Continuing language learning over the summer

Happy summer break from all of us in the Deaf Education program at TU!

All of our Deaf Ed students take American Sign Language as an essential part of their program, and we believed that ASL fluency is absolutely necessary for teachers of Deaf children. Many of our students have mentioned concerns about language loss during the summer months, so here are some suggestions to keep learning!

1. Get involved with a local organization that works with Deaf/Hard of Hearing individuals. (Here in Tulsa, there is TSHA – the Total Source for Hearing-Loss Access). Many of these organizations would love to have volunteers, and this is a great way to keep up signing as well as get involved with the Deaf Community!

2. Go to Deaf Events, even though you are not being forced to by your ASL class. All ASL classes require students to go to two or three Deaf events during the semester, but these are really the best way to improve your fluency, expand your vocabulary, and truly learn the grammar! Many cities host a Deaf Chat Coffee once a month, as well as Silent Dinners and Happy Hours – search online to find events near you!

3. Work with a local school! Many schools that serve Deaf/Hard of Hearing students have summer programming – these may be summer classes, summer camps, or family-centered activities. Schools may be looking for volunteers, or even paid paraprofessionals, to work during the summer months.

4. Use the internet! Although using ASL in the Deaf community, face-to-face, is ideal, you can always practice by watching videos online. has no shortage of videos featuring ASL, including ASL Comedians , ASL song interpretations (by talented Deaf performers!), and performances from ASL poets.

Don’t let the summer slow you down, students! Keep on learning, and feel free to add more suggestions for summer language learning in the comments!

The Gift of Reading (or TU’s First Deaf Ed Reading Clinic)

Below read a guest blog post from the parent of one of the children who participated in the first ever TU Free Reading Clinic for DHH Students!

When Anna was selected for TU’s first Deaf Ed Reading Clinic, my initial reaction was relief. As the mother of a Deaf+ child, I am constantly searching for help:  help with language, help with schooling, help with her grades. All of that would improve if her reading skills improved, and here was a FREE program!photo 3[1]

As a girl who has spent several days of every week of her life in some sort of therapy, Anna may not have been excited about her first session … but that quickly changed when she realized that it was all about books. And these are fabulous books – colorful books, funny books, talkative books, even one with absolutely no words! Image

The 10-week clinic included evaluations in the first and last sessions to not only assess the effectiveness of the program, but also to help the tutors plan their lessons. While every session including reading, there was also writing, sentence building, grammar lessons on ASL vs. English, some doll play once our tutor learned about Anna’s obsession with all things Barbie, and an Easter egg huntImage with fun sentences hidden inside each egg. They didn’t just sit at desks; they stood, they taped words to walls, they played, and they laughed, oh yes, they most definitely laughed.

Thank you, Erin Hoefer, for planning engaging activities and lessons, and for building that all-so-important rapport with my child. Thank you, Jessica Scott, for choosing excellent books that are enjoyable and have a learning purpose built into each one, and for supervising these terrific students. But mostly, thank you for creating this amazing program and for writing a grant which will hopefully ensure its continuance next year. Anna is more excited about reading than ever, and when the grant gets approved, we’ll be waiting right outside the Chapman Center.


2013-2014 Highlights

It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the end of the 2013/2014 academic year – today was the last official day of classes here at University of Tulsa. We had a really incredible year! Let’s recap.

-We started off the year with the wonderful news that TU’s Deaf Education program received a grant to fund our juniors and seniors for up to 50% of their tuition! Thanks to the hard work of Dr. Sharon Baker writing this grant.

-The beginning of this year also saw the beginning of Jessica Scott’s joining the Deaf Education faculty!

-As part of her literacy course, Jessica set up a free reading clinic for Deaf and hard of hearing students in the Tulsa area – which went amazingly well! Thanks to generous individual donors and The Frugal Bookworm we got some excellent children’s and adolescent books to start off our collection. Thanks so much to the AMAZING undergraduate students enrolled in the Literacy course who spent an hour every week working with a struggling Deaf or hard of hearing reader!

-Dr. Baker and Jessica Scott had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and stay on Gallaudet University campus for the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACEDHH) conference, where we heard from politicians, university professors and researchers about the latest theory and research in teaching Deaf students!

