April 25, 2012
One of my personal goals this year is to increase the use of technology in my therapy sessions. Much of my “free” time can be spent compiling lists and exploring possible resources, applications, Universal Design for Learning strategies and interactive programs. I do plan on purchasing an iPad in the near future to use in my private practice, so I have been bookmarking lists of apps and other resources that the iPad offers. Though the school district for whom I also work has not yet authorized the use of iPads for instructional use, I feel quite fortunate to work in a setting that does offer a variety of additional technology resources — flipcams, smartboards, the ActivPanel I now have in my therapy room, and more. I have developed a few favorite tools that students really seem to enjoy, and the opportunities for engagement and interaction have increased immeasurably. I like to think I am pretty engaging all by myself, but there is something to be said about therapy that includes music, color, sound, movement, and electronic modes of presentation. Children today are wired for the technology (read more about this thought in my Signs of the Times post.)
One therapy tool that is quickly marching its way into first place is the use of video to target speech-language goals.For students whose performance is greatly enhanced with the use of music and visual stimuli, videos help to secure focused attention and engage their minds for interactive learning. I often insert a video into a smartboard lesson, designed to reinforce a theme or idea. Below is a video I found recently on Youtube, which I used in a caterpillar/butterfly seasonal theme. I used the video in a smartboard lesson that reviewed the lifecycle of the caterpillar/butterfly, and reinforced the recently presented story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. The video helped to help model use of descriptive concepts, and we used colorful scarves to incorporate motor movement and sensory input as we pretended to fly like the butterflies. Students were absolutely mesmerized by this tranquil video! They readily formulated their own phrases and sentences to describe colored butterfly pictures following the video:
I’ve also posted recently about using Animoto to create videos using music and selected images. I made another video today with a group of students to target expressive language, descriptive concepts, theme vocabulary and answering wh questions. To introduce summer theme vocabulary, I created a folder of Google images showing kids enjoying a variety of summer activities. Students took turns selecting the pictures they wanted to use in the video, and we practiced individual speech-language goals as we selected the pictures. Here is a visual I created to highlight the sequential directions for this video-making activity:
After we selected pictures, we uploaded them to Animoto, added the music track, and reviewed our objectives/progress while we waited for the video to finish “production” (a process that only takes a couple of minutes.) Then we were ready for step 4 — watching the video! I just loved seeing how connected and animated my students were when they saw the video and recalled the images they contributed. I noted increases in attention, participation, spontaneous verbalizations and use of targeted concepts in ALL students in the group. Here is the video that we made:
With so much success, I plan on using video as a therapy tool as much as possible — flipcam video and mobile device image uploads to star students themselves, interactive video clips in smartboard files, youtube videos that highlight concepts or themes, and other educational videos from sites like BrainPop, PBSKids, and more. I still reserve time and energy to create hands-on activities using games, toys, concrete objects and pictures; but the use of video as a therapy tool is clearly a winner in my book…er, umm– electronic reading device.
April 14, 2012
I wanted to share a successful activity that I used with a group of students. We have been working on the formulation of sentences using correct verb forms. I posted previously about how to quickly extract Pinterest images from PediaStaff Pinboards to create activities for my interactive smartboard. We have all enjoyed the use of technology in our sessions, and students especially the sound files that are played as they interact with the images. Here is a snapshot of the activity I previously posted:
I have also posted previously about using Animoto to create multi-media videos using images I select. Students have really seemed to love the videos I have used so far. I decided to have a group of students help me create a video as part of their speech-language therapy, using images I extracted from the PediaStaff Action Verb Photo Library on Pinterest. To start, we reviewed the folder of images I extracted from the photo library, stored on the computer. Students took turns choosing which pictures they wanted to include in the video, and produced a sentence with their targeted verb form (e.g., “The lion is roaring.” or “The boy was crying because he was tired.”) As they took turns, I copied their selected images into a newly created folder to use for our Animoto video. After all the images were selected, we easily and quickly made our Animoto video. To make the video, we uploaded an mp3 file I bought for 99 cents from Amazon, and then we uploaded the images students just selected. We added a couple of text slides (as we reviewed the concept of Action Words, and the different verb forms each student was currently working on as their objective.) Ta-da!! Our video was created. After a couple of minutes to discuss each student’s progress, our video was ready to view. Students were amazed that the work they just completed was instantly transformed into their very own music video! This activity reinforced their work in such a dynamic, rewarding way. Students were excited, beaming and abuzz with chatter about how they had just made their own video — definitely a success!! I plan on using this technology tool again very soon. For your viewing pleasure, here is the video that my students created:
Interested in trying Animoto for yourself? Click here: Animoto
March 12, 2012
Ok, all of you tech-savvy SLPs, educators and parents…here it is. The launching of a wonderfully convenient media tool that will surely increase your productivity, creativity and use of technology– Google Play.
Many of you know that I am an Android device kind of girl, and I have had great success using some of the Android-based features as case management tools to streamline paperwork and sync documents between my devices. I admit that I feel a bit left out of the iPad craze in speech-language therapy sessions, especially when people like SLP Jenna over at Speech Room News post fabulous ideas and resources for using the iPad to target therapy objectives. Take a peek at her latest:
I’ve been thinking that even though my school district currently does not approve the use of mobile or tablet devices with students, surely there is a way to use my android device to at least prepare similar resources that can be presented to students on a desktop or laptop computer (if you are asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” you are not alone. I have faith that my very large school system is working on a process to approve and integrate mobile/tablet devices for use with students. For now, we have wonderful resources to use like the ActivPanel and other interactive smartboards, student voting/response consoles, and interactive web-based software like ActivInspire, Edmodo and Voicethread. The mobile devices are coming, but developing empirically based best practice standards for these tools is a process. )
In my ongoing search for tools to create dynamic, engaging therapy materials and productive work solutions, I am extremely pleased to see the anticipated launch of Google Play. Google Play is now integrated with the previously known Android Market, now providing a one-stop shop for app selection, purchase, storage, and back-up. In addition to the Android Apps, Google Play also offers the same options for all of your other media as well. Even if you do not own an Android device, you can still upload all of your music and other media to the Google Play “cloud” for storage and anytime access. Check out how Google Play now provides shop and share features, Cloud storage and instant syncing to all of your devices for ALL of your media:
While this may be a marketing move from Google to branch out into territory previously dominated by powerhouse media providers like iTunes, Netflix and Amazon’s Kindle, this move opens quite a few doors for a busy Android user like myself. I love that all of my apps, music, photos, videos, and books are integrated into a single point-of-entry design. Google Play also lends itself nicely to using other Google features like Google Reader, Google Docs, Gmail and Google Calendar (all applications that are also accessible on my Android.)
So while the iPad may be the sexy, trendy tool for most therapists, I find it very exciting to be an Android user and discover even more possibilities that can easily translate from mobile device to work desktop to laptop to home computer…instantly. I will continue researching to explore which apps will work with the current regulations of my school district, and develop more therapy tools using the technology we have available. Be sure to look for upcoming posts in the (hopefully) near future as I spend some time researching and creating with the apps I find. In the meantime, here are a few links to sites where people have obviously done quite a bit of Android research themselves:
If any of you are using Android device and apps as part of your clinical management, practice or therapy, let me know. I would love to hear the kinds of things people are using and if you find Google Play a useful media management tool.
February 12, 2012
I am fortunate to work in a Title 1 school with supplemental funding to provide rich, technological experiences for the developing minds of our children. ELMOS, document cameras, mobile computer labs, and interactive whiteboards are familiar terms to teachers and students throughout my building. Today’s generation of children are ostensibly at a disadvantage if their education does not incorporate technology on a regular basis…a sign of the times. I’ve heard students in my school ask questions that make me chuckle, like, “What’s an overhead?” or “Can we just Google it and find the answer?” I also had a student recently point to a picture of JFK on the wall in the hallway and remark, “Hey, I know him! He’s in my Black Ops game!” Ahhh yes, sign of the times.
Children today are surrounded by multi-media sensory input; instant gratification in the form of video games, cell phone apps, texts, on-demand video streaming, internet search engines and multi-media lifestyles. As a young, hip SLP (just go with it…I’m making a point here ) I prefer to reach students where they are and provide therapy activities incorporating technological resources, whenever possible. Feeling a bit passionate about the idea of addressing multiple learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile) and building brain connections through a multi-modal approach to instruction, I even began a technology initiative for the SLPs in my school district this year. A Technology Committe was formed with interested participants, and we have been meeting periodically to develop systems for creating and sharing technological resources. We hope that other SLPs in our county will take advantage of opportunities to incorporate technology into their therapy sessions. Our work is to be “unveiled” at a professional development next month, and preparing for the presentation is getting me even more excited about the work we have done.
In the LiveSpeakLove spirit of sharing resources, I thought I would post some of my favorite ways of incorporating technology into therapy sessions. My county has a strict policy for the use and approval of technology, so all the ideas I have here are limited to what is currently approved for my school distrcit (i.e., no iPad, iTouch or related technology; web-based applications and sites have been approved through our filter process.)
