Tag Archive: Student


turkeyWith Thanksgiving right around the corner…that is at the end of this week. You may be looking for fun and creative activities to enjoy with the kids. There are several resources listed below that can turn up the level of excitement for the little ones Thanksgiving. Hope you find the resources helpful and ENJOY!

These websites have resources for:

ASL Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

ASL Thanksgiving Song-Barb Wifi

Sign Translation (basic)

For hearing people:Barb states that each sign is signed four times and then at the end a word is sign once. You  will see that by the …..between the first four words and the last word.

Thanksgiving(signed 4times)

Plan(signed 4 times)

Cook (signed 4 times)

Smell (signed 4times)…..good (signed once)

Invite (signed 4 times)

Children (signed 4 times)

Adults(signed 4 times)

Hello(signed 4 times)

Welcome(signed 4 times)…come in (signed once)

Share (signed 4 times)

Pie(signed 4 times)

Eat(signed 4 times)…..full (signed once)

Talk(signed 4 times)

Enjoy (signed 4 times)

Happy(signed 4 times)

Clean(signed 4 times)

Rest…(signed once)

Thanksgiving Snipets-Rob Neilson

Great video but no caption for hearing people who have not learned ASL. However, still great to watch! Can also be a great resource for those who have taken sign language to practice receptive skills.

BLOG RSOURCES

Mrs. Schenk’s JK Adventures

Thanksgiving turkey hand print-free handout

One Perfect Day

Thanksgiving Activities

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ASL hall sign

ASL hall sign (Photo credit: swenda)

This morning I read the article by Blogger Bitco David on Deaf In Prison  titled No Child Left Signing and the site Deaf Insight Blogger: Monica Hood titled Keep ASL in School Campaign. The two articles addressed great information along with the importance of keeping ASL in schools for a number of reasons. The value of ASL to both the hearing and deaf youth, the importance of students having language options and the awareness that having an ASL program in schools offers hearing and deaf youth.

In a discussion, I had a while ago with another ASL/Deaf educator she mentioned that sometimes hearing ASL students know more about the deaf community and language than deaf students. Which made sense to me, I don’t remember receiving in-depth lessons at home or school about my culture, language or history. To learn more I researched on my own and learned new information in college by taking certain classes. Deaf youth should have the same option as hearing youth when taking ASL or deaf culture courses. They need to understand the importance of their history, language and culture along with other experiences to  develop a positive self-identity. As well as deaf youth need to see how much their language is valued and appreciated that hearing students all over are passionate about learning it and making a difference in the community. This would also encourage deaf youth to get involved to make a difference as their parents and ancestors have to fight for equality and access.

For hearing students ASL is a great option, not only for foreign language requirements and it is different from Spanish but ASL opens doors to so much more. Students can get involved in the community and make a difference by advocating, educating and promoting an awareness of  ASL and the community. This can be accomplished as early as the first course they take and continued through higher education. Once students connect with this mission it can be carried over into employment especially in places where the door has been closed to the deaf community due to discrimination. They can bring to light the needs of the deaf community and how they can be met through equal access and deaf friendly approaches. This is what both of the communities need; support and purpose.

The thought of losing ASL in hearing, mainstream or deaf schools is saddening as it has been a door of opportunity in so many ways. As a teacher I hear the stories from hearing students sharing with me even after leaving my program. Uplifting stories of accomplishment and success, of how they made a difference with one simple act of kindness or education. Deaf students share  how they feel empowered and know how to educate for their rights because of experiences they or family members  had, understanding the value in who they are and their language because of learning something they did not know in an ASL class or from an ASL professional. I watch in awe my students signing with deaf individuals as I see the excitement on both people’s faces that a person took the time to learn my language and the other person happy their signs can be understood.

English: Community Center for the Deaf & Hard ...

English: Community Center for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one experience I wish would grow is he number of deaf events in our areas and the number of deaf that attend the events we do have. Often, ASL students go to deaf events in droves looking to experience a deaf encounter:) and practice the skills they are learning but the opportunities are not always there. As a result, they go through the event signing with another hearing person which is great because they are signing but it is not the same as signing with a deaf person which is what they need. I support more events where ASL students support each other signing but I also support deaf events in which hearing and deaf connect. In hearing and deaf connections students are more likely to learn a wealth of information than what cannot be covered in class. Such as, community signs, social etiquette and facial expressions which seems to be one of the number one struggles for hearing people. We need to connect and continue to bridge the gap between the two communities which would convey the importance of having ASL in the schools, equal access in the business world and communities and deaf-friendly experiences wherever we go. It starts with this generation because they will carry the torch and make a difference.

