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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Tue Feb 16, 1999  2:02 pm
Subject:  Albuquerque Schools Web Report #1

February 16, 1999

Hi Everyone!
I want to thank Cecilia Flood for the excellent report on her research
project, which she posted to the List yesterday. Her research report is now
posted on our web site, in our SW Research Forum:

Ongoing Research Project
in Albuquerque Public Schools

Cecilia wears two hats....that of researcher, and that of teacher. And as a
participating teacher in our SignWriting Literacy Project, she is required
to fill out three "web reports". The reports give us documented feedback,
which is important for deaf education.

So, Cecilia's teaching experiences and web reports will be posted in our SW
Teacher's Forum:

SignWriting Literacy Project
in Albuquerque Public Schools

Here is Cecilia's Web Report #1:

Date: Sat, 13 Feb 1999 22:00:30 -0700
From: Cecilia Flood
Teacher/Counselor f/t Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Albuquerque Public Schools

Web Report #1

1. Why do you want to learn SignWriting?

Sign Language has been a part of my life for 30 years. It started with
one sign at a time when I first worked with Deaf children at a summer
camp. Fluency has not been easily acquired but I have occasionally been
asked if my parents were deaf. They are not, but communication in a
family of 11 required a lot of persistence. I want to learn SignWriting
to teach/learn it with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students with whom I
work in a mainstreamed public education program. As a school counselor I
have become keenly aware of the impact school based reading and writing
competencies has had on Deaf and Hard of Hearing students' self-esteem.
Motivation to investigate a sign literacy stems from a comprehensive
exam that explored literacy development within Deaf bilingual bicultural
educational contexts. The potential written literacy in students'
everyday language, the language that meets their communicