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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Learn Something New: Comic Strip Conversations with "Show Me"

One of my "happiness commandments" for myself is to "Learn Something New."  Learning new things really makes me happier!  And one thing that is always out there to learn is new technology.

Yesterday, I was working on a project for my job trying to make a quick mini-lesson about conversations, and I realized that there was an app I had used last fall just for fun with Flannery that would work perfectly for my needs.  So I experimented with it a bit, and after a while, I figured it out!

 I've used comic strip conversations (developed by autism guru Carol Gray) for years now, but I used an interactive whiteboard app called "Show Me" to bring them into the techie arena.  "Show Me" allowed me to make my comic strip conversations into little video lessons that I can easily share with teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, and anyone else who would like to help me teach my students how to carry on social conversations.

I use comic strip conversations to help students track the flow of the conversation visually, and show them that conversations have many turns, and don't just end after you answer a question.  To teach students these conversations, I generally start by having them practice the conversations in our speech room, then in their larger classroom, then in the hallway, then at lunch, etc.  Once my students are pretty good at the conversation, I have them practice it with the office manager, with a teacher, with peers, etc.  It's also important to share these strategies with families, but until now, I had just shared a photo of the comic strip conversation, which I'm not sure was really that helpful.  But with the "Show Me" app, I can insert a little teaching moment via voice recording, and families and students can watch the videos and learn more together.

So, check it out.  Do you think that if I sent you this, you could help teach your child with autism how to have these conversations?

Many of my students would typically stop talking after the first two conversational turns, but given this visual structure, they can see that they really need to keep the conversation going further!  It can also help take the "mystery" out of social conversations.  Many social conversations (ex:  how are you, how was your weekend, etc.) happen over and over in a similar way every day or every week, so teaching how they work in this really structured way can be a simple way to increase students' positive engagement with their peers.  And that makes all of us happier, not just me!  :)

What new thing have you learned lately that made you a bit happier?