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  • Writer's pictureStacy Crouse

Using Annotation With Digital Speech Therapy Resources

If your speech therapy students sink a little lower in their chairs when you hand them yet another worksheet or grab that overused board game off of the shelf, maybe it’s time to bring something new to the table.... literally! Annotation provides a dynamic level of interactivity to speech therapy materials. In this context, annotation means the ability to create a digital layer of text, shapes, highlighter, and/or lines used to mark up a PDF document as you would with a worksheet.... so in other words, it's speech pathologist magic :) These features, known as “annotation tools” open up tons of possibilities for SLPs utilizing their tablets and computers for therapy activities.

For example, rather than battling the printer to access this Articulation Picture Search activity, open it on a device and use a drawing tool for the student to circle the target words. If working on vocabulary, open a passage that you’ve downloaded from ReadWorks and have the student identify the context clues in the passage using the highlighter tool. My Following Multi-Element Directions activity (below) can be used with shape annotation tools. Bonus: you don't have to guess which markers are working or clean the ink off of your table at the end of the session!

Annotation is readily available, usually at no cost. Many tablet applications contain the ability to annotate a PDF, including Apple Books which is a preloaded application on iPads and iPhones. There are many other (free!) apps for storing and accessing PDFs that have annotation tools, such as PDF Viewer and PDF Expert. On a computer, Adobe Reader is a popular software for viewing PDFs (for Macs and PCs) and has annotation ability. Most teletherapy platforms have built-in "whiteboard tools" for drawing or typing on a document in a shared space for the therapist and student to access.

While software programs and applications may differ in the annotation tools available, most minimally have basic tools such as a marker/pencil, shapes, and text. Many applications have the ability to change line color, thickness, and transparency or even insert your own photos or icons as "stamps" onto the PDF. Once a student marks up a PDF using annotation tools, it can be saved for a future session or emailed to a parent for practice at home.

Utilizing annotation tools on tablets and computers is a great way to bring otherwise snooze-worthy therapy activities to life. It also provides you with an instant therapy activity that doesn’t require any printing or prepping. Annotation is a secret weapon that allows you to quickly and effortlessly jump right into any number of activities stored on your device. No one even has to know that you didn’t plan your session days ago ;)

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