Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Pokémon Go Core Vocabulary Activity Ideas

I might as well jump on the Pokémon Go bandwagon. Who am I kidding? I downloaded the app as soon as it came out. I have been walking around getting in steps so that I can hatch eggs. What?! Either you're lost by now or you know exactly what I'm talking about. Any which way, you're bound to be working with or talking to kids (or big kids like me) about the most downloaded mobile game ever--Pokémon Go. 

Speech Therapy brain, turn on. How can I get kids talking about this game while using core vocabulary and AAC? Do you want to be engaged and at your students' level? This is just the topic that crosses over age groups and genders. If you don't think so, take a walk outside in a park.  If you are stuck with how to get started with using core vocabulary with any activity, then check out Saltillo's Choosing Vocab Activity First organizer.  It's a great way to brainstorm before doing your activity.  To help me with some words, I created a Wordle by copying text from a couple of Pokémon Go websites.  This will help you come up with some common words: go, little, point, attack, catch, big, many, think, look, pretty, angry, duck, use, things, school, every, great, people, item, fire, water, two, great, know, fun, cool, another, power, first, hurt, never, got, moves, head, hold, take, back, gym, get, good, full, better, poison, three, attack, day, come, and story. 
Now that I have some words to focus on, here are a couple of ideas for you.
  • Create a How to Play Pokémon Go Guide Who knows more about Pokémon than you? Kids. Start a journal, notebook, or blog about how to play Pokémon Go. Talk about the different types of characters. Big, yellow bird. Furry, purple monster. Ugly, yellow bug. Rat with big teeth. Cute, yellow flower. Tell readers what they have to do to play the game. Walk around. Hang out with friends. Go places. Where? In a park. At a mall. On the sidewalk. In parking lots. Around the house. Not when driving (unless you are riding in a car).  Use Google Slides, Powerpoint, Pictello, or any other program that lets you create story boards.
  • Create a Character Map Check out for some great graphic organizers.  You can use the Character Details Organizer to start a basic chart of characters.  Guess what?  This skill carries over into language arts too. "Character Details Organizer"
  • Organize a Pokémon Language Group What do kids like to do with Pokémon ?  Talk about it.  Play it.  Learn about it.  Let each kid pick one Pokémon to describe to the class.  They can follow the Expanding Express Tool (EET) method or use a graphic organizer to follow a structured way of describing.  Then talk about where they found their Pokémon Go characters, who they were with, when it happened, and so on.  Have them ask questions.  Have them make comments.  Have them show the others.  Put it up on the big screen.
    Originally posted on Teach Beyond Speech
  • Bring in real Pokémon cards You can go old school here.  Have the kids bring in their favorite Pokémon card for show and tell.  See if the characters are the same or different.  Describe them.  Ask questions about them.  Make comments about them.  You can pick up a pack at Target or Amazon or somewhere else for about $4 a pack.
  • Organize Pokémon Characters by Features/Descriptors  Create a big chart on the SMART Board, a poster board, sticky notes, or just a plain piece of paper.  Divide it up into characteristics.  Have each other ask attribute questions.  Is it big?  Is it yellow? Is it furry?  Does it fly? Does it swim? Is he on Team Red? Is it on Team Yellow?  What is his special power?  How many eyes does it have?  Does it have legs?
  • Go Outside and Play Who doesn't like going outside?  This is a great opportunity to practice AAC skills in another environment.  Make sure you know your surroundings and know what local laws are regarding trespassing.  Think of the directives that the AAC user can give.  Go there.  Move right.  Look by the tree.  Get it!  There is one.  Did you see it?  What did it look like?  How many more should we get?  Are we all done?  Keep going.  Do more.  Lots more.
See, you can pretty much make any activity an AAC/core vocabulary activity.  It takes a bit of brainstorming, a little bit of tech savviness, and an attitude to get out and start doing!  Share your fun Pokémon Go stories.  How have you tried to incorporate it into a core vocabulary lesson?

If you live near the Perrysburg, Ohio area and are interested in receiving speech therapy for augmentative and alternative communication needs, please visit .

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

What's Old is New Again in AAC

When it comes to speech therapy, my brain is almost always thinking about AAC and core vocabulary.  Man, the hardest part is getting everyone on board with implementing it and making it a part of every single daily activity.  I've gone to some great conferences.  I follow other SLPs online.  I read articles.  I listen to podcasts.  The message remains consistent: Model, model, model.  Use aided language stimulation.  Provide opportunities.

My job is to do something about it.  And, that's what I'm going to do.

One of the biggest pitfalls of accessing AAC devices is the cost.  There's been a big push lately to use low tech communication boards with core vocabulary for all students in the classroom.  In fact, I've seen several people printing giant core vocabulary posters in the classroom to model the vocabulary (sequences) to the students.  If you have AAC users that use Saltillo Nova Chat software, you can download the free (non-speaking) version of Chat Editor and demonstrate while using a SMART Board.  That's what I do.  It is tough when you have several students with different systems.  Man, what a challenge.  Talk about code switching.  My brain goes from Nova Chat's Word Power to Prentke Romich's Unity (and Words for Life) to AssistiveWare's Proloquo2Go all in one day.  It's like learning a (few) new languages.
Pinterest Search: core vocabulary board aac
While driving the other day, I had a thought.  What if we printed off low tech communication boards like kids menus at restaurants?  You know--like the ones they have at Bob Evan's or Red Robin.  They could be easily replaced everyday.  Of course, you could laminate them and reuse them.  I'm trying to find a low cost way of doing this.  It could even serve as the student's place mat.  We would have no excuse for not having a communication board nearby.
Free Coloring Pages
I had another thought the other day while in the closet (not my office) while searching for some old materials.  I stumbled across some old, fading Superhawk devices.  For you kids out there, these were precursors to iPads, tablets, and phones.  These devices were the trailblazers to what we see today in AAC technology.  Look around in your school closets (your office) and you might find some collecting dust.  I had the genius idea of turning the five Superhawks into core vocabulary AAC devices.  Duh!  Superhawks can range between 1 and 72 pictures.  So what did I do?  I went to Boardmaker Share and searched for 72 core vocabulary board.  Guess what?  There was one made by a user called "72 Color Board".  I used it as a model and recreated one for the Superhawk.  
Download my Superhawk 72 Core Board here
It's fairly easy to create a communication board in Boardmaker.  If you use a CD-rom version, Open a New Template.  You'll see BM Communication Devices folder.  Open that and look for your particular communication device.  Open and create.  You can model your core vocabulary after existing boards out there (either on a device you have or on the internet).  You can do the same on Boardmaker Share.  Just search for your device templates.  You can also look on Pinterest for some good examples.

So what do we need to do as SLPs and educators?  Provide opportunities.  You cannot communicate if you don't have the means.  If we don't have dedicated speech devices, iPads, phones, or tablets to use, then at the very least we can come up with less techie versions.  It has to become part of the environment.  It has to be an expectation that the everyone is communicating either by using AAC boards and modeling their use.  Dust off your old GoTalks, Superhawks, Super Talkers, and Quick Talkers and get started today.