One of my very favorite things about sharing resources is hearing about the success you have when you adapt them to your caseloads. A few weeks ago, a team contacted me about how they are using my Core Word of the Week kits paired with Youtube and Secret Passwords with huge success. I was so excited that I asked them to write-up a post all about it! Take it away ladies!
We’re writing today as a team of special educators, a Speech and Language Pathologist and a teacher of students with Intellectual Disabilities (ID). We’re part of an amazing special education team that helps support students with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, and speech and language impairments. Ten of our students are nonverbal, and many of our other students have significantly delayed receptive and expressive language skills.
With so many language needs, we found that we just couldn’t keep up with the AAC needs. That’s when we were introduced to PODD (Pragmatically Organized Dynamic Display) books, created by Gayle Porter; these books changed our lives. PODD is a low-tech communication system that can easily be personalized for students. Navigation through the PODD begins to teach students the cause-and-effect process of Augmented and Alternative Communication while also supporting vocabulary and syntax growth. Click here for more information about PODD.
Our world at school now literally revolves around PODD, and we make it a point to get everyone involved in using the PODD books. We’ve held professional development for staff and parents, and we’ve led activities for whole regular education classroom to get peers involved, which makes communication so much more motivating. We currently utilize about 20 PODD books of varying levels that are personalized to each student. The students carry their PODD books everywhere, which gives them access to tons of visuals, no matter where they are in the school. We continue to use other forms of AAC as well, including an Accent, switches, iPad apps, and communication boards with vocabulary related to specific content. We have seen incredible growth in our students over the past year with the collaborative use of various communication supports. These successes, along with the positive feedback we were getting from staff, made us feel like it was time to amp up our vocabulary instruction.
Our ideas were inspired by several different sources. First, we talked about an awesome product downloaded from Teachers Pay Teachers, ¨Word of the Week, WOW¨, created by Jenna Rayburn. Her product lead us in a great direction, and this was exactly what we needed to help us teach core vocabulary using various forms of AAC, so the team was immediately on board.
One of the ID teachers then had the great idea of pairing the WOW with an idea she found called, Secret Password. Each teacher’s door always has a WOW that students need to either read verbally or using a switch when entering and exiting the classrooms.
We use each Word of the Week for 2 weeks and create a video for each word to show people how they can use the PODD to talk about the WOW. We’re creating these videos in hopes that staff members feel more comfortable navigating through the PODDs and have an idea of how they too can support vocabulary growth while building rapport with students. We send these videos out at the beginning of the two weeks to all staff in order to get the whole school involved. You can see all of the WoW videos here.
Pairing the Word of the Week and the Secret Password ideas has helped us, as a special education team, teach the vocabulary with fidelity. The word is posted at eye level for the kids, so they always see it when they’re coming and going. Many of them like hitting the switch attached to the door, so they are often the ones reminding us to use the WOW. Now that the entire team is on board, all of the teachers and paraprofessionals working with the kids get excited when they’re able to relate something we’re talking about to the WOW. A lot of times people are joking around, but it’s getting everyone to use the vocabulary every day; It’s encouraging people to make a big deal out of core vocabulary and communication, which is what we strive for everyday!
About the team:
My name is Dana Brown, and I am in my 3rd year working as a Speech and Language Pathologist in an elementary school in Wisconsin. Check out my Instagram therapy/resource ideas and for ways to incorporate technology into therapy: watch_your_language. Contact me at email@example.com if you want to chat about our PODD journey and/or learn how to implement our WOW/Secret Password.
My name is Sara Olsen, and this is my 9th year working as a special education teacher at an elementary school in Janesville. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much Sara and Dana! I just love this! You took the WOW and the idea of natural consequences and added the secret password as a way for teachers to add an extra intentional use of the word. The YouTube videos are such a great way to engage your staff! I can’t wait to see what other people are doing with the WoW! Please email me to share what’s happening at your school!
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