Boosting AAC Implementation in the Classroom: 6 Things to Try
Classrooms are busy places, and sometimes the AAC gets lost in the hustle and bustle. If you’re interested in boosting AAC use during the school day, here are some things to try.
- Co-teach or teach a lesson: Think it’s easy to model AAC and elicit it at the same time you’re providing whole class or small group instruction? Try it. Better yet, make teaching a co-teaching a lesson in the classroom part of your regular service delivery schedule. It’s scary at first, but hang in there. You’ll gain valuable information about what it takes to make AAC successful under real-world conditions, and gain credibility with the rest of the team.
- Offer support: “What can I do to make it easier for classroom staff to implement the AAC strategies?” “Ms. Aide, how can I help you use the device more when you talk to Shayna?”
- Make the data available to everyone on the team: If you’re using an SGD or an AAC app, use the history and data collection features to gather information that you can share with the team. Making the data visible to everyone keeps us all accountable. Yes, it’s a two-sided coin. Honestly, there have been times where I cringed when graphing the data, but there is no doubt that holding myself accountable made for a better student outcome in the end.
- Recognize effort and achievement: It’s no easy thing to change our communication habits and that’s what needs to happen both to increase our use of aided language input and create more communication opportunities. Want to inspire others to reach a little further? Make it a habit to acknowledge the efforts that others are making and celebrate those successes.
- Model: When we adults use the AAC frequently, kids are likely to follow suit. Make it a goal to grow your skills in modeling AAC (aided language input) and actually doing it whenever possible. If it is important enough that you slow down and do this, you’ll be setting a great model for classroom staff, peers, and the target student. Conversely, if we can’t be bothered to use AAC when we speak to the learner, why would anyone else make the effort?
- Use a planning tool to help fill the gaps: AAC learners need a great deal of practice and planned opportunities for use of their AAC systems. Until they become more fluent in using their communication aids, it is helpful to plan out specific times during the day when AAC use is expected and supported. Tools like this Activity-Objective Matrix can help everyone stay on track with AAC implementation. They are easy to make, but you can download a packet of PrAACtical AAC versions here.
Do you have tried-and-true strategies for boosting AAC use in the classroom? We’d love to hear about them.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari