1) Provide the lesson in a relevant context (well, as relevant as you can make the k-12 classroom!),
2) Provide opportunities for the students to learn from and with each other in a social context (yes, even in a functional life skills class this can be done),
3) Embed Core and Fringe Vocabulary into each activity,
4) Model the use of AAC and various strategies to promote language acquisition and communication skills to the classroom teacher and teaching assistants so that it can be replicated when I am not there (move away from the "expert" model),
5) Have the students create or interact with some type of artifact,
6) While imbedding it in a familiar routine.
I take data on each student during the lesson. My goals for them are as follows:
1) Student demonstrates attention to the lesson: come to their seat/remaining in their seat/visually attend/auditorily attend/demonstrate a "listening body": turning toward the speaker/a peer/ the video, etc.
2) Participating in the activity: requesting a turn/taking a turn upon request/gesturing and communication: pointing, smiling, laughing, clapping, or commenting on the participation of other.
3) Demonstration of understanding and use of functional concepts or words - multi-modal communication systems are always integrated into the lesson.
This Valentine activity began with peer video modeling. I video taped my own son creating the project. He modeled the use of a low-tech Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) Activity Specific Board. I then quickly created a slideshow in iPhoto consisting of video clips and PCS and set it to music. I used my iPad, an external speaker, a dongle and a projector to display the video to the students before giving each a turn with the activity. Students watched the video and then were each given an opportunity to create their own "marble art" painted heart.
In this particular activity a video encore was requested by the students.
Communication is FUN! Communication ROCKS!