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Mar 11

More Ways to Use Sign in the Classroom

Posted by Valentine Burr in Fair Is Not Equal on Mar 11, 2013

Pam's recent post on using Americal Sign Language (ASL) has had me on the look out for examples in action. It didn't take long. Last week I was visiting a 3rd grade inclusion classroom in a public school and saw this poster at the front of the room. It reads: "Show us this sign when you would like to take a break."

It’s wonderful on several accounts.

  • It provides a clear tool kids can use when they’re feeling frustrated and need a break (often the very moment when words fail). 
  • The ASL sign is modeled visually (both the hand position and movement). 
  • There is a list of options of what kids can do during a break. 


I’ve also been thinking about other ways I see signs integrated into the daily life of classrooms.

  • Silent applause (raised and waving hands) is a lovely way to show recognition without disrupting the flow of an activity with clapping. 
  • Many classrooms use the signs “W” and “T” to indicate the need for a water or bathroom break. 
  • The “me too” sign (a “Y”-thumb pointed to self and pinky pointed to peer-slid back and forth) can help kids recognize each other's thoughts and indicate to the teacher a shared idea much more effectively than the ubiquitous: “I was going to say that!”

While these are not all specific supports for challenging behavioral moments, they all are additional tools for communicating in groups large and small. For kids struggling to communicate effectively, the more options we can provide them the better. If you have pictures (no kids please) that show sign language strategies you use, we’d love to see them!

tagged asl, communication, language, strategies
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