Tag Archives: deaf culture

Learn About TU: Learning ASL

Welcome back to another installment of Learn About TU! Today we will explore how our undergraduate students learn American Sign Language (ASL) in our program.

Our Deaf Education majors come to our university with a variety of levels of experience with ASL – some have Deaf family members who use ASL, or are Deaf themselves. Some began learning ASL in primary or secondary school. Some come to TU without ever having taken an ASL course! Our goal is to make sure that all of our graduates are fluent signers before they leave our campus.

This starts, of course, with ASL classes. Here at TU we use the Signing Naturally curriculum, and students taken ASL Levels I, II, III, and IV. In terms of formal course work, we also recommend that students take some more advanced ASL classes and interpreting classes at Tulsa Community College, which has a great interpreter training program and some wonderful professors!

We also get our students out into the Deaf Community as often as possible – we believe that this opportunity to interact with fluent and native signers is essential to ASL acquisition. Students must attend community events for ASL classes, and also must clock an additional 45 hours of community events prior to graduation through practicum courses. This is in addition to the 105 classroom practicum hours and a full semester of student teaching in environments that use ASL. Finally, our advanced methods course in teaching Deaf/Hard of Hearing students is taught entirely in ASL so that students have the opportunity for more advanced, academic ASL.

And after all this work to build ASL fluency, how is it evaluated? In the spring of junior year, our students attend a two week long practicum at a school for the Deaf. During this practicum, we arrange for their signing skills to be evaluated by a Deaf professional. These reports help both us and our students understand where their strengths are and what they need to work on further before graduation.

So there you have it! In our program you learn not only how to teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing children, but we also work hard to support you as you learn a new language!

Learn About TU: Student Teaching!

Hello readers! We at TU are excited to be starting a new semester. We hope everyone is feeling refreshed after winter break! There are a lot of upcoming events we are excited about – the continuation of our reading clinic in February, the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) conference in St. Louis, and the International Reading Association (IRA) conference, where professor Jessica Scott will become the official president for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Special Interest Group, just to name a few! You will be sure to hear about them in the coming months.

But in the interest of getting prepared for a new semester, here is another installment of Learn About TU! Because we have three seniors doing their student teaching at the moment, let’s take a few minutes to learn about the student teaching experience.

Deaf Education majors graduate with the potential to earn an N-12 teaching certificate in the state of Oklahoma. Because of this wide range of grade levels, student teaching is typically divided into two experiences, one lasting 7 weeks and the other lasting 8 weeks.

For one placement, we strongly encourage students to stay at the Kansas School for the Deaf, an amazing bilingual school only four hours from TU’s campus. Students are typically placed in either elementary, middle, or high school. Our student teachers also get to stay in the KSD dorms, which gives them an amazing opportunity to interact with students outside of the classroom and improve their ASL skills. As part of the agreement for staying in the dorms, student teachers will also typically work at an after school program – this may include academic tutoring, coaching, supervising clubs, and so forth. One of the Deaf Education professors will visit KSD campus towards the end of the internship to observe lessons and give feedback.

The second placement is typically within the Tulsa Public Schools, either in a self-contained elementary, middle or high school classroom, or placement with an itinerant teacher.

Students completing their student teaching get a wide array of invaluable experiences that will prepare them for teaching, including planning and teaching units and lessons, assessing students, implementing behavior management plans, observing experienced teachers at work, observing Individualized Education Plan meetings, coaching or sponsoring clubs, attending faculty workshops and development opportunities, and much more! All of our student teachers are in their second semester of their senior year.

If you have any questions about the student teaching experience, or about the Deaf Education program in general, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our faculty!

Language Experience Activities

Something that is so important for all children is to have the language to talk about their experiences. One way in Deaf Education that we try to support this is by engaging in language experience activities – in the classroom, the teacher engages students in an experience, and then supports them as they discuss the experience by providing new vocabulary that might be useful. This can all of course be tied to literacy, as these experiences can then be written about, and this writing shared with peers.

Dr. Baker, in her Language Development and Deaf/Hard of Hearing Students class, had the opportunity to bring her undergraduates to a Deaf Education classroom where they planned and implemented their own language experience activities! Two of them agreed to write about this experience!

