Monday, November 16, 2015

ASHA Wrap-Up Part 1

I'm back in Boston and breathing after a whirlwind of visit to Denver for the ASHA Convention. The conference was a great experience in a beautiful convention center and location. However, I discovered I have little tolerance for altitude. Despite drinking TONS of water, as recommended, each day I found myself battling a pervasive brain fog (PBF) and fatigue- overall just not feeling myself! Oh well, I won't be going to a mile-high location again anytime soon!

Even with the PBF, I managed to process the following events:

Kelly McGonigal delivered a terrific keynote on the science of mindfulness. Through a discussion with a friend I learned also of the Headspace app, which offers a free 10-day course of short, simple meditations. I've already enjoyed day 1. You can see Kelly speak in her TED Talk and read some of her posts at this link.

At "Practical Strategies for Middle School & High School Language Learning Disorders," Wallach, Bartholomew and Charlton gave an overview of strategies teaching language underpinnings in the context of MS/HS curriculum, including text structure and sentence combining. Upon arriving home, I quickly bought Don and Jenny Kilgallon's Sentence Composing for Elementary School, a recommended text for getting started with content related to sentence combining.

In this post, I wanted to share information from my first talk, "'Son of' Pairing Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives," which took place on Friday afternoon. The wacky title springs from the fact that this was the 4th iteration of this presentation at ASHA. I was thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm of the audience. The upshot of the presentation is that we can select picture books and apps that overlap in context such that both address language and social goals in context. Books with "speechie" qualities-- an identifiable/mappable narrative or expository structure, vocabulary contexts, social concepts, rhyming text, rich and potentially language-neutral visuals to elicit talk and description, and contexts for asking constrained and open, higher-level questions, can be paired with apps that have some of the same qualities or meet FIVES criteria, for the construction of post-book activities that also target language objectives.

A pairing that seemed to be an audience favorite included Todd's TV and Telestory.

In James Proimos' fun picture book, Todd's parents start to rely on the TV for parenting duties. This quickly gets out of hand with the TV taking over and proving adept at "changing the subject" whenever the parents try to reason with it. In the end, they simply turn it off and the book details all of the ways their lives are more fun and connected without the overbearing TV! In addition to an important theme about moderating technology (have kids infer what the message is, or make text-to-self connections), the book is filled with lists: tasks the TV starts to take over, ways the parents try to get the TV to back off, and the benefits once the problem is solved--all mappable using narrative or expository graphic organizers.

A good pairing for this book is found in Launchpad Toys' (makers of Toontastic) free app Telestory. The concept of the app is that you can use it to make a "TV Show" in various genres: news, music, spy, etc. Within each genre are suggested situations and then storylines that provide some structure. When shooting with the simple interface, you can include an enhanced "selfie" mode where costuming tracks the face while using the front-facing camera. Students within a group can play different roles as the app allows for various "shots." Overall this easy-to-use app provides an opportunity to target narrative language, play, and any target you want to include in developing a script or plan with your students for your "show."

Below you can see the (quick and simple) app demonstration filmed during the presentation (email subscribers, a reminder to click through to the post to see any videos):

Thanks to all who attended! Great time! More on our presentation on resources useful in telepractice later in the week...

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