Nowadays, it is not uncommon for a school-based therapist to struggle with basics tasks such as a coming up with teaching methods, creating lesson plans and organizing their weekly schedules. Luckily, there are technological tools that can help with all of those problems. And in our increasingly technological world, it’s becoming more and more important for school-based therapists to utilize new technologies to help streamline their workload. Here are a few new methods that can help add some control to your daily routine:
This may seem like an overly obvious choice, but don’t overlook the amazing benefits provided by Google Drive. Google Drive, otherwise known as “Drive,” is an online application that provides services similar to that of Microsoft Office, but is accessible from any computer with internet access. In your role as a speech therapist, occupational therapist, or physical therapist, keeping track of all of your appointments can be cumbersome. Google Drive has an application called “Google Calendars,” that allows you to set up appointments with email, as well as phone notifications to remind you of an impending meeting. Another benefit of Google Drive is the online spreadsheet and slide show application. Using these tools, you can easily create individual spreadsheets to track student process. Best of all, it is compatible with Microsoft Office…so you can download your files directly from Drive to your computer. You can sign up for Google Drive using your Gmail account.
My Story Maker
Whether you are a speech and language therapist or a behavioral therapist, storytelling and writing are great outlets for providing therapy. They allow children to have some degree of control over what they are learning, making it more of a game. One awesome solution for this is called, “My Story Maker.” This is a website where you can write stories, or have your students write stories. “My Story Maker” provides a game-like approach to teaching and story telling by allowing you directly interact with and manipulate characters in the story to fit your specific lesson. You can use this website to incorporate targeted vocabulary words, or to reenact various scenarios. Web applications like this are especially helpful when you are dealing with younger children, who might have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand.
Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect
Perfect for occupational therapists and physical therapists, a Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect can help to alleviate the boredom of regular routine movements, stretches, and exercises. Games like “Reflex Ridge” and “Wii Fit Plus” promote physical activity and body awareness, in a fun manner. These games and devices are technologies that many kids are familiar and comfortable with. Most children would rather play games than learn, and using these tools provides the best of both worlds.
Augmentative & Alternative Communication Devices
Augmentative Communication Devices, or ACCs, give nonverbal patients a way to communicate. Especially useful in speech therapy jobs when assisting younger patients with autism, ACCs can open up patients to communication and ideally, even to speech. ACCs allow the user to have the device speak for them, or even have preprogrammed images and buttons that represent a phrase or action. Highly customizable, ACCs can be used with all kinds of patients.
Tablets & Smart Boards
A growing trend among many schools is the addition of tablets and smart boards. These devices provide an interactive approach to teaching and learning. Smart boards can be used for simple learning games, and allow the instructor to display content on a large screen that they can then interact with directly. Smart boards can also be used to view video content, or even to display slides from your new Google Drive account. Similar to a smart board, you can also use tablets as a teaching tool. A tablet has a large range of educational applications that can be used for school-based therapists of all types. For example, a speech and language pathologist can use the “Articulation Station” app to teach children about pronunciation, labeling and word association. Those with jobs in occupational therapy can use the ADVANCE application to practice dexterity and provide visuals aids for exercises.
With technology choices ranging from applications that can help you organize your weekly schedule, to devices that can help you create lesson plans and provide educational games….there is no limit to the number of technological advances that can help you in your role as a pediatric, school-based therapist. If you haven’t yet begun to implement some of the technology used above, it’s never too late to ask your administration if these are methods they are open to letting you employ.
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