Don’t change the channel!!

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While my team did not win (congrats, Pats fans!), the Super Bowl offered a dazzling and sparkly half time show with Lady Gaga and a few commercial gems I added to my Pinterest social video board.  There was a plethora of video game ads and upcoming TV show teasers, but not a lot of memorable commercials for me this year.  Anyone else think that the Humpty Dumpty ads were kind of creepy?

I love to use video clips in social language therapy to work on the Social Thinking® concepts of expected/unexpected behaviors, connecting what someone says to what others are thinking or feeling, making predictions/smart guesses and more!  Many of my kids can do this with a static picture or social scenario read to them, but in real time, not so much! Social language is fluid and fast, making it hard for my kids to keep up with the processing of language and non-verbal interpretation with their peers.  Video clips (keep them short) are a great stepping stone towards real time application of the social competencies you are working on!

I have shared some videos on the blog previously, so you can check them out here if you want to add them to your video repertoire:  Doritos in Speech? Score!  ,  That’s Awkward and Puppies, Predictions and Cars .  You can use my free football themed social language commercial freebie from my TPT store HERE to analyze the components of each commercial with your kids. You can also create your own lessons with video clips and embedded questions that you create using Playposit (read all about how to use that fabulous free resource)!

Here are a few more that you will want to check out from this year, if you missed them because you left to grab a snack….or cry (I still love you Falcons!):

Skittles at the Window boyfriend

Cam Newton Buick 

or this trio of Kia videos with Melissa McCarthy:

Hero Journey

Penguin Problem

Iceberg car

Gronk’s Cleaners

Hawaiian Rolls

 Any that I might have missed that you loved (or hated)?   Share here!

 

 

Ugly Sweaters and Inferences.

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Earlier this year, I posted about using T-shirt slogans for inferences.  Tis the season for ugly sweater parties, so why not extend this concept to the holidays too? I found this great freebie on TPT from LittleRed when you follow her store (you will get a pass code to download the clipart) with a variety of clip art holiday sweaters like the one in the picture above!. You can make your own slogan/picture activities for your late elementary through high school students to figure out the meaning  or guess who might wear these holiday sweaters.  If you don’t want to make your own, the internet is FULL of great examples. Preview first my friends, preview first, I saw a LOT of inappropriate sweaters (don’t use them, but they are sure to give you a laugh). On a related note, I also found a cool website, Stereotype Design, that gives a few sentences on a T shirt and you have to guess the movie ( well, hello figuring out the big picture from details!).

You can create a whole Pinterest board of ugly holiday sweaters/t-shirts to work on these skills as well (or just click for my board here; it’s a growing work in progress, just like me).  Walk them through a few examples to practice together, then see how they do!

The questions you can pose with the ugly sweaters could include:

What do you think the message or picture means (intent)?  

Is this literal or sarcastic?   If it’s humorous, what makes it funny?

Who might wear this?  Who would NEVER wear this?

What do you think other people might think or feel when they see this sweater?  

Where would it be okay to wear this sweater?  Where would it NOT be okay to wear this sweater? 

What first impression do you have of someone wearing this sweater?  

What background knowledge might you need to understand the slogan or picture?

Would you wear this sweater?  Why or why not?

If you disagree or are upset with a sweater picture or slogan, should you say something?  Why or why not?

*Ask your students to take pictures of any other interesting holiday sweaters that they see to extend this activity.  You can call it “operation sweater sleuth”! I would clearly state the rule that the slogan/pictures can’t have any profanity or inappropriate content, especially with your middle schoolers on up.

Any good, kid friendly holiday sweater slogans or pictures that you have seen recently?  Share here!

 

Social Language and Literacy (part 2)

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Last week, we talked about using books for social language concepts with younger students in part one of this series.  This week, I want to talk about using literature to work on these concepts with your middle and high school students.  I had the opportunity to be invited to at TPT brunch recently in Atlanta.   (Side note: if the TeachersPayTeachers brunch rolls through your area, grab an invite and GO!  There were so many great ideas shared and it was fun to connect with TPT people in real life!) One of the speakers was a fabulous local TPT teacher, Heather LeBlanc of Brainy Apples .  She shared about how she uses literacy across the curriculum with her students.  Our conversation sparked some ideas on how to use literature with my upper grade students with social language impairments.

Heather explained how she used The Diary of Anne Frank  as part of the difficult unit on the Holocaust in her social studies class.  In addition to the novel, she found some amazing resources in our local community through Kennesaw State University including the library lending actual materials (Traveling Trunks) from that period of history and providing connections to survivors of the Holocaust to come speak to students.  How amazing to hear the story of someone who was witness to these historical events! From a social perspective, connecting a personal experience to our thoughts and feelings in deeper and more meaningful ways to words in a book is a powerful teaching tool.

