D824, #057832, R.R. #4
Tara, Ontario, NOH 2NO,
Web Report #1:
Why Do You Want To Use SW?
Web Report #2:
What Do You Think of SW Publications?
SignWriting Classroom Diary
From: "Akehurst" <email@example.com>
1. Why do you want to learn SignWriting?
2. What have been some of your past frustrations when teaching?
3. Are you hoping that SignWriting might help? If so, in
4. How would you like to use this web page?
5. Please write any other information about your group.
The other deaf students are younger adults and have benefited greatly from the strides made in the Deaf community over the past years. They are of great help to all of us as regards the history, etc. of their culture and they are enjoying 'refining' their signing skills in ASL as they, too, learned a type of pidgin sign since there were no schools or anything in this area offering ASL instruction.
The codas do not sign although they receive sign very well. Their parents thought they would be doing them no favour by teaching them to sign since this was so looked down upon at the time and they did not want to expose their children to ridicule. Now they realize that they were in error and the children (varying in ages from 23 to 12) are quite intrigued with what they are learning. As well, because (as mentioned above) of the sign language exposure in the media of late, they are enjoying some attention for how 'cool' it is that they are learning to sign! While it was not really our intent to be 'cool', it is a means to the end of having American Sign Language receive the respect and consideration now so long overdue.
27 April 1998
We want to improve our publications. We need your feedback and suggestions.
The following publications were donated to your classroom.
Please give us your opinions, which we value. Write as much as you wish.
Did your students like this book? Were they eager to open it and use it? Did they color in it? Did they write rows of symbols and signs?
The students were very pleased with the book although it took some talking to get them to believe they were free to mark and color as much as they wished in such a nice book. Some of the children started into it as soon as they got it in early October and then we went through it methodically as a group. The children really enjoyed the coloring part, and even colored the signwriting symbols. Everyone did their best to write rows of symbols and signs although we all agreed it (quite naturally) made our hands tired! Still, done in a group it was fun and interesting and some of the more diligent ones practiced on their own until our next meeting.
Was the information clear? Were there specific questions that were hard for you to answer?
Yes, it was very clearly presented and easy to understand. There were no questions presented that were hard for me to answer, only questions for which it was hard for me to remember the answers! I found the Textbook and Workbook to be really comprehensive and it was just up to me to know it well enough to be sure of where to go to find the answer to a student's question. The answers were always there.
What improvements would you suggest? Would you add or subtract anything?
I think, for a basic SW course, this is a wonderful way to proceed. I found it best not to actually show the students how detailed SW could get (in the workbook I had) because I could see that might seem a bit overwhelming - not so much for the children, but for the adult students.
Did you use the accompanying flashcards and what did you think of them?
They're great and we did use them. It was an interesting, low-pressure way to expose all of us to this new writing system. They helped jog our memories at various points in the lessons. I think we could make use of any amount of these cards.
Do you want more copies of this book, and the flashcards, for your future classrooms?
Were your students ready for this book, when they finished SW Level 1? If not, what was lacking in their knowledge, that made it too advanced for them?
I believe, considering the range of ages in this group, that they were as ready as could be expected. The only thing (and I wouldn't call it 'lacking', I'd just say we hadn't dwelt on it much...) was that they had some difficulty with the facial expressions in the story. The hand shapes, etc. they could dissect and decipher (if they didn't remember them at first) but we all rather got mixed up on the faces. That will come with practice. Actually, it was interesting to note that some of them weren't even aware that they MADE facial expressions when they signed certain things, underlining the point that when one begins learning to write, one becomes much more aware (or should do) of how they are actually 'speaking'.
It wasn't hard for my students to read complete sentences, and they seemed to enjoy it and get a good deal of satisfaction out of the experience. It was hard for the adult students to remember to read down the page (they were raised orally), and not across, however. They liked it once they got the hang of it, though.
They all used the dictionary and did not have problems finding the signs. It was very helpful.
Yes, I think a workbook would be helpful. Depending on the learning style, some of my students do best with a cumulative approach leading to a complete sentence while others seem to approach it from the other end and decode a complete sentence into it's individual parts.
None. No. It's astonishing the amount of work and detail to which you have gone in this writing system.
Sutton's American Sign Language
Did your students like this dictionary? Were they eager to open it and use it? What did they think of the pictures? Did the pictures help?
Yes, the dictionary was well received. We ALL found it helpful. The pictures helped a lot and having the cross-references of SW, picture, English made it really easy to find either the symbol OR the word you for which you were looking.
