Goodbye, Summer! A Clinician Preps AAC Materials for the New School Year

August 8, 2016 by - 8 Comments

Goodbye, Summer! A Clinician Preps AAC Materials for the New School Year
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Here in the US, many SLPs who work in educational settings are getting ready to head back to school. In today’s post, we hear from Elizabeth Levy, an SLP at WasatchGoodbye, Summer! A Clinician Preps AAC Materials for the New School Year County School District in Utah. Elizabeth, who earned her Bachelors and Master’s degrees from Towson University in Maryland, worked in early intervention for several years before joining the team at Midway Elementary two years ago. She has always had a passion for working with children who are nonverbal and require AAC, and is a member of ASHA’s Special Interest Group 12 (AAC). She also serves as part of her district’s AT team. In this post, Elizabeth shares a little bit about how she used the summer to gear up for an initiative to provide additional AAC support for students with significant learning challenges.

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This year, with a new team, I have a great opportunity to go big and introduce more of the communication tools that I have learned and utilized in the past. My goal for this upcoming school year is to implement more core vocabulary and AAC into the severe classroom. Since I am a busy mom of two little girls under the age of three, I wanted to make sure that I maximized my free time during the summer to get all my school plans organized and ready for this new and exciting year. My summertime goals were to create a big core board for students with significant disabilities and create lesson plans, visual supports, and communication books for my students who are not yet using a device.

I began my planning process by selecting my core vocabulary for the year. I decided to focus on 72 words across nine months (eight (8) words a month). Since this is a new concept for most of the teachers and staff, I decided to limit the word selection so as not to overwhelm anyone.  I also chose words that I know my students will have access to in their communication books and devices. I then created my big core board using Boardmaker® and organized them according to Fitzgerald Key. I chose Boardmaker® symbols because most of my students are familiar with them. Using a local printing company, I printed the core board twice (size 45×40). One copy was glued to a hard board and the other one I cut into individual squares, laminated, and added Velcro to attach to the big core.  The words can be pulled off and used for sentence strips. My school year schedule comprises individual therapy sessions for each student and one group lesson per week in the classroom. My lesson plan incorporates the eight (8) core words into a pre-planned monthly theme.

Goodbye, Summer! A Clinician Preps AAC Materials for the New School Year

For visual support I decided to provide each teacher and paraprofessional with their own set of words that they could wear all day. I chose four basic words for the students to communicate basic needs (I have something to say, help, bathroom, and break) and then I added the 8 core words of the month. Those words will be changed each month. I printed, laminated, attached a binding ring, and then attached it to a retractable name tag holder (a great dollar store find-they come in a pack of three).

My professional mission is to ensure that all students have access to communication everywhere they go. My goal for this year is to enable my team to support this mission and provide our children with the best opportunity to pass their IEP goal and most importantly the ability to communicate their wants, needs, and thoughts.

You can download a copy of Elizabeth’s poster-sized core boards in PDF format and/or Boardmaker format.

Goodbye, Summer! A Clinician Preps AAC Materials for the New School Year

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This post was written by Carole Zangari

8 Comments

  • Mary Patty says:

    Love Elizabeth Levy’s oversized core board and plans to roll out the core vocabulary words throughout the year! Elizabeth mentioned pairing weekly core words with lesson plans and books. I seem to recall there was a resource on PrAACtically Speaking that paired books with core vocabulary words. Am I remembering correctly!

  • Jackie says:

    Did you use pre-packaged lesson plans or create or own?

    • Elizabeth says:

      Jackie, I’m creating my own lesson plans! Each month will have a theme. I tried to combine books, sensory/play, and cooking activities into my lessons.

  • Denise says:

    How do you attach the velcro so as to not cover the core words on the board?

    • Elizabeth Levy says:

      You can attach the Velcro at the corner of each core or you can use tack it glue which is clear glue that acts like a sticky note.

  • Rachelle says:

    Hi Elizabeth
    This is soo fabulous and timely! thank you so much for sharing your ideas and resource – its inspiring!

    I am wondering if you can share more information on which 8 words you introduced each time? and would you put up the whole entire board at the start but only focus on the 8 words that you introduced (then 16 the following month etc?)

    I am interested in using this in one of my early intervention classrooms as well as an elementary school class (grades 1-4) with students with CCN.

  • Karin stanley says:

    Love this idea! Would you consider putting your lessons that you created on TPT? I also have moderate – severe students as part of my caseload

  • Kellie says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your resources!!!

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