An ASL DictionarySigning 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
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Blog Articles in Category: Learning Tips
Learning Tips | Monday, March 2, 2015
Read Across America Day is every year on March 2nd - Dr. Seuss’s birthday. The whole month of March is also National Reading Month. The events are used to encourage reading and literacy. Reading any book is great, but the National Education Association chooses a book every year and this year’s book is the Dr. Seuss book Oh, The Places You’ll Go.
Resources for this year’s Read Across America Day
Get the book:
Printable activities to accompany the book:
- Find these and more printable activities to accompany Dr. Seuss books at the Seussville's Read Across America page.
- The National Education Association website also has resources for planning a reading event and resources for finding free books for the classroom.
The Importance of Reading with Children
According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 53 percent of children ages three to five are read to daily by a family member.1 Yet, children are significantly better at reading comprehension when parents read with them and encourage reading.2 Children who are read to at home do better in school. Research shows they are better at knowing the alphabet, counting, writing their names, and reading.3 Additionally, the more types of reading materials there are in the home, the higher students are in reading proficiency.4
Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.
For more information on Children's Literacy visit the National Education Association website.
Reading with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
Over 90% of deaf or hard of hearing children are born to hearing families and there is often a lack of communication between hearing parents and their deaf child. Using sign language when reading increases comprehension, which helps children become more engaged in the story being read and more interested in learning to read themselves.
Parents can use the word list feature on Signing Savvy to create a custom word list of signs that go with a book they are reading. The Signing Savvy quizzing and digital flash cards features can be used to practice the signs from the word list and, of course, it is best to sign while reading the book. This is a way for both parents and children to practice signing together and learn new signs.
Teachers can also create custom word lists of signs that are used from books read at school and then share those word lists with parents. Then parents have great recommended books for signing and reading at home that align with the classroom curriculum.
Some great tips for reading to deaf and hard of hearing children were outlined by David R. Schleper in the publication Reading to Deaf Children: Learning from Deaf Adults. The tips were developed through research of what deaf parents do when reading to their deaf and hard of hearing children.
Schleper's 15 Tips for Reading to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children
- Translate stories using American Sign Language. Focus on concepts and use lots of fingerspelling.
- Keep both languages (ASL and English) visible. Make sure children see both the signing and the words and pictures.
- Elaborate on the text. Add explanations about the text to make it more understandable.
- Reread stories on a “story telling” to a “story reading” continuum. The first few times, make sure the student understands the story. Then, slowly, focus more and more on the text.
- Follow the child’s lead. What does the child wants to read? What if the child wants to read just one part of a book, then move to another? Follow the child.
- Make what is implied explicit. Make the hidden meaning clear.
- Adjust sign placement to fit the story. Sometimes sign on the page. Sometimes sign on the child. And sometimes sign in the usual place.
- Adjust the signing style to fit the story. Be dramatic. Play with the signs and exaggerate facial expressions to show different characters.
- Connect concepts in the story to the real world. Relate the characters to real events.
- Use attention maintenance strategies. Tap lightly on your child’s shoulder, or give a gentle nudge to keep his or her attention.
- Use eye gaze to elicit participation. Look at the child while reading.
- Engage in role playing to extend concepts. Act out the story after you have read it.
- Use ASL variations to sign repetitive English phrases. If you are using the same phrase over and over, vary the signs.
- Provide a positive and reinforcing environment. Encourage the child to share ideas about the story and support the child’s ideas.
- Expect the child to become literate. Believe in the child’s success and read, read, read!
These tips are from:
- Schleper, D. R. (1997). Reading to Deaf Children: Learning from Deaf Adults. Washington, DC: Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University. (ISBN 0-88095-212-1)
- They can also be found as part of the webpage on "Reading to Deaf Children" from Gallaudet University's Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center.
How ever you spend Read Across America Day or National Reading Month, we hope you enjoy a good book!
- Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center, Gallaudet University. Reading to Deaf Children. Retrieved 2/27/2015 from http://www.gallaudet.edu/clerc_center/information_and_resources/info_to_go/language_and_literacy/literacy_at_the_clerc_center/literacy-it_all_connects/reading_to_students.html
National Education Association. Facts about Children's Literacy. Retrieved 2/27/2015 from http://www.nea.org/grants/facts-about-childrens-literacy.html
- U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, from http://www.nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id+56
- U.S. Department of Education. 1996. Reading Literacy in the United States: Findings From the IEA Reading Literacy Study.