Yes, it was clear and we had no problems in finding the signs. Again, at times we had to stop and actually examine how, precisely, the sign was made so we could get the proper symbol but that's good. As I said before, it's improving the quality, in general, of the signing of the group.
I'm sure we would like that and find it helpful, simply because it's good to have as comprehensive a reference as possible. For some reason, we got hung up on the word 'hope' at one point and couldn't quite figure it out. A lot of the other words we were looking for we did find in your other publications, though.
Do you want more copies of this dictionary for your future classrooms?
Did parents view these videos? What did they think? Was it useful for them?
Everyone (children and adults) viewed the videos. The parents kept them and viewed them again on their own after we started the lessons, as a reminder of what was what. They were very useful. Easy to follow, well put together.
The videos are really well done, and having voice-over, captions and signing made them really easy to undertand and accessible to everyone everywhere. Nice music, too!
Do you have any suggestions for improvements of this video series?
No. The videos were excellent.
5. Lessons In SignWriting Textbook
Have you referred to this textbook to answer specific technical questions?
If so, what were some of the questions you needed to answer?
"What's that squiggly line mean?", "Why is that arrow bigger near the body than away from it?", things of that nature. Mostly having to do with movement and dynamic markers.
Axial movement, dynamics and punctuation, facial expressions and head and body.
To date, I can't conceive of how to improve this textbook because I'm so amazed at the detail you've come up with in the first place. It is extremely useful and very well-thumbed by all. I don't think we would really have been able to proceed on this project without it. At times, questions would be asked and it was important to have an answer to them right then in order to hold the interest of the group and keep the flow. Even though the question might not have had any relevance to the specific lesson we were on, being able to find the answers in the textbook really helped.
6. Do you want to receive new, different materials?
If your answer is yes, what would you like to receive first, second, third, fourth?
___1___Cinderella, SW Level 1 (Beginners)
___2___Cinderella, SW Level 2 (Beginners)
___3___Goldilocks & The Three Bears, SW Level 3 (Intermediate)
____4__Goldilocks & The Three Bears, SW Level 4 (Advanced)
Four copies and we'll be ready when they are!
7. Overall, what is your general impression of our materials? Do you feel they have been a positive influence on your students and their parents?
Very. The concept of SignWriting is so new and different for
my students that they needed to be able to grasp some aspect
of it quickly in order to hold their interest and motivate them
to continue. The layout of the materials did that. Some are more
motivated than are others, of course (as is true of learning
to write any language) but all in all the materials are well,
laid out, easy to understand and not so complex that people new
to the idea despair that they'll ever get it.
The concept of writing ASL seems to take many people by surprise.
My group seems to enjoy learning it (I think it makes some of
the children feel like Harriet the Spy writing in code, which
is fun!)(me too, actually!) and it impresses other people who
don't understand it but can see that it is a viable writing system.
The publications do present it in a positive and optomistic light
and underscore that anyone could learn it and would find it useful
for many things (not just ASL). In my group, the only issues
that came up were that my rebel, sloppy signer (I say it with
all fondness!) feels the facial expressions and dynamic markers
should be 'understood' by the context so he doesn't have to bother
learning them. I imagine that would be a choice he could live
with (or not) just as many people who write English opt out of
grammar and punctuation at whim and must bear the consequences
of not being understood as well as might be possible if they
would apply themselves to learning the intricacies of their language.
I think what proves to me that SW is as real a writing system
as is that of any other language is watching people's responses
to it. As with any other language, some are very good at it and
very interested, some are eloquent and some don't make any sense
at all! Your cause is alive, Valerie! It's got all the ups and
downs and quirks of a real, living written language.
November 8, 1998
SignWriting Classroom Diary
We need to know if the project should continue or not? Was it worth it?
We did not keep a daily diary as we did not meet, as a group,
on a daily basis. Our sessions were usually about once a week,
which did not give us a lot of time to work 'together' on SW,
but did show the motivation of the students as it required them
to work on things on their own throughout the week. The parents
helped their children, and themselves, through the week and contacted
me if they had questions.
A good feeling about their own language for one thing! Seeing
the possibilities for writing in sign did good things for the
adults self-esteem (most of them coming from a time when even
sign was considered primitive, somehow...)and, for the children,
starting this young is an excellent way for them to see themselves
and their language as varied and different but certainly equal
to anything around them. They also 'cleaned up' their signing
a bit as now they have to be conscious of it to 'write it down'!
3. How do the parents feel?
8. Do you want to continue the project?
9. Do you think that written ASL can become a part of Deaf education in the future?
Definitely. It only seems logical that there be some manner of recording on paper this living language.
November 26, 1998