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And the Academy Award goes to...

Posted Jan 18, 2017 - 9:16am

Angie Sheets, Intense Interventions Teacher Nicole Wingate, MA CCC-SLP Amy Shane, SLPA Heather Stoppenhagen, SLPA_

After attending our State convention on assistive technology, my SLP, SLPAs and myself were pumped about attacking core vocabulary with our students. My classroom is comprised of 14 kindergarten through fourth graders who have a variety of needs ranging from Autism to Down Syndrome to Cerebral Palsy to multiple disabilities and other health impairments.

As we started brainstorming ideas on how to best help our students to grasp core vocabulary, we started rifling through our educational journals, referencing handouts and powerpoints from previous professional development sessions, contacting experts in our region for insights - NOT!!! We are busy teachers, wives and moms! Let’s be real, folks! I have great intentions to refer to the most prestigious references, but some of my best lesson plans actually come from Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers and Sesame Street!

So as I was snuggled with my own two kiddos catching an amazing episode of “Sesame Street’s Word on the Street,” the idea hit me! Why don’t we mimic this type of scenario and make a “Word of the Week” video? If we do it correctly, we can even call it a “Sesame Street- inspired evidence based practice! “

The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders released a 2010 briefing adding Video Modeling as an Evidence Based Practice offering the following bolded guidelines. We were able to use those same guidelines to apply to vocabulary instruction.

Target a behavior for teaching: Using our curriculum maps, we planned a target core word for each week of instruction. We shared this calendar-like document with gen ed teachers, paraprofessionals, and related services staff in hopes to inspire everyone to jump on this initiative with us. At the elementary level, I select a book of the week and math skill to target on a weekly basis during large group instruction.
- Have the correct equipment: Fortunately, we are in a district that has a 1:1 technology initiative so all students and teachers have iPads.
- Plan for the video recording: This is a simple brainstorming session where we try to come up with as many ideas and possible scenarios where students will be able to see and hear the target word used in a variety of ways, in a variety of environments, and with a variety of people.
- Collect Baseline data: We use Google Forms to assist with data collection. All of our staff is continuously collecting data on IEP goals. - Make the video: This pretty much happens on the fly. We casually decide who is making the video for the week and toss around a few ideas. Whoever is responsible just gets it done whenever time allows (it seriously only takes 15 minutes). - We also try to include multiple individuals using LAMP, as well as verbal speech.
- Arrange the environment for watching the video: The first airing of our “Word of the Week” video is always during a push in session with our SLP and SLPAs.
This is a large group premiere event! This is a time to instruct all staff on the word of the week, how to locate the vocabulary on devices, and collect specific data. - Show the video: I project the video on my classroom Smartboard, and all of my students LOVE this! They love seeing themselves, their peers, their teachers, their school. While watching, I pause the video multiple times in order to prompt the students to utilize the desired vocabulary word. After every single viewing of a word of the week video, students always ask to see more. We have witnessed so much spontaneous speech during this time - simply amazing! - Monitor progress: For progress monitoring, we go back to our trusty Google Forms. To help make this process a little easier, each student has a QR code that links to his or her specific Google Form. Troubleshoot if a learner is not making progress: One of the great things about core vocabulary is that once you know which words to target, it is super easy to include that emphasis throughout daily lessons and interactions.
Fade the video and prompting - I show the video at least once a day (sometimes more frequently) for an entire week. Throughout the semester, we incorporate review weeks that may include an additional viewing of the video, vocabulary scavengers hunts, and a variety of other planned events to allow students to demonstrate proficiency in vocabulary.

With the successful implementation of our videos, we started our own YouTube Channel as an easy avenue to share our tools with our students’ families. Feel free to check out our channel: Wings Works

There may not be any Academy Awards in our future, but I am pretty certain that by increasing vocabulary production and understanding for our students that we have increased their quality of lives. That’s reward enough for me!

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