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Summaries of 1992 Conference Presentations

Educational Reform: Are Our Teachers Competent in the Subjects they Teach?

Presented by Richard R. Lytle
Summary by Frieda Hammermeister

A major issue in the current national debate surrounding calls for educational reform in regular education has focused on the question: What should the subject matter knowledge and skills of teachers be? The same question might also be applied to teachers of deaf and hard of hearing children. Not only should educators examine the communication competencies of teachers working with deaf and hard of hearing students and the nature of the language they use in the classroom, but what teachers are communicating about should also be examined.

In order to establish minimum standards for subject matter knowledge and skills, many states have instituted state and national tests to measure teachers' knowledge in a variety of subjects; some have even mandated that all teachers must have a liberal arts education at the bachelors level and have eliminated undergraduate degrees in education. Nevertheless, most states do not define the subject matter competencies of regular education elementary teachers.

Preliminary results based on the first 87 returns of a survey sent to 170 members of ACE-HI by Lytle supported the requirement of subject matter competencies for teachers working with deaf and hard of hearing students. In response to this goal, a proposed list of content and pedagogical requirements for future elementary and secondary teachers at Gallaudet was presented. Discussion as to how best to accomplish the goal for strengthening subject matter competencies focused on the following issues:

lthough no specific answers could be reached, the conference participants acknowledged that we must address the continuing critical issue of what we will teach deaf and hard of hearing students.

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Multiple Metaphors: Constructing Images of Teacher Preparation

Presented by Mary Compton
Summary by Ann Shreve

This presentation was a discussion of ways we can we describe the experience of teaching deaf and hard-or- hearing students so that we can prepare prospective teachers for the dynamics of the complex realities of the 21st Century. By exploring the metaphors we teacher educators use to describe the experience of teaching hearing-impaired students we can:
  1. make sense of rapid scientific, social, economic, legal and political changes;
  2. define and reflect our understanding of those changes;
  3. create a vivid and concise version of our perceptions of the changes;
  4. delineate discrepancies between the expected and the experienced.

Numerous metaphors were suggested by participants. Some of these were curriculum guides, evaluator of learning, communicator, interpreter of the culture, thinker, co-learner, lecturer, behavior manager, etc. Discussion centered on defining ourselves and our programs through use of metaphors, and evaluating our programs by the same process.

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The Whole Works: Teachers Using Journals to Make Reading/Writing Connections

Presented by Lillian Tompkins
Summary by Dawn Tackett

Two examples of utilizing the journal process for pre- service and in-service teacher education were presented. Sample journals were available as models of the journal process, including journals from in- service teachers who responded to professional readings applied to their own life experiences as teachers. Dialoguing examples between the presenter and pre- and in-service teachers were available for poster session participants to read. The pre-service teachers used the journals for introspection and reflecting so that thinking about the processes of reading, writing and learning was communicated through the journal entries.

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Fingerspelling: Expressive and Receptive Fluency

Presented by Joyce L. Groode
Summary by Dawn Tackett

A videotape designed to develop awareness among faculty, staff, parents and others working with deaf children who use a manual communication system was the center of this poster session presentation. The videotape is a demonstration of a variety of strategies that are helpful for practicing fingerspelling. The videotape focuses on both receptive and expressive fingerspelling skills. The tape will be available from Dawn Sign Press; 2124 Kittredge Street 107; Berkeley, CA 94704-9893.

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Reading Between the Lines: How One Deaf Teacher Demonstrates the Reading Process

Presented by Kathleena Whitesell
Summary by Dawn Tackett

A qualitative study described the reading aloud behavior of one deaf teacher and a group of 5 kindergartners with hearing loss. When she deviated from the printed page, she usually added to the story most often at the beginning of a sentence rather than at the middle or end of the sentence, not wanting apparently to distract or detract from story line. The strategies found in the study included adding to the text while reading, substituting, rearranging, and deleting.

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Making Literacy Connections

Presented by Karen Dilka
Summary by Dawn Tackett

A TDD Exchange was a project initiated at the Kentucky School for the Deaf with the assistance of Eastern Kentucky University Hearing Impaired program director Karen Dilka. The study was designed to examine the language strategies used by both the deaf students and their prospective teachers. The purpose for the students was to develop pragmatic skills within their TDD conversations. The purpose for the prospective teachers was to develop teaching strategies that would encourage the use of targeted skills. The project provided an opportunity for the students to learn through a meaningful situation. It also provided prospective teachers with a practical learning/teaching opportunity.

