Practitioner Articles

Adapted for deaf students, “Morning Message” helps build writing skills

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One of the greatest challenges teachers of deaf students face is how to teach students to write effectively. Teachers want them to plan, organize, and relay meaning in a coherent way, but teachers also expect them to develop a sense of control over English writing conventions and mechanics. It is probably no surprise that teachers are constantly looking for and testing the kinds of instruction that succeed in teaching these writing skills to students who are deaf or hard of hearing. In this article, the authors discuss an instructional approach, called “Morning Message” by the teachers who use it at Michigan State University, as a guided interactive writing activity. Since the authors learned about Morning Message, they have focused their efforts on adapting this activity to better accommodate the specific needs of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The authors discuss how Morning Message helps build writing skills and benefits deaf students.

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Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI): Apprenticing deaf students in the construction of informative text

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of writing instruction that was strategic and interactive, namely Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI), when utilized with deaf, middle school students. In addition to strategic and interactive instruction, four minor instructional components included: (a) use of writing examples and non-examples; (b) metalinguistic knowledge building; (c) use of visual scaffolds; and (d) NIP-it lessons (i.e., contextualized mini-lessons involving Noticing, Instructing, and Practicing). The study used a non-equivalent, pretest-posttest control group design to explore whether students receiving SIWI made significantly greater gains compared to those not receiving SIWI on a number of writing variables and reading. The participants of the study were two teachers of the deaf and their respective middle school students. There were 33 total students, 16 in the treatment group and 17 in the comparison group. Students, teachers and schools were matched according to several pertinent variables. The SIWI intervention lasted a total of 8 weeks, during which the treatment teacher guided the collaborative construction of two informative papers; the comparison group continued with their usual literacy instruction. All students were given a battery of assessments prior to and after the intervention to evaluate any gains. These measures included (a) an informative writing assessment, (b) an editing and revising task, (c) a generalization writing probe similar to a 7th grade state standardized assessment, and (d) a SORT-R reading test. The first three measures were scored, according to rubrics, for organization, coherence, evidence of text structure, contextual language, and conventions. A second rater scored approximately 10 to 20% of the papers and obtained an interrater reliability of 0.93 to 1.0. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed along with the necessary follow-up univariate analyses. All analyses were statistically significant, finding SIWI to be an effective instructional approach. Furthermore, the effect sizes (d) or the magnitude of the differences between group means for writing variables were large to very large, ranging from 1.27 to 2.65. The effect size for the reading variable was small to moderate at 0.39.

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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

Interventions for the deaf and language delayed

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This chapter provides a synthesis of previous literacy research with deaf students, and it suggests a number of future directions. Much attention throughout the chapter is given to one subpopulation of deaf students—those with severe to profound losses who are less likely to develop oral language skills and who encounter unique barriers to reading and writing development when compared to their hearing or hard of hearing peers. There is a need for specialized literacy instruction of the deaf in order to be responsive to the specific language and literacy challenges they encounter. Two main areas are discussed in this chapter: (1) the occurrence of delays in development of expressive language and (2) the effect of having a visually and spatially-based language as one’s primary mode of communication. Instructional interventions that address these specific challenges and attempt to positively impact reading or writing in English are highlighted throughout.

Research Journal Articles

Using balanced and interactive writing instruction to improve the higher order and lower order writing skills of deaf students

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The current study reports the findings of balanced and interactive writing instruction used with 16 deaf and hard of hearing students. Although the instruction has been used previously, this was the first time it had been modified to suit the specific needs of deaf children and the first time it had been implemented with this subpopulation of students. The intervention took place in two elementary classrooms (N=8) and one middle school classroom (N=8) for a total of 21 days. A comparison of pre and posttest scores on both writing and reading measures evidenced that students made significant gains with use of genre-specific traits, use of contextual language, editing/revising skills, and word identification. Students showed neither gains nor losses with conventions and total word count. In addition, a one-way MANOVA was used to detect any school-level effects. Elementary students made significantly greater gains with respect to conventions and word identification, and middle school students made significantly greater gains with editing and revising tasks.

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