TTAC Topics                                                                                                   January 2107
Upcoming Events
From  PossAbilities  to Practical Applications Conference

Registration is now open for the 5th Annual Greater Richmond Education Conference to be held on  Saturday February   4, 2017 from 9am to 4pm at The Hilton Hotel and Spa Short Pump.   The Education Conference is designed to provide parents and professionals with workshops with valuable information to help meet the educational needs of students who have intellectual disabilities and developmental disabilities. 

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Got problem behavior ?
January is an excellent time to revisit classroom expectations if problem behavior is affecting instructional time. Many teachers post classroom rules or include them in the syllabus, yet continue to struggle with classroom management. A common classroom rule is, "Be respectful." There is nothing wrong with this rule, but what "Being respectful" looks like and sounds like to the teacher can be different than a student's perception. Research indicates that when teachers create classroom rules that are stated positively and describe expected behavior, students engage in less disruptive behavior (Colvin, Kame'enui, & Sugai, 1993). Therefore, teachers must explicitly state what "Being respectful" looks like and sounds like in their class. For example, one behavior expectation may state:

Be Respectful
  • Use positive language
  • Listen to others when they are talking
Notice how the bullets are stated positively. "Use positive language" instead of "No inappropriate language" impacts the tone. Once classroom expectations are established, plan learning opportunities for students to explore examples and non-examples of each expectation. These learning opportunities will clarify what you expect from students.

If classroom management is preventing you from providing instruction to your students, consider starting fresh by creating three to five positively stated classroom expectations: each expectation should include two to three bullets that explain what desirable behavior looks like in your classroom. Consider exploring the free module on Behavior and Classroom Management from The Iris Center  for ideas.

Colvin, G., Kame'enui, E. J., & Sugai, G. (1993). Reconceptualizing behavior management and  school   -wide discipline in general education. Education and Treatment of Children, 16 ( 4),  361-381.
Let's get talking:  Supporting language growth in students who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)
Supporting the ever-expanding language needs of students who use AAC can be overwhelming.  Practitioners and family members alike ask questions, such as:

" What vocabulary will be most useful for my student, considering the limited space on his communication device?"
"If there are only 8 spaces on my student's device, where should we include science words to allow participation in the volcano experiment?"
"Are nouns, verbs, or phrases most useful?" 
Even when using AAC apps designed to hold a very large vocabulary, important decisions must be made about vocabulary selection , and arrangement and how to teach the student to use these words and devices effectively.  The most important word choices allow for flexibility in communication with peers and adults in educational, social, community and home environments.
Lauren Enders, a nationally known speech and language pathologist and AAC consultant, presented a webinar for the recent Virtual TechKnowledgy Conference.  During this webinar, she emphasized the benefits of using core vocabulary to allow flexible communication in a variety of situations.  "Core vocabulary are those words used with high frequency and make up about 75-80% of the words we use everyday .  Core vocabulary should be a main part of all AAC systems because it allows for most flexibility across most situations" (Enders, 2016).  Lauren describes core words as power words, those that allow a person to comment, ask questions, direct actions and perform functions of language, other than making requests. "More", "like", "some" and "that" are all considered core words. 

No communication system is complete without fringe vocabulary. Fringe vocabulary is used 20-25% of the time and is more specific to a topic, environment or activity.  These are context-specific words that allow users to communicate about particular topics.  For example, fringe words could be "french fries", "microscope" or "Play Doh " . The most effective communication systems include both core and fringe vocabulary and are designed so the user knows where to access all vocabulary.  Effective practitioners pay particular attention to modeling and teaching the student to use these AAC systems.
To learn more about designing communication systems using core and fringe vocabulary and how to teach language to AAC users through aided language stimulation, visit the February 23, 2016, TechKnowledgy recorded webinar presented by Lauren Enders, Aided language stimulation:  An essential strategy for teaching language to AAC users of any age.
Also, check out Lauren Ender's Pinterest site
Enders, L. (2016).  Aided language stimulation:  An essential strategy for teaching language to AAC users of any age. (Virtual TechKnowledgy Conference).  Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Education's Training and Technical Assistance Centers.

Manipulatives  in English class?
We all know that using manipulatives   in math helps students retain information easier. But what about in English class? Using manipulatives and hands-on activities in English can
  help s tudents learn, stay engaged and retain information. T/TAC currently has over 5,000 items available in our library for teachers to use during instruction. Our Program Specialists search high and low to find manipulatives   and hands-on materials for all learners, especially for secondary learners who may have fallen behind in content. It is important to use materials that are appropriate academically and developmentally. These materials can be hard to find.
The Magnetic Prefixes, Suffixes, and Root Word Set (Item # 23538) in the T/TAC library can be used in small groups , during stations or by individuals who need extra practice. These materials lend themselves to differentiation as teachers choose which word parts the students work with during the lesson. If you pair this manipulative kit with a small, metal cookie sheet, you have an instant station that is also customizable!
The Unifix Vocabulary Fluency   Kit (Item # 13598) can be used in small groups during stations or for remediation with an individual. The materials cover word building to sentence building and all of it is hands-on! Students can explore these manipulatives over and over and get plenty of practice building vocabulary fluency.

These kits, as well as other manipulatives ,  are available for checkout from our library. Check out one of these kits and all of our manipulatives at
VDOE's Training and Technical Assistance Center at VCU
700 E Franklin Street, Suite 140
P.O. Box 843081
Richmond, VA 23284-3081