Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Therapy Fun Find: Simon's Cat

I'm one of those people who hates digging for things.  I'd rather go into a small boutique and glance around instead of digging through the clearance racks at TJMAX (though I do make myself do it to get good deals from time to time).  I'll admit that I get mildly annoyed when I have to google something and scour through website after website when I can't find what I'm looking for.  It's less of an impatience issue and more of a I-have-a-million-other-things-to-do-right-now issue. Or maybe that's the same thing.  Lol.

So, I always get a little flutter of excitement when I stumble across something cool accidentally.  I feel like I won the gift of time AND cool new idea.  Such is the case with this new fun find.

I came across a super cute series on youtube called Simon's Cat.  Maybe you've heard of it before, since it seems to have been around a while (like a few years!).  It was new to me, so I thought I'd share just in case you wanted to check it out.

The videos are short 2-3 minute episodes of stories from the perspective of Simon the cat.  Two things I love about them: they are short and WORDLESS...perfect for facilitating language and narrative discourse.  I use the Story Grammar Marker tools with them, since most of the videos make a "complete episode" for narratives in SGM language.  

They are also great for working on social language skills, such as emotions, facial expressions, problem solving, unexpected behaviors, and more.  The possibilities with wordless books and videos really are endless.

There are like over 30 videos, so head on over and use away in therapy.  Be sure and subscribe to the youtube channel, so you can stay updated when they post new episodes.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kindergarten Language Benchmark Assessment {Product Review}

Back in November at the ASHA conference, I was able to meet so many sweet people and talented vendors.  One of these talented ladies gave me a copy of a brand new assessment to review.  It's called the Kindergarten Language Benchmark Assessment (KLBA).  After reading up on it and trying it out, I am SO excited to tell you about this one.

The KLBA was created by Naomi R Konikoff, MS CCC-SLP and Jennifer Preschern, MA CCC-SLP.  It is "a universal screening and progress monitoring tool for early language skills."  It consists of three assessments for students enrolled in kindergarten and geared for fall, winter, and spring.  For me, this is perfect for the Response to Intervention (RtI) process especially since I have to include specific RtI data in every evaluation (state requirement).

One thing that I love about it is that each assessment only takes about 3-4 minutes to administer or maybe a little longer at first.  This  works out great if you're on a tight schedule like me (and probably every other school-based SLP out there).

The skill areas included are: auditory comprehension, following directions, categories receptive, categories expressive, and narrative language.  The test gives you a raw score for each skill as well as a total score.

To administer the KLBA you use the picture prompts and record form booklet.  The instructions are straightforward and the pictures are colorful and easy to identify.  A couple of the pictures could have a little better quality; however, they were still clear enough for the students to easily understand.

I like that the verbal prompts are included inside the picture book to allow for quick delivery.  Most of the subtests include a training item and specific directions on what to say if the answer that's given is correct or incorrect.

Inside the test manual are specific scoring guides for each skill area as well as an answer key and scoring practice items.

There isn't any standardized data included, but you can still measure progress made throughout the year using the 3 assessments.  I will probably use 2 of the assessments as a pre- and post- measure for my RtI kindergarten students.  Check out this post on how you can use the KLBA more specifically in the RtI process.

The manual does give you the data from a recent pilot study, which allows you to compare your students' scores to the averages of the participants given in a table form.  You can find more info on the research involved in the KLBA here.  And this post explains how you can even use this test to differentiate SLI from ELL difficulties.

Overall, I thought this was a great tool to gather lots of language rich data from kindergarteners.  It can definitely be a go-to for progress monitoring, IEP goals, interventions, ELL concerns, and more.

 What do you think?  Is this something that you could use in your speech room?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Appy New Year Part 1! {InTense Pro}

Happy New Year!  It's "Appy" New Year on the blog today.  I've got a brand new app to tell you about and a giveaway too!  It's called InTense Pro, and it's designed by speech-language professionals as well as video game developers.  What makes it fun for the kiddos is that it combines learning verb tenses with a cute carnival game.

This app starts off by letting you create a profile for students.  Just tap + new profile to get started.

A cool option that you get is the ability to put the parent's email into the student's profile.  This is great if you frequently want to keep parents updated on progress.  You could also add your own email in place of it and send the results to yourself.

On each student profile, you can select the question types, tenses to practice, progress charts, and total stats.

Select up to 5 players in a group to get started and tap the let's play button.

There are several types of questions that are presented.  Tap the speaker button to have the question read aloud.  Some questions even have speakers for the question and answers with no text.

Follow the directions to complete the different types of questions.  After the student answers correctly, they earn tickets.  Keep track of how many tickets have been earned by looking at the righthand side of the screen.  There are 3 different types and each represents a different game that can be played for reinforcement.  More on that in a second.

After one student answers several questions, they are prompted to pass it to the next person in the group.

They take their turn answering questions and earning tickets.  They have to answer correctly on the first attempt for it to be counted as correct.

Whenever you want to reinforce, simply tap on one of the tickets to begin your game.  Depending on the ticket pressed, you'll enter a certain game board scene.  Tapping on a pod will allow you to complete a fun activity.

For this activity, you have to launch a cannonball to hit some top hats...kind of like angry birds.  :)

Tap the back button in the corner to return to grammar questions.  After playing tap on the settings icon next to the student's name to access their profile.  From their you can view their scores and email the results.  The dropdown menu at the top of the screen lets you decide exactly what scores you'd like to view.

Grab this app in the iTunes store for $18.99 HERE.

Things I loved about this app:

  • The graphics are super cute and kid-friendly.
  • The game aspect of it is very motivating for kids.  The games are fun and engaging and challenging enough for my older students.
  • It's easily adaptable to fit your specific needs.  You can tailor it to target exactly what the student is working on in therapy.
  • You can even choose the types of questions that work best for your student.  If you want all multiple choice with visual text, then you have the option to choose that.
  • I like that you can have several students playing at a time, and that they answer a few questions before passing.  This works great in group.  You could have them all working on something while waiting their turn, since it's not going to be right away.  (I'm a multi-tasker ;))
Things that could make it better:
  • The main thing that I didn't love about this app is that some of the questions are confusing.  The visuals they give are a little tough.  See below.  The correct answer is the one on the left.

  • Sometimes the answers are tricky as well.  The one below asks for a 2-word past tense which threw me off a little.

At least you do have the option of viewing the correct answer if you are unsure.  And it will let you keep guessing at the multiple choice items until you get it right.

Overall, I think this is a great app and my students love it.  My friends at Algoma even gave me a code to give one away for free!!  Just enter via the Rafflecopter below!! Good luck and Happy New Year!!

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