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. 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!