Published on March 14th, 20142
Turn the Page: Many Ideas on the My Story App
By Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
In our excitement for integrating technology into the classroom or clinical practice, we can sometimes get caught up in (or overwhelmed by) keeping up with the latest and greatest apps. It is helpful at times to focus on one app and examine how its features lead to varying opportunities for language development. See educational blogger Daniel Edwards’ Learning Learning Learning, Not Apps Apps Apps to learn more about the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to using apps in an educational context.
There are many apps we can consider in this “divergent thinking” sort of way, My Story Book Maker being just one example ($3.99 for iPad). My Story is a simple storybook-making app with features lending themselves toward all sorts of projects that can be implemented in the process of speech and language intervention.
My Story allows you to create multi-page storybooks with drawings, images from the camera roll, text and recorded audio. It is therefore a “blank slate” kind of app that you could use to develop many language structures in whatever context you choose. Books can be created for students (think of using this app with the Social Stories™ approach by Carol Gray) or alongside students in a creative process.
My favorite feature of My Story is that it exports to the free iBooks app; this means that your creation is not just a flat series of pages, but that the audio can be exported to and played in iBooks as well. Kids really enjoy seeing and hearing their creations this way, especially as iBooks has a realistic page-turning animation. The sharing features also allow you to share the book via email as a link, allowing parents or teachers to see your creation and review it with the child in other settings. Those without iPads can access the book on the My Story Website, including the recorded audio; on iPad the shared link can be opened and the file (in multimedia ePub format) opened and saved in iBooks with a few simple taps.
So, besides creating social stories, what are some other ways you could use My Story?
Use in conjunction with other approaches, such as Social Thinking® or Storymaking. Social Thinking, based on the work of Michelle Garcia Winner, is a language-based approach to building social cognition. The methodology contains many concepts related to how the social world works, including using visuals to illustrate how social choices tend to lead to consequences in various situations, all of which could be applied and visualized through this app. The Storymaking and More Storymaking resources(available on amazon.com) build language through the use of repetitive-line storybooks. For example, the book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell features repeated lines that can prompt use of categories, attributes, and the conjunctions but and so (I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me an elephant, but he was too big, so I sent him back!). Storymaking describes how Dear Zoo can be used with materials to create a separate book, Dear Restaurant, in a different context involving food items. My Story would let you transfer this process into digital form, avoiding time-consuming photocopying, coloring, cutting and gluing.
Modify curriculum through book creation. The classroom curriculum is challenging for students with language-learning disorders, and they can benefit from simplified language and visual supports scaffolding their understanding of science, social studies and other content. In addition, curriculum topics can be used as contexts to develop categorization and sentence formulation within the My Story app. Mindwing Concepts’ Story Grammar Marker can be a good strategic support for developing stories about curriculum topics in conjunction with this app.
Support speech! Although there are many great apps dedicated to articulation (and fewer for fluency and voice), clinicians often are looking for that next step: technology that supports sentence- and discourse-level productions and carryover. My Story, though not designed for this purpose, records audio, and is therefore a great tool for recording speech production, reviewing it with the student for feedback, and sharing it with parents to demonstrate progress. You can use My Story with your favorite stimulus materials to generate sentences and discourse within the book format, even if you keep the addition of visuals such as drawings or images to a minimum.
Want to share ways to use My Story or other bookmaking apps? Let us know in the comments.
Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
About the author:
Sean Sweeney, MS, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, instructional technology specialist and consultant. He works in the Newton Public Schools and in private practice at The Ely Center in Newton, Massachusetts. He is the author of the blog SpeechTechie.
Interested in learning more?
For more information about SpeechTechie go to www.speechtechie.com.