Middle & High School -Expressive/Receptive Language Apps

Click each tab for information about a particular app, and how I use it in speech and language therapy with my students.
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Preposition Builder (iPad)


Mobile Education
Pre-K through Middle
How I use this app in speech therapy:
I use this app with Elementary age students who are able to read preposition words, but continue to have difficulty identifying them in a picture. These are the same students who have difficulty following directions in the classroom. This is also a great app for students with autism and/or language delays. My students are able to choose the correct preposition because the pictures are so engaging and accurate. If they choose the incorrect preposition, the app immediately provides a picture for the preposition they chose and gives them another opportunity to correct their errors. For example, given a picture of a boy with a cereal bowl on the cereal, my student chose the preposition “in” instead of “on”. The app responded by showing a picture of the cereal “in” the bowl so that my student understood his error. My students really enjoy the pleasing narrator’s voice and the lack of music and or sound effects. I appreciate the ability to delay going to the next sentence, giving plenty of time for discussion and additional sentences using the target words. I also appreciate that the prepositions are presented in sentences instead of in isolation so my students will learn them in context. Prepositions are presented in groups of three, an optimal amount for learning.


Toontastic


Launchpad toys
Late Elementary - Middle School
How I use this app in speech therapy:
This app is all about narrative development while making a fun cartoon. I have students develop a story arc with characters following the prompts provided by the app. In the beginning of the app there is an excellent description of all of the elements of a story. After discussing the story arc, my students and I choose the setting and characters. We then develop a dialog between characters that supports the story arc. After we are finished developing the story, it’s time to make the cartoon. The app takes students through the process of developing a cartoon, from determining the background/setting, selecting characters, giving characters voices and animation and applying background music. My High functioning students with Autism love this app and spend a great deal of time developing dialog which is perfect for working on conversational skills (using conversation starters, maintaining topics, switching topics, listening to others’ comments, etc).


Shake a Phrase


Artgig Apps
Ages 8+
How I use this app in speech therapy:
I am a huge fan of this app! It allows SLPs to delve into the world of using context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. Students are presented with silly phrases containing many words not readily available in their lexicons. Choose from five available themes: Shake starter, Animals, Fairytale, Monsters and Sports. During therapy students read the silly phrase and we practice using context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. Once we believe we have the correct definition we can confirm by touching the word (a definition instantly appears). When students have difficulties with synonyms and antonyms, we look for unknown words, find the meaning using context clues, and record the word and meaning. After they record the word and meaning, we have a discussion about synonyms and antonyms. This app is also great for learning the parts of a sentence (verbs, nouns and adjectives) via the “quiz me” section. Again, students are required to read a crazy sentence and then choose the verbs, adjectives or nouns, which is a great way to bring up the topic of expanding written language to include details and all of the necessary parts. There are also “Story Starters” which can be used to begin narrative development. (Also check out the Toontastic app to teach your students the components of a narrative.)


Enchanted Dictionary


Golden Communications LLC
How I use this app in speech therapy:
Enchanted Dictionary is an interactive dictionary of academic terms that can be used with a wide variety of students. I have used it with my students with language impairments that need extra practice on vocabulary introduced in the regular education classrooms and with my middle school students with autism to work on their sentence development skills. This dictionary is chock full of middle and high school topics in all subjects: science, english, social studies and math.

In my opinion, this app helps students remember definitions by building them from the word up. During sentence building, students are actively engaged in determining word order to form the correct definition. Here’s an example, on the right side of the book is the term in the form of a sentence starter, “A gene…”. Students see floating words on the left page of the book which they drag over to finish the definition. During therapy sessions my students and I use Enchanted Dictionary and the Webster’s iPad dictionary together. If they have difficulty ordering the words, then we check in Webster's (teaches how to use multiple reference materials). We record definitions in a notebook to be referenced in future sessions and in their classrooms to use in summaries and graphic organizers of science and history topics. Students love being able to reference the definitions that they built using Enchanted Dictionary.


Shake the States for iPad


Third Chicken Inc.


