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Are you SCAFFOLDING?

Posted Jan 28, 2014 - 2:44pm

By Jennifer Monahan, MA, CCC/SLP

Jennifer Monahan

Like so many words in our language, the word “scaffolding” isn’t just a noun, used to describe the temporary supports that often surround new buildings as they undergo construction. “Scaffolding”, when applied to education and learning, also refers to a very important verb which describes the action of supporting and guiding another as they learn a new task. So how do we provide “scaffolding” for our new Unity users? Here are some suggestions:

    1) Understand Language Stages: Knowing which language stage your child or student is currently functioning within will help you to better model appropriate targets and plan for next steps. If your child is working at a single word stage, for example, what might an early two word combination look like at the next stage? Use this helpful tool from our AAC Language Lab if you need help with the stages or with planning goals: Stages

    2) Get to know Unity: If you are new to Unity, you will want to take steps to understand the program better yourself. In this way, you are more prepared to teach the vocabulary to your child or student and provide them guidance that is one step ahead of where they are now. At PRC we offer live, web-based, and self-guided tutorials on the Unity language system. Find one that fits your needs using this link: Training

    3) Use the Icon Tutor: The Icon Tutor is a useful tool that allows you to learn the location of any word within Unity. Find this tool by looking in the top activity row under the DEVICE button, or if you are using our LAMP layout look for the Word Finder button on the ABC page. Simply type the word you wish to find and select OK to learn the location. Need help finding your icon tutor? Use this link: Icon Tutor

    4) Use the Vocabulary Builder: Vocabulary Builder is a great tool for simplifying any Unity program. It lets you show just certain words and phrases that you want to teach and hides all the rest. Watch this convenient 30-minute tutorial on the basics of Vocabulary Builder and give it a try: Vocabulary Builder

    5) Model, Model, Model: Always be prepared to model a new word when the opportunity arises. Become familiar with the most commonly used words and their locations. In order to move forward, consider striving to keep at least one new, unfamiliar word exposed on your child’s device at all times. If you need more practice with the device, download our free application and support software so that you can practice and feel more familiar with the device screen. Find the program that matches your device here: PASS

    6) Introduce AAC Mentors: Consider introducing your student to another person that also uses an AAC device. If you need help connecting with other families or device users in your area, contact your local PRC consultant and ask them for assistance: Consultants

    Man and young boyMentoring

    In Columbus, OH, Brad Whitmoyer, a long time Unity 144 user and PRC ambassador, meets with Johnny Schneider several times each school year. Brad encourages Johnny to learn his new Unity program on the ECO2 and stay positive about using an AAC device, despite being the only AAC user in his school.


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