Technology, Therapy Tools

Time to Tweet

Ok, I am finally taking the plunge…yes, it is time for Twitter. Starting this blog has been an exercise in moving a bit out of my comfort zone–in a good way, of course! I am delighted at the response my little blog has received so far, and I am finally pushing myself to do more of the things that excite me about my profession. I have boldly professed to love technology, online resources and professional collaboration. I have spent more time than I should have in the wee hours of the night researching therapy resources, caseload management techniques,  document sharing tools and other apps that get me fired up and excited about being a bit of a tech geek. But in all this research, discovery and technology-induced lack of sleep…I have resisted Twitter. Why? I am not really sure. Perhaps I’ve been afraid of entering yet another online arena that might very well suck me in and induce a mental time warp, leaving me with another way to lose sleep and avoid housework. More nights than I care to admit I have looked up from my laptop, blinking in disbelief at my clock. How can it be that hours, not minutes, have passed since I tucked the last child into bed for the night??  I mean, isn’t Facebook, WordPress, Blogger, Google Play, LinkedIn, and Pinterest enough for this busy SLP mom? (Now that I think of it, actually, how bad could it be to add one more thing?) I am easily swayed  encouraged by those people who really think I should fly on over to Twitter. I have quite a few blog followers asking if I am on Twitter yet, wanting to get connected. So, I finally decided to take the plunge! I am currently a bit lost, which actually cuts down on the possibility of entering a mental time warp anytime soon. It will take me a while to develop some tweeting skills –it’s a whole different world.  But if you want to connect with me there, feel free to “follow” me and tweet me or hashtag me, or something like that.  Find me on Twitter here. I look forward to connecting with other SLPs, bloggers and the like–I hear there is quite a network of collaborators!

For now, I am off to do some Twitter research. I did find this very helpful post from EduBlogs that will surely speed the learning process for me. If any of you have any helpful Twitter info, I would love to hear it. I would also love to hear how you are using Twitter for your blog, website, private practice, etc. Feel free to comment below with your ideas and feedback.

Thanks, see you on Twitter!

Lisa, A.K.A.  @LiveSpeakLove

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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.

Free Downloads, Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Interactive Virtual Game Boards on your Smartboard or Computer

So many people have given me positive feedback about the Spring resources available for download in my Spring Egg-stravaganza post. One of the resources I posted was an open-ended game board — both a printable version and an ActivInspire flipchart version. For those of you who do not have ActivInspire, you can download it for free HERE. Check out this video for an overview of the kinds of things students can do with this program:

Obviously, if you have a smartboard, there are limitless possibilities for engaging students in multi-media therapy activities. I feel very fortunate to work in a school that had available funds and generous administrators. Earlier this year, my school purchased a desktop version of a smartboard for my therapy room. I have been using this technology to create a variety of lessons using pictures, audio, video and interactive design features that all my students love.  Some of the files I create are complex, time-intensive and include pre/post assessment data collection where students respond using wireless ActiVotes. Some, however, like my Spring/Garden game board are really quite simple. To make this game I just imported the image of the game board (an image I actually used ActivInspire to create, but you could use any image — even a snapshot of a real game board,) then I added circle shapes to use as game pieces, and inserted the dice tool. Suddenly an ordinary game (with a dash of technology added) became a highly engaging therapy tool to target any objective needed. My students love the online game boards so much more than any “real” game. Here is a picture I previously posted of a couple of students interacting and playing a game using my desktop smartboard:

But what if you do not have a smartboard? Not to worry, you can still use these interactive files on your computer. You just need to use a mouse instead of the stylus (unless you have a touchscreen.) An adaptive mouse can help those with fine motor difficulties access this technology. You will just need to pair the game with stimulus materials or verbal prompts to elicit/train a skill, and your students will love playing the interactive, virtual game in their speech-language sessions.

If you want to download this file, just make sure you have ActivInspire installed on yourcomputer, then click on the image below.

