Whole Language in Classrooms for the Deaf

Key Words: Instructional Strategies, Language

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Document 12
Subject: whole language with deaf
From: sara mcconatha
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 14:22:41 -0500
Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education
Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF

Hello everyone! I am new to the list, and have just been sitting back enjoying reading everyone's input up to this point. You may have discussed this in the past; if so, please forgive me. Our school is wanting to make some changes in our Language Arts program, and many of our new teachers have been trained in the Whole Language Approach. I'd like to know of some of your experiences with the approach with deaf children, who's using it, and who out there can do workshops for teachers. Thanks for your help.

Sara McConatha

Alabama School for the Deaf

Document 2 of 2

Document 12

Subject: Re: whole language with deaf
From: Cathy Brandt
Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 16:55:38 EST
Reply-To: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education
Sender: A Practical Discussion List Regarding Deaf Education

To: Multiple recipients of list EDUDEAF In-Reply-To:

Welcome to the list! Glad to have you aboard.

I use the Whole Language Approach. I typically base my language arts curriculum around meaningful concepts which we are currently studying to give reading and writing a REAL purpose. I think that's a critical component to the development of the WLA.

Another critical component to my curriculum is having a variety of TYPES of reading materials available for the children. I do use basals or text books but we also use A LOT of other kinds of books (some parents find objectionable and I remove). I use real stories from the library and real literature. I incorporate magazines, encyclopedias, the WWW, recipes into my reading time. An example would be today as we are studying various holidays we made Christmas cookies (on Weds we make potato latkes and peanut butter stew). The kids had to read the recipes while, "I sat on my bottom and watched" what they did. Last week they had to write a friendly letter to the teachers who they have during the time we are doing our celebration (they'll miss their class that one day). All of my kids can write a friendly letter and include all five parts. They all wrote in paragraphs and conveyed the appropriate info. I keep a copy and "take a grade" on that.

Another critical component to the WLA (at least in my classroom) is the aspect of student choice. I often have a variety of materials at the student's level of functioning, a bit below and a bit above. They choose the material many times and I vary the choices I give them based on what they need more or less of. (Ooops, ended that in a preposition)

I also believe in a WLA a teacher must have clearly defined structures that provide for a lot of student creativity. In other words it can NOT be just whatever a kid feels like doing and it doesn't all fit together to make a cohesive WHOLE. I believe a quality WL classroom is one that ensures that children are exposed to, are involved in, and experience many pieces that fit together to make a structured whole which leads to continual student achievement. (Very critical when discussing language development, grammar and how to express oneself in sign/speech/writing.)

Yes, I've done a number of workshops on integrating curriculum which involves a Whole Language focus. I typically do these and discuss how technology can be a critical element in the entire curriculum.

Am DEFINITELY NOT an expert, however. DEFINITELY don't have all of the info or answers that are available. Haven't shared everything here - tried to hit the high points. Just one teacher doing it on a daily basis for the past ten years.


Uploaded by B.J. Lawrence /Kent State University /Deaf Education Major