Classroom Toolbox Training

The Classroom Toolbox is a virtual toolbox of resources to help teachers provide adapted communication supports to students in their classrooms. In here you'll find the Classroom Communication Supports Checklist to help you determine what supports you already have in place, ones you have but aren't using, and ones you are interested in exploring. For every communication support, there's a learning module to explore, with photos, descriptions, components, links to comprehensive resources and curated YouTube videos. These modules will help you confidently increase the communication supports for your students!

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Building the Communication Classroom Series

  • Getting Oriented (3 lessons)​
  • Present Level of Performance: How do my students communicate? (3 lessons)​
  • Can You Hear Me Now?   Classroom Routines, Expectations & Visual Supports (7 lessons)​
  • Simple Communication Systems: Light Tech (5 lessons)​
  • Embedding Communication Into Your Classroom (5 lessons)​
  • IEP Time! Progress, Present Levels and Goals (2 lessons)​
  • AAC 101: Simple Steps for Student Communication​
  • The Core Word Classroom​

There is a wealth of information and materials for you on our website, so you may be asking yourself, "Where in the world do I start?" No worries, we've got you! This is the first stop in your training! In this unit we will be answering some primary questions to get you started!

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Starting Young: Communication in Early Intervention & the Preschool Classroom

Our specialized training hub dedicated to supporting communication success in Early Intervention in the home and our preschool classrooms

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Communication Systems Series

  • Getting Started with a New Communication System (3 lessons)​
  • Understanding Robust AAC Systems (3 lessons)​
  • AAC Feature Considerations (5 lessons)​
  • Speech Generating Devices & Applications (3 lessons) ​

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Partner Strategy Kits

  • Interaction Strategies (3 lessons)​
  • AAC Access (3 lessons)​
  • Engagement (3 lessons)​
  • Language Support Strategies (5 lessons)​

Partner Strategy Kits

AAC Partner Strategy Kits are engaging posters/handouts, descriptions and short videos explaining and modeling techniques for you to use to help your student be willing, and able to communicate using their AAC system!

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AAC Assessment Series

  • Communication Matrix:  Forms & Functions​
  • Student Communication Goals Grid​
  • Every Move Counts, Clicks & Chats: Motivators, Sensory Needs, Forms & Functions​
  • Communication Sample & Analysis​
  • Dynamic AAC Goals Grid (DAGG)​
  • AAC Evaluation Genie Training​
  • AAC Communication Skills Assessment-2​
  • Dynamic AAC Advanced Consultation FORM​
  • Team & Family Involvement

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DTA Schools Evaluation and Funding

  • DTA Schools Process Introduction​
  • DTA Schools Referral & Records Review​
  • DTA Schools Dynamic AAC Assessment & Trials Process​
  • AAC Funding Sources​
  • SGD Evaluation Report Writing​
  • Working with SGD Manufacturers
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Empowering Families: AAC At Home

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High Frequency Core Words & Messages

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AAC 101

5 steps to move from training to talking, give you a clear path for you and your student learner. Learning to communicate is a shared journey between the learner and their partners, and that makes sense! Communication is a shared activity between two people. It is the means for us to make connections, meet our needs, engage socially, participate in shared experiences, and bridge the gap between our experiences and sharing these their partners.

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Personal Home Customization ​

Description

Communication device manufacturers have been doing an increasingly good job providing us with comprehensive communication systems.  There are several excellent choices in the AAC application world that give us keyboards, 1000's of "fringe" words in categories and subcategories, topic based and functional prestored messages, and solid core vocabulary displays of our most frequently occurring words.  Morphological/syntax supports such as word endings (verb tenses) and cues for word ordering sentences are available on many AAC applications.  BUT, is the AAC application, even for a dedicated communication device truly a "out of the box- straight to the user" experience? Definitely not.  One of the most important features that a communication device needs is personally relevant, meaningful and motivating words and messages.  Every person using AAC needs a way to talk about their family, their favorite leisure activities, favorite places to go, and subjects to discuss.  As diligent as an AAC developer may be, they can't know this type of information about every user.  THAT is where we come into play!



It is highly important that we assist our families of AAC users in planning, and sometimes programming their AAC systems to include all of these highly relevant messages.  When I am called in to troubleshoot an AAC application that has "never worked" for an individual, I VERY often find that there isn't a single personal word or message anywhere in the system; no family photos, no Larabars or Snickers, no Six Flags or McDonalds.  At times we can drastically change a person's acceptance and willingness to use their AAC system simply by adding photos of these items.  We want to be thoughtful to put these items in places which are easily accessible, both cognitively and physically (not buried too deep but not taking up all the space on the Home page.)

