Apps that Tell the Story of Weather Use apps to teach students the language of weather-related concepts such as time, categories, causality and conditionality. App-titude
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App-titude  |   August 01, 2017
Apps that Tell the Story of Weather
Author Notes
  • Sean Sweeney, MS, MEd, CCC-SLP, is an SLP and technology specialist working in private practice at the Ely Center in Needham, Mass., and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, 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 Needham, Mass., and consults to local and national organizations on technology integration in speech and language interventions. His blog, SpeechTechie, looks at technology “through a language lens.” sean@speechtechie.com×
Article Information
Telepractice & Computer-Based Approaches / App-titude
App-titude   |   August 01, 2017
Apps that Tell the Story of Weather
The ASHA Leader, August 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22082017.np
The ASHA Leader, August 2017, Vol. 22, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.APP.22082017.np
We all know we should integrate classroom curriculum topics into our treatment. But how do we keep up and incorporate content that will simultaneously build students’ language skills and strategies in the classroom and beyond?
Apps can play a key role here—helping us select interactive activities tied to classroom topics. Let’s take the topic of weather as a case study. It is taught periodically throughout our students’ academic years and involves key linguistic underpinnings such as temporal/sequential concepts, categories, causality and conditionality (see the work of Zhihui Fang on disciplinary literacy and science).
Synthesizing information on the weather is an important life skill related to planning for the future. And it’s always reliable fodder for small talk and light conversation. When selecting an app to teach students about it, we want it to perform key integrative functions like linking language-based activities inside and outside apps, and integrating language strategies and tools. (We’d want these functions for any app, no matter the topic—the 50 states, money, the three branches of U.S. government, and so on.)
Weather goals
Apps can provide a context to address treatment goals. For example, use teaching about the weather to address such written objectives as:
  • Will define words by category and by two or more key attributes.

  • Will express topical ideas in complex sentences using five or more subordinating conjunctions (because, so, if, when).

  • Will generate an oral narrative containing essential story elements (character, setting, initiating event, plan, conclusion) and expository language demonstrating targeted structures (list, sequence, cause-effect, description).

Repurpose weather-related apps to bolster these language objectives. Students can use internalizable strategies such as the Expanding Expression Tool to develop and apply semantic feature-mapping skills to vocabulary such as “precipitation,” “front” and “forecast.”
Students can also incorporate weather descriptions into personal event narratives containing complex sentences. Use tools such as graphic organizers to help them support their narrative and expository language and boost comprehension.
Interactive stories
A number of apps can help students identify the “story” of weather—the expository content, vocabulary and concepts. Select weather-related picture books from Epic! Books for Kids (offering a free educator account and usable on many platforms). Relevant series appropriate for various age ranges include “Weather Watch” and “Our Wonderful Weather.”
Brainpop offers high-quality animated videos (many school districts subscribe) including 26 related to weather. Each video can be used with a quiz and “Make-a-Map” activity that allows for semantic mapping. For more interactive resources, “play” with weather through simulations in MarcoPolo Weather (free for iOS and Android and suitable for K-4) and Tinybop Weather ($2.99 for iOS). Geared for older students, Tinybop offers a handbook of interactives that can help them learn to follow written directions. Simulation apps such as these are ideal for developing vocabulary and sentence composing—and for combining activities.
Create a forecast
Students can also use apps to “show what they know.” Use graphic organizers and written scripts to build metalinguistics, while preparing students to create a product in the app. Telestory (free for iOS) provides a newscasting module that allows for recording of a weather forecast with animated effects.
Ask your students to Explain Everything (app available for iOS, Android and Chromebook at a small cost) by combining drawings, text, photos or even video as part of your “weather bureau.” A lower-tech option is having students create weather journals and then compare their observations with real weather data in the Weather Channel app. This is a fun way of building written language skills and understanding of categories—and can be completed in an app as simple as Notes.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
August 2017
Volume 22, Issue 8