Apps for Expressive Language

There are some apps on the iPad that can be used very effectively for verbal and written expression.  Here are some my favorites:

Story Builder — the student sees a colorful scene, then records answers to a series of spoken/written questions about the scene.  When finished, the student can play the entire story back.  While this can be used for artic, fluency, voice, and answering questions goals, I use it with my students in Learning Support who have a difficult time with expressive grammar.  First, I have the student answer the question verbally, recording and playing back to determine if (1) the question was actually answered and (2) the grammar was correct.  Once a semantically and syntactically correct statement is recorded, the student writes it down, playing back as needed.  This helps the student develop “the voice in your head” that we all use when writing.  Once the spoken sentence is written, the student reads the sentence aloud to proofread for missing words, omitted word endings, etc. Reading aloud helps the student spot mistakes that he would likely gloss over if reading to himself.  As an alternative, sometimes I will read the sentence aloud or have a speech buddies exchange papers to read aloud, as this heightens awareness of what is actually written.  (I actually use this “read aloud” technique myself when proofing, as I find it slows me down and causes me to focus on each word.   When reading silently, the “voice in my head” takes over and I tend to read as it should be, not necessarily as it is). This also meets another IEP goal–“will recognize and correct grammar errors in spoken and written sentences.”  I have seen so much progress in students in both spoken and written grammar using this great app!

Creative Genius — This app has a “what if?” section of scenarios and leading questions that help a student with imagination, as well as expressive grammar.

Shake a Phrase — this app has 3 parts.  (1) Shake It! which generates silly sentences with advanced vocabulary.  The student taps on any word he doesn’t know to get the definition.  When working with students with low vocabulary skills, I always use a “hit or miss” strategy.  If the student reads a word that he doesn’t know (a “miss”) and if he asks me for help, he gets a point.  If he doesn’t ask, that implies a “hit,” meaning that he understands the word in context.  If I go back and ask him for a definition of a word or explanation of a phrase and he can’t provide it, then I get a point.  This strategy has helped develop critical reading skills and self-advocacy in students who are often afraid to admit they don’t know something.  This “hit or miss” strategy works very well with Shake It!  (2) Story Starter provides lots of fanciful “what if” questions, most of which are pretty weird and difficult.  I haven’t used this part very much.  (3) Quiz Me! works on identifying parts of speech.  The game presents a sentence and then a direction to “touch the nouns,” etc.

Spark Story Starters — interesting, imaginative scenarios presented in text only for verbal and written expression.  You can even create your own questions.

Story Starters from Super Duper — photo cards from the Super Duper  are pictured on screen, along with a spoken starter sentence.  Students add to the story.  The SLP can click the red or green button to score the response as incorrect or correct.  By entering the student’s name, you can collect and track data.  Each photo has 3 different starter sentences for additional practice.  I use this for spoken and written grammar practice, as described above in Story Builder;  however, there is no record/playback feature so the students have to be more reliant on “the voice in your head” to rehearse and recall what the student said and needs to write.

Absurd — an app full of black/white drawings called “stamps” with something absurd about each one (cutting a cake with a saw, for instance).  The SLP can judge the student’s response as correct or incorrect;  score is kept on that page and the stamp in the menu turns green or red.  There is also an area for notes on each stamp, so you could type in the student’s response for them to read and judge,  or you could have the student type an answer for written practice.

What Are They Thinking? from Super Duper — photo cards from Super Duper are pictured on screen.  There are three “thoughts” for each photo that can be spoken.  I have my students say (and sometimes write) what they think the person is thinking, then we play the three recorded messages to see if they match.  If they don’t match but their idea still makes sense, they are correct.  If their idea is off topic, silly, or full of grammar errors, they are incorrect, which can be scored on the screen and tracked for that student.

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