Apps, Language Therapy, Worth Every Penny

Flashcards for Your iPad

Flashcards are great therapy resources.  They are tried and true, and serve as a great go-to set of stimuli during many of the activities SLPs do on a daily bases.  There are a lot of benefits to having a physical set of cards in front of you.  BAM: basic flashcards can become a memory or matching game.  BAM: stack flashcards around the room to make a car obstacle course (https://hbslp.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/making-drill-activities-fun-for-little-boys/).  BAM, hide flashcards to create a scavenger hunt for therapy targets!  Despite all these great uses for stimulus cards, there are just those moments where you want the content from the card without the ability for your client to pick it up and toss it across the room (or flip it over, or rip it, or spill on it).  Unless you’re a laminating maniac and an organization genius, cards often get lost or ruined after a finite amount of time. They can become cumbersome to lug around for SLPs on the go, and keeping them organized can be a nightmare.  Solution? Flashcard apps.  Super Duper is a GREAT resource for a big selection of flashcard decks that have been converted for the iPad!  The concept is by no means revolutionary, but for short money (apps run $5.99 each) you get all the benefits of the cards’ content without the downsides of dealing with individual cards.  Here are 2 Super Duper apps that I’ve been exploring and would love to share:

WHAT ARE THEY ASKING?

The deck includes a wide variety of picture scenes where one character has a “?” thought bubble coming from his/her/its mouth, encouraging the question, “what are they asking?” Before you begin an activity with this app, you have the option to choose your client(s) and customize the card options for them by selecting the specific cards you want (or you can always select all cards).  Here are some great ways to use this app:

  • Its intended function: asking your client to think about what the character is likely asking.  This requires your kiddo to look for contextual clues in the scene to support their theory.  If you are hoping to generate further language beyond a simple answer to what the character is thinking, ask your client to explain the contextual clues they used to come up with their answer.
  • pronoun practice: what is heshe, it thinking?
  • Inference practice: ask your client questions like: “What do you think happened right before this?” “How does the other character(s) feel about what’s happening?” “How could you solve this problem?”
  • Engage your client in WH-question practice by tailoring your questions about each card” “WHO is having this thought?” “WHEN did X character do X action?” “WHERE has the girl traveled (hint: look at her suitcase)?”

You are given the option to mark each card as correct or incorrect if you come up with a personalized data system, but you can certainly leave the activity open as a means of generating great language in addition to thinking about what different characters might be saying in each scene!

UNDERSTANDING INFERENCES

Since inferences are a broad area of language, this app has lots of possible functions!  Again, you have the power to choose specific cards to include for each client, or to use the whole deck.  You can mark each card as correct or incorrect if you want to tap into the data function of the app!  Here are some ways to get rolling with Understanding Inferences:

  • If your client is just starting to work with inferences, one-word responses might be a great target with this deck!  For these kiddos, elaboration might be too tough, but the ability to provide a relevant answer to the posed question will demonstrate that they’re getting the idea of an inference!
  • Use the cards (and their questions) as a story generator.  Ask your client to not only provide an appropriate response, but to also create a story about what happens next.
  • Use the cards to model a descriptive guessing activity and then have the client try it on his/her own!  Practice with a card like the one below (giving clues to help describe a target object based on its appearance, function, etc), and then see if your client can give you enough clues to guess what he/she is thinking of 🙂
  • Be silly; instead of thinking of things that DO belong (for cards like the one below), try to think of things that DON’T belong.  Understanding how objects DON’T fit into certain semantic categories can be just as important as determining how and why they do! 

There you have it!  A few fun ways to get your started using a couple of Super Duper’s flashcard apps!  The magic is in how you make these apps work for you, especially since there are so many possibilities beyond their basic, intended functions 🙂

Just for Students

Tips for Applying to Grad School

I’m going to assume that at least one perspective grad student has stumbled across my blog, so this post is for YOU! One year ago exactly I was in a post-grad-school-application daze, having (finally) heard from all the schools I’d applied to (yeah yeah, I know I ended that sentence with a preposition).  The journey to that point had been far from simple-my roommates at the time could attest to the stone cold fact that I’d been a total basket case for the few months leading up to the glimmering moment when I heard back from schools.

