Wanted to share another word cloud! This is from one of my students using Puente 84. It’s pretty awesome to see a mixture of English and Spanish words! I looked at her “Top 10” data from one week and thought it was cool to see that two words made it into the top ten in both languages!
It’s exciting to see some of my students independently code-switching! It’s especially fun to see that she uses both languages in the same activity. For example I see her talking about the month and days of the week in both languages most likely during morning meeting. Way to go!
Finding age respectful reading material for students with disabilities can be difficult. As teachers and therapists, we often find ourselves making materials from scratch or adapting already existing materials. Illustrating these adapted books can be tricky. Especially when you are adapting works of fiction with characters that need to stay consistent page to page.
Do you pay to use stock photos?
Do you go with whatever google has to offer?
Do you accept that the main character may look different on every page?
I know that we have been very frustrated trying to adapt chapter books for our older students. Our solution has been using Bitstrips for Schools.
Wanted to share a favorite video of mine! I’m sure many of you have already seen it!
“Don’t leave anybody asleep in their wheelchair!” – This line really resonates with me. I find that often I see students in wheelchairs not participating as much as they should be!
Don’t forget that language is so much more than requesting! And so much more than a book of nouns!
“We want to READ.
We want to WRITE.
We want to SPEAK.
We HAVE the RIGHT.”
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about presuming competence. I wish I could reach every special educator, therapist, and teacher I work with (and beyond!) and get them to see the value and importance of presuming competence. It’s an uphill battle, but one that I won’t give up without a fight!
I thought I’d post some resources I’ve found helpful, insightful, or interesting!
Check out the Uncommon Sense blog. It has some great posts including two of my favorites about perception driving expectations and giving AAC users a large vocabulary so they can show their competence!
This resource by Dr. John Hussman is a must read.
And of course, Kate Ahern’s “I Believe” statement, which everyone working with our specials students should read!
What is presuming competence? Essentially, it means that if you’re not sure about a particular kid, for whatever reason, assume that the student can do more!
Douglas Biklen explained: “Assume that a child has intellectual ability, provide opportunities to be exposed to learning, assume the child wants to learn and assert him or herself in the world.” Check out his article on the subject here.
If you haven’t watched this video of Dr. Cheryl Jorgensen talking about presuming competence you should! It was well worth the 30 minutes! These are my favorite lines:
“Presuming competence of every student is the least dangerous assumption that I can make.”
“I don’t think it is just a matter of having the right supports, I think that the core belief of presuming competence is the foundation. It’s the foundation on which other things are certainly built.”
This is the statement that resonated most with me. At school and at conferences, I often hear about providing the right supports to students. As an AT Specialist, I’m often lobbying to get students the correct supports including AAC devices. But, if educators, administrators, therapists, classroom aides, parents, etc. don’t presume competence these supports are likely not going to be used to their fullest capacity. We must have a foundation of presuming competence in order utilize those supports in the best way!
I love the phrase “presume competence!” I hear it all the time. I use it all the time. What’s interesting is that I just don’t see it very much!
If you’ve been to any conferences or trainings lately, I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase too. It’s all over special education blogs, AAC facebook groups, etc. But what strikes me as interesting is that even with so many people yelling “PRESUME COMPETENCE!!” there are still so many more who aren’t. And that makes me sad! And mad!
I know it’s not always easy when you’re not getting the response you hoped for or you don’t get a response at all. But please don’t give up on these kids! It just means you haven’t found the right way to teach them yet or unlock their potential. As an AT Specialist, I often read previous reports when I have a student to screen. I often read recommendations for a student to use a Big Mack until he learns cause and effect or an 8 cell so as not to overwhelm her. Then when the student is not using those devices, they are abandoned and I hear “well nothing works.” Give your students a chance! If you give them access to more language, model it, and have high expectations… I bet you are going to be surprised!
Each week, the older students in our school read an adapted news article. When I started working with some of these teachers, I quickly realized that the article was not accessible for all students. Most of the teachers are still learning Classroom Suite and needed additional supports to be able to create materials every week for their students. In order to support these teachers, I created a template and how-to guide to make these switch accessible articles. (more…)
This week one of our students discovered the word “hide” on his Accent. The classroom teacher and I immediately hid. This led to several games of hide and seek. The game created numerous opportunities to model new phrases.
“where are you?”
“I see you”
“Where did you go?”
I have a feeling hide and seek is going to be very popular in that classroom for the next few days!
Have you heard about CoreScanner™! We LOVE it! It is a vocabulary system designed for switch scanning based on the Words for Life™ vocabulary. We have several students who had never used two switches to scan before trying the Accent 1000 or Accent 1400 with CoreScanner™. After an initial model with the system, 5 out of 6 students we tried it with were scanning to speak within the first 30 minute session using the Cornerstones vocabulary.
Check out the CoreScanner™ video that PRC created to demonstrate the system.
My favorite part about CoreScanner™ is that it allows users to gradually increase vocabulary while maintaining consistent motor plans. At the Cornerstones level, users select words from a field of 8 using linear scanning. At the Pathway level, users use block scanning to select words from 9 word blocks with a total of 84 locations. At the JAM and Blast levels, users have access to word families and the ability to add custom vocabulary.
So far, all of my students have used two switches at either the head or with their hands to access CoreScanner™. You should definitely check it out and consider for students who need switches to access AAC systems!
This year I was lucky enough to share some of my experiences at Closing the Gap. My partner, Nicole VanderZouwen, and I spoke about getting started with the AAC evaluation process. We spoke at length about what types of systems we consider and our experience with adapting systems based on access. Check out our presentation here!
One of the follow up questions we received was “do you have a specific form or process you use to get started?” We do! And we’ve been refining our process for the past year, though I still think we’re not all the way there yet! You can download our form here. We also created a document to the AT Referral Process for team members to reference.