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Resource File: Early Childhood -- Picture Symbol

Guide for Review of ECT Intervention Activities

This document is reprinted with permission of the author. It was developed by George Karlan, Ph.D., Special Education, SCC-E, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

This guide is intended for use as a part of the Environmental Communication Teaching in-service training program as developed under the auspices of a Field-Initiated Research grant (Award No. H023C90005) from the Office of Special Education, U.S. Department of Education. Any other use of this guide must be done with the express written permission of the author.

Copyright 1991 by G.R. Karlan.


GUIDE FOR REVIEW OF ECT INTERVENTION ACTIVITIES


TASK/ACTIVITY

Activity-based Objectives
Instructional Format
Age-appropriateness
Curriculum

TEACHING ARRANGEMENTS

Material and Arrangements
ECT Cues and Prompts
Descriptive Feedback
AAC Displays (for Teaching)

VOCABULARY/MESSAGE

Relation to Task
Message Form (Mode)
Age Appropriateness of Message Gloss
Symbol Representation

AAC DISPLAY

Physical Arrangement (Layout)
Physical Support
Relation to Task (Arrangement)
Transport

MESSAGE SELECTION STRATEGY

Mode of Selection
Augmentation of Selection Mode
Relation to Task
Rate Enhancement

These guidelines are intended to be a tool to assist in reviewing implementation of the Environmental Communication Teaching concepts. The evaluation tool itself has five component areas, as depicted in the following figure. Within each component area, four aspects of the component have been identified.

In reviewing the classroom or community-based implementation, we begin with a review of the task itself, reviewing those aspects of the teaching arrangements that are more structural in nature (i.e., the materials used and the environmental arrangements). The task itself must provide a sound foundation for the interaction that takes place within it. Consideration of the vocabulary and messages needed by the student to transact the "business" of the activity, i.e., to meet the activity -based objectives for the task, is considered next. When a good understanding of these aspects has been developed, then the use of facilitative cues, prompts, and feedback can be discussed. Finally, if needed, the student's AAC display (if an aided system is used) and the message selection strategy being used with the student are reviewed and recommendations considered.

The remainder of this guide provides more detailed information concerning the five major components and their defining aspects.


TASK/ACTIVITY

Under consideration here are the basic goals, objectives, and structure of the activity:

Activity-based Objectives

1.

a. Does the activity have a critical sequence of events? That is, is it critical to the successful completion of the activity that one fixed sequence of steps or events is followed? If so, does the student have a means to request help or clarification if the sequence is violated?

b. If the sequence is very flexible in nature (non critical), does the student have the opportunity to select or control the sequence of events or steps taken?

2. Are the activity-based objectives setting-appropriate and age-appropriate? Do they reflect a criterion level that is reasonable (not too high) but still challenging (not too low) for the student?

3. Do the objectives include actual "needs" to communicate? Do they need to be modified, and if so how, in order to promote independence and natural communicative functioning?

Note: For additional information see the handout listing a series of questions be addressed while formulating activity-based objectives.

Instructional Format

1. Does the instructional format under which the activity occurs facilitate or constrain communication by the student of concern?

For example, in a group activity are most questions addressed to the "group at large"? Does the group contain some vocal students who respond more quickly than the students using AAC means to communicate?

2. How frequently does the teacher address each student in the group?

a. Are group activities conducted as a series of frequently "interspersed" interactions between the teacher and each student?

b. Is the group activity conducted as a series of one-to-one instructional episodes? In this format, each student participates in a single long episode of interaction and waits (either before or after) while other students complete their single turn?

3. If the student is in an activity involving a sequence of brief episodes of one-to-one behavior regulation, does one communicative partner accompany the student throughout the activity or are different partners present throughout?

Age-appropriateness

1. Is the general type of activity or the content of the activity appropriate to the student's chronological age?

2. Are the materials used to accomplish the activity-based objectives generally appropriate to the student's chronological age?

3. What modifications could be made to improve the age-appropriateness of the activity objectives, actions, or materials?

Curriculum

1. If the classroom, school or district follows a particular curriculum model (e.g., community-referenced functional skills curriculum), do the goals and specific objectives of the activity "match" the model? What modifications would improve this match?

2. Are other curricular areas (other than communication) integrated into the activity-based objectives? What curriculum areas (functional reading or math, community integration, vocational preparation, independent living, self-care, etc.) could be integrated into the activity?

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TEACHING ARRANGEMENTS

Within this component are found the teaching arrangements, cues, and prompts, feedback procedures, etc. that are most directly related to "instruction", that is, to those activities carried out by the adult at any moment during the interaction to elicit or develop communication.

Material and Arrangements

1. If appropriate to the activity, is there a sufficient variety of materials present to promote spontaneous choice-making?

2. Are materials required for the activity observable by the student throughout the activity?

3. Are all required materials withheld from the student or are needed materials withheld in a natural, incidental manner?

4. If the student uses a communication aid (board, book, or device), does the physical arrangement of the activity permit the student to have access to both the communication aid and the materials needed to accomplish the activity at the same time?

5. If they use an aided means to communicate, does each student have his or her own communication board, book, display, or device?

