Articulation, Free Downloads, Language

Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month!

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! In the LiveSpeakLove spirit of sharing resources, I have created some FREE printable information pages for you to distribute to parents, teachers and other educators. Please feel free to share with others for educational and/or personal use. Enjoy!

Find out more about Speech-Language Therapy and Better Speech and Hearing Month with the following resources:

Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Lights, Camera, Action!! Using Videos as a Therapy Tool

 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. 🙂

Free Downloads, Language, Thoughts and Inspirations

Top Five Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language

One struggling parent recently described her son’s speech to me as sounding “like nothing more than a robot.” This description spoke volumes about what it must be like as a parent of a child with autism or similar disorder.  A child whose very personality is veiled by a mask of robotic speech — scripted sentences, drill-like productions, automated phrases to answer questions or label objects . As a mom, I can understand the ache that this mom was feeling for her child. She longed for a genuine conversation, a sweet moment to  glimpse into her child’s mind and hear him speak with intention and meaning. Working in the public school setting and my additional private practice, I encounter many families struggling with this issue. A large number of my students are children with autism or similar disorders that include significant expressive language impairments. Many of these students are somewhat verbal, but their expressive language appears limited to verbal imitations of given models or simple, scripted sentences following a visual. Often, the presence of echolalia and/or attention difficulties further compound the expressive language issues. ABA or structured expressive language trials often increase verbalization of targeted concepts and scripted sentences, but the spontaneous language may still be very limited.  As a trained speech therapist, I know that repetitive trials are often the key to skill acquisition, language memory and motor planning. But I also know that for students struggling with functional, spontaneous language, I need to move beyond the drills, repetitions and the neat sets of ten that convert easily into percentage scores. I need to create moments of intention and meaning that can be reinforced naturally, in the moment.  There are a few tricks I’ve acquired that I consider very effective tools to create spontaneous language opportunities. I am pleased to share them with you here in my first official “Top Five” post. Many of these ideas may come naturally to you as a parent or clinician; maybe not. Either way, I hope these ideas will inspire you to think and reflect, and to seek genuine, spontaneous moments of language with your child or student.

Top Five Ways to Encourage Spontaneous Language:

1. Use Communication Temptations – I previously posted about lots of ways to “tempt” children to communicate. Temptation is a very powerful motivator. Though you may be finely in tune with your student and know exactly what they want or think, be sure to encourage functional communication skills as you interact. Offer activities that require the student to be motivated by something they want, need, love or desire. In my post, you can read some of the tools I often use and how to effectively create communication temptations.

2.  Use Elements of Surprise – this tool is one of my favorites for increasing spontaneous language. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing a quiet, hard-working but rather disinterested child suddenly come to life with exclamations of excitement, laughter and delight. The surprises do need to be varied and presented infrequently or they become, well, not very surprising. And some surprises might be startling or even scary for students, so you should closely monitor students’ reactions. But the right balance  of surprise can be an extremely effective tool in fostering expressive language and meaningful connections with your student. Here are a few of my favorite surprises:

  • Surprise idea #1: Motion sensor toys – I have had very good success with toys that come to life in song, dance moves or cascades of giggles. These toys can be found just about anywhere they sell toys. My latest find is animals that roll and erupt in side-splitting, contagious, can’t-catch-your-breath fits of giggles. My students have all loved my new roly-poly giggling guy, who I first introduced as “my very kind friend who sometimes gets a little silly.” We enjoyed lots of laughs as we practiced language concepts. I have the alligator version of this toy, but it does the same thing as this little pig:
  • Surprise Idea #2: Planned “accidents” – Accidents catch people off-guard and create instant reactions. I love hearing students express their surprise,  pleasure, or even worry as a train drives right off the track or crashes into another train. When a puzzle is “accidentally” knocked off the table onto the floor, I often hear complete sentences like, “Oh no, what happened? It’s ok, I’ll help you!”  We work together to remedy the problem, and their spontaneous language is reinforced in a very real-word situation. (Photo courtesy of YummyDelicious.com.)

  • Surprise Idea #3: Hidden objects – Yes, it’s true, I am known as the Bag Lady in some parts around here. I often bring bags of interesting objects, toys or theme accessories with me. Admittedly born with a somewhat dramatic flair, I take pride in my ability to create an atmosphere of anticipation, mystery and eventual excitement/awe with a mere “something” hidden in a bag. Before the big reveal, I encourage students to guess what might be in the bag, accepting and reinforcing virtually any answer but also calling attention to the bag size and shape. Students can reach in the bag and pull out  –whatever it is– which can be fun or even delightful to a curious child. Spontaneous language, as well as other targeted language concepts can be elicited as they react to what they have found. You can also hide objects buried in sand for students to discover as they dig,  use the computer or smartboard to reveal hide pictures that can be revealed with the click of a mouse or stylus. Hands-on, interactive activities like these create opportunities for spontaneous language that traditional flash card or picture stimuli do not.  (above photo courtesy of glamzzle.com.)

