Research

Research Journal Articles

The writing performance of elementary students receiving Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction

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Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) has led to improved writing and language outcomes among deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) middle grades students. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of SIWI on the written expression of d/hh elementary students across recount/ personal narrative, information report, and persuasive genres. Five multiple-probe case studies demonstrate a relationship between implementation of SIWI and improvements in genre-related writing performance. The effect of instruction was most immediately demonstrated with information reports and persuasive writing, whereas several sessions of recount instruction were needed for students to satisfy performance criteria. Additionally, pre and post data from a larger group of students (N=31) were compared. Wilcoxon Signed-Rank test statistics were statistically significant for each genre with medium to high effect sizes. Data suggest SIWI as a promising practice with elementary students, and comments regarding further development and research are provided.

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Research Journal Articles

An analysis of deaf students’ spelling skills during a year-long instructional writing approach

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Numerous studies have shown that spelling presents unique challenges for children who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/hh) and most do not develop age appropriate spelling skills. However, it is critical that these skills are acquired in order to use written language for academic or vocational purposes. Spelling errors from the writing samples of 29 middle school students in a state school for the Deaf were analyzed to examine changes over time. Samples were gathered before, during, and after a year-long writing intervention using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). When using SIWI, students are exposed to proper spelling during guided writing instruction; however, spelling is not a specific focus of each lesson. In this study, a linguistic analysis of spelling errors was used to assess each child’s understanding of the phonological, morphological, orthographic, semantic and visual imagery rules that apply to written words. No significant improvements in spelling were noted and the results indicate that spelling should be targeted during writing lessons. The results provide important information on the acquisition of spelling skills with this unique population and the use of narrative samples to assess spelling

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Research Journal Articles

“We are authors”: A qualitative analysis of deaf students writing during one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing (SIWI)

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This article expands on prior Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) research by examining students’ development as writers.  Findings from a qualitative analysis of the writing development of 20 middle-school deaf and hard of hearing students over one year of instruction is reported. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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Research Journal Articles

Developing language and writing skills of deaf and hard of hearing students: A simultaneous approach

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In school, deaf and hard of hearing students (d/hh) are often exposed to American Sign Language (ASL) while also developing literacy skills in English. ASL does not have a written form, but is a fully accessible language to the d/hh through which it is possible to mediate understanding, draw on prior experiences and engage critical thinking and reasoning (Allington & Johnston, 2002, Vygotsky, 1987; Wertch, 1991). This study investigates the impact of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) on the development of signed expressive language (ASL) and written English. Our analysis demonstrates that a focus on ASL did not detract from students’ writing growth in English. Instead a focus on building ASL and written English proficiency simultaneously resulted in significant gains in both language and writing.

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Research Journal Articles

A description of ASL features in writing

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Similar to second language students who embed features of their primary languages in the writing of their second languages, deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) writers utilize features of American Sign Language (ASL) in their writing of English. The purpose of this study is to identify categories of language transfer, provide the prevalence of these transfer tendencies in the writings of 29 d/hh adolescents and describe whether language features are equally or differently responsive to instruction. Findings indicate six categories of language transfer in order of prevalence: unique glossing & substitution, adjectives, plurality & adverbs, topicalization, and conjunctions. ASL features, of both lexical and syntactical nature, appear to respond similarly to instruction.

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Research Journal Articles

Deaf writers’ application of ASL knowledge to English

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Language transfer theory elucidates how first language (L1) knowledge and grammatical features are applied in second language (L2) writing. Deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) students who use or are developing American Sign Language (ASL) as their L1 may demonstrate use of ASL linguistic features in their writing of English. In this study, we investigated the extent to which 29 d/hh students in grades 6-8 (mean age = 13.2) with diverse ASL exposure incorporated ASL features in their English writing. We also investigated the impact of one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) to increase students’ metalinguistic knowledge and linguistic competence, and subsequently reduce ASL features in writing. Results indicate that ASL transfer is found in the writings of students with varied L1 experiences, and that SIWI can lead to significant reductions of ASL features in writing. The findings suggest that bilingual literacy programs where there is an emphasis on implicit language competence and metalinguistic knowledge can support d/hh students in the development of written English.