So, if you are a junior-going-on-senior in a speech and hearing undergrad program, or a post-bacc who will be applying next fall, here are some of my tidbits of knowledge to share about how to make the process of applying to grad school a little simpler:

  1. Think Looooooong and Hard About Where You Want to Apply: remember, you are not just attending school in this city/state; you are living there for at least 2 years.  You tend to hear from everyone that you sell your soul when you start grad school.  While this is true to an extent, you definitely will have some time to live your life if you prioritize well.  Make sure you consider the pros and cons of the city where you will end up living, because there’s nothing worse than having some glorious free time and hating everything around you that you could be doing with it!  Do you LOVE mountaineering?  You probably should consider schools within a 50 mile radius of a mountain.  Can’t live without the ocean?  Think east coast or west coast (best coast)!  Image
  2. Make Checklists: Ok, I admit that I love checklists and make them for everything, but I promise this will be your greatest survival tool through the application process (Katniss-Everdeen-style).  I think that the 1,837,429,324.8 hoops you have to jump through in finishing all aspects of an application are a way to filter out the weaklings from the strong.  You will need to complete the application for the official grad school AND also for the Speech-Language Pathology department (often this one has supplementary questions to go along with it).  You need to send official transcripts (usually one to the official grad school and another to your department).  You need to send GRE scores (barf). The list goes on and on.  Make a separate check list for each grad school and stick to it.  Call often to make sure things have arrived!  Who cares if you annoy the receptionist?  This is YOUR future!Image
  3. Survive the GRE’s: I scream, you scream, we all scream when we think about the GRE’s.  This exam is horrible, terrible, overwhelming, and required.  So get over it and get studying!  Unless you are a standardized test pro, this is a stressful step in the whole grad school application process, but I promise you will survive it (I did, so I know you will too).  I didn’t do a study class ($1,000…no thank you), but I did spend many a weekend at Barnes and Noble taking as many practice tests from the GRE study books as I could get my hands on. I didn’t actually write in the books, just sat with them and took practice test after practice test.  You will never memorize every word that shows up in the analogies section or every math concept, but you can “learn the test.”  All those practice tests helped me to pace myself and recognize which questions expected calculation of some sort vs use of a shortcut.                                                                                                                                           Image
  4. Read Up on the Faculty and Resources at Your Schools: Some schools have better access to certain areas of study than others.  Take the time to look at the current research being done by faculty as well as the types of clinics, hospitals, schools, etc. associated with the schools you’re considering.  If your heart is set on working on a cleft team, there are certain schools with more access to that than others.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll never get the opportunity at a different school, but you might have to advocate for yourself a bit more or seek out topics that aren’t explicitly taught by your faculty.                                                                                   Image
  5. Make Your Personal Statement PERSONALdon’t spend your precious space telling your dream school about how important ethical practice is, or the importance of evidence-based practice.  They know!  Trust me.  You have to remember that although you might know how awesome and amazing you are, the faculty reading your application probably don’t know you from a hole in the wall.  This is your chance to tell them about YOU.  Are you fascinated by velocardiofacial syndrome?  Tell them!  Do you have aspirations of developing an app for elementary kids with dyslexia?  Mention that!  Yes, you need to sound professional and intelligent, but don’t forget to sound like you and let your passion shine through!                                                             Image

None of these suggestions are fool-proof, but hopefully they can help to set some of your stress at ease.  I wake up every day feeling blessed to be a part of the University of Washington’s grad program, but I have not forgotten the anxiety and effort that went into my applications.  Trust me though…you’ll make it, and undoubtedly become a fabulous SLP!