Published on January 8th, 2013 | by Carole Zangari4
A Year of Core Vocabulary Words
As clinicians, we frequently ask ourselves how we can help AAC learners become fluent with their core vocabulary words. A big part of the answer can be summed up in a word: Focus. The more we focus on those words, the more we can impact learning.
There are lots of things competing for our attention, though, and sometimes we get distracted. Then it came to us: Visual supports work for SLP’s, too! When we saw another blogger post visual supports for sight word reading, we knew the idea had prAACtical application. So, we created 12 grids of core vocabulary words – one for each month of the year. Each grid has 12 cells labeled with core words. Plug in the AAC symbols that your client uses (e.g., PCS, SymbolStix, Unity, Pixons, etc), print, laminate, and keep them handy. Feel free to adapt the grids with other core words, if you wish, or do anything else that makes them more useful in your work.
- Use aided language input and model these words for the learners using their AAC systems.
- Elicit these 12 words in everyday routines.
- Develop practice activities, like hiding the symbols in a sensory tub or playing Lotto
- Look for them in songs and chants. Highlight them and pause expectantly to get the AAC learner to say them.
- Send them home to families so they can see what your focus is and extend the learning.
- Share them with other professionals on the team. The power behind a core vocabulary approach is that these words are as appropriate in speech as they are in PT, reading group, music therapy, or community-based instruction.
- Don’t leave the paraprofessionals out of the mix. If we nurture those relationships and build their skills over time, they can be our biggest allies. When you consider how much time they spend with our AAC friends, it’s clear that they have the potential for enormous impact.
- Give a set to the learner, too. Don’t we all do best when we know what is expected of us?
- Use the core words in writing. Jot some notes to the AAC learner once in awhile. As he/she reads the note, ask him/her to stop when they see a core word and say it out loud. Or, have them listen to you read it and they can stop you when they hear a core word. Then use the AAC system to say the core word aloud.
- Keep track of how often you hear the core words, and make your score sheet visible to everyone on a bulletin board or clip board. A little competition could spice things up for some AAC learners.
Hope you enjoy your ‘Year of Core Words.”