Are you thinking you don't need to know about communication books because your students use high tech devices, think again! Students need a back-up system. Sometimes they may prefer a light tech system during recess or quieter times in the classroom or while having a conversation with one person. Even our eye gaze students use light tech at different times of the day using partner assisted scanning. Having the peers taught how to use it can bring about many intimate moments. A good communication book can be very empowering.
- initiate and terminate a topic
- direct the attention of the listener
- ask and answer questions
- agree or comply
- reject or refuse
- comment on the activity
- express feelings and opinions
- joke around
Next, you might consider having a page based on events that transpire throughout the day, such as dressing, eating, greetings, playing, learning stations/classes, music, art, conversations with friends, sharing week-end experiences, holiday conversations, etc.
- What is the purpose of the book? Maybe you will want to have a couple of different books: one for academics, one for home, one for recess... or maybe you want them all to be in one book with multiple categories and/or have more general messages.
- A book of nouns focuses on requesting and as we know, requesting is not all there is. We tend to think about needs and wants but there is more to life. Other things to consider:
- Introducing topics ("What about those Giants!?!")
- Talking about a topic ("Did you see the game?" "My favorite player was...")
- Asking partner-focused questions ("Who is your favorite player?" I love Hunter. He can really hit that ball!)
- and: Re-directing, clarifying, affirming, disagreeing, terminating the interaction ("Gotta go!"), etc.
- Don't forget core vocabulary! Core vocabulary allows for a more natural flow of language. Core words are: common, high-frequency, re-usable, across language functions, descriptive, used across contexts and should be always available. Having a fold out on the side with core words often works well.
- Be sure to have a way for the student to communicate, "What I want to say is not here." I often put one square in the lower right corner of each page with this message.
- Have the ability for the book to grow. Don't start with too much, it might get overwhelming but once they have learned what they have, add to it! Don't want to limit them.We want our student's vocabulary to continue to grow, not to be stagnant.
Our county has started using the PODD communication books in many of our classrooms. PODD (or Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display) communication books were developed in Australia by Gayle Porter, originally for children with cerebral palsy. By educating yourself on the process used in PODD and the book layouts, you will learn more about just good practice with using communication books with students. What they promote is good for AAC in general. Their system is all about using aided language to communicate WITH students who have complex communication needs.
- by PrAActical AAC
- PODDtastic! by Kate Ahern
- Communication Books by Communication Matter
- Communication Starter Sets by PictureSET BC
- Communication Books by Baltimore Public Schools
- Boardmaker and other Picture Symbol Resources offers links to many pre-made or templates that you can use freely