Tech Tuesday: The Very COVID-Relevant SGM® - MindWing Concepts, Inc.

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Tech Tuesday: The Very COVID-Relevant SGM®

by Sean Sweeney October 26, 2020 4 min read

As a (mostly entirely) telepracticing Speech-Language Pathologist during these weird times, I have found fostering narrative language in my students to be an even more critical intervention area than before. From providing opportunities to help students escape into stories, to helping them share their thoughts and feelings on school and home, current events and relationships, the Story Grammar Marker® has been an essential tool in therapy. In this post, I will describe some tech-based applications of SGM® for you to consider during the pandemic.

Guiding Conversations

Even with, and perhaps, because of the prevalence of remote learning, students are feeling isolated and likely having fewer opportunities to tell their stories and gain connections with others. In group therapy, we spend time letting conversation “breathe” and scaffolding connections. One way I have worked on this is to blend the new Conversation Paths product by Dr. Anna Vagin, CCC-SLP with Story Grammar Marker® Icons to tackle multiple narrative and social-cognitive goals. Conversation Paths is a pack of editable conversation-scaffolding visuals (PowerPoint) targeting the building blocks of conversation: “4 Starters” (initiation strategies), comments, questions, and others. These visuals are easily modifiable for different “paths,” use of building blocks and different types of conversations (e.g., a “show and tell”), and are useful in teletherapy through screen sharing or display in a classroom. In the image below, I have combined the 4 Starter block with SGM® icons to scaffold Six-Second-Stories(McElhinney) in the form of activities such as “High and Low” (tell about the high and low of your week). Typing on screen as students share and offer connections aids in processing, fosters interaction and reinforces conversational participation. I find my students ask for this activity if I ever omit it!

Vagin's Conversation Starters imageYou can obtain this digital pack very inexpensively at Dr. Vagin’s website.

The SGM® iPad App

Using the SGM® iPad App provides social distancing and, within a sanitizable surface, takes potentially virus-spreading paper materials out of the equation. Spending time consulting with schools, I find that all are taking the logical step of trying to reduce or eliminate paper-passing. The SGM® iPad App is one digital tool that spurs engagement and visual support while mapping narrative and expository text of all genres. As you may know, the app contains the icon sets for all levels of the Developmental Sequence of Narrative, List, Sequence, and Descriptive expository maps, and the ability to create your own maps of any kind. Text, images, and drawings can be added as maps are created, and students (even at a distance) can then orally narrate from the map.

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A coworker once commented, “she’s JUST reading books with the kids.” GULP. This crushed me more than, “they JUST play games in speech.” ⁣ Before I let the doubt sink in I reminded myself that I spent OVER A YEAR reading, conducting research, writing, and defending my graduate thesis. ⁣ Oh, and it was titled: Language Production and Executive Functions in Preschool Children’s Narrative. ⁣ So, do I think narrative production and literacy based treatment is important? You better believe it. ⁣ I am a BIG fan of @storygrammarmarker ⁣ Anyone else? 🙋🏼‍♀️ ⁣ But here is the thing, with strict cleaning protocols and everyone wanting to touch my teacher braid, I’ve decided to stick with the SGM app. ⁣ Here’s what I ❤️ about it: ⁣ 1️⃣ using it in digital form means it’s a quick clean between students 2️⃣ you can choose which element you want to focus on 3️⃣ students can type, draw, take and add pictures 4️⃣ you can easily send the document to your email to forward to families and/or teachers ⁣ Tell me... do you use SGM in your sessions? Do you have the app?

A post shared by Shannon Gawron, M.S., CCC-SLP (@speechrambles) on

The SGM® iPad App is useful also in teletherapy sessions through iPad mirroring. Many therapists screenshare and offer remote control to students during sessions to add visual and interactive engagement. Although iPad apps—including the SGM® iPad App—cannot be controlled by students remotely, they still can be screenshared and their contexts are quite helpful for therapy activities.

There are several ways to mirror an iPad app during a teletherapy session (using Zoom, Google Meet, or other platforms).

On a Mac:

  1. Plug your iPad into your Mac using its charging cable, connecting the USB end to the USB port on your computer.
  2. Open the built-in QuickTime application and select File>New Movie Recording.
  3. From the arrow next to the record button, select the name of your iPad under Camera.
    Mirroring on a Mac image
  4. You want to make sure the volume is turned up if using audio (to the left of the record button) and also change your microphone settings to iPad (same place you changed the Camera to iPad). Open the SGM® iPad App and get to work! (in your teletherapy platform you will want to screenshare your desktop or the “entire screen” if Google Meet).

On a PC:

  1. Explore and select from inexpensive applications such as AirServer or Reflector, which allow you to wirelessly mirror your iPad to your PC screen.
  2. Make sure your iPad and computer are on the same WiFi network.
  3. On your iPad, sweep down from the upper right corner to bring down Control Center.
    Mirroring on a PC
    Tap Screen Mirroring and select the name of your computer. Your iPad screen will appear mirrored on the computer screen as you use any app. As in the above steps, you will need to screenshare your desktop or entire screen.

These steps are also shown in this video recorded in April, 2020.

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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