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Research Journal Articles

“I was born full deaf.” Written language outcomes after one year of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

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Nonstandard grammatical forms are often present in the writing of deaf students which are rarely, if ever, seen in the writing of hearing students. With the implementation of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) in previous studies, students have demonstrated significant gains in high-level writing skills (e.g., text structure) but have also made gains with English grammar skills. This one-year study expands on prior research by longitudinally examining the written language growth (i.e., writing length, sentence complexity, sentence awareness and function words) of 29 deaf middle school students. A repeated-measures ANOVA with a between-subjects variable for literacy achievement level was used to examine gains over time and the intervention’s efficacy when used with students of various literacy levels. Students, whether high- or lowachieving, demonstrated statistically significant gains with writing length, sentence complexity and sentence awareness. Subordinate clauses were found to be an area of difficulty, and follow up strategies are suggested. An analysis of function word data, specifically prepositions and articles, revealed different patterns of written language growth by language group (e.g., ASL users, oral students, users of English-based sign).

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Research Journal Articles

Using ASL and print-based sign to build fluency and greater independence with written English among deaf students

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This study investigated the use of ASL and print-based sign in the development of English writing fluency and writing independence among deaf, middle school students. ASL was the primary language through which students engaged in higher-level thinking, problem solving and meaning making. Print-based sign was used for rereading the collaboratively constructed English text. Mixed method approaches were utilized. First, a pretest-posttest control group design investigated whether students receiving the instruction made significantly greater gains compared to non-receivers with length of text—one indicator of writing fluency. There were a total of 33 students, 16 in the treatment group and 17 in the comparison group. The intervention lasted a total of 8 weeks, during which the treatment teacher guided the collaborative construction of two English report papers. The comparison group continued with its usual writing instruction and had equal instructional time. The analysis of variance (ANOVA) for length was statistically significant with a large effect size (d=1.53). Additionally, qualitative data demonstrated ways in which three very different classes in the treatment group gained greater English competency and fluency. Further development of ASL as L1 was deemed a necessary component for students with language delays. All students exhibited progressively more independence with writing over time.

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Book Chapters

School as a site for natural language learning

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According to the sociocultural perspective of language development, language learning is a by-product of communication that is meaningful. For deaf students, who often have limited access to communication at home, it becomes more essential that their school provides a rich communicative environment. Meaningful interaction is a powerful motivating force in human development and learning. When a deaf child is provided full communicative access in the classroom, where the teachers and classmates play the facilitative role of helping the child understand and make meaning, the child is provided an invaluable opportunity to learn language naturally. Critical questions are examined related to the access to, implementation of, and impact of a communication-rich environment. The research is grounded in sociocultural theories of learning to illuminate possible ways to mitigate the impoverished contexts for language, literacy, and cognitive development.


Book Chapters

Video review and reflection for ongoing inservice teacher professional development

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In this chapter we describe how a rubric-style observation instrument for observing classroom writing instruction was used to focus and optimize collaborative video analysis sessions among teachers and researchers spread across six states. As part of a 3-year Institute of Education Sciences (IES) development grant, we used videos of classroom instruction both as data for researchers studying the nature and impact of a specific instructional approach, Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI), and as a vehicle for collaborative teacher professional development– for both teachers and teacher leaders. Design. By tying video analysis to a shared observation instrument, we were able to target video clip selection for discussion, and focus our analysis to support teachers across several states and school settings implementing a new approach to writing instruction. After a brief overview of the project for which videos were used, we describe the tools and protocols developed over time to ensure the efficient and powerful use of collaborative video analysis. We also share our experiences on the nature and outcomes of these collaborative sessions both in terms of teachers’ involvement and changes in practice over time. Findings. We argue that the use of a common rubric to guide video clip selection, discussion, and analysis allowed teachers to strategically engage in “data reduction” – i.e. not be overwhelmed by the amount of video data – and to use the videos as catalysts for conversations as well as evidence of what works well for individual students. As researchers, these sessions allowed us to ensure collaborative video analysis sessions were focused, efficient, and growth-oriented as well as sources of data for understanding trends in challenges and trajectories of growth for teachers implementing a new approach to instruction. Practical Implications. This work illustrates how researchers can use video for dual purposes–to conduct literacy investigations and to provide teachers with professional development involving video review and reflection.

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