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Teaching Basic Concepts to Children who are Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing
GraceAmerman, MAMamaLereHearing School atVanderbilt University
What are “Basic Concepts” and why are the important?
Basic Concepts: Words that are most easily learned throughconcreteexamples. They depictlocation(up/down), number(more/less), descriptions (big/little), time(old/young), and feelings(happy/sad).Basic Concepts are the basic building blocks of thinking and learning in early education. The are a precursor to higher level thinking as they require the ability to compare and contrast.
What does this mean for our D/HH students?
As we know, D/HH children do not typically experience incidental learning. Their typical hearing peers do, so basic concepts are taught differently in general early childhood education.As professionals who work with D/HH students, we should focus on teaching one concept at a time so that it may become more concrete for our students.
How?According to Nelson, Powell, Bloom,Lignugaris/Kraft (2014), basic concepts can be taught using 6 simple strategies…
1. Concept Isolation
Introduce only one concept at atimeThink of “auditiorybombardment” during the introduction of your concept. Your students should hear the concept name many times and you should challenge yourself to see how many times you can say it.Example: Todaywe are going to talk about thewordon.Nowyousay the wordon(students sayon). Good! Now we are going to talk about what the wordonmeans. Let learn about the wordon. Everyone sit “criss-crossapple sauce”onthe rug so that we can learn about the wordon. Hey, I used the wordon. Did you hear me say, “sit “criss-crossapple sauce”ontherug”? We are sittingonthe rug… etc.It would also be beneficial for some students if the teacher acoustically highlighted the concept word during the introduction.
2. 5 Positive Examples
Show 5 examples of what the concept isExample: This red bear isonthe rug. This blue bear isonthe table. This green bear isonthe chair. This yellow bear isonmy head. This orange bear isonyour head.This is best done with 3-D manipulatives (in the above example the counting bears would be a good manipulative.
3. 5 Negative Examples
Show 5 examples of what the conceptis notExample: This red bearisnotonthe rug. This blue bear isnotonthe table. This green bear isnotonthe chair. This yellow bear isnotonmy head. This orange bear isnotonyour head.Again, thisis best done with 3-Dmanipulatives (the same manipulative you used to demonstrate the positive examples).
4. Continuous Conversation
This is your opportunity to allow the student to show you what they understand.Receptive: Ask the student, “Show me, the bear is on the rug” (the student should model with the manipulative). “Good, Where is the bear?” and the student should respond appropriately using the basic concept you’ve targeted.Expressive: Put the bear on the table. Ask the student, “Where is the bear”and the student should respond appropriately using the basic concept you’ve targeted.Have fun with this, allow the student to be the teacher and quiz you on the concept. If the student practices higher thinking then sabotage may be appropriate to use so that they make correct your mistake.
5. Teaching Generalization Throughout the Day
Find different ways that you might be able to incorporate your basic concept into different times of your day.Lunch Time: “Can you go put the napkinsonthe table?” Always test expressive after receptive, “Good! Where did you put those napkins?” and the student should tell you they put them on the table.Story Time: Look for examples of the concept in the story that you read. Point out a few examples and then see if the students can find their own examples of the concept.Free Play: Watch for the student to carry it over into their spontaneous play (this won’t happen right away but it will when they are comfortable with the concept) and see if you can help them along. Example, put the pretend keys on top of play stove while in housekeeping. Say, “I want to go to the store but I can’t find my keys. Do you see my keys?” This will hopefully set the student up to tell you that they areonthe stove.
6. Facilitating Spontaneous Recall
This is where we strategically plant reminders of the concept throughout the child’s environment.An example of this would be using place mats at snack time with different pictures of faces expressing different emotions on them. This would help facilitate some spontaneous discourse about the concept you’ve been working on. It is also a way to check and see if the student is generalizing it outside of the lessons. Ideally the student would observe that the boy on his place mat is sad and the girl on the other place mat is happy. To promote higher level thinking the teacher could ask why the student thinks the boy is sad.
Tips
When engaging in conversation about the concept, only use known words so that you can be sure the student is only focusing on learning this concept and not new words. An example would be, if the student is learning big and does not know small, then use the term NOT big when discussing something that is small while you are providing negative examples.Carefully select your order of teaching concepts – from more concrete to abstractReview previously taught concepts throughout the yearWhen showing positive examples, with objects, there needs to be a way to show differences. Example – put a bear under a table and a zebra under a different table.Do not hesitate to modify instruction based on your students needs to assure that learning occurs.
Resources
Basic Concept Training:Nelson, Powell, Bloom &Lignugaris/Kraft, 2014)Teaching Basic Concepts for Early SchoolSuccess!KeriSpielvogle,M.C.D.,CCC-SLPI received training on teaching basic concepts following this method from Michael Douglas,MA, CCC-SLP, LSLS,CertAVT.

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