Jessica Conrad, Specialist
Specialty Areas: Early Intervention, AAC, AEM Technical Specs/Formats/Conversion, Training Videos/Tutorials
Visual supports are probably one of my favorite tools in my intervention toolbox. However, I make it my mission to do ANYTHING to make it easier and quicker to produce, especially on the fly. These are some of my go-to options and many of them are free or have some fantastic time-saving features.
Apps for iPad
CustomBoards is a template-based visual support maker. It has a huge symbol set (Smarty Symbols) and many templates, easy to insert images in Google and share what you've made. It also will pull images by phoneme and position (huge time saver for SLPs!). For everyday visual supports, flashcards, speech/language homework, social stories, PECS cards, and low/mid tech AAC boards, this is a great option.
iESLp is another app that creates visuals There are some templates for games and work systems, but none for mid/low tech AAC. The symbol set is SymbolStix, the same symbol set used in Unique curriculum, which may very valuable to some teams.
LessonPix has tons of templates, a library, a great symbol set, easy to create visuals, and very affordable. It's easy to share what you've created or borrow other's work.
Free, Picto4Me has a smaller symbol set, but it's easy to use and what you make syncs with your Google drive.
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Connectability offers a simple visual creator in a simple template. This may be a great one for families who need something very simple to create their own visuals.
PictoSelector is a free download and available in several languages for Mac and PC. There are many templates and a symbol set, or you can import your own pictures. It also has a few advanced features, like
I have a small obsession with shopping at thrift stores. They are my all time favorite place to find new games and materials, and sometimes you score some really terrific teacher on a budget.
This weekend at my local thrift store I picked up one of the Goldie Blox kits. I'm intrigued how we can encourage young learners to explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) with tools and toys. This particular Goldie Blox set is marketed for kids 4 and up and is easy to explore and play with the ideas of belt drives, force, friction, and axles. It comes with a story book where kids build along with Goldie, learning the vocabulary of the simple machines. Kids are encouraged to design their own simple machines, and the pieces are so simple and flexible there isn't a wrong way to play and create.
[image of Jessica putting together the Goldie Blox kit, a blue base with axles and rods, and threading pink ribbon around the axles.]
In October this little lovable guy showed up in the mail. Love 2 Learn Elmo delivers fun games and songs learning that can be customized to each child's name and needs. From a smart phone or tablet, parents and teachers customize the experience with the kid's name, their favorite foods and animals. You can also customize want your child to learn (letters, numbers, etc.) and at what difficulty level. It also comes with three interactive games on the iPad, where you and Elmo interact to follow directions, learn colors, or spot animals.
As a child of the Furbee generation, I am also pleased to note that adult can put Elmo into Lullaby Mode, so he becomes a non-talking stuffed animal until the adult is ready for Elmo to "wake up" again. No 2 a.m. song sessions!
Elmo has tagged along to a few classroom visits and the PATINS State Conference and got rave reviews. In particular, he got to visit a birthday party where the kids enjoyed playing games with him and were absolutely entranced with the fact that Elmo knew their names and had special messages just for them.
Love 2 Learn Elmo will be in the Lending Library soon to visit a classroom near you!
[image of Jessica making the Love to Learn Elmo clap]
Jessica has been a PATINS Specialist since 2016. She is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist and former Technology Integration Specialist. Her first love is supporting communication for all learners. Her second love is technology and sharing how the right tool can make success possible. She enjoys finding fun ways to create language and learning rich opportunities with fun technology. She enjoys boardgames, reading, cooking, traveling, and hanging out with her husband, Adam, and chihuahua, Winnie. She is a proud Big Sister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Indiana.
Member of American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Special Interest Group 16, School-Based Issues
Special Interest Group 12, Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Member of the Council for Exceptional Children
Member of the Division for Early Childhood
500 Earlywood Drive
Franklin, IN 46131
Accessible Educational Materials Technical Specs/Formats/Conversion,
Early Interventions, Early Literacy Supports, Early Language Learning, etc.
Future dates TBA
Have a specific training need, or need a training that is at a more convenient time? Email Jessica firstname.lastname@example.org to tailor one to your needs!