Core Word Practice: Verbs

I don’t know about you, but I have so many students that are working on either adding vocabulary to their expressive repertoire or using a variety of phrase types. With that in mind, I made four sets of Boom cards that target common verbs that can be used in a variety of phrase types.

Over the past year, I’ve been working really hard to make sure I target a variety of phrase types in my activities. I went to a presentation by Dr. Binger and Dr. Kent Walsh at ATIA in 2019 about their Word by Word Language Intervention and it made a big impact on how I do therapy. I highly recommend reading their article, which can be found on ASHA. My main takeaway from their presentation was that we have AAC users who receptively understand a variety of phrase types, but can’t expressively use them. Why? It’s often because we’re NOT targeting them! Though I have never been a fan of and rarely have used carrier phrases, I definitely did activities that targeted the same phrase type over and over and over. Sound familiar? I now try to target 3-4 phrase types throughout a session and it has made a HUGE difference in student gains.

These Boom Cards don’t perfectly target 3-4 phrase types in each set, but they do have variety. You’ll primarily find subject + verb, verb + object, and verb + locative phrases. I’ve used these cards at the one word, two word, and three word level with many of my students. Each card has one gif depicting a specific action and a sound clip to play. (The sound clips have been a big hit!) Students can choose the correct verb from a field of 5 and practice saying the word or phrase on their AAC system. I’ve had some students really surprise me by expanding the phrase on their own or using a different relevant phrase!

Check out the freebie here. Or check out our discounted bundle here.

Let’s Talk About Verbs + ING with AAC

Do you have students who are working on syntax and morphology? Us too! We’re working on a line of resources to help our students become better communicators!

Are you not sure if your student should begin working on syntax and morphology? If your student is beginning to combine words, it’s time to start! As an SLP who works almost exclusively with students who use AAC, I’ve noticed that I tend to spend a lot of time focusing on vocabulary development and using simple two word phrases. But this can be really limiting for many of my students!

Check out the QUAD Profile to help you analyze your students’ current language abilities and to develop appropriate goals. Check out our post on the QUAD Profile here. Since I started using it, I feel that I have been much more purposeful in helping my students grow their language. I’m also seeing big language gains for many of my students by modeling and targeting different sentence structures and morphological endings.

Check out the first product in our line of virtual activities to help students learn to use appropriate syntax and morphology – Let’s Talk About ING with AAC. Many of our students use the Unity language system so we currently have the icon sequences for Unity 84 Sequenced embedded in the activity.

This product has three versions.

1. Read simple sentences with ING. (e.g. The girl is reading.).

2. Create simple noun +verbING phrases using a bank of icons. (e.g. girl reading)

3. Create simple noun + is verbING phrases using a bank of icons. (e.g. girl is reading)

Head to our Teachers Pay Teachers store to check it out! You can see a video preview of the product and how I use it with my students!

Are you using the QUAD Profile? You should be!!

Have you heard of the Quick AAC Developmental Profile or QUAD Profile before? If you haven’t, it’s a total game changer for AAC assessment.

I love to use the Communication Matrix for my initial AAC evaluations and for ongoing assessment for emergent communicators. But, once my students/ clients are at the language level on the Matrix (e.g. using two or more words), I need to look at other assessment tools to help develop appropriate goals. This is where I turn to the AAC Profile and the QUAD Profile.

The QUAD Profile looks at vocabulary, morphology, syntax, and function. It is a tool that allows you to analyze language samples and compare them to checklists. I try to keep my QUAD Profile near me for several sessions and I use the checklists to identify when I hear my students using certain vocabulary, sentence structures, grammar markers, or communication functions. I also write down the phrase or sentence used in the margins or on the notes page.

The vocabulary checklist has a list of high frequency words. To be honest, some of them are ones I don’t always remember to target so this is a nice reminder.

The morphology checklist is the one that always gets me! It looks at Brown’s morphemes such as plural and possessive s, present progressive, third person singular, common prepositions, etc. As I have begun targeting these with my AAC users, they’re language is growing so much!

The sentence types checklist looks at basic sentence structures and provides a nice reminder that there are many different phrase types at each two, three, four, etc. word level.

And last, the language functions checklist is similar to the Communication Matrix in that it looks at the function of the utterance.

Head over to the Speech Dudes to download the QUAD Profile. We can’t recommend it enough!

Virtual Taste Test with Core Vocabulary

Do you love to have taste or smell tests with your students/ children/ clients? We do! It’s one of our favorite in-person language activities to work on commenting! Over the past couple of months we’ve worked on finding a way to make this fun activity appropriate for virtual therapy sessions! Our students and their families have loved this activity so we’re making it available with a new product!

Many of our students use the Unity® symbols on an Accent device or with the LAMP application, so those are included in our product. I often use the PASS software from PRC to model on my computer during Zoom sessions. I’ve also modeled on my iPad for my students with the LAMP app or I’ve modeled using a PDF low tech version of Unity from the AAC Language Lab.