Her great ideas caused me to think more about the literature  that is used in our upper grades.  The stories are often complex and require a lot of background knowledge to understand the stated themes as well as the more subtle ones that are woven through the books.  For example, my own high schooler is reading A Raisin in the Sun.  This story contains themes about dreams, hopes, racism, poverty, pride, family and suffering. These are concepts that often pose a challenge to our students with social language impairments, and frankly can be difficult for even our neurotypical students to understand. We often ask our readers to take the perspective of other people or experiences that our students haven’t had.  Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes is hard work socially!

Breaking down these bigger concepts into the basics of what the characters (and we as people) feel, think and say, can help us understand the character’s actions, motivations and point of view more accurately.  Cause and effect (walking through this step by step), identifying problems and possible solutions and discussing how a character’s actions impact other characters in the story all have a social language basis. Graphic organizers are an effective tool to pull apart these social pieces for your students and there is a great set for free from The Curriculum Corner HERE .  While this set is for 4th and 5th grade students, I use them with my older students with social language impairments as they are clear and organized well for the concepts.  Take a look at the Common Core to see how much is already embedded in the classroom ELA standards for our beginning middle school students!

I love using the resources from Sparknotes and Schmoop  to help my older students understand the themes and social meaning of stories.  Schmoop even has a video summary (Schmoop tube), in a three-minute condensed version using student friendly language, of many of the literature units for middle and high schoolers.  As I was Googling A Raisin in the Sun materials, I happened to stumble across this class assignment for students to develop a play list of music that would align with the themes of the story. What a great way to demonstrate understanding of these themes!  You can get pretty creative in working on these skills but don’t reinvent the wheel, look around for lots of great ideas that are already available.  Great SLPs (and teachers) work smarter not harder, right?

What are some ways you work on social language concepts with the upper grades ELA curriculum?  Share here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social language and Literacy (part 1)

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I love to read.  My  perfect day would be spending it in a library filled to the 3rd floor with real books, comfy reading nooks, unlimited coffee, tea, and hot cocoa,  and with a librarian that looks like George Clooney…ahhh.  So it is no surprise that I use books often in speech therapy, particularly social language therapy with my kids.  There are many options for younger students, such as picture books ,Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge series,  or any of Peter Brown’s books  (You Will Be My Friend is one of my favorites) that align beautifully with social language concepts!  I have a Pinterest board for stories HERE that you are welcome to peruse.

The social language concepts of prediction, inferencing, point of view and emotions are embedded in stories.  What does this look like?  Let’s start with the covers.  Having our students make what Michelle Garcia Winner refers to as a “smart guess” based on a title or picture, is the first step.   Helping our kids look for clues in pictures or words, “think with their eyes”, and then making a leap to guess what the story might be about is hard work for those with social language impairments.  Don’t gloss over this step, remember our students are not incidental learners!

The next step is to read through the story together, stopping to make a guess about what might happen next.  Prediction and listening comprehension go hand in hand.  If there is novel vocabulary, pause the story and talk about what they think those words might mean (hello context clues!).  You might ask your older students keep a personal dictionary, like this freebie from Natalie Snyders,  as we read to help them in discussions along the way. Your younger students can use a composition notebook to journal pictures of story vocabulary if they are not yet strong writers.

I laminate a large heart, thought bubble and word bubble to use with our story too.  We use these templates to talk about what a character might be thinking, feeling or saying in the story. With my older elementary students, you can compare and contrast character’s emotions and expand the conversation into point of view. Venn Diagrams are great for this!  We talk about identifying the problem and possible solutions in the story (there might be more than one), and can extend this skill to explaining which one would be the best solution.These skills are embedded in the Common Core curriculum from K on up, by the way (take a look at the ELA standards for literacy).

With my younger students, we draw pictures to sequence and re-tell the story.  They love to act out the stories and what a great opportunity this is for learning to work in a group, negotiating, sharing personal space and turn taking!  We also brainstorm after we read the story, and talk about what expected or unexpected situations occurred.  Did the characters act in predictable or unpredictable ways in response to these situations?  This provides an opportunity to talk about expected/unexpected behaviors and help our students connect their personal experiences to the characters.

This is not a one time lesson.  I use stories over several sessions, and can extend the social language concepts over a month of speech.  These are great lessons to use during push in groups or whole class lessons as well. Pre-teaching these skills before you take them into a whole class will give your students the vocabulary and practice to participate in whole group instruction more successfully too.  I created a packet of ten templates that you can use with any story to work on these concepts HERE in my TPT store.

What stories or author’s do you love to use in therapy?  Share here!

Fits to a T

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With the Presidential election around the corner, I have noticed quite a few slogans on T shirts that make me laugh out loud or cringe in embarrassment.  Whoever you are voting for, there is sure to be a T shirt to make a statement!  This got me thinking about T shirt slogans and the thoughts we have about the people wearing them (well, at least I do!).  What a fun way to talk about the social language concepts of inferences, conversation topics and being politically correct in today’s world (and the hidden rules that go along with this)!

