Apps Targeting Language for Middle Schoolers

Visione e prospettiva divergente

Photo by mbeo

Far fewer middle school students need our services as compared to the number of preschool and elementary aged children who do. Those who still need therapy present with the unique challenges. After all, they still need our services. Finding apps for our middle school population can be challenging.  I have found a few apps that can be used with those students who have deficits in language.

Proverbidioms: After publishing this post, I downloaded this app. Rather than publish a new post, I decided to edit the post by adding my review of this app. T.E. Breitenbach produced an illustration, Proverbidioms, in 1975, that became a popular poster. It is now produced as an app. It approaches the understanding of 264 proverbs and cliches in two ways. The student is given a list of idioms. He selects one and then searches for it in a scene where a specific illustration demonstrates its literal meaning. The scene is busy but one can increase one’s specific area of focus by moving two fingers outward on the screen. This enlarges a specific illustration. This also allows one to scan the screen and see more detail. Once one matches the idiom and picture, a screen appears that defines the idiom and its derivation. If the child correctly makes the match on the first attempt, he is awarded a gold star, two attempts a silver star and three attempts a bronze star. I think middle school students will enjoy the pictures and the challenge of matching idiom and picture. A word of caution: some illustrations may be more explicit than one may consider appropriate for this age group.

Ages: 13 to adult
Ratings: ++++
Developer: Greenstone Games
Cost: Free for one illustration, $1.99 to $2.99 for additional illustrations

Word Stack Free: This app can be used to strengthen a student’s vocabulary and reasoning skills. It does so by presenting a stack of words. Each word is arranged in random order on eight blue stacked strips on the left side of the screen. The task for the student is to find relationships between words. Words can be synonyms, antonyms, or be made into compound words. To start the game, the student reads the starter word that is on a green strip on the bottom right hand side of the screen. The student looks to find a word on a blue strip that is a synonym, antonym or can combine with it to make a compound word. The student places the word selected on top of the first green strip. If the selection is correct, the strip turns green. There is now a two word green stack. Next, the student must find a word on the left for the new word on the stack. Again, it must be a synonym, antonym or combine with it to make a compound word. The task continues in this fashion until all blue strips have been correctly stacked and are green. If the word the student selects is incorrect, it cannot be stacked and returns to original position. I played a few rounds and found that, at times, finding the right word can be challenging. (A word of caution: words can be randomly placed until one is found that turns green.) To extend the task further, the child can be why the words are the same or opposite in meaning. If a pair of words forms a compound word, one can ask the student to use the new word in a sentence.

Ages: 12 to adult
Ratings: ++++
Developer: MochiBits
Cost: Free for 40 game stacks (one stack per game). One can purchase additional stack packs for $.99 each or all four stacks for $1.99.

Confusing Words: This is not the first time I have downloaded an app and then months later cannot find it in the app store. But I was able to find what looks to be a similar app, called “Which Word?” Both of these apps try to help untangle similar sounding words that tend to confuse such as affect and effect, passed and past or there and their. I have not downloaded Which Word? so cannot review it. However, it looks similar to Confusing Words but in a more pleasing format. Each word is defined and then used in a sentence. The confusion of similar sounds words can be most evident when students write. This app may help students better understand which word to use.

Ages: 10 to adult
Developer: Triad Interactive Media
Cost: $.99

Feel Electric: I reviewed this app a few months ago for my post on descriptive apps.  Feel Electric is animated, interactive and offers a variety of options for learning a range of 50 emotions. The student starts with What’s the Word to see faces of real people expressing each emotion. From there, the student can select her emotions at the moment, create a diary of emotions, manipulate the facial features of creature to show specific emotions and play a Mad Libs type game that, when completed, will create a zany story based on the words selected. There are three fun interactive games where the child needs to pair the facial expression with the written word. Each of these 3 games is scored. The app also allows one to add ones own pictures, music and videos. This is a great app to use with middle school students. It can be used to help tweens and teens identify and discuss a range of emotions they may be prone to feel. The app’s activities can be expanded to make this a fun language learning activity.

