Pocket Artic Review!

It’s nice to know that we have a number of options to choose from when picking an articulation app to download onto the iPad. As one might expect, each of these apps has its own pros and cons: some use great pictures to support the words/phrases/sentences, others give more opportunities for the production of particular phonemes in various contexts, while others still have flexibility to switch between word position of the phoneme and complexity level of the utterance (word vs. phrase vs. sentence) during practice. Although options are great, sometimes they make it tough to choose which app to buy. Here’s my review of an articulation app I have found to be a FANTASTIC resource for any SLP or grad student in the field!

Pocket Artic (currently $9.99) is a do-it-all articulation app. When adding a new client, you are prompted to type in their name, preferred level of practice (word, phrase, or sentence; you can easily switch between levels in the midst of practice if desired), and preferred phonemes (choose from 30 options, including blends and post-vocalic /r/ sounds).












To begin your session, choose the student(s) who will be participating, and start! The app automatically switches between participants, changing the cards appropriately to align with their specific phoneme(s) and complexity level. If at any point you wish to increase or decrease the complexity level, you can do so mid-practice with the click of a button. You can also indicate whether you want practice to occur in word-initial, medial, final, or mixed positions!






















If the client benefits from visual support, you can click the “i” button during a given turn and get a visual representation of where the tongue should be in the oral cavity for that particular phoneme. Additionally, you can click on the microphone button to hear an example of the sound when produced correctly. Since these images are the same as those in the Speech Tutor app (currently $4.99), these 2 apps really compliment each other well!

Like many apps on the market, Pocket Artic allows the SLP to mark each opportunity as correct, approximated, or incorrect. The app keeps track of all the results and transfers them into easy-to-read data sheets (which you can save and/or send to yourself).

So, here’s a summary of what I like:

  • You can input individual goals for each client, but incorporate multiple clients into a single session
  • You can easily and quickly change the phoneme position within the word AND change the complexity level (word, phrase, sentence) during a single turn
  • You have control over whether the correct/approximated/incorrect buttons make noise when pressed (some client like that feedback, while others might find it distracting)
  • During a particular turn, you can click the “i” button to get a visual of where the tongue should be in the oral cavity for that specific phoneme.
  • Lots of great data is collected and organized by the app
  • The images are REAL! This helps to contextualize them for kids who might otherwise have trouble, AND makes them applicable for adults to practice (yup, I actually eval’d a 28 year-old for artic this past week with this app)

I wish that Apple would invent a little clicker that wirelessly connects to these kinds of apps which would allow the SLP to remotely mark whether the response was correct/approximated/incorrect. I think that watching the SLP “take data” on the app is really distracting to many clients, but until that invention exists (COPYRIGHT, haha), I suppose we always have good old pencil and paper if using the app to keep track of responses causes issues. All in all, I think this is a great choice for SLPs looking for a do-it-all articulation app for their iPad!

Apps, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Screen Chomp Magic

I’ll be the first to admit it: I live the GLAMOROUS life of a grad student. Early morning panics about exams, long nights writing 10-page final case summaries in the computer lab, overdosing on caffeine… Truly the life of luxury (I know you all remember those days, or are currently living those days). In addition to my regular class & clinic work, I am teaching 2 sections of a 100-level, mile-wide-inch-deep undergrad intro course for our department this quarter.

Throughout these past 10 weeks, I have certainly seen the error of my ways in trying to teach 65 freshman –> seniors challenging concepts like “language disorders,” “audition,” and my personal favorite, “IPA” in 50-minute classes. IPA was actually split into 2 classes (because 100 minutes is totally enough time to explain all there is to know about linguistics and phonemes and diacritics and phonotactics and…yeah, you get it!). So while flopped on my couch last week in a bout of despair, I opened up my iPad and decided to try a brand new app I’d just downloaded: ScreenChomp. I had no idea what the app did, but since I’m always one to give $free.99 apps a chance, I figured it was a good app to test out. It took me all of 8 seconds before I was yelling “HALLELUJAH” for ScreenChomp!

ScreenChomp is a way to make interactive videos that you can then share via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. When you open the app, you are presented with the screen above. In order to start a new project, you click on the “Draw and Record” button, which will bring you to the screen below:

For any presentation, you can either have a blank “whiteboard” background (like the one shown), or you can click on the button in the bottom left-hand corner to choose a background that you’ve uploaded onto your iPad either as a document or photo. Once your background is chosen, you can write on it with various colored markers (with various size options), erase, clear the entire page, and record your voice as you go! A finished presentation can be “shared” via email or social networking sites.

