An ASL Dictionary

Signing Savvy is a sign language dictionary containing several thousand high resolution videos of American Sign Language (ASL) signs, fingerspelled words, and other common signs used within the United States and Canada.

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Signing Savvy is an ideal resource to use while you learn sign language. It includes the ability to view large sign videos, build your own word lists and share them with others, create virtual flash cards and quizzes, print signs, build sign phrases, ...and more

Sign of the Day - PLAN

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Take Them Shopping!

Teaching Tips   |  Thursday, April 15, 2010

By John Miller

Earlier, I discussed how I used cooking as a classroom activity to engage my students in sign language education. Well if you cook, you have to shop!

Each week the students and I would pour over cookbooks picking out a recipe that might go along with a particular theme that we were studying at that time, such as traditional Thanksgiving foods in November, Valentine's cookies in February, etc... Sometimes it might just be something that sounded tasty. From that recipe we created a shopping list and we would go to the grocery store. We would shop for the various items and then take a digital photo with two students from the class in each photo. One student would be holding the product, while the other student signed the sign for the item.

The results were overwhelming for me as a teacher. The life-long skills that were being facilitated in the students were immediately noticable!

This type of activity became a large part of our preschool and early childhood program's curriculum. It caught the attention of a professor at Michigan State University and he wrote about it in his book, Literacy and Your Deaf Child: What Every Parent Should Know.

If I were doing this activity today, I would use the Signing Savvy word lists. With word lists, you could create a shopping list right on Signing Savvy. You could then use the word list to quiz the students on the signs before going to the store. At the store you could sign the item and see if the students could locate it. You could also print the signs from the word list and send home the vocabulary for the students' parents and families. Of course if the parents had Signing Savvy memberships, you could share your word lists with them so they could see the sign videos and follow along with their kids.

 

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Take Signing Savvy On The Road

Site News   |  Monday, March 29, 2010

By Jillian Winn

One of the most requested features we have had to date is the ability to access the Signing Savvy website on mobile devices. First and foremost among the requests have been for the ability to access the site on the iPhone, which to date does not support the Flash-based video we have on the standard website.

Signing Savvy Now Available for iPhone and iPod Touch

We are happy to announce that we now have a beta version of the Signing Savvy website available for iPhone and iPod Touch! The beta version supports nearly all Signing Savvy features including searching, browsing, flash cards, quizzing, and more.

iPhone

The only things not supported is printing (there is no printing from the iPhone anyway) AND the ability to view "combination videos" as a single video. That is, on the standard website, phrases and fingerspelled words are shown as a single, combined video even though they are actually made up of multiple videos. On the mobile version, phrases and fingerspelled words are shown as multiple videos rather than a single video. We hope to resolve this issue in the future.

The beta version is currently available exclusively to our Signing Savvy members. Note, this is not an "App". Just direct your Safari browser on your iDevice to https://www.signingsavvy.com, login (as a member), and enjoy.

The iPad Cometh - Signing Savvy is Ready

The much anticipated iPad goes on sale this Saturday, April 3. We have tested the mobile Signing Savvy on the iPad and it works wonderfully! The large, high-resolution screen and touch interface makes an excellent way to access Signing Savvy from the coffee shop, airport, or wherever you have Wi-Fi access (or 3G cell access once the WiFi + 3G version of the iPad is released.)

iPhone

Other Mobile Device Support Coming

We are exploring the possibility of expanding the Signing Savvy mobile access to other modern mobile platforms that support web browsing and video playback. Stay tuned for future announcements.

 

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Tips for Reading Fingerspelling

Learning Tips   |  Saturday, March 13, 2010

By John Miller

Many people talk to me about their frustrations with fingerspelling and want suggestions on how to improve their receptive skills when it comes to reading fingerspelling.

My suggestions tend to follow a lot of the same rules that apply to teaching a child to read:

  1. Practice, practice, pratice...the more you work on reading other people's fingerspelling, the better you will get. Everyone's fingers are different so it is important to practice with many different partners in order to experience all the styles of hands. (Unfortunately not everyone has long easily read fingers!)
  2. Don't get stuck on reading each letter as an individual letter. Instead think of it and the "shape" of the word. Watch for double letters and the beginning and ending letters. You should be able to fill in the rest with the contextual clues (much like you do with reading an unknown word in a sentence in a written passage).
  3. Instead of saying each letter as you are seeing it, say each SOUND. (You are basically sounding it out.) This will help as you are trying to figure out the word. That way when you miss a letter here and there, by sounding it out you will be able to fill in the blanks.

Fingerspelling, hands-down is one of the trickiest parts of the language. Don't get too frustrated. Take it slow at first. Don't be afraid to ask a deaf person to "spell it again please", they more than likely will be happy to repeat themselves.

Happy Signing!

 

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Children love to cook!

Teaching Tips   |  Sunday, March 7, 2010

By John Miller

They just do! I often used cooking as a teaching tool the classroom.

Once my students got the skills in place through our dramatic play (described earlier), we would do cooking activities in the classroom and invite others in to join us and taste our creations.

While cooking, we would again use our digital camera to document the steps in the process. We would print off these photos later and have the students put them in order (sequencing) and add captions to the photos (writing skills). We would then place these on colorful construction paper, laminated and bound together (again the spiral binders) to make a book that the students could revisit later. The final pages of the book would have the signs for the ingredients used as well as the result food made from the ingredients.

The books were sent home for parents to read, then placed back in the classroom library. The interesting thing is that the students would often choose these books as their books to read during quiet reading. They loved to see themselves in the books.

Signing Savvy would make this activities easier with the ability to create word lists and print signs.

 

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Using Figurative Language with Sign

Learning Tips   |  Thursday, February 25, 2010

By John Miller

Many people have asked how to sign things that say one thing but mean something else. This happens a lot in the English Language!

Some Examples: It's raining cats and dogs!, or You look really sharp today.

Now as native users of the English language, we know that neither cats or dogs are falling from the skies .nor is the person in the second sentence looking rather pointed. These are concepts that people who are learning English as a second language also struggle with, yet we find phrases like these used in everyday language all the time. The thing for you to focus on as a signer is the main idea of what is being said and then sign it conceptually correct.

It's raining cats and dogs = It's really raining hard

Even with this example you would NOT sign that it is raining HARD (as in the opposite of soft). You would sign RAIN + A LOT or RAIN+RAIN+RAIN (with a facial expression showing a lot).

You look really sharp today = You look really nice today.

You would sign it like this.

Now, with that said, as a former teacher, I would think that it is important for my students to know what someone was saying when they used figurative language (whether it was being said live or they are reading it in a book, and it is actually fun to see my students use it in their everyday use of language). So I would sign it conceptually correct first but then TEACH them the way it is used in figurative language and sign it back and forth interchangeably so that it becomes part of the student's vocabulary.

 

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