In closing, be the difference you want to see, encourage others to make a difference and support keeping ASL in schools!

imagesCA8QPK11During this week, a local reporter and photographer interviewed myself and some of my students for  a story for the Redlands Daily Facts newspaper. It was such a great opportunity and experience for me and the students. We were able to share about the wonderful events and learning experiences we are involved in and the difference we are seeking to make in ourselves, school campus and the hearing and deaf communities. We landed a space on the front cover of the newspaper and on the 3rd page of another newspaper titled The Sun.

So often it seems that the positive in the world goes unheard or is ignored to pay attention to the negative going on in the world. This articles highlights some of the positive that happens daily in my classroom and how students apply what they learn in outside of class.

On a personal note, I felt good to be able to share my passion for deaf culture and American Sign Language and how the topic I teach has made a difference to some students that are connected with the class. It also gave me a bit of inspiration to hang in there because sometimes as a teacher we are at the very bottom of the totem pole for recognition and at the very top of the totem pole for blame. This article along with a select group of students reminded me of the short-term and long-term rewards of teaching. To see a students smile because they were able to sign to a deaf person, to read a report about how learning  ASL has changed their life, to hear about the college or career the student selected just because it involves Sign Language and to simply feel the passion a student shows because of how connected they are to the topic. For these experiences I am grateful to simply be an educator.

A link to the article is below, enjoy:)

Silent World Gains A Voice

Moments of Gratitude

English: wiktionary:thank you diagrammatically...

English: wiktionary:thank you diagrammatically shown in British Sign Language (BSL). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the weekend a number of my students and I volunteered at a deaf community event. I had a great time! It almost felt like I was at home in my circle again (with my mom and brother who have passed on) it reminded me how much I enjoyed communicating with them and how much I enjoy sign language.

Seeing familiar faces and being welcomed by deaf individuals I have never met always gives me that “warm fuzzy feeling”..lol. Like I am with people I belong with. To add icing to the cake, I saw my first ASL teacher! I started ASL classes in the interpreting program around 1996 and normally ASL/Interpreting teachers and fellow students judge me when they find out I am CODA (Child of Deaf Adults). They treat me differently or expect me to know everything. I am not God! I only know what I know and can be who I can be. She always did that for me..accepted me as I am and required me to improve and always look for something new. I have great memories of her I can’t say that for every teacher but for her I am.

It also felt good for students to see me sign and interact with other signers. Sometimes, I know they wonder how well I can sign and can they trust who they are learning from. This opportunity allowed them to see my skills at work and accept that I may know a little something..smiling. I also saw students sign more than ever and in such a natural manner unlike the guided classroom practice and pre-written conversations for them to copy and perform. Students returned the following day and shared all of their great experiences. This opportunity allowed them to “Dive in Deaf World” and that is all I can ask for.

I am always thankful for my culture deaf/hearing, thankful my language-ASL/English, thankful for my passion, family and thankful for great teachers who inspired me years ago and continue to inspire me now.

Video provided through Ohlone College Deaf Studies Division

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!

Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter observes...

