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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Supporting deaf students' development of English spelling skills creating ASL fingerspelling stories

  • Author(s): Gaston, Sicily Hamilton
  • et al.

Language development is the main concern and focus for most educators working in the field of Deaf Education. Language ability influences every subject area and has a significant impact on the academic success of all students. This thesis project examines at how deaf and hard of hearing students in the lower elementary grade levels develop spelling strategies for English words and focuses on presenting lessons which provide visual access. By offering spelling lessons that have more opportunity to further develop students' American Sign Language (ASL), the goal is to supply educators with an innovative method for teaching deaf and hard of hearing students how to spell vocabulary in English. Students spent six weeks learning new vocabulary by using the format of fingerspelling stories to creating stories for the different concepts. Ultimately, the students created several fingerspelling stories and then wrote an English version of the story with illustrations. An evaluation plan was implemented throughout the curriculum in order to evaluate the student achievement and development toward the goals of each lesson. The evaluation plan included four different methods for collecting data; field notes, collection of artifacts, rubrics and tests. These methods of evaluation will serve as holistic and comprehensive feedback on student growth. The evaluation plan was intended to determine the effectiveness of my curriculum, which includes both the lesson goals and the main curriculum goals. The evaluation data found that students did learn new vocabulary from the fingerspelling stories. The students successfully completed the video taping of their stories as well as written versions of the stories. It was also found that the fingerspelling stories allow for students to have more exposure to ASL while learning English vocabulary.

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