Sunday, August 18, 2019

Creating Symbols for Students with Visual Impairments

I've posted before about some of the ways I adapt, create, and modify symbols for my students with visual impairments. I am always looking for ways to increase access and opportunities for communication.

Tactile Symbols: Work well for students who are totally blind to have a physical object to represent meaning and well as students with visual impairment (can be made high contrast). All of these objects came from Party City. The trick is to be consistent with the objects you use to represent words.


Core and Important Words

High Contrast Symbols: Excellent for working with students with low vision. I like to use the Communication Template 4 grid from Boardmaker due to the large size of the symbols. High contrast PCS symbols are included in Boardmaker Online's subscription at no extra charge. The downside is that the symbols suck up a lot of ink making them expensive to create.

To make the communication binder I inserted yellow paper into sheet protectors to contrast the black background of the symbols and put them in a 5x7 binder.

I made these particular symbols bilingual and sent a binder home with the student as well since she is bilingual and her family only speaks Spanish.

A much cheaper option for creating symbols is to use the black and white option in Boardmaker Online and print the symbols off on high contrast or brightly colored paper or card stock. This is ideal when creating  symbols that will not get a lot of use. An example of such symbols would be this set I created to go with News-2-You's article on Apollo 11. This method also works well for creating worksheets.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

AAC Activity Binder for APE

Saltillo Chat Corner, the free materials section of the Saltillo website has a series of new activities called Active with AAC. They have come up with lots of activities to get kids moving and encourage hands on learning through activities such as an obstacle course and scavenger hunt. I printed out each lesson plan and combined them with other AAC adapted games that encourage movement such as Simon Says I also included activities from AAC Language Lab.

Lesson Plan from Saltillo Chat Editor with words to model and their location

Fridge vocabulary to add to low tech AAC boards or books

Simon Says using Boardmaker symbols from Speaking of Speech

Scavenger Hunt an AAC activity from AAC Language Lab written with LessonPix

Smart Charts for activities. Love, love, love that PRC and Saltillo have teamed up. AAC Language Lab now offers Smart Charts in both Symbol Stix (Nova Chat and Touch Chat) and Pixon (LAMP and Unity). Smart Charts show AAC communicators and families, teachers, and staff where to find the symbols presented in the lessons on AAC devices. I gave this binder to the Adaptive PE teacher. What a fun way to incorporate more AAC into PE.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Food: The Love Language of Middle School

Last Friday I started my 8th year as a middle school SLP. If there is one thing I have learned it is that food is the way to a middle schooler's heart. Knowing this, I often address the standards with theme based lessons related to food. We celebrate lots of wacky days and holidays throughout the year. For example, who knew there was a National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day? We celebrate it by reading about Willie Amos and then compare and contrast his story to that of Mrs. Fields Ruth Wakefield.

I also incorporate food related to adapted curriculum such as this edible depiction of the grassland biome, a Unique Learning topic from last October. This tasty snack was a supplement to a PowerPoint with pictures and videos for a group speech lesson (see previous post from October). 

Using food related articles has been a great way to improve the listening comprehension skills of students who may be reluctant readers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The Race to Space

July 20th marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's moon landing and Neil Armstrong's first walk on the moon.  This past spring my students and I studied earth and space in a duo of lessons that aligned with Unique Learning.

We started out with a group speech lesson called "Exploring Space" taught to all students as our lesson of the week.

We dug deeper with some of our older students by studying the solar system.

Each lesson was paired with a video bringing the concepts of space and space travel to life.

The kids loved playing with this $3 space felt board from the Dollar Spot at Target. Each student got to tell us which piece he or she wanted to put on the board using AAC devices.

Sentence strips created with Saltillo Chat Editor provided a model for students in need of extra support to form sentences.

The final piece was letting the kids take turns launching a rocket. This was a very motivating activity and once again provided an opportunity for not just turn-taking but also asking and answering questions (i.e. "Can I have a turn?" "Do you want a turn?").

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Playing Games in Speech Therapy

Games are a great avenue for incorporating core words. We played a lot of games this year with students in ID classes.

Our students loved playing core word Bingo using the monthly core word lists from PrAACtical AAC.

We played many different variations over the year including this one which used a giant foam die from the Dollar Tree instead of traditional calling cards. This ended up being great for turn-taking.

One game that was a huge hit this year was cornhole. I got the idea from this blog post: When Materials Aren't Effective in AAC Teaching

Both words and words in sentences were incorporated

If you have limited space in your speech room try this mini table top version 
Have fun!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Summer Speech!

I don't work in the summer (at least not at a paid job) but sometimes I have kids going to Extended School Year (ESY) and I am responsible for providing all the lesson plans and materials for them. This year I decided to make summer packets for all the kids in our ID program.

I found many free resources to reinforce AAC use at Saltillo Chat Corner.

I downloaded the Summer months of Year of Core from the Praactical AAC website.I made storyboards and questions to accompany simple leveled readers from Scholastic Teachables.

Finally, I downloaded the articles from News2You so my students could read about summer holidays. 

We are ready for summer!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Getting Data from Flashcards Beyond Plus and Minus

Like many SLPs I use flashcards, especially in my social skills group. One of the problems I have always had with flashcards is how to get permanent product data, especially when working with a large group. I've used data sheets and Post-Its but what I really wanted to track how my kids were doing over time. This led me to create worksheets to go with my Flashcards such as this Handling Difficult Situations deck from Super Duper.

The worksheets have worked well for the kids too. It gives them a place to organize their thoughts and make sure they have all the components for a complete answer.

One of my co-teacher uses a note card approach by having the kids write their answers on a note card. This can work well too.