Friday, October 6, 2017

Staples Banner --- Creating Non-Electronic Facilitator Displays

For years I’ve been on the labor intensive path of making Facilitator Boards for conducting Aided Language Stimulation during group lessons. So understandably I was thrilled when Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) started to appear in classrooms. IWB allowed us to project the Dynavox or Speaking Dynamically Pro software on our interactive whiteboard essentially creating a large interactive communication display that could be used to provide Aided Language Stimulation (ALgS) during group lessons.

Unfortunately, not every classroom possesses an interactive whiteboard … so a non-electronic Facilitator Board may be needed to provide symbol support. The Facilitator Board, however, is just one component of the ALgS agenda.  When working in a 'mixed ability' classroom  we are usually conducting ALgS judiciously across four zones:

The manner in which these four zones are ‘weighted’ relative to each other is determined by the joint attention skills of the students in the group. If I’m working in an Early Intervention classroom, ALgS is often weighted toward the Hand-held and Facilitator Vest Zones (the Facilitator Board is relegated to an accessible storage role). With older students, the Facilitator Board Zone and the Student Expressive Zone assume ‘center stage’ in the ALgS agenda.

When working with populations that experience difficulties with joint attention (e.g., children with Autism Spectrum Disorders), a non-electronic Facilitator Board with detachable symbols might actually be more successful than a board with symbols that don’t detach. The Facilitator Vest Zone is particularly helpful when working with this population as the symbols and the Facilitator's face are in a continuous visual plane. Facilitator Boards are often constructed using 3" or 4" symbols (symbol size may be altered in keeping with group size. These detachable symbols are usually constructed as Dual=Representation symbols (picture symbol=printed word  or picture symbol=photo) to allow Educational staff to perform differentiated instruction across the students enrolled in that class.

The bottom line: there is no escaping the fact that Facilitator Boards are labor intensive and costly to construct (create the symbols, print them out, cut them out, laminate them, and apply velcro to the symbols and the base board) so you can imagine my glee when I was able to devise a relatively quick and inexpensive alternative.

Recently, I realized that I could upload a Core 48 Communication Display image (36” X 18” , 300 dpi) to Staples Online and make a 36" X 18" ‘Outdoor Banner'.  This size is great for classes where students are able to handle a larger array. It’s also great for creating the base for organizing detachable symbols. The content of this base display can be symbol-based or text-based. If you use text on your base display you effectively create another avenue for stimulating your students with text. When symbols are pulled from the Core display to make a small message on your Facilitator Vest, the vacated areas are filled with text.

The resulting ‘banner display’ is durable, waterproof and quite frankly looks great!!! I hesitate to say they are indestructible but I did try to tear a sample and I was unable to do so.  At Staples they even punch grommets in each corner of the banner to allow you to secure the banner on the wall or on sturdy black foam core board. I recently made Facilitator displays for four preschool classrooms. The cost was about $25.00 per Facilitator Display (price decreases with number of banners purchased). On the far right of the display two or three rows of female velcro can be added for activity-specific fringe vocabulary.  Teachers can add fringe vocabulary individually or they can create panels of detachable fringe vocabulary that can be quickly velcroed as a block into this area to reflect the vocabulary needs of a frequently targeted activity such as Morning Meeting. 

Here are a series of screen shots that ‘walk’ you through the process.

1. Go to the Staples online site: 

2. Select ... Create Your Own Design using your school/agency's color coding system. 

3. Select ... Create your Own ...  Black ... 1 photo ... Landscape

4. Select ... 3' X 1.6' banner size

5. Select ... the black color choice from the three-choice array.

6. Drag/Import your communication display image into the rectangle provided.

7. Stretch the image diagonally to fill the vertical space.  The area on the right will be used for 
    fringe vocabulary

8. Select ... Outdoor Banner ... Grommets ...  number of banners you wish to purchase in 
   your online order.

9. Add to cart!   Put in your credit card info! Done!

Expanding this concept further…
why not make Core 48 placemats (several to a banner) that can be cut apart and used across table-top activities such as mealtime, arts & crafts and food prep. They are created with a space above to attach activity-specific fringe vocabulary, and space in the middle to allow materials to be manipulated without completely blocking our view of the core symbols. As illustrated, we usually attach the student's photo face to their placemat display.

Shown below is the layout for six ‘placemats’ created using a 3’ X 6’ banner size (Goossens’, Crain & Elder color-coding). Placemat size is 24" X  14" but you can certainly alter the size of your symbols to create a placemat with a smaller footprint.

Please note, color-coding systems vary greatly from district to district. Choose your system in keeping with the needs of your school/agency.

In conclusion, the digital image you created will be put on file.  When you expand to two more classrooms in your school, the upfront work has already been done! Fill out your online order and you 'hit the pavement running'.

Create your own communication display graphics for a large banner communication display or choose from several pre-made graphics available on the Teachers Pay Teachers site:   Available in two formats: PCS and SymbolStix.

We have to 'work smart' ... to get more done in less time!

…’til the next post 

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©2017 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist

Special Educator