A few years ago, I heard Carole Zangari present on the Tell Me Program at a PALSS conference. I was watching live with a teacher and another SLP and we immediately wanted to get started! It took a couple of years until the program was available for purchase through Attainment Company, but it was worth the wait! This year, I’ve worked with several classrooms using this program and have been so impressed with the increase in students’ language and AAC use. Hang in there, this post is a bit on the longer side but has some great resources!
The program comprises of a ten day (two week) learning sequence revolving around one book. The books tend to be simple and familiar. Many have predictable pictures or text. Each two week sequence has:
- Target vocabulary words and a target letter. – We decided to do two target letters per book for contrast. (Check out this post by Jane Farrall where she talks about providing at least two and up to six “letters of the week” for alphabet learning.)
- Shared Writing lessons
- Shared Reading lessons
- Quack Quack Questions – Simple questions that can be answered using target or concept vocabulary.
- Dramatic play. – This has been a favorite component of ours and has encouraged carryover of target vocabulary into other contexts.
There are many other components to the program, but these are the ones that we have been most successful in implementing!
I saw a post on Facebook about how the amazing mom from the “Hold My Words” page, created a chart book to go along with the program. You can check out her video post here. She used a few pieces of poster board to create her chart book and it seems ideal for home schooling or individual sessions. However, using the program at school, we needed to create something that could be easily replicated for several classrooms. With that in mind, we created a visuals book that has the target words on the front and pages inside for the song, who poster, what poster, story map poster, letters of the week, and quack quack questions. For each of the eleven books in the program, we created a unique visuals book that we printed on tabloid paper, laminated, and bound. After the eleventh book, another teacher and I came up with a generic template for the book and visuals. You can download our template for the book and icons! You can also see the book and icons we made for the “I Went Walking” book. If people are interested, I’m happy to share the visuals from the other ten books! You can email me at email@example.com for access to the rest.
We also put together a dramatic play kit for every unit. We make sure to include accommodations for our switch users! This is a great time to work on language carry-over using the words of the week!
Let us know how you use the Tell Me Program in your classroom!
Earlier this year, I found out that my beloved Baby-Sitters Club books had been turned into graphic novels. I immediately thought of a few pre-teen girls I know that would love to read these books on their eye-gaze devices. In our previous post, we discuss using Office 365 on Accent Devices to display adapted PowerPoint books. This would also be possible using the PowerPoint App on the iPad.
Unfortunately, I didn’t quite realize how daunting it would be to adapt the entire chapter book. I promise that it will be available for anyone who can demonstrate proof of purchase for the book when I it is complete. Until that time, I thought I would provide some instructions for how to I adapt graphic novels (I have listed a few suggestions, provided by a very helpful Barnes & Noble employee, below).
Roller Girl El Deafo Amulet
Continue reading for step-by-step instructions for adapting graphic novels in PowerPoint.
PowerPoint can make adapting books a breeze. We recently took the same features we use when making books for the computer or iPad and created a book for an Accent 1400 with NuEye. The Accent 1400 allows the user to download Microsoft with PowerPoint 360. This opens up the endless activity possibilities available through PowerPoint.
AlphaOops! H is for Halloween is the first book we tried this with and it was a hit! Each slide contains 4 icons that the child can click to turn the page, hear audio of the page, go back, or exit the book.
Continue reading for a free template and step-by-step directions.
An important rule in implementing comprehensive literacy instruction is that children need to be presented with multiple opportunities to write for multiple purposes (click here to read a great post from Caroline on the 3 T’s of Writing). When I reflect on my own day, I can include communication through text message and social media as two of my main forms of written expression. I made a Facebook Status Writing Activity a few months ago, and wanted to explore text messaging apps for kids next. I downloaded Roo Kids and PlayKids Talk, but will only be sharing information about Roo Kids, due to the security features of PlayKids Talk preventing Amanda and I from trying it (PlayKids Talk uses a photo of the user’s parent to determine if they are old enough to use the app and apparently Amanda does not pass for over 21).
On Wednesday, one of the fabulous teachers we work with asked her student, “Let’s write about Father’s Day today. What do you want to write about your grandpa/uncle?” The student immediately responded “funny to play, little, love” on his Accent.
Hope this put a smile on your face at the end of a long week!
I love seeing pictures people have posted with the #SeeMeSeeMyAAC. Unfortunately, due to privacy protections for our students we have been unable to participate. The other day I was thinking that a lot of the adults and students in our school could benefit from seeing photos of students doing typical activities with their captured voices in the photo as well. Amanda and I created a bulletin board explaining the #. Click here and here to download the documents.