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The Mandatory Inclusion of Performance Based Instruction and Assessment into Curriculum for the Preparation of Teacher Personnel

Presented by Karen Dilka & Laurence Hayes
Summary by Evelyn Albritton

The presenters described the new Kentucky Plan for Education of Children. In 1989, the Kentucky Supreme Court found the educational system of Kentucky to be illegal; dismissed all State Department of Education officials; fired all teachers of elementary, secondary and special education classes; and hired a new state superintendent of schools. Subsequently, the new superintendent brought in a panel of Harvard professors, hired a "think tank" from Pennsylvania, and instituted a panel of parents to decide what model the new school system would take.

The new model consisted of six goals of learning including: a) use of basic communication and mathematic skills; b) application of core concepts from Mathematics, the Sciences, the Arts, the Humanities, Social Science, and Practical Living Studies; c) becoming a self-sufficient individual; d) becoming a responsible member of a family work group or community; e) thinking and problem solving; and f) connecting and integrating new experiences and knowledge.

Ten principles of learning under the Education Reform Act of 1990 were also instituted. These included a) major focus on learning outcomes, b) high expectations for all students, c) emphasis on what is important to learn, d) emphasis on performance assessment, e) variety of learning experiences, f) emphasis on multisensory learning, g) emphasis on holistic learning, h) more emphasis on cooperative and group learning, i) quality learning experiences, and j) emphasis on real-life experiences as content for learning.

The presenters shared some of the assessment procedures that will be used to measure learning. They also pointed out that teacher education programs will need prepare future professionals to meet the new educational standards. Suggestions from group members included "block" planning, partnerships with school systems, use of video tapes of real assessment situations and networking between professionals to solve problems.

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Integrated Experienced-Based Curriculum: Building Process into Content

Presented by Trinka Messenheimer-Young & Amy
Summary by Dawn Tackett

This poster session presentation gave an introduction to an integration-based curriculum called: Beyond Seeing and Hearing: Teaching Geography to Sensory Impaired Children; newly published by National Council for Geographic Education, 16-A Leonard Hall, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA 15705. In monograph format Beyond Seeing and Hearing examines some of the issues and problems involved in teaching geography concepts to hearing and visually impaired children. A teaching unit for classroom use was provided as a handout. This approach emphasizes a focus on the child as an individual, opportunities through a variety of experiences, and integration of objectives from across the curriculum.

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What Will Be The Role of English in Hiring Deaf Teachers?

Presented by Richard Lytle
Summary by Jerry Crittenden

Two questions appeared to be central to discussants:

1) The question of communication equity or fairness of an English language standard for deaf teachers of the deaf and;

2) the question of how to manage measuring the communication equity issue through a) reducing the communication standard set for proficiency; b) accepting an alternative form for passing the test, e.g. evidence of English proficiency achieved by completion of a degree (M.A., B.A.) or portfolio of practice; c) establishing an alternative test which considers proficiency in English necessary to teach various proficiency in English at some "motive user" level.

Several of the discussants said that a communication standard was necessary. If teachers are to teach in English there must be an acceptable level of English usage. As an alternative, it was suggested that teaching needs be assessed and English-laden tasks be assigned to proficient teachers while those who don't meet the standard would be assigned teaching tasks which are not English-dependent. The question was raised of the necessity of teaching all subject matter in English only.

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Round Table Discussion on Mainstreaming

Presented by Catharine Preston

The presenter reported findings from research done on mainstreaming practice and selection criteria. Among the most important characteristics shared by residential and public school programs was teacher receptivity to deaf and hard-of-hearing students and interpreter. Classes most favored for mainstreaming differed widely: the top three preferences for public schools were physical education, art, and music; for residential schools, math, English, and science.

The round table discussion was focused on implications for teacher preparation programs. Alan Marvelli reported that Smith College utilizes adjunct instructors who are practitioners in mainstream programs. He stated that diagnostics was an especially important area, and that developing the notion of teacher-as-dictionary-user (i.e., one who is capable of seeking needed assistance from a variety of resources) was also important. Skills in collaboration were identified as central, and it was observed that group/cooperative learning projects during academic study contribute toward building these skills.

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Educational Reform's Impact on Teachers for the Hearing Impaired

Presented by Amy Otis-Wilborn & Trinka
Messenheimer Young
Summary by H. William Brelje

Teacher Education at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee is engaged in the process of change and reform that is in keeping with the context of educational reform nationwide. The program in Hearing Impairment is moving toward the goal of dual certification or certification for all of its students in both regular education and the education of children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Dual certification will be accomplished in part by integrating as much special education content as is possible into regular education course work, infusing regular education content into the courses offered by the teacher education program in hearing impairment, and by combining the content of courses in the several exceptional education specialty areas. To successfully achieve the dual certification and reconstitution and integration of the curriculum, the Program in Hearing Impairment has added a fifth year to the four-year undergraduate degree program.

The end goal for teacher education at the University of Wisconsin/Milwaukee is to integrate special education and regular education programs as much as is practical and possible.

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