Thursday, June 19, 2014

The teacher writes...

Monday mornings are a great time to report back on the weekend. For the most part the students are using pre-set phrases from their conversation pages. These include 'I think' statements, 'feelings' and activity pages created from parents lists of activities the students like to do outside of school.
The challenge now is to make this an interactive/reciprocal conversation.

While creating statements of three or more sentences is now becoming natural for the students; responding to their peers, asking questions or making comments is still heavily modeled.

The class teacher will respond using phrases from the students books. This models how the students can answer appropriately. We are working on this first comment stage before encouraging further responses.

Even this first stage of commenting on a phrase from another student is a challenge. This is understandable as in the past most communication with our students has been questions directed at them, requiring the simplest of yes/no comments or choice making. With such a limited expressive vocabulary they have been unable to continue a conversation beyond that initial response.

The increase in vocabulary and interactions they are now provided with via their communication book and/or device is opening up their choices and developing their expressive vocab. I am interested to see how they begin to respond to interactions over the coming months as we decrease the modeling and increase the number of interactions within the conversation!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


 One of the first activiites was to watch a video and see if they could figure what conversation page in their system would be appropriate to act that conversation.  On the spot coaching allows the facilitator or "Coach" to answer questions on the fly in the midst of a lesson.  This provides instruction to everyone in the room. Eliminates the need for unnecessary meetings and clears up instructional issues immediately.   While not always appropriate it can be a time efficient method to provide on the spot modeling.

Video Monitoring is another method I used within this classroom to help monitor progress from a distance. The teacher in the classroom created a vimeo account which is a video storage area. It has a free membership with limited storage space or a paid membership for larger storage space.  All videos can remain private and password protected.   Sharing videos of class activities so that I can see what is happening in the classroom from a distance allows for quick feedback.  The teacher can use the account to ask student specific questions and/or lesson questions or show off her good work!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Modeling in the Classroom or at Home

Modeling with the classroom

Scripting can be used to teach the" Language of Teaching AAC" in the classroom.  Scripting helps staff such as resource room staff, paraprofessionals and parents know how to introduce, model and communicate with students. The concept or idea is that rather than provide pieces of communication such simple choice boards related to topics the students or children are provided with a comprehensive communication system.  Addressing Conversation Language and Literacy.  Depending on the scenario and availability might depend upon if you use light tech communication books, the iPad or higher end devices.   Starting from day 1 children are expected to communicate and everyone is expected to use the books.  The example below is how lessons are scripted to introduce language, literacy and other curriculum instruction.  All instructional lessons are taught in this fashion including communication/social lessons, curriculum lessons, math and literacy lessons. Scripting is vital to the success and use of any AAC system where the partners are new or unfamiliar with the students system. The Script below is based upon the Dynamic Communication Book( ages 10+) for Tobii & Boardmaker ( soon for GoTalk Now for iPad )  the C.L.A.P for Go Talk Now on the iPad Tobii & Boardmaker ( ages 3-10).

There are two parts to scripting:
1.Introducing the lesson, page, event:
How to use the system, what to say, and what to do.
 Say: "Were are going to start at the start page."   
 Do: Point to the START page.
 Say:  "I are going to say each of the choices out loud. I want you to look and listen first. 
 Do : Point to or pull off each symbol and say it out loud... 
Lead Say:  "Now it is time for you to make your choice.  Use your best yes to tell us what you want to say." Do: Pull off each symbol and pause allowing students time to tell you what they want.
2.Responding to the student
What do you do when the student makes a selection.  What do you say?
What do you say when the student makes an appropriate selection.
Reinforce their response by responding to the student "Hi, well Hello Amanda!"
What if it is something inappropriate?  "Bye, Well we are just starting to talk that is silly!" Do:  Point to the different hello choices as you say." Look here there are many ways that you can say hello to someone.  Pull off and say choices.  "Let's try it again.  Hello Amanda!  Do: pause and allow student to respond.
What if the student is still struggling?  Model the appropriate response and move on.

This instruction is a form of Responsive Teaching.Responsive teaching is the idea or concept of any response given by a student is viewed as teaching opportunity.  As a teacher you are never looking for that right and wrong answer but rather how to move the child to the next level in learning. In other  words, your response is always positive but informative to the student so next time he might make the correct selection. In the class all teaching staff including paraprofessionals  learned along with the students.  In this classroom children were given 6 weeks to use the communication books and focus on conversation first this was unique in that everyone was learning about communication.  If  a student appears to not understand the system or is overwhelmed then it is time to modify the system.  If everyone is new to the system I suggest 6 weeks and then modify.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

You don’t need a yes and no to communicate.

For the students in this classroom  finding a” yes and no” signal that was consistent proved to be difficult and almost impossible for  the children. Movements and efforts were too laborious and often took away from valuable learning and communication time.  For students in this classroom, the student’s “best yes” was used as a means for them to navigate their communication system.  Each student had their own unique yes and in some instances students had more than one way to say yes.  For some students we asked them how they were going to say yes and used that method in communication activities.  For other students we used positive movements, eye contact to shape their “yes” response.  Stay tuned for video of the system being used in the classroom!

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Friday, December 3, 2010

What if we gave all nonverbal students a communication system? Shouldn’t it just be protocol?

Watch Classroom Modeling Classroom ModelingClassroom Modeling

That does not mean a Step by Step, not a Big Mac, not a Choice Board, not a communication board with 8 messages on it. While important tools they alone do not meet the needs of nonspeaking students. A system that addresses literacy skills, social skills and linguistic skills and teaches students an organized language system should be the protocol for any nonspeaking student.  This very notion become the driving force behind to teach communication to novice instructors.   A light tech communication book, called "The Communication Book" was used by  all of the students regardless of what perceived cognitive ability was or symbolic understanding. Scripting and instructional lessons centered around the communication book were a large part of this program.
More insights and resources from the Communican Classroom to come....

An Integrated Model of Communication Instruction was used to plan the educational and communication program for students.  

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(ASHA Position Statement on AAC) 
United States Society for Augmentative Alternative Communication  USSAAC