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A class working in a group, sitting around a table

Expressive and receptive communication skills are essential for communicating across a range of contexts, purposes and audiences. Students may need support as they learn to communicate with others.

The English K–6 Communication support materials explore the  assessmentplanningprogrammingimplementation and evaluation, outlined in the Teaching and learning cycle in order to support students with complex communication needs.

The materials guide teachers through:


Two girls, smiling, outside

Supporting students with complex communication needs

  • Intentionality (pre-intentional and intentional communication)
  • Functions of communication
  • Communication forms
    • Pre-intentional communication forms
    • Intentional communication forms (non-symbolic and symbolic)
    • Communication aids
    • Vocabulary choices for communication systems


Gathering evidence of learning

  • What evidence of learning should be collected to provide information about a student’s communication behaviours?
  • What assessment strategies can I use to investigate these communication behaviours?
    • Expressive communication:
      • published inventories, interviews and questionnaires
      • communication samples
    • Receptive communication:
      • nonverbal communication
      • comprehension of oral instructions
      • comprehension of oral question forms
      • comprehension of oral comments and statements
      • dynamic assessment
      • visual supports assessment
    • Analysis of contexts


Communication goals and criteria for assessmentA girl whispering into the ear of another girl

  • What planning is required to program for the knowledge, understanding and skills of communication?
    • Planning and programming model
    • Collaborative curriculum planning
    • Selection of outcomes
  • Is there sufficient evidence that students have made progress as a result of the planned experiences?
  • Criteria for assessing learning for pre-intentional functions of communication
  • Criteria for assessing learning for intentional functions of communication (both non-symbolic and symbolic)


Targeting communication goals through learning expenences2 students sitting at the table with their teacher

  • How can a student’s communication needs, priorities and goals be addressed in a whole class program?
  • What content, learning experiences and instruction are most effective for students who are experiencing difficulties?
    • Communicative opportunities
    • Turn-taking
    • Predictable and established routines
    • Activities that have a shared focus
    • Activities/materials requiring support


Strategies and adjustments to address communication goalsA teacher assisting a student with his lunchbox

  • How can communication partners, strategies and the environment be used to effectively address a student’s communication needs, priorities and goals?
    • Strategies for expressive communication
      • Wait and signal
      • Contingent responding
      • Referencing
      • Response chaining
      • Shaping
      • Functional communication training
    • Other strategies
      • Prompting
      • Aided language stimulation
      • Picture Exchange Communication Systems (PECS)
      • Strategies for maintenance and generalisation
  • How can effective and efficient feedback be delivered by teachers and communication partners?
  • What adjustments are appropriate for students who are using aided forms of communication to enable them to participate in teaching and learning experiences?


Evaluating the effectiveness of the programStudents sitting in class

  • How can judgements be made about the effectiveness of the teaching and learning program?



Thought - How can communication opportunities be integrated in the classroom

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