                                                                                                          (photo courtesy of Vappingo.com)   
 3.  Make Mistakes – Many times as I am working with a student, I purposefully insert mistakes to catch them off guard and create a reaction. Often, their reaction involves correcting my mistake, a task eliciting language targets without direct prompting. I may use the wrong word in my sentence and simply pause with a confused look on my face as I scratch my head and say, “Is that right?” Another mistake I often make is to hand them the wrong tool or object. If we have just decided to use a certain toy or game, I might hand them a puzzle instead, or maybe even the plant from my desk! A confused look from me usually elicits a reaction, and  possibly a clarification of what I was supposed to get. One of my favorite moments using this “purposeful mistake” strategy was when a student remembered what I had done and spontaneously made a similar mistake in our next session. Before I could respond to his mistake, he burst into laughter saying, “I didn’t make a mistake; I tricked you!” Yes, REAL language, without structured prompts; a glimpse into his mind and heart.

4. Use Humor – Closely related to using elements of surprise and making mistakes, there is another skill I am proud to exhibit– the ability to be silly and often make a fool of myself! Whether it be acting out silly animal actions, donning a ridiculous hat or mask, or getting goofy during some interactive play, the use of humor can elicit focused attention, interactive smiles, giggles and of course, spontaneous language. One trick I tried recently came from an idea I found on Pinterest, originally from I Love 2 Teach.  I modified the idea slightly and created a Boardmaker file of different voices to produce. I used the idea with a group of students working on following directions, and they each picked the voice they wanted me to use to give the direction. INSTANT engagement, amusement and focus on my verbal direction! I plan on using this tool in other types of activities very soon, encouraging the students to try out the different voices on their own. Here is the Boardmaker file for you to download:

5. Play – This Top 5 idea may sound obvious, as many clinicians, teachers and parents incorporate play into their time with language-impaired students. But play, REAL play, is essential for developing spontaneous language, social skills and creativity. Many children do not know how to play. They need experience and appropriate models. When I first began using play in therapy, I would bring out bins of fun toys and then initiate what I thought were interactions, but were actually play-based commands. “Okay, where’s the bear? That’s the bear! Ok, put the bear on the table. You say, ‘On the table!’ ” Sometimes my “play” more closely resembled correction…”No, that’s a chair;  I said on the table, put the bear on the table. ” Looking back, I am pretty sure that the children to whom these commands were directed during their “play” time did not really have very much fun. These directives involved toys, yes, but the activity could hardly be called interactive play. Now, I realize the things I wish my much younger self had known. Specifically, real play should involve letting the child explore and choose what he/she wants to do, with interactions built-in to the chosen activity. Interactions are encouraged during moments of play as the child discovers what they find intriguing, amusing or just plain fun. I watch their behavior, and join them in their exploration. As we play, I initiate dialogue using characters or toys as the “speakers” As we play, I also model language production and elicit responses through play behavior, but I stay away from the commands. Throughout the session, I might encourage them to verbalize requests or imitate words and language concepts, but our play is child-led and consists of much more than a series of commands. Using true interactive play is an engaging activity that sets the stage for spontaneous verbalizations, comments, requests and engaging time to connect.

Okay, so there it is…my first Top Five list. Thank you for reading, and if you use any of these ideas, please let me know how it works for you. Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

Assistive Technology, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

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!

~Lisa

Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Creating Multi-media Videos Using Pinterest Images

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

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Technology

Earth Day Activities

Spring is definitely in full swing! Our Spring Break is now over, but there is certainly no shortage of seasonal fun for the speech-language therapy room. I have been asked by Heidi Kay of PediaStaff to write a post highlighting activities that could be used for Earth Day. Heidi has pinned many of my activities on Pediastaff’s incredible collection of Pinterest Pinboards, and she also recently wrote an article for ASHASphere highlighting this Live Speak Love blog as one of the “Best Speech-Language Blogs A-Z.  Wow! I am both honored and excited to present to you this Earth Day post that is featured on the PediaStaff blog.

Earth Day, in my opinion, is a wonderful opportunity to educate children of all ability levels about the importance of taking care of our world. As children develop an understanding of the vocabulary, themes and issues, there are many teachable moments and life-changing conversations that can develop as a result. Earth Day is a universal cause, and it often sparks something in the minds of young learners. My own children have shown particular interest in the Earth Day theme, causing me to make changes in our family’s recycling habits. Children of all ages and ability levels can begin learning what it means to “Go Green” and care for the world in which we live.

These fun activities can be used to target almost any speech-language goal or objective. In the past, I have used Earth Day activities during individual and small group sessions, and also during co-treatment sessions with classroom teachers, the occupational therapist and/or the school social worker.

Here is a printable social story mini-book (four pages total to be cut into quadrants) you can use to introduce what it means to “Go Green.” Students will learn how they can conserve energy and protect the environment. You can even print an Earth Day Certificate for each student who pledges to do their part. Just click on the images to download:

Earth Day Bingo Boards are another great way to introduce the Earth Day theme and relevant vocabulary.  During your Bingo Game, you can target myriad speech-language objectives like answering wh questions, formulating sentences using target vocabulary, labeling objects or using descriptive words in phrases and/or sentences. I often give “Mystery Clues” about a Bingo Picture, and students individually locate the target words from the given verbal descriptions. There are six different boards I made for you to download:

To teach about Recycling, I have used a few different sorting activities. These activities can be used to target word class, categorization, picture identification or labeling, answering simple wh questions, expressive language and more. Probably the most popular activity I have tried is actually taking a group of students outside for a “walk” where we discover an area littered with trash (pre-planted by me, of course.) After some discussion, students pick up the trash and decide what to do with it. Put it in the trash can? Recycle? Or (perfect critical thinking opportunity here) could it be saved to use again or perhaps re-purposed? This real-world, action-oriented activity really hits home with my students, causing many of them to search for trash (or treasures) on the school grounds or in their neighborhoods. Students love to come and tell me what they have found, and the action that they took. To do this activity with any sized-group, all you need is a pile of carefully selected “litter.”

