Category: For Teacher


I absolutely love when I find a good video on YouTube to watch! Especially when I need to practice my receptive practice and the best way to do that is by signing with the Deaf community but when time does not allow that the second best way is by watching videos of native signers.Sometimes when I can’t connect with fellow educators, fluent signers or with members of the Deaf community I watch videos to retain my skills as best as I can..smile. Videos of native signers can be from YouTube, resources suggested by RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf), EIPA(Educational Interpreters Performance Assessment) or videos found on material websites such as www.dawnsignpress.com or www.harriscommunications.com.

I found this video on YouTube while looking for idiom videos both English and ASL to teach my students about how English Idioms are used in sign language. I also taught them the common phrases and idioms specific to the deaf community. Teaching Idioms is a lengthy process as students need to understand the definition for the term idioms and then how they are used in the English language. After that we then learn the same information for ASL idioms. At the very end of all that this a great video to show students of idioms at work…maybe a bit much for beginning students but a good video for fluent signers. If you have other suggestions please share.

Until my next post, be encouraged:)

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asl activitiesAmerican Sign Language is such a beautiful and fun language to learn but sometimes the routine of  teaching students about  grammar and phrases specific to the deaf community can be a bit dry. In classrooms we tend to follow routines so much we fall into a cycle and forget learning should be creative,interactive and fun (not always) but as much as possible. To do this, it is important to think outside of the box when teaching new information. So, I would like to share some of the games and ideas I use in the classroom. Also, the book in the picture is a great resource to use with a signing group or in a class. It has a little bit of everything that can be used to teach new topics, review topics, focus on fingerspelling, or numbers. When you have time check it out.

1. Sign Bingo: You can do this several ways: print out a bingo handout or make one or have students fold their papers into fours where it will give them four in a row or four down or four across. Then have students write in the current vocabulary you are learning without a free space or you can use one if you like but I like for students to review as many signs as you can. The teacher can sign the words to the students but I prefer to have students sign the words to get involved. Once a student has four in a row they must hit their desk and fingerspell BINGO to win! For winners I usually have a test pass as a reward that they can use to receive full points for a test and not have to take the test at all. Students are crazy-for that!

This is another game that students give great feedback on.

2. I create flashcards using current and previous vocabulary words. Afterwards, students forms teams of five to six. Next, they line up in rows in front of the teacher. I show each student a flash card and they have 30 seconds or less depending on how good they are signing the vocabulary word to win a point for their team. The student at the beginning of the line tries first when finished they move to the end of the line and the next person moves forward for their turn, the students moves in a cycle. If they answer incorrectly they do not receive a point for the team.  I do not allow them to ask for lifelines(help) but this game can be altered to play in any manner, if you do please share your new ideas with me:) The game makes a great review activity.

I play several games in my classroom and am always looking for new ones. One of my greatest sources are games for ESL learners. This selection of games, practice conversations and learning activities/handouts lend themselves well to ASL learning. Try it and let me know how it works out.

If you are interested in additional activities please leave a message.

Until then play, sign and be merry!

sponsored by the Alumni Association and co-hosted by the Old Farts Racing Team                       

Presents:

Happy Days Reunion Annual Benefit Car Show and Craft Fair

Saturday

March 30, 2013

8:30-3:00pm

Spectator Admission is free!

Flyer attached for more information.

CSDRAAFLYERFinal.pdf_2013a_b

car 2  car

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Just about once every two weeks….I sit at my desk and think to myself. I never intended to be this…a high school teacher. I wonder if a lot of teachers feel this way, especially with all the changing laws, standards and classroom expectations. Oh…let me not forget parents. This may be one of the most difficult parts of the job along with what they call the political issues of teaching. I never quite understood that until I realized how students and parents have more power than the teacher. A teacher can think a student my not be a good fit for the classroom and have good reason for it but because some of our districts are parent controlled, that student stays. On the flip side of that, a student can rant and rave why he or she does not want to be in the class and does not have good reason to  and can be removed from the class on the first whim of unhappiness. What does this teach our students and what does it show teachers about their value in this education system?

My first year of teaching I thought this is not going to work but by the end of the year I was in love with teaching and with students. When I was laid off from my first teaching job I cried and began to look for jobs directly related to my degree which is a community college counselor. to give myself a break from teaching. I did not have luck because those types of jobs are difficult to obtain. A few years later I found a job teaching again at a high school. I was overjoyed to be working with high school students again. I would like to mention, over the years I have taught at the college level and enjoy it soo much but the point of this blog I hope to make is about high school teaching. Back to the story. After this past two years that joy has now become a combination of tears and joy. I am not sure about teaching at high school while I am sure about how much I like it. It bothers me that in education not just teachers but administrators and school districts do not hold parents and students responsible for their success. The teacher’s job is to provide an education and support students during their academic journey. Good teachers go above and beyond this to ensure students are receiving what they need to be successful but the rest is up to them. However, high school has become more like a hunting ground for teachers. Parents and students focus on the best way to intimidate teachers into giving their student a undeserved grade coupled with not holding a student responsible for the their actions. This is not the case all the time but most of the time. There are some students who are passing successful but for whatever reason the parent gives the teacher a hard time and there are flat-out some cases where the teacher was wrong and makes it difficult for other teachers to have a positive experience with that same parent. So many scenarios so little time.

