language pathology. I also recommend you check out the SpeechScience podcast, which you can find in your Podcasts app.

Link to presentation on YouTube allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">(image)

Approaching iOS 11...carefully


For those of us that depend on our iPads to any extent in our work, a new operating system brings exciting new features, but some trepidation. As it should. Apple released iOS 11 two weeks ago, and it comes with some cool updates particularly for the iPad. Note also that not all devices currently "out there" will be prompted to install (i.e. "can run") iOS 11. This is just a function of the cycle of upgrading (and on the downside, the march toward obscelence). To see if your device can run iOS 11, check this list. Remember you can always google your device model number (on the back, wicked small) to find out what generation your device is. If you are not able to update, don't stress. This doesn't mean your device is useless at all. You may run into apps that you cannot download due to your use of an earlier operating system, or hear of updates to apps that are similarly not available to your device. Just keep on keepin' on and think about upgrading to a new device eventually. The 5th Generation iPad is quite reasonably priced at $329.

It seems that iOS 11 was a line in the sand Apple needed to draw with developers who have not updated their apps in some time, and they need to update their apps for compatibility or they will simply not launch once you have installed iOS 11. This is the real reason I wanted to write this post, to advise you to wait a bit before updating (a month, maybe?) and check compatibility of your indispensable apps before you update. They've made this really easy to do! THIS POST EXPLAINS HOW.

I went through this list and checked, and for me there was nothing I couldn't live without except the original Toontastic (I'm ok with the new Toontastic 3D, but before updating I need to save some animations I made in the original as I often talk about the applications of these types of apps in workshops).

Unfortunately, if the developer is no longer interested on keeping their app functioning, apps that remain incompatible will just take up space on your iPad. Check out these different ways to delete apps- I particularly like the 2nd way of deleting from Settings.

I look forward to talking about the cool features of iOS 11 in the weeks to come.


Organize yourself (and maybe others) via Google Keep


In the last few weeks, I started back to work after summer vacation and began my regular consults at several schools. I am focusing on taking better notes--and organizing them. Notes are of course a way we can keep data on students, but providing consultation through a private practice motivates me to provide the best services possible, which in turn means not forgetting nuggets of information that could/should turn into action items for me. Historically I have been a little scattered in this process, using a combo of Mac/iOS Notes, Evernote, Google Docs and, well, actual paper notes. Starting the year fresh, I am trying out Google Keep, and so far am loving it. Some reasons why:

-I am embracing efforts at minimalism, which in this case are satisfied by using one resource (Google Apps) in many different ways.
-Keep looks like Post-its. This is pleasing.
-Within Keep, quickly click or tap to start and title a note. Notes are displayed in an array before you, and as opportunities arise, you can tap out of one note and into another. This is particularly useful in consultation as student names come up and new info is shared, or when running groups.
-Keep allows you to color-code and label notes for organization. Like other Google items, you can share and collaborate a note. Students' work products can be photographed and placed in a note for additional data. You also can make notes contain reminders or checklists.
-I have been keeping one note on each student in my charge and I see options ahead- I could either make these a monthly note or each note can be copied to Google Docs.
-So far I have been using Keep via its web version on the Mac, but there are apps available for iPad and iPhone and other platforms.
-Keep is free with a Google Account and you can log in from anywhere (I got turned off of Evernote when it only allowed you two devices).
-Students may also have access to Keep (or you can request the administrator to "turn it on," and it therefore provides another assistive tech possibility within their existing Google Accounts.

As I am taking notes in the cloud so to speak, I always only put student initials as identifying info.

This video provides a great tutorial from an educational perspective. Enjoy Google Keep if you try it!

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">(image)

Looking for engaging therapy ideas? Check out Anna Vagin's YouCue Feelings video series


Anna Vagin has been sharing wonderful ideas about using electronic media in therapy. Anna has a strong focus on social learning but her resources on using YouTube also have implications for narrative language, sentence formulation and categorization. I've long been a fan of her YouCue Feelings book (available also as a handy Kindle edition you can put in the Kindle app on your iPad), but she has also produced a series of short videos available on YouTube, including this one featuring recommendations for younger students.

