Tech Tuesday: ASHA Convention Wrap-up, Part 2 - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday: ASHA Convention Wrap-up, Part 2

by Sean Sweeney January 13, 2020 4 min read

In last month’s post (ASHA Wrap-Up, Part 1), I outlined one session from Orlando’s 2019 ASHA Convention that I was involved in, and promised a part 2!

For this post, I am going to focus on resources I presented in an additional installment of “Pairing Picture Books and Apps for Contextualized Language Intervention,” a session I have been privileged to present over the last several years, with varying themes. In this session, given the proximity to Epcot, I thought it would be fun to highlight the ways that picture books and apps can be used to “Show Them the World (Knowledge),” meaning work in context to develop both Social Studies and general world or semantic knowledge.

Books and Apps 1 image

In all of my sessions on this topic, I have always emphasized the potential for both books and apps to provide context to develop both story grammar and expository text structure, modeling of course, with Story Grammar Marker® and ThemeMaker® tools and visual graphic organizers.

ASHA Wire logo imageBoth macrostructure and microstructure can be emphasized when reviewing the story or information presented in a book or app, along with other skills. I based much of this work on the wonderful article The Magic of Once Upon a Time: Narrative Teaching Strategies (Hoggan & Strong, 1994), which reviews the strategy of structuring language-building activities around a book, and developing post activities in various modes such as art activities, dramatic play, discussion webbing, and story grammar teaching.

Free Book/Apps Summary Booklet imageIt’s always been my assertion that apps can be part of these post-activities because they can be used to visualize art, interactive play, and graphic organizers. To get some more background on my presentations on this topic, I’d love to invite you to download my free summary booklet available on Teachers Pay Teachers (though no pay is needed)! The booklet also provides many up-to-date examples of books and apps that go together contextually for language intervention, all with potential tie-ins with MindWing’s tools.

In this year’s session, I emphasized how books and the visuals/interactive aspects of apps could be used to develop semantic knowledge and vocabulary. Vocabulary depth, or ability to make connections between words and concepts in context, can be targeted with multiple exposures, providing explicit meanings, practice forming categories/taxonomies, as well as book reading and “playful” activities (Hadley, Dickinson, Hirsch-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2018).

At the same time, clinicians can facilitate access to curriculum areas such as social studies topics. Just looking at the Massachusetts curriculum standards for social studies, it’s easy to see the importance of language underpinnings in meeting these standards. A few examples:

  • Describe the location of people, objects, and places, using correctly words and phrases such as up, down, near, far, left, right, straight, back, behind, in front of, next to, between. (Underpinnings: describing appearance and function, spatial concepts)
  • History/Shared Traditions: Put events from their personal lives, observations of the natural world, and from stories and informational texts read or read aloud in temporal order, using words and phrases relating to chronology and time, including:
    • Sequential actions: first, next, last;
    • Chronology and time: now, then, long ago, before, after, morning, afternoon, night, today, tomorrow, yesterday, last or next week, last or next month, last or next year. (Underpinnings: Macro-story grammar, Micro- describe actions, elaborated noun phrases, temporal concepts)

Letters from Felix book imageSo, to get to some real examples, let’s start with Letters from Felix: A Little Rabbit on a World Tour (Blackstone/Corr). This cute picture book provides an overall narrative that is augmented by descriptive letters written by journeying toy rabbit Felix. One great post-activity is to take “Virtual Field Trips” with Google Earth (see also Google Lit Trips website for content aligned with many books). Just as Felix does, you can create “postcards” perhaps describing pretend trips using the free app Photocard by Bill Atkinson(shown below).

Books and Apps 3 image

Everything and Everywhere book imageAnother example can be found in the terrific Everything and Everywhere (Martin)—a noun-filled “adventure” through world cities and locations. Consider how the book describes each setting (e.g., Antarctica, Alice Springs, Hong Kong) in terms of the many items or nouns that make it special. This could lead to a great activity describing selected nouns with the Barefoot World Atlas logoSGM® iPad App (i.e., make a story map with setting icons and text). This book also pairs well with the app Barefoot World Atlas (shown below), which maps the globe through representative nouns and actions.

Books and Apps 4 link

Grandfathers Journey book imageFor some more narrative examples, check out Grandfather’s Journey (Say)- this award-winning book illustrated with beautiful watercolors tells the tale of a family’s journey to America, back home, and back to America again. Identifying many culturally and historically significant elements, it can be mapped as several action-sequence narratives (or in a more complex way as a complete episode).

Emmanuels Dream book imageEmmanuel’s Dream (Thompson/Qualls) provides an inspiring look at overcoming disabilities through the story of a young Ghananian boy who shows that he can do everything, even tour the country by bicycle, despite only having the use of one leg. Both books can be followed up with story mapping in various formats and, again, some exploration of landmarks in the relevant countries using Google Earth (shown below) for further language development.

Books and Apps 4 image

I hope you have enjoyed this “trip!” Happy New Year!

Sean Sweeney
Sean Sweeney

Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, MA, and as a clinical supervisor at Boston University. He consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (, looks at technology “through a language lens.” Contact him at

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