Moving Beyond Requesting (Part 2): Combining Feature, Function, and Category Concepts

Hey! Welcome to the second part in this series called, “Moving Beyond Requesting”. If you didn’t read part 1, Feature, Function, and Category, check it out! In part 1, I describe teaching feature, function, and category vocabulary and concepts and why I think they are so critical  For this segment, I created a new resource to help increase the complexity of those concepts and generalize the vocabulary. This resource is called Receptive Describing Task Cards. It is most appropriate for learners who already have a foundational understanding of feature, function, and category concepts/vocabulary. The resource has cards in two levels of difficulty. One of my favorite strategies to use while targeting this skill is to have students talk through their reasoning as they arrive at the answer. This can be a great modeling strategy for other students.

2-Descriptor Set: The first set has 2-descriptors per card. Each card combines two inter-mixed feature, function, or category concepts. Learners must think critically about both descriptors to rule each possible answer “in” or “out”. In IEPs, I often describe this as “inclusion and exclusion criteria”, especially when discussing category knowledge.  For example, in the first image to the right, the correct answer is ‘milkshake’. Learners must recognize that while sugar and chocolate syrup are sweet, they are not drinks. Similarly, while water is a drink, it is not sweet. In the second picture, learners will likely rule out the coat quickly, however, they must think and understand that while people do wear ties and aprons in the summer, they are not specifically summer clothing. As students become more accurate with these 2-descriptor cards, I like to extend the activity by asking a follow-up question (e.g. Can you think of a second summer clothing or sweet drink?) and turn it into an expressive naming task.

3-Descriptor Set: The second set has 3-descriptors per card. Each card combines three inter-mixed feature, function, or category concepts. Learners must think critically about all three descriptors to rule each possible answer “in” or “out”. These cards are a little more difficult than the 2-descriptor cards and require more inferring for some learners. In the first card to the left, the correct answer is ‘speed boat’. Learners must recognize that a canoe is a water vehicle but not a fast one. Sometimes students answer too quickly when they hear “fast” and “vehicle” and might select the ambulance without registering that the word “water” eliminates it as the correct answer. In the second picture, learners have to recognize that a croissant is neither cold nor dinner-specific and that olives are not a dinner food. They need to rule out spaghetti because it is a hot food before they can determine sushi as the correct answer. These cards are also great for asking a follow-up question (e.g. Can you think of a second cold dinner food?) and turning it into an expressive naming task.

These task cards could be used in individual or small group instruction or, for readers, during stations or individual work using a dry-erase marker. These task cards challenge students to use previously mastered material in a more complex way, furthering their receptive and expressive vocabulary use and comprehension. If these cards are slightly too difficult, I would provide scaffolding in a yes/no format. For example, “Do we drink chocolate syrup?” and then cross it out with a dry-erase marker. This can get super silly and often leads to dramatic pretending and gesturing- so fun! To make this task even more difficult, present each card as a purely verbal or written task. This skill set is fundamental for future higher-level tasks including describing and naming described items (which is the subject of a later post in this series).  Stay tuned next month for activities and resources to again “up the ante” and pair negation with feature, function, and category concepts.

To find this product, visit:  Receptive Describing Task Cards

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