We then sent a template out to teachers and therapists asking them to post pictures of their students with a short blurb about what they were doing when the picture was taken.
Within the hour, one teacher added several pictures of her students giving presentations in class.
My favorite addition is a photo of a teacher and student having lunch after the student said “Should we lunch [Teacher’s name]?”.
Let us know if you decide to start a #SeeMeSeeMyAAC campaign at your school!
On Wednesday, Amanda and I received an email from a wonderful SLP we work with, sharing a few great AAC stories from her day. Hopefully they put a smile on your face as well.
“Student A was trying to get his behavior specialist to go away. I’ve insisted that … he use his device or screen shot of the device and they have been great about that. He told him to “leave” about 8 times but he couldn’t leave the room due to safety concerns so Student A stopped, looked at his device, and tried “away” 5 times . I guess we found a motivating request!!!???”
“Student B used two word combo independently again with “[SLPs name] help” while completing her morning journal. While in the kitchen she was not heard over the noise of the students. I had shown her how to “yell” when need be and she did to get [OTs name] attention.”
“[OTs name] and I had THE BEST co treat today I’ve ever had. We took Student C to the sensory room and tried swings, balls, snacks, videos, everything and he not only had a calmer body afterwards but was attending to the device during modeling from [OTs name] and I, as well as tracking if we drew his attention to the device and initiating using the device as well. Still working on finger isolation but all of that is huge improvement.”
I particularly love the story about a student yelling. A few of us have discussed teaching students how to raise their voice when no one is listening to them. I see it as a very important skill, especially when adults are not acknowledging what they are saying or brushing it off as unintentional. I think the next step will be learning how to whisper.
I recently discovered the Great Expectations program from the National Braille Press. The program is designed to bring
“… popular picture books to life using a multi-sensory approach — songs, tactile play, picture descriptions, body movement, engaged listening — all designed to promote active reading experiences for children with visual impairments.”
I have found that although some of the activities as specific to students with visual impairments (activities focused on reading braille and using cane), most of the resources on the website can be used for all children. After all, “songs, tactile play, picture descriptions, body movement, engaged listening” are used by effective teachers and therapists across disciplines.
The website has a list of featured books that they provide resources for.
Each title comes with a list of tips and activities you can use when teaching the text. You can also purchase the book in braille through the site. The resources for each book include descriptions of the pictures. This is great for students with visual impairments, but is also a good resource for teachers who are learning how to use the descriptive teaching model to instruct students using AAC.
Thanks to this website, I have fallen in love with the book “Dragons Love Tacos“.
If you have a copy of the book, I am happy to share my adapted, high contrast, PowerPoint version and my PowerPoint for the song. Just send me an email or message me through Facebook or Twitter with proof that you own the book.
I hope you enjoy this resource as much as I do.
In trying to become fluent in Unity 84 sequenced, I have failed to explore some of the other awesome features on the Accent. I share an office with a great SLP, who just showed me the books that are available on the Accent. There are several books to choose from and they allow the student to read the words on each page using Unity while they look at the book! It’s a great way for students to learn a new motor plan (or continue to practice an old one) and build literacy skills. Here is how you can access the books:
- Go to PAGES.
- Go to BOOKS
- Book options will open up. Choose one to read (We chose “What Do You Do?”). They mostly focus on different core words but there are some books that are more complex (e.g., Goldilocks). If you pick the book called “I Can Turn…” (the character changes colors throughout the book), you will see the relevant vocabulary for each page (“I can”, “turn”, colors).
- Turn the pages by hitting the blue “prev page” and “next page” buttons on the little book page that opens up. The icons that appear are the first ones in the sequences for the vocabulary on the page. The page will move around the screen so that you can access the vocabulary.Enjoy!
When working with a teacher in a classroom with AAC users, I often direct them to Gail Van Tatenhove’s resources on descriptive teaching (you can also find some great youtube videos modeling it). One of the classrooms I have been supporting in has 5, 5 year olds using high-tech. We have been doing shared reading every day after nap-time, and their teacher has been working on commenting on the text and describing what is happening on each page using their devices (with these supports). He is doing a great job using the supports and is beginning to model for the students without using them. The other day, he was having some difficulty coming up with things to model and one of his students said “DESCRIBE” on her Accent. He immediately began describing what was happening on the page. The timing was excellent and we all had a laugh.
Don’t you love it when the students remind you of what you are supposed to be doing!