-Dr. Baker had a number of very exciting guests in her Deaf History and Culture course, including Laurent Clerc’s great great granddaughter, who works at Oklahoma School for the Deaf, Dr. Peter Crume, who does research on Deaf and hard of hearing students in Kenya, and Marie Guard, a local preschool teacher who is deaf and recently chose to have cochlear implants.Image Image


Wow! What a year – we feel truly lucky to have the opportunities that we do. Some things to look forward to:

-Jessica Scott is working on a grant to expand the reading clinic to an academic year, where tutors trained in the spring course will be paid to tutor students in the fall. The grant will also give us access to better assessments, more materials and more books!

-The OKRID conference will be on TU campus this summer! Anyone in the area interested in ASL interpreting or Deaf Education should register and join us!

-The TU faculty plan to start some collaborations with the Deaf Education faculty at USAO in Chickasha, OK – we will keep you updated as those develop next year!

Readers – what new developments are you most excited about? What other ideas do you have for our program? We’d love to hear from you!

Student Profiles: Emily Putman

Last week we introduced you to new alumna Jessie Menchak. This week we are pleased to present a current student in the Deaf Education program, Emily Putman!

Emily3  What year are you?


What made you choose deaf education?
I’ve always wanted to teach, and I fell in love with Sign Language and the Deaf culture in high school. I shadowed a Deaf Ed. program in my town and knew that was what I wanted to do.
Why did you choose to study at TU?
I researched programs that were CED certified, and my two favorites were at Flagler College and University of Tulsa. Tulsa was closer to home, and I loved the campus.
What has been your favorite part of the program so far?
I really love the flexibility of this program and the people here. I have been able to pick and choose most of my classes to best suit what I am passionate about and my interests. I’ve had the opportunity to explore many of the paths in Deaf Ed. that I find interesting and have early first hand interaction with experts in the field
What are you most looking forward to in your final years in the program?
I am excited about learning more about language development in deaf students and having more interaction in Deaf Ed. classrooms.
What are your goals for after graduation?
I would love to teach deaf students at a residential school. Currently, I’m not sure where or what grade.
What would you tell high school students who are interested in studying deaf education?
Do it!

Guest Blogger, Erin Hoefer

Erin Hoefer is a junior Deaf Education major at TU who recently completed her second practicum experience. Read all about her experience teaching about audiograms below:

bulletin boardWhen young people think of entering the teaching profession, they tend to think of the most basic educational needs that are out there right now. “I’ll teach reading!” “I’ll teach math!” Society tends to agree with them, seeing teachers as someone that just gives basic knowledge. What is not realized is the amount of self-advocacy work that goes into the education profession, and how this can affect students and teachers for quite some time after the lesson has ended.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Deaf Education. I am currently finishing my second practicum at Edison Prepatory School, in a high school Deaf Education classroom. During this time, I have been able to observe teaching practices, learn about testing procedures and get to know the students that make up our classes. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to being planning lessons and teaching this group for 1st hour biology. My first lesson was over parts and lobes of the brain, and how it related to them. It was a good lesson, not my finest, but I realized I was starting to get comfortable in my teaching style with older kids.

I realized what was needed for this group of 15-17 year old young men and women. They needed to understand their role in Deaf Education, gain an understanding of their own hearing loss and how it will affect them later and how to advocate for themselves. I chose to create a lesson based on their own personal audiograms. I made a PowerPoint presentation regarding frequency, decibel levels, the levels of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound and other pertinent information. I then asked them to look at their own audiograms and tell me what their hearing loss levels were.   The room was quiet for a moment while everyone looked from the PowerPoint to the numbers on the paper….

…..and the light bulbs started going off. “I have a severe loss?? I thought it was just mild! But I can hear a little without my aids….” The questions started flooding in. What can I hear without my aids? I can hear a dog bark but not water dripping. I can hear the letter A but not the letter S in speech.   Can I have an interpreter if I go to college? Will I need to tell my future boss about this?” The level of understanding that I was seeing was phenomenal.

My final assessment was the class bulletin board that they created to explain to me what an audiogram is and what it measures. I was absolutely thrilled when they came through with a wonderfully completed project that they fully understood.

People assume that anyone with a disability or different ability knows how to make their needs known and understand everything about their personal circumstances. The community at large takes understanding hearing for granted. However, for a Deaf Educator, nothing is assumed and everything must be explicitly taught. This includes learning how to advocate for one’s own hearing loss. I plan to keep this lesson for the future in my own classroom, and can’t wait to teach it again.

Deaf Education at the University of Tulsa


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