ISAAC 2012, Day 2: AAC Goes to Preschool
•Language and literacy learning happen all day long.
•Children learning AAC need high-quality instruction to learn and use basic vocabulary.
•Children learning AAC need frequent opportunities for learning and practice. They need dozens of carefully planned opportunities to use their new words each day.
•The focus is on core words which are infused in all learning activities.
•Literacy activities can be the basis for core language teaching. Our example uses repeated reading of trade books. We focus on each book for 2 weeks, with a 10-day sequence that repeats with each new book. “Repetition with variety.” (We ‘heard’ you, Drs. Erikson and Koppenhaver!)
Our purpose in sharing the curriculum we developed was to provide a framework that can participants can replicate with their own books and vocabulary sets. We talked about several characteristics that are important in designing this type of curriculum. First, Lori and I wanted to maintain a focus on core vocabulary with a distribution across word classes. We were particularly interested in supporting the development of pronouns, descriptors, function words, locatives, and verbs. Teachers and SLPs have no difficulty teaching activity-specific nouns, like bubbles or paint or train. Teaching words like get, here, and it is where they may need some guidance.
Another critical feature is the provision of frequent opportunities for practice in preschools. It’s important to develop activities that are appropriate for children of different ability levels. The activity needs to work no matter whether the child learns quickly or slowly, and whether he moves at lightning speed or hardly at all.
Similarly, the curriculum should accommodate a wide range of AAC tools and strategies. There should be a way to include shared classroom communication devices that have limited vocabulary, high tech SGDs, mobile devices with AAC apps ranging from simple to complex, and all sorts of no-tech AAC.
We very much wanted to include both group and individual activities, as these young children have to learn the skills to participate in both. We also suggested using literacy activities, like shared reading and predictable chart writing, as the context for language instruction.
Finally, we talked about inviting families into the process by keeping them informed of core language targets, building their awareness of key language facilitation strategies, and encouraging home practice.
It was a pleasure to meet so many dedicated and talented professionals working with little ones who are learning AAC. I hope that sharing some of the lessons we learned was helpful to those who attended.
I believe that our handout from that presentation will be available on the ISAAC website. If not, I will share the link here. A special thanks to my friend, colleague, and co-developer of the curriculum we shared, Lori Wise.
Filed under: PrAACtical Thinking
This post was written by Carole Zangari