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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

iLanguage: creative language teaching using the iPad

The visual touch screen interface of the iPad brings many possibilities for creative language teaching - today I'd like to share with you a few of the ideas (and apps) that I've been trying out in recent therapy sessions with ASD individuals:

1. Action verbs:

Concrete nouns are relatively easy to teach using objects and static pictures. But action verbs are more complicated because they (by their nature) involve movement - so it's hard to be certain that what the therapist thinks they're teaching is what the student is actually learning.

Here's a short video showing Adam creating sentences using Word Mover (a creative writing app that works like magnetic fridge poetry). I would give Adam one or two words, he would add more and put a sentence together. Then we used Stop Motion Studio Pro HD (an iPad animation app) and small clay figures to "illustrate" the sentence meaning - because the end product was a film clip, rather than a static picture, it was easier to see what Adam understood and where he might have gaps in his interpretation of the language meaning:

Here's another video showing Kevin using Word Mover, traditional pen-paper drawing and FlipBoom Cartoon (a different iPad animation app) to illustrate the meaning of a short story he wrote (using one of the words he had just spelled in Montessori Crossword, another app I really like for the structured way it connects written letter patterns to the word sound patterns):

And here's one more video (from Kevin's session today) where I would give Kevin a verb (in Word Mover) and then he would write a complete sentence using that verb. He uses both pen-paper drawing and the FlipBoom Cartoon animation app to illustrate the meaning of the sentences he's written. (note: I am a big fan of grammatical errors - they show me that I'm getting original generative language rather than rote language chunks):


2. Creative Writing:

The Word Mover app is also useful for writing "starters" and inspiration. You write one or more words and then let your student write additional words and arrange the words into a sentence. I'm finding that the "puzzle" nature of the exercise and the ability to modify (add/delete/rewrite) without visible "errors" at the end is encouraging more risk-taking (trying out words that are not well-known, trying to write sentences that are more grammatically complex).

I gave Michael the words "boy" and "horse" - he changed "boy" to "cowboy", and added some more words to make the sentence "A cowboy needs a horse". He drew an illustration by hand (marker on paper) and then he made an entertaining animated short (using FlipBoom Cartoon) of a cowboy unwillingly transforming into a horse. He was calm and focused and expressed a complete (and funny) original idea. Watch the video:

So go ahead, get creative, use the iPad technology to its best advantage - it is a wonderful direct visual interface that can help you make the world of verbal communication less mysterious and more accessible to your students with autism.

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