Michelle Baker and Michelle Stark are teachers of the deaf with a shared 35 years of teaching experience with signing deaf children.
Sally Strobridge is a native user of sign language, a deaf role model and has spent a number of years working in schools supporting teachers and signing deaf students to enhance their Auslan skills.
The three presenters provided two excellent workshops on sign bilingualism in November at the VDEI Learning Centre and participants benefitted from their complementary learning styles.
The first workshop, Applying sign language linguistics to the classroom on Friday 9 November 2012 provided a basic understanding of sign language linguistics and through the use of video footage and hands-on activities, demonstrated the similarities and differences between sign language and spoken language and how teachers can utilise these in their classroom to enhance literacy.
The second workshop, The Contact Sign Continuum and its application to the classroom on Saturday 10 November 2012, examined language use in a sign bilingual setting. Professionals who attended built an understanding of the Contract Sign Continuum and the different ways deaf people use Auslan and English on their hands in communication. Video footage was used to demonstrate how the Continuum can be used in daily classroom practice across curriculum areas such as Mathematics, English and Science.
‘Practical strategies modelled that I can take back to my classroom. Clear, meaningful content presented well,’ said Sophie Mohr, teacher of the deaf, Lismore Public School, NSW
‘Excellent both days,’ said Dimitra Sanetsis, TOD/ESL/VCAL Literacy Teacher at Forest Hill College. ‘It refreshed my Auslan skills and made me more aware of how to better help deaf signing students.’