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?

Strike a Pose.

blog-post-pic-mannequin-challenge

The newest viral rage is the #mannequinchallenge.  It is basically a live version of a freeze frame picture.  All kinds of videos have been uploaded by sports teams, schools, SLPs at ASHA (check out this video on PandaSpeech’s instagram page HERE) and even this dog (he is amazing)!  When my son showed them to me, I thought it was silly fun but then I started to think about how I could use these videos with my  kids working on social skills.  It combines a topic with social relevance (for the moment) that they can talk to their peers about AND the perfect tool to work on some social language concepts (most of my kids LOVE videos).

Each of the challenge videos are thematic, for example, sports, music, or school. Remember to preview first, just to make sure nothing “unexpected” pops up!  Often they have funny poses or actions included and it is incredible that almost no one moves.  Each video lasts only a minute or two, and is the perfect length of time to use in a social skills lesson. You can use these videos to work on identifying the gestalt or “big picture” idea the video represents (what’s the setting or theme of the video?) and identify the clues that helped them make a smart guess. Then you can talk about what the people in the video might be thinking or feeling and identify the related non-verbal clues that they see (there isn’t anyone speaking in the videos). The lesson can extend to include predictions about what might happen next when the frozen actions come to life.  Most of the videos end with all the people moving, laughing, or clapping to celebrate their successful completion of the challenge so pause it before that point, to make your predictions!  If your kids are up to the challenge, you can make your own video and sneak in some working in groups skills too (shhhhhh)!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Lego mannequin challenge

Disney Holiday mannequin challenge

Cleveland Cavaliers at the White House mannequin challenge

Pentatonix concert mannequin challenge

The Ohio State University Football team mannequin challenge

What are your favorite mannequin challenges that you have seen?

Escape Speech Room Boredom

escape-blog-pic-template

I love a good puzzle and a challenge, so naturally my curiosity was piqued when my son came home after a Breakout adventure with his friends.  These adventures are themed rooms where you are “locked” in, such as a jewel heist or the CDC during a Zombie outbreak, until you solve several clues. They are elaborate and creative fun and the group has to work together, or nobody gets out alive  wins the challenge. After thinking about how cool this idea is, my second thought was why not try this in speech?

One of the skills that I find I need to address over and over again with my social language students is the concept of working in a group successfully with peers.  There are so many social concepts to scaffold prior to working in a group such as sharing personal space, whole body or active listening skills, turn taking, maintaining a topic,  perspective taking, emotional regulation, executive function and more!  However, we are requiring even our Pre-K kiddos to master this skill pretty quickly in the school setting.  These skills are also embedded in the common core under the Speaking and Listening strands  Working cooperatively is a life skill and if our kids can’t learn to develop these skills in their early years, how do you think college, jobs or even living in a community is going to go?  Not well.

Out of this skill set, my Connect the Dots: Cornucopia Caper group work product was born! I wanted a fun way to work on a tough social skill with my upper grade students.  It’s always good to shake it up a bit to avoid boredom, right?

cornucopia-caper-8x8-cover

I created a print and go packet of activities perfect for November social groups with seven puzzles and challenges to solve.  I set up a secret mission for my students and they must work together to solve all of the challenges (logic and physical) to “escape” the speech room.   I have included templates for group rules and a rubric for data collection on this skill set.

ctd-group-rules-up-close

Setting up for success

There are “How to Use” instructions included as well as mission descriptions for your students and an instruction guide/answer key for the SLP in each section.

img_3546

7 challenges to solve

Your students need to work together to solve each puzzle,  like this Pilgrim’s Peril physical challenge  (the construction paper is the Mayflower and the floor is the ocean, all must share space to stay on the boat for thirty seconds).

ctd-physical-challenge

Pilgrim’s Peril

The missions can be completed in one or even over two sessions, if the students work together.  There are two HELP cards included for the SLP to intervene if they cannot figure out a puzzle or are having difficulty working together.

The last mission is the “key” to escape and they receive a mission accomplished clue as the meet each challenge. These use these clues to solve a riddle.  I also tell my students, because they tend to be very literal thinkers, that when I tell them they are working to find the key to escape the speech room, this doesn’t mean we are actually locked in the room.  This reduces anxiety just a bit before we start the activity.  If the idea of a timer frustrates your students within the challenges, you don’t have to use it, it’s just a suggestion to move the activity along.  The goal is successfully working together, not beating the clock.

I hope this has given you a fun idea to try when practicing the social concepts of working successfully in a group !  This product is the first in a series, so check back soon for Holiday Hijinks, the next in my Connect the Dots series!

How do you work on the social concept of working in a group successfully with your students?