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!

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