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Designing the Classroom Environment

AAC Systems: Designing the Classroom Environment

Create an Immersive Environment

The classroom environment plays a significant role in supporting core vocabulary acquisition and fluent use of AAC.

Classroom rich in augmentative-alternative communication systems (AAC) to support all communicators.

Access to Core Vocabulary Words

The most important change to the classroom environment is to ensure that every learner and all staff have quick access to core vocabulary words and symbols. The general rule of thumb is that every person should be able to access a core vocabulary board in three seconds or less. The MISD AAC Core Vocabulary Initiative classrooms use:

  • A large core vocabulary board poster for direct group instruction
  • ~Legal-sized displays for smaller group instruction
  • An individualize core board or Speech Generating Device (SGD) for every individual who will be an AAC user.
  • A core board for each staff member with a strap or clip to be worn throughout the day.

Access to Communication Systems All Day Long

Once every student and staff member have their own board, the next step is to make them portable. Straps and retractable key chain loops provide ready access to boards. Now they're available in class, in the hallway, on the bus and where ever communication occurs.

Reinforcing Vocabulary Instruction

Core vocabulary instruction is both explicit and incidental/occurs throughout the day.  Well-designed classrooms use semantic maps and artifacts to keep core words front and center.

  Example artifact from core vocabulary instruction: word web  Example artifact from core vocabulary instruction: he/she sort with student pictures  where song lyrics for vocab instruction: "where is (name)? Here (he/she) is. We're so glad you're here today. Go sit down."

Environmental Core Labels and Activity Scripts

When placing core words around the room, MISD Core Classrooms replaced/supplemented item labels with core "action" words. For example, "open" and "close" were put on the door instead of the label "door." Staff also created and posted simple scripts to use in key areas around the room.

Environmental core label: symbols and words for "put" and "in" adjacent to the container where learners turn in daily folders.  Environmental core labels: symbols and words "turn," "on," and "off" adjacent to the light switch.

AAC Classroom Materials

My AAC Environment

Core Vocabulary Wall: Please add a picture of your Immersive AAC Environment. Examples may include your poster board hanging in your room and a picture of your team wearing their core boards! Add your name and school. Extra points for creativity :)

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