ichat_3up1Students are chatting away at Pacific Christian School (PCS) in Victoria thanks to an inspirational team effort. Last year, the school brought together their speech-language pathologist, integration support teacher, parents, teachers, and educational assistants for three SET-BC led training sessions on communication using technology. Participants learned about communication development, strategies to support vocabulary growth, classroom implementation ideas and spent hands-on time customizing Nova Chat communication devices.

Students are using Nova Chats to communicate in the classroom with peers and teachers, and show their understanding of academic concepts. For example, a Grade 1 teacher reported “[The] Nova Chat allows him to be an active participant in all our calendar activities. His classmates are always interested in how [the] Nova Chat works.”

As well, staff members have created topic pages for book sharing to encourage literacy development. Students can make comments about a story, answer questions about a story, and re-create the sentences from the story using vocabulary buttons on their communication devices. One EA has noted that “The Nova Chat broadens his scope for creating stories.”

Staff members have collaborated to create communication pages with room for growth. Students learn vocabulary first in the most motivating activities, and build on their learning in two ways: by communicating with the Nova Chat in a wider range of contexts, and by using more complex vocabulary in familiar activities. By hiding some buttons, and introducing them at a later point, students are learning new vocabulary in manageable chunks.

The school-wide response to using technology to support communication is extremely positive. Everyone is on-board, is seeing the benefits, and is learning from each other. A staff member has reported that “when a student uses the Nova Chat, classmates take notice and begin to realize that the student has a voice and is smart.” As well, as is common with the use of communication devices by students with emerging speech skills, the devices support blossoming verbal communication by providing auditory and visual models. One EA has commented, “The Nova Chat has really assisted in increasing his use of oral language in communication.” Much more chatting will be happening in the classrooms, halls, and playgrounds at PCS in Victoria!