Tag Archives: literacy

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!


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!

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.

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!


New school year!

Hello readers!
We hope that you all had a fabulous and relaxing summer and are ready to start a new school year! We at the Deaf Education program at University of Tulsa had a wonderful and productive summer, and are ready to hit the ground running for the new school year. We just wanted to share some updates with all of you!

Dr. Baker spent the summer giving trainings at schools for the deaf on language development and how to use the new tool she developed with colleagues at Gallaudet University and Lamar University. Her travels brought her to Kansas and to Pennsylvania.

Jessica Scott spent most of her time close to home working on various projects in Tulsa, including planning a 5K race to benefit the Total Source for Hearing-loss and Access. She also traveled out of state to collect data for her dissertation!

This year we are looking forward to a number of things:

1. Meeting new Deaf Education students, of course!

2. Learning whether we have received the grant for our reading clinic, and if so, getting that up and running again

3. Attending the Association of College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACEDHH) in nearby St. Louis

4. Jessica returning again to St. Louis for the International Reading Association conference to present her doctoral research and become chair of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Special Interest Group.

5. Seeing several of our amazing Deaf Education majors graduating this spring and entering the field!

6. Cooler weather! (Last on the list, but it is pretty hot and will be nice to get some more bearable weather!!)

What are you looking forward to most for this academic year? Are there any upcoming events that we should also be excited about that we missed? We want to hear from you!

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!

On leaving the ACE-DHH conference and Gallaudet

photo 1Well, the Deaf Education faculty certainly had a wonderful and productive week in Washington DC, at the Association for College Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) photo 3conference! What a great time, and I am so happy it was on Gallaudet University campus, which I got to visit for the first time! Dr. Baker had already been on campus since last Friday working on the Visual Communication and Sign Language checklist (VCSL), filming ASL directions for implementation of this amazing assessment tool designed to evaluate the communication abilities of young Deaf children. The checklist will be distributed by Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2), a research group sponsored by the National Science Foundation. I (Jessica!) did not arrive until the following week, just a day before the conference began. But we spent that day productively – we had a meeting with some colleagues at Gallaudet and Lamar Universities to discuss a research project we are working on that will hopefully lead to some insights into how to better teach reading to young d/Deaf and hard of hearing children!

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Dr. Baker and I were also lucky to get to visit Kendall Demonstration Elementary School – KDES, the elementary school on Gallaudet University’s campus. Although they were busy, as is usual in elementary schools, we were lucky enough to get a tour of the school from one of the administrators. The school itself is beautiful, so many open spaces designed with the visual needs of Deaf children in mind. We also learned that they have a mandatory after school program for all students – which means that the students at KDES are in school until 5:30 every day! Can you imagine the opportunities for cognitive and linguistic growth these children have?

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And while we were leaving the school, we saw a flyer stand full of research briefs by VL2, one of which was authored by our very own Dr. Sharon Baker! It is about the importance and impact of fingerspelling on Deaf children, and has been translated into a number of languages. How exciting to see the work we are doing impact people not only across the United States, but across the world! KDES was not our only tour however – the VL2 labs very generously opened their doors to conference attendees, and we were able to see the space and researchers that have made so many contributions to research related to Deafness.

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That evening I was very fortunate to be able to attend a very exciting talk with some really excellent people. Dr’s Marlon Kuntze [see picture to the left], Ben Bahan [see picture below on the right] (who should be recognizable to those who learned ASL using the Signing Naturally series – at least the older version!), H-Dirksen Bauman, Beth Benedict and Catherine O’Brien all came for a panel discussion on the concept of “Deaf Gain” –
photo 5 the opposite of hearing loss! This discussion explored not only what individual students gain from their Deaf experience (linguistically, culturally, cognitively), but also what the world gains from the contribution of Deaf individuals (notably but not limited to: the football huddle, hand signals in baseball, closed captioning, and much more!) The conversation was lively, and I appreciated being able to see such amazing and creative minds discussing this important way of looking at Deafness.

The next day brought a number of wonderful presentations and opportunities to talk with others in the field. Dr. Baker presented a poster with colleagues from other universities about fingerspelling, a topic that is not frequently discussed in the literature. I attended a session about using Graphic Novels in a summer reading camp for Deaf students by Caroline Guardino of University of North Florida, and came away a lot of ideas that I hope to use in our tutoring program here at TU! I also had the opportunity to reconnect with faces from the past – a student I taught at Alaska State School for Deaf and Hard of Hearing is currently a junior at Gallaudet studying Social Work, and my student teaching supervisor and advisor from my alma mater, Flagler College, was also in attendance. A TU grad from last year, Stephanie Voss, also took time out from her master’s program to visit us on campus!

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Gallaudet University Press had a table with lots of books that have recently been published in our field, and needless to say I’ve come away with a wish list a mile long. (That also includes my love of some ASL number handshape clocks for sale in the bookstore!).

We also got to attend the Bilingual Special Interest Group meeting, a further discussion of Deaf Gain and how we can bring the concept of Deaf Gain into classrooms with Deaf children – capitalizing on their strengths and experiences as we teach them in multiple areas, including mathematics, literacy, and technology. These conversations were fascinating and important, and I count myself lucky to have been among colleagues who feel so passionately about these issues.

Finally, I presented this very afternoon on the use of translation during guided reading with Dr. Kuntze (of the Deaf Gain talk!) – we have been watching videos of children who are reading with their teachers and the type of translation they are engaging in – most commonly they are reading word for word, but we have some wonderful instances of children translating phrases and even complete sentences from English into beautiful ASL – a sure sign that students understand what they are reading!

I am writing this post from the Reagan National Airport in DC, reflecting on what an amazing time we had this week. Although it was very busy, it is so wonderful to be among passionate, committed educators who work with Deaf students (and those who are working with people who want to become teachers of Deaf students!). Although our work day to day in Tulsa can feel far away from others in the field, it is wonderful to know that we have colleagues that share our perspectives and experiences (and others who challenge these perspectives and experiences!). Monday, it’s back to classes and the reading clinic, but with a fresh perspective and new ideas from some amazing colleagues.

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