Friday, November 13, 2009

Vantage Lite - tips on getting started

We finally had our first training on the Vantage Lite last week. It was very helpful, but really the biggest take-away from the 2.5 hours was one simple thought. If most language is based on the same 400 words used over and over (and it is) and that core vocabulary is in the talker already and fairly easy to navigate with some practice … then why are we assuming we need to program in the specific nouns for Nea's science unit?

The example given was, don't point to a picture of an apple and ask the child, "What is this?" and they go off and find the button and press "Apple". Instead, ask questions around that picture that uses core vocabulary as the answers. So I decided immediately that I had to experiment with Nea and her talker. I went home and asked her to tell me everything she knows about penguins.

What color are they? (black, white)
What do they eat? (goldfish crackers - har! and fish)
What do they like to do? (swim)
What would you wear if you were visiting them? (swimsuit)

Then we found the penguin button, too, but we'd used the talker so much before we even did that. It was fun, and she enjoyed it, and I hope doing activities like this will help her realize that the whole world is pretty much in that box. She just needs to learn how to use it more.

Because, you see, the talker is difficult in many ways, but the hardest for us is that Nea can talk a little. It's hard for her to decide to go through the effort of figuring out how to say something on the talker when she might be able to get her point across to us by speaking. This will resolve itself in one of two ways, of course. Either her speaking will improve to the point where she doesn't need a talker. Or her talker skills will increase to the point where it's not such an effort to say something.

Today I took some online training with the woman who developed the software we are using, WordPower. The most useful part of today's session was seeing how powerful the Vantage Lite can be once Nea is more literate. The word prediction is especially helpful. If you know how to read.

A couple links:
It looks like most of them are geared toward Unity, which is the software the Vantage Lite comes with. But what's a little customization.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's funny but I wouldn't have thought to work through it like that. And in obvious ways it has applications even with typical kids. Ask questions surounding a subject. Sometimes being a good teacher (and that's what parents are) just seems daunting to me. Thanks for the heads up B.