If you do not have the opportunity to conduct this real-word exercise (or if you want to send a follow-up activity home for students to complete) I made this cut-and-paste version you could use:

For those of you with smartboards, you can use this virtual litter sorting game. Students will love dragging each item to its proper destination. If you have ActivInspire or a compatible program, just click on the link below to download the interactive flipchart I created:

Another great activity to use on a smartboard is this Going Green interactive game board. Just pair this game with any stimulus cards or questions that you wish to target. Students are always very enthusiastic about “rolling” the virtual dice and moving their game piece around the board. I have used similar game boards with both small and large groups. For larger groups, I place students on teams to increase interaction and decrease any wait time.

If you do not have a smartboard, or if you wish to insert the gameboard image to create your own file, here is a version you can import or print:

 

Working on those tricky /r/ sounds? Here are stimulus cards to target -er in all positions of words. Just print and cut to use with any open-ended activity (like the game boards above!) Or, print double copies to use in matching/memory games with the Earth Day theme:I’ve also used craft activities to incorporate fine motor skills, often in  co-treatment sessions with the occupational therapist. Here is an activity in which students can follow sequential directions to create an “Earth.” Descriptive words, sequential and ordinal concepts, following directions and other language skills can be targeted in this “Go Green” project: 

Whatever activities you choose, students will almost certainly appreciate learning how they can personally make a difference in our world.  Doesn’t everyone want to feel that their actions have impact and meaning?  So, Go Green this Earth Day, and enjoy teaching your students how to make our world a better place.

Language

Neuroscientist: Think twice about cutting music in schools

Is your school district cutting back on funding for special programs like music? Schools may want to rethink their strategies for increasing student performance. Check out the article below — thanks to Advance for Speech-Language Pathologists  for the link.

To start, here is a quote highlight from the article — doesn’t get any clearer than this word of caution,  “Cash-strapped school districts are making a mistake when they cut music from the K-12 curriculum,” says Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory in Northwestern’s School of Communication.

Click to read more: Neuroscientist: Think twice about cutting music in schools.

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Therapy Tools, Thoughts and Inspirations

The Egg-stravaganza Continues!

We’ve been having a fun-filled, colorful time in speech-language therapy! Out of all the Spring activities I’ve tried, students have been most enthusiastic about using the colored, plastic eggs I purchased for a few dollars at my local craft store.

I’ve paired the eggs with other technology-based activities, like the virtual game-board I featured in my last post. I used this activity in my therapy room, and also in the classroom setting as a co-treatment with the social worker. We used previously-posted pragmatic questions inserts for the eggs, and each team got to pick an egg and answer the question when it was their turn. Because the pragmatic questions were a BIG hit out in blog-land (as judged by Pinterest pins and downloads,) and because I found I needed some lower-level questions for those students needing more concrete stimuli, I also created an additional set of pragmatic inserts for you to download:

I also co-treated with the occupational therapist in an adaptive classroom setting. We filled the eggs with these “Following Direction” inserts and “hid” the eggs around the room. Students got to hunt for eggs, then we answered the questions or followed the directions that were in the eggs. We did many of the directions as a whole group, and each student got to come to the front to demonstrate to the class when it was their turn. For directions requiring drawing, we used the classroom smartboard, but you could also use a chalkboard, dry erase board or easel.

Another fun activity I’ve used in large and small groups working on simple descriptive vocabulary is to pair the eggs with colored pom poms and colored objects. Students can pick a color/colored object, and then hunt for an egg that is the same color. Sentence formulation, use of color words in descriptive phrases, matching and answering simple what and where questions are all targeted in this active game.

I used the following visual for language support with students who needed the visual input to assist with formulation of sentences using the concepts:

I also paired the colored eggs with pacing board activities as an extra motivation for students working on length of utterance, fluency strategies and/or sequencing of sounds for multi-syllabic words. Students “stamped” on the pacing board with the egg, or tapped the top of each egg as they spoke to mark the sounds or syllables. The same materials could be used as a token reinforcement system where students earn each color for the trials they produce. Students working on matching activities could also use these tools.

I’ve recently been described as often posting activities with a “seasonal bent,” and I’d say that is definitely true. I just can’t resist all of the holiday fun! Some of my best childhood memories revolve around the holidays, even seemingly insignificant ones.I like to think I am creating memorable experiences for students, using motivating activities that target goals and keep kids moving and smiling while they work.

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Technology

Spring Egg-stravaganza!

After what seems like barely even a winter (not one single snow day or even a school delay for my county!) spring has officially arrived. I realized yesterday that there is very little time left before spring break, and I quickly began gathering my materials for the spring kickoff season. Some of my favorite activities revolve around spring themes — Easter eggs, baby chicks and bunnies, the switch to warm-weather clothing and spending more time outside. I am very excited to share with you some of the resources I have developed and will be using with my students. Let me know how you like them!

