Selfies with a Twist Are Perfect for Students in Speech Therapy – Especially Middle Schoolers

Selfies with a Twist Are Perfect for Students in Speech Therapy – Especially Middle Schoolers

A few months ago, my dog Stella was making the cutest snorting noises as she was takin’ a nap. I think she was dreamin’ real nice dreams. It was beyond adorable, so naturally, I grabbed my iPhone to take a quick video of it. However, as soon as I tapped the red button to start the recording, a message popped up on my iPhone’s screen that read:

Cannot Record Video: There is not enough available storage to record video. You can manage your storage in Settings.

What?! Not enough available storage?! I immediately went to my camera reel to try to quickly delete a couple of photos so I could free up some storage, but wouldn’t ya know – Stella woke up and I was unable to take the video. *sigh*

Selfies. Lots and lots of selfies.

As I was scrolling through my camera reel, I noticed something that surprised me; a majority of my photos were selfies. Selfies were the reason I didn’t have enough storage! Selfies were the reason I missed out on taking a cute video of my cute dog! Selfies were clogging up my iPhone! I didn’t even know that I took so many selfies! Selfies! SELFIES! Ahhh! (Calm down, Erik. Take a deep breath. It’s going to be alight. You can get through this. HAHA!)

Okay, well, what exactly is a selfie?

Merriam-Webster defines the word selfie as, “An image of oneself taken by oneself using a digital camera especially for posting on social networks.” So yes, my camera reel was clearly communicating to me that, whether I knew it or not, I was a fan of selfies. And I’m not the only one that likes selfies. Apparently, more than 1 million selfies are taken every single day? Wow! Selfies sure are hip! (Does the word “hip” make me sound like an “old dude?” I hope I didn’t just lose any cool points. HEHEHEHE!)

Middle schoolers and selfies.

All of this thinking about selfies lead me to ask some of my middle school-aged students about their thoughts on selfies. What’s their overall feelings about selfies? Did they think selfies were “hip?” (Again, not sure if it’s hip to use the word hip. LOL!) One of the 7th grade kiddos I see once a week privately said it best when he smirked and confessed to me, “I think selfies are kinda like art and art is cool so that’s why me and my friends like to take selfies.” He then encouraged me to check out this YouTube video of a 20-year-old that has taken a selfie every single day for the last 8 years. “See Mr. Raj, wouldn’t you consider that to be art?” The genius tween had a point. That video was wonderful and it really got me pondering . . .

Can selfies be considered art?

In short, I think so. In my opinion, after wrestling with the notion of a selfie being art, I’ve come to realize that lots of selfies (not all, but a healthy amount) are created with skill and imagination. A huge amount of skill and imagination.

Skill and Imagination?! Really?!

Yup. For example, take this absolutely hilarious and creative online photo album that I stumbled upon called Selfies with a Twist. It features the spectacular work of a man named Gerard Raatgeep. What you will find from his photo album are dozens and dozens of creative selfies that will cause anyone who looks at it to smile, laugh, and say,“How did he do that?!” My personal favorite selfie of his is this one. I’m a real sucker for junk food.

Can selfies trigger conversations in speech therapy?

I shared Gerard’s photo album with the student who mentioned to me how selfies can and should be viewed as a type of art. He loved it. Big time. And all the selfies generated a gigantic amount of conversation that I used as a type of “warm up talking exercise”before we started “the hard writing stuff” I had planned that specifically targeted his individualized goals and objectives.

I was able to ask him WH questions galore!

  • When do you think this one was taken? How do you know? (Student: “Probably right before the guy had to study for a test. I see all those sticky notes and it makes me think of when I study for tests. I will usually write vocabulary words on sticky notes and review them throughout the day. This helps me study so I can guess that maybe he is about to study.”)
  • When do you think this one was taken? How do you know? (Student: “Probably in the summer when he was laying on the beach. I can guess this because people usually wear sunglasses on the beach because it’s usually really sunny there. And maybe he has a lot of sunglasses because he will give them out to people who forget their sunglasses.”)
  • Where do you think this one was taken? How do you know? (Student: “Probably at a birthday party because all those bows probably came from the presents. My guess is that maybe the guy’s daughter had a Sweet 16 Party? Or maybe it was Christmas? Those are times when people usually give presents.”)

All of those answers were legitimate.

His responses were spot on. With minimal prompts and cues from me, he was able to verbalize conclusions that drew from evidence within the given selfie and his own past experiences. And that was crucial because we all know that some of our students struggle with inferencing. So, I truly believe that the fantastic selfies by Gerard are filled with many opportunities for us, as clinicians, to have tons of worthwhile and intentional conversations with our students that lead to inferencing opportunities and hopefully, a better understanding of the overall process of inferring things based on what is already known and past experiences. I can’t say it enough, I highly recommend checking Gerard’s selfies.

In closing . . .

I need to up my selfie game because, as my middle schoolers have told me, my selfies are boring. HAHA! If you ask me, Gerard is setting the bar VERY high for the selfie taking population and I’m up for the challenge. So, speaking of selfies, do you think you might be able to use Gerard’s photo album somehow as a nice talking point in an upcoming speech therapy session? If you give it a go, let me know some of the details. Did his photo album resonate with your students? Did it inspire them to create their own silly selfies? I would love to hear all about it.

P.S. If you liked this particular blog post, you’ll totally dig this one I wrote about a man who puts funny things in his beard. So cool!

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