Here’s how our 30 minute sessions look when we use this product:

  1. Model and practice target core vocabulary words.
    • SLP, Teacher, or Caregiver models the target core vocabulary word.
    • Student practices the core vocabulary word on their AAC system or verbally!
    • Watch a GIF that illustrates the core vocabulary word! (SLP, Teacher, or Caregiver may model using the target core word in a simple phrase based on the GIF.
  2. After modeling and practicing the target core vocabulary, watch a YouTube taste test video. You’ll find links for silly taste test songs and videos of children trying different foods. Pause during the videos to practice making comments!
  3. The student may participate in a taste or smell test at home and practice commenting. OR you may play a game that directly relates to the video watched.

Check it out here on Teachers Pay Teachers!

And don’t forget to check out our doggie taste test on YouTube!

Letter of the Day Instruction and CVI

As we launch a series of products to support Enhanced Alphabet Knowledge (EAK) instruction for our students with complex communication needs, we’re eager to support our students with Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI)!

Last year I discovered that one of my students has CVI and at 16 had never received that diagnosis before. Once I began to collaborate with a teacher of the visually impaired (TVI), I realized that the likely reason she had never made progress in learning to read despite years of targeted IEP goals, was that we were not providing the right accommodations. We began to talk about the salient features of letters and use bubble words to emphasize that when letters are strung together, they form distinct words. I provided daily instruction for months while we were in person and twice weekly since we moved to virtual instruction. She is now reading some sight words, segmenting and blending to read CVC words, and reading simple sentences. The change has been incredible!

With her in mind, we have been working hard to customize instruction for all of our students with CVI with regards to Enhanced Alphabet Instruction (EAK) and reading. Our first step was to make sure we are using consistent language to describe the salient features of letters across the school. We created a list of salient features based on language used in Handwriting Without Tears since we also use that program at school.

We’ve uploaded a new resource to Teachers Pay Teachers for free that comes with a salient feature description chart for upper and lower case letters. We also put all of the uppercase letters in one document! You can copy and paste these letters into your own resources or print and use with a lightbox! Check out our favorite low cost lightbox here!

Letter of the Day Instructional Resources

We’re launching a series of products to support Enhanced Alphabet Knowledge (EAK) instruction for our students with complex communication needs. EAK and letter of the day instruction emphasizes identifying the letter name and sound, recognizing the letter in text, and producing the letter form.

As described in Jones et al., 2012 and Comprehensive Literacy for All, our materials move away from letter of the week instruction to focus on letter of the day instruction. There are several reasons to do this; though we think the most important for our population of students is the need for repetition and practice! If we only target one letter per week, it will take 26 weeks or until March in a typical school year before we can circle back to letters that were not acquired!

Many of our students have Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) and/ or use Alternative Augmentative Communication (AAC). With this in mind, we’ve included resources such as salient feature letter descriptions, tips for using AAC and alternative pencils, and tips for teaching inner voice.

We work with many Spanish speaking students and their families. While teaching virtually, we have been trying to find ways to make our teaching more inclusive so that these parents know what we’re doing in the lesson and how they can help their children. With that in mind, we’ll have an update to our lesson plan next week that includes instructions in Spanish for you to share with families.

We’ll continue to upload resources to support EAK instruction both virtually and in person!

This resource includes:

a sequence for instruction for each of the six cycles

salient feature description for each upper and lower case

articulation tips for letter sound production

writing tips for using alternative pencils

tips for teaching inner voice

tips for providing feedback

data sheets

an instructional script

a daily guide for each letter that includes basic keywords and customizable keywords for remembering letters and a visual form of the mouth for articulation of the letter sound

We’ve loved seeing some of our students start to get excited about learning the letter of the day! Last week, a parent reported that her daughter has been looking for the letter of the day long after the lesson is over. To mom’s surprise she has started phonetically spelling words to see if they have the letter of the day in them. Mom said she has never seen her daughter segment and blend words to phonetically spell them!

AAC at Home: Customizable Mask PowerPoint Book

As we begin to go back out into the world, it may be challenging to encourage children to wear a mask. There are many social stories already floating around and we are adding one more to the bunch.

Click on the picture below to download the book.

This book was made for you to modify as needed for the child in your life. The picture of the person is a placeholder for you to add a photo of the child, friends, family members, favorite musicians, or movie stars. The location pages can be easily changed to reflect places the child is most likely to travel to.

The animations in the PowerPoint are set to put a mask on each photo you add. When you play the Powerpoint, the mask animation is set to start on the first click. There are also Unity sequences for “put on” and “go”. Feel free to add your own or remove them as you see fit.

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AT at Home: Alternative Pencils & Greeting Card Apps

While there are many challenges posed by being stuck at home right now, one that hits especially hard is missing celebrations with family and friends. I have been using several greeting card apps to email and snail-mail my loved ones for birthdays, graduations, and baby showers. Card making is a great writing activity for any child and can be modified to include the use of alternative pencils. Below you will find a list of my favorite greeting card apps and some ideas for how to use a variety of alternative pencils.

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AAC at Home: Video Messaging Apps

There seem to be a million and one ways to keep in contact with friends and family floating around the internet right now. Marco Polo is one that I have been using for quick video messages to my loved ones. It is also a great resource for video messages that include AAC.

There are a few features in this app that make it a fun and easy way to communicate or use for video modeling with someone who is far away right now.

You can find Marco Polo on the App Store or Google Play.

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