So, why was I so excited about this for my undergrad classes? Rather than take additional class time to offer practice with IPA transcription (which they badly needed) or to do tons of final exam review, I could make “tutorial videos” for my students to watch on their own time, in the comfort of their own homes! So far my students have had nothing but positive things to say about the video presentations (even though my stylus “handwriting” looks like a preschooler writing while on a roller coaster). I have included links to 2 actual videos I sent to my classes. Please please PLEASE forgive my general goofiness that appears in these…they tended to be created verrrrrrrry late at night on verrrrrrrry little sleep. Also, the info. presented to this class is super-dee-duper basic and might not be up to par for you brilliant SLPs (just an attempt to give a basic presentation of this info. to students from other majors). Although I’m using the videos in college-level classes, I foresee TONS of ways this app can be used in a therapy setting with school-age kids (or even little guys). It would be a FANTASTIC way to demo homework activities or to train parents/caregivers of clients! As a free app, I think ScreenChomp is a must-have on every iPad!

Video project of IPA transcription practice: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/MsI38Avnjr. This one uses a background I imported into the app (from a different app).

Video project of final exam review: http://www.screenchomp.com/t/V62khm4Mll. This one uses the blank “whiteboard” background. ***disclaimer: I accidentally say “functional voice disorder” at one point when I mean “organic voice disorder.” Proof I am sooooo not perfect…sigh!


Apps, Articulation Therapy, Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

App Synthesis: Custom Boards-Premium and ABA Flash Card Decks

Do you own the Smarty Ears app, Custom Boards-Premium?  Hmmm?  Do you?  Well, I made the leap and bought this app while it was on sale for Better Speech and Hearing Month (normally $39.99) and I am officially IN LOVE with it!  Although I did appreciate the grad-student friendly sale price, this app is worth it’s weight in gold (or dollars…if you want to be that way) at the regular price.

Now, I could go on and on about the over-11,000 smarty symbols you get when you purchase this app (ummmm, a pseudo Boardmaker for your iPad anyone?).  I could also spout off facts about their 100+ templates into which you can input pictures and text.  But, I think I’ll take this post in a different direction and tell you about how I’m loving using this app with my fellow classmates!

I am a big fan of combining great ideas.  You know that killer food that’s always left over from Thanksgiving?  Rolls + turkey + cranberry sauce = BEST sandwich of your life.  Iced tea + lemonade = summer staple (thanks Mr. Palmer).  Glitter + …….ok, you’re right…glitter is just the devil, no matter what you combine it with!  Anyway, my point is that Custom Boards can be a great tool on its own, but you can make it a super-stellar-Avengers-style tool if you are savvy about combining it with other apps.  The groom to my Custom Board bride is the collection of free ABA flash card decks I have downloaded (from Kindergarten.com).  If you don’t own these apps, go download them immediately.  I mean it…right now!  I’ll wait…

Ok, now that you have the free ABA cards AND Custom Boards, you’re as set as you’ll ever need to be!  Here’s the plan:

1. Take screen shots of the flash cards you want to include in your Custom Boards project:

2. Open Custom Boards and choose a template:

3. Click on the first white box and select the iPad Images button.  This will pull up your photo library (and your ABA flash card screen shots should be there).  Select the first picture.  Once it’s selected, you can size it (by pinching your fingers in or out) to fill the screen with exactly what you want.  Remember that you can add your own text into each box on the template, or leave them blank.

4. Repeat with the other picture(s) to complete your template!

COOL!!!!!  Right?  Of course it is!  Apps can be fantastic on their own, but the possibilities are endless when we think about synthesizing their contributions to our field!  I would love to hear how you are combining your iPad apps to create great new projects and therapy tools!  Below are a couple more examples of boards I’ve made using the ABA flash cards 🙂

Post-vocalic /r/ animal Articulation Therapy board:

Emotions Board:

A Good Laugh, Just for Students

You Know You’re A SLP Grad Student When…Part 3

Why deny your love for top-10 (or top-5) lists?  You and I both know they make the world go round, so I’m back with Part 3 of my NoEndInSight-part set of “You Know You’re a SLP Grad Student When…” lists.  That last sentence made very little grammatical sense, but then again neither does my life during spring quarter of year 1 of grad school…


5. You start doing a chin tuck every time you take your multi vitamin

4. Your weekly Youtube Recommendations email (yeah…apparently those exist now) includes all videos about muscle tension     dysphonia and spastic dysarthria

3. You believe that bubbles can fix any problem 

2. You automatically assume that any text that appears in parentheses is a maze (thanks a lot SALT [not a maze])                                T: Can you think of anything more fun than SALT?                                                                                                                                            

H: Umm>                                                                                                                                                                                                              

=Hanna bangs head against wall while transcribing yet another language sample

1. You could actually answer the question: Frog, where are you?…maybe he’s with a boy and a dog :/

Language Therapy, Random Therapy Ideas

Super Semantics: Therapy/Assessment Activity

Proficient retrieval of stored information in our brains is key to effective, efficient language.  Deficits in an individual’s ability to access semantic features of a word/item or a lack of rich semantic connections can present as word finding difficulties, a limited lexicon, or general language impairment.  There’s a great overview of information about lexical storage and retrieval as well as additional resources (articles about research in this realm) in Marilyn Nippold’s book: Later Language Development: School-Age Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults Third Edition.  The concept “dog” might elicit neural connections to a huge variety of cortical association areas for a given person: phonological processing centers of the brain (D-O-G), visual centers of the brain (what does a dog look like), auditory centers (woof), somatosensory centers (what does a dog feel like?), olfactory centers (how does a dog smell?), semantic categorical centers of the brain (what does a dog remind you of?) etc.  Together, these connections constitute the semantic network for “dog.”