First, Easter Eggs!! What better way to excite students and incorporate movement than with a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt? Finding the eggs is a perfect way to target “where” questions, prepositional words and descriptive concepts like color and size vocabulary. I plan on filling my colorful, plastic eggs with articulation pictures and language concepts to use in sentences. I am also going to use the Easter eggs for a pragmatic language activity by inserting these pragmatic questions (click to download your own copy!)

In addition to the plastic eggs, I have these colorful Easter egg printables to design your own artic/language cards, or to use as tokens for motivation and reinforcement:

I also have a few fun crafts/recipes for students to create. I often use visual directions to accompany these crafts, opening the door for language-based questions involving ordinal and sequential terms, wh questions, language memory and curricular vocabulary. See below and click to download what you like.

How cute is this baby chick?? Students will love making their own little pet to take home. Click on the image below for your own copy of the direction page:

Many books for this time of year involve new little critters –chicks and bunnies as the main characters. These loveable creature crafts are perfect for recreating and retelling those spring stories. Below is a bunny craft for students to make.  In the past, I’ve had students glue their bunnies onto jumbo craft sticks to make their own story puppets. Just print out the direction sheet below — use the template I prepared as well, or you create your own to use.

The topic of Spring leads to lessons about new plants as well — buds on trees blossoming into flowers, and people working in their yards to grow flowers and vegetables. My students have especially loved these next couple of activities…I hope yours do too!

The 20 oz bottles wotk best for this stamping craft. The bottoms of these bottles are shaped like a flower–really, it works perfectly!

How about a yummy treat to make and eat? Worms and Dirt is a crowd pleaser that students will remember for a very long time. You can use gummy worms, snakes, licorice or other creature-like confections to crawl in your “dirt.”

I also have an open-ended game board I will be using on my ActivPanel smartboard, paired with articulation or language stimuli to target individual student objectives. You can download the ActivInspire flipchart version to play on your own smartboard, or use the game board image to creat your own smartboard file. Otherwise, just print the hard copy version below:

And of course I have Spring Bingo Boards (a set of 6 for you to download!) As always, I use Bingo Boards to target myriad articulation and language goals including language formulation, descriptive concepts, wh questions, location terms, categories, similarities and differences…and the list goes on!  Click on the sample board below to get to the set.

 Working on /s/ sounds? Here is a Boardmaker file I created to use as stimulus cards for games, Easter egg inserts and homework practice. Print double copies to use for a matching/memory game.

I hope you enjoy these ideas…I have many more, but there are only NINE days until our Spring Break, so time is limited! Yes, I have counted the days. 🙂 Hope you enjoy this wonderful season!

~Lisa

Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Extracting Images from Pinterest Websites

I’ve been racking my brain all week, trying to think of a way to use the idea Jenna posted this week on her blog, Speech Room News. She is using the app Tapikeo to quickly download images and pair them with voice audio, creating a fun, multi-media activity for students.  

Without an iPad, I do not have a way to use the Tapikeo app, a wonderful program that makes saving pictures into a program and adding audio a breeze. I did contact the app’s creator, Jean-Eudes Lepelletier, a busy dad of two who designs apps for iTunes in his free time. He very kindly responded with partially good news. While Tapikeo is not currently available on Android devices, his newest upgrade will include an export feature that allows photo grids to be shared with others via HTML. I am hoping that those creative SLPs with iPads out there will be sharing their photo grids very soon!

In the meantime, I did discover a relatively easy way to quickly download PediaStaff’s images and import them into an interactive smartboard program with audio. The process is actually fast and simple, but it does involve a few steps:

  • Install Nitro PDF (this FREE downloadable program easily converts any file or selection to a PDF file, even from the web. Just choose “Nitro PDF” as your printer when you go to print. By the way, this program is a wonderful tool to convert those Boardmaker files to PDFs for easy sharing.)
  • Next, go to PediaStaff on Pinterest and scroll down to your Photo Library of choice — they now have many different photo boards, filled with theme-specific images to target a variety of skills.
  • Once you are in the photo library, simply PRINT the webpage (Don’t forget to change your printer to Nitro PDF!)

 

  • NOW comes the fun part! After you have a Pediastaff photo library converted to a PDF, you then just need to select “Extract Images.”

Clicking this powerful, little EXTRACT IMAGES  button will instantaneously save each image to your computer!! No need to” right click and save as” on every image on the Pinterest board…just extract and you have each file saved separately in the same folder as your original PDF.

Here is a snapshot of my end result:

Once the images are saved (instantly!) to your computer, you can then create a fun, interactive activity with audio using PowerPoint or an interactive smartboard program (I use ActivInspire, which does not require a smartboard — use this program right on your computer with a mouse!) Below is a snapshot of the activity I created using action verb pictures  paired with audio (as Jenna did in her initial example.) Students circled, highlighted and wrote text on this flipchart page, and when they clicked an image the audio was activated. I embedded audio using simple, present progressive verb sentences (e.g, “The boy is yawning.”) as well as past tense verbs (e.g., “Yesterday the boy screamed.”) We also practiced higher level skills with each trial…these images are perfect for incorporating “I wonder” statements like, “I wonder why the boy screamed?”  to elicit inferences. I love using “I wonder…”  sentences to promote those critical thinking skills along with the lower-level objectives.

