Strategy of the Month: Engagement Take-Aways

September 29, 2014 by - 5 Comments

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We’ve been musing about engagement this month. Here are some final lessons we’ve learned along the way.

  • “If you don’t believe in me, you won’t be a successful interventionist.”
  • “Put yourself in my shoes once in a while. Be aware of how much focus and effort it takes for me to cope with sensory input, breathe, swallow, and move so that you can plan activities at an appropriate level of difficulty.”
  • “Set a top priority for the lesson, and let me focus on that. It’s hard to sustain interest and motivation when you make things challenging on ALL fronts: cognitive, linguistic, motoric. Pick one area in which to challenge me and let’s dive in!”
  • “Make it worth my while to work hard. We all look for rewards and compensations that are proportionate to the effort expended. I’m no different than you in that respect.”
  • “Use my areas of interest when you plan instruction or create materials. Aren’t you more motivated to explore and try things when the topic is something you’re fascinated by? Me, too!”
  • “Provide me with age respectful activities and materials whenever possible. Although my developmental level may be much younger than my peers, I need to be involved in things that my same-age peers do. My mom might let me watch 2 hours of Thomas the Tank Engine videos, but with you I may want to do what other kids do. Expose me to that and help me grow. It’s a new kind of challenge and I’m up for it.”
  • “Respect my fight for dignity. Be the one who stands up for me and I will do my best for you.”


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This post was written by Carole Zangari


  • Natasha Richards says:

    Information makes a lot of sense……make me WANT to do what it is that I NEED to do.

  • Rachel says:

    I love these! I’m looking forward to learning more about AAC through your site. I’ve learned so much all ready.

  • Andrea says:

    Using age appropriate materials for older kids has been a challenge for me. I try really hard not to use really different-age toys and materials with my 4-6th graders, but sometimes puppets, wind up toys, and barnyard bingo are some of the most successful I’ve found. Do you have any additional suggestions for thinking about whether a material is age-appropriate?

    • Avatar photo Carole Zangari says:

      Andrea, I like Erin Sheldn’s term ‘age respectful’ because it really shows the intent of what we are trying to do (i.e., respect the chronological age of our learners). Here’s a post by her on books for older learners . It is definitely a challenge to find ways to engage older students without using preschool materials, but I do think that we are improving in that regard. I am working on a post with additional thoughts on this topic so stay tuned. 🙂

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