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Monday, April 28, 2014

Core vocabulary

Have you heard of CORE vocabulary?  Up until a few months ago, I didn't either.

In my role as a special education teacher, 90% of my students have poor to no speech and the 10 % with normal speech may have some cognitive challenges that prevent them from understanding language properly.  In a lot of cases, our speech pathologists would make them a communication board to either communicate with or clarify themselves if they haven't been understood. 

In the past I would also post Boardmaker symbols around the room to label items and places and I would make different communication boards with vocabulary that was relevant to the activity or topic that we were talking about.  When the book or topic changed, I would make new boards.

This is an example of a board that I made to go along with a specific book.

This year, things changed.  Our speech pathologist started to talk about something called CORE.  

So what is Core Vocabulary?

Core vocabulary is high frequency, generic words that are reusable.  These words make up about 90% of what we say. 

Personal core words are words that are relevant to a particular person such as names of friends and family, and favourite toys and foods 

 Fringe words are words that are unique to specific activities or academic subjects such as colours, shapes and art supplies.

The theory behind core vocabulary is that it contains the words that we use over and over again.  The communication board stays the same and we are not making new ones, with new vocabulary for every activity.

This is an example of a low tech 50 pixon symbol board with fringe vocabulary along the top.

This is an example of a high tech device.  Touching a button will open a new page and access to more vocabulary.  The principle is still the same though.

So I wanted to ask you your opinion.  Do you use CORE?  Do you like it? Would you use it if it was available?  Tell me what you think.

I'm now wondering if I need to change my thinking and re-do some of my activities to include a CORE focus rather than a FRINGE focus.  How can I be teaching them the words they are going to need in everyday life?  How can I teach my students to ask and respond in a more independent way?  How can I meet the ministry expectation with CORE?

I'm working on some CORE lesson plans right now to go with the book "I Went Walking" by Sue Williams to give it a try.   Let me know if you are interested in something like this.


LEM said...

I am definitely interested in this. I have 2 students with devices who use the Unity vocabulary set. CORE is something I try to focus on in many settings.

Ness said...

I love CORE. I think it's fantastic for generalizing language across all settings-not just literacy, which is so important. I also think it build catergorising skills, the whole 'Well I need train, but I know where car is so maybe I'll look there'. I think the boards you used to do are fantastic for those beginning communicators, but once they have itove on. So excited you are looking at some more CORE UNITS! :)

Unknown said...

This post definitely peaked my interest. Like you I work with students who have moderate/severe disabilities (1st year!). I have not heard of Core until your post (so glad I follow you!). I actually had to Google it! What a concept- I think it would be AWESOME to start incorporating that into my lesson plans, question where do I start! It seems so overwhelming and I can only imagine how the students will feel when they see a new format. It would great to see it used in action, perhaps I will check out YouTube! Thanks for the post, I am excited to see how you begin to incorporate this in your classroom!