Components

  • Family Survey: Ask the family to give you lists of the person's favorite food items, names of important people, favorite/frequent places they go, leisure activities, favorite artists/characters, personal medical/hygiene items and anything else that is particularly important to the individual.
  • School Survey: Ask the school team members to contribute as well (think teachers, parapros, and therapists).  Get lists of classmates, teachers and staff, a schedule of the daily activities, subject taught, school places, classroom materials, routines and places/classes they go.
  • Personal Photos: Request photos of the people (yes, even when they get all shy on you). Important people photos are critical, so we rarely accept no for an answer on this one without a lot of discussion.  Consider google image searches for favorite artists, and community places. Generic symbols are wonderful because of their flexibility, but a photo of Mom beats that "mother" symbol any day!  You don't need photos of every personal word list item, but be thoughtful about the ones that matter to this specific individual. Generally people, favorite places and characters/artists are significant.
  • Programmer: Who's responsible? There isn't one correct answer to this question.  In most cases there is one person who take a leadership role on customization. It may be a parent or sibling; a teacher or therapist; or if you are a member of our DTA Schools program, an AAC specialist or technician.  Be sure someone accept responsibility for making sure it's done, and that the words are placed where they belong in the overall language/message organization of the system. DON'T let someone put all of these word on the Main/Home page.  There is simply not enough "real estate" there for a growing number of important words.

Development Resources

Supplies:  

  • Word List Generation- a way to gather word lists from important people (person using AAC, their family & team; aka "the stakeholders").  We use a survey form for home and a separate one for school.  You can print and complete these here: Home Word List Survey and the Classroom Word List Survey. If you have one of our DTA Schools facilitators, you can request our Google Forms versions of the Home Word List Survey and the Classroom Word List Survey which come right back to us.  If not, these are easy for you to create in Google Forms for your own district! We have added a way for respondents to add photos right into the Google Form sending them conveniently to your Google Drive!
  • AAC Device Desktop/Tablet Editing Programs are very helpful to allow you to begin customizing a system, without ever taking it out of the individual's hands!  This is particularly helpful if you are in the process of funding a device and the equipment hasn't arrived. Using the desktop version of the matching software, you can get the system ready to load and deliver the day the equipment arrives in your office! Here are some of our most commonly used programs:
  • Snap + Core First...is a $60 program you can download on the Windows store.  It is the same program that runs on Tobii Dynavox communication devices.  This is the least expensive AAC program you can purchase that includes a comprehensive communication vocabulary system.  IF you own a dedicated Tobii Dynavox device, you also have access to a free copy of Snap + Core First.  Just download the free version onto your computer.  Sign into the same Tobii Dynavox account to which the device is attached and it will talk on your Windows computer! https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/snap-core-first/9nblggh5178z?rtc=1&activetab=pivot:overviewtab
  • Chat Editor...is a free downloadable program for Windows which allows you to edit your students NovaChat or Chat Fusion device.  It comes as a non-speaking application BUT if you connect your student's device to your computer, it will start speaking!  This can be helpful for testing your modifications to make sure they say what you mean for them to say!  https://saltillo.com/support/downloads#chat-editor
  • PASS NuVoice ...is the software on Prentke Romich Accent devices.  Just like the above programs, it is meant for customizing a student's AAC device, AND, like the others, you can download and run it on your Windows computer too!  It has a limited amount of time it will speak but is ultimately a great way to customize your systems. https://www.prentrom.com/support/accent/download-nuvoice-pass-software

Video Examples & Tutorials

  • TouchChat Support Videos This is a collection of video tutorials for the TouchChat App for the iPad which mimics the programming on the NovaChat devices.
  • Saltillo Chat Tutorials These are a collection of tutorials on many of the features and functions of the Chat Editor software- the editing software for the NovaChat devices and TouchChat application. Look at the Customizing Vocabulary section for adding your own words.

Downloads:

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Parent Training Options ​

Lesson

1

AAC Informational Flyers

These flyers are a quick introduction to the world of AAC for our families!

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Lesson

2

Light Tech Communication Materials

There are many Light Tech AAC options we can offer a wide range of communication options for our students. These options are simple, low-tech, and do not require batteries or electronics, making them an easy "first step" to introduce to our families! Let's look at some of the options!

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Lesson

3

Personal Home Customization ​

It is highly important that we assist our families of AAC users in planning, and sometimes programming their AAC systems to include all of these highly relevant messages.  Let's talk about it!

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Lesson

4

Parent Training Options ​

There are many options for training families. Here are a few to consider!

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Lesson

5

Homework for AAC

In an effort to help our students generalize their new communication skills, we have homework packets for you to send home!

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Lesson

6

Home Schedule Analysis

We all know our students learn to communicate primarily at home. You can invite parents to complete the Home & Community Schedule Analysis so that school teams can help the family integrate AAC into their home life.

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