I’ve Been On a Mission
Over the month of October, I made a goal with the SLP that works with my caseload to incorporate AAC into as many places as I possibly could. We put our heads together to take whole group activities and partner AAC modeling with it. Here’s how I run our whole-group lessons and one of our favorite activities in our group lessons to date!
Why Whole Group?
I LOVE whole group lessons! Students learn academic skills, social skills, and learn to maintain focus to name a few! Whole group lessons give you big impact to all of your students in a short amount of time. The down side is that in the beginning it can take a lot to manage. I start with whole group carpet time and build on my expectations from the first day of school. From here, we slowly build up our stamina and target new skills so students are prepared for whole group experiences.
Start With Engaging Content
If you are new to whole group instruction, try something that is sure to captivate your students and hold their attention. Pull out all of the stops so you can focus on content and modeling! My students love hands-on activities, so that’s what I tend to pick. Most of my learners are new to AAC and are still working on 1-2 word requests.
Let’s Build Mr. Potato Head!
For my whole group lesson, we picked taking turns building Mr. Potato Head. We had been working on body parts and identifying them within the classroom. We wanted to take a fun, hands on approach to this topic. We had played “Howie’s Owie” (Learning Resources has a free print-out to play here!) and now we wanted introduce some turn taking. We pulled out a giant bin of Mr. Potato Heads and got to work.
How it Worked
We put every name on a spinner on the Promethean Board. If you don’t have a spinner or board available, just go around in a circle. Everyone gets to take a turn identifying what part they want to build their Mr. Potato Head. We allowed for any means of communication (pointing, sign language, AAC, verbal, etc), but modeled touching the body part on the AAC before handing the piece to the student. When they were putting the piece on their Mr. Potato Head, we’d then model the body part on the AAC again, telling the group what they picked.
For my learners who were ready, we offered choices. If the student asked for eyes, we’d give them a choice of blue or green (or whatever we had on hand). That simple action encouraged even more meaningful communication.
Plan a Sabotage
Students know what to do when something goes right. But do they know what to do when something goes wrong? Whole group lessons like this are perfect to plan a little sabotage into the day! For example, if a student asked me for an arm for their Mr. Potato Head, I’d hand them a foot instead. It was fun to help students learn how to tell me I was wrong and what they really wanted.
In the end, my students couldn’t get enough of this activity. We took time to talk about the similarities in our Mr. Potato Heads and the differences, too. They asked to play again and again! As we went along we continued to model language on the AAC, helping students build vocabulary and have fun while doing it!