Category Archives: Issues in Education

ACEDHH 2015

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The Arch at sunrise

Every year Dr. Baker and Jessica Scott travel to the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACEDHH) conference. This year we were lucky that the conference was hosted so close by – in St. Louis, MO! As with every year, we had a wonderful time connecting with old colleagues and meeting new friends! The conference hotel was very close by the beautiful arch, so we had a wonderful view out of our hotel room window!

The conference this year provided us with no shortage of ideas to implement in our classrooms and in the reading clinic. Jessica learned about an assessment of reading fluency and comprehension designed specifically for Deaf/Hard of Hearing children that can be administered in less than 5 minutes on an iPad. The assessment was created by Dr. Susan Rose at the University of Minnesota. So far this is making a great new addition to our instruction in the reading clinic! We also learned about systems in place to help pre-service Deaf Education teachers reflect on their American Sign Language abilities, which we hope to implement this year. The keynote speaker also told us about the importance of writing as a part of the learning process (as well as learning in shorter bursts over longer periods of time instead of learning a new skill or concept in one long session).

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From left to right, Dr. Antia (University of Arizona), Dr. Baker (from here at TU!), Dr. Smith (Texas Women’s University), Dr. Lartz (Illinois State University), and Dr. Paterson (University of Southern Mississippi).

The end of the first night was a social hour where we got to catch up with old friends. It was so wonderful to be in the company of distinguished researchers and teacher educators who are all working to improve the education of pre-service teachers, as well as Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. This was not the only social opportunity, of course. The second night Jessica attended the bilingual Special Interest Group (SIG) meeting, where she was able to visit with professors and doctoral students from Gallaudet University, Columbia University Teacher’s College, and Lamar University, among others. All of these professionals are interested in the bilingual and bimodal development of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and a number of wonderful and fascinating conversations were had. And additionally, a former student from TU, Jessie Menchak is living in St. Louis and earning her master’s in counseling and an AA in interpreting. She was able to meet up with us for several days of the conference and attend the bilingual SIG social as well. It is always so nice to hear from past students and see how they are doing for post-TU life!

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Dr. Baker and Jessica Scott’s poster!

On Friday morning, Jessica and Dr. Baker presented a poster on the challenges of conducting research in schools for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing, which was very well received. In fact, several superintendents of schools shared that they wished all researchers thought about these issues, and a representative of the National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities asked Jessica if she would be a guest lecturer to share this information with doctoral students in the field of Deaf Education!

The ACE-DHH conference is always a wonderful opportunity to connect with colleagues and researchers across the country who are interested in the same issues that we are here at TU. Who wants to join us next year in New York??

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End of semester catch-up

Wow, it has been a long time since this blog was updated – over a month! Sorry for the delay, the semester really got away from us here at TU. Jessica (the main updater on this blog) has been writing her dissertation this semester alongside teaching responsibilities, so we haven’t updated as much as we would have liked. So, here we are once again to tell you a little bit about our semester here!

First of all, our students have been active at the TU sporting events – members of DeafTU, our university club, have been signing the national anthem at all of our football home games. Pictured below are senior Deaf Ed majors Shawna and Erin, and sophomore Deaf Ed major Karen, just after the opener!

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Speaking of sports, Jessica Scott was voted Most Valuable Professor for the second year in a row – this year from the Women’s Soccer team! Thank you, ladies!

Ok, next up is the reading clinic. As many of you know, we got our grant to help fund the reading clinic this fall, and things have been going very well! We having 6 students being tutored this semester, and have been able to order scores of new books, assessments, games and other materials to use. And to follow up with even better news, 12 students have enrolled in Literacy and the Deaf Child in the spring – which means 12 students will get tutoring, and perhaps even more if the previously trained tutors sign up to work in the spring as well! A visitor from the Oklahoma State Regents, through which the grant was procured, was very successful, and we were encouraged to apply again for the grant next year. Wonderful news!

We’ve also had some visitors  to TU this semester! We already told you about Dr. Kim Wolbers and her work with SIWI – Strategic Interactive Writing Instruction. Her former doctoral student, and current professor at UConn,

Dr. Hannah Dostal teaches us about SIWI!
Dr. Hannah Dostal teaches us about SIWI!

Dr. Hannah Dostal came to Tulsa as well to give a hands-on workshop for teachers and students on how to implement SIWI in the classroom. We are so lucky to have had such wonderful visitors!

DeafTU also hosted our first ASL Live Lab this semester – we had a Halloween party for the Tulsa Deaf Community and ASL students from both TU and TCC. There was candy, games, costumes, and lots of wonderful conversation. Thanks to everyone who came out – and a reminder that TCC will be hosting their own Live Lab this Friday night – a Thanksgiving party! We hope many of our students will support TCC the way they supported our Halloween party!

