There are a lot of things that need to fall in place for a learner to write meaningful text. Shared writing is an interesting way to get emergent AAC learners to understand the nitty-gritty of writing. When learners collaborate with teachers to construct written text, the writing process gets easier for them. The teacher lessens the cognitive load by prompting and supporting learners. Such joint construction of text also allows the learner to end up writing at a level higher than what would have been possible through independent writing.
Different Interventions for Different Needs
What literacy intervention and writing activities a learner would need largely depends on their cognitive and language abilities.
Emergent interventions work for learners who have minimal phonological awareness and/or communication skills. On the other hand, learners who show a better understanding of letters and actively participate in shared reading may do well with conventional interventions. Here’s the checklist to see if a learner is considered ‘emergent’
Some of the activities that are part of Emergent intervention are:
- Shared Reading
- Shared Writing
- Alphabet & Phonological Awareness
- Self-Directed Reading
- Picture/ symbol-based Communication systems
Shared Writing Activities
Emergent learners need to understand that text has meaning. They also need to understand the concept of print and text structures. Learning to write allows them to fluently express their ideas through text.
Here are a few activities that can motivate learners to write more:
It’s a no brainer that we all love talking about things we love. So, wouldn’t it make sense to let the learners choose what they want to write about? Use a DIY spinner using cardboard/chart paper and paper clips for learners to pick topics of their choice. When you use this with a group of learners, make sure to include a wide range of subjects. Stars, automobiles, fairies, food, favourite things, recounting holidays, describing family members are a few topics you could use.
You can also make a DIY bean toss game that can be played indoors or outdoors. Fill a colourful sock up with dried beans. Get a few paper plates, write different topics for writing and you have yourselves a fun way for learners to choose topics to write about.
Text to Speech Software
This inexpensive idea helps children see their writing come to life as speech. Get children to write text in a text to speech program. The audio reinforcement when the text is read aloud gives learners an impetus to write with correct spelling. Learners can also use the keyboard in robust AAC systems for this.
Balabolka, Natural Reader, and WordTalk are a few Text to Speech programs that are available free of cost. They have customizable voices and also can be used with several word processors and browsers.
Creative Group Writing
What if we get all the learners to build an exciting story together? Get them to choose the genre, characters, and setting. When working with a group of learners, make sure that every learner’s input becomes part of the story in some shape or form.
Predictable chart writing is a popular process used for shared writing. It involves giving a sentence starter to the learners. The learners contribute one, two, or more words to complete the sentence. Here are the steps to the predictable chart writing process:
- Write the Chart.
- Re-read the Chart.
- Cut up the learner’s sentence into parts.
- Be the Sentence
- Make a book
Example sentence starters for a story:
Once there lived a ______.
He went to a _______.
Read the sentence aloud and model keywords on an AAC system. There are no wrong answers to this. So, the learners can end up writing a hilarious story of a snowman going to a desert or a dinosaur that went to a gym. You can use this activity to encourage learners to use adjectives, verbs, and other parts of speech. You can also create a story project that targets math skills or core words.
E.g: The boy ate ______ candies.
I like ________.
Shared writing is an excellent way to teach learners word concepts and sentence structures. Since writing is an important skill for literacy, writing activities can go a long way in enabling the learners to participate in classrooms and to freely express themselves.