- U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2000.
- Educational Testing Service, 1999. America's Smallest School: The Family.
- Education Association. Finding Free Books for the Classroom. Retrieved 2/27/2015 from http://www.nea.org/grants/finding-free-books.htm
- National Education Association. Plan a Reading Event. Retrieved 2/27/2015 from http://www.nea.org/grants/plan-a-reading-event.htm
- Seussville: Dr. Seuss Educators. NEA's Read Across America - March 2. Retrieved 2/27/2015 from http://www.seussville.com/Educators/educatorReadAcrossAmerica.php
Learning Tips | Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Help students get back into the swing of the school year by showing them our 12 special "Back to School" instructional WonderGrove animations featuring sign language. The "Ask the Teacher for Help" animation is great to encourage students to ask for help when they are confused.
Accompanying the animation, there are extention lessons for Pre-K, Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade, all which have been crafted by educators and align to the common core standards. Download the extension lessons and use them at home or in class for easy activities that reinforce the lesson.
In addition to talking about the lesson in the animation, it’s a great idea to talk about the signs used with your students. The signs featured in “Ask the Teacher for Help” are:
You can also use our pre-made Signing Savvy Ask the Teacher for Help word list to go through the signs in the same order that they are shown in the animation.
Get free access to all of the "Back to School" WonderGrove instructional animations featuring sign language while you still can! We are offering 30-day free trial promotion, but you have to sign up by September 12, 2014. Register for the free WonderGrove trial and find out more.
Learning Tips | Monday, June 30, 2014
Summer is HERE! For most children this means a break from school and fun in the sun with long summer days playing with friends. Unfortunately, for many deaf and hard of hearing children, these weeks away from school can mean days without good communication. They will still have great summer days of play with friends and picnics with family, but often times communicating at home can be more of a struggle than at school – signing skills may not be as good at home and neighborhood children do their best, but just don’t have the knowledge or vocabulary to be very effective.
These situations happen all too often, leaving deaf children to fill in lots of blanks and they are not always able to get the whole picture. Luckily, there are some proactive things that you can do to better prepare your deaf child and their friends for communicating this summer.
Here are 5 ways for kids to communicate easier with sign language this summer:
- Talk to the neighborhood kids, ask them what they plan to do ahead of time so you can go over rules to games, or describe some of the activities to your child before sending them off to play for the day.
- Share some of the quick survival signs with your child’s playmates so that they can do some very basic communication.
- Introduce signing as something fun and interesting - a “secret” way to communicate in public, something that sets them apart from others in a positive way.
- Create some standard Signing Savvy word lists and email the links to family and friends so they can easily pick up some new vocabulary and common signs that you use.
- Encourage your child to play “teacher” and to pick a new sign of of the day everyday to use regularly and teach others. If they are already a good signer, it may be a sign they use often or a sign they really want others to learn to use. If they are still learning to sign, encourage them to pick a new sign to learn and use for the day (they can search for a sign on Signing Savvy). This will gradually introduce neighbors, friends, family, and the child to more vocabulary throughout the summer. Sign language is a beautiful language that the child can share with others and teaching others is the best way to learn and remember new signs.
Summer is a time to really enjoy the days with your child. Give them exciting and interesting experiences that they can learn from and remember forever. The only way a deaf child is able to properly remember things is to categorize their experiences into memories. Strong communication is an important part of this process.
Do you have other suggestions on how to improve communication over the summer? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Learning Tips | Wednesday, May 21, 2014
In addition to having its own vocabulary, American Sign Language also has its own grammar and syntax that differs from English.
Just like English, every ASL sentence consists of a subject and a predicate.
Signing (and Grammatical) Terminology
Subject - The noun or noun phrases in the sentence. Describes the main focus of the sentence - the person, place, thing, idea, or activity.
Predicate - A predicate can be a verb, a noun, an adjective, or a classifier. The predicate contains the words or signs that describe the action preformed by the subject or that say something about the subject.
The basic, uninflected, word order of ASL is subject, verb, object.