Ages: 5+
Rating: +++++
Developer: The Electric Company by Sesame Street
Cost: Free

(This post originally appeared on Apps for Speech Therapy)

 

Mirla Raz, CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist in private practice (Communication Skills Center) and the author of the Help Me Talk Book: How to Teach a Child to Say the “R” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, How to Teach a Child to Say the “S” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons, and How to Teach a Child to Say the “L” Sound in 15 Easy Lessons (also available in Kindle). Her latest endeavor is her blog Apps for Speech Therapy.

Autism Awareness Month

As April- Autism Awareness Month- draws to a close, I wanted to share a presentation I made this weekend in Florida at NOVA Southeastern University, sponsored by the Florida DOE and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD). The focus of the presentation was technology resources (web-based and iOS) that are dedicated to or can be “re-purposed” for use with the population of students with autism at various levels of functioning.  One goal of the presentation was to place technology resources in context of intervention programs helpful for this population. Along with Dr. Robin Parker and Dr. Marlene Sotelo, we also ran an informal “App Smackdown” in which participants shared apps that they have found helpful for students with autism.  The presentation is embedded below, and a link to a supporting weblist is here, and the apps shared during the smackdown here.  I hope you find it helpful!

(Google Reader and Email subscribers, please click through on the link to the post in order to see the presentation on the blog):

 

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Sean J. Sweeney, M.S., M.Ed., CCC-SLP, an SLP, instructional technology specialist and consultant, works in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie, a contributor to the ASHA Leader, and recently took on a role as Product Development Manager for Smarty Ears Apps.


Using Your iPad in Dysphagia Therapy

iPad fascination

Photo by rahego

So many people are using iPads, iPhones and iPods in therapy. While there are many other devices out there, I’m focusing on the “iDevices” because those are the devices that I know the best. It is very easy to find apps for pediatric speech therapy, even apps for adult language therapy. There are apps for language, articulation, AAC, voice, fluency, and a few for dysphagia, but not many. It seems that few therapists are using their devices for dysphagia therapy. In lieu of the small number of apps available for those of us specializing in dysphagia therapy, we can very effectively use our iDevices for treatment.

One feature that comes with any of the iDevices is the notepad. This looks like the yellow legal pads that I’m sure we’ve all used. You can use the keyboard or dock your device to a keyboard to type notes. Once these notes are done you can then choose the option to print or you can email it to yourself to print. You can also use Evernote (which is free) to create documents and access everything from any of your smart devices or from the computer.

I use Dropbox quite often. Dropbox is a cloud storage app. I have it installed on my computer, iPad, iPod and Android phone. I save files from my computer including journal articles, forms, documents, etc and can access them through any of my mobile devices or can access them via the internet on any computer. In addition to Dropbox (which is free for 2 gb), I use Carbonite. Carbonite is a yearly subscription (around $60 a year) that is a backup system for your computer, it backs up all of your documents, plus you can log onto your account from any computer via the internet to access all of your backed-up items and there is an iOs and Android app to access your files from your mobile device.

Dysphagia2Go is the new Dysphagia evaluation app that lets you use your iPad during your Clinical Dysphagia Evaluation to write a report with all of your findings. If you already have a computerized version of your report, you can email the results to yourself and copy and paste your findings. This app is available through SmartyEars and will have some exciting new updates soon!

iSwallow is available for Apple devices. iSwallow is a free app that allows you to show videos of each exercise for your patient and allows your patient to track their exercises and lets the therapist see how many times each exercise was completed at home. This hasn’t been a very functional app for me; fortunately it was free. You have to email the company to get a password to unlock the app and I tried many times, unsuccessfully, to get the password from them. Fortunately, I ended up finding another therapist that had the password to get it. Also, it would be helpful if you had patients that owned iDevices so that they could utilize it. At this time, I’m not willing to loan out my devices to allow patients to track. Most of my patients are 70 or older and don’t own iDevices.

Lingraphica offers 2 apps for dysphagia. One is a communication aid for the iPhone/iPod Touch that can also be used on the iPad. It allows a patient with dysphagia to communicate regarding their dysphagia, for example, “I need my dentures” or “I need to be sitting up to eat”. This would be helpful if you have an aphasic patient with dysphagia that would be able and/or willing to communicate these items with others. Lingraphica also has an oral motor app which has videos of each exercise being completed.

