#LDAOrlando – Tuesday Roundup

I have to admit that I did not arrive until the 11:00am sessions, so unfortunately, I missed the keynote (which had me spectacularly bummed since I respect Dr. Fuchs’s work & I’ve only heard positive things about his talk this morning), and the first sessions this morning. Nonetheless, I feel that I have plenty to report from today, so fear not!

#LDAOrlando – Tuesday Roundup

I was going to do a session-by-session summary of what I saw today, but I think you’ll get the most “bang for your buck” by recommending short tips, sites, and other resources for you to do further learning. Many of their handouts are available through the #LDAOrlando App (if you are also an attendee). Below are my some of my favorite tools & takeaways:

  • A session by Georgia’s Assistive Technology Tools for Life Program (website, Twitter) recommended their App Finder, which allows individuals to search for apps by category, cost, and device type. This particularly supported their message of “end goal first,” which of course all good educators and assistive technologists should bear in mind. This means,

You should match tools for students’ needs, not try to match the student to the tech tool you have.

Square peg/round hole


  • I went to a session from Caitlin Parker at Landmark School (website, Twitter) about expressive language disorders. While the information was new to me, I found her session to be spectacularly well-organized and suitable for both general and special education teachers. It’s like she summarized 2.5 years of my graduate studies in SLP in an hour! She stressed the importance of:
  1. recognizing the interconnectedness between listening, reading, speaking, and writing. She shared a chart that showed listening and reading are receptive and speaking and writing are expressive. Even this is of course overly simplified, since that made me think of the Katts & Camhi chart that differentiates between difficulties with decoding/encoding and students with difficulties with language (i.e. listening and reading comprehension) (see chart on top left of the 2nd page).
  2. looking at relationships between tests (e.g. on a Neuropsychological Evaluation). For example, if you compare an expressive language test with a receptive language (pointing) test, and there’s a significant difference, then you know the student “has the words in their head,” it’s a matter of teaching strategies or tools to access those words (vs. a student whose vocabulary requires explicit instruction).
  3. analyzing students’ mistakes to provide personalized learning goals (in addition to a few class-wide goals). She pointed out that a simple spelling mistake may actually be rooted in a phonological processing difficulty where students mis-hear words, then encode them incorrectly. A spelling mistake can also be a semantic/word retrieval difficulty (she provided an example of someone using “device” for “advice;” this could be auditory in nature or a mistake rooted in mis-retrieval).

Which road to go down? Phonological processing? Encoding? Vocabulary instruction?

  • Chris Dendy shared this ADHD Iceberg at her session on executive functions and ADHD. While the poster is a little out of date (e.g. it uses the term ADD), I liked the focus on what’s hidden, as a way of gaining understanding, and hopefully empathy for all that these students have going on simultaneously. She also shared a variety of common struggles and a variety of common supports for students with ADHD and Executive Function difficulties, which were focused on compensations and environmental changes, which I appreciated, but I am more interested (see this article on Noodle about the Difference between Organizational Skills and Executive Functions)
  • At the end of the day, I went to a session on RTI and MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) with Mr. David Davis. He shared Florida’s resources for MTSS, which is another goldmine. He spoke about two key things that stuck with me. First, was the “myth of the average child” (recommending this Tedx talk by Todd Rose). My favorite quote of his was,

“If your curriculum is designed for a mythical average student, your curriculum isn’t designed for anyone.”

  •  In addition to highlighting the problems of being obsessed with an imaginary average, Mr. Davis also spoke about the fact that many states are doing RTI all wrong (couldn’t agree more). As I have also said, RTI is contingent on all teachers providing effective instruction at Tier 1 (where all students “live”). When this isn’t happening, the whole system is broken. Because Tier 1 is often not evidence-based, it then becomes a race to Tier 3 to actually get students the support they need. In that scenario, RTI isn’t effective for students with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD). Mr. Davis subscribes to a problem-solving based model where each phase isn’t about giving a label, but about giving support! If a technique or method works, everyone celebrates but progress is monitored, and if a technique or method does not work, then problem-solving continues and suggestions are based on that actual child (not a “one size fits all” model). This resounded very much with me, and now I would like to get more involved in RTI, but more than that, ultimately, I would like to get more involved in teacher training since that is the most essential component of RTI’s success.

If you attended #LDAOrlando, what did you learn? Please write in the comments.

Tomorrow, I look forward to Dr. Don Deshler’s Keynote about online learning and sessions about self-advocacy and hands-on learning, among others.

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