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.

And Much More!

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 - MOUNTAIN

Blog Articles by: John Miller

Fostering communication between school and home

Teaching Tips   |  Saturday, August 27, 2011

By John Miller

Many people who have worked in the field of Deaf Education have had to deal with an alarming statistic that has plagued the field for a long time. The average reading level of the exiting or graduating deaf senior is that of a 4th grader. It has fluctuated over the years but for the most part it is still much lower than any of us would care to accept.

I have heard many different explanations as to why this is the case. It may be because over 90% of our deaf children are born into hearing families, and are therefore raised in homes where sign language is not the native language of the household. (As an aside, one of Signing Savvy's goals is to help hearing family members improve their sign language communication with deaf family members.)

It may also be that the structure of education just isn't as cohesive and friendly to the deaf student as it is to the hearing student because of the mass amounts of language that a child is expected to understand and use throughout their day.

Regardless of these obstacles, we, as educators just need to do school smarter! That is, we need to do a better job at using the resources we have out there to foster the growth of a more literate student. Don't take this wrong, teachers work very hard to educate the students they have, but if we could educate them more efficiently, then we both come out looking...and being, SMARTER!

The blog articles we call Teaching Tips aim to do just that. They give you ways to look at things you may already be doing in your classrooms but adding an edge to them to take you to that next level.

We all know that one of the keys to a successful student is one that has involved, productive parents. Yet many times the parents feel very disconnected from what is happening at school. They often aren't (or don't feel) welcome in the classroom. The problem is exacerbated because the child has very little to share with their parents once they arrive home. Right away this causes a disconnect between home and school.

I want to spend the next few Teaching Tips blogs to discuss some ways to help foster communication between school and home. We will start at the elementary level and work our way up. I encourage you to comment and share your own experiences and ideas along the way. Don't look at this as just for school teachers either. Many of the ideas would work well in ANY teaching situation where you are working with children and parents (families).


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Creating a Deck of Printed Flash Cards

Teaching Tips   |  Monday, August 1, 2011

By John Miller

In my sign language teaching, I create word lists containing the vocabulary of each of my lessons. I share these word lists so my students can view it. The students can then use the online flash card and quizzing features to learn the vocabulary and better prepare themselves for the next in-class test. NOTE: If they have an Apple or Android mobile device, they can also use the flash card feature on the Signing Savvy Member App.

The online flash cards are great as you can actually view the entire motion of the sign since they are shown as videos. However, some people still prefer printed flash cards. Printed flash cards are especially useful to send home with the students. That way, the students can practice their vocabulary with their parents or siblings and everyone ends up learning!

Below is an example of some flash cards I recently created and printed.

To create these printed flash cards, I followed the steps below:

  1. I used the Signing Savvy's word list feature to create a word list of the vocabulary lesson. Just like my previous example, I shared the word list so my students with Signing Savvy memberships could access the list.
  2. Then I went through each sign in the word list and selected what frames I wanted to print using the Signing Savvy printing feature. You can select from one frame up to nine frames of the video to represent the sign. That is, the frames you select are the images that are printed for each sign.
  3. Since I was creating flash cards, I selected the option to print the sign description on a separate page of paper.
  4. Then I printed the signs. Since I had a two-sided printer, I printed front-to-back with the sign images on the front and the sign description on the back. If I only had a one-sided printer, I could have just printed two sheets and glued the two pieces of paper together.
  5. Finally, I cut out the cards to create my deck of flash cards! If you want to get really fancy, you can print them on cardstock paper and laminate them.

Printed flash cards are a great literacy tool to use in your classrooms and send home!


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Turn an Ordinary Children's Book into a Creative Sign Language Learning Tool

Teaching Tips   |  Tuesday, July 26, 2011

By John Miller

Children's books are often great learning tools because they are visual, help build a child's vocabulary, and kids love them! I use them all the time in my teaching to young students. Now, with Signing Savvy and a bit of creativity, you can create a sign language version of your favorite children's books to further enhance their learning potential.

Below is an example of a very well known children's classic that has been modified to show the signs.

To create this book, all I did was:

  1. Use the Signing Savvy's word list feature to create a word list of the words from the book. This word list is actually a shared list that anyone who is a member can access.

  2. Then I selected the key frames of video in each sign and printed them using Signing Savvy's printing feature. You could print them on (sticky) contact paper or use a combination of regular paper and clear packing tape.

  3. Then I cut out the print outs and stuck them in place in the book.

Viola! An instant sign language children's classic! Creating sign language versions of your favorite books is fun and easy to make. And the children will love them!


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Still time to tap into that summer creativity!

Teaching Tips   |  Tuesday, July 26, 2011

By John Miller

Teachers, I know you are all enjoying your summers and don't really want to think about "Back to School" just yet, but I thought I would take the time, over the next few blog posts, to highlight some of the cool things you can do with the Signing Savvy features to add a little creativity to your classroom.


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There is Not a Sign for Every English Word

Learning Tips   |  Tuesday, April 19, 2011

By John Miller

Question: I am looking for the sign for word (insert word) and cannot find it.

Answer: There is not a sign for every word in the English dictionary. However, there is usually a sign for most concepts expressed in English. Conceptually correctness is the key.

If you are trying to find a sign on Signing Savvy, first think about the meaning behind what you want to say. If you search for a word and either no sign comes up or the sign that comes up seems to have a different meaning than what you want to say, think of a different word that conveys the meaning of what you want to say and search for that word.

Lets look at an example from Signing Savvy:

I want to look up the word PROTECTION from the following sentence: I need to put on some more sun protection before going on the boat.

When I search for PROTECTION, I do not find a sign. Therefore, I simplify the word and search for PROTECT. Simplifying the word is a good searching strategy on Signing Savvy, such as removing the -ion, -ing, or s (plural form) of the word.

However, in this case the sign for PROTECT may not really convey the conceptual meaning of sun protection. That sign could be used but what I'm really trying to say in my sentence is more like the sign for FILTER or SCREEN.

Now while looking this up I also thought of the work block, as in sun block. When I looked up BLOCK, I found two signs, one for the meaning to block something or prevent it from entering, and one like a building block.

The sun protection I was thinking about was more of a filter than a block, since I still wanted to get a tan, so I would use the sign for FILTER.

As a signer and a sign language interpreter, you constantly have to decide which sign best fits the conceptual meaning of what you are saying. This is one thing that beginner signers really struggle with. It is not always a direct English to ASL sign translation.


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