There are also several apps which show the structures, from a scope view. You can use iLarynx, LUMA ENT and URVL to look at the structures, or to use for patient education. They are also fun to play and see if you can “insert” the scope appropriately.

Lab Tests is a relatively inexpensive app, I think it’s $1.99 that describes the lab values and has normative data for lab values. This is nice if you work in an acute care hospital, where they typically draw daily labs to interpret what the lab values indicate.

Pill Identifier lets you search medications by shape, color or score. Telling you what the pill is, what the indications are, how it is available OTC or prescription. You can view images of the pill or look at information of each pill via Drugs.com.

3D Brain is a wonderful view of the brain to educate patients on lesions and where their lesions are located. It’s also a fun app to play with giving you views of the brain and descriptions of the areas of the brain.

I’m sure this is not a comprehensive list of the apps however, hopefully it’s a start to help you utilize your iDevice in your dysphagia therapy. Also, keep watching SmartyEars for possible new dysphagia apps.

 

Tiffani Wallace, MA, CCC-SLP, currently works in an acute care hospital in Indiana.  Tiffani is working to specialize in dysphagia and is working to achieve the BRS-S.  She is also a member of the Smarty Ears Advisory Board and co-author of Dysphagia2Go, and has a website about dysphagia, Disphagia Ramblings.

Turning Pinterest Boards Into A Therapy Activity!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might notice I use it A LOT. A few weeks ago PediaStaff started creating boards with pictures to be used in therapy. They made boards with action pictures, pronouns, problem solving, inferencing and concepts. As soon as Heidi emailed me and told me about them, I knew I could adapt them for speech therapy on the iPad. I figured it would be way more entertaining than printing them all out! About the same time, I won an app called TapikeoHD. After playing with it for a while I realized it was perfect for the PediaStaff Pinterest boards. Let me show you what I came up with!

The app I used is called Tapikeo and available at this time for $2.99 in the app store. Tapikeo allows you create your own audio-enabled picture books, storyboards, audio flashcards, and more using a versatile grid style layout. Check it out for yourself in the itunes store here.

First I opened Pinterest on my iPad and decided I would make an activity working on labeling verbs. I opened their board for actions words.

Then I saved the pictures to my ipad by holding down on them to save.

Next you will head on over to the app and start a new grid. When you click on the empty grid square you will get a screen like this. If you want text to accompany your photo/audio (and I did because I want to support literacy skills!)  you can type that in at the top. I type ” The boy is ___.” Then select ‘browse’ to add the photos you just saved to the iPad. Then select record. For my grid I saved my voice reading “The boy is.” When I use it with younger students, all they need to do is name the verb. For older students working on full sentence generation – I can turn the sound off and they are responsible for developing the whole sentence.

Once I finished adding all my cards (it took me about 5 or 10 minutes) the board looks like this.

When the student clicks on one of the pictures, it expands to fill the screen and the audio/visual joins the picture. This is when my students identified the verb or created a new sentence!

There is also an ‘e-book’ setting where the app transfers your pictures into more of a slideshow like setting. I kept mine on the grid formation so I could work on receptive language skills at the same time. I had the students pick their picture a few different ways: by following directions with spatial concepts, by answering WH questions, or by listening to clues and making basic inferences.

These boards are easy to make in the app and PediaStaff has done most of the work finding all these great images. What other topic boards would you like to see PediaStaff create?

(This post originally appeared on Speech Room News)

 

Jenna Rayburn, M.A., CCC-SLP is a school based speech language pathologist from central Ohio. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. Jenna is the blogger at SpeechRoomNews.blogspot.com, sharing fun treatment ideas and technology tips. Visit SpeechRoomNews on Facebook.

Spice up Those Boring Worksheets With Your iPad!!

