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How Does a Deaf Person Communicate in Society? (Word document)

The students begin the project by having a class discussion on the different ways deaf people can communicate. We work cooperatively to create a KWL Chart depicting the prior knowledge of the students and what we hope to learn upon completion of this project. The students are then introduced to the sign language alphabet, using the Internet to view it at www.apples4teachers.com Each student practices signing 5 letters everyday. When the students learn to show all 26 letters, as required, they are assessed. Following assessment, the students are given time daily to work in pairs to sign sentences using the following books: The American Sign Language Phrase Book by Lou Fant; Sign Language Made Simple by Karen B. Lewis and Roxanne Henderson; and Signing: How to Speak with your Hands by Elaine Costello. As the students look through the books, they come up with different sentences and learn how to present them, as would a deaf person. Upon completion of the project, the students make a pictograph in Microsoft Excel (see example) and vote on what they think is the best way deaf people communicate. They also go to www.soundkeepers.com and type their sentences in sign language as well as answer the question: How do deaf people communicate in society? Students then conduct workshops with other grade levels to present information about this topic. They also discuss the value of tolerance and why it is important not to discriminate against handicapped people.

Subject Area
Language Arts, Social Studies, Health, Math, and Technology

Grade Levels
2 - 6

The objective of this unit is for students to gain an understanding of the ways deaf people communicate in society. Moreover, students will gain an appreciation for handicapped people.

Internet Used
The Internet is used throughout this project to support content, reinforce process, and achieve goals. Students go online to gain background knowledge on how deaf people communicate. They go to www.apples4teachers.com to study the sign alphabet and to www.soundkeepers.com to translate their sentences and answers into sign. In addition, students can obtain images to insert into their graphs via the Internet.

Materials Used
Materials used include a computer with Internet access, Excel software, and a printer. Books include The American Sign Language Phrase Book by Lou Fant; Sign Language Made Simple by Karen B. Lewis and Roxanne Henderson; and Signing How to Speak with your Hands by Elaine Costello. A white board and markers are also used.

Standards Addressed
Students use information, technology, and other tools; speak for a variety of purposes and audiences; listen in a variety of situations; read materials and texts with comprehension and critical analysis; view, understand, and use nontextual visual information; and receive and use constructive feedback. They give directions and/or instructions; use visual aids and nonverbal behaviors to support spoken messages; use clear, concise, language in speaking situations; speak before a group to defend an opinion; and present an oral interpretation. They connect mathematics to other disciplines; use calculators, computers, manipulatives, and other tools to enhance understanding; utilize arts elements and media; develop problem-solving, decision-making, and inquiry skills; develop an understanding of technology as an application of scientific principles; gain an understanding of the structure, characteristics, and basic needs of organisms; and communicate at a basic literacy level in at least one language other than English.

Authentic assessment is the gold standard for this unit. Students have to demonstrate their understanding of sign language by signing the entire alphabet. Rubrics and ongoing observations are used to evaluate the students’ graphs.

Students Involved
This unit is most suitable for students in grades 2-6. It is also appropriate for self-contained special education classrooms because of the grouping, constructivism, and cooperatively learning. The tactile nature of signing is particularly suitable.

Teacher Tips
Don’t forget to share the workload. This unit of study lends itself to collaboration between classroom teachers and specialists. The KWL can be used throughout the duration of the project. Students like filling in the KWL bulletin board each time they learn something new.

Overall Value
This hands-on unit contributes greatly to student learning and achievement, and helps participants gain tolerance and appreciation for handicapped people. Teachers benefit from this unit because project-based learning of this kind lends itself easily to adaptation. It can be differentiated to accommodate students with different learning styles. The use of graphic organizers in the form of KWL charts addresses the needs of accessing prior knowledge and helps students visualize the information. ThinkPairShare is also a useful strategy to accompany lessons in this unit. Students thoroughly enjoy this project while learning a great deal about hearing-impaired people.

This unit was a collaborative effort by teachers Rosa Conte, Michael Gall, and Jeanette Nelke of James Madison School #10, Garfield, NJ.

Michael Gall

Michael Gall has been a computer teacher at James Madison School #10 in the urban district of Garfield, NJ for two years. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from Montclair State University, and Masters Degree in teaching from William Paterson University, Michael was inspired to make the world a better place—one student at a time. The goal of his teaching philosophy is to educate, motivate, socialize, and prepare his students for a lifetime of learning. Michael intends to develop his students’ creative, intellectual and physical potential, their sense of responsibility, self-worth, and their respect for others.

He perceives the importance of whole concepts, thematic approaches, and critical thinking towards implementing lessons. In his student-centered approach, children receive a hands-on learning experience and are able to learn to think for themselves. Michael believes in facilitating student learning with interdisciplinary project based learning that infuses technology. He strives to present information in exciting new ways to increase intrinsic motivation. Michael credits his own teachers, co-workers and students for his success as an educator.


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