Expanded calendars support conversations on a variety of topics. Students are able to have conversations about activities that will take place in the future and recall things that happened in the past. This type of calendar can be expanded to represent a week, month or year and uses a traditional calendar format. Calendar conversation topics frequently include the weather, current events and the day's activities. At this level, true conversational interactions take place with balanced contributions from both an adult and the student. The student initiates some of the conversation.
Daily and Weekly Calendars
Use a daily calendar in conjunction with a weekly calendar so the student knows what is occurring throughout each day. A symbol or picture can be used to represent each day of the week. The designated item can then be removed at the end of each day to show that the day is over. Cloth or paper flaps that cover the days that have passed are helpful for students who need more tangible cues.
Expanded calendars should include a representation of the weekend even though the student is not in school. Ask the family to identify an activity that occurs on the weekend. At the very least, use a symbol or photograph of home.
After a student is able to understand and use three weeks of a calendar, add the remaining time to build a month. Schedule this to occur on the first day of a new month. It is helpful to number the days so that the student can begin using dates as a way to track time. The student should learn the name of the current month. Monthly calendars can be posted on a wall in left to right sequence as the year progresses. This makes it easy for the student to refer to past events.
Infusing IEP Goals Into an Expanded Calendar
Possible IEP objectives for students who understand and use symbols and are developing conversational language include:
- Combine words in new ways to convey novel meanings.
- Expand topics for conversation.
- Respond to specific question forms (who, what, when, where)
- Interact with peers.
- Initiate conversation more frequently.
- Participate in conversation by providing new information.
- Expand functions.
Significant portions of this module are adapted with permission from Calendars for Students with Multiple Impairments Including Deafblindness by Robbie Blaha.