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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Apps Plus . . . Pushing the Envelope!

I've been thinking about how apps so typically get under-used.  We need to really THINK about how to push the envelope to help students get more from the apps we are using.  I'll give examples with two free apps that I used today.

Evelyn is 10 and uses eye gaze to communicate.  She uses an Eco communication device with modified Words for Life language set.  She also uses an alphabet flipboard (similar to the one shown below), which she accesses through partner-assisted scanning.  She is highly motivated and very creative!!

Flora's Forest App.   This free app is a highly interactive book about a little girl who goes into a forest looking for her lost kite and has many adventures.  While the graphics are a bit busy & the text is way too small, Evelyn really enjoyed the rhyming, the music, the interactions, and the storyline.  We used her communication in the following ways:

Modeling On Her Device:  For example, her aide or I would read a page, then model comments (YUCK; LIKE THAT;  SHE IS AFRAID!) or ask Evelyn open-ended questions (WHO DO YOU WANT?  WHAT DO I DO?  WHERE SHE GO?) 

Read & Respond:  We paused often to let Evelyn make comments (LIKE; GOOD) or give directives (READ MORE;  GET).

Kids Picture Dictionary App.  This free app offers hundreds of samples for each letter of the alphabet.  In addition to vocabulary learning, we used it to scaffold writing:
We used it as follows:
a) Evelyn used her alphabet flipboard set to pick the letter she wanted to explore
b) We flipped through several pictures and talked about them, using her device
c) Then we modeled how we could add to them, writing a sentence on her device / with the flipboard, and recording the new sentence (which was then saved to the page, as a 'talking face'!)  Examples:
- Boy in 'deep' hole, grinning (HE IS HAPPY)
- Brownie (I LIKE THAT.  YUM)

d) After we modeled 3 pages, we asked Erica to pick a page to write about.  She picked the dancer and told us:  LIKE GOOD.  She also picked the doctor photo and wrote DOCTOR NO

e) Next, we gave alphabet options.  That meant that Evelyn could start with her Eco (e.g., LIKE), then pick a letter (e.g., D) and we would make guesses, using partner-assisted scanning with sticknotes (actual, or the app!) such as:  Dress?  Dog?  Dandy?

Summary.  ALWAYS push the envelope!  And check out Spedapps2 for more ideas for making full use of apps!!

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