Shake the States for iPhone


Third Chicken Inc.
How I use this app in speech therapy:
Have you ever noticed, at the American Speech Language Hearing Association conventions, that the most well attended short courses and talks are always those that focus on modifying everyday games and activities into teachable speech and language lessons? The same holds true for apps. I imagine that in the next few years speech therapists will develop a comprehensive list of apps that are not specifically designed for speech therapy, but can be modified to help students’ development of speech and language. Shake the States is one such app.

This app is genius!! Half of my middle school students cannot name the states past the local mid-Atlantic region and some of my elementary school students do not even know they live in Maryland. Learning the states should not be a speech and language IEP goal, however it ties nicely into geography curriculum lessons. In therapy, I use this app to teach spatial concepts (above, below, next to, beside, direction words, left/right), phonemic awareness skills (find the state that starts with /d/), transition words (first put Delaware on the map and then Maryland). I teach following directions and through osmosis, the students learn state names and locations!! I have also used this app with my students with autism. One student has now mastered following directions to place all of the big states, he immediately adds those to the puzzle before I can give a direction.


Splingo's Language Universe


Talking Wizard LLP
How I use this app in speech therapy:
This is one of the first apps to specifically target following verbally presented directions. From the main page, you can choose the number of words in a direction (1-4) and the types of words/concepts to be included (nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives). There is also an option to use a US dictionary or UK dictionary. Although all instructions are given with a cute British accent, my American students are still able to comprehend and follow the directions. My students love the little alien in the corner and often wait for him to yawn before completing the direction (They think it’s hysterical). When the students have completed a series of directions they are then rewarded with a spaceship puzzle.


iAnnotate PDF for iPad


Aji LLC
How I use this app in speech therapy:
This is an indispensable research tool for older students. More info coming soon….


Evernote


Evernote
How I use it this app in speech therapy:
To teach note taking skills to older students. More info coming soon….


Kindle


AMZN Mobile LLC
How I use this app in speech therapy:
Note: I use Kindle and iBooks interchangeably: Kindle is a free e-reader which can be used to read curriculum novels purchased from the Amazon Marketplace and iBooks is a free e-reader which can be used to purchase books from iTunes.

I have received several inquires about the type of apps I use when working with middle and high school students as most apps seem to be geared toward young children. In order to work with middle and high school level students I have found myself turning to the Kindle, iBooks, LitCharts, and Cliff notes study guides apps. Since therapy in middle and high grades for students with language impairments should complement the curriculum, I find these very helpful. When I want to work on specific skills, such as using context clues to determine word meaning of unknown words, and need to motivate unmotivated students, I use the Kindle app to download high interest books like Dork Diaries, Transformers, Stink, etc prior to diving into the curriculum novel. I typically teach (without the iPad) the 4-6 different types of context clues and then we read through a high interest story looking for unknown words. The beauty of using the Kindle app is that often stories will have embedded vocabulary words and definitions that pop up when you press down on the unknown word (great feature). My students and I "old school" it by writing down unknown words in a graphic organizer and using clues around the word to develop a definition. Then we compare our definition to the pop up definition. In addition to context clues, I use these apps to practice sequencing, summarizing, answering inferential questions, understanding figurative language and understanding grade level grammar and syntax. The possibilities for using books in therapy on the Kindle and iBook apps are limitless. Therapy is similar to traditional therapy, but with a coolness factor that keeps them interested and motivated. Some of the novels available for download include: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (available for free if you are an Amazon Prime member), Crash by Jerry Spinelli (many of his books are available on Kindle edition), The Giver by Lois Lowry, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and countless others.



Search for available titles on iBooks



How I use this app in speech therapy:
Note: I use Kindle and iBooks interchangeably: Kindle is a free e-reader which can be used to read curriculum novels purchased from the Amazon Marketplace and iBooks is a free e-reader which can be used to purchase books from iTunes.

