Tech Tuesday: Jeopardelaboration! - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday: Jeopardelaboration!

by Sean Sweeney January 24, 2022 5 min read

We have previously discussed in this blog the importance of the “GIVE A STORY TO GET A STORY” technique. Described by Hadley (1998) in her wonderful article on naturalistic language sampling, and linked to other resources, conversational mapping involves providing a story about your own life which can help elicit the same from your students. This technique provides a great model and also a pragmatic context for narrative intervention, no matter the “size” of your story.

Sean on JeopardyRecently, I had a rather big story to share with my students. After many years of trying, I made it through the audition process to compete on Jeopardy! The exclamation point is in the actual name of the show but also has worked in any communication about this situation. We taped in November and my episode finally aired on January 7, 2022. Along the way this provided a fun story to share and also one that tied in frequently to social-emotional learning and self-regulation concepts such as Zones of Regulation®.

Along the way, the use of MindWing’s Digital Icons have served well in various therapeutic formats (i.e., telepractice, in-person, in a Google Doc or Slide), so that working with this story helped me avoid making the therapy time “all about me.”

Sean playing Jeopardy!Rather, the use of the icons and story pattern lent a strategic focus, visual support, and an opportunity for my students to internalize narrative language structure. Additionally, it reminds me that becoming a comfortable user of Story Grammar Marker® involves some flexibility about where your story starts—also that you really can’t “do it wrong.”

Below are three examples of my Jeopardy! story, using the icons.

I want to note also that the SGM® icons also were extremely handy in a consultation I led recently with an elementary school. We completed whole-class lessons with 3 different picture books (e.g., Kitten’s First Full Moon, Henkes) and following this, provided staff with documentation of the stories and how they could be mapped and scaffolded with their classes, for a 3-lessons-in-1 experience for all the teachers.

  • Setting: from my high school years to now
  • Kick-Off: would watch Jeopardy! almost every night
  • Internal Response: Excited, Happy
  • Thought Bubble: Thought maybe one day could get on the show
  • Plan: To take steps to get there!
  • Action #1: Took an online test for many years but never heard back
  • Action #2: This summer, took it again and received an email that I had made it to the next level
  • Action #3: Joined an audition Zoom meeting where I took another test and counted that I got about 45/50 items right
  • Action #4: A few weeks later, I had made it to the final level and participated in a Zoom interview and mock game
  • Action #5: In September, heard that I had been cast on the show for November
  • Direct Consequence: Needed to start getting ready: studying!
  • Resolution: Felt excited and nervous. Learned that if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish something I really wanted to do. A narrative told this way—and at this stage of the process—helped my students generate questions about how it worked and helped them connect with recent attempts to accomplish something in their own lives.
  • Setting: November 1 at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, CA
  • Kick-Off: Arrived to play and found that there was a 23-day champion, Amy Schneider, whom I would have to play
  • Internal Response: Disappointed, afraid, hopeful
  • Thought Bubble: Knew every champion is beaten eventually, and that the game relies a lot on luck and timing
  • Plan: To try to beat Amy!
  • Action #1: Watched 4 games where fellow contestants were beaten, and not closely
  • Action #2: Got picked for the 5th game and went for hair and makeup
  • Action #3: Tried my best in the game but it was very stressful and though I knew many responses, Amy was extremely quick on the buzzer
  • Action #4: I came in 3rd
  • Action #5: I made friends with and stayed in touch
  • Direct Consequence: I made friends with and have stayed in touch with several of the contestants.
  • Resolution: I felt badly (embarrassed and ashamed) about how the game had gone, as did many of my contestant friends about theirs. Staying in touch helped us talk about our feelings. Narratives about failing in some way can be a great message to your students that failing is part of growth. This elicited many questions about the game itself—which I really don’t recall—but I could at least describe the rules!
  • Setting: Two months after playing, back home
  • Kick-Off: My episode finally aired. I had to keep the outcome secret to most friends and family for all that time; many didn’t even know I had been on the show until 2 weeks before, when the studio sent us photos and let us post them online.
  • Internal Response: Nervous but excited to see the show
  • Thought Bubble: Realized that I had done way better than I remembered
  • Plan: To share my story online and connect about it with friends and family
  • Action #1: Except for a few mean tweets (I was nervous and moved around a lot on stage) EVERYONE in my life sent me positive messages.
  • Action #2: Some people said that the show gave them something to be excited about during a difficult holiday season, and was inspiring to their families.
  • Action #3: I continued sharing info (some good facial GIFs that friends made) online and started a new Twitter account about Jeopardy!
  • Action #4: I got invited to join some contestant groups and an online trivia league so I could talk about the experience of being on Jeopardy! and keep up this hobby.
  • Action #5: I got interviewed by a local newspaper and The New York Times (about Amy’s continuing winning streak).
  • Direct Consequence: I became part of a Jeopardy! community.
  • Resolution: Peaceful, happy, and grateful for the experience—It was a good reminder that our brains don’t always provide us with accurate information about our experiences, and that the story we tell ourselves can be changed for the better.

    This was a good way to discuss the “negativity bias” (our brain is more likely to pay attention to negative information than positive) and other Cognitive Distortions. You can look up this list and break them down with students, there are good resources on Teachers Pay Teachers about this key concept within the evidence-based approach of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

And so I go on! I’m still studying maps on Seterra, nonfiction books on Epic! Books for Kids (good for overviews of information) and lots of quizzes on Sporcle, in addition to a daily Wordle. I still like to learn stuff and I have many trivia matches to follow. Maybe even another game show someday…

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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