When I look at an app, I want flexibility. I want to be able to use it in more ways than just intended. I want it to form part of my toolkit and I want it to spark even more ideas. If you are already using Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking ® methodology, then the Social Detective Intermediate app combines and extends everything that you love about The Social Detective series (and Social Detective Beginner app). If you are not familiar, then the app does have a little introductory story where it explains the core purpose with a song that will stick in kid’s heads and images that bring to life the concepts that are being taught. The big focus of this app is to use your social tools (like your eyes and ears) to make a smart guess.
So I want to look at the Social Detective Intermediate app through an SLP lens and share all the things that I picked up on as a user and then the extra ideas on how to get the most out of the app.
What immediately struck me is how Social Thinking vocabulary was sprinkled throughout the exercises. You’ll come across terms such as ‘expected’ and ‘unexpected’, ‘uncomfortable thoughts’, ‘plan’ and ‘I think…’ phrases which all help to build upon and consolidate terms that you may have already taught. Because if there is one thing that I have learned dabbling in Social Thinking, it’s that these phrases build upon each other. We’re not just teaching ‘unexpected’ for three weeks and then forgetting about it. I like that. It also gave me even more ideas on how I could increase my ‘vocabulary sprinkling’ skills.
In a nutshell, the app contains two sections with real video content and questions with multiple choice answers. The videos have extremely variable content which I LOVE! I’m talking lots of different people (teenagers, preschoolers, adults, school aged kids), different settings (in a waiting room, outside, in the classroom, in a bedroom) and different relationships (peer group, parent-child, teacher-students, friends, strangers). It’s this variation that helps students to think social whenever they are around people (not just when you are teaching them in your room). And this to me is big. How many times do students switch ‘on’ when they see you but switch ‘off’ when they leave you?
The first section practices social decoding. Students watch a video clip and then with multiple choice answers, click and drag the thoughts and emotions to then make a ‘smart guess’ that the characters are experiencing . You’re building layers of social understanding here. Breaking down social situations and putting them together with meaning. It’s actually quite interesting to see if there are any gaps because it indicates that you might have to work on a specific area more. I for one know that tons of kids need support in developing their ’emotion vocabulary’ so I find that the section on decoding what emotion a person might be feeling can be challenging.
The second section delves deeper into the social detective side of things. Students not only have to identify what they see and hear in the video clip but then have to figure out what the other people might be thinking and THEN what they might do next (lovely perspective taking and Theory of Mind opportunities). I had quite a few professional giggles at the videos in this section as there were some clips played out that I have seen many times in real life! Social Skill Builder, Inc. have a nice demo clip on YouTube that shows each of these sections in action so have a little look and then keep on reading below to see how I extend the app in my teaching.
How to be flexible:
- While multiple choice answers are provided, I have also tried covering them up to see if student’s can generate answers on their own. It’s a nice little extension task that can be appropriate for some students.
- Don’t power through the multiple choice answers. If a student is quick to dismiss an answer, probe why. This is a great opportunity to practice using your Social Thinking vocabulary and seeing if students can accurately justify why it is definitely NOT an answer. I love getting insight into how kid’s minds work and how much they are understanding and generalising.
- Make your own thought bubble, emotion and smart guess visuals so that you can watch your own video clips, pause and apply the same vocabulary and learning principles. It’s a great carryover task!
- Use Social Thinking vocabulary that you have previously taught and casually throw it in when there is an opportunity ‘hey, what do you think their plan was?’ or ‘What do you think he could have done that would be really unexpected?’. Again, use your professional judgement on this. If you think the student is ready, throw them a little social challenge. Put your feelers out there.
- I am a professional ‘dragger-out-of-videos’ and have been known to turn a three minute clip into a thirty minute therapy session. You do this by talking. Ask questions. Try to relate it to something that the kid knows. Get them to act it out. Pause the video. Read facial expressions. Stop and look at the environment. Guess the relationships between people. Think what else they could say. Guess a reaction… You see where I am going here. These clips are great because they are not on YouTube. An inappropriate add won’t pop up. They are short so attention spans shouldn’t waiver and you KNOW the content is suitable.
So go ahead and check out some more photos and information on the Social Detective Intermediate app and get an idea whether this is something that your caseload needs. The progress monitoring tool and multiple users might be the thing that makes you think ‘uh-huh’, this will work for me. Social Skill Builder, Inc. provided me with a copy of this app. As my reader’s know, I have been using the Social Thinking® methodology for over 5 years now so all opinions are honest and mine.