Dancing with Words: Signing for Hearing Children's Literacy

By Marilyn Daniels | Go to book overview

right S hand on the back of the wrist of the left S hand with a double movement. Then she taught them the sign for indentured servant, which is formed with the wrists of both s hands crossed in front of the body, palms facing down; then the arms are moved in a large flat circle in front of the body with a double movement. This sign graphically demonstrated the meaning of the word. The teacher pointed this out to the students by explaining how this sign showed that you could not get away from the work; Your arms were locked in this crossed position and just went around in a circular motion.

The students in this class remained very interested and involved in the material throughout the lesson I observed. The teacher reported that this was the usual level of participation. She stressed that augmenting her instruction with sign language has had several benefits. In her opinion, it sparks student interest, performance, comprehension, and retention. She believes that sign is the reason her students achieve higher grades on standard achievement tests than comparable fourth-grade students in other classes. Before she used sign, her students did not earn elevated scores on standard measures.

Teachers in other subject areas can use sign to enhance their programs in a manner similar to that used by the social studies teacher. However, to be effective, sign does not even have to constitute as much of the lesson as it did in the social studies lesson. For example, when students respond to a teacher's questions concerning content, in any subject area, by signing yes or no without voicing, response variations can be seen easily. By quietly observing the inconsistencies a teacher can make a quick assessment of individual students' comprehension and make the necessary corrections.

Children's receptive and expressive skills can be demonstrated by having them indicate whether events in a narrative are fact or fantasy by signing these words. They can respond with feeling signs such as sad, happy, nice, mean, afraid, and brave to illustrate their understanding of a historical, contemporary, or fictional character's emotional response. By signing yes, no, never, always, some, or all in response to verbal queries about any subject, they will exhibit their grasp of the content.


CONCLUSION

This chapter has covered many classroom settings. I have recounted the use of sign for classroom management, early childhood education,

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