katherine zagotsis
Highly Accomplished Teacher. AAC Communication Partner & Advocate. Mum of one. Accidental Leader. Reflectionist, Mentor and life-long learner.

Engaging Now! 7.4

@ReneeTreml Hi 🙂 I just wanted to let you know that my husband, myself and my baby sit down together every night to read 'Look, Baby.' It's such a lovely book for the end of the day.

About 7 months ago from Katherine Zagotsis's Twitter via Twitter for Android

Demonstrating 4.5

Evidence Set #1: Supporting colleagues to incorporate AAC and increase students’ literacy achievement


Every student attending Modbury Special School has an I.Q of 70 or below as well as difficulties with communication, interpersonal skills and self care.  Many students are reliant on using whole body movements, gestures and vocalisations in place of verbal speech to help meet their needs, which often leads to frustration if they are misunderstood by the adults working with them. Within my classroom, I have a student who speaks spontaneously in 3-word sentences, a student who has increased his one-word vocabulary to 2-words, but often requires prompting and a student with delayed echolalia who is beginning to use words appropriately to express himself. The remaining students are predominantly non-verbal, yet do have the ability to produce sounds and often do so. As a class, they are mostly working at the Pre-Foundation levels of A and B and of the Victorian Curriculum in English, Speaking & Listening, with one student working at Level C.

Level A: The student is learning to receive and respond to environmental stimuli and communication from others.

Level B: The student is learning to make simple requests, and communicate basic needs, wants, and feelings.

Level C: The student is learning to recognise basic social rules of communication, and explore ways to convey information to others.

Due to the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students (1.1), Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is used across the site. These include Boardmaker visuals, Key Word sign, PODD books and most recently, ProloQuo2go. This evidence set aims to demonstrate how I support colleagues, Emma, Carolyn and Giulia, to implement effective teaching strategies to improve students’ literacy achievement (2.5) by teaching them to include AAC in their practice.


I have done this by:

  • Assisting colleagues to select a wide range of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support students’ understanding, engagement and achievement (3.5), guiding them to reduce verbal language, instead integrating more AAC into their practice (Artefact 1).
  • Modelling high-level teaching knowledge and skills (2.6), by continuing to use ProloQuo2go myself, working with Giulia to use current ICT to improve teaching practice and make content relevant and meaningful (2.6). (Artefact 1).
  • Supporting colleagues to implement effective strategies to improve students’ literacy achievement (2.5) by incorporating the teaching of Core Words into my English program and teaching staff how to effectively introduce and use language with students (Artefact 2)
  • Modelling effective practice and supporting colleagues to implement inclusive strategies that engage and support all students (4.1) (Artefact 2)
  • Applying a comprehensive range of assessment strategies (5.1) to show the language development of students who are non-verbal and using the information to further inform instruction (Artefact 3) and (Artefact 5).
  • Initiating and engaging in professional discussions with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students (6.3) (Artefact 4).


Student Impact:

I have selected from a flexible and effective repertoire of teaching strategies to suit the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students (1.1), which has led to an increase in literacy outcomes, as can be seen in (Artefact 3) and (Artefact 5)

Colleague Impact:

An increased level of competency in using AAC and a more comprehensive understanding of the importance of including both verbal and non-verbal communication strategies, as can be seen in (Artefact 1).


I am pleased with how I have guided colleagues in a variety of ways to incorporate AAC into their practice and in turn, improved students’ literacy achievement.  In future, I would like to use the results from the survey conducted by the Communication Group to lead training based on staff need.  


  1. Aitsl.edu.au. (2019). Teacher Standards. [online] Available at: https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards [Accessed 16 Jul. 2019].
  2. Communicationmatrix.org. (2019). Home Page – Communication Matrix. [online] Available at: https://www.communicationmatrix.org/ [Accessed 22 Jul. 2019].
  3. Arc-ots.com. (2019). ABLES Portal. [online] Available at: http://www.arc-ots.com/ABLES/home.php [Accessed 22 Jul. 2019].

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