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Dissertations

Practices and routines in SIWI lessons that develop skills in reading

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The average performance of Deaf and hard of hearing (D/hh) students on test of reading comprehension is several grade equivalents below their high school hearing peers. The reading-writing connection is one way to address the literacy challenges of D/hh learners. This study explored that connection in instruction that was driven with a high fidelity to the principles of Strategic Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI). The data for this study came from two grade three classes involved in the second half of a Year II project that was part of a 3-year Institute of Education Sciences-funded project to develop SIWI for use with D/hh students. The video footage of 18 and 31 SIWI lessons spanning two units of instruction in a TC and Bilingual classroom respectively were examined using a comingling of inductive and interpretive analysis and utilizing Spradley’s nine semantic relationships to determine the instructional and learner practices and routines that supported development of word recognition skills. A detailed narrative of the 49 lessons was provided and the following instructional and learner practices and routines were identified: engaging students in cognitively demanding discourse that featured extended discourse and persistence in questioning; a high volume of repeated and wide reading; high volume of writing; multiple representation of words with an emphasis on fingerspelling; and attending to language input. Recommendations made included: adding a high volume of repeated and wide reading as a major pillar of SIWI; informal and standardized reading assessments; individual students should lead the rereading and writing of English sentences; include research as part of planning for writing; and use the back translation approach to signing English text. There is need for further study in the following areas: a comparative analysis of the strategies used in the lowest and highest performing classes; a study that controls for individual practices and routines using multiple regression analysis to determine the variance as predictors of word recognition; an in-depth exploration of recasting; and an analysis of individual student interactions with the practices and routines in the bilingual setting and the relationship of those interactions to gains in word recognition skills.

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Dissertations

Developing students’ first language through a second language writing intervention: A simultaneous approach

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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