ActivInspire Flipcharts – My school system uses the ActivInspire software program as one way to create “flipcharts” or lessons to be used on interactive smartboards. I now have a desktop version of the classroom-sized whiteboard in my therapy room, so I am using ActivInpire Flipcharts for individual, small and classroom-sized groups. I really do not work for Promethean or ActivInspire, but this technology has changed the way I provide therapy. Check out this video for a quick overview:
You can create your own flipcharts using the program’s resource libraries merged with your own content, or find unlimited resources to download and adapt at the following sites:
Online Games/Activities - The internet is filled with language-rich games and activities that will engage learners and provide instant reinforcement for task completion. Not to take the place of traditional speech-language therapy with individualized instruction and feedback provided in a monitored, systematic format, online games are a unique supplement to the personal interactions we create in therapy. Some of my favorite sites are:
TinyEye Online Therapy - I found this wonderful, internet-based company several years ago when I worked for them providing online speech-language therapy (via Skype and the ingenious online therapy system they have created) with a school in China. Taking advantage of the time difference, I logged on several times a week after my own children were in bed and provided instruction and feedback to students in China (who were assisted by their teachers during our sessions.) This service delivery model is perhaps the REAL wave of the future. With critical shortages of SLPs throughout our world, companies like TinyEye have devised a way to use technology to meet students’ needs in an efficient, global model for services. Even if you have no desire to Skype with China during your normal snoozing hours (perhaps not for sleep-deprived souls with crazy lives, but I would do it again if a mutually-agreeable contract became available,) you can still take advantage of their online therapy games–FREE for school-based SLPs. Just register with them to receive access to games addressing myriad goals, objectives, skills and targets. Games can be added to online “backpacks” with access even given to students for homework practice. Here is just a sampling of the abundant online resources they offer:
Online "Backpack" of games to target individual students
Farm Game - students click to answer WH qestions involving concept vocabulary
Animated Mermaid Matching game to target articulation skills through matching words or minimal pairs
PBS Kids Online Games - online games linked to curricular content, featuring characters from the PBS shows.
Nick Jr. Online Games - More online games featuring kids’ favorite characters. All of the games feature educational content linked to curriular vocabulary.
SMART Exchange - Images and smartboard lessons that are directly linked to State Curriculum Standards. Simply click on your state, identify the standard, grade level and subject area, and VOILA!! Instant resources available to you that address those standards. Here is a glimpse of a search I did for third grade language arts activities using the Maryland Core Standards:
Online Multi-media resources – Images and videos can be directly inserted into flipcharts, smartboard lessons, or PowerPoint presentations to increase student engagement through visual stimuli, sounds and animation. I frequently search for images to use in Boardmaker documents, to target populations that comprehend and store vocabulary labels significantly better when real images are used (see this article for a brief rationale.) I also use sound effects and videos frequently in computer or smartboard-based lessons. Children in today’s world — a world filled to the brim with t.v. shows, video games, computer games, cell phone games and so on and so on and so on — love the power in clicking an icon or button to create instant visual or auditory feedback. Here are my favorite tools for creating multi-media delight in therapy activities:
- Google - Wow, images and animations galore, many of them free! (just make sure you have an antivirus program installed before you click on links you find.) You can search for gif animations, videos, and even use their image search feature to locate the exact image to insert into your lesson.
Snapshot of Google Image search results for "bears"
- YouTube – Not just for watching Ellen’s Favorite Videos or the latest Adele performance – there are amazing, inumerable educational resources found on youtube. Read this entry to see an example of one video I used in a language lesson for young students. My seventh grade son reviews algebra concepts each night by watching youtube videos from KhanAcademy. You can even learn how to increase your use of technology in therapy by watching podcasts from one resourceful SLP!
- Watch Know Learn - free, organized database of educational videos covering all subjects and grade levels.
- Self-made video clips – my school purchased several flip cams that many of us use. With these cameras, students can be video-taped (abiding by confidentiality requirements) and inserted into presentations. Therapy sessions can include self-assessment and monitoring pieces with this tool, and provide documentation for acquisition of skills. Plus, kids just like it.
- Video Montage Programs – Pictures and video clips can be set to music and preserved using slide show programs like Animoto or Windows Movie Maker . I often use programs like these outside of therapy as well (e.g., to document accomplishnents during school-wide assemblies, or to document my own family photos in a creative way.)
This is just a quick overview of some of the tools I routinely use to increase student engagement and give them multiple ways of processing and responding during our sessions. For even more ideas, check out suggestions from the National Center on Universal Design for Learning (UDL.) In addition to technology ideas, their list of suggestions includes ways to adapt materials for various disabilities and activate background knowledge in students across populations. A fantastically huge database of web-based resources is presented as it relates to UDL checkpoints.
Feel free to let me know what types of technology you are using and how your students or children respond. We live in a dynamic, fast-paced world where ”smart therapy” means more than just keeping up with the latest reseatch. To be truly “smart,” we now need to step out of our comfort zones a bit and embrace the technology that surrounds us.