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Dr. Vagin (an SLP) shares broad ideas about resilience and friendship here, but the videos mentioned can also be used to work on more discrete skills. I often use her recommendations in conjunction with narrative tools like Story Grammar Marker® so that students "get" the narrative and have practice retelling it. Spins on story retelling such as analyzing the story elements of initiating event, response and plan from two different perspectives are suggested by the Bert and Ernie example (see specifically Mindwing's Perspective Taking or Critical Thinking Triangle maps). Also contained in this video are alignments with Zones of Regulation® and work on categorization (feeling words) and association. The app Lists for Writers is a good source of many lists including emotions and personality traits. Dr. Vagin recommends the use of whiteboards (which I love) but Book Creator or more simply, Doodle Buddy, can also be used for the sketching and association activities (e.g. plane and runway) she describes.

See Dr. Vagin's full offerings here.

Disclosure: author provides blog content for Mindwing Concepts, Inc.


ASHA LALA Convention and a Tech Travel Point


I was very excited to have two 2-hr seminars accepted for the ASHA Convention in Los Angeles, this year being held November 9-11, 2017. Here are the details so you can add them to your planner if you are interested:From Wikimedia Session Code: 1324Title: Setting up the Sequel: Pairing Picture Book Series & Apps to Contextually Address Language ObjectivesDay: Friday, November 10, 2017Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AMLocation: Marriott Room: Diamond 5Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 HrsAbstract: Another “sequel” to this popular presentation with installments at ASHA 2012-2016 describes pairings of book series and apps serving as intervention contexts. The presentation explores research-supported strategies for using picture books in intervention for language development, providing exemplars of contextual book and app pairings serving as visual, interactive post-reading activities.Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and AdolescentsLearner Outcomes:Learner Outcome 1: Identify language structures and contexts within picture book text and illustrationsLearner Outcome 2: Evaluate apps for key features indicating applicability in language interventions Learner Outcome 3: Describe session plans pairing books and apps based on contextual correspondenceSession Code: 1621Title: "U Ought 2B in Pictures:" Creating Visual Supports With Apps Across a Range of InterventionsDay: Saturday, November 11, 2017Time: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AMLocation: Los Angeles Convention Center Room: Concourse 152 (Lvl 1)Session Format: Seminar 2-hours PDH(s): 2 HrsAbstract: Creating visual supports is a process of co-engagement and co-creation that aligns easily with best practices and key methodologies in language intervention. This presentation will model resources for creating simple visual supports via apps, along with examples across a range of treatment areas and ages, including interventions for compliance and self-regulation, vocabulary, syntax, narrative and expository language and social cognition.Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and AdolescentsLearner Outcomes:Learner Outcome 1: Describe 3 roles of visual supports in language interventionsLearner Outcome 2: Differentiate between co-engagement and co-creation while using apps in visual support activitiesLearner Outcome 3: Identify 3 features of apps facilitating ease of use in creating visual supportsMy "Tech Travel Point," besides the ones I outlined in this column for the Leader, is that WOW hotels in big cities like LA can be expensive. Even with the convention discounts, the ones in LA were a lot, and I don't care about fancy-shmancy or being in the hubbub of a conference. This summer I had a lot of success using AirBnB for travel in Maine and, finding myself more interested in the "sharing economy," I found lots of options in LA. I'll let you know how it goes with the one I chose![...]

Summer Reading, Part 3


One of the resources that has been helping me read more is Goodreads, a database of books and reviews. Goodreads integrates well with your Facebook account, and this is helpful both for pulling in friends and seeing what they are reading, and allowing you to post to Facebook about your own books. It creates kind of a positive peer pressure for reading, and this makes Goodreads a helpful tool for us, and potentially for clients as well. Encouraging clients to use Goodreads to find books similar to what they have enjoyed could potentially get them to read more, and also be an outlet to help them write about what they have read. A few other features of Goodreads that I enjoy:

-The mobile app is excellent, and in fact a little better than the website itself.
-Goodreads allows you to mark books as "Want to Read" and this is a good place to keep a list of this kind when you encounter book recommendations, preventing you from getting "stuck."
-The site provides recommendations based on what you have read and how you have star-reviewed books.
-It integrates with the Overdrive-Kindle connection (mentioned in my last post) so what you are reading through there is automatically added to your "Currently Reading." There are other features such as a Chrome extension that allows you to see which of your To-Read books are currently available on Overdrive.