If you are like me I am sure you have several workbooks with lots and lots of worksheets that you used to copy and have since replaced but not totally with some type of iPad app. Here are examples of some work sheets that I like to use. One is for language and the other is for artic/phonology. Since starting to use the iPad kids have preferred for the most part to want to play with the apps and have at times refused to color these ‘boring’ worksheets. Even when cool glitter and paint were being used!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t get me wrong I use the iPad in about 60% of my sessions so I still use traditional paper and pen, play, board game type activities but what to do with those darn worksheets just hanging out on your shelf? Can we somehow combine the two mediums? Of course!

I came across this app called GlowColoring the other day. Its a free ad supported app with a simple interface. Glow Coloring is the first doodle app that allows you to scan in images that you can color in or trace. You can adjust brush pattern, brush size, and color. GlowColoring’s scanning technology is built upon the same technology found in JotNot Scanner (a leading document scanning application for the iPhone) so scanned images turn out great every time which in effect allows you to combine those ‘boring’ worksheets with an iPad app to create lots of coloring and therapeutic fun!! Check out the fun we had creating these pages!

 

 

(This post originally appeared on The Speech Guy)

Jeremy Legaspi, CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Upward for Children and Families in Phoenix, Az. www.upwardaz.org. He concentrates on autism, AAC, apraxia, articulation,phonlogy, and some feeding. You can follow him on twitter @azspeechguy and check him out on azspeechguy.wordpress.com and www.therapyapp411.com 

Maximizing the Performance of Your iPad by Closing Your Apps

Do I look tired? yeah! I guess this episode was recorded late at night and it shows. However, I think you will learn some good deal of information about closing down your apps from running in the background and therefore improving its performance.

 

 

(This post originally appeared on GeekSLP)

Barbara Fernandes is a trilingual Speech- Language pathologist, a geek  and an app developer. She is the founder and CEO of Smarty Ears Apps , a company that creates apps for speech therapy. Barbara is also the face behind GeekSLP TV, a blog and video podcast focusing on the use of technology in speech therapy. Barbara has also been a practicing speech therapist both in Brazil and in the United States. Barbara has created over 21 applications for the mobile devices for speech therapists.

Google Forms and Spreadsheets—Fun Times with Data Collection!

Data and information collecting isn’t the most glamorous subject; however, with the influx of iPads into my school setting, and the increasing popularity of Google spreadsheets and forms, data collection has become a hot topic among the SLPs in our school system!

Several of us have embraced using Google forms and spreadsheets to make our data collecting lives border on fun.  Before Google, my folders for kids were full of sticky notes, therapy data forms, attendance forms, and other assorted loose items.    Now, progress report time is cleaner and more data oriented, because much of what I need has been systematically collected by Google forms into the spreadsheets. (There is a spreadsheet for every form.)

 This is a brief description of various ways I currently use the forms and spreadsheets in practice–click the thumbnails for full-sized versions of the examples below.  A tutorial link for creating your own Google forms is provided at the end.

1.  Recording data and notes from a therapy session with a student. 
There is still a spot for sticky notes, and recording tallies on paper to achieve percentages, but most often, the main part of my sessions with students is recorded on a Google Form.

portion of a form

 

For each of my students, I have created a Google form based on the student’s IEP goals and objectives.  At the end of the session, I can quickly fill out the form (either on the iPad, or on the computer) recording notes and data instantly.

summary of responses screenshot

 

The data entered on the form is compiled by Google Docs in to a spreadsheet, and a summary of responses can also be done through Google.

sample spreadsheet of student data

2.  Taking Daily Attendance

Portion of my daily attendance form

We all know in the school setting why it’s important to keep track of how many times a speech student was seen per reporting period, and why sessions were missed.  I used to keep attendance on paper, then progressed to an Excel spreadsheet.  Lately, I’ve been taking attendance on a daily Google form which sends all of the information into a spreadsheet stored in Google Docs.  It’s very manageable!

3.  Recording and Sharing Hearing Screening Results

This is an area that came to me one day when I was scratching out hearing screening information on a piece of paper.  A year ago, a group of us in the school began typing into a shared document all of our screening information. I’ve since developed a Google Form that I can use while I’m screening a child. I usually have an iPad at my side as I’m screening with this form on the screen. (I just tap the results in as I go).  The results are instantly sent to the shared Google Doc—no need for a pencil!

