Educators with an advanced level of Auslan proficiency were fortunate to be able to join in the two day workshop presented by Michelle Baker and Michelle Stark on 21 and 23 September at VDEI.
“Baker and Stark have such a wealth of knowledge to share with us. It was a fantastic program – relevant to everyday teaching and based on sound research. There are direct practical applications which can be used immediately as well as the setting of long-term goals such as changes to the education system and further learning for staff,” said Susan Connor, Teacher of the Deaf at Charles La Trobe College.
Workshop 1 entitled Sign Language Narrative, focused on skill development in the first language of deaf children who use sign language and the impact this has later on their narrative development in written English. Participants analysed sign language video footage and identified areas of need that could be considered in planning and programming for individual students.
In the second workshop entitled Written Narrative of Signing Deaf Children, the teachers analysed students’ written narrative using a functional grammar approach. Participants were encouraged to identify patterns in children’s writing ‘errors’ and explored reasons that these may occur. Developmental aspects of sign language were explored and participants also discussed teaching ideas that could be used to enhance students’ skills in Auslan and written English.
“I learned a lot that I intend to take back to my classroom. I appreciate the specific examples to work through and discuss with colleagues,” said Sophie Mohr, Teacher of the Deaf, Lismore Public School, NSW.
Michelle Baker and Michelle Stark are teachers of the deaf with a shared 35 years of teaching experience with signing deaf children.
Michelle Baker has been working as a teacher of the deaf for nearly twenty years. In 2005 she received the Queensland Premier's Award for Excellence in Teaching for her work in Sign Bilingualism. For the last five years, Michelle has been involved in the production and delivery of training around Sign Bilingual education for school staff working with deaf children. Michelle's post graduate studies, and the focus of much of the training she has developed, centers around the pedagogical use of sign language in the classroom and how this impacts English literacy development for deaf students.
Michelle Stark is also a qualified teacher of the deaf and a professional sign language interpreter. She has worked with deaf children of all ages from the early years right through to the tertiary level. For the last two years she has been involved in the development and delivery of training around literacy and deaf children. Michelle's research at post graduate level has included work around sign language linguistics and she is currently working towards a PhD focusing on the use of sign language in the classroom.
“An awesome workshop! Great links between L1 (Auslan) and L2 (English) that I can start implementing in class. Really beneficial. Thank you!” said Melissa Lucy, Teacher of the Deaf, Forest Hill College.
There will be more sign bilingualism workshops running next year. Please check the VDEI website for details.