Using Pattern Visual Support Materials

Posted Nov 20, 2013 - 12:02pm

By Gail Van Tatenhove,PA, MS, CCC-SLP

Patterns are everywhere in our world. Wherever you are right now, look around and identify some patterns in your environment. What do you see?

By understanding patterns, we are able to see and understand the way things work together. Math teachers have students do all sorts of tasks involving identifying patterns. Social scientists mine social media, looking for patterns. All of this is done so that the mathematician or social scientist is able to see and understand the way things work together.

I’ve taken this notion of seeing and understanding patterns and shared my Pattern Visual Support (PVS) for saying pronouns, pronoun-preverb phrases, and indefinite pronouns from the Unity program. The purpose of the PVS is to have something to manipulate in order to see and understand the pattern, then replicate the pattern by saying the word(s) using your AAC device/app.

How are the PVS Used?

Pattern Visual Supports are part of my homemade kits for teaching vocabulary. My kits are organized by a word group (e.g., pronouns, indefinite pronouns, prepositions, etc.) and include the PVS, icon props, costumes, games, books, songs, poems, flashcards, conversational sentence strips and more!

Let’s say that I’m introducing the patterns for saying all 35 English pronouns.

I start by pulling out my pronoun kit and use the props to teach about self vs. others (I /you), gender (he/she), number (we/they), possession (my/mine) and object (me, him). The props are similar to the icons on the Unity overlay, such as the blond girl puppet for she and various toy sheep for it . From the props in my pronoun kit, the person might wear the pronoun t-shirt (made with iron-on transfers of the icons for the pronouns), use the puppets for each of the pronoun icons, and sing the pronoun song (see Singing to Talking with Minspeak at www.vantatenhove.com recorded in a single message device. Using my OBJECT prop (a small yellow box with a pink ribbon), we put pennies in the box and give them as presents to people; talking about for whom the present belongs (the pennies are for me, the pennies are for you, the pennies for him, the pennies are for her). Then we use the POSS prop (paper id cards) and attach them to things that belong to various people (it is my bag, it is mine; it is your chair, it is yours; it is her book, it is hers ). In lesson planning, these activities fall under the category of Language Learning and Icon Association.

After doing these activities to strengthen the underlying concepts behind pronouns, I introduce the pronoun flip strip and use it in conjunction with saying the pronouns on the device/app. Together, we flip the sections in the pronoun flip strip to show all subject pronouns, then, object, reflexive, and possessive pronouns. We see and reflect on the pattern and say the words. Some of the work is simple drill & practice, but nothing is stopping you from turning it into a game. For example, I do time trials, to see how fast the person can say the seven pronouns in a pattern. Most students enjoy this activity because they like to beat their time. I like it because the rapid repetition builds motor automaticity. I might also flip the cards to show a pattern, with one incorrect item in the pattern. The student earns a point if he/she finds the mistake in the pattern, corrects it, and says the word. In lesson planning, these activities fall under the category of Pattern Visual Support. After doing these activities to strengthen the underlying concepts behind pronouns, I introduce the pronoun flip strip and use it in conjunction with saying the pronouns on the device/app. Together, we flip the sections in the pronoun flip strip to show all subject pronouns, then, object, reflexive, and possessive pronouns. We see and reflect on the pattern and say the words. Some of the work is simple drill & practice, but nothing is stopping you from turning it into a game. For example, I do time trials, to see how fast the person can say the seven pronouns in a pattern. Most students enjoy this activity because they like to beat their time. I like it because the rapid repetition builds motor automaticity. I might also flip the cards to show a pattern, with one incorrect item in the pattern. The student earns a point if he/she finds the mistake in the pattern, corrects it, and says the word. In lesson planning, these activities fall under the category of Pattern Visual Support.

The next phase of my instructional routine involves providing sufficient practice in order for the patterns and words to reach the point of automatic language processing. So, once again I dig into my pronoun kit and pull all games, books, sentence strips, and flash cards. A card listing appropriate iPad apps is a recent addition to the kit. In lesson planning, engaging in these fun activities falls under the category of Practice Practice Practice.

Real-life application is the final step in the instructional routine and involves finding ways for the person to use the word(s) in meaningful ways in the real world. Perhaps the person wants to post a message on Facebook. Together, we would do that, using correct pronouns for all written text. Teachers are encouraged to reinforce pronouns (or other target words) in lessons through use of classroom-friendly visual support materials (e.g., Core Vocabulary Classroom Kit, Natural Aided Language Boards from www.vantatenhove.com. Families are asked to model and support use of the pronouns in daily conversations with their child. A weekly Language Activity Monitor (LAM) download is reviewed and the PWUAAC is verbally and tangibly reinforced for any self-selected use of the pronouns. In lesson planning, these activities fall under the category of Real-Life Application. Once language samples show self-selected, non-prompted use of the target pronoun vocabulary, those words are marked as ACQUIRED in my therapy records.

In this posting, I’ve described how to use the Pronoun Flip Strip. The same instructional routine is used when implementing the Pronoun-Preverb Phrase Flipbook and the Indefinite Pronoun Wheels. I encourage you to create your own kits, including these pattern visual supports as one element in your instructional routine.

Gail’s free resources can be found in the Resource Section of the AAC Language Lab.


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