Using Speak for Yourself with Project Core: Non-Instructional Routines

Last month, we attended and exhibited at the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) conference in Orlando, Florida. One of the reasons that the ATIA conference is my favorite – besides the “work trip” to sunny Florida in the middle of the cold Northeastern winter – is that the exhibit hall hours and sessions are coordinated. This means that exhibitors are able to attend sessions when the exhibit hall is closed. It also means that attendees don’t have to miss sessions to visit the exhibit hall. It allows for longer, high quality booth conversations with professionals around the world who have a higher than average level of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) knowledge and experience. They also serve wine, beer, and appetizers in the exhibit hall which creates a very casual atmosphere. Its’s a different dynamic than any other conference when someone sets down their glass of wine to check out Speak for Yourself.

Anyway, one of the sessions I had the opportunity to attend in our “free time” was presented by Dr. Penny Hatch, Dr. Lori Geist, Dr. Karen Erickson, Dr. Claire Greer, and Lisa Erwin-Davidson about Project Core and Emergent Literacy¬†Instructional Routines. If you’re looking for a structured way to build literacy into your core vocabulary instruction, I definitely recommend checking out the Project Core website.

If you’re NOT looking for ways to build literacy into your core vocabulary instruction, let this post be a gentle nudge in that direction. Presume competence for your children or clients in communication and also in literacy. Expect that they will learn to read and write and provide the support to give them the opportunity.

Wait…if you’re going to stop reading because you don’t think your child is ready for literacy yet, please continue! There are things you can do, even if your child is an AAC beginner!

As I took notes and pictures of slides during the presentation, I made a note to myself that Speak for Yourself could easily be used with the Project Core goals. It could actually be used pretty easily with any AAC language system that has a strong core vocabulary. I believe that is the intention of the Project Core team. I LOVE when presentations can be easily converted to clinical applications!

There was a lot of information covered in the presentation, and everyone is busy, so here is my idea. I am going to write a post for the next five weeks (posted on Monday morning beginning February 27th, 2017) that will discuss one of the Project Core modules for emergent literacy and give some examples of how it can be used with the Speak for Yourself app. (If you’re using different but robust AAC, the information still applies.:) By the end of the 5 weeks, you’ll figure out where your learners are in terms of their literacy abilities. You can target those areas and then be ready to take the next steps!

For next week, let’s start with non-instructional routines!

Non-Instructional Routines

Speak for Yourself main screen with Project Core words open.

During the short hour and a half presentation, the presenters covered five emergent literacy instructional routines. Prior to that though, they discussed how they had guided support personnel in the school to start incorporating more core vocabulary modeling and overall AAC use by looking at non-instructional routines.

First, you may want to print a poster of the main screen with the Project Core words opened to use for aided language input opportunities.

Here’s an example of how you can get started during non-instructional routines at school (the presenters asked the teaching assistants in the school to do this):

  1. Choose a non-instructional routine (i.e. morning arrival, snack time, getting ready for lunch, lunch, packing up to go home, waiting for the bus…).
  2. Write down the things you typically say to the student during that time.
  3. Highlight the core words on the page.
  4. Looking at your list of what you usually say, are there any places where you could use core vocabulary instead of a fringe word?
  5. Hang that paper up in the area where that routine occurs.
  6. Have the device available and model the core words as you speak to the child during that routine.

Here are some examples of core vocabulary (using the Project Core words) that can be modeled. The Smarty Symbols used in Speak for Yourself accompany each core word in the examples below. This likely goes without saying, but just in case…If your students have more vocabulary opened on their devices, don’t remove words.

In the morning:

Good morning modeling template with core vocabulary using Smarty Symbols in Speak for Yourself.

At Snack Time:

Snack Time core vocabulary modeling template using Smarty Symbols in Speak for Yourself.

At the end of the day:

Time to go core vocabulary modeling template using Smarty Symbols in Speak for Yourself.

Thanks to the Project Core team for all of the work that went into creating a versatile resource to target literacy for students using AAC and sharing it for free online!

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