December 2, 2021: The Learning Project Summary

As always, I am shocked that the semester came to an end so quickly! When I embarked on my learning project, I felt as though I had all of the time in the world. With that being said, I still feel like there are more facets to explore regarding ASL and Deaf culture. Nonetheless, I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and enjoyed having the opportunity to whole-heartedly dive into an area of interest that I otherwise may never have. In addition, I believe this project may be useful in the future for myself, a colleague, or a student. I look forward to referring back to this experience and potentially applying the resources and knowledge I’ve gained! For now, allow me to walk you through my process…

The Process

The Beginning (Project Outline): I had always been interested in learning American Sign Language (ASL) and have had some interactions with Deaf people throughout my life. It hit me the most in university and working with a Deaf man. He was able to sign, but as I’ve learned throughout my project, signing only goes so far if no one else can do it. I also wanted to ensure I approached my project respectfully, so I made one of my goals to learn about Deaf culture as well. To get the ball rolling, I created a Tentative Schedule for The Learning Project. This changed so significantly that I ended up planning week by week instead! I was also fortunate enough to know some speech and language pathologists and teachers with experience teaching Deaf students to point me in the direction of some credible resources. I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of resources, so I created The Learning Project: Resource Dump # 1 to give me a manageable starting point.

Update #1 (Weeks 1 & 2): At this point, I was still getting my bearings. However, I had a few things I was hoping accomplish throughout this project.

  • Interview people who could offer some insight on Deaf culture and learning ASL
  • See a Deaf education classroom
  • Join a community of practice in my division for teachers who teach in Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) classrooms
  • Learn some ASL by continued independent practice

During my first two weeks my learning project, I learned the alphabet (AKA: fingerspelling) in ASL. This ended up being very helpful, as it comes in handy when you are not sure of the correct sign for something. I also decided to follow Bill Vicars free ASL lessons on a weekly basis. The first two lessons were great, but were more difficult than I thought! I figured I could just watch and remember the signs… I’m not sure why I thought that would be effective, seeing as I write everything down. When I went to film an update video, I realized I couldn’t remember anything and certainly did not practice enough. I decided to redo these lessons in the following weeks and take notes in order to help my learning retention. The highlight of these two weeks was my interview with Alyssa, who is a speech and language pathologist in my school division. While she works with all kinds of students, her area of focus is in Deaf education. I was in awe after this conversation. She was incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. She also offered a variety of Deaf created resources, so I made sure I honoured those throughout my process. This conversation was amazing and I learned SO much. I was truly a blank slate when it came to Deaf culture and left our conversation feeling more confident in my understanding. I also started listening to the Seen and Not Heard podcast and worked my way through the first three episodes.

Update # 2 (Weeks 2 & 3): Kelly had so kindly passed down Michelle’s information to me, as well as notified me that there was a community of practice for teachers in DHH classrooms. Unfortunately, this was only intended for these teachers, so I wasn’t able to join. However, Michelle said she would pass down any worthwhile resources. My conversation with Michelle was also fantastic! What I appreciated about chatting with Michelle was she could offer guidance to teachers and parents because she has a Deaf child. A moment that gave me chills was when she said if she could give any piece of advice to parents, it is that you can always change your mind– when one intervention doesn’t work, don’t stop there or feel like you can’t try something else. Michelle graciously asked me if I would like to see her classroom. I said yes immediately, but it didn’t work out with sub coverage. I was so disappointed. Michelle had offered this to me because she said it is very difficult to explain what this type of classroom looks like and needed to experience it myself. Although it didn’t work out this time, I would still love to check out Michelle’s classroom. I continued listening to the Seen and Not Heard podcast and I dove into the Gallaudet University history and the ASL Connect Basic Vocabulary lessons as well. Alyssa suggested checking out Deaf U on Netflix, so I started watching this series… As if I needed another series to binge (haha). Since Deaf U takes place at a college, there is a lot of content that reflects partying (as one does in university) and personal drama. In my posts, I tried to focus on the pieces that related to Deaf culture and the experience deafness as a young twenty something, trying to find a place in the world. In terms of my ASL practice, I focused on learning my numbers 1-10 and 11-20 and Bill Vicars’ Lesson # 1.

Update # 3 (Weeks 4 & 5): At this point in my learning journey, my focus shifted a little. I was still learning about Deaf culture, but also focused mainly on learning ASL. In this post, I did a review video of my numbers 1-20 and the alphabet. In addition, I learned how to sign different places and spent some time exploring Handspeak and Signing Savvy, which are ASL visual dictionaries. The person in the video I watched for the places tutorial was so fast! To make sure I was catching the nuances in each sign, I used the visual dictionaries noted above to support this process. In addition, I did lessons #2 and #3 from Bill Vicars. I also continued my exploration of The Seen and Not Heard podcast and Deaf U to continue versing myself in Deaf culture. Like I mentioned previously, so many great resources were passed along to me. To create a resource and to keep myself organized, I made a Wakelet. I spent more time with some resources than others, but I still wanted to keep track of the ones that looked interesting or helpful, so I included them anyway!

