Turn Angry Birds Addiction Into Education in 4 Simple Steps Use the gaming apps students already play to create engaging sessions that boost treatment for all ages. School Matters
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School Matters  |   September 01, 2015
Turn Angry Birds Addiction Into Education in 4 Simple Steps
Author Notes
  • Tara Roehl, MS, CCC-SLP, owns and operates Speechy Keen Speech Therapy, a private telepractice clinic in Colorado focusing on social cognition, executive function and the use of technology in treatment. She’s an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice, and she blogs at Speechy Keen SLP. tara@speechykeenslp.com
    Tara Roehl, MS, CCC-SLP, owns and operates Speechy Keen Speech Therapy, a private telepractice clinic in Colorado focusing on social cognition, executive function and the use of technology in treatment. She’s an affiliate of ASHA Special Interest Group 18, Telepractice, and she blogs at Speechy Keen SLP. tara@speechykeenslp.com×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / School Matters
School Matters   |   September 01, 2015
Turn Angry Birds Addiction Into Education in 4 Simple Steps
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.20092015.40
The ASHA Leader, September 2015, Vol. 20, 40-41. doi:10.1044/leader.SCM.20092015.40
Summer fades away as schools swing back into session. Teachers return to classrooms and we speech-language pathologists set up treatment rooms with our beloved materials—which, these days, almost always include tablets.
We use tablets—whether district-issued or bought out of pocket—in more and more treatment settings, prompting us to ask, “What apps should I get?”
I want to share another way to get the most out of tablets and physical play. Take the apps students already love and create engaging sessions both on and off the iPad. I devised a four-step process you can use to motivate kids and forge more personal connections.
Step 1: Identify
I break this step into three smaller segments: groups, games and goals.
For this to work, most of the group must know about or play popular gaming apps. You can make it work if one or two lack experience. That scenario yields a great activity. Ask the experienced group members to explain these apps to those who don’t play them. It also helps to pick a group with members who interact well, especially when trying this for the first time. You probably don’t want to get your feet wet with an explosive student in the mix.
To select the right app, take a few sessions to figure out what games all your students enjoy. This activity alone targets expressive/receptive language, asking/answering questions, articulation, fluency, pragmatics, executive function and more. Once you identify an app they all like and want to discuss, you can move on to the goals process.

To select the right app, take a few sessions to figure out what games all your students enjoy.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the group and games and lose sight of the goals. Avoid this by first identifying which goal you want to address with each student. Plan ways to seamlessly incorporate this into playing the game. Keep a goal cue card nearby, then challenge the child to earn parts of a physical game/activity you devise based on the app by practicing goals. You don’t want to halt the game and lose motivation by stopping often. Planning ahead keeps the activity going and kids engaged.
Step 2: Experience
Don’t try to fake your way with an app you’ve never played. Students will call your bluff, and you’ll lose all credibility in their eyes. So channel your inner child and settle in for an evening of gaming. You’ll learn the lingo, general rules of play and the necessary details you need for the next steps. Once you play a few rounds, search YouTube for “[name of app] gameplay.” People record themselves playing popular game apps and watching them will teach you more. But don’t skip playing it first!
Step 3: Break it down
Now take your experience and apply some logic and deductive reasoning. Identify key aspects of the game with your group, focusing on materials and concepts. For example, Angry Birds might include blocks, birds, pigs and eggs under materials, and teamwork, prepositions and planning under concepts. Spread this activity out over a few weeks. This information helps in the next step—creating and redefining which goals you tackle during game play. By taking the time to break it down, you figure out clear connections and can explain why this activity done in a certain way helps them.
Step 4: Create
In the final step, take your newfound knowledge and infuse sessions with apps students love. Purchase inexpensive physical games—like the Angry Birds block game—based on the popular apps. Or create your own! I know free time is in short supply for all SLPs, so I set up a Pinterest account dedicated to these activities. I organize my idea boards by app to make searching simple.
Going through these steps takes time initially, but including your students in the process lets them take ownership in sessions. Once you complete these steps, you might discover countless activities at the ready for the remainder of the school year. And if you’re lucky, more than one group might enjoy the same app. This means your creations stretch further, get used by more groups and even allow for some friendly competition between groups. All of my students, from preschool through middle school, love this process. Each school year, many of them bring in new apps they want to try in our sessions.
From my treatment room to yours, I wish you a wonderful school year full of fun and functional interventions.
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September 2015
Volume 20, Issue 9