By the way, I have no affiliation with Promethean or ActivInspire, and this post is not a solicited review. I really just love using this program, and I think you will too.

 Thanks for visiting LiveSpeakLove!

~Lisa

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

Resources, Technology, Therapy Tools

Technology News – Google Play Now Available

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.

Resources, Technology, Thoughts and Inspirations

Signs of the Times

Like many children, my own kids used to love the book, Goodnight Moon. Definitely a classic tale, with simple pictures and a lulling rhythm that soothed my little ones to sleep as we rocked in our rocking chair. I still love that book, even though my kids have outgrown it. Times have changed; the world has changed. My kids are growing, and for at least two of them, picture books have now been replaced by newer, shinier things like iPods and computers.  In addition to realizing just how fast my kids have grown and just how fleeting the bittersweet days of Goodnight Moon in fact were, I’ve been recently rather amazed at how the world has changed due to technological advances. I’ve been working to incorporate more technology into my speech-language therapy sessions and even in my caseload management practices.                 

At the risk of sounding like an old lady, looking around at today’s multi-media world conjures up phrases I swore I’d never utter, like, “when I was your age…”  I recall the long-gone days of papers written on my archaic typewriter, or the “state of the art” word processor I used in college (the kind shown in the picture on the left, with a window that showed one line of text at a time.) In graduate school, I finally advanced to a computer in the university library, but struggled with DOS commands and formatting floppy disks (and yes, they were the truly floppy, floppy disks.) It amazes me that my children are now growing up in a world filled with incredible, user-friendly technology and instant gratification — multi-media streaming in the classroom, interactive smartboards, on-demand videos and holiday specials…I  admit to feeling a bit of sadness that my kids really don’t know what it’s like to anticipate once-a-year television specials that used to bring us all gathered in excitement around the T.V. after days (weeks) of waiting. Now, holiday specials, movies, games, schoolwork and even social relationships revolve around the use of instant technology. 

Planning? Research? Interactions? Today’s children really do not know what it is like to complete these tasks without instant results. They Google, they text, they Facebook, and–POOF! The plans are made without even a phone call. School projects, though still filled with rigor and preparation, do not take the weeks or months that they once did (“when  I was their age.”). My middle/high school research endeavors (hours upon hours spent at the public library with me searching through the card catalog or poring over blurry microfilm transparencies on the giant machines) now seem ridiculous and ancient. Probably because they really were ridiculous and ancient, but hey, that’s all we had back then! Yes, I know, Old Lady Talk. Does it help if I admit that I am totally on the technology bandwagon, and  that I now often have at least two internet-capable devices within my reach? I fully support the technological advances that bring so much to our lives (it’s kind of nice being able to play movies that my kids love when we want to, or being able to Google the formula to that 7th grade algebra problem that I’ve long forgotten!) But I do feel nostalgic when I think of things like cassette tapes, mimeograph machines (can you still smell the ink?) carbon paper (yes we wrote IEPs on such paper not that long ago!) or handwritten letters to friends and family. Now…signs of the times….we live in a bright, flashy, instantaneous, visually stimulating world full of modern convenience. I don’t deny that I love it and certainly benefit from the conveniences, but I am still amazed.

With these thoughts in mind, I thoroughly chuckled this week when I came across this fabulous site for reading books online. The site itself is pretty amazing…hundreds of popular children’s books available to read instantly and for free. They also donate books to various literacy campaigns, matching donations with the number of books you read. These online versions of books are perfect for smartboard presentation/group reading in a classroom setting. The chuckle I experienced came as I read this book:

 It’s a parody of the classic Goodnight Moon book I read to my kids and still adore. It’s a bit updated. Yes, it is a parody, but perhaps a pretty accurate description of today’s kids and what life is really like for many.  If you want to chuckle and/or feel like an Old Lady (or Old Man) as you reminisce about days gone by, you can read the book online here: Goodnight iPad.

Enjoy! If you like it, don’t forget to email/blog/facebook/tweet/text/pin to let me know. 🙂 LOL.  L8R.