Technical Report: Secondary Writing InstructionTags: ASL, assessment, bilingual, grammar, itinerant, language delay/deprivation, motivation
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Deaf and hard of hearing (d/hh) children often acquire an L1 after age 3, thus are arguably more diverse than that of the general bilingual population. A unique problem therefore exists among d/hh late language learners—they often do not have an L1 to later develop an L2. This study investigated the impact of an English writing intervention (Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction, SIWI) that incorporates support for the development of American Sign Language in an effort to illustrate the necessity of explicitly addressing the proposed interdependence of language learning. The research involved providing 23 upper elementary and middle school d/hh students with SIWI. SIWI has been shown to have a significant impact on student outcomes in language and literacy. The study was conducted in five classrooms—one fourth, two fifth, and two sixth grade classrooms—over a twelve-week period at a state residential school for the deaf. This allowed for two weeks of pre-test, mid-test and post-test administration, five weeks of regular instruction, and five weeks of intervention. The students received SIWI for four forty-five minute sessions and one thirty-minute session each week for a total of five weeks. The intervention replaced their regular 45 minutes of writing instruction. In order to measure expressive language growth in ASL, language samples for each student participant were collected. These samples were analyzed to chart expressive language growth during the time period with no SIWI intervention and while engaged in SIWI by reviewing them for students’ mean length of utterance (MLU), use of unintelligible utterances, and specific grammatical features of ASL, and individually for patterns of ASL expressive language growth. Repeated measures ANOVAs (within and between subjects) conducted for students’ MLU and unintelligible utterances revealed statistically significant growth after five weeks of SIWI. This study demonstrates the reciprocity of language learning. The foregrounding of written English supported the development of a more nuanced understanding of the use and features of ASL.Read in Full
Interactive Writing is a powerful support for language and literacy development; however, its emphasis on using oral language to construct written language can present challenges for deaf students due to their unique and diverse language experiences. Teachers (n = 14) using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) in grades 3–5 were observed using a space referred to as ‘the language zone’ (LZ) to address the needs of deaf students. The LZ is a space in a classroom where the creation, translation and revision of ideas is made visible. Researchers developed a flowchart with three tiers to document the purposes for which teachers use the space. Accompanying scenarios provide concrete examples. Teachers can use the LZ flow chart as a tool to recognize, analyze and select instructional moves that may positively impact the language and literacy proficiencies of deaf students.Read in Full
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.Read in Full
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.Read in Full
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.Read in Full
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.Read in Full
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.
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.
This study investigates the effects of using Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI) with deaf, middle school students who use American Sign Language as their L1 and written English as L2. Using a pretest-posttest control group design, the research explores whether students receiving SIWI made significantly greater gains compared to those not receiving SIWI on a number of variables. There are 33 total students, 16 in the treatment group and 17 in the comparison group. The intervention lasted a total of 8 weeks, during which time the treatment group collaboratively constructed two report papers using SIWI components, and the comparison group continued with their typical literacy instruction. The pre and posttest measures were scored, according to rubrics, for evidence of primary traits, contextual language, and conventions. The multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) and follow-up univariate analyses were statistically significant. Furthermore, effect sizes (d) were large to very large, ranging from 1.27 to 2.65, indicating SIWI to be an effective approach with deaf L2 writers.Read in Full