Category: Literacy

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!

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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Literacy Presentation for Connections Beyond Sight and Sound

Today I presented a webinar for Connections Beyond Sight and Sound, the Maryland Deaf-Blind Project. A big thanks to them for including me in their webinars! Here is the powerpoint for my presentation.

In case you missed it, I discussed making reading experiences accessible with story boxes, language experiences books, and book modification ideas. I also talked about alphabet instruction, phonological/phonemic awareness, and vocabulary/ concept development. A reminder that my background is in speech-language pathology and many of my accommodations and activity ideas for children with low vision come from collaborating with a TVI.

The recorded session should be posted soon through CBSS. Here is the link for the original listing. I’ll try to update this post when there is a link for the recorded presentation!

AT at Home: OverDrive Read-Along

We think the Philadelphia Museum of Art captures parenting and working from home correctly with this meme.

We understand that one of the biggest challenges right now is keeping children occupied. If your local library uses OverDrive as a service for digital content, then you have access to books that provide narration.

These books can viewed on your laptop, tablet, or phone. Simply, log-in to your library’s website and search the catalog using the advanced search or filtered option.

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Age Appropriate Literature-Graphic Novels & Kindle

The current trend is to convert popular young adult literature into graphic novels. These can be a great resource when you are looking for age-appropriate and motivating literature for older readers. When using these in your virtual classroom or at home, Kindle Cloud and the Kindle App can be a helpful tool. Click the link below to view an Amazon list of our favorite titles.

https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/3RDRGQ3L7K4B8?ref_=wl_share

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AAC Story Time

First, I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy!  With schools closed, I’ve seen a lot of posts about AAC use at home, tele-therapy, resources for AAC users, etc.  I’m going to be doing some AAC tele-therapy and I am so excited to see my students and clients!  I am also going to be posting story time videos with AAC.  I’ll be reading books and modeling with an AAC device while reading.  My first book is one of my favorites, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie!” I know some of my clients like to watch YouTube videos of books and video games and hope some of them will follow along for some aided language stimulation.  You can watch the video here.

I”ll mostly be modeling on LAMP WFL, Unity, and WordPower 60 since that’s what most of my clients use.  But, feel free to send me an email and I am happy to model with a different system!

Many of my students have vision impairments and benefit from hands on literacy experiences.  Although, honestly anyone can benefit from a hands on experience when learning language 🙂 So for my first story, I also made a second video for parents about story boxes.  You can watch the video here. Story boxes are interactive literacy experiences using objects or items that correlate to the story.  You can learn more about story boxes from this article on the Paths to Literacy website.

I hope this is a helpful resource for everyone at home!

Top Five Favorites: Alphabet Toys

Many of the individuals I work with are emergent readers.  We work a lot on letters and letter sounds.  Teachers, parents, and I often use this section from the Bridge Rating Scale with our emergent readers to see what areas of alphabet and phonological/phonemic awareness we need to work on.

Here are the top five toys that I use the most when working on alphabet knowledge and some phonological/ phonemic awareness skills.

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