Dare I say it has almost been a year since my last post! I have been busy (aren’t we all). Consumed in my classroom, learning new skills and strategies for tackling the Common Core in a special education classroom, I have neglected to keep this blog in action. The truth is, I have been on the verge of a decision, should I scrap the site and start a new? I decided recently, I would rather not. We are all a work in progress and this blog is a perfect example of my “work in progress” as an educator. From day one, just starting the blog, not knowing exactly where it was going to take me, to transitioning with a purpose, Technology and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing classroom, to iPads and apps in the classroom and now, to the Common Core State Standards and practices with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population. That is right, the blog is once again taking a turn.
It is no new news that the country has embarked on an effort to standardize K-12 instruction through the development of the Common Core State Standards initiative. Since its inception, 45 states, the District of Columbia, 4 territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the standards for English Language Arts (CCSS-ELA) and Math (CCSS-Math) (http://www.corestandards.org/in-the-states).
In August, 2010, California Board of Education Adopted (CABOE) the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (CCSS-ELA). However, since that time, most professional development opportunities focused on the hearing population of students. For this reason, in 2011, California State University, Northridge (CSUN), Los Angeles County Office of Education and LA Unified School District received a grant from the CABOE to provide professional development to teachers of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. This grant is called Enhancing Quality with Teachers of Students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing (EQTDHH). I had the wonderful opportunity to participate.
A total of 25 teachers and administrators from the LA service area began a 2 year endeavor to decode and implement the CCSS-ELA in our daily classroom instruction. Teachers came together from variety classroom settings. Some were itinerant, some oral, some TC, some ASL. We also spanned a variety of grade levels ranging from pre-school through high school.
Our discussions did not focus on modality rather common struggles DHH students face in education. Our first year focused heavily on the Speaking and Listening Content area. Wait a minute, Speaking and Listening? I know what you are thinking. The same thing I thought that first day! “I am Deaf. My students are Deaf. We use ASL to communicate. How does this apply to my students?” We spent approximately half of our first 8 hour word day discussing the definition of ‘speaking’ and ‘listening’. Thanks to an inspiring informational lesson on linguistics and metacognitive process, which I can not even begin to explain here, by one of the teacher leaders from CSUN, Sharon Klein, we determined to keep our minds open with the understanding that ‘speaking’ is considered a student’s expressive language–whatever that language is–and ‘listening’ is considered a student’s receptive language–whatever that language is. With that out of the way, we were ready to explore.
Our first year, wow, many discussions focused not on implementable practices and experiences but focused on the language inside the CCSS-ELA–vocabulary, or terminology– and analyze, what does it all means. After spending several 8 hour sessions deciphering the Speaking and Listening Standards it became obvious that terminology was a critical component of understanding the spiraling nature of the CCSS-ELA. When looking at one strand across grade levels, complexity is gradually increased at each level. This terminology distinguished one complexity band from another.
We of course, had many opportunities that year, while focusing on specific stands within the Speaking and Listening Standards to begin utilizing the standards within our own classrooms. Another component of the grant was technology. Technology is infused within the CCSS-ELA, and our technology tool of choice was the iPad. Many of us use the iPad within our daily classroom instruction, and as you already know, I teach within a 1-1 iPad program. One of my favorite aspects of these sessions was the collaboration with other educators of the Deaf. As you are probably all too familiar with, if you do not teach at a School for the Deaf, often this collaboration opportunity is at a minimum, if at all. Okay, I won’t fool you, I enjoyed the social nature of the sessions as well. However, it was wonderful to see how other teachers were using iPad apps in the classroom and which apps they were using with success. If you own an iPad, you know, there is much trial and error where purchasing an app. This can often not only be time consuming, but expensive as well. (Note to self: add to To Do List, create apps for Deaf students in mind)
As mentioned earlier, this has been a 2 year project. While our first year focused on understanding the terminology, recognizing the spiraling nature of the standards and exploring apps within the Speaking and Listening Standards, our second year primarily focused on the Reading and Writing Standards. During that time, I also had opportunities to participate in classes (yes geared toward the hearing), for Reading for Information and Literacy in History subjects. Already understanding the basics of the CCSS, this was a year of implementation and practice.
To sum of the two years, I put together an iBook resource manual for implementing the CCSS-ELA with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. Although it is limited in content now, I hope to continue to add more content as it progresses, however the foundation is laid. I will announce once this is published and release to the public. I am working on the final stages as we speak. This resource will include a glossary (later a sign-language glossary), model lesson plans with video clips in actual DHH classrooms, student outcomes (our interpretation of what “skills met” looks like), and of course a list of apps for the iPad (many of which can also be found on other platforms) for specific content standards.
With that all said, thus the beginnings of a new dimension, or direction, for this blog. While technology is still a critical component, I will begin discussing implementation practices and providing resources for teachers of the DHH and the Common Core. Look forward to having you, and as always, feel free to comment and share your own practices and resources.
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