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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Exploring History Through Literature Circles

  • Author(s): Jarashow, Adam Levis
  • Advisor(s): Jones, Gabrielle
  • et al.

This thesis presents a bilingual cross-curricular approach for Deaf students to gain a meaningful appreciation for history. Social Studies is often perceived as a boring and unnecessary subject. It is even more of a challenge for Deaf students when they are typically limited to their History textbooks, which is presented in their secondary language, English. Research shows that the most effective way in educating Deaf children is by using the bilingual approach, utilizing both American Sign Language (ASL) and English in all aspects of the classroom. Based on this research and other learning theories such as Cummins’ Common Underlying Proficiency (CUP), Vygotsky’s scaffolded instruction, and Gardner’s multiples intelligences, a bilingual curriculum with cross-curricular approach, integrating Social Studies and Language Arts together, was designed to teach our Deaf students to gain a better understanding of our history. The implementation of student-centered literature circles based on historical fiction books allowed my Deaf students to make meaningful connections between ASL and English, thus deepen their understanding of historical period they were studying on. The findings based on my field notes, student-produced artifacts, and assessment rubrics have shown that my students were able to achieve a better understanding of Civil War through the culmination of bilingual approach and historical fiction books used in their literature circles.

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