Will is a brilliant and inspirational 6 year-old boy with a diagnosis of schizencephaly; a rare disorder that appears similar to cerebral palsy, resulting in limited range of motion of his upper and lower extremities. Given his recent transition to the more demanding 1st grade we were working on literacy-based word sorts, spelling, and phonemic awareness tasks. Although Will tried hard, he was easily fatigued trying to draw lines to match pictures or moving letters and picture cards around to spell or complete word sorts.
Having a solid background in using software programs to generate curriculum-based activities, as well as communication supports, I was aware that I could create or customize software activities in an effort to target Will’s goals. However, with a full caseload and participating in a full-time PhD program, the task was too daunting. It really wasn’t until I was exposed to Studio that I even considered it.
I first learned about Boardmaker Studio at Closing the Gap, 2010. After the first 5 minutes of the two-hour session I was convinced that the program was going to dramatically change the quality of my AAC and speech/language intervention, as well as support Will. I downloaded the trial version as soon as I returned home from the conference and after less than an hour of working with the hundreds of templates and gadgets I had created more than 15 language and literacy-based activities that I was going to work on with Will the very next day.
Boardmaker Studio offers hundreds of customizable templates and gadgets. When browsing the different templates, I was instantly drawn to the Word Study folder which had onscreen activities that targeted rhyming with an “onset letter” activity, word making using target letters, and a word scramble. I simply renamed the templates, added my target letters and pictures to each of the activities, and had three interactive activities that directly addressed Will’s intervention goals. I then went to the Sorting folder. Here I chose the “Sorting – 3 Groups 15 Items Template” and created 6 different activities that targeted digraphs (for example, sorting words with the initial sounds /c/, “ch”, and /h/). I created additional opportunities to practice working with the digraphs by creating a matching game using the “Go-Togethers – 8 Pairs” template.
I could go on describing how I adapted the different templates and used a number of gadgets (such as the “Coin Flip”, “Dice”, and “Spinner”) to create activities presented on a touch-screen computer to support my intervention plan, but I would rather mention the most important point: with these Studio activities Will was able to independently, efficiently, effectively, and successfully participate in the intervention for the full duration of the session. Will enjoyed completing the activities and was motivated by his ability to do so independently. In addition, he was able to complete the activities quickly, allowing us to do more in a session, which ultimately enhanced Will’s progress toward his goals.
I have just started using Studio, and I know there is so much more to discover. I take pride in creating customized activities for the individuals I work with, and I am relieved that there is a software program that allows me to do this quickly and efficiently, and offers flexibility so that my idea can come to fruition. I find the program user- friendly and I know I will have more success introducing the program to families and teams that are eager to offer support and be involved. Boardmaker Studio is a fantastic and versatile program (I know Will and his family agree); I strongly recommend it.
- Nerissa Hall MA.CCC-CLP
Nerissa is a full time doctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and works as a speech pathologist specializing in AAC at Holyoke Medical Center, in Holyoke, MA.