I have received several inquires about the type of apps I use when working with middle and high school students as most apps seem to be geared toward young children. In order to work with middle and high school level students I have found myself turning to the Kindle, iBooks, LitCharts, and Cliff notes study guides apps. Since therapy in middle and high grades for students with language impairments should complement the curriculum, I find these very helpful. When I want to work on specific skills, such as using context clues to determine word meaning of unknown words, and need to motivate unmotivated students, I use the Kindle app to download high interest books like Dork Diaries, Transformers, Stink, etc prior to diving into the curriculum novel. I typically teach (without the iPad) the 4-6 different types of context clues and then we read through a high interest story looking for unknown words. The beauty of using the iBooks app is that often stories will have embedded vocabulary words and definitions that pop up when you press down on the unknown word (great feature). My students and I "old school" it by writing down unknown words in a graphic organizer and using clues around the word to develop a definition. Then we compare our definition to the pop up definition. In addition to context clues, I use these apps to practice sequencing, summarizing, answering inferential questions, understanding figurative language and understanding grade level grammar and syntax. The possibilities for using books in therapy on the Kindle and iBook apps are limitless. Therapy is similar to traditional therapy, but with a coolness factor that keeps them interested and motivated. Some of the novels available for download include: The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (available for free on the Kindle if you are an Amazon Prime member), Crash by Jerry Spinelli (many of his books are available on Kindle edition), The Giver by Lois Lowry, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and countless others.

CliffsNotes


Type "CliffsNotes" to find titles for iBooks



Android: CliffsNotes for Kindle

LitCharts


LitCharts.com has study guides for several curriculum novels on their web site, available to read online, download as a PDF, or download for iPhone.
How I use this app in speech therapy:
My High School English teacher would freak out if she heard that I am promoting the use of CliffsNotes in teaching literature to students. Hear me out..I have several good, valid reasons. First, when students reach middle and high school grades, according to the Common Core Standards adopted in the U.S. last year, students should be reading and analyzing literature through novels. These novels, however, are often written at a much higher level that many of our students with language impairments can read and/or understand. Second, therapy sessions are often limited to once or twice a week for thirty minutes at a time and trying to keep up with the rate of reading in a regular or even special education classroom is next to impossible. Here’s an example, I started The Outsiders with a group of students using the actual book. It was a Monday afternoon, and we were excited that we were getting a jump on it and would be ahead of the class. By the following Monday the class was already on Chapter 4 and I had to backtrack to make sure my students understood the material, were able to use summarizing and note taking skills appropriately, and understand the figurative language in the chapters, etc. Using the LitCharts app (The Outsiders), I was able to breeze through chapters 5 and 6 in one session and my students were then once again ahead of the game.

Here’s my justification for using CliffsNotes and Lit Charts. By doing so, I am able to help my students comprehend story plots, summaries and character intentions without having to spend a ton of time reading the text (they are already doing this in the classroom, so it’s not like they are skipping this critical part of learning). After reading through the summary version, students can compare them to the real book. We then complete an "old school" pen and paper graphic organizer of story events and write our own summary of the chapter from the events. We are also able to use context clues to determine the meanings of unknown words (CliffsNotes and LitCharts are written at grade level), and sentences containing figurative language. CliffsNotes also provide an analysis of the Author’s purpose, and comparisons between chapters and writing style, which is enlightening to my students. My students have had many “AhHa” moments while reading through the study guides and have expressed more than once that they didn’t know what was happening until we read the summaries. CliffsNotes also provides a “Cram Cast”, a 3-4 minute summary of the story verbalized by a narrator, a Character Map which provides a graphic organizer of characters and their relationships to one another (again, students have AhHa moments). There is background information about the author and the setting of the novel as well as Critical Essays which are beyond what my middle school students can understand, but may be helpful for high school students. The final piece is a quiz to check for understanding. LitCharts makes all of their information available on their website in PDF format that can be printed and used in therapy. Overall, you can’t go wrong with these tools to supplement classroom learning.


Language Builder for iPad


Mobile Education
Pre-K through late Elementary and or middle school students with language impairments
How I use this app in speech therapy:
To begin using this app you must first put in a name, I used my initials. You will then need to choose hint level and, if applicable, “image themes”. You have the option to randomize all themes if you have purchased more than one theme.

