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Sunday, September 27, 2015

3 Top Reasons to Adapt a Book

There are three basic ways in which to modify books: 
modification to the text
modifications to the pictures
modifications to the book itself

The first question to ask yourself is; Who are you adapting the book for? Which also answers the question; Why are you adapting the book?

Most importantly the student’s unique needs will determine what you want to do.  And I say “student” singular, because it is difficult to adapt a book for an entire class and have it meet every student’s unique needs; although there are often some basic modifications that will apply to any group of students that isn’t too heterogenous.

For example,
For a student with CVI  we enlarge text, use high contrast colors, minimize and simplify the content on any page, add tactile supports.  
For students with more impacted vision, we might be adapting with Braille.

For students who are not literate, we use symbols for comprehension (although not for literacy).
For students who need support for comprehension, we use symbol supports for vocabulary, simplify text structure, adding visual supports to illustrate story events.

For students who have motor difficulties and can’t easily turn pages independently, we add fluffers, laminate pages, insert heavy card stock or cardboard between copied pages (it is legal to make a copy of a book you have purchased in order to adapt it for a student who has difficulty accessing print).

So start by figuring out why you are adapting the book.   Is it because the student needs help to access print visually or linguistically,  because he needs symbol supports to respond,  or because he needs a way to physically interact with the book independently, etc.?
Remember, always take your cue from the student you are serving.  Each book modification may be very different.

Keep reading!  and keep on talking.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Where Do You Practice Core Words?

If you know me, or follow this blog, or have seen my TPT resources, you know that I focus a lot on teaching core vocabulary use - along with a healthy dose of appropriate, individualized fringe words - to AAC users.

Recently I found an author whose books just cried out for teaching core words.  Tracy Corderoy’s books, “NO!” “More!” and, “MINE!” just begged me to use them in teaching resources for core word users.

In the first two books, a hapless little rhino named “Archie” discovers new words - one at a time.  He starts out as a sweet, happy little rhino until he learns the word, “No!”  Then, he becomes the terror we know all toddlers to be when they discover that powerful word.  

Archie says, “No!” to everything - bedtime, bath time, end to playtime, and more.  Right up until the class gets cupcakes.  Oops.

Then left out on the playground because he said,  “No!” to going inside he gets soaked in the rain.  He’s a very unhappy little rhino.
He goes home and almost says “No!” to a big hug.  I won’t tell you what happens next.

In the next book he wants , ‘More!” of everything.  More toys, more food, more, more, more.  Invited to a costume party Archie’s costume is more of everything.  More streamers.  More glitter.  More over-the-top and much admired.  Until he has a hard time running and playing with his friends in his “more” big costume.  Again, I won’t tell the ending.

I’ve made interactive practice books to go with each of these 2 books, so students can use the core word to re-tell the story.  And, as always, I include a simple story frame for narrative practice, too.

I’m working on “Mine!” which uses a different character who, of course, does not want to share his favorite toy.  Stay tuned.

There are many opportunities to practice using core words throughout the day.  During home and school routines basic core words pop up often, and are best-used in these familiar routines and their scripts, which are predictable and comfortable for your child/student.

Adding this practice to story reading, play opportunities, and simulated ‘real-life’ experiences in structured settings provides the 200 opportunities per day emergent communicators need in order to learn to use their AAC systems.

How do you get your 200 opportunities each day?

More to come next week.  In the meantime, keep on talking!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hide and Seek Blog Hop - Who's in the Art Room?

Thirteen bloggers are hiding--hiding on different blogs and hiding in the school. They're here to show you that you can (and probably do) do therapy everywhere and that each locale has it's own benefits. For all their tips, hop from blog to blog. While you're there, jot down the author's blog/school location listed at the bottom of each post to enter into Rafflecopter. 

Find each of us both working and posting somewhere new!  This post is from Tami: 

Many of us get too comfortable in our little closets, offices, portables, or corners because we get to do our own thing with our much loved tools of trade. However, opportunities to enhance and improve speech and language skills are not isolated to our room or with those materials.  Therapy can happen ANYWHERE!  A wonderful opportunity is missed when we do not embrace this fact.  Therefore, I want to thank Kim from Activity Tailor for creating and hosting this fun blog hop to get us to think outside of our comfort zone and our little cubicle we call "the Speech Room".

