Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Itching to upgrade? I did!

Sometime after the release of iOS7 I noticed my 3rd generation iPad was beginning to behave strangely. Especially when updating apps, the device would sometimes do a sort of ominous curtain-down thing (I imagined a sad noise accompanying this) and shut off of its own accord. It would also reboot itself randomly at other times and lose its desktop background, instead showing a deathly black. It was sending me a message.

My 64G 3rd Gen was almost full anyways (remember that apps are a big part of what I do, I am not recommending that regular users invest in more than the 32-64G devices), and I had been waiting for the more significant announcements in October: a Retina Display iPad Mini and the 5th Gen iPad, which turned out to be named the iPad Air. This post is not meant to cause regret/iPad envy in any way; my iPad 2 has continued to work great with iOS 7. I think it is telling that the 2 is still sold, but the 3 has been off the market since last year. It has become somewhat of a white elephant in the line.

So, a tip that this post is really about: you are not stuck with your old iPad (if it is your personal device) forever. You have a number of options- a) continue to use it as an extra device b) hand it down to a family member c) sell it within your school district and d) use a buying service such as Gazelle. I had a positive experience with Boston-based Gazelle when trading in a couple of iPhone 4s. The process is so simple and pleasant! The Gazelle website lets you select your device model and condition, and you are provided with a quote. You can accept it or not- remember that you probably could get more money for the device if you choose more time-consuming ways to sell it. Once you agree to the price, Gazelle sends you a really cute box with everything you need to simply drop it at the post office:

OK, Maybe I like it just because it is orange.

Another tip- I prefer to back up and set up my devices from iTunes, so I don't run into iCloud storage issues. My process included deleting old backups, since there were so many I couldn't tell which backup was still relevant and these take up space on your computer. I then backed up my iPad 3 to iTunes as it had the most relevant data and folder sets. When I bought my new iPads*, which I bought from the Apple Store app and then did the whole cool "check-in" thing as I approached the store, I set up the new iPad Air by restoring from that old backup through iTunes. That way it kept all my data, apps, and folders. I am keeping the Mini simple for now and just gradually putting apps on it. Now I am ready to send the old ones in to get my cash ($230 for the 3rd gen 64G with Wifi + 3G and $200 for the iPad 2 with WiFi only), though I have a few weeks before I have to do so.

My new guys, fast, glitch-less and beautiful:

*This all may seem extravagant but it's important to emphasize that I make part of my living doing technology consultations, so I consider it my responsibility to have not only updated equipment, but also a backup device. It's also all accounted for at tax time. Maybe one of these could be on your holiday wish list!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Noms for the 2013 Edublog Awards

It's Edublog awards time! The 10th Annual Edublog awards are once again a reminder to the districts of the power of the Capitol, and how they must never rebel against their country again. Oh wait, that's The Hunger Games. They are on my mind this weekend for some reason. The Edublog awards are an effort to "promote and demonstrate the educational value of social media," particularly as some school districts block blogs and Twitter. Some dislike the competitive aspect, but personally I value the information shared during this time of year as bloggers share posts about the resources that inspire them, and the nominees list always reveals new educators worth following. It's also great to recognize the efforts of those who participate in social media as a labor of love, looking to share resources and experiences for no other reason than to help other educators and students. So, with only a little commentary, here are my noms.

Best individual blog- Mary Huston's Speech Adventures is an always thoughtful mix of reflections on research, technology and other issues in our field.

Best group blog- ASHAsphere continues to offer a wide variety of POVs related to speech and language and special education.

Best EdTech/Resource Sharing Blog- Learning in Hand not only offers a guide to implementing mobile technologies in education, but also is a great resource on doing so in a manner that fosters critical thinking.

Best teacher blog- Erin Klein's Kleinspiration provides firsthand experiences of creative applications of technology to classroom curriculum, as well as tutorials.

Most influential blog post of the year- Though always insightful, The Speech Dudes' There’s no such thing as a “free” app, so get over it and pony up! was a great explanation of why apps do and should cost money.

