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Keep It Core in the Classroom

Posted Jan 8, 2014 - 1:38pm

by Dan Mills, M.Ed

We often hear of speech therapists being asked to program pages in a speech device for this lesson or that activity. This programming can become very time-consuming and it is hard to keep up with a fast paced curriculum.

Many people don’t realize that all they really need is the core vocabulary (composed of high frequency words that are very versatile) that comes programmed in the Unity Language in PRC devices.

It can be difficult to shift from relying on preprogrammed phrases & sentences (requiring navigation to numerous pages) to focusing on using core words.

Here are a few ideas that we find useful for transitioning from pages of topic specific words to using core words across environments:

  • Note the vocabulary that is anticipated for a specific lesson.
  • Think of how you can say those words in a “different way” using core words. For example: photosynthesis = make food from light.
  • Make sure you are familiar with locating the vocabulary so you can teach it without losing the teachable moment. (This is where the ICON TUTOR comes in handy)
  • Start small. Identify begin with 1-2 activities and set the expectation that the device will be used.
  • As you become more familiar with the Unity language, you will naturally begin using the device across more activities and academic environments.

EXAMPLE: : Health lesson based on 3rd grade Academic Standard:

The student will identify and know the location and function of the major body organs and systems
Instead of: programming vocabulary words typically requested to answer questions Rather: formulate the questions to allow use of core words Answer primarily using core words already in Unity, no programming
circulatory What organ is in the circulatory system? Heart
respiratory What happens in the respiratory system? air go in and out
muscular What does the muscular system help us do? move, carry things
skeletal Tell me something about the skeletal system. bones in body
digestive What organ is in the digestive system? Tell me something about the digestive system. stomach, eat food, go stomach

EXAMPLE : Social Studies lesson

Using Fringe Words Using Core Words
Country place of our people
Community people together
State part of a land
Law What can and cannot do

Core words provide the basic architecture of our messages, and fringe words provide the customized detail. You can say many things using only core vocabulary. If you limit yourself to fringe vocabulary, you most likely will supply one word responses. Try to create a meaningful sentence containing only nouns!

Here is one resource to help you teach the essential core vocabulary.

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