Speech and Language Pathologist
Norton Public Schools
What is the one thing you are really passionate about?
I am passionate about promoting and developing metacognition, communication and self-determination in ALL students. It is a growing skill set in these areas which is key to opening doors and broadening horizons that may otherwise remain closed or narrowed. Advances in technologies and development of new applications, have opened windows allowing educators new and exciting ways to support and enhance opportunity driven discovery and reflections driving the developmental journey toward self-determination. The more we can encourage students to think about their thinking, to self-assess, reflect and self-correct, the more successful students will be to follow a purposeful, self-determined path in school, in their work and in life.
What are you 2/3 favorite apps or tools?
I am a big fan of most apps and extensions offered through the Google Apps For Education (GAFE) suite. My experience with the google apps (such as google read and write) and iOS apps is that they help to level the playing field as well as show all students how to work smarter using a multi-modality approach to accessing curriculum & navigating the world. I am a fan of apps and online tools that support alternative access options (Google Read & Write, Speak It), mindfulness, self-regulation (GoNoodle), organization (Google Calendar, Google Drive, Skitch) and critical thinking (Unstuck).
Selection of specific apps should be highly individualized as what works for one person, may not work for another. Similarly, maintaining selectivity with ongoing inventory/purge measures is an important strategy that I recommend. What we may have a need for in one moment may no longer be the case in a matter of weeks or even days. Taking care to clean out/delete old or underutilized apps will only help to ensure that you are using the best, most up to date apps to meet your needs at any given time.
What is your current project?
I am currently working on several interesting projects including presenting at my district’s upcoming professional development day presenting on topics such as supporting executive function in the classroom and the how to’s of grant writing to support teachers in attaining and using the tools necessary to support both being effective and innovative in their teaching.
As the school year moves into full swing, I will be preparing to present at MassCUE in October with two of my colleagues on the topic of supporting students with special learning needs using technology. I will also be continuing my work with students using SWIVL robot to teach students how to apply variable of PVLEGS (poise, voice, lively, eye contact, gesture, speed) to verbal communication as well as to support and encourage metacognitive skills & reflection. Stay tuned for the MassCue conference in Spring 2017 to hear more about what we learn in our SWIVL experiences…
Lastly, the fall season will also include pairing up and working with an amazingly inspirational group of local educators to form# EdCampSouteasternMass which will be held at Norton Middle School on December 3, 2016.
For more information or to register for this exciting event, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/edcamp-southeastern-massachusetts-tickets-26136101784
How do you stay current on trends and new technology?
I keep an active PLN and open ear to any and all opportunities to learn. Often times, my younger resources are the best poised to clue me in on what is new or coming onto the ed tech scene. They are also the first to tell me what they need or what is missing from their learning tool box–which helps me to know what direction I should be moving in to grow my knowledge base in order to be supportive in innovative and inspiring ways.
I am fortunate to have access to a quarterly district technology newsletter that is published by our district’s director of technology, Karen Winsper. Karen consistently offers up the latest and greatest trends and inspires us to try new things and reach beyond our comfort zones. Having a building based tech support point person in my school is also a very helpful resource to keep my learning on going and relevant. He is always available to answer questions and demonstrate the “How to’s” of new technology or new tech related ideas.
I am a big fan or the EdCamp “unconference”approach to professional learning where you can create your own “a la cart” learning agenda for a day and truly leave with what you went looking for–or at least a good start to that along with an expanded network of motivated , innovative educators with similar interests.
Lastly, I follow blogs with particular interest or connection to communication. One of my favortites is Sean Sweeney’s blog on www.speechtechie.com 
About the Author: Kim Zajac is beginning her 4th year with the Norton Public Schools in Norton, MA. She is a certified, speech/language pathologist & audiologist working across various setting. She holds specialized certification in the area of Neuro-developmental Treatment with Pediatrics. With over 20 years experience working with individuals across a variety of settings, Kim specializes in creating programs and learning strategies to support families and students with a wide range of disabilities including the areas of communication, movement, cognition, verbal and non-verbal learning, executive function, social thinking, and social-emotional regulation. Kim is a member of the MassCUE and is co-chair for the SLP & SPED SIG.
For more information, or to see what else Kim is thinking about, follow her twitter handle: @SLP_NMS or visit her website at www.mrszajacslp.weebly.com