This blog is not about bashing students and parents but more so about a realization I have arrived at. Getting there soon.

One of the most important things to do as a high school teacher is to find allies who can help you navigate the system and give you guidance on how to deal with the students and parents in your area as the culture changes depending on where you teach. I expressed to one of my allies my concern of  returning the next school year. She pointed out all the reasons why I show I enjoy teaching more than I don’t. As well as a few more tips. Following this conversation, I spoke with an administrator I trusted(funny right) but I shared my feelings as well who in turn said the moment you begin to feel like you dislike teaching and do not want to be a teacher…you should find another occupation. These two pieces of advice helped but confused me more for some reason even though the information was straight forward.

This year a couple of teacher movies were made and yesterday I watched both “Don’t back down” and “Here comes the boom” both about teachers who wanted to make a difference in their schools but employed in different ways. I remember feeling that way at times I still do. It made me think about how much I love when my students are learning and when they take the information I give them to make a difference in their lives and other people’s lives. I am reminded me of how I fight through budget issues to be creative and bring learning experiences to my students or to get my students to the learning experience. It reminded me of how….. even when I don’t want to teach I still figure out innovative ways to connect students to my lesson so they will not be as bored as they normally are. It reminded me that when a student talks to me about what they feel uncomfortable about that they trust me or when it is six period or any period for that matter and as tired as they are from trucking class to class some of them still manage to greet me with a smile and all about their day and laugh at my corny jokes. It reminds me that deep down inside despite being bashed by students and parents at times, and unsupported by administrators and the countless and thankless hours I put into what I do as a teacher….that eventhough I did not intend on being a high school teacher this is where I am. My goal is to be the best teacher I can be until the time has come for me to transition. I will always work in education as teaching and learning from others is my passion. What I have learned from being a high school teacher is stand strong but be flexible, don’t take things personally unless you need to self-reflect and get back on track and remember that parents are always there as that is their right but your right is to protect yourself using the education code and common sense (difficult sometimes) and lastly teaching is about you and the student..how can you get the information to the student who will in turn be responsible for their part and apply it to their life. Teachers educate students to be informed and productive citizens rather that be in teenage years or in adult years. We have all had a teacher who made an impression on our life and for the most part I want to be that teacher for one student or several students quantity does not matter but quality does.

Exposure and information can be the key to feeling  more comfortable and accepting to what you as hearing parents and your deaf child may experience. This is a great video sharing perspectives of hearing parents that have deaf children. The video was created two years ago by University of Northridge. This university has a degree program dedicated to Deaf Studies/Education and has a large deaf population attending to obtain degrees. If you are a parent of a deaf child please view the video to gain more insight to American Sign Language and Deaf culture and more so to see the world through your child’s eyes.

ASL in family

ASL in family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do I have to interact with deaf people??????? Yes, you do! This is what I tell my students.

The best way to learn sign language is to “dive into the deaf world”. Students ask all the time how they can receive a name sign or how to become more fluent…my response is….. by practicing and connecting with the very people whose language you are learning. What better way is there to increase your signing abilities both receptive and expressive than by practicing with deaf individuals. I understand using your skills as a beginning signer can be nerve-wracking but as I tell my students be like the Nike slogan and “Just Do It” jump right in and do your best. Deaf people are straightforward and seek to make connections with other signers, one of the key elements of the culture is communication. The Deaf community appreciates when a hearing person has a sincere interest in learning sign language and a level of respect for the language, culture and community.

This past week one of my ASL 1 students attended the Sean Forbes concert at California School for the Deaf Riverside. When she came back she was enlightened and excited about the skills she was able to use at the concert. She shared with me her experience and how she was happy when she realized how much sign language she understood. I was soooo proud of her because she now understands the importance of what she is learning, how to use it and its benefits.

I encourage students to attend any deaf event but the best events are the ones that are on a smaller scale and allow one to one communication. As students attend these events and return to the classroom they share how comfortable they felt, the signs they learned and conversations they clearly understood. These experiences are confidence builders which are great for the spirit when learning a new language and putting it into action.

I love that ASL is becoming increasingly popular but as an ASL educator and Child of Deaf Adults I want my students to understand that it is vital to connect, involve and grow in the deaf community, doing this will enhance your perspective of deaf culture and increase your signing fluency.

