Thursday, February 9, 2012

When should I use my Ipad in therapy? Easy Group Apps.

One of the important skills of being an SLP, is the ability to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching strategies and instruction. Whenever I get a new 'toy' I tend to use it a lot! Last year I got a copy of the Expanding Expression Tool. I found myself using it for all my groups for a while. Slowly I found which groups it was best for. I think it's a wonderful piece of my SLP 'toolbag' but it took me a while to decide how to make my use of it the most effective. The same thing can easily happen with all the new technology available today!

This year my Ipad is slowly sneaking into more and more sessions. Here are few thoughts I work through before I pull out the ipad.

If I'm using it for treatment:
Does it treat the objectives? Yes, all the apps I would use would be educational and boost language skills... but am I targeting exactly what is on the IEP?
How much support/scaffolding can I add/remove as needed for the student.
How many data collection opportunities will I get? If I can get 60 articulation- phrase opportunities in 25 minutes using traditional flashcards.. can I get that many using an articulation app? Can I get more?
How will I collect data?
How will I target multiple students in the group. Can I adapt the articulation app, to work on language goals or vice versa?
Will the app motivate students without distracting them?
Am I traveling today... will it save me the hassle of carrying a variety of materials?
Am I giving variety in my treatment? Am I provided many different types of treatment to find what's most effective for each child on each objective?

If I'm using a generic reinforcer:
How long will it take to play the game?
How motivating is it?
Can more than one student play at the same time?
What is the attention span of my student. Can they work for 5 minutes or 15 minutes before they 'earn' their game/activity.
How can I make it seem like a prize, when I'm still getting data?

So using the Ipad in therapy is easy right? Easy... when it's a nice relaxed half hour session, one on one, with plenty of time to target 5 different goals!! In real life... I have groups of 2-5 students that I see for 25 minutes. I never want to use the Ipad unless it's adding to our learning. Having it be a distraction is something I'm cognizant of every day. I use the thoughts above to decide when the Ipad is a true benefit.

Here are a few Ipad apps I use in larger groups of students with diverse goals:

Marble Mixer: My favorite reinforcer. The app lets 4 players shoot their marble for 1 minute at a time. I generally let the kids do articulation/language drills for 15 minutes to 'earn' their marble game. They love it!

Match2Say: Match 2 Say is an articulation app from Smarty Ears that is a memory matching game. My students do articulation drill before they 'earn' this game. It's a great opportunity to continue to gather data while they think they are just playing a game! I also play this with my preschoolers as their actual opportunity to practice, when they can't sit still for drills like my older students can! I set the matching game and we pass it around the table for each students turn. Love this app!

Four in a Row: This is just like Connect 4! 2 students can play or one student can play against the computer! This is a great one to use throughout a session of 2 students (ie: answer 3 questions before your turn). I sometimes do teams in my groups of 4.

How do you make your decisions about the use of the ipad in speech and language therapy? Any ideas for apps that work with big groups of people?