4.  CFY Supervision

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise a wonderful new Clinical Fellow.  I know that she will sail through this year with flying colors, but to be fair to her, and to adequately do my job as her supervisor, I have to observe for an allotted amount of time, and monitor her activities as prescribed by both the North Carolina State Board of Examiners, and by ASHA.  I’ve created a Google Form for observations, which throws all of my observation data into a spreadsheet which I’ve shared with her online.   This transparent online record-keeping has been helpful for both of us!

5.  Weekly written feedback to a graduate intern

Part of the form

 

I am fortunate in that I work at an elementary school close to a major university that has a top-notch graduate program, so I usually supervise two students during the course of a year.    We have been asked to provide weekly written feedback which is extra work to my paperwork mountain—except that I created a Google form for providing such feedback.  My grad student and I filled it out together every Friday last year, and all of the data was collected in a shared spreadsheet.    The forms are nice in that they clearly defined expectations, and also allowed for some anecdotal feedback.  At the end was a section for the two of us to write a short term goal for the coming week.

Nothing will totally replace all note-taking, and there is a place for hand-written data still in my office.  These are just a few ways I have used technology to make my life run a bit more efficiently. I have loved the ‘sharing’ aspect of Google Docs—so for example, if several adults are working on the same goals for a student, they all can send their data using the same shared form to the shared spreadsheet.

For a tutorial on creating your own forms, go to this page.

I’m sure there are countless other ways to use these in a speech therapy setting and that we (as a profession) are only at the beginning of using technology more effectively in our practice. Comment if you have ideas for further uses for Google forms in speech therapy, or would like to see a specific Google form topic addressed.

(This post originally appeared on Chapel Hill Snippets)

 

Ruth Morgan is a speech-language pathologist who works for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools at Ephesus Elementary School.  She loves her job and enjoys writing about innovative ways to use the iPad in therapy, gluten-free cooking, and geocaching adventures.  Visit her blog at http://chapelhillsnippets.blogspot.com.

Planning for ASHA Convention? Try the new Personal Scheduler

From experience in attending many ASHA conventions, I know that it’s really important to take some time to plan your time! When you arrive at the convention center, you are likely to be overwhelmed and fall down, or cause someone to fall down, as I have in the past. To prevent unnecessary injuries, ASHA has provided us with a Personal Scheduler tool that will allow you to generate a “draft” list of sessions you might like to attend.  You can print your itinerary, save it as a PDF and, for the first time, send it to a calendar app such as iCal (the Calendar on your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch- YAY!) or Outlook (*crickets chirping*).  I can’t say there isn’t room for improvement with this tool (and it still lacks some of the “social” aspects I have seen in other conference schedulers, which allow you to see which of your colleagues are going to which sessions), but these exporting features are a nice leap forward.  Check out the short video below to see how it works, and happy planning!

I also made a quick guide to how to send your itinerary to your iDevice after emailing it as shown in the video.  Again, this process isn’t perfect- I found that there was a glitch with session titles if you add two in the same time slot (you may see the title of one selection repeated, though the session descriptions are accurate). Additionally, if you are in a different time zone than the convention, you may want to wait to actually add the itinerary to the calendar until you arrive, or just be willing to do the math as you review the sessions beforehand.  Also note, once you export your itinerary, it will not sync with the Personal Scheduler, i.e. any new sessions you add on the web will NOT be in your calendar.  So, you’ll want to wait until you have given everything a thorough look before you export. See below for this guide:

If all that sounds too complicated, you can just print away or send yourself the PDF to access on your mobile device! Have fun!

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He consults on the topic of technology integration in speech and language and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.

Thoughts on ‘Apps for Autism’

iPad on Tanmay's jeans


Photo by Chirantan Patnaik

First a disclaimer: I don’t work with patients with autism, in fact I haven’t done so since grad school, and even then I only worked with the population sparingly. iPads on the other hand, are awesome, and I use mine daily (much to my wife’s chagrin) for nearly everything (including this post) besides treatment (unless you count documentation, for which I use an iPod Touch), and that’s only because it doesn’t make much sense for my setting, not yet anyways (this is the point where I stop making parenthetical statements). But I am a speech pathologist and I do know a thing or two about communication, and that’s why I watched last Sunday’s 60 Minute segment, Apps for Autism, with much anticipation and excitement. I generally have respect for the show, but at the end, I just felt ‘meh’ about the whole piece. And let me tell you why.