The basic, uninflected, word order of ASL is subject, verb, object.
- BOY CHASE CAT
- I LOSE MY BOOK
Signing (and Grammatical) Terminology
Uninflected - Uses basic grammatical structure without any changes so that is does not express grammatical functions or attributes.
There are many ways to inflect the meaning of sentences.
There are many ways in which a person may inflect their sentences. For example, in English a person may say "The boy chased the cat" or "The cat was chased by the boy". The second example is of an inflected sentence using the "passive voice" rule. Both of the sentences are correct, they just represent different ways of communicating the information.
In the same way, an ASL user may use topicalization or a rhetorical construction to inflect an ASL statement.
- BOY CHASE CAT (uninflected)
- CAT BOY CHASE (topicalized)
There is a required non-manual signal in inflected ASL sentences.
Signing (and Grammatical) Terminology
Inflect / Inflection - Inflection is done to emphasize a word or subject or to indicate a grammatical attribute such as tense, mood, person, number, case, or gender.
Passive voice - The passive voice is used when the action is not being done by the noun.
Topicalize / Topicalization - Topicalization causes a subject, word, or phrase to be the topic of a sentence. Often, the subject/object is stated first when topicalizing.
Rhetorical construction - Constructing signs to effectively deliver a message.
Non-manual signals - Non-manual signals are facial expressions or body positions used to convey meaning while you sign.
There are three types of ASL verbs.
PLAIN verbs are always signed the same, no matter who is performing the action
INDICATING verbs (sometimes called "directional" verbs) change based on either the subject doing the action, or where the action is taking place
- DEPICTING verbs (sometimes called "classifiers") show what things look like, where they are in space, or how things behave
Unlike in English, all verbs in ASL must always be directly preceded by the subject (ie, who is doing the action). Some examples are listed below. In all of the examples, the subject and verb are connected and cannot have signs appear between them - this is signified by a line between the subject and verb (_).
The verb LOVE is a "plain" verb.
English: "I love books."
ASL: I _ LOVE BOOK (uninflected)
ASL: BOOK I _ LOVE (topicalized)
The verb HELP is an "indicating" or "directional" verb.
English: "I am helping my sister."
ASL: ASL: I _ HELP MY SISTER (uninflected)
ASL: MY SISTER I _ HELP (topicalized)
The verb CL:3 is "depicting" or a "classifier"
English: "The car is next to the man."
ASL: CAR _ CL:3 (in space) MAN _ CL:1 (in space)
Notice, in all of the above sentences, the subject (the person doing the action) always directly precedes the verb. The following sentences would be unintelligible in ASL:
- BOOK LOVE I
- HELP MY SISTER I
- CL:3 CAR
ASL syntax is a complex topic and it takes knowledge and practice to master. Did this article help? Still have questions? Post a comment below.
Learning Tips | Sunday, April 13, 2014
Since ASL is a visual-gestural language, not a spoken consecutive language, it can only truly be recorded in video and not captured in writing. Many writing systems have been developed for ASL, but none of them have reached a critical mass, probably because it is difficult to capture handshape, location, palm orientation, movement and non-manual signals in a written word. For that reason, when scribing ASL, many people rely on the linguistic convention called "glossing," which means writing a word in your native language for each sign that appears. This is not a perfect system, but it can be useful when discussing the syntax of other languages, signed or spoken.
Glossing - Writing a word in your native language for each sign that appears. ASL is not a writen language, so glossing is not a translation, but a description of what was signed, including signs used, important body language, and accepted glossing symbols.
When writing an English gloss for an ASL sentence, conventions are followed.
Here are a few glossing conventions that are commonly used:
- Signs are capitalized, such as BOY, HOUSE, ME
- Words that are fingerspelled have dashes written between the letters, such as M-A-R-Y, D-O-G, S-A-L-E
- Classifiers are written as CL: handshape, such as CL:3 (vehicle), CL: 55 (feet), CL: CC (telephone pole)
Classifiers - A classifier is a combination of a classifier handshape and movement root that are made to reference whole phrases with a single sign. First a signer will sign the subject, then they can use a classifier to describe something about that subject - what it looks like, where it is, how it moves or behaves.
These are not all of the conventions, these are only a few. What other ASL conventions do you know? Share them in the comments below.