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October 12, 2010

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Use Google Search Stories tool to develop narrative and expository language

Every year during the Superbowl, a few commercials stick out from the sea of repetitive beer, snack food, and summer blockbuster ads.  This past year, one of the best was Google’s Parisian Love ad, which told the story of an American’s romance with a French woman in a simple and brilliant way, as an unseen character “Googled” various search terms that reflected events in his life.  A follow-up ad about a girl switching schools, which I never saw aired, would be even more relatable for kids and is definitely a great model of a complete episode.

These commercials were so popular that Google created a wonderful tool that allows users to make their own Search Stories. Simply pick your search terms and the type of search you want shown in your movie (e.g. web, image, product, map, etc), select the music and upload to a YouTube account (if you have Gmail, you already have a YouTube account)...

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October 12, 2010

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Let the Setting Speak for Itself

Blabberize, a web app that allows you to add a talking “mouth” and recording for any picture, is a great tool for developing all kinds of organization and oral language skills. I recently used it with students in conjunction with a Setting Map from It’s All About the Story to develop descriptive skills and the concept of setting.  After having students pick a favorite setting, we located a visually supportive image of the place using Google Images.  Students completed a Setting Map and described key elements such as Location, Function/Use, Areas/Parts, etc.  We then downloaded the image, logged in to Blabberize, added a mouth and integrated the notes on the Setting Map into an oral description.  The example you can view here is one created with an individual student; you can always keep it shorter if you have a group!...

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September 27, 2010

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Setting Can be the Key to a Story

Shortcut by Donald Crews

My previous post discussed the narrative element of setting and the tendency of students on the autism spectrum (or with other language disorders) to leave out details about setting, causing listener confusion. One way to explore the importance of setting is to plan interventions using books with an integral setting- where the setting is key to the motivations of the characters and understanding of the plot.

One of my favorites in this vein is Donald Crews’ Shortcut, the story of a group of cousins who find themselves in unexpected danger after taking a shortcut home. Not only does the book serve as an excellent example of building suspense around a small moment in a personal narrative (great for students working on memoir), it also lends itself to being mapped both on a Setting Map and a literal, visual map to develop storytelling skills...

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September 10, 2010

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Exploring Settings with Google Earth

In this post, I will be continuing to describe resources to supplement the lessons in It’s All About the Story, and moving on to the element of Setting. Setting is a key area of instruction for students on the autism spectrum not only because they tend not to observe the “expected behaviors” or script for a given setting, but also because they often leave out details about setting when telling stories to others, thus resulting in loss of a point of reference and confusion on the part of their listener. Students in social thinking/skills groups or individual treatment would therefore benefit from building descriptive skills through the use of the Setting Map contained in It’s All About the Story and other SGM resources...

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August 24, 2010

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Engaging Activities for Character Traits and Social Inference

In social group interventions, we would like our students to develop a sense of each other by building “friend files” (Michelle Garcia Winner). Some of the activities I have mentioned in previous posts can be of assistance in engaging students to share straightforward information about themselves. However, we also want to build students’ abilities to make inferences about each other—for example, wearing an Apple T-shirt might indicate that the person likes computers, and could be a good conversation starter...

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August 18, 2010

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Character Social Thinking

While running groups for students with social-cognitive deficits over the past years, I have frequently observed their difficulties with the story grammar element of character. Often, these students start telling a story in the vein of “Mike and I went to…” as the rest of the group looks at them blankly, thinking, “Who is Mike??” Or at least the facilitators are wondering who Mike is, since the other students may not even be thinking of the “expected behavior” that they should listen, let alone tease out character details!

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August 14, 2010

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Synergy Between MindWing and Social Thinking

I would first like to emphasize the concept of Friend Files, described in Michelle Garcia Winner’s Think Social: As Winner says, it is expected that we remember certain things about people we know by keeping an imaginary file in our brain (and first of all it is helpful to label our friend file with the person’s name)! Drawing from that file allows us to: a) use the oft-positively-received behavior of showing interest and b) have a wealth of conversation starters. Maryellen writes in It’s All About the Story about a kiddo we probably all know: “To make conversation, it would be essential for John to know that the classmate liked baseball, but more specifically liked the Red Sox, and disliked the Yankees.”...

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