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Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite

Thursday, August 15, 2013

ASK SNOOPI: Storytelling / Writing Group

Ask Snoopi

Hi everyone, I’m a little bit early on my blog. I am in the hospital and I’m about to have surgery. Then it will be a long recovery for me. I will be having surgery on July 8. It will be on my neck so for a week I won’t be able to move my head. I don’t know what will be from there. So if I don’t write something in August, I hope you all will understand that I am recovering.

Anyway, someone wrote me with a question. I am excited because I feel this is a question that I can answer.


I am hoping to run (for the first time ever) a story-telling/writing group for kids who use some form of AAC. The idea is that I will be supporting these kids to expand expression and use their AAC systems to produce poetry/stories/plays…whatever they wish. These kids have only ever gotten to use their AAC systems in very clinical settings but never outside of therapy in functional and fun ways. I want to try to encourage them to get out there and use their AAC systems more.

Where do I start or have you ideas about how the group could run? Is there a curriculum I can follow?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Teresa Orlandi, MIASLT
 Speech & Language Therapist
 Enable Ireland”

Snoopi's Response
 First of all, Prentke Romich Company (PRC), has a couple of books. The only one that comes to my mind right now is a book called “Brown Bear.” They have several other books as well and what they have done is, they put an icon on every page of the book. What you do is you open the “Brown Bear” page on the device and it shows the icon. Then all you do is push the icon that goes along with the icon in the book. The device will then read the story.

When I was living in Wooster, Ohio, I had an awesome experience reading books to children. I did something that was similar to PRC’s. I put a page under every icon, but I used voice changers if there was more than one character in the story. I had every character have their own voice. When it was time to turn the page, I had Whispering Wendy say “Turn the page.” It was so cool! After I was done reading the book, they all wanted to read the book again. So I ended up passing around my device so that everyone could have a turn pushing icons and reading part of the story. And to add to it, the classroom had stuffed animals that went along with the story. We ended up passing out the stuffed animals and it became more like a play.

So if you are introducing children to writing a play, you might want to start with something like that so they get a fun idea of what a play is. In my mind, it should be fun the first time. That way it will get everyone’s interest and maybe you can work from there. Talk about different kinds of plays and how to build a story. You may want to start with having them make up a play from an event in their own lives. That way you already have a storyline and all they have to do is put in what everyone says. La la, you have a play.

When it comes to poetry, poetry is one of my favorite subjects. Let me tell you one of my favorite times writing poems. I was part of a poetry contest and what they did was put on music so everyone could write whatever popped into their minds. However, we were already poets so it was not an introduction to poetry. I was so inspired by the music that my poem was one of the leading poems. So you might try that after you introduce people to poetry.

In my mind, it’s very important to tell people that there are different types of poems. Some have a rhyme with every line, some have a rhyme every other line, some of them don’t rhyme at all, and there really is no rules for writing poetry. It can be very short or very long, it all depends on what you want to express. What I would do is introduce everyone to one style of poetry at a time and then try to write in that style. And don’t make anyone feel bad if they can’t write in a certain style. Everyone has to find a style that works for them. And when they find that style, they might run with it.

I hope this was helpful. Depending on how I feel in my recovery, I might not be writing in August. But feel free to send in your questions.

Thank you and I hope to be writing soon.

Snoopi Botten

More Ideas From Caroline

Check out First Author Writing Software from Don Johnston – it’s designed to support exactly the students you are talking about!

And I agree VERY much about using poetry.  It’s very quick and easy to be successful!  Check out the Poetry Power book & CD at my website:

Writing for a PURPOSE is so important, and what greater purpose than to publish your work? 
• Publish books at:  www.tarheelreader.com
• Publish poetry at the poetry corner at Caroline & Deanna’s Balanced Literacy Wiki:

And look at reviews of great apps to support writing:
• Apps for Book Writing & Inspiring Writing: http://spedapps2.wikispaces.com/Inspiring+Writing
• Apps for Publishing Writing:  you can publish in very easy ways, such as recording simple list poems to create raps!! http://spedapps2.wikispaces.com/Publishing+Writing

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