Tag Archive: teacher


ASL is changing!!!

American Sign Language is a live language, it is ever-changing. Everyday there is a new sign, an alternate sign or a sign that is no longer used. The great thing is there are several resources that can be used as guidance to keeping up with the changes ASL is undergoing.

Some great resources (if you find the correct site)

Facebook

ASL THAT!

Discusses the ASL expressions of 4 things: 1) Current trends (popular topics, words, or phrases in the news), 2) Variations of signs (national, regional, local, cultural, style, international, etc.), 3) Interpretations of English words, phrases, quotes, idioms, and 4) New and innovative signs (both widely accepted and suggested). We will explain our expressions and perspectives. Bottom line, we share our ASL knowledge and respect each other’s signing preferences.

I Teach ASL

A support forum for instructors of ASL, Interpreting, and other Deaf- and ASL-related fields and courses.

ASL-Connect-IE

Welcome to ASL-Connect-I.E. We are a social group of Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, CODA, Interpreters and fluent signers who get together to sign American Sign Language in the Inland Empire Southern California . Join us at our next event!

Deaf Night Out

Our goal is to provide you with good times, good folks, and good cheer in good places. To do that we organize Deaf Night Out.

Youtube

Rob Neilson

Ewitty 

ASLized

 

ASL Apps (purchased in APP store)

ASL Word Search

ASL Lite

Spread Signs

 

Online Dictionaries

HandSpeak (one that was recently shared with me)

Commonly used by students:

ASL Pro

Signing Savvy

ASL University

 

If you are familiar with any other resources please leave a note.

 

 

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ASL_Painting.jpg

ASL_Painting.jpg (Photo credit: robert.barney)

As technology advances opportunities evolve in teaching American Sign Langauge. I am taking an online class to learn how to become a certified online educator. In this class the technology I am learning about and how it can be applied in my field is amazing. Often as an educator being complacent is a danger to both me and the students. The learning environment should be innovative, exciting and inspiring. It has been proven in numerous research that students learn best in this kind of environment. Especially now with the common core movement, teachers of all backgrounds to include core classes, electives and career technical education classes are encouraged to develop project-based assignments with a real-life relevance for students to participate in and learn from. This online training has my mind turning as to how I can apply more web 2.0 tools into my curriculum which is what students are using anyway.

So far in this class, I have learned about screen casting, google docs, presentations and more, as well as simple programs such as snipping tool that have been on my computer all this time that I never used…lol. Wow! This proves I need to explore a bit more. I have also taken a look at how Oovoo can be used as a tool in a sign language class. I never bothered to look at it before but now that I have Oovoo allows up to 12 people to interact at one time, students can send video messages, chat live, send written messages and watch YouTube videos with friends. This type of technology can open the door or provide continual development for complete online or blended (online &face to face) ASL classes. Of course there are other tools that can be used but this is a short list of examples.

A complete online ASL class maybe a challenge as ASL is a language that requires interaction more often face to face but as the world evolves and technology advances the deaf community is already connecting via web tools and online resources. The Deaf community is evolving too in methods of  socializing, techniques in education and technology to make environments “deaf friendly”.

Online learning is a trend in education that is growing and looks as though it is thriving and great success is happening. I would love for ASL to be a part of this trend that will become permanent. Even if educators considered offering ASL as part of a blended program both face to face and online offerings. This type of program would be great in to begin high schools and community colleges.

I do want to note that there are websites that have already begin using online curriculums and teach classes completely online. Therefore, it’s possible and is being done. I have not seen this yet in high schools, colleges nor universities and this is where I would like to see it begin.

So the driving question is why not?

Why not have an  ASL class completely online which opens the door for increased student enrollment?

Or maybe the class can be  blended  part online and part face to face?

What are the benefits/drawbacks of an online ASL course?

What are your thoughts?

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

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.

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!

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.

question

The joys of teaching in a classroom are great however sometimes I look at my skills and wonder where did they go? As a former interpreter I had opportunities to network with other interpreters daily. I could always ask what the new sign was or a variant of one or if there was altogther a better choice to use.
Now that I am in a classroom that is more like its own world, some days I do not even leave the confines of its wall. I find that I may have to think twice before selecting and producing a sign. In addition, if I don’t network with other professionals I become reliant on various curriculum and texts.
I know that real-life experience, direct communication is best that is how native signers maintain thier skills and improve receptive and expressive skills along with other resources such as videos, workshops and other options.
So what do I do when I feel this way and don’t want to go to textbooks, websites or my routine videos???
I get out there and network, attend events, use skype or google chat to connect with deaf individuals, attend deaf organized meetings or simply go back to my roots as a reminder of how the community signs. That way I have a broader selection to offer students to include: community signs (varies depending on a lot of factors), curriculum,updated signs learned from Deaf professionals and other signs I can round up.
It can be easy to fall into the routine of classroom teacher and satisfactory skills but if you love ASL like I do you always seek wayslearn new information to improve yourself.
If you are a teacher, interpreter or fluent signer in another profession what are your thoughts how do you maintain your skills?