So, even though the Tapikeo program is not an option for me right now, I can still very quickly and easily create activities by instantly downloading libraries of images through a PDF conversion and extraction. Perhaps this is an example of collaboration at its finest…Pediastaff, Tapikeo, Speech Room News and LiveSpeakLove all working together to create ideas for wonderful speech-language activities! I’m thankful for the inspiration…hopefully you will feel the same.

Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Thoughts and Inspirations

Not-So-Super!

It’s been a crazy week! My caseload seems to be at an all-time high, with some complicated and somewhat high-profile cases that keep my days (and nights) challenging. Paperwork, schedule changes, lesson plans, materials prep, preparing for presentations, meeting with parents and colleagues…and trying to stay afloat while still making time for things that keep me passionate about what I do. Some days I feel that it would be much easier to just “get by” and do things on a less complicated, less time-consuming level. But I believe it’s important to tackle all of the responsibilities I have with a touch of what makes me– ME. I prefer to be creative and  thorough in my job and in my life, taking time to find inspiration for myself as I work to inspire others. It’s how I’m wired. Days that are filled with energy, accomplishments, enthusiasm and spark leave me feeling pretty super. I am probably known for accomplishing things “the hard way,” but somehow I tend to choose that route repeatedly. I prefer living life with inspiration, passion and enthusiasm.

My challenge lately has been to find ways to complete the tasks that keep me passionate about my work, while still accomplishing everything that leaves me, well…less than inspired. Attempting to find the balance lately leaves me feeling Not-So-Super. The days are not long enough to fit it all in, it seems. As a full-time SLP and busy mom to three spectacular kids, most of my waking (and should-be-sleeping-but-sadly-still-waking) hours are filled with redundant paperwork, laundry, chauffeuring, paperwork, cooking, laundry,  dishes, paperwork,  laundry, committee meetings, kids’ activities…did I say paperwork? Laundry?? Unfortunately, the daily commitments I face keep me from being and doing everything as perfectly pleasantly as I would like. Some days I realize I am Not-So-Super and that I just can’t do it all. Today is definitely one of those days! A long, cranky day where my middle-schooler missed the bus, lunches were packed in a mad, messy rush, lunch was missed in a frenzy of emails and paperwork, and my to-do list grew by at least 100%.

After a full day of work,  I sat outside my daughter’s dance class (starving) where I opened my laptop without even an ounce of inspiration. I usually like to keep myself productive and write reports or create materials while I wait for my little ballerina (who, by the way, danced today in a wrinkled t-shirt, tights and a see-through frilly tutu because the Not-So-Super Mom here forgot the leotard that actually covers everything. *sigh*) Staring at my computer screen, I realized that writing or accomplishing anything work-related just wasn’t going to happen. I guzzled some caffeine to keep myself from keeling over in exhaustion, and I stared at my task list with all of its glaring, unchecked boxes. And I spent the rest of dance class in pretty much the same position…unchecked boxes, mothers chatting and children twirling all around me; me staring. Nothing accomplished today. I gave myself permission to just sit, and it was actually…pretty nice! Of course the frenzy resumed after dance with picking up the rest of my children—rush hour traffic, making dinner, starting laundry, sorting papers…you get the idea. But I have given myself permission to just sit again at some point tonight. Work is on hold, and I am going to bed early. This Not-So-Super-SLP-Mom needs a break!

Of course, I feel compelled to spread at least a little inspiration out into the world and call myself productive. People have been so wonderfully appreciative and kind in response to my post where I shared some visual supports I’ve created. By request, here are a few more visuals I made and use quite often, free to download for your educational/personal use. Let me know how you like them…knowing I’ve helped other people in even small, non-super ways helps me find some of the inspiration that keeps me ticking! Here you go:

Visual for using color words to decribe objects or pictures:

Visual to help students provide verbal descriptions of objects or pictures:

Visual to help students offer compliments about their peers or use descriptive words about people:

Visual process strips to remind students of fluency-enhancing strategies:Visual reinforcement to increase homework/practice outside of the school setting. Can be signed/initialed by parent as documentation:

Visual cues and sentence starters/scripts for targeting similarities & differences:

 

Visual to help students working on final consonants:

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources, Technology

More St. Patty’s Day Fun

Are you getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day yet? I’ve been working on introducing seasonal vocabulary as we target speech-language objectives. So far, my students are all loving the Animoto video I made to preview theme vocabulary, previously posted here.  The bingo boards and four-leaf clover templates I posted previously seem to be a popular download, and people have asked if I have any more St. Patrick’s Day resources to share. Of course! Here are a few more goodies:

Here is a template to make your own cards — you can print the number of needed copies onto cardstock and add your own clip art and/or text to the back. The cards can be used for minimal pair articulation practice, or customized to target any grammatical structure or language content goals you need. The shamrocks can be used as token reinforcement coins as a motivator — kids love to collect the coins for each successful trial. Just click to download and print!

Here are a couple of open-ended game boards to use with any speech-language objective. The game can be paired with articulation cards, pragmatic question cards, pictures, or any stimuli you wish to use. Digital images of the boards can be used with interactive smartboards to incorporate technology into your game (see this post for an example of how I used another game board on my ActivPanel smartboard.)

 

For those people who liked the four-leaf clover templates I posted previously, here is another version that can be used to target story recall and sequential vocabulary. Students can have their own template to use as an individual storyboard, and a smartboard or enlarged template can be used as a follow-up during whole group review. Students can compare their individual versions to the whole-group storyboard to see if they match. The template can also simply be used as a graphic organizer for planning and organization assistance with students who struggle with the executive function component.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all — enjoy the downloads!

