Published on February 23rd, 2013 | by Robin Parker2
Beyond Requesting: Let’s Chat with Peers
As we wrap up the February Strategy of the Month, we need to add strategies for helping AAC users talk/chat with peers. For some learners, it is more about providing access and opportunity while for others, it is more about providing a platform for the social awareness and exchange. However, for all learners who need assistance in ‘chatting’, there are many goals and strategies that will help.
Setting the Foundation for Social Exchanges with Peers
- Provide frequent opportunities for peers to communicate with each other- Build in many opportunities within all (or almost all) activities for generic small talk, gossiping, & chatting.
- Create activities that have’ built in’ communication with peers- develop activities that require communication with peers to make the activity work. Instead of having all communication directed at the adults/facilitators in the room, have the learners talk to peers to take steps in the activity. Set up joint action routines that require learners to take a role that is dependent on what a peer says or does.
- Use activities that have predictable structure- By developing activities with predictable and familiar structure, learners will know when and what to do when it is their turn. When peer-to-peer communication is part of the structure, all learners can be successful over time.
- Provide access to appropriate core word and small talk vocabulary- Make sure learners have quick access to appropriate vocabulary that allows for initiation and continuation of small talk.
Strategies for Teaching
This is where some of the strategies remain the same as with any language teaching, as well as some new strategies help specifically with social exchanges for peers.
- Aided Language Input
- Think Aloud Strategy
- Wait & Signal
- Visual Supports- use visual supports to delineate turns, roles, jobs, and times (gossip time, chat time, etc.). Make the social exchanges clear through visual supports if appropriate.
- Gestural Prompting- use a gesture directed at AAC display or learner to show it is their turn as this is often enough of a prompt and does not put the adult in the exchange the way a verbal prompt might.
- Peer Modeling/Teaching- Check out Come Play with Me by Howard Goldstein & Kathy Thiemann-Bourque (January 2012) for research support and ideas for teaching peers to facilitate social exchanges.
- Metalinguistic Feedback & Vocabulary- talk about small talk, gossiping, chatting. Give feedback specific to seeing and hearing these types of communication exchanges. The more we point out when we see ourselves and others engage in the ‘target behaviors’, the more we make the goals transparent in a meaningful way to learners.
|Activity||Possible Goals||Setting Foundation||Specific Targets|
|Show & Tell||To share information with peers
To ask questions from peers
To comment to peers
Daily opportunity (may even have 2 show & tell’s per day)
Peers do the commenting and questioning
|“cool”, “wow”, “tell us more”, “what else about it”, “where did you get it”, etc|
|Group Art Project||To comment to peers||Frequent opportunities to comment within the activity||“pretty”, “that’s beautiful”, ‘my favorite”, “what do you think”, “awesome”|
|To share information with peers (on steps of recipe)
To comment to peers
Frequent daily opportunities
|“delicious”, “not good”, “oh no”,|
|To participate small talk with peers
To complete ___ social communication exchanges with peers
|Frequent opportunities especially if at each transition between classroom/session activities calls for a ‘chat’ or ‘gossip’ time’
Adult facilitator could release ‘gossip’ right before activity ends.
|“hey”, “oh no”, “look”,”funny”, “again”, “I know”|
|To ask questions of peers
Built in peer communication
|“what do you think”, “hi”, “no way”,|
|Class Jobs (i.e., attendance, news, plant watering, class commenter/
|To provide information to peers
To comment to peers
|“hey”, “cool”, “love it”, “goes there”, “really”, “that’s all”|
Social communication makes up more than 50% of our communication. For AAC learners, we need to provide opportunities, access, and specific teaching to facilitate range and complexity of social interaction and communication skills.