If My Hands Could Speak…

Throughout the past few weeks I have continued to make small improvements in my ability to communicate via American Sign Language. I realized this past week that I took four years of Spanish in high school and I was still nowhere near fluent when I graduated. So, I’m not sure why I thought I would be communicating with ease by this point. This new learning process has made me remember the challenge that some of my former high school students experienced trying to read course materials that were far and beyond their ability level.  They spoke English fluently, but reading it was like reading a completely different language. That’s how I have felt learning ASL. To combat this challenge, I decided to set realistic goals for myself. For example, I wanted to be able to practice and learn 2 new words or phrases every day. I also wanted to build my repertoire with practical words that I could use in normal daily conversation.

In order to work towards this goal, I kept sifting through a plethora of YouTube videos to find practical resources.  In the beginning, I found it most helpful to start with videos that covered the alphabet, phonics, and basic greetings like ASL Alphabet & ABC PhonicsBasic ASL Words, and Sign Language for Beginners.  These were helpful because I was able to learn some of the basics and also go back through them to refresh my memory as I worked to build other knowledge. After working with these resources, I needed to begin pulling all of the letters, words and phrases I was learning into conversation. I liked this Basic Conversation video to start and then began looking at others (like this one) to compare and learn more from. I also enjoyed watching this video created by the cast of the show Switched at Birth as they talk about and use their favorite signs

Like I mentioned in my first post, I have watched countless YouTube videos to learn sets of common words/phrases and I’ve also searched for videos to learn a single word or specific phrase in order to put a cohesive sentence together.  This has been my greatest challenge; making sense of all of everything I’ve learned in isolation.  Stringing words and phrases together in a way that makes sense is really hard and I am practicing with myself with no idea of whether or not what I’m putting together actually makes sense grammatically.  The best solution to this problem would be to find someone who is fluent in ASL to communicate and practice with.

With only YouTube as a viable source (haven’t found any useful help forums), it has been difficult to find what I need when trying to build sentences for conversations.  I have spent A LOT of time re-watching entire videos, watching videos that don’t even have the information I’m looking for, and doing searches that don’t produce any related results. I haven’t figured out a way to tackle this challenge yet, but although it’s time consuming, I have still been able to find most the information I need eventually! In my searching, I came across this comical brother duo who post videos of themselves conversing using ASL and talk about funny experiences they have had as hearing children of deaf parents – one of their videos here.  It would be awesome to communicate this quickly and seamlessly using sign language!

This photo represents where I began – I had to start by learning the letters of my name. img_5022

It’s really hard to take pictures of signs because they involve multiple hand movements. So instead, I included two videos via Vimeo to show my learning.

I went to my friend’s wedding yesterday.

Learning a new language is difficult. I practice and I’m improving. My goal is to continue to improve. I like learning something new.





Mastering My Own Productivity

Now that I’m managing my full-time job, a hectic work travel schedule and my first semester of grad school, I’ve realized I might need to fine tune my methods of organization and productivity. While looking through the list of tools for improving workflow, the Google tools jumped out immediately. I’m a loyal Google user who relies heavily on these tools and apps to keep my life together. The Google Drive has been essential in my personal, work and teaching lives. My husband and I used it to manage and organize pretty much everything throughout wedding planning.  My company uses it to share, collaborate, store, and manage documents and information seamlessly across groups and individuals. When I was teaching, I had my students use it to share their work, ensure their work was never lost, and make their work accessible on any device. Gmail and Google Calendar integrate my personal and work communication, schedules and contacts. I wouldn’t be able to manage where I need to be, when I need to be there or who I need to communicate with if I didn’t have Google! The change that I am making to my productivity methods this week is incorporating my grad school information into my personal Google account. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to do this sooner, but I know this will have a huge impact on my ability to be much more organized with my CEP810 work and other coursework going forward.

Connections for Professional Success

It wasn’t until I began my first teaching job that I realized the importance and power of a Professional Learning Network. Since I began teaching, I’ve built a network of people who have provided a wealth of knowledge and expertise that has helped me learn and grow into the educator that I am today. I have also started to learn how to sift through the myriad of  information and available online resources that can improve knowledge and keep me abreast of all things “education” taking place every day.  From Facebook posts and weekly education email feeds to conversations with my educator family members, the information is endless and continues to influence my knowledge, opinions and approaches to teaching and learning.  The Popplet that I created this week illustrates my connections and sources of information that I utilize. my-pln

Network Learning Project: Learning a New Language

This week we were asked to think of something we’ve always wanted to learn and learn it! The only catch? We could only learn using YouTube or help forums…easier said than done. However, it was really easy for me to decide what I wanted to learn. I have ALWAYS wanted to learn sign language. Sure, I knew a few signs here and there, but could never form a coherent sentence, let alone carry on a conversation. So, this week began my journey to learn sign language. I thought YouTube would be my best option because I could watch other people sign and it was helpful at first, but then became very frustrating. I didn’t want to watch 10-minute videos filled with a compilation of random words/signs. Videos were extremely long and it was challenging to find the signs I needed to make a simple message. After watching countless videos, lots of practice throwing my hands and fingers around, and talking to myself repeatedly, I was able to create this video message: My first attempt!  I definitely have a lot of work to do to in the coming weeks!

This message says, “Hello, my name is Amy. How are you? I’m fine, thank you! I’m married and I have a dog. My husband’s name is Parker and my dog’s name is Stanley. I need to keep working!”

Enabling Effective Learning

I really enjoyed increasing my own understanding about the difference between learning and understanding through this week’s reading. When creating my essay, I utilized the concepts discussed by Bransford, Brown and Cocking’s (2000) How People Learn and focused on how teachers can facilitate effective student learning. I tied a few of my own teaching experiences to my writing to put my perspective into context. Feel free to read the full essay Here !