Peace Corps Director Ronald Tschetter observes deaf students on his visit to Kenya. The students are using role playing exercises, educational videos, and other visual aids that Peace Corps Volunteers have developed, including Kenya’s first uniform sign language poster, the “Easy to Learn Sign Language Poster.” Peace Corps Press Release. “Peace Corps Director Visits Kenya and Unique Deaf Education Program .” June 26, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Academics in Deaf education have always been a highly discussed topic. The concern is rather residential schools (schools for the Deaf) truly prepare deaf students at the same rate as their hearing counterpart. The other side if that coin is rather or not public (hearing) schools put effort forth in educating the deaf that attend their schools through on campus deaf and hard of hearing cohort or mainstreamed programs. If you toss in an additional coin the other concern is should the focus of deaf education be on vocational and life skills training to ensure students are functioning in a hearing society. The last side of the coin is for everything else in between.
The benefits for Schools for the Deaf is the school is tailored to meet the needs of the students as a whole; socially, personally, academically and vocational. Students are taught in their primary language which enables a better foundation for learning and increase complex concepts that may be difficult to clarify in English. Teachers are knowledgeable and specialize in Deaf education and have the best strategies on how to teach the deaf. Students are able to see Deaf adults as role models like themselves which encourages them to not limit themselves. Students live with others like themselves who have the same method of communication and similar struggles, they can communicate to support each other through the challenges they face. Schools for the Deaf are great for helping a child identify with their “deafhood” and be proud to be Deaf with a Capitol “D”. The drawbacks of a school like this is it can be sheltering because students live in the deaf world on an ongoing basis. It can be biased in the methods and content taught. Some educators outside the deaf community think students are not being prepared for the real world or college academics because of the lack of information students receive.
The benefits of students attending a mainstreamed program in a hearing public school is they are learning the same content their hearing counterparts are learning. They have access to resources to support their learning such as an interpreter or a note taker. Most importantly to some is that they are learning to function in a hearing environment and are not sheltered in a small world that can help them to exist in a larger world. I have met parents who say they solely chose mainstream programs because they want their children to learn to function in a hearing world. The disability-the lack of hearing will inhibit them from getting jobs and pursuing higher academics if they don’t learn how to communicate with hearing individuals and they feel mainstreamed programs support that. The drawbacks of a mainstreamed program is if the program is not well established with knowledgable teachers, interpreters and administrators deaf students may fall through the cracks if they dn not have advocates putting place best practices and programs for them. Also, regular administrators, teachers and support staff have no idea of how best to help the student besides general concepts like an Assistive Listening device or sitting the student in front of the class room.
There are pros and cons to both environments but what it comes down to is, which is the best environment for the student with the family desires taking a back seat. Which environment will the student be inspired, educated and grow in? This is what a parent should be looking for. Education is a partnership between the parent and the school. In addition, parents should support the student inside school by learning information to advocate on behalf of their child and outside of school by learning sign language to communicate with their child. I believe it is best to have  a combination of both academic and vocational education in any setting students attend. Both of these components will help to build a healthy and succesful student who will become a healthy and successful adult.

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.

Kids Can Sign!

kid signKids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign…..Kids Can Sign!!!! It’s like a chant because it is true!

I love to see little ones signing! It is astonishing at an early age when they have not formed communication (speech skills) but they can gesture (sign) word to express how they feel.

I am a child of deaf adults and I learned to sign at an early age. I remember signing more than I talked. As a matter of fact, I learned speech from my close family members, t.v. and the radio. I always tease thank goodness the radio and t.v. shows were a lot better at that time, who only knows what I may have learned if I listened to what was on t.v. today. Anything I needed I had to sign to communicate with my parents and siblings. I did not appreciate it as much as I do now. When I gave birth to my first child her grandmother taught her the signs she knows and still remembers at eighteen years old. I am thankful to my mom for giving us a gift that has benefited us in so many ways and moreover a gift that no one can take away. When my mom passed, she stopped signing as it was difficult for her to do without thinking about her grandmother. However, when you put her in a signing environment the signs flow from her hands as if it were yesterday. This proved to me firsthand that once you teach children they retain it especially if your routinely use sign language in their daily lives.

In general it has been said that children who learn sign langauge early on have less issues when comes to frustration, temper tantrums and aggressive behaviors. It also helps increases interaction between parents, educators and children.  Children also build self-esteem by making them feel capable and proud they are able to communicate. If we can start our children off on the right foot why not?

One of the best gifts to give our children and help them start off on the right foot with academics and training for future employment is the gift of being bilingual. There are several commonly used languages in our great country English of course next is Spanish and after that is American Sign Language as other languages rise and become more common, our children need to be bilingual in one of these languages, any popular language. I cannot think of a time where being bilingual has not been a benefit to me or my oldest daughter.  Teach your children ASL from birth and start them on the path to bilingual success.

There are resources below to continue your reading about the benefits of sign language and children.

Benefits of children learning sign language

Baby Signs

The benefits of sign language for all children

Benefits of Signing with your Child

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!