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using sign language to help spelling 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:54 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Kanagawa, Japan
Post using sign language to help spelling
there is a child at my school whose parents are both deaf, so i had a brainwave of using sign language in class to increase social awareness and understanding. after searching on the internet i found that sign language is already being used for educational purposes, so this made the job of getting the appropriate materials easy. just type 'sign language flashcards' into a search engine and you should get internet sites with everything that you need.

Required materials
1) a handout that has all the 26 hand positions and the alphabet letter that corresponds to it.
2) sign language game cards that dont have any alphabet letters on them.

How i implement it for junior high/ upper level elementary kids- give each kid or pairs a handout for reference and all the sign language cards (it is sometimes best to give them doubles of the vowels and other highly used letters to give a greater variety of words that they can spell, but i tend to give words that only uses each letter once). i say a word that i want them to spell. the students use their handout to help identify what cards mean what letter and they try to be the first to spell the word correctly. if they succeed, i let them play around with their hands to try and spell the word by actually using sign language while we wait for all the other students to finish the word.

the genius variation of this is to get the kids to spell out the words only with their hands, but then this would require the teacher to really understand all the sign language off by heart.

how to implement it for lower level elementary kids- it can be done two ways. 1) write the word on the board and students then go out to find all the appropriate hand signals to spell that word. after they finish, they have to try and read the word back to you and get to play around with their hands to try and make the word. 2) give out sign language cards that have the letters on them, so they dont need to refer to the handout. this is not as challenging, but it still gives the kids the opportunity to play with their hands after they have spelt and read the word to you.

i tend to avoid sign language phonics with the younger kids, as they are still trying to remember the english alphabet letters.....probably best if they master the real alphabet before you try something like sign language phonics.

hope this is of some use to people. if you have any other suggestions on how to use the sign language cards i would love to hear them.

Tue Feb 06, 2007 9:39 pm

Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 8:57 pm
Posts: 135
I bet your students enjoyed this activity. A lot of children are fascinated with signs and eager to learn. I remember as a child, my local store used to print the alphabet in ASL (American Sign Language) on their shopping bags and I studied it for hours until I knew them all!

I actually use a lot of signing/gestures in my classes and it really does help in learning. Using movements can help trigger memory. I tried teaching an abstract phrase with and without gestures and I found out the students tended to use the language faster if they are concentrating on the gestures.

If you are using ASL signs you should also be able to find free fonts! You could type this whole message and it will come out in sign language!
It might be interesting to the students to know that sign language is different depending upon the country. Japan and the US have different signs as do the US and UK.

Tue Feb 06, 2007 10:35 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:23 pm
Posts: 18
Thanks for your ideas. It's a great way to talk about culture as well. I'm fluent in ASL, but now that I live in Brazil I don't ever get to use it. I'm going to try and use gestures from sign language to help them remember the words. Sometimes I use the gestures unconsciously, but I will try and get them to do the same.

Mon Mar 19, 2007 12:37 am
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