~Lisa

Free Downloads, Language, Resources

Question-able Material

Many students on my caseload have language difficulties impacting their ability to answer simple questions — a deficit that has the potential for considerable effects on a student’s ability to perform successfully in their educational environment. Think about a typical classroom activity, and the types of things a teacher might say…odds are pretty good that a majority of a teacher’s utterances involve a simple or higher level wh question word (what, where, who, when, why, how, what if?)  Reading comprehension is especially dependent on these powerful words (Who is the main character? What happened at the end of the story? Why did they make that decision? What do you think will happen next? Where did the story take place?)  Math is also tied to these questions (What is the first step? When do you combine groups?)  Because teachers continually elicit responses and assess skills, questions are routinely asked and answered in the classroom. Students with wh question difficulties need training on exactly what the individual words mean and appropriate referents that can be used as an answer. When asked a simple question like, “what did you eat for lunch?” a student with comprehension deficits might answer, “I eat my lunch.” Many times correct answers can be elicited with scaffolded supports such as yes/no questions or given choices. Systematic practice on these types of questions help students to more automatically comprehend the intended meaning and successfully respond. I often use visual supports to provide cues and structured practice on choosing appropriate referents.  Here is a visual prompt that I use to prompt students in therapy activities and also to use in their classrooms as a resource during instruction:

Simple WH Questions 

To help students differentiate between the types of simple questions, I often use a sorting activity (this activity works very well on my Promethean ActivPanel, where students can drag the pictures to the appropriate column. I also send home the hard copy for practice using verbal responses, or to use as a cut-and-paste activity):

And here are several practice activities I made to address simple wh questions:

 

 

I have had good success using simple, Boardmaker-created activities like these to provide structured training on wh question comprehension. As a student becomes more proficient at answering these types of questions, I extend this skill to simple picture scenes, story sequences, and eventually, story recall and comprehension in the classroom. I also spend time educating staff in using wh questions whenever possible, rather than simpler yes/no questions  or even just plain directives. For example, instead of saying, “Put that paper in your folder please,” a teacher might instead present, “Ok, where do you think the paper should go?” Embedded opportunities to practice these comprehension skills throughout a student’s day help to reinforce the therapy activities and promote generalization of skills. Finding opportunity is really not a difficult task…questions are everywhere!

Enjoy the resources — click the images to download and thanks for visiting me at LiveSpeakLove!

Articulation, Free Downloads, Holiday Theme, Language, Resources

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

It’s a nice , three-day weekend for most school-based SLPs! If you are like me, weekends  (especially long ones) are a time to relax, yes, but also a time to plan lessons, catch up on paperwork and reflect on students’ progress. Looking forward to the month of March, I have many St. Patrick’s Day activities planned to target a variety of speech-language goals. Feel free to download the resources; just leave a comment if you can. Thank you!

First, I made a quick, introduction video using Animoto to educate students about St. Patrick’s Day and related vocabulary. Animoto is a wonderful resource to create dynamic videos set to music that will engage students in learning activities. I created this multi-media resource using my own mp3 file and Google images. This video will be used in various flipcharts I will develop for use on my therapy room smartboard (ActivPanel.)These flipcharts can target a variety of levels and skills using a fun, St. Patrick’s Day theme. (Pre-made smartboard resources using a St. Patty’s Day theme can also be found at Smart Exchange.) Here is the short video I made:

If you are interested in using Animoto for yourself, click here.

Other activities planned for various groups include four-leaf clover templates to target word knowledge, wh question comprehension and story elements. Here are some examples:

Template (use an idea below, or adapt for your own activity):

Here is an example of how I used the template for brainstorming object attributes (very important foundation skill for teaching students to compare and contrast.)

Here is the same template used as a graphic organizer for wh questions. This activity could be used to discuss objects and object functions, etc., or it could be applied to stories to teach identification of story elements.

Here is a vocabulary page for introducing/reviewing simple vocabulary words related to the St. Patrick’s Day theme. This page could be used as a low-tech board for St. Patty’s Day games, or as a visual word bank for worksheets and activities:

A fun game that my students always love is Memory. Just print out duplicate copies of the Memory Card page onto cardstock, laminate and you are ready for an open-ended game that could be used to target a variety of speech and language skills. On each turn, students can practice sentence formulation using the vocabulary words, or they can identify similarities and differences using the picture vocabulary. Students can also give their peers “mystery clues” about their chosen cards and see if the rest of the group can guess what the pictures are. You can adapt this game into differentiated activities to address just about any objective:

And, if you are not yet tired of Bingo Boards, feel free to download the set I made using Boardmaker. Take a look at a previous post  for a summary about how I use these board to target a variety of skills:

For more ideas, check out these links for books, stories and crafts you could use in speech-language therapy sessions:

Wishing everyone a happy, safe rest of February, and a wonderful start to March. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools, Thoughts and Inspirations

Visual Supports for Behavior

I was trying to think of a clever title for this entry…some alliterative phrase  that captures the essence of my theme. I quickly decided to stick with the matter-of-fact title, “Visual Supports for Behavior,” because matter-of-fact is what my message is intended to be — children often need visual supports for behavior. We know that certain students respond particularly well to visual supports. Research documents the need for visuals with the autism population, and there are many great options for visuals to use throughout these students’ school day. But what about students who do not have autism? Might they need visual supports as well? Absolutely!

