Fundamental Skills Step By Step

Otterman on Fundamental Skills Pt 5

Demo Student

Speech Kingdom allows me to modify a sample student avatar named Demo Student and its adult avatar. I refer to these two avatars collectively as Demo Student. Demo Student does not use up a student license that is reserved for my actual students. I don't have to pay an additional fee for Demo Student.

I can customize all of Demo Student's avatar characteristics and use it just like I would any other student and adult avatar. I like this feature because I can use Demo Student to explore the Fundamental Skills mini-stories without affecting any of the scoring and reporting of my actual students. I can also use Demo Student to introduce Speech Kingdom to groups of students.

Limitations of Demo Student

Demo Student is available on the Home Page.

The following is an overview of the steps I follow when I introduce Speech Kingdom's Fundamental Skills mini-stories to a student for the first time.

Introduction: Avatar Creation

​I assume this is the first time my student is introduced to Fundamental Skills mini-stories. If it is also the first time they are introduced to Speech Kingdom and, therefore, have not yet created their avatar, we will create their student avatar now. This is done at the Home Page. I start by clicking the Add New Student​ button.

I involve my student in the process as much as possible. I make this time fun and exciting. "Today, we are going to make a cartoon that looks just like you and then, another one that looks like your <mom, dad, or other responsible adult>."

I let my student know that they can come back and see this new avatar. "Tomorrow, at this same time, we will do something new with your character!" This reduces stress and gives the student something to look forward to.

Preparation: The Target Behavior

Before I start with my student, I figure out which Fundamental Skills mini-story we will work on - the Target Behavior.

First, I select my student. Then I select the Fundamental Skills activity. The program then presents all of the fundamental skills offered by Speech Kingdom, in a menu/thumbnail format. At this point, I can search for a skill by Category or I can proceed to the Search Bar and enter a keyword, or I can simply browse through the stories until I see something that is appropriate.

Note from Speech Kingdom: Since this writing, we have made selecting Fundamental Skills and Social Stories even easier with a Help me choose button next to the Category button.

Once I select a mini-story, I go to the Story Settings menu, by clicking the Gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen. I then click on General Settings and make sure that my options are set to:

I love that I can click the label of any option for an explanation of that options's function.

Next, I select a reinforcer that my student can identify with and have fun with. Finally, I close the Story Settings menu.

There is a Quick preview: 3 scenes link above the Start Fundamental Skill button. I can click this link to display thumbnails and captions for each scene so I can preview the mini-story. This gives me an opportunity to decide how I want to approach the story with my student. At this time, I like to download the custom workbook PDF that accompanies every Fundamental Skills mini-story.

Our First Run-Through

Now I'm ready to work on a Fundamental Skills mini-story with my student. I sit down with them and we select the mini-story that I chose earlier. Remember, each mini-story has three scenes. I ask the student what they notice in each scene. Depending on my specific goals, I may just want to encourage expressive language by asking questions.

A note from Speech Kingdom: Fundamental Skills are small, with only three scenes. They are designed to reinforce a skill or model a behavior through repetition. As the student progresses and you repeat the story, if appropriate, encourage expressive language by asking questions. We recommend that you repeat the story on multiple days, each week.

We have fun clicking on the characters with orange glowing halos to hear them talk.

I use my student's responses to guide the discussion. I want to determine if the student properly identifies the skill. I want to know if they understand their role in accomplishing the skill.

Remote Control

There is a fantastic option to remotely control my student's device from my device and to turn off certain functions such as navigation (prev, next, repeat, exit) on their device as well. I found a great explanation on the Help page of the Speech Kingdom website under Student Mode — Remotely Controlling a Student's Device. When I use this I also take advantage of another option called Activate Reinforcer. Once the story is running, I can select Activate Reinforcer from my Story Settings menu and surprise my student with a reward when they do something great, or just need some support.

Moving Forward: Establish a Routine

I always try to make the time at which I teach the skill relate to the time when the student would typically perform this skill. Again, this helps with context.

We try to practice this skill often. The more the student can link the skill to the real world, the more likely they are to use that skill. Therefore, when possible, we practice the skill directly after watching it. This may be by a real life experience or acting out each of the three screens from the story. Again, we always want to have fun with it.

Finally, adapt when necessary. I like to put gestures or cues in place in order to help students become more successful.

In Conclusion

I have yet to find anything like Speech Kingdom's Fundamental Skills mini-stories. Beyond that, I have had nothing work in my classroom with such success as Speech Kingdom's Fundamental Skills. Like any new program, it takes time to feel comfortable enough to use it with students. As for me, lacking in most technology based areas, I found this program to be not only user friendly, but highly successful. I hope that you find great success with Speech Kingdom and its Fundamental Skills mini-stories. I hope that this is just the beginning of your use of the program and that you will go on to discover the connection between Fundamental Skills and Speech Kingdom Social Stories. I find that my students also love Speech Kingdom's language learning games. I have seen, first hand, the connection that students make with their avatars and how the use of the avatars has dramatically affected their outcomes.

I wish you all great success!!!

Heidi Otterman,
Elementary School Teacher