Best individual tweeter- Tara Roehl, last year's winner in this category, is a fantastic resource on social cognition and executive functioning.

Best twitter hashtag- #slpeeps, natch, continues to be a terrific community.

Best educational use of audio/visual/video/podcast- The A.T.TIPSCAST, produced by AT Trainer and author Christopher Bugaj, provides superbly clever takes on professional development and technology helpful for students with special needs. The recent episode on the "PD 2.0 Virus"- comparing the contagious nature of alternative and creative professional development to the zombie apocalypse- was simply brilliant.

Best open PD / unconference / webinar series- Edcamp!

Best mobile app- I love the versatility of Pic Collage- it has so many uses for language, social and executive functioning!

Well, that's it. If you have a blog and would like to add your own noms, here's how!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ASHA 2013 Update- from a Techie Point of View!

ASHA 2013 in Chicago is in the books. It was great traveling to one of my favorite cities for this event. McCormick Place is huge, seemingly bigger than I recalled from the last time ASHA was there. The halls all seemed longer, the escalators higher, and the men's bathrooms (that hadn't been converted into women's) further apart. Or maybe I am just older and it is harder for me to get around!

A few techie points:

It was terrific hanging out with many of the folks I have corresponded with on Twitter through the #slpeeps community, and meeting some I had never met IRL (in real life). On Wednesday we had some authentic Chicago-style pizza and observed that Windy City tradition of singing karaoke. Wait, that has nothing to do with Chicago. We did it anyway.

I spent an hour volunteering at the Yapp Guru booth in the extremely busy exhibit hall. Many visitors to the booth reported that the site is definitely something they have been looking for- a "Google for therapy apps." Visit the beta site here and use the Search feature to browse the initial offering of reviewed apps.

Giving credit where credit is due (especially since this is something I whined about two years ago), ASHA has made good steps in helpful infusion of technology into the Convention. First of all, their syncing within the Conference 411 app allowed us to import information saved from the Program Planner website, browse the program, add sessions to an agenda and view exhibitor locations. It wasn't perfect, entirely consistent, or consistently fast, but it was a great improvement and helped me navigate the Convention, which is certainly something. Additionally, WiFi was in my experience generally accessible in conference rooms, and free to boot!

In terms of sessions, I again enjoyed the "Divas" prevention featuring (this year) Bonnie Singer, Kerry Howland, Geraldine Wallach, Kathleen Whitmire, and Barbara Ehren: Supporting the Achievement of LLD Students Across Grades & Content Areas. This session always focuses on facilitating access to curriculum for LLD students through a strategic language-based focus. In one segment, they presented a unit that might be encountered in an 8th grade Health class (I've seen it, though not as intense as in this example) in which students needed to engage in tasks such as documenting a nutrition diary. Though I didn't want to jump into the session when suggestions were called for, as my own suggestion would have been entirely predictable, the topic made me think of Universal Design For Learning (UDL). Some of the abundance of paper in the unit, a difficulty for the presented student, could have been reduced using an app such as Tap & Track, which is how many real adults keep nutrition diaries. The app also offers a more visual and engaging approach to the learning goals of the unit. This is not a criticism of the session of course, just an associated idea- it was awesome as always.

My friend and colleague Tara Roehl did a terrific job presenting From iPad to iPlay: Utilizing Popular Apps to Engage Your Preschool-Middle School Clients. In this session, Tara explored how motivating game-based apps such as Bad Piggies can be used as a context to build executive function and social cognition by developing contextual activities around each app based in written/narrative language, gross motor and craft construction, among other strategies. You can see some examples on her Pinterest boards.

Sarah Ward packed 2 rooms with her Just Treatment Tools to Develop Executive Function Skills session. A few tech integration ideas I will be stealing borrowing from her include using the Reverse Charades app as a context to talk about situational awareness and the Space, Time, Objects, and People (STOP) associated with the words depicted. I had used this app before but had found myself a little stuck on how to help the kids to be more successful with the language (verbal, nonverbal, social) that was involved, and Sarah's was a great idea. Additionally, the Photosynth app can be repurposed to take 360ยบ panoramic photos and include students in the pano to help increase their awareness of the spaces within their classroom and their "path" to navigate them during times/tasks in the school day.