Using visual supports in a school environment targets diverse needs across student populations. Visual supports can tap into the learning styles of students with a preference for visual presentation, assisting them in the processing and storage of information. Visuals can also increase comprehension in students struggling with auditory comprehension, providing a visual prototype that can hold meaning for them in a confusing world of fast-paced direction and instruction . Students with attentional difficulties often need visual supports as well. For a student overloaded with environmental stimuli in a busy classroom, visual supports can help capture their attention and give them a concept on which to focus as they process verbal information.  In addition, many students with executive function difficulties (related to attentional difficulties) might appear to grasp a concept well during group instruction. Students can follow along with information as a teacher visually demonstrates a concept and walks the class through tasks in step-by-step fashion. However, when asked to apply that same skill to complete individual seat work, students with attention and/or executive function  difficulties often flounder. But visual process charts and graphic organizers can help students complete tasks with independence as they practice the skill. A great site for graphic organizers is found here, but I often make my own to meet individual students’ needs.

One way I frequently use visual supports is to address (or prevent) behavior problems. Many students with special needs have deficits that can trigger behavior issues. Students with language difficulties often have difficulty expressing how they feel, or what they want. Issues with impulse control may interfere with classroom routines and social interactions. Students living in poverty or unstable homes may have difficulties coping with the demands of  a structured learning environment. Little three and four year-olds without any prior school experience are now attempting to navigate the social world of new people and new expectations. They long to interact with peers but do not yet know how to properly initiate that interaction. Sitting on the rug at circle time is a challenge when they are accustomed to free play and exploration. All of these issues can cause negative behaviors to emerge, behaviors that can interfere with the learning of others. SLPs are frequently involved in the problem-solving process and are uniquely skilled at developing materials to address such behaviors. Social stories, super pictures, behavior charts,  incentive charts, picture schedules and communication boards are all strategies SLPs keep in their toolbox so that students can make progress in the classroom.

 Here are a few of my favorite visuals, resources that I specifically designed for students needing visual input to assist with comprehension of expectations. I have experienced great success using these simple but powerful tools.

Visual display to help students express how they are feeling (sometimes they don’t even know until the visual seems to “match” what they are experiencing):

 

Another visual display that was made for a student to keep on his desk so that he could express the emotions he was frequently experiencing: 

Often students need individualized prompting during instruction time to follow classroom rules and expectations. Younger students and/or students with impulsive behaviors need one-step verbal commands to remind them of what they should be doing. These pictures can be cut apart, laminated and placed on a key ring for portability and easy access, or they can be enlarged and cut apart to use as a super-picture presentation. I keep these pictures and other similar visuals in a pocket chart on the wall in my therapy room:

One of my FAVORITE, most often-used visual is the First-Then board. I am posting one template below, but I have many other styles I frequently use. I have also been known to grab post-it notes in a therapy moment when necessary, and draw pictures depicting the first-then expectation. I verbally use this terminology to communicate expectations, even with my own children. “First homework; then T.V.”  The idea is to state the expectation, and when it is finished a more preferred activity can be completed. The first-then chart posted below was used most successfully with a high-functioning student with autism who could complete his classwork with assistance when he tried, but he often became overwhelmed and refused to attempt anything. The classroom teacher and I worked together with the student to identify a list of brief, preferred activities that could be used as a reward after he finished his assignment. The student chose pictures of the preferred activities to place on the bottom row of the chart each day (things like get a drink, color a picture, take a walk, say hi to people in the office, etc.) For each activity he was assigned, he chose one of his preferred options and placed it on the “then” spot. (e.g., First – math worksheet; Then – color a picture.) With a motivating goal easily within reach, the student was able to complete chunks of work and take mini-breaks for rewards throughout his day. His meltdowns literally vanished within a day or two of introducing this tool:

For students needing a visual reminder of how to make “happy” choices, I often use these supports:

A great tool to give (positive and negative) feedback to a student while you are teaching is a non-verbal signal or visual — no need to stop instruction and give negative attention to a child who is misbehaving. With older students, a simple thumbs up or down could work. With younger students, I like to use the happy face/ sad face flip visual. Just cut out the two circles, laminatend tape to opposite sides of a craft/popsicle stick. Present any student with nonverbal feedback as you continue with your lesson. I have witnessed more than a few students break their cycle of negative behaviors by experiencing confidence and success when they are rewarded positively with the “happy” side (catch them doing something positive whenever you can — it works!)

The beauty of visual supports is that they can be tailored to exactly fit the situation at hand. Programs like PowerPoint, Boardmaker, ActivInpire, MS Word, and many others allow for creative design and image selection. The internet hosts a wealth of ideas, templates and other resources to help in the process. The bottom line? Many SLPs and teachers encounter students who are struggling to meet curricular and behavioral expectations. Can we eliminate what is causing those issues?  Unfortunately, not usually. But visual supports are a wonderful tool (and in my experience, sometimes the solution) to helping these students move beyond barriers that block their progress. Increased comprehension, independence and compliance result in better learning opportunities for students, and better relationships with those around them.

