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Sunday, December 24, 2017

What 3 Kinds of Books Should You be Reading?

This is my last gift-giving post, and today I want to talk abut books.  I have always been a big fan of giving books to children as gifts.  They may not be quite as welcome as the latest video game or electronic toy, but I love instilling a love of reading - or being read to. 

The fact is that while we provide lots and lots of opportunities to interact with books to neurotypical students, we’re slower to provide those to students with complex communication needs.

We recognize 3 types of text; enrichment, transitional, and conventional.
Enrichment texts are books you read to students that are rich is both text and graphics. They develop background knowledge; which  can be crucial for these students who do not get the same richness of experiences as neurotypical students.  These books support learning concepts and are full of rich vocabulary and variety of sentence types.

These books should be used at home to build rich experiences and at school to build vocabulary and language form.  These readings should be interactive and the students should be engaged in learning about book structure, story structure, and specific contexts or topics.

We build language skills when we provide mediation and scaffolding during reading, and when we provide structured Before-During- and After language activities.

A Before activity activates background knowledge, preteaches concepts, and learn both how to use words and how to find them in the AAC system.

A During activity involves the same type of activity - with the same specific language target - while reading the book.  A purpose for reading should be set; i.e. let’s listen for the different types of animals the children see, or listen for the words the author uses to describe the place where the story takes place.

An After activity is the follow-up activity the students have now been primed for, where they practice the language skill being targeted.

It is crucial to build into this practice the ability to retell the story.  We can prime students for this by starting with simple sequences from routines - the steps of a daily living task, the order of events in a day.  Use visual cues to show first - next - last, or a numbered sequence, or symbols for story elements.

By providing students with practice opportunities to build retelling skills they gain confidence in telling stories to their friends, parents, dolls, stuffed animals, and pets.  This is the kind of opportunity that our students with CCN don’t normally get.  They don’t get practice with vocabulary and syntax, with sequencing events and describing.

If we can give them symbol supports for telling stories, we can increase their engagement in story reading and increase their opportunities to practice language skills.

Have a fun and safe holiday season and Winter break from school.  And remember, keep on talking …. and reading!

Musselwhite,C.R., Erickson,K., Zoilkowski,R. (2002 ). The Beginning Literacy Framework. Don Johnston Inc.

Smith, M. (2009). Vocabulary Instruction and Aided Communication. AAC by the Bay Conference. San Francisco

Kent-Walsh,J. & Binger,C. (2009) Addressing the communication demands of the classroom for beginning communicators and early language users. Practically Speaking: Language, Literacy, and Academic Development for Students with AAC Needs. Brookes Publishing.


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