Amanda Hatcher

Congratulations Amanda Hatcher from Paine Elementary

This project is to develop an outdoor communication board that will provide our non-verbal students additional support for continued learning opportunities and to encourages language stimulation in additional school settings (i.e., the playground). It will provide teaching opportunities for ALL of our students (those who are non-verbal or have difficulty with communication and/or social skills as well as those who are neuro-typical) to meaningfully engage in social and learning activities with each other. This allows for more inclusive, peer-to-peer communication while supporting a research-based approach to incidental teaching (using naturally occurring opportunities for learning).

Amanda Hatchers states, we set up environments in our classrooms every day to encourage language development and social communication. We can set up the same level of environments on our playgrounds, which are great places to learn cooperative play, problem-solving skills, and how to work with others. The outdoor communication board is an innovative tool that allows our students the opportunity to learn and apply a new way of communicating with others- it’s called Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Teaching opportunities for language and communication abound when supported by the communication board. Students can now ask friends to play, make comments on what’s happening during play, request what to play, take turns, and follow directions from peers or give directions to peers during gameplay. Using a communication board provides AAC users (such as non-verbal students) more independence and expands the possibilities of communication. Non-AAC users (verbal people) can also use the board to model/show how to use it.

The outdoor communication board is a positive influence on language development for children with developmental disabilities and communication difficulties. It is empowering in creating inclusive pathways and “play-ways” for language learning opportunities for all of our students.