Update # 4 (Weeks 6 & 7): I completed lesson #4 from Bill Vicars and learned some outdoor activities signs from ASL Connect. I was hoping to do the fifth lesson from Bill Vicars, but the previous lesson took longer to learn and film. Something I’ve learned throughout this process is to be patient with yourself and set small goals. At the beginning of my project, I was full of ambition and setting some lofty goals. However, I began to feel a little frustrated with myself because I was not able to keep up. I realized the issue was that I was biting off more than I could chew, so I needed to downsize my weekly to do lists. Like in previous weeks, I continued on with listening to Seen and Not Heard and watching Deaf U, but decided to jump into some social media accounts that I also came across. Chrissy Can’t Hear You was very honest and informative about the lived experience of deafness told from Chrissy’s perspective. Her posts offered useful insight on how to respectfully approach my project. I also explored Connect Society, as Alyssa used to work for this organization. I enjoyed their signs of the month posts!

Update # 5 (Weeks 8 & 9): Finally, the last leg of my project! I tried to keep this one relatively “low key,” as I was also working on my Summary of Learning. I added more resources to the Wakelet and explored a few other resources that I stumbled upon: #WhyISign, Deaf Identity, Rocky Mountain Deaf School YouTube channel, and ASL Kids Club YouTube channel. I wanted to include some resources for children because most of the resources I explored were created for adults. I figured a little variety makes for a more versatile resource hub! I decided to finish the Deaf U series and take a break from my podcast. I still had a number of episodes left and I wanted to wrap up at least one of the shows! I also learned how to sign some basic needs from ASL Connect and created a mash up video of some of the highlights from my learning this semester! Somehow, I feel like there’s still more to do…

Things I Missed:

In Brittney’s post, she included a segment of things she would have liked to have completed over the course of this project. I shared the same sentiment as Brittney… I accomplished lots, but I have some ideas that I would have liked to try out!

  • Signing a song or children’s book
  • Seeing a DHH classroom (I tried, but it didn’t work out)
  • Putting my signing to the test and signing with someone who knows ASL
  • Incorporating this project into my classroom: I didn’t feel right teaching ASL on my own, seeing as I am a hearing person and I am very much so a beginner. In retrospect, it would have been neat having someone come into my classroom to teach the students some ASL!

Concluding Thoughts

I am by no means an expert on Deaf culture or ASL, but I can say with certainty that I have learned a lot! I enjoyed this learning project because it was more process than product driven and I felt I had the flexibility to change the course of my project when needed. I am so grateful for the people that helped me along the way and supported my journey! It was challenging and took a lot of practice to make gains, but it was fulfilling and worthwhile. I look forward to using this blog and the resources I’ve accumulated in the furture! Before I wrap this post up, my fiancé shared this Instagram post with me from ESPN this morning, which was then shared by #WhyISign. Watch the full video here and check out the post below.

Source

And so, I leave you with this to ponder!

Thank you, thank you for following my journey!

Until next time,

Leigh

9 thoughts on “December 2, 2021: The Learning Project Summary

  1. It has been great watching your journey through this very meaningful and impactful learning project! You have built a really great foundation to keep building off of – your students are very lucky to have you as their teacher!! Like you said in your last post, there are so many resources and podcasts out there, it is hard to keep up. That is great news for the Deaf community and having allies like you is key in deaf culture awareness. Great work!!

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Dalton! At first, I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to find any resources… HA. Was I ever wrong! I look forward to continue building on this project!

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  3. Leigh, this is such a comprehensive overview of your final project. I appreciated learning alongside you, and even though you think you missed a few things, I think you made up for it with all of the extra things that you also learned! This looks great. I am definitely going to remember your blog and bookmark it for some future learning! 🙂 Good luck in your next course!

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  4. Leigh this was such a great project. Thanks for sharing all of your resources and everything you have learned along the way. I have a little cousin who is deaf and he just started Kindergarten. I hope he ends up in a classroom with someone like you one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chris! I really enjoyed it– hopefully you find some of the resources useful!

      Awe, that’s so kind of you to say! I’m sure I would learn a lot from him if he was my student! 🙂

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  5. Thanks for the shout out!

    I have enjoyed following along with your project as ASL has always been something I have thought about learning. It seems like you accomplished a lot! I will have to bookmark your summary to use as a jumping off point if I get the time to try asl.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great thorough description or your project, Leigh. Your exploration of deaf culture was so interesting. I admire your willingness to learn ASL and your candid comments on how difficult it is to learn another language. You also touched on the very important social issues of discrimination and ableism.
    Thanks for your kind, encouraging comments to all students throughout the EC & I 831 course. Best wishes. Brenda

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks, Brenda! You asked great questions and took risks throughout the course as well. It was a pleasure learning alongside you!

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