I am very excited to serve as featured contributor for the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s online publication, ASHASphere. I was asked to write an article about the groups I facilitate at Towson University for adults with autism. Here is my article, featured today on their website:
Today I gave my last final exam of my first semester at Towson University! Now to grade the stack of ~ 80 exams. 🙂 I can honestly say that I absolutely LOVED teaching the two sections of Phonetics class I was given in addition to my other clinical responsibilities. The Phonetics of American English class is one of the very first classes TU students take after they are admitted into the Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology and Deaf Studies major (following pre-major status and a competitive application process that allows only the top 70 students officially into the major.) The students I taught this semester were inspired, fresh, enthusiastic and very bright. They asked lots of great questions, and seemed to even welcome the many quizzes I’d built in to the course (perhaps too many; that was a lot of grading!!) There was one assignment in particular they seemed to embrace — the final phonetics project. Students were given the basic instruction to apply knowledge from the course in a way that appealed to them (paper, presentation, creative endeavor, etc.) I purposely left the type of project up to them, wanting to include different styles of learning and multiple means of responses (stop right now and Google Universal Design for Learning standards if you are unfamiliar with the concepts of learning styles and multiple means of responses.) I also wanted the students to fuel their inspiration and apply what they’d learned in a way that THEY found meaningful. I have to say that I was completely blown away by their ingenuity, creativity and hard work. Nearly all students took this project to a level I hadn’t anticipated, and their excitement about the project was contagious. I wish that I could showcase all of the talent and inspiration that poured into my classroom during the first couple weeks of December. I have instead selected a few projects to share with you here. Each project is posted with permission from the student(s). I hope you enjoy their work…I know I did!
First, I give you this video presentation showcasing transcription of the connected speech (song) by students Dana Rzewnicki, Lauren Ross and Kelley Finck:
Next, here is the group project from Rachel Bensley, Victoria Andre, Elena Mitoulis and Michael DiSanti. They created a CD insert for Taylor Swift’s album, RED. Their CD insert included transcriptions of every song on the album. Here is a picture highlighting some of their creative work:
The following project is from Samantha Cunzo and Katrina Mull. They put together a comical video skit highlighting some of their “study experiences” as they learned material throughout the semester:
The following project is from Emma Voss — she decided to incorporate her love for baking and create “Phonetics Cookies.” She baked and iced cookies featuring all of the phonetic symbols from the IPA alphabet, using different colors and outlines to represent distinctive features of the sounds. She also impressed the class by passing out the cookies for all to eat, along with a signature batch of chocolate chip cookies as an added treat! Here are some pictures of her cookies:
Natalie Hill and Sarah Morrison created this cute and comical “commercial” for the “Phonetics School of Phonetics.” They showcased parts of our very own Towson University in their commercial as they incorporated knowledge from various units we covered in our class.
Christine Feinour, Grace Baker and Anna Hild created The College Girl’s Guide to Phonetics. Their book detailed all the American English Phonemes of the International Phonetic Alphabet, with key words and graphics to illustrate the pronunciation of each phoneme. Their book was artfully crafted and highlighted distinctive features of each phoneme in a scrapbook-style memento:
And last but not least, I give you Rachel Urban in her witty, debut performance as she demonstrates her knowledge of dialectal variation. Her unique presentation had me chuckling for a long while, impressed at the way she stepped a bit outside of her comfort zone.
Time and space do not allow me to share all of the wonderful projects with you — the board games, the presentations, the transcription of speech from various movies, and more. Suffice it to say that 1) I love my job; and 2) The future of Speech-Language Pathology is looking pretty darn good!
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!
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
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:
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.
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.
Today I received a new present for my therapy room — a desktop version of a smartboard made by Promethean technologies. Information about this particular model can be found here. This piece of hardware is a smaller, desktop version of the classroom-sized interactive whiteboards that many schools are using. I requested this piece of equipment for use in my small therapy room, to work with small groups and individual students. With the trend in education moving swiftly in the direction of incorporating technology and meeting Universal Design for Learning standards (in addition to enjoying benefits we savvy SLPs have already discovered about the application of technology in the therapy setting,) my somewhat lavish request for the ActivPanel was granted. Today, it arrived! Feeling a bit like a five year old on Christmas morning, I eagerly worked through my lunch and planning period to unpack, set up and install my new geeked-out therapy tool. Here is a picture I snapped with my phone:
Are any other therapists out there using equipment like this? I am interested to know. Prior to this wonderful purchase, I often used smartboards as a resource in classrooms when teaching whole-class lessons. Now this same resource can be applied to small groups in my therapy room. I am excited at the possibilities I now have for technology-based multi-modal therapy sessions, beyond what a touch-screen PC or iPad might offer. It’s quite energizing to think about incredible advances in the tools we use for therapy. As I ponder the immeasurable impact of technological advancement on our world in general and specifically on the field of S/L therapy (visions of graduate school and hours spent cutting pictures out of magazines or photocopied workbook pages to create therapy games flash in my memory,) I end my day with renewed enthusiasm. Yes, it is an exciting time to be an SLP!