ECT Cues and Prompts

1. Is there a sufficient number of pauses and are they of sufficient length to elicit the student's communicative responding?

2. Are pauses interspersed throughout the episodes of interaction between adult and student?

3. What cues are being used by the adults to elicit communicative responding? Are there enough ECT cues and prompts being used? Are there too many yes/no questions? Do the adults provide (model or state) the answer before asking the student a question?

4. Are cues being used in effective sequences? Do the adults make appropriate use of the pause--open question--pause--mand or partial prompt sequence?

Descriptive Feedback

1. Does the adult make use of descriptive feedback? When the student communicates via vocal, gestural, or augmentative modes (not involving speech output), does the adult repeat the student's message or incorporate a restatement into his or her next statement?

2. Does the adult use vocal inflection to "emphasize" the student's message while providing descriptive feedback?

3. If the student has been asked a question, does the adult "match" the grammatical form of the descriptive feedback to the preceding question, irrespective of the grammatical form of the printed gloss accompanying the aided symbol's on the student's display?

AAC Displays (for Teaching)

1. If the activity is done in a group format, would the elicitation of communication (questions, prompts, models) be enhanced by the teacher having his or her own communication board or display?

2. Does the teacher make use of her own or the student's communication display while delivering partial prompts or models of required communicative responses?

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VOCABULARY/MESSAGE

Within this component are evaluated those elements of vocabulary and message form or content that integrate the vocabulary and messages available to the student with the needs of the task.

Relation to Task

1. Are the vocabulary and messages available to the student related to the activity-based objectives?

2. Are there vocabulary and messages available that permit the student to communicate about the important actions which must be carried out by various persons at different times in the activity? In other words, do the available vocabulary and messages go beyond the obvious objects that must be used to complete the activity and include the significant changing aspects of the situation?

3. Are there vocabulary and messages available that permit the student to communicate the important social "niceties" associated with an activity involving the interaction of two or more persons?

4. Related to certain specific types of vocabulary: With students having intellectual disabilities, do the verbs selected represent more generalizable forms (e.g., "go" used to indicate turning on blenders, mixers, tape players, etc.)? Are the names of other students included in the vocabulary for group activities?

Message Form

These relate to the use of aided means to communicate:

1. Are all aided symbols accompanied by some type of printed "gloss"? Are these glosses appropriate to the activity-based objectives?

2. Are all messages represented as single word forms on the student's display?

3. Are any messages displayed as "stems" (e.g., "I would like a..." "Please push me to the..." "I am going to...")?

Age Appropriateness of Message Gloss

1. Are the message glosses accompanying aided symbols on a student's display or the messages used as voice output appropriate to the student's chronological age in a form or content?

2. For the communicative partner addressed within the activity, are the forms of glosses or the messages used as voice output at a social level (formal, informal, colloquial, etc.) appropriate to the student's chronological age? That is, do the forms and/or content of the glosses or messages represent what is minimally expected of a student of that age within that activity for the partner being addressed (e.g. peer, young adult, authority figure, etc.)?

Symbol Representation

With the use of picture symbols especially, are the representations appropriate to the activity or event within the activity being represented? Is there correspondence that would facilitate acquisition, recall and appropriate communicative use of the symbol?

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AAC DISPLAY

Within this component is evaluated the appropriateness and effectiveness of the AAC display (if the student uses or requires one) in relation to the specific activity being undertaken.

Physical Arrangement (Layout)

Does the physical arrangement of the symbols on the display facilitate the student's independent access and use of the aid or device to communicate important messages during the activity?

Physical Support

1. Is the display physically supported during the activity in such a way as to facilitate or constrain both the student's acts of communicating and participation in the activity?

2. Does the support of the student's display prevent the student from observing important events or choices of available objects during the activity?

Relation to Task (Arrangement)

1. Does the AAC display appear to have been designed for general purpose use or does it appear to have been designed to meet the needs of the activity-based objectives for the task?

2. Does the combined layout of the display and its support or positioning (arrangement within the task) facilitate or constrain the student's participation in the task?

Transport

If a communication aid is being used, does there appear to be specific provision for the transport of it from activity to activity by the student himself or herself?

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MESSAGE SELECTION STRATEGY

Within this component is evaluated the appropriateness or effectiveness of the message selection strategy (i.e., direct selection, pointing, optical pointer, scanning, etc.) in relation to the specific activity being undertaken.

Mode of Selection

Does the strategy for message selection appear to be the most effective one for this activity for the student? If not, what strategy might be more effective?

Augmentation of Selection Mode

Are there any procedures, strategies, or technology (e.g., audience directed scan, use of a light pointer, use of a raised keyguard over a Touchtalker display, use of voice output) that might enhance the strategy currently being used with the student and make it more effective within the activity?

Relation to Task

Is the message selection strategy compatible with the actions the student is required to perform within the activity? Does the message selection strategy inhibit or constrain the student from carrying out his or her required part? If so, how might this conflict be resolved?

Rate Enhancement

Are there any strategies or techniques that might be implemented by the team to enhance the rate at which the student is able to express his or her communicative response?

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP)  in collaboration with the Center for Literacy and Disabilities (CLD)  at Duke University.   NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by CLD, NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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