Skills that can be addressed within the art room include:  basic concepts, academic vocabulary, compare and contrast, following directions, sequence, semantic features, functional communication via use of AAC, and social language and peer interactions. Here are some ways that you can encourage and enhance speech and language skills in the art room!  
FOLLOWING DIRECTIONS and SEQUENCING: Arts and crafts usually include steps to complete the creative task. While working with your students, break the art project up into smaller steps to address following directions.  Dependent upon the student’s needs, you can either keep them at one step simple directions (“Go get the white piece of paper”) to more complex multiple step directions (“Go get the large white piece of paper on the last table after you pick up your paints and brushes”).  After the completion of several steps, the student is able to tap into personal experience (from following your directions) to retell the multiple steps they took to complete the task. 
SEMANTIC FEATURES:  Breaking the item into its more basic components (parts, function, description, location, and category) can be completed for anything in your environment.  Students can practice this skill while holding onto the actual items such as art supplies or their art project (clay model, painting, drawing, etc...). This provides students with built in visual and tactile cues while giving meaning to the task.  This also provides the student with an opportunity to shine while they talk about the art project they created.
FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION and SOCIAL LANGUAGE: Arts and crafts require multiple supplies.  It provides for multiple opportunities to listen to and facilitate the use of functional communication and social language by having students work on complimenting each other, making requests for necessary materials to complete the task to their art teacher and peers, and asking each other questions related to the task.  All of this can be facilitated in this more natural setting and assists with long-term generalization and carryover.

Tami’s home base is TLC Talk Shop, but today she’s in the: ART ROOM! 
To enter the Hide and Seek Blog Hop raffle, collect the names of the participating blogs and where they are hiding and enter them here.

keep on talking!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

How Do You Accommodate Special Needs in Your Middle or High School Class?

I just wrote a guest post for TeachInspireChange about accommodations and modifications for students with special needs.  They are showing up more and more in general education classes.  And by Middle and High School these students struggle even harder to stay connected to the curriculum. 
For my top tips on making it work for them, check out the post, found here:  

If you're looking for more information for your classroom management tool kit for special needs students, check out my Guide to Curriculum Adaptation, Differentiated Instruction, and UDL
It's full of information, ideas, and planning points.

Thanks.  And, keep on talking.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

My 4 Top Ways to Use a Custom Die

I use custom-made dice in my interventions and resources a lot.  I think it adds an element of fun to what can sometimes be mundane or challenging activities.

One of my most popular free downloads in the Teachers Pay Teachers store is my free story elements die.  I suggest using it for story re-telling, for story telling (formulating), and even in history/Social Studies classes for historical events.

The basics of Who, What happened, When, Where, What did, Ending can be applied to almost any story you read and any historical event you've studied.  They're also most of what you need to create a good story.

You can also use just the Wh- questions and an interesting robust scene. Students have to answer a Wh question about the picture based on their roll of the die. 
Practice asking Wh- questions, too.

I also make a custom die for specific stories when there's a long sequence of things that happen that I can put on the faces of the die.

Phonological awareness tasks are also fun with custom dice.  Put out a simple CVC word and on each face of the die have a different task.  The student rolls the die and has to tell a word that rhymes, a word that begins with the same sound, or a word that ends with the same sound. Other task choices might be to make a different word by changing the initial sound, or the ending sound, or the vowel.  

There are lots of options for using custom made dice in speech therapy or class to spice up the tasks. Download this template and make your own!

Have fun, and - keep taking.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

4 Steps to the POWER of Communication - the course is LIVE!

I am so very pleased - and exhausted - to announce that my on-line interactive course to teach parents how to teach their children to communicate with AAC - is launched!
The course starts October 1 and contains 5 learning modules, complete with videos, handouts, planning guides and activity planners, additional tools and resources, as well as weekly teleconferences and on-line chats.

I am so excited to get this resource out there.  I have so many parents come to me asking what to do, where to start, how to teach their kids to communicate.

So, this is my answer.
Here is a link to the information and sign-up page:

If you are, or you know of, a parent dealing with this frustration, here is a course that can help.

Keep on talking.