Michelle Stark and Michelle Baker are teachers of the deaf with a shared 35 years of teaching experience with signing deaf children.
These highly skilled professionals presented two outstanding sign bilingualism workshops at the Victorian Deaf Education Institute Learning Centre on 11 and 12 May 2012.
The first workshop, entitled “It’s all in their hands – supporting signing deaf children to read”, challenged participants to explore the differences in Auslan and English and the issues faced by educators to reach a balance between the two languages to ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for the development of both.
The presenters examined the theory behind learning a second language, combined with the complexity faced when a spatial language student (Auslan) is learning to read in a temporal language (English). This provided valuable insights for educators and highlighted the need for linguists and educators to work together to further develop understandings in this area.
The second workshop entitled “It’s all in their hands – assessing the reading skills of signing deaf children” focussed on monitoring and analysing bilingual students when reading. Throughout the day the emphasis was on students reading for meaning. The workshop offered an opportunity for participants, through analysis of video footage, to develop an understanding of using miscue analysis with bilingual students. Use of this analysis provides information on students’ skills, strengths and weaknesses while reading. This information informs the development of the students’ specific learning goals and serves as a beacon to guide the students reading development.
Participants in this two day workshop genuinely experienced an integration of research into practice and practical strategies that could take away and immediately use in the classroom.
“This workshop was the most valuable workshop on literacy for deaf signing students I’ve ever been to,” wrote Maria Burgess, a Year 4 – 6 teacher at the Victorian College for the Deaf and Herald Sun teacher of the year.
“The workshop was so informative and relevant to my field of work,” said Carrie Collins, teacher of the deaf from the Klemzig Centre for Hearing Impaired in South Australia.
“So refreshing, empowering and inspiring!” said Anna Vost, educational interpreter.
Michelle Baker and Michelle Stark will be running more sign bilingualism workshops on 9 and 10 November 2012 this year. For more information, see: Michelle Baker and Michelle Stark