Let me count the ways that I have tried and failed to get classroom carryover of AAC going for my students. It’s mostly a struggle with staff buy-in for AAC. Emails, lunch and learns, modeling… the list goes on. One thing I know for sure is, teachers and classroom aides have about 10 thousand things going on to manage and figuring out how to help them add modeling AAC is just not usually at the top of their list. Today, let me tell you how I’ve found the best route into a classroom after 10 years of trial and error as a school-based SLP.
At the bottom of this page, download the Classroom Carryover for AAC Kit to snag a free AAC book list, free visual recipe for a core vocabulary word, and check our a list of options for classroom word of the week programming.
If you’re not familiar with AAC try these articles to get some background information first. What Are Core Word and How Do I Implement Them?, How SLPs Can Get Free AAC Apps and 10 Ways to Implement Core Word of the Week
3 Ways to Improve Classroom Carryover of AAC
- Picture Book Reading
- Core Vocabulary Word of the Week
- Recipes/Cooking Activities
Picture Book Reading to Improve Classroom Carryover of AAC
Let’s be honest. All teachers feel really strong about the importance of books. They are all also really comfortable with utilizing books for instructional purposes. This gives us the perfect opportunity to pair a strength from a teacher with the needs of our students. Picture books make the perfect first step at classroom carryover of AAC because teachers already understand how to utilize them successfully.
To use AAC with book, focus on the meaning within the book rather than just the exact vocabulary. Consider the popular picture book, The Napping House by Audrey Wood. Each page uses a synonym for sleep like “dozing” and “slumbering”. When we thinking about using this book with a new AAC users, picking a single word and getting extra practice with it on each page is much more functional.
You can target “sleep” on each page. If your student is working on combining words they could say “he sleep”, “it sleep”, “she sleep”. Alternatively, you could work on the preposition “on”. Each member of the family piles on top of each other in the beautiful illustrations. At the end of the book when everyone is woken up by the “wakeful flea” you could use each page to say “up” meaning they woke up but also that they flew up in the air!
A great example of the power of a high frequency word like “up”. On each page you can start by just modeling one or two words on the device. Teachers could model AAC in picture books in whole group reading like at circle time or in 1:1 time with individual students.
Resources to encourage classroom carryover of AAC through picture books:
Core Vocabulary Word of the Week
You’ll never (or rarely) catch me late on paperwork. I have a system, it’s a priority, and I never miss because the consequences are causing difficulty to everyone else on my team. We can apply that same mentality to AAC. Structure + Team Accountability really makes a functional set up for a year of AAC in a classroom.
Having a plan for introducing a word of the week helps to bring focus and direction to the AAC device by building vocabulary. I used a Core Word of the Week program with my whole team (student, teacher, therapists, paraprofessionals). Choose a word, add the symbol(s) my student use, and then place signs, reminders, and backpack notes for the words! Lastly, create just one little interactive vocabulary books for specialized practice, and we do the rest of the modeling with the classroom activities already planned by the teacher.
Resources to encourage classroom carryover of AAC through Core Word of the Week programming:
Recipes/Cooking Activities to Improve Classroom Carryover of AAC
If you’re surprised the cooking activities made my top 3, well, so am I! This is one of those sneaky little wins that works over and over for me! It works really well for AAC because you can find a recipe that pairs a fringe vocabulary word (specific nouns like peanut butter) with a core vocabulary word (high frequency words like “some”) and make it FUN! If you can collaborate with staff and make cooking with core vocabulary words a regular part of your month you’ll be providing much needed modeling practice for everyone!
In past years, I’ve co-treated in self-contained classrooms with the OT on cooking activities. It’s been a great experience for me to discuss our common goals and give each other ideas. Cooking might be an amazing OT collaboration opportunity for AAC collaboration! For that reason, see if you can make your schedule work and try this idea in your classrooms!
Resources to encourage classroom carryover of AAC through cooking programming:
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