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Students exploring the flavor, look, and feel of apples!

Finally, this will have its own update later on, but Dr. Baker’s Language Development class had the pleasure of completing Language Experience Activity lessons with the elementary schoolers at Wright! Her TU students created lessons on pumpkins and apples, and the children had the opportunity to explore, feel, taste, and build vocabulary around these delicious fall foods! A student or two will be writing about this experience soon, but in the meantime, here are a few pictures!

Tonya, a Deaf Education junior, ready for her Language Experience Activity!
Tonya, a Deaf Education junior, ready for her Language Experience Activity!
Two language students in the midst of their Language Experience Activity on pumpkins!
Two language students in the midst of their Language Experience Activity on pumpkins!

Happy end of fall semester everyone!!

Strategic Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

Last night (Monday, September 8, 2014), we at University of Tulsa were lucky enough to have Dr. Kim Wolbers, a professor in Deaf Education from University of Tennessee, join us for a talk on her program – the Strategic Interactive Writing Program (SIWI). Not only did our Deaf Education students join us for this unique opportunity, but local teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing from K-12 schools and the local community college also were able to come by.

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Dr. Wolbers presents about SIWI.

Dr. Wolber’s program is a unique one, which focuses on language development in both ASL and English (when it is implemented in signing schools) and encourages students to use resources from their stronger language to help inform their comprehension and expressive abilities in their developing language. During her presentation, she emphasized the importance of not asking leading questions as this risks misunderstanding of students – instead, as they try to describe their experiences, ask neutral questions that will bring out a mutual understanding of what really happened between the teacher and the student.  Through this program, students first have the opportunity to share what they know and have experienced through signing (if the child uses sign language), and then with the support of the teacher transfer this understanding into conventional English. Although the program focuses on upper elementary students and older, she has seen it in action with children as young as pre-kindergarten age.

Dr. Wolbers is a world class researcher and professor. All of us at TU are so grateful that she was able to share some of her time with us! We can’t wait to see more of this type of instruction in action!

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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. Youtube.com 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!

DEAFKAN!

Here at TU, we are always excited to hear about new and unique opportunities being planned for Deaf and hard of hearing children, especially those in our area. Recently Dr. Baker was at the Kansas School for the Deaf for a training where she learned about an amazing opportunity coming up soon, DEAFKAN. DEAFKAN is the Deaf Kids Art Network, and they will be hosting a theater and arts camp for Deaf and hard of hearing students this summer – the camp runs from July 26th through August 2nd. Later on in the fall, Austin Andrews, Deaf Ninja will be performing with DEAFKAN for Deaf Awareness Week! Check out his storytelling on youtube!

I had a pleasure of meeting the head of this great non-profit organization via email, where she shared with me a little about the mission of DEAFKAN:

“Our motto is “Opening the doors of Deaf culture through performance and art.” We are of the belief that families need to see and experience Deaf culture and sign language in a friendly, inviting way before they really consider embracing Deaf culture for their child. By bringing in Deaf performers and artists (and other professional Deaf adults) to interact with our kids, they will see that there ARE successful, talented, educated Deaf adults and that they have the world at their feet.

Our mission is five-fold:

  1. Bring Deaf performers/artists/professionals to deaf and hard of hearing children and their families.
  2. Teach art/performance
  3. Teach and promote sign language
  4. Support families as early as possible in their child’s Deafhood journey through our own programs or by affiliation with other programs.
  5. Educate the community about Deaf culture.”

We here at TU are so excited for this opportunity for Deaf and hard of hearing kids to learn more about art and performance and have the opportunities to meet Deaf performers and artists. Learn more about DEAFKAN here or follow them on Facebook. I am sure someday we will be learning about Deaf artists who benefited from this program as children!

Teachers in Lee, MA, Return Merit Pay

Very interesting response to merit pay from teachers. What do you think?

Diane Ravitch's blog

The teachers in Lee, Massachusetts, received merit pay for higher scores, funded by the Gates Foundation.

In a letter to the Berkshire Eagle, they explained why they rejected the money.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/news/ci_24675094/letter-no-merit-pay-lee-p-teachers

Letter: No merit pay for Lee A.P. teachers

To the editor of THE EAGLE:

While we appreciate the article “Investing in students’ futures” (Eagle, Dec. 3), we would like to make some clarifications.

The $8,700 that the Lee Middle and High School A.P. teachers gave to the school is not from “grant pay,” but rather “merit pay,” earned as a result of high student scores on last spring’s A.P. exams. Unfortunately, the acceptance of “merit pay” was a non-negotiable requirement imposed by MMSI as part of the grant. We accepted these terms only for the additional benefit that a strong and varied A.P. program would provide for our students — “merit pay” was not an incentive to us. By…

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