At The Bridge School, we ask parents about each student's specific interests, home and community experiences, motivating topics and non-preferred activities often and throughout the school year. We then integrate this information into our intervention practices. For example, a teacher might tailor instruction for a geography lesson based on the travel experiences of her students. Speech-language pathologists are always providing new vocabulary so a student can talk about a recent experience.
The Bridge School staff use several strategies to promote open and frequent communication with each child's family.
- Home News enables staff to stay connected with families throughout the school year while targeting specific communicative competence skills. Students and families co-construct brief messages that reflect something that happened at home (e.g., gift from a birthday party). Then, students participate in recording their message on a simple digitized device (e.g., Step by Step). The device goes to and from home in the student's backpack daily so he/she can share the message with partners at school. For more information, check out the Home News section.
- "I Know About That" is information about children in the classroom that is posted on an easily-accessible bulletin board. For example, the parents of preschool children send in background information about their child's experience with a targeted theme (e.g., community helpers). Students can refer to the "I Know About That" board to talk about their past experiences or to request vocabulary additions to their communication books and devices.
Operational Competence Skills
Activate a single switch to take turns in simple age-appropriate conversations.
Strategic Competence Skills
Request support for new vocabulary additions to high and low-tech AAC systems.
Social Competence Skills
Project unique personality and positive self-image using pre-programmed messages (songs, sound effects, age-appropriate language) on SGD.
Here is an audio sample on Trevor's Home News around Superbowl time. Home News is recorded by families on a student's Step-by-Step (or other SGD) and students share news with peers during the school day. Through this news, we learn about aspects of Trevor's family and personality that we may not have otherwise known. Samples like this one can be archived and later programmed into a student's SGD for repeated sharing.
Share personal past experiences with someone who did not participate in the activity.
Abigail's parents sent in photos of a recent family event and wrote captions to describe what Abigail found most interesting. By continually updating the book, her family enabled Abigail to talk about her favorite experiences with her peers and the staff at school.
Linguistic Competence Skills
Express concepts using representational strategies.