“Our Language Development class has been learning how to prepare Language Experience Approach lesson plans and we decided to try out a lesson on the five sense at Wright Elementary! I was in charge of the station that addressed the sense of touch! I created a folder that had various materials for each student to touch (Leather, Fleece, Feathers, Burlap, etc.). It was so much fun to see all the children’s eyes light up when they saw this very interactive activity! LEA’s are a great tool to help student learn new vocabulary terms in a manner that seems fun and playful! I had never worked with children this young before and it was very exciting to see how happy they were to see all the various items they got to put their little hands on! It was fun to show the children new signs such a soft, bumpy, and rough! I was so happy that I got to work with these cuties! I cannot wait to work with younger children again!” – Tonya North, Deaf Education major, junior

“Preparing for this LEA took place in Dr. Baker’s Language Development class each class was split into groups and given the responsibility of preparing their own LEA for Wright Elementary. The LEA that my group decided to present was “The 5 Senses” because there was 5 individuals in our group we were able to each split a ‘sense’. I chose smell, because I thought it would be fun to work with the children and practice facial expressions caused by the different smells.I taught them four different smells including; sweet, cinnamon, fresh/clean, and a dirty smell ( I used an old pair of socks for this example).I learned that patience is required when teaching Deaf or hard of hearing children and that not all children learn the same. This experience was very beneficial. I think LEA’s are extremely important because the children are allowed to learn hands-on and I feel as if LEA provide a different teaching technique that the children find extremely interesting. My overall take on this experience is that it was a fun and exciting way to interact with the children and it was fun to watch them learn and react differently to the LEA. At the end of the observation I was not ready to leave because I enjoyed just being around these children and playing with them and watching them learn. All children want to learn and it was so exciting to see these children commit to the LEA. I’ve personally been back in forth on whether to pursue this career field but the moment I’m around these amazing Deaf children I find myself with so much joy and passion all because of them, the more I’m around the Deaf community the more and more I fall in love with this Culture. It was an overall life changing experience and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.” – Kadan Brady, Deaf Education minor, senior

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!!

Learn About TU: Travel to Gallaudet

Welcome to our second installment in the Learn About TU for potential Deaf Education majors! Today we will be talking about a unique experience available for our senior level Deaf Education majors: Travel to Gallaudet!

By the time they are seniors, our Deaf Education students have done a lot to inform their understanding of Deaf Education and their ASL skills. They have taken ASL levels 1-4, almost all of the Deaf Education teaching methods classes (including Introduction to Deaf Education, Language Development with Deaf Students, Literacy Development with Deaf Students, and Methods of Teaching the Deaf, among others!), and many courses with the school of education.

So what better way to continue to improve ASL skills and teaching knowledge than with a trip to Gallaudet, the only liberal arts college for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students? Our students travel with a faculty member or two to the university, usually sometime in November. We try to schedule this trip around presentations from the Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2) research group, which is NSF-funded. Students also get the opportunity to meet professors in the Gallaudet Education department, and possibly even visit classes at the university! The whole trip lasts around 5 or 6 days, and is really an invaluable opportunity for our majors.

The course is worth one credit, but the experience of being on an all-Deaf campus is worth much more! This year we have three seniors visiting Gallaudet in November, and we can’t wait to hear about their experiences!

Have more questions about Travel to Gallaudet, or the TU Deaf Education program in general? Please contact our faculty!

Learn About TU: Practicum Experiences

This post will be the first in a series of installments that we will hope will be helpful to our readers out there who are current or future students who want to learn more about particular aspects of our Deaf Education program here at University of Tulsa. Today we will start with an invaluable experience: Practicum,

All schools of education require students to complete a certain number of practicum hours in order to graduate. We are certainly no exception, although the way the Deaf Ed program does practicum is a little unique.

Starting in their junior year, students will be engaged in three different practicum courses, one per semester. One of those will be in an elementary setting, another will be in a secondary setting, and the third may vary from person to person, depending on their interests. Most (but not all!) of our practicum students are placed in the Tulsa Public School District, in one of the public schools that has a Deaf Ed program. As a practicum student, you will observe and support the teacher doing lessons, but also create your own bulletin board (or other visual display), teach your own lesson, and possibly tutor a student.

But that’s not all! In our program we feel that teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing need to really get to know the Deaf Community – so every practicum experience has Deaf Community experience built in! We hope this will support our students’ understanding of ASL, as well as of Deaf culture before they enter the classroom as teachers.

Many of our students visit Kansas School for the Deaf, an amazing residential school, for a two week intensive practicum after the end of junior year as their third practicum site. But other students take on local practicums with itinerant teachers, early intervention programs, or ASL teachers. It is our goal that all these experiences will give our students all the skills they need to be successful teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the future!

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!