I use this app with students with grammatical difficulties after we have practiced verbs and they are proficient in verb usage. I often use this app in conjunction with iVerbs. For my younger students (headstart and pre-K) I provide the model sentence, we practice it several times and then they record their sentence. You have the option of saving recordings (my students enjoy this feature). The app provides a “hint”, either verbal or visual when needed. My older students love this feature. I think they lean on it a little too much sometimes, so I require that they give me their own sentence first before listening to the hint to see if their sentence matches the hint. Again, older students are required to record their sentences on paper for home fun/homework practice. Level 1 provides a visual written cue (example: picture of a girl hugging a dog…visual cue is “The _____ is ______ her dog”. Level 2 provides a sentence starter, “The girl….” Level 3 provides a verbal cue such as “Use the words hugging and dog in your sentence”. A tremendous amount of flexibility is included in this app so it can be used for all ages. In addition, you have the option to purchase more “packs” of pictures through in-app purchases (Typically 1.99 each or 19.99 for all). The “info” button provides detailed instructions.

iBernard HD for iPad


by flexbl

iBernard for iPhone


by flexbl
How I use this app in speech therapy:

I first fell in love with Bernard videos when I found them by accident on YouTube. After watching several on my own and laughing out loud, I quickly realized they would be perfect for my tele-practice student, a high functioning preteen who has Aspergers Syndrome and a wicked sense of humor. Bernard is a self-absorbed polar bear who has the worst luck, an attitude and a possible need for anger management classes. Through Bernard I was able to target all of my student’s areas of weakness (inferencing skills, social appropriateness, irregular verbs, prediction, character emotions and narrative skills) without losing his interest. As we watched the videos I paused the action and asked questions, based on his IEP goals, that I had prepared before the session.

Bernard videos are also perfect for teaching correct and incorrect behavior. Now, there’s an app for that!! Bernard is available for iPad as a free download with one video included (The Gym). Additional videos are in app purchases at 99 cents each, but worth every penny. This year, I am using Bernard with my students with autism and my general education students. I do not show them to my head start students because there’s mild violence (bad things happen to poor Bernard) in every episode which, sadly, is hysterically funny. I typically coach students through looking at micro facial expressions to determine meaning and intent. We use prediction skills, reflection skills, and analyze character feelings and correct/incorrect behavior.

The free episode opens with Bernard entering a gym.
He walks in, and immediately his facial expression (eyes looking around the room) and hesitation tell a story.
Question: Why does Bernard look worried? Answer: He is obviously not supposed to be there.

He walks over to an old fashion belt based exercise machine and uses it.
Question: Has Bernard used this machine before? How do you know? Answer: because he looks is trying to figure out how to use it. He is surprised when it goes crazy.

Then he knocks a barbell off of the stand and it falls on his neck (yes he is still breathing) He gets trapped.
Question: Why did Bernard get trapped under the Barbell? Answer: Because it was too heavy for him.
Questions: What do you think he’s going to do? Do you think someone will save him? What would you do?

Bernard rolls the barbell backwards toward two slant benches.
Question: What is he going to do? Answer: Roll it up on the benches.
Question: What do you think will happen? Answer: It will roll back down
Question: How did he solve his problem? Answer: Student summarizes actions.

Next, he jogs past a treadmill.
Questions: Why is Bernard looking back at the treadmill? What is he thinking in his head? Tell me what he would say… Answers: He thinks it looks fun. “Hmmm..I wonder how this thing works?”
Question: Why did he look around the room? Answer: to see if anyone was looking and if he was going to get in trouble.

He turns on the treadmill
You'll just have to get the app so you can see what happens next!!!

Simplex Spelling Phonics 1


by Pyxwise

Simplex Spelling Phonics 2


by Pyxwise
Simplex Spelling Phonics (1 & 2)
How I use these apps in speech therapy:


When I first started practicing as a Speech Language Pathologist over a decade ago, I realized many of my speech and language students were not able to read. They were receiving special education services, but the methods used were not working. I did some research and came across several evidence based teaching methods that were used to increase student understanding of the sounds in words, not just the letters. I became certified in PhonoGraphix and took a class in the Orton Gillingham Method over a period of 2 years. Long and short of it…I’ve been teaching reading and decoding for quite a while even though it has, in the past, been controversial.

Every week, I search through thousands of apps on iTunes looking for “The One”. The one app that will help me teach phonics to struggling middle school students. My criteria was simple, or so I thought. It has to not look like it’s for babies, it has to promote sounds in words not just letters, and most importantly keep vowels together and separate consonant blends into individual sounds. Searching, searching and searching. Then to my surprise, I got an email from Craig of Pxywise offering free codes for spelling/phonics apps. I quickly glanced at the apps on iTunes and thought…I’ll give it a try.