When you watched the segment, did you notice the peeps with autism struggling and ultimately failing to use paper letter boards to communicate, which was immediately followed by the same person using the iPad exceptionally well to convey their message? This scenario was shown a few times throughout the piece and it felt like an As Seen On TV infomercial. Besides that, it completely ignored the decades worth of research and development that has been done in the field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). It’s as if the Lightwriter, Dynavox, Prentke Romich, Tobii-along with a host of other companies-devices have never existed. That the idea of using technology to help people communicate is one that is original to the iPad. And that, of course, is rubbish.

It also seemed to prescribe the iPad as a panacea for autism treatment, you know, just give the kid an iPad and he’ll be on his way to communicating and that it’ll unlock an new and undiscovered portal into their minds that we never knew existed. Forget the fact that the successful use of AAC devices require training, especially for those with cognitive deficits, and forget that speech pathologists and special education teachers are needed to foster language development and literacy skills in order for the iPad to even be a viable option. A Twitter friend, @JohnduBois, said it right: “I felt it ignored the point that AAC is a tool and requires proficient users and teachers-too much “Apple magic”. Indeed sir, indeed.

And what was with that lady doing hand-over-hand assistance with the kid who had no apparent interest in the task? It was way too reminiscent of facilitated communication, and we evidence-based practitioners do no want to go there. Most likely, and hopefully, she was simply providing cues and trying to engage the kid in activity, but I cringe at even the slightest hint of FC.

For all of 60 Minute’s shortcomings, it must be said that the iPad is most definitely an inspiring piece of technology, and it is capable of capturing the attention of of children and adults alike with its boundless applications. But we need to be mindful that when teaching social skills to children, we teach them to use turn-taking skills, theory mind and what have you with people and not machines. If a child is captivated by the iPad and is able to direct their attention to something purposeful and meaningful, that’s great, but its all for naught if those skills do not generalize to the world at large.

The iPad is a wonderful and powerful tool, and has numerous applications for autism treatment, and the broader speech pathology and special education fields as well. But let’s place our focus on the end goal and not the bright and shiny gadgets that serve to facilitate such goals, lest we become victims of the latest fad and fail to view the iPad for what it is: a tool.

(This post originally appeared on slowdog)

 

Adam Slota M.A., CCC-SLP is a speech pathologist working in long term care and long term acute care settings, primarily with tracheostomy and ventilator dependent patients. He is also the author of the blog slowdog where he writes about various topics in speech pathology and beer, among other frisky and/or mundane missives.

 

 

QR Codes Part 2: Using Kaywa to Generate a QR Code

In part one of this series, I described what a QR Code is, where you might have seen them, and their potential for grabbing the attention of our students.

Today, I am going to talk about Kaywa, a free site that you can use to generate and print a QR code for use in a session.

Kaywa is simple to use.  You can type or cut/paste a website URL (address) and create a code that, when scanned, will open the web browser on the device (smartphone, iPod Touch, iPad) or you can enter a short piece of text (e.g. a word with a target sound, vocab word or definition, contextual info, or a strategy you want the student to use).

1. Choose the Content type (generally you will use URL or Text)
2. For URL, you may copy and paste the URL from another window or tab (just make sure to delete http:// from the URL field before pasting (so you don’t end up with http://http:// at the beginning of your code, which would be an invalid URL.

 

3. Click Generate!

 

Here’s your code! Click on it and you will see it by itself on a page in printable form.
Like This.
Select File>Print from your browser and you will be able to print the code for scanning. You can also right-click(PC) or control-click(Mac) to copy or save the QR Code image.Here’s a short video showing these steps.  Have fun!!

(This post originally appeared on SpeechTechie)

Sean J. Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and instructional technology specialist working in the public school and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He consults on the topic of technology integration in speech and language and is the author of the blog SpeechTechie: Looking at Technology Through a Language Lens.