So…ASL students Get out there and sign!

Good Luck:)

shhWhat is the best strategy to learn American Sign Language???? By immersing yourself in the language and culture. This means signing and not focus on talking which is imperative to signing success.

Returning to a classroom full of talkative, hyper and at times non-attentive high school students, this is the number one  strategy students put last on their list even when enforced. I understand that learning a new language can be confusing and overwhelming and there are times when voices need to be used but there are many times if students focus they can express themselves with the vocabulary they have (which is similar to talking only with hands). I share with students the scenario that when deaf individuals find themselves in a situation with a communication barrier they cannot turn their voices on, so they figure out a way to communicate with ASL. I expect students to do the same as best as they can.

I find that the best signers are those who not only focus and use the voice off rule in class but put what they learn to use outside of class. I remind students that ASL is similar to math if you don’t use it you lose it. You may feel confident in class but when you leave a signing environment you lose what you learn unless you incorporate it into your daily life.

I share my passion and respect for American Sign Language not only because it is part of who I am; a bi-lingual bi-cultural individual  but I know its beauty and benefits to the hearing and deaf cultures. I want my students at any level to love it as much as I do or at least respect it because “American Sign Language is to the eyes as words are to the ears”  -Ken Glickman-

Sooooo……Voices Off..please!

Cover of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Cover of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

This excerpt is from the Dr. Seuss book “Oh the Places You’ll Go”. I love this book because it empowering and encourages world exploration. To remember that change may come, things may happen that you dislike, or you may not understand why something happens just be positive get back on your feet and try again. I think the ending to this book is great to close my blurb with.

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.

Ok….what is this Dr.Seuss blog about you might ask?

Every year I give a children’s story assignment to my ASL students. Some of the books students choose are fabulous but the number one desired author for this assignment is Dr.Seuss. Dr. Suess is an entertaining and creative writer however; sometimes his books do not lend themselves well to conceptual ASL.  I have tried to figure out how to get students to understand the importance of visually performing a Dr.Suess book whose language can be twisty-turvy at times  and conveying  it clearly in the wonderful signed performance at their level of course.  Today, I saw Keith Wann’s Dr. Suess video in ASL it was fantastic. I am already a fan of his and the great comedy he produces so it was a joy to see this and I will show it as an example to students of how a Dr.Suess story can be performed. The book he signs is “Oh the Thinks You Can Think”. Enjoy!!!

Photograph of a female Monarch Butterfly en ( ...

Photograph of a female Monarch Butterfly en ( Danaus plexippus en ) on a hybrid Milkweed en ( Asclepias tuberosa en x Asclepias incarnata en ). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

butterfly project

Children love butterflies! During last summer I began teaching my daughter how to sign certain signs and she asked about the sign for butterfly. When I showed her it was like she was amazed at how beautiful her hands were as they formed the sign and moved outwards and upwards. At that moment I decided to make a mini-lesson about butterflies. I taught her the sign again (reinforcement), I printed a picture of butterfly and she colored it and cut it out to post in her bedroom. There after, as we went on our walk the perfect opportunity came, we saw a butterfly and she signed it and I signed it with her and it was a great opportunity to reinforce what we just learned. That is what teaching ASL to children is about. Teaching the vocabulary, supporting the vocabulary through activities and in natural environments.

Please use this activity with your children and let me know how it works:)

As I sit here thinking about the new year and lesson planning:) I ponder on the reason why I teach the subject that I do or why I teach at all. I teach my subject because it stems from who I am.. a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). My mother and brother was deaf, I have one brother still living who is deaf also. My mom had a personality larger than life with blue eyes and Carmel skin and a heart filled with faith. Her motto in life and for her family is in all things keep the faith. She passed away five years ago but each day feels like it has not been that long ago. I think of her to remind me why I do what I do..teach ASL. I could teach anything but ASL is my passion it is the electricity that ignites my core.

I remember our experiences growing up in a Deaf family some good and some bad but I use those experiences to make a difference with the students I work with. My mother never let anything interfere with her life plan, each of my brothers (both have blue eyes too) and stood against discrimnation..against audism to become the people who they became. My twin brother sadly passed away three years ago and he reminds me to “try life” to live and love and not regret. I share that passion with my students as well. I love them whole-heartedly as their teacher, mentor and the person who may be able to make a difference in their lives so they can make a difference in someone elses.

All in all, I strive to remind myself of my purpose as a teacher and the subject I teach. My purpose is to show the importance of American Sign Language to the Deaf community and the hearing community and to bring life to the lessons I teach. As well to make sure I empower and educate others to reach out and connect with populations other than their own despite their abilities and in abilities. Most of all, to keep the lessons of my family in my spirit to keep me passionate about who I am, will become and what I do.