Three of my favourites – online presentations

Like many of us, I have been enjoying the number of online conference presentations that are now available, as one of the few positive outcomes from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

I have enjoyed so many of these presentations – but I just wanted to share three of my favourites – and explain why they are favourites!

Laura Valerio: Promoting Social Language Skills for an AAC User

AAC in the Cloud 2020

I watched this presentation shortly after the AAC in the Cloud conference. Laura is an engaging and bubbly presenter, who tackles a topic that many people shy away from, with lots of tips and practical ideas.

My absolute favourite part of her presentation was her idea of a topic circle for providing visual feedback to students about maintaining a topic.

I loved the concept of using this visual to give feedback around an area that is usually very hard to give feedback about – and I started thinking of other areas where we could use it. One of the things that we often need to do in literacy instruction is give student’s feedback about how coherent and cohesive (and on-topic) their writing is – and I could imagine using this topic circle for that. Similarly, we need to give them feedback in our discussions about comprehension when doing Anchor – Read – Apply.

Since watching Laura’s presentation, I have been using her topic circle in those other settings – and it has been so helpful. It is easy for us to use – and easy for students to understand. And provides a really helpful structure for helping students to understand when their information is a little off topic (yellow) or very off topic (red) – or right on topic (green).

Thanks Laura 🙂

Richard Cloudesley School: Embedding AAC Practices to Create an Aided Language Environment for All

Rett UK Conference 2020

Presented by Caroline Brown, Natalie Fry and Michelle Mann, who all work at Richard Cloudesley School in the UK, this presentation is a warts and all description of how they have worked to make their school increasingly communication accessible. It is a great watch for any other schools who are thinking of going on the same journey – and very affirming for those who have already started. I love how they share their obstacles as well as their successes – and provide many pointers for others on the same journey.

Tracey Campbell: Overcoming Barriers to AAC

Rett UK Conference 2020

My third in today’s line up is from Tracey Campbell, who works for Rett UK. Tracey is also the mother of a teenager with complex communication needs, an advocate and an ambassador. I’ve been lucky to know Tracey for a few years (and to have participated in an impromptu performance of the Sound of Music with her!) She is very knowledgeable about both AAC and Literacy, has completed the Graduate Certificate of Education (Special Education: Complex Communication Needs) and constantly pushes the rest of us to think!

There are many gems in Tracey’s presentation – but her explanation of “paying attention” was the best I’ve heard. I’ve made it up into a poster so I can share it as it deserves! I actually had someone last week tell me that they’d stopped learning to model because the student wasn’t paying attention – and I wished I’d had this ready as a poster then!

And while, like the rest of us, I’m really hoping that life can return to a more “normal” routine in the next 12 months, I’m also hope we continue to have these online global events where we can share, support and help each other learn more.


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