App-titude: ‘Skitch’ Up Your Visual Aids—With Ease Use this app to personalize, save and share images for clients with autism spectrum and other disorders. App-titude
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App-titude  |   April 01, 2014
App-titude: ‘Skitch’ Up Your Visual Aids—With Ease
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology “through a language lens.” ■sean@speechtechie.com
    Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Newton, Mass., and consultant to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie (www.speechtechie.com), looks at technology “through a language lens.” ■sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   April 01, 2014
App-titude: ‘Skitch’ Up Your Visual Aids—With Ease
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, 38. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.19042014.38
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, 38. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.19042014.38
Seeing it makes all the difference to learning it, especially when it comes to students with language disorders, autism spectrum disorders and other such diagnoses. However, it can be very time-consuming to create drawings, images or other visuals, customize the materials to highlight key features, and print and laminate them.
Apps ease this process—and, therefore, the task of making the world more visual for students. And Skitch (free for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows, http://evernote.com/skitch) has emerged as the go-to app for “marking up” imagery.
With just a few taps, Skitch allows you to save, annotate and share an image, diagram or graphic organizer. You can turn any image—photo, Web page or map—into a customized teaching tool using your choice of added text, shapes, arrows, drawings or a digital “highlighter.”
Getting started
Let’s look at how Skitch works. This view of the iOS (iPad) interface, itself made with Skitch (see below), will also give you an idea of how the app works on other platforms. In keeping with recent changes in the look and feel of apps, the app is quite minimalist: This can be a bit confusing at first, though it’s easy to learn to navigate the interface.
From the main screen, you can begin work on an annotation by activating the camera and snapping a photo, “loading” a photo from the camera roll, starting with a blank background, or accessing the device’s mapping software or Web-browsing capabilities and “snapping” the content.
After you have your starting image, use the menu on the right (tap the arrow to expand it) to select your annotation type. Add your annotations by tapping on the picture in various ways: tap and drag to add an arrow in the direction of your finger movement, double-tap to add text, tap and drag to add and expand a shape. When you have finished, tap “share” to save your work or send it through e-mail.
Using the app
Once you are comfortable with your “taps,” Skitch is very easy to use—and to teach kids to use. Here are some ideas for integrating Skitch into your work with students.
Images related to academic content. Use Skitch to develop curriculum vocabulary by “diagramming” pictures related to any curriculum unit. For instance, the app is a great tool for labeling the relevant parts of a picture (as in the photo above), developing spatial and sequential concepts, or writing captions that state a main idea. Snap a photo of any of the growing “experiments” in your students’ classrooms to add personal relevance! It helps to know how to save images to your device so your contexts are limitless and instantly retrievable (see the “saving images” section at bit.ly/ashasavingimages for more information on how to save pictures from the Internet to various devices).
Community and life skills. Skitch is a great companion in community settings. Snap pictures of locations that can be annotated to develop executive functioning and safety awareness. For example, a picture of a restaurant can be marked up so that students learn the activities appropriate for specific areas (“thinking about the menu,” “waiting in line,” “ordering”). Or you could use a photo of a local crosswalk to highlight potential hazards or steps in crossing the street.
Task sequencing. An image of a classroom location relevant to a chore or task is also a great context for building sequencing and executive functioning skills. Start with a photo demonstrating the completed task, and use boxes and text to highlight the relevant steps in the activity (see the work of speech-language pathologist and executive functioning specialist Sarah Ward at http://cognitiveconnectionstherapy.com). E-mail the annotated photos from the device, and/or print and display them in relevant locations for easy student access.
Nonverbal language skills. Students who struggle with emotional vocabulary and interpretation of nonverbal signals in communication with peers and adults can use Skitch to work on these skills in an engaging way. Use the camera feature within the app to take a photo and then annotate it to highlight aspects of facial expressions or body language.
Planning academic work. You can start a “Skitch” from a blank screen, which provides an easy way to create a graphic organizer for a piece of writing, with topics and subtopics detailed in created boxes. You can also use Skitch to annotate or create a visual for a project (such as a poster).
Spatial and geographic language. With the Skitch mapping feature, you can search for or zoom in on any location available in mapping apps. Students can label community locations or highlight and describe a path to get from one place to another, creating another visual that can be used in community work. You can also use this feature to emphasize the language of academic content (such as geographic features), name continents, countries or states, or add descriptive language.
On a related note, we actually used Skitch (in conjunction with a screenshot from Google Earth) as a map for our parents to find the new location of and parking for our private practice. I hope you find as many uses for this app as I have!
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April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4