Sign Language in the Classroom

Heather Welch - K-5 Instructional Coach

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Sign language in the classroom:

Children learn faster when they can hear, see and feel the words they are learning. Consider using a few signs to as a positive multi-modal teaching/management solution. I implemented these American Sign Language signs (along with the ASL alphabet) in my classroom. They were great for students to use across the room or in the hall. Using the sign(s) did not require talking or interrupting my small group instruction. I could nod or shake my head no to acknowledge the request. I used the alphabet with students learning letters and letter sounds or to check for understanding. There are many classroom signs available that are not ASL but I wanted my students to learn so they could utilize it in the real world if they wished. Teachers can use sign language to:

  1. Manage students behavior

  2. Keep students actively engaged

  3. Assist students in literacy development of phonics, reading, and spelling

  4. Assist students in speech development

  5. Assist students in language development

  6. Promote positive peer to peer communication and interactions

Other ideas:

  1. Enhance calendar and circle time

  2. Pair with phonics for alphabet and letter/sound learning

  3. Pair with sight words with printed text for faster reading development

  4. Use finger spelling with printed spelling words

  5. Enhance vocabulary acquisition for new words

  6. Enhance speech and language development with students with disabilities

  7. Enhance speech and language development with students who are Second Language Learners (ELL)

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