Anyone else love FREE therapy tools?! Here’s a new one just for you this Thanksgiving season. I’ve got three, FREE pacing boards you can download for your therapy room, classroom, or home! Pacing Boards are an excellent visual support you can use for so many purposes. Use these Thanksgiving-themed pacing boards to give students visual/tactile/kinesthetic feedback for reducing rate of speech, sequencing sounds/syllables in multisyllabic words, increasing mean length of utterance, formulating sentences, increasing conversational reciprocity and more!! These pacing boards can be essential tools to increase student’s independence as they practice skills; perfect for students to use at home, too! Just print onto cardstock or durable paper and/or laminate. Can also be used as game score cards, token reinforcement cards, pattern sets or sorting cards. I LOVE pacing boards because they are super versatile and students really benefit from these low-tech visual supports. Here you go! Free from me to you.
Category: Assistive Technology
Heart of the Ravens
Are you a Ravens fan? Here in Baltimore, it is hard to go anywhere without seeing the color Purple or hearing about how the Ravens are headed to Denver for the playoffs. But did you know there is a deeper story? A story that may appeal to SLPs, or to those of you who love someone with a communication disorder or life-threatening illness? This story struck me not just because I am an SLP whose mission is to help others communicate — it struck me because I love someone living with ALS. My mother-in-law, Nancy, was diagnosed with ALS on July 3, 2011. Her spirit and passion for loving others and making a difference in people’s lives continue to shine, just as they do with Ravens Player O.J. Brigance. Take a look at this video that premiered on ESPN just before the most recent Ravens game:
Love you, Mom!
Holiday Cheer – FREE Visual Support for Functional Communication
The holidays are very quickly approaching! Who am I kidding, they are already here. Before busy moms and dads had even finished their school supply shopping, stores were convincing us that holiday preparations must immediately begin. Even though I am still creating my back-to-school organization system (a nevr-ending process, apparently,) I am clearly in full holiday mode and planning for the hustle and bustle that will carry us all into 2013. How about a FREE DOWNLOAD to spread some holiday cheer!?
With family dinners, parties and get-togethers planned, the holidays can be a
hectic time–possible overwhelmingly so to an individual needing pragmatic or
communication support. These pragmatic communication cards containing core
vocabulary/functional phrases provide visual support for expressing wants and
needs in a variety of social situations. The cards can be left as-is and used as
a communication/choice board, or cut apart and placed on a ring for easy access.
The cards can also be used in conjunction with an AAC/AT device or low-tech
communication board for communication support that is portable and
functional.The cards are applicable year-round, but may be especially useful
during holidays, family get-togethers or parties.
Going Green – Earth Day Activities Part 2
Wow, what an overwhelming response I received after being featured as a guest contributor on PediaStaff, sharing some of my Earth Day activities! I decided to share a few more ideas for those of you looking to plan your week with Green therapy, technology and activities that incorporate UDL strategies. Please feel free to click, download and share any of these resources. Enjoy!
Here is a lively video teaching kids to Reuse, Reduce Waste, Recycle. It will get everyone up, dancing and moving as they learn about the 3Rs of helping the world:
Are you looking for even more visuals/activities to address goals with Earth Day vocabulary? Here are a couple of creations for you — Free downloads!
Looking for some Earth Day Books to share with your students? Check out some of my favorite theme-based books that will reinforce the concepts you review in therapy sessions. Many of these books are available in e-reader and audio versions as well as print:
Also, I previously posted about a site that offers free online versions of books. For every book read, they make a donation to literacy campaigns around the world. What better way to help your students feel good about working to make the world a better place?? If you are not yet convinced, please watch this video that gives you an overview of the Pearson Foundation inititative. It is well worth a couple of minutes of your time:
So get reading! Use your computer, laptop or smartboard to create a multi-media, interactive story time that will also make you and your students feel good about helping others. Here are a few Earth Day selections (by the way, this post is not a solicited review of their site or program…I simply think it is a wonderful idea for many, many reasons!):
I hope you enjoy these ideas designed to offer engaging activities with multiple modes of presentation. The more I learn about what works in speech-language therapy, the more passionate I become about incorporating technology into my sessions. I would love to hear from those of you who are using similar technologies with your students. Thank you for visiting LiveSpeakLove!
“SMART” Speech-Language Therapy
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:
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.
- 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.