WOW!!!! I found my miracle app (which seems like a little much to say, but it’s true) in Simplex Spelling 2 (and 1) Phonics! Not only does this app help students learn spelling constructs, but it also teaches all of the sounds in words which will, fingers crossed, result in increased decoding skills. It looks mature for middle school students and provides lots and lots of practice. It separates consonant blends into single sounds (Hooray!) and every vowel combination and sound variation are well represented (i.e., the sound “o” can be spelled o, oa, oe, ow, o_e, etc). During the spelling activity, you can access all of the sound variations via the "hint" buttons. I’m a bit sad that it’s the end of the school year but will use it this summer during extended school year services and when working with my students with autism.

I found out last year that when students reach middle school level, phonics are overlooked. The curriculum moves from learn to read to read to learn. In fact, several of the middle school teachers at my current school admitted that they have no idea how to teach phonics. What about the students who have been receiving special education services since first grade and have not learned how to decode words? What happens to these students? I am aware that many SLPs are reluctant to delve into the world of decoding and reading, but I can’t just sit back and watch my students struggle. I plan on turning to Simplex Spelling 1 & 2 Phonics next year to help my speech and language students who are struggling in basic decoding. Hopefully I can collect enough data to support the effectiveness of this app.

The app is simple to use but if you need a tutorial there is one available on YouTube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVvX6wlrj2A&feature=youtu.be

Hotel Transylvania Movie BooClip Deluxe


by Castle Builders
I was perusing through iTunes the other night searching for a Halloween type app that offered the same type of rich vocabulary as Millie and the Lost Key in order to work on context clues. After searching through countless Halloween apps I discovered Hotel Transylvania (a book app, by Castle Builders based on the newly released Sony Animation movie). Not one for commercial type apps, I was hesitant at first, but after looking at the preview pictures decided to make the purchase, knowing my students would love it…even if it did not turn out to be extremely educational. (Note: if you aren't familiar with Millie and the Lost Key, click here and scroll down for review, link and worksheets.)

WOW!! Imagine my surprise -- RICH TIER II VOCABULARY WORDS throughout the entire story, perfect for a context clues strategy worksheet. Here’s an example of why I was so excited -- the story opens with this sentence: “In a secluded forest far away, isolated from the villages and towns, Dracula built a hotel to protect his young daughter, Mavis, from humans.” From this one sentence I was able to teach my students to look for commas as a clue to finding the word meaning, as sometimes authors will define difficult words right after the comma. Hooray!! I also used this app to work on determining the main idea of the overall story as well as page by page, sequencing events, summarizing events and recording details on a graphic organizer. My middle school students with lingering articulation delays loved reading through the app using appropriate production of target sounds (there are a lot of /s/ and /r/ variation words), recording their target sounds on a worksheet and then practicing.

Funny videos of actual movie scenes make this app completely engaging for students of all ages (through middle school) and support the story and actually help students in defining unknown words by putting them in video context. Here’s an example: “Dracula boasts to his guests, ‘Human-free since 1898’ Take an itinerary! I have personally designed a spectacular schedule of events, all leading to my daughter’s birthday extravaganza tomorrow!'”. How amazing is that sentence? Context clues galore and words that students need to know for everyday adult life!! The video of this scene shows Dracula handing out red itineraries…which supports that an itinerary can only be a schedule of events. Brilliant!! The videos are also fantastic for sequencing, summarizing and verbalizing events.

In addition to the wonderful, vocabulary-rich story, there are many extras that can be explored after reading through the app. Clicking on the witch at the bottom of the page brings up a menu of extras like the ability to record your own voice while reading the story, a magnifying glass to make the text bigger as you read (fun), gross recipes (wormcake: pancakes with gummy worms, chocolate devil eggs, mouse jelly, scream cheese and bagels), puzzles and painting activities for younger students and additional video clips.

Common Core Links 5th grade example:

Using context clues to determine word meaning.
5.RL.4
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Comparing Dracula to the Human:
5.RL.3
Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).