If you notice or suspect these semantic networking/lexical retrieval deficits in your client, here’s a great criterion-referenced task you can use that goes beyond the basic convergent vs. divergent subtests often found in norm-referenced standardized assessments (a group of my cohort-mates came up with this for a recent class presentation)!

What you will need: 

  • Laminated picture cards
  • Data-taking sheet to easily allow you to keep track of what kind of data you’re after

Ready, set, GO:

  • STEP 1: Present the client with 8 picture cards and say, “Sort these cards into 2 categories.” For example, you might present 5 cards that are all animals and 3 cards that are all types of vehicles.  Depending on the developmental level of your client, you can make the categories more or less obvious.  The goal is for the client to sort the various cards into these general, big categories.
  • STEP 2: Ask the client, “Tell me which 2 categories you chose.”  Here, you are looking for the client to tell you the 2 general/big categories they chose for the cards.
  • STEP 3: Ask the client to explain how each card fits into the category.  Your goal is to gather information about how they are linking concepts together: what are the semantic connections they’re using to understand and group language?  Depending on how formal you want to make this activity, you can interject your own thoughts about the shared (or unique) semantic features of each card.
  • STEP 4: Now introduce a new card that should easily fit into 1 of the 2 general/big categories (i.e. bring out a picture of a truck and ask which category it fits into).  Do this a couple of times.
  • STEP 5: This time, introduce a card that has some kind of semantic connection to one of the 2 general/big categories, but breaks the overt rule of the category (it’s NOT an animal or a vehicle).  For example, assuming that all of the animals were farm animals, you could introduce a picture of a barn.  This step will give you critical information about the client’s cognitive flexibility and the extent of their semantic networks!
  • Run through this a few times, each time with different sets of cards that need to be grouped into categories.  You can always increase task complexity by requiring more categories or making the pictured items less overtly connected. Another variation of the task is to simply hand the client a number of cards and tell them to sort them “any way they want.”  Rather than prompt the number of categories you are looking for, this task method will allow you to gather in-depth information about how the client chunks and groups lexical items.

Things to look for:

  • Does the client use overly simplistic sorting strategies, or can he/she employ more abstract techniques to sort the cards? For example, if all the cards you initially give the client are animals, do they have the rich semantic networks in place to allow them to recognize carnivores vs herbivores (assuming this is an appropriate academic skill)?
  • Can the client easily demonstrate semantic flexibility?  If you have been accepting sorting-responses based on animals versus vehicles, can the client switch gears and recognize that the animals could also fit into the “farm” category once the barn picture is introduced.

Hopefully you are able to integrate this criterion-referenced activity into your session the next time you are working with a client whose semantic networking abilities and lexical retrieval skills are in question!


Hooray for TxTools

I’m really good at a couple of things: grammar, eating chocolate ice cream…

I’m pretty good at a slightly longer list of things: playing scrabble, studying for tests, roasting marshmallows to perfection…

Sadly, there is a rather extensive list of things I am relatively terrible at doing.  I usually make a whole-hearted effort to improve my skills in whatever I might be attempting, but at some finite point, frustration takes over and I end up groveling at the feet of others, begging for help.  At the top of this particular list is my ability to calculate a client’s current age on a standardized, norm-referenced test.  It’s as if my brain has decided that mentally figuring out how to add and subtract days and months should be lumped together with activities that fall into the realm of “exceptionally difficult” (you know, like scaling Mount Everest or breaking WWII codes).

This is where PediaStaff‘s wonderful app, TxTools, comes in!  If this app were speed dating and could only use 3 words to describe itself, it would probably say: simple, no-frills, efficient.  It’s a “dad” app: the one you call when you want to get your problem fixed or your question answered.  Not when you want to kill hours with meaningless conversation just for the sake of talking (those are “mom” apps, people! Or maybe “BFF” apps).  TxTools has 3 functions:

  1. The Age Finder: This allows you to quickly calculate a client’s current age for standardized assessments and paperwork!
  2. The IEP Scheduler: This allows you to help calculate the exact date of upcoming IEPs, evaluations, or specific timelines for initial evaluations.
  3. The Percent Correct Calculator: With this function, you can easily and efficiently take on-line data and determine exactly what percent of correct responses the client made during an activity.

PediaStaff, thank you for coming up with great ideas to make life just a little bit easier!  From your amazing Pinterest pages to this helpful new app, I bow down!

You can get TxTools in the App Store for $free.99 (that’s right…FREE)!