Articulation, Free Downloads, Language, Resources, Technology

President’s Day in the Speech Room

Well, Valentine’s Day was a hit in the speech room; now it’s time to move to the next theme-based holiday, President’s Day! (Does anyone else think the year is just flying??) Each year, I am surprised to hear how little my students know about the Presidents. Today I asked a group of students, “What does the President do?” Aside from saying generic statements like, “He’s the boss” or “He is in charge of things,” the students had great difficulty telling me more specifically what the President does, or even who he is ” bossing around.”  As I prompted them with WH questions to elicit more details, the students responded with comments like, “He is in charge of Maryland” and “He is the boss of the whole world.” Granted, these students are language-delayed and have difficulty retaining information, but  the conversation made me realize that I need a way to help them visualize the organization of our world. I plan on using this idea to give them a concrete representation of where they live (and who the President is in charge of bossing!):

I also plan on using some fun, educational vidoes in my ActivInspire flipcharts to give students some background knowledge of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and related vocabulary. Here are some that I like:

George Washington:

Abraham Lincoln:

A President’s Day Song:

 And this video I’ve included about the 50 Nifty United States, mostly because it’s a really cool song that my oldest son learned and performed years ago when he was in Elementary school. He practiced it so often that our entire family learned to sing with him and can now list all the states in alphabetical order!

Along with the flipcharts and embedded videos, I have some materials prepared that can be inserted into the flipcharts and also printed to send home with students or to document their ideas and annotations. These activities can be used to elicit basic communication and higher-level language skills, as well as to practice articulation skills. Click to download if you liek them!

 

This open-ended game board can be used to target virtually any speech-language skill. Check out this post for a glimpse at how I used a similar open-ended board on the ActivPanel:

I am looking forward to exploring vocabulary, discovering facts and having some genuine conversations with students about the President’s Day theme, incorporating these fun materials. Hope you enjoy them too! Leave a comment to let me know if/how you used the materials. Thanks!

~Lisa

Articulation, Free Downloads, Language, Resources

Achoo!

Yes, it’s that time of year. I have been liberally doused with a sluice of sneezes, and my tissue supply is precipitously dwindling. My own family has been sick off and on for the past few weeks, including myself, an annual affliction that makes me yearn for spring’s fresh air and sunshine. I know, not yet.

While I am waiting for Spring, I often choose the month of February to remind students of important healthy habits. I’ve included a few favorite resources to share. If you like what you see, feel free to download — just click on the images and leave a comment under the post below to let me know. Thanks!

Given the popularity of the recent posting of my Valentine Bingo Boards, I thought I would share my ACHOO! Bingo boards as well, loaded with concept and theme-based vocabulary. I often spend time discussing the vocabulary words, and the steps necessary to maintain a healthy body. Extension activities include listing/sorting items in given categories (e.g., healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods, types of exercise, signs of being healthy vs. signs of being sick) asking and answering wh questions about vocabulary, “turn and talk” time with peers to discuss how being sick feels, etc. The Bingo boards are merely an entryway for language-rich activities and discussion. Enjoy!

I also take time to discuss proper hand washing to prevent germs from spreading. A website with lots of ideas for teaching K-3 kids about germs can be found here. I also like to use a handwashing picture sequence to illustrate our discussions. The images can be used as picture cues for students needing step-by-step prompting, and older students can place individual pictures onto a story board using the correct sequence. Sentence formulation skills can be addressed as students retell the picture sequence using ordinal and sequential vocabulary.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, so I often use this month as an opportunity to review dental hygiene themes and vocabulary. Kids love to make paint designs using toothbrushes, and I sometimes will co-teach with the occupational therapist in my school to create toothbrush crafts that target fine motor skills (snipping edges of paper to make toothbrush “bristles,” etc.) The American Dental Association has a database of resources to educate children about good dental habits, including downloadable worksheets and posters in English and Spanish.

 

Here is a picture vocabulary page I made to supplement lessons and discussions on dental health:

One of my favorite ideas is to use the book How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen to create  literacy-based activities using the “Staying Healthy” theme. The rhythm and rhyme of this endearing story target phonemic awareness and decoding skills. The themes of the book allow for discussion of content vocabulary and social skills like making good choices. Here is a picture vocabulary page I made using real images from Google Image search and Picture This photo software in Boardmaker: 

To promote student engagement and active listening during the story presentation, I use pinch cards to target the “happy choices” vs. “sad choices” that the dinosaurs make (quick side note –I prefer the terms “happy” choice vs. “sad” choice because I just don’t like using the word “bad” with my students. Even if I am clear about saying it is the choice that is “bad,” I personally prefer not to highlight the negativity that many students hear all too often…and using happy/sad terminology focuses on how they might feel versus other people’s perceptions of who they are or what they do.) Using the happy/sad choice pinch cards, student can respond to “I wonder” statements and WH questions as the story events are revealed (e.g., “I wonder if the doctor thinks the dinosaur made a happy choice or a sad choice?” or “Oh no! The dinosaur is making a big mess! What kind of choice do you think he is making?”) Students “pinch” the correct picture and hold it up in the air…every student has a way of responding and answering the question at the same time using the basic concept vocabulary.

Thanks for checking out LiveSpeakLove! I am enjoying this format to share some things that have inspired me, and I appreciate the feedback from those who feel inspired as well. Stay Healthy!

~Lisa

Assistive Technology, Language, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools, Thoughts and Inspirations

“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:

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.