I found this great freebie on TPT from Cara’s Creative Playground with a variety of clip art baseball style T shirts. You can make your own slogan activities for your late elementary through high school students to figure out the meaning of the slogan or guess who might wear these shirts.  If you don’t want to make your own, the internet is FULL of great examples (preview first my friends, preview first). On a related note, I also found a cool website, Stereotype Design, that gives a few sentences on a T shirt and you have to guess the movie ( well, hello figuring out the big picture from details!).

You can create a whole Pinterest board of t shirt slogans to work on these skills as well (or just click for my board here; it’s a growing work in progress, just like me).  Walk them through a few examples to practice together, then see how they do!

The questions you can pose with the slogans could include:

What do you think the message means/intent?  

Is this literal or sarcastic? 

Who might wear this shirt?  Who would NEVER wear this shirt?

What do you think other people might think or feel when they see this shirt?  

Where would it be okay to wear this shirt?  Where would it NOT be okay to wear this shirt? 

What first impression do you have of someone wearing this t shirt?  

What background knowledge might you need to understand the slogan?

Would you wear this t shirt?  Why or why not?

If you disagree or are upset with a t shirt slogan, should you say something?  Why or why not?

*Ask your students to take pictures of any other interesting t shirts they see to extend this activity.  You can call it “operation slogan sleuth”! I would clearly state the rule that the slogan can’t have any profanity, especially with your middle schoolers on up.

Any good slogan t shirts that you have seen recently?  Share here!

Gotta catch em all!

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If you have seen people walking around staring at their phones more than usual, it might be because of Pokemon Go.  This new app makes you a virtual Pokemon trainer able to “catch” all kinds of Pokemon in your own neighborhood using your phone’s GPS ( with the bonus of getting kids off of the couch and walking around outdoors)!  When they were little, my boys collected all the cards and forced invited me to watch Ash Ketchum and friends wrangle Pokemon.  But this app isn’t just popular with  kids, even adults are using it!

My brain started thinking about how to use this fun app with a social twist. If you are using this in a social language group, you can map out a whole month’s worth of therapy lessons using Pokemon Go! There are rules to playing the virtual game, both spoken and hidden, so that’s a great place to start.  Safety is a big one with this app- you wouldn’t believe how many people walk into the street or get injured from falling or walking into things in their pursuit of a prized Pokemon!   This is a great opportunity to talk about expected and unexpected behaviors too. I have heard news reports about people trying to play the game in places like the Holocaust memorial and Arlington National Cemetery.  Boundaries anyone?

Once your group discusses the rules, then you can divide and conquer into teams.  There are three teams (you can read about their descriptions HERE) that are part of the game, Team Mystic, Team Instinct and Team Valor, but you could let the kids pick their own names.  This is an opportunity to work on the goal of negotiating with others when working in groups.  Once you pick the team, no changes are allowed, so be prepared to be flexible!

Self regulation is a big skill set in this game, as it’s easy to get overly excited or super frustrated when that elusive Charizard (or any of the 151 Pokemon characters in the game) escapes your grasp.  Working in a group or with a partner on your team requires a LOT of self-control, executive function and future thinking (planning what you are going to do ahead of time).  One of the social language lessons could include deciding what strategies you can use in the moment for keeping your cool ( Zones of Regulation GO!).  You might even want to align each color of the Zones with a specific Pokemon to help you remember your strategies (for example:  Blaziken would be a great icon for the Red Zone).  To extend this idea further, have your kids make up their own Pokemon characters  or trainer names that would describe themselves, including their strengths and skills sets.  This can lead to a discussion about how we want others to see us and both positive and negative character traits.

The game also tailors which Pokemon you can find by the time of day and where you are looking for them.  For example, if you are out in the evening, you will find more ghost or fairy Pokemon. If you are near the beach, you will find more water Pokemon.  This is a fun way to work on inferencing, categorizing and compare/contrast skills with your kids!

Have you played Pokemon Go yet (be honest)?  How could you use it in social language therapy? Share here!

 

 

 

 

 

Puppies, Prediction and Cars…

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I am a dog lover, so when puppy commercials come on TV, I get drawn in immediately. Subaru has a series of car commercials airing now that just suck me in. every. single. time.  They feature a family of Golden Retrievers (The Barkleys!) and their adventures in driving. There are no words in the commercials (duh, they are dogs) BUT they convey a message in each one very clearly. For my students with social language impairments, too much language muddies the processing waters, so these are perfect!  I have downloaded the series onto my social language Youtube channel playlists HERE .

Beyond the complete cuteness overload, they are fabulous tools to work on the social language concepts of predicting and inferencing for my students!  The eight commercials convey social scenarios (for example: the mom getting her hair done) and are great to use to identify emotions, prediction, point of view and humor, all in about thirty seconds. Don’t forget about expected and unexpected concepts too (a puppy in a car seat-whaaaat?). These would be great to use with Playposit (you can read my blog post on how to create your own therapy activity by embedding questions into video clips HERE ).

Do you use commercials to teach inferences or other social language concepts?  I love using Dorito’s Super Bowl ads  and kid’s movie previews!  Please share your favorites here!