Monday, June 8, 2015

Using Poems to Nurture Participation and Language

Although the animations of  the Animated Step-by-Steps are great for enhancing comprehension, you do lose the cadence of the poem or song when time is required to insert and watch the animations. Cognizant of this dilemma, I’ve always tried to include a non-animated static version of the poem. This allows the poem to be re-read in a manner that allows students to better appreciate the natural cadence of the poem structure. In addition to revisiting the poem with more natural cadence, this static version is great for providing a meaningful participatory role for students who are cognitively young or students requiring some additional practice in motor access. Recently I’ve been exploring the idea of offering a continuum of options to allow greater differentiated instruction. When a poem is being used to serve a literacy agenda it is assumed that there will be several readings of the same poem over the course of several days .. so several readings in a variety of formats has distinct advantages. 

The SymbolStix version of On Top of Spaghetti, for example, offers five versions of the ‘static poem’ allowing students using direct selection on a voice-output communication device to add the final word as each line is read by the class. Similarly, an Occupational Therapist might include a ‘reading’ of  the static version of the poem in her session to give her student additional practice using a scanning selection technique to add the final words.  Having completed this task, the child might be rewarded for their hard work by allowing them to use their switch to view the animated version of the poem, using a series of consecutive non-timed switch clicks.

Version 1: 

On the interactive whiteboard the teacher is usually moving her finger beneath the line being read (not touching the board, of course, as that would advance the program to the next page). As the final target words are highlighted in blue, a pre reader is receiving some assistance in knowing when to insert the target word. With this version, however, the student must still know, based on context, what symbol on their device is the appropriate symbol at this juncture point in the poem.

Picture Communication Symbols (Mayer Johnson/Dynavox)

Version 2:

The target words appear as blanks so there are no visual cues as to the required word (other than the fact that we often present and program symbols sequentially on a communication page, i.e., in the order in which they will be used).

Version 3: 

This version provides a color coded initial letter … a great way to place greater emphasis on the beginning sound(s) of words and provide built-in incentive for recognizing the letter and appreciating its corresponding sound.  When this version is presented on the interactive whiteboard, the pen tools can be used to fill in the blanks before the poem is re-read with natural cadence.

Version 4: (available with the symbol supported version)

Provides the printed word accompanied by its corresponding symbol. In many ways this is probably the easiest format for a child using a communication device as it can be achieved by simply matching the symbol on their device with the symbol on the version displayed on the interactive whiteboard.

SymbolStix (n2y)

Version 5:

Includes starred boxes that fade when clicked to reveal the target symbol while simultaneously providing its spoken label. This format challenges students to at least think about the mystery word. A tap of the box confirms/corrects their choice. 

If you wish to include a participatory role for a student that is cognitively very young, version 5 will allow you to do so. The child has access to a switch (usually offered by the facilitator) that is connected to the interactive whiteboard computer either directly or wirelessly (see previous post 02-09-15 on Establishing Remote Access).  When the facilitator places the cursor on the starred box she essentially creates an opportunity for the child to hit their switch to reveal the symbol and announce the target word for the class.

…’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)

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©2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist

Special Educator