Thanks, Tara and Sarah for giving me permission to include these ideas.

My own session went well too. I think the idea of pairing picture books and apps is one of my favorites to explore. At heart, I'm a context guy. I was honored to be part of the offerings.

Until 2014 in Orlando, that's a wrap!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

PD Opportunities in Boston Area

Hi Folks,

Just wanted to let you know about a few workshops I am running in December and January in the Boston area through MassCUE.

(Click on links for more info/registration)

The iPad as a Social and Organizational Tool: Apps to Promote Social Cognition and Executive Functioning.

Tell Me a Story: iPad Apps for Digital Storytelling and Explanimation.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ASHA 2013 Presentation: Pairing MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives

It's the week before the Chicago ASHA Convention and a lot of us are feeling the buzz! I hope some of you will be there and will come by my session. First, the details:

Session Code: 1156
Title: Pairing MORE Picture Books & Apps to Contextually Address Language Objectives
Date: Thursday, November 14, 2013
Time: 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Location: McCormick Place Room: W196B
Session Format: Seminar 1-hour PDH(s): 1 Hrs

Abstract: Picture books historically are well-utilized tools to engage students in language comprehension/expression, and pair well with interactive apps with similar contexts. Revisiting a popular topic from ASHA 2012, this presentation describes the overlap between books and apps for various ages and the applicability of these visual tools toward intervention.

Speech-Language Pathology Topic Area: Language and Learning in School-Age Children and Adolescents
Instructional Level: Introductory (Assumes little or no familiarity with the literature and professional practice within the areas covered)
Learner Outcomes:
Learner Outcome 1: Identify language structures and contexts within picturebook text and illustrations
Learner Outcome 2: Evaluate apps for key features indicating applicability in language interventions Learner Outcome 3: Describe pairings between books and apps based on contextual overlap

Next, a teaser.  This topic is of great interest to me as I often used picture books and technology together as a school-based SLP, and still do in my work in private practice. People think of me as a techie, but my real passion is context. This session is essentially about evaluating contextual materials--books and apps--for rich content that can be used in an overlapping manner to target language objectives.  Basically, we are looking for this:

The contextual overlap of books that contain key language structures, elements or strategies, and apps that are Fairly Priced, Interactive, Visual, Educationally Relevant, and Speechie, or useful for targeting speech and language objectives.

Take Mo Willem's Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late. Big Willems fan here. This installment of the always-a-hit Pigeon series finds the Pigeon cajoling the reader to let him stay up past his bedtime. In the process of reading, the book can be used to target:
-Time concepts: What hour is late?
-Narrative structure: the story can be mapped as a complete episode, with successive attempts to solve a problem.
-Body language and emotions: the Pigeon is always expressive, from hopeful to furious to drowsy.
-Figurative language and reading intent: the Pigeon tries to fool us with moves such as, "I hear there's a good show about birds on TV tonight. Should be very educational." 

This wonderful, entertaining book can be paired with apps that have students interact with the context of bedtime.  There are a number of apps with this context (e.g. Pepi Bath Lite), but let's look at PBS Kids Daniel Tiger's Day and Night ($2.99). In this app (for about grades K-1), kids can navigate the PBS character through all the steps of getting ready for bed, in the process developing familiarity with a daily routine, sequencing skills, temporal and causal language, descriptive language, and rhyming (through the use of a song). The app has a whole separate set of routines for the morning, providing a context for a "same but different" discussion. 

For older students (who would "get" more of the nuances of Willems' book), you could consider using an open-ended app such as My Story ($3.99) to create a book about bedtime routines, or at a higher level, a book about other arguments for staying up late!

The session will be covering books and apps (not these ones, these were a preview) for kids from early-late elementary and into middle school, but is meant to be generalized to whatever books and apps you'd like to choose. Hope to see some of you on the 14th!