Ed Camps are a great resource for professional development
A couple of days ago I attended my second Ed Camp in Lynnfield, MA. Once again I had a really nice time, had some great conversations and went home with a prize. I proposed 3 topics Auditory Processing (what difficulties might look like in the classroom and strategies that can be implemented), universal supports and importance of higher order language development.
The auditory processing session went well. Many of the teachers asked some stellar questions. I like to talk about auditory processing because it is one of the most asked about topics in schools. I hope I was able explain how auditory processing difficulties present in the classroom, what it might look like at different ages, that it might look like other things/importance of differential diagnosis, when Central Auditory Processing Disorders can be diagnosis and how they are diagnosed. This time I was prepared with links on general information and strategies that could benefit those suspected with auditory processing issues in the classroom. The room we were in had a noisy heater so it was the perfect example of background noise and how that might effect processing if the noise can’t be tuned out.
The universal supports session took a technology turn. Most of the teachers in the room were at the middle school level. While I was looking to talk about simple things like behavioral supports, procedures/expectations for lowering volume in common areas, gaining attention, developing some standards/expectations for listening, teaching vocabulary in a similar manner, consistently providing background……universal supports that target language skills, the group assumed the session focused on Universal Design. Which I came to learn is exactly what I meant by universal supports just taking a step further into technology. One woman was particularly knowledgeable and provided a lot of information on resources. The main thing she recommended was UDL toolkit which provides tons of free resources.
The people working with the older students were already using some of technology recommended and they went away with some good resources. What I took away from it was, technology can also be a universal support. Schools need to find out what works best for their students and stick with it. Using similar programs across curriculum instead of every subject/teacher using something different provides consistency.
What universal supports come down to, is that administration recognizing a problem (or just an area that could be improved), creating a universal support to help all students, including staff in development of universal support so they get buy in and consistent follow through and training to maintain the universal support
The Higher Order language session also went well. Listening to teachers talk, my suspicions were being confirmed. Kids are not as savvy as they use to be when it comes to understanding and using higher order language. Perhaps cultural shifts, over use of technology, lack of expectations and even the changes in education system can be blamed for this shift in language development. We discussed the gaps we are seeing in language development, learning of skills and problem solving. Speaking with someone who worked at private prep high school, that just opened a middle school, we thought it will be interesting to see what 9th graders higher older language looks like in three years. At that point, the private prep kids will mix with the new incoming 9th graders who were exposed to common core. Will there be a difference in their learning styles, overall use of language higher order language abilities, quality of work and problem solving? I might have to remember to follow up on that.
Everybody I meet at Ed Camp is so knowledgeable and some are very good speakers. I have to wonder why school districts spend so much on “educational consultants” when so much brain power and experience is at their fingertips. Ed Camps are a great way to spend the day. Perhaps we should consider doing an SLP Ed Camp.
*****I’m always looking for topics to talk about at Ed Camp that are speech and language related but relevant to teachers. If you have any ideas please pass them on.