Through conversation we learn about each other, we show interest, share laughs, and develop empathy.
Of course even a "basic" conversation is comprised of several different skills that need to taught. Learners have to take turns speaking, stay on topic with each other, show attentive body language, and use attentive listening skills.
Unfortunately. what often happens when teaching these skills is a very stilted, rote, prompt heavy, series of exchanges. And that's OK at first but we need to quickly move out of that because prompts-especially verbal prompts-can be HARD to fade.
One way to help fade prompts is to use a visual. I designed these Conversation Trees specifically to a) help reduce verbal prompting b) pair a motor component to the conversation and c) to remind students that a conversation is a growing thing where you have a mix of questions, answers and comments.
Each pair of students picks a tree and 2 different leaves or fruit icons. One icon will represent a question and the other will represent a comment. The idea is that the tree will have a mix of both comments and questions. Some of the trees already have
a "C" and "?" labeled as an extra reminder.
Have one of your students start with an initial question and put an icon on the tree.
If you notice that your students are doing more of a list of information like this:
Student A:"I like cookies."
Student B: "I like ice-cream."
Student A: "I like bananas" etc.
Point to the icon that represents the question to cue them to mix it up.
Conversely you may notice your students are conducting an interview rather than conversing. It can look this:
Student A: "Do you have a pet?"
Student B: "Yes."
Student A: "Do you have a brother?"
Student B: "No."
Once your students get the hang of weaving both questions and comments to the conversation, remove this visual or just use a few of the icons and see if they can keep up their flow.
Just always remember big picture. Why are teaching this skill? What is the overall main point? It's not about checking off skills or mastering an IEP goal.
It's to ensure that your students have skills that enable them to establish meaningful, reciprocal, positive relationships.
Categories: conversation skills