Posted by Kirsteen Steven on the 6th February, 2024
This article explains the process of how a primary school in West Lothian used the Bookbug Symbolised resources to support and engage pupils with early literacy texts in new and exciting ways.
Working in partnership with class teachers, classroom assistants and pupils through a series of visits and practical hands-on, fun activities (including cuddly toys) and a tale of friendship, the school is now making the most of Bookbug resources.
Prior to the first visit by myself and my colleague Jo (our specialist SALT at CALL) I advised both class teachers to create their own accounts on our Books For All website. This is free for educators supporting learners in Scotland with a print disability. They had no idea that they could then request accessible digital versions of the Bookbug texts.
This is a great place to start. The staff were also advised to familiarise themselves with our Bookbug Digital Bookshelf where they could access previous years symbol supported texts.
Although the Primary 1 bags are sent home, many Early Years classrooms have paper copies available of these popular picture books, so they could start investigating our past created supports.
We chose Five Bears: A tale of friendship as our shared text for the day and the children (and staff!) all came to school armed with their own cuddly toys. What a lovely way to share a text.
Whilst Jo was reading, I supported the learners who were using the Big Mack, Little Step, Go Talk 9+ that we brought with us all with our symbolised supports on them as well as their class iPads with the Sounding Board app.
This was all new to both the learners and the staff. Now we had a very engaged, motivated and fully immersive shared reading experience.
The visuals that have been created to go alongside the GoTalk 9+ can be taped to the rear cover of the book and used as a tabletop activity as well. This then prompted staff to say...
“I love having these as communication boards alongside the text and I know this will suit some learners better.”
To complement the Bookbug resources we also shared some aided language boards for the school which are available for free download from Smartbox.com. These are a great communication resource to have available for the various play opportunities that we could see in the Primary 1 classroom.
Fast forward 3 months and where are we now? Now we have learners who are familiar with the communication devices and are becoming proficient in their use. With lots of staff modelling, the learners were able to communicate around the shared text.
Not only this, but our symbolised resources have provided staff with a model to create their own resources that support their learners’ communication at other times throughout the day.
Snack time was identified as an ideal communication opportunity and learners were using our Go Talk 9+ to make requests and then thank staff for their assistance.
As always, it is important to have high expectations for all learners and what they are able to achieve. Therefore, extending reading into writing is a very natural step, and with our Clicker 8 resources and all their built-in scaffolds it is easy to ensure that each individual pupil is provided with the scaffolded support that they need.
Learners were shown how to access these resources alongside staff and were given an opportunity to explore the technology. Being able to hear individual words read back as they went into the document and then the full sentences when . was pressed was very satisfying and engaging process.
Staff have said...
“This type of scaffolded writing process is going to provide the structure that our learners need to begin the writing process. Having the option of visual supports as well as modelled sentences and the options for sentence, guided or random order gives everyone what they need now and provides for future challenge.”
In addition, I shared how easily this can be used alongside the structured approach to sentence writing of Colourful Semantics. This was met with...
“Brilliant idea. I can think of a few individuals who really need that level of structure. And now, I can quickly take ready-made resources and personalise them to meet the needs of my class.”
The Primary 1 teacher said in regard to communication opportunities in her class...
“I’ve seen the children supporting each other in play situations using the Communication Boards, and they have had a really positive impact and have been a great addition to my classroom. Thank you!”
Thank you so much to Dedridge Primary School for having us and to the parents who agreed that we could share their children’s photographs in this blog.
An Introduction to AAC: Getting started with communication technology