What’s a Popplet?

3x3 blog pic popplet

It sounds like a cute Saturday morning cartoon character or a yummy pastry, but Popplet is actually an interactive graphic organizer app! It’s available on itunes but I am lucky enough to have it as part of my Office 365 suite on my school computer!  This app is described on their  website : “In the classroom and at home, students use Popplet for learning. Used as a mind-map, Popplet helps students think and learn visually. Students can capture facts, thoughts, and images and learn to create relationships between them.”  My students, especially my students with social language impairments, ADD and/or executive function impairments, are definitely visual learners! I am too, so here is a link to a youtube video that shows how to build a Popplet organizer.  Here is a link to a fabulous education blog that outlines multiple uses for Popplet in school with a great step by step tutorial.   One of my SLPeeps (thanks Joy!) introduced me to this in a presentation recently and my mind jumped right to social language concepts (I know, it’s an obsession)!

popplet screen shot

How cool would this be to use for social mapping?  You could add a picture of the problem scenario in the middle (or even have the students role play problems and take actual pictures of them to use with the app).  Then, use the organizer to build out expected/unexpected pathways (you can color code them too) and tease out how their choices impact how others think and feel.  If your students have tablets in your school system as ours do, you can push out the Popplet to them individually and they have an immediate visual social map to refer to.

What about our friends who have difficulty with group work?  Building a Popplet together might be more enticing to my students who love technology and sneak in some collaborative learning skills at the same time in the therapy setting or in the classroom!  I can see this being used to work on expanding social language concepts such as perspective taking using a graphic organizer, connecting the concepts of think/say/feel and even linking shades of emotions using Popplet.  I want to try it out and have my kids look at a picture in the middle, then identify and connect the clues they see in order to make a smart guess!   It would be fantastic to be able to print a screenshot and blow it up to poster size to refer to in your therapy room or classroom too.

I am excited to try out this new therapy tool and see how it goes.  Have you used Popplet? Please share your thoughts here.  If not, how would you use it for social language therapy?

Powtoon for the win!

Powtoon cover

My eyes have been opened to several new websites that I can use as a SLP for social language therapy!  It’s always exciting to come across fresh ideas, but as a more “seasoned” SLP,  I worry a bit that it might be too complicated for my non-techie mind.  When a speech friend sent me a link to a video created using Powtoon, I thought it was worth a look around the website.  Boy am I glad I did!  Powtoon is a site to create cartoon based video presentations for businesses.   However, I used it to create a video from the materials in one of my TeachersPayTeachers products, #sorrynotsorry ,  as an instructional video on the steps to apologizing.  I exported it to Youtube and you can check it out HERE  or on my Social Videos Pinterest board.  Warning, it was my first try and I am still tweaking timing and placement of the text, but I put this together in less than 20 minutes after watching the tutorial.  If I can do it, you can too!!

The site has great step by step tutorials and walks you through visually how to create your Powtoon using pictures and text, with music or voice overs in the background!   There is a free membership with plenty of basic creating options, all the way through a professional membership which runs several hundred dollars a month.  It would also be interesting to use it as a marketing tool for a private practice.  Another project for another day…in the summer.

You could create the videos, but what a fun and engaging way for your students to create them too!  Whatever concepts that you are working on in a social language context, for example, the Zones of Regulation or Expected vs. Unexpected behaviors, could be the focus of the student created video.  What a better way to see if they understand the concepts than by asking them to teach it to others!  Collaborative learning is a big focus in the schools, and your students can work on delegating tasks, creating a script, accepting another person’s point of view/opinion and advocating for their ideas in a group all while creating their own Powtoon.  And on those days that our friends seem to have completely forgotten what we have been working on?  These videos are a great visual reminder to review concepts and strategies, and you don’t even have to say a word!

As our world moves faster and is more savvy electronically, how do you see using these types of  cartoon videos in therapy or for marketing?

SLP-Speechies Love Parties?

birthday boxes

Who doesn’t love cake, ice cream and a good birthday party? Well, for our kids with social language weakness and/or social anxiety, it isn’t always a good time. One of my own children was very active and impulsive when he was little, and birthday parties were a bit of a nightmare. I had to prep him prior to the party to review what kind of behaviors were expected and which ones were unexpected in the environment (for example, an inside the home party vs. outside park party). It was easy for him to go into sensory overload, and I learned quickly to have a plan so he could calm down and reorganize himself if needed.   These prep steps were crucial to limit bodily harm and collateral property damage, and they kept the party a positive experience for my son (and the other kids).

I created this Party Time Pragmatics packet  to practice birthday party scenarios with my speech students who have social language impairments. This can include kids with ASD, ADHD, EBD, and social anxiety. I use it to introduce the idea of being an ‘Ask-Again Friend’ (yay!) versus an ‘Uninvitable’ (not so yay!). Birthday parties have many of hidden rules and the rules change based on lots of variables such as where the party is, who is attending, how long you have known the birthday child and your relationship with them. For example, how you act with your cousins that you see all the time is very different from how you act with a new classmate. It is always an eye opener to talk about what the kids think the important things to know are about attending a party, and then guide them to fill in the missing (or misinformed) pieces of information.  I have six social scenario cards of Uninvitable behaviors and a Present Time Rewind to go over what those friends could have said or done differently to be more of an Ask Again Friend. I also made 12 birthday gift scenes to contrast Ask-Again Friends and Uninvitables.

One of the challenging activities included is to act out different feelings and emotions related to birthday parties. They can only use facial expressions and body language, but NO WORDS.  Oh, this is hard!! Sometimes it is difficult for kids to figure out how to match non-verbals with verbals, and doing this is trickier than it would seem at first! Extend the activity by having them come up with some party scenarios of their own or YOU act out the scenarios, but match the wrong expression or body language and see if the kids can catch you (and hopefully correct you)! The last two activities are multiple meaning words (with a birthday theme, of course) and a “guess what’s inside the present” activity to work on visualization and making inferences. To make it a little more fun, I bought tiny birthday cartons and boxes at the dollar store and put actual objects inside so the kids can check their guesses. You can also use these containers and have the kids come up with other clues/present combinations or they can give each other the clues and make a guess which box or carton it is in, to extend the activity.

I hope this packet and the ideas will help your students become Ask Again Friends!