Tech Tuesday

Jessica Oliver shares:

I have always enjoyed using iPads in therapy with students.  In the last few weeks, I have spent several hours looking for free apps to address the needs of my students at my schools.  I really started using my iPad around the Valentine’s Day holiday.  It took me a while to get into the hang of using the iPad during group therapy.  Initially, I used it for showing short video clips for working on a variety of skills.  Video clips can be used in a thousand ways.  I wrote a previous post about the Simon’s Cat videos and using them for inferencing, problem solving, describing, and a lot more language based tasks.  I also use videos for holidays that give historical information that are appropriate for middle school students.  This allows for detail questions, main idea questions, inferences, drawing conclusions, predictions, articulation opportunities, and more.  

In addition to using an iPad for video clips, there are several free and low cost apps that can address goals that your students may have.  I have a few students working on following multiple step directions from elementary school.   I don’t have a lot of materials specific to following directions as they aren’t goals I often work on, so the iPad was a great way to work on them.  I found the Hearbuilder App, which allows students to work on a variety of types of directions with multi-steps.  Directions are temporal, sequential, basic, spatial, and more.  The students really enjoy it and it has built in reward games.

I was also able to find several apps that engaged my more difficult to engage students.  I have students who are working on language activities and questions with a response field of 4.  Several apps were free and available.  My students were able to make selections and match question cards to answers on the device and this was enough to hold their interest for an entire session!  I was also able to find a few sorting, matching, and organizing game apps that were great for rewards for MSD students who need to earn a reward on a star chart to work.


Other apps that I have found are ones that can be used for describing similar to EET type goals. They break describing into function, visual components, parts, where you find it, ect.  There was also an inferencing app that has pictures that let students inference about jobs, emotions, conversations, seasons, thoughts, social situations, and more!  My MSD articulation students were included in the use by playing spelling games after producing sounds.

Overall, the addition of an iPad to my therapy room has given my students a variety of ways to address their communication needs.  It has reduced the amount of materials I have to travel with and greatly increased the interest of my students during sessions!


Harry Potter Literacy Unit

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by [Rowling, J.K.]

This month’s Literacy unit is based on the Harry Potter series. These are the suggestions that stemmed from our September work session:

  • Receptive Language Activity-Jeopardylab website–categories are always “wh” questions. (May not be advisable to set it up like jeopardy–Could be too difficult for kiddos to answer in the form of a question.) Takes about 10 min to set up-saves online (You have to remember what you called it but can call it up at anytime.) Set it up for any number of teams. Can connect to a smart board, computer, switch access, etc. Can also make this multiple choice
  • For a chapter book we do a board for each chapter
  • Expressive Lang Act– Sorting hat– take out a question and ask the person the question, they have answer on topic back and ask an appropriate question back–great for students with autism.
  • You can use the sorting hat for vocab words–EET style, synonym, antonym, etc.
  • Artic-/r/–how about the characters (it is middle and high)! Reading aloud, answering questions
  • Cast spells using the words they are practicing

How do you use chapter books with your older kiddos?

Tech Tuesday

Pam Schmit shares:

I found a great free app called “Easy Bake,” and yes, that refers to the “easy bake oven.”

It is colorful and the foods look very realistic.  A particular food is selected, and associated choices grow from there.  One can “choose” a cake flavor, drag it into the bowl, actually stir it, watch the batter expand, then transfer it to pans.  An oven color is chosen, foods slide in, a timer alerts you to slide the food out, then you select your frostings, candy decorations, letters, numbers, and even candles you can light and actually “blow” out.  So many concepts and so much vocabulary can be targeted! Students can describe, wait, take turns, and read (instead of automatically pressing whatever message displays).  My high school MSD students are able to learn the steps of varied preparation processes.  My elementary students are having fun while they describe, retell using past tense verbs, and make choices using their target sounds.

Thanks, Pam!

Tech Tuesday

Becky Owens shares:

With thanks to the Crusade for Children for the generous grant allowing purchase of new iPads for student use, I would like to share about a few of my favorite apps to use in speech therapy.

Pocket Artic

I frequently use this app for students to work on speech sound production.

I find it most helpful to use with older students because it allows for quick practice, and the target phoneme and word, phrase, or sentence prompts can be changed very easily.

You can also select more than one student, and the app will provide alternating prompts for the students selected.  You can quickly record correct, approximate, or incorrect speech production and the app will keep track of student performance during the session.  You can also record and immediately play the recording.

Clue Catcher

This app provides a quick, fun way to practice using sentence context clues to determine the meaning of new vocabulary.  One of my students is motivated to score 100 Correct, and has re-answered his incorrect words to maintain a zero Incorrect score.

Inference Ace

I am new to this app.  I used it with a group of second graders this week.  I like how it incorporates WH – question vocabulary.

WH Questions

This app is made by Super Duper Publications.  I like to use the Drag ‘n Match 1 Question format.

One trick with this app is to make sure students say their response before they drag the picture.  Otherwise, they can get by without saying their responses.

One final suggestion… I also like the Webber HearBuilder apps for Following Directions and Auditory Memory.

I look forward to seeing how other SLPs are using their iPads to enhance student learning.

Thanks, Becky!

Applications: Chapter 7 Spreading the Words: The Next Steps

Sarah Niemann shares:

This book has provided multiple scientific studies and research and now it is time to look at how we can apply this information to spread the word and communicate the importance of a rich language environment, parent talk and its relation to the developing brain and the achievement gap many children in America face.  Below are some ideas I thought about based on what I read or examples stated in the chapter.  In the chapter they discussed the Thirty Million Words and the power of parent talk be included in discussions at obstetric clinics, maternity wards, physician offices, as part of early intervention curriculum, and being a part of standards that could be incorporated into state early learning standards for child care facilities.  When I first thought about this, I must admit I got a little overwhelmed of how I could be a part of such a change.  Soon though I started to try and break down the big picture a bit and think of simple things I could do on any given day to start to bring awareness to the program, the message and the implications. The list below are things I am committing to doing to feel empowered and to attempt to be part of the solution to the information I have been reading.

1) Passing this book along to others/buying them their own copy-This was mentioned in a comment from someone else on a previous chapter.  They mentioned giving a copy of the book to expectant parents.  After reading this book, it is going to be my new “baby shower gift” for the parent(s) to be.

2) “Be like James”-I was inspired by the example of the parent that Dr. Suskind discussed in the chapter that became an advocate for the 3T’s.  I was impressed that this parent tried to pass the information on to other people he knew so that all kids could have the same advantage that his child had.  It made me think of how if I just passed this information on to one person, and they told another person and so on the domino effect that could happen and the impact this could have.  I thought it was creative of this parent to use Skype to spread the word to people he knew.  While I do not have children in a child care setting I thought it was a great idea that this parent took it upon himself to talk to his son’s day care about the program.  It made me think that if I spoke to my friends about this program, then they went to their children’s day care etc., what a great improvement this could lead to.

3) Contacting Public Health-this book has mentioned how early language environments and ensuring all children have access to rich language environments for their developing brain is part of public health.  I was curious if the Louisville Public Health Department had any programs remotely related to early language environments and/or child development so I searched their website to see what I could find.  There were several programs for helping women have healthy babies, access to medical care throughout their pregnancy and even mentioned coaching and home visits for proper child development.  The list of programs and services gave contact information for a point person for each program and I am interested in contacting several programs that focus on birth to 3 to inquire on more specifics about what they include and if there were any other initiatives related to early language environments and supporting parents for creating these.

4) Social Media: Thirty Million Words initiative has a website and Facebook page and there are hashtags related to the key phrases.  I have started following their Facebook page for the book and the program.  A simple way to Spread the Word is liking/following the page, sharing posts, linking to the website etc. where others may come across it that were not be aware of the book or program.  At the time I liked the page there were 819 followers

5) Donate: The website has a place for donations that can be made to the Thirty Million Words Initiative to support the work of the program, initiative and research.  Even if it is just a little bit, I can skip a Starbucks trip and make a quick donation online.

The above is my starting point for applying and trying to take action based on all this information.  I would love to hear what everyone else’s ideas are.

Thanks, Sarah!

Chapter 7 Summary-Spreading the Words

Jamie Priddy shares:

In my opinion, this chapter emphasizes one of the most challenging parts of our job as school-based speech-language pathologists: In order to make the greatest change in our students, all parents, caregivers, team members, teachers, doctors, essentially all adults in the country, need to understand the problem in order to be part of the solution. In all of our discussions with teachers in the hallway of our schools, parents in ARC meetings and outside service providers through e-mail, we are always striving to teach (“sell” might be a better word) that language is so very important to the development of our students.  This chapter was all about getting everyone on the same page to create lasting impact on the language skills of our children, particularly birth through age three.

Suskind explains that while the achievement gap for school age children is impossible to hide from, the birth through three age group is a fairly invisible period. The achievement gap is already noticeable at this young age; however, without analyzing scientific research and data, it is easy to miss. To solve this problem, we must know when the problem begins, as well as what to do about it. The hard part is getting adults to understand the importance of the early language environment before it is too late.

By far, America’s greatest resource is its children. These babies will grow up to be the future citizens who will attempt to make this world productive and established. In order to help them develop into the best versions of themselves, America needs to utilize its second greatest resource—parent talk. Suskind defines parent talk as “the quality and quantity of words in an early language environment”. As SLPs, we know just how powerful parent talk is to our children. We are the ones who clearly understand the problem of a lack of quality interaction between child and caregiver and actively support the solution. But it’s not enough for us to know and work toward the goal on our own. We need society, most importantly parents, to get on board with us to achieve optimal success. Suskind goes on to explain that through the Nudge Theory, we can expand our impact and share our knowledge with those closest to us in hopes that small nudges will create a ripple effect of “spreading the words”.  Kudos to us because: THIS IS WHAT WE DO EVERYDAY. Great things can happen when the power of parent talk is shared during natural conversations with teachers, parents, doctors, other professionals. How many times during ARC meetings do we suggest that parents read with their kids, ask them questions, take the time to engage in normal conversation without technology around? The author used the example of James in the chapter. He appears to be a wonderfully involved father who demonstrated that one person really can make a huge difference. He completed the Thirty Million Words program and was so inspired by the impact it had on his son that he wanted to share his knowledge with family and friends. He taught the Three T’s through skype, through conversation and by example. He showed that parents really are the key to change in the youngest population of students.

In summary, this chapter reminds us that children aren’t born smart, they are made smart through engaging with parents and caregivers, and specifically when the parents tune in, talk more, and take turns. By sharing this information with parents of young kids, we can give them the power to change their child’s brain and future.

Thanks, Jamie!