Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Communication Matrix

As a teacher I take the assessment and evaluation of my students very seriously. It forms the basis of my IEP goals which form the basis of my program. In order to ensure that student goals are appropriate, attainable, realistic, and with just the right amount of challenge you have to have solid assessments.

I use my cobbled together checklists and rubrics that over the better part of a decade have come to cover much of the curriculum. A little piece of this and a part of that fused together in an attempt to capture the learning paths of my students.

And then I found the Communication Matrix. This free online assessment tool has become my go-to for all things communication.

It resembles a periodic table that spans 7 levels of expressive and receptive language development from pre-intentional communication through to speech across 4 domains; refuse, obtain, social, and information. Dr. Charity Rowland, Ph.D. created this assessment tool for children with developmental disabilities and understands that communication doesn't look the same for any two children. She accounts for tactile cues, photographic and picture symbols, sign, gestures, eye gaze, etc.

When you begin a new assessment there are a series of questions about the student and how they communicate. You read a page of instructions ensuring that everyone completing the matrix is using the same defenitions. There is also a section on communication devices including concrete objects and picture symbols.

Each section of the assessment asks a specific question about how the child communicates. There is also the option to see a picture or a short video example.

Once the assessment is complete you are presented with the matrix. It shows you where the student has mastered a skill and where a skill is emerging or not yet used. It is easy to see where the gaps in learning are and what a student's next step should be.

There are amazing things you can do with the matrix once it is complete. One view allows you to see your answers, another shows you a bar graph with percentage of skill mastered at each level, you can even create reports and charts.

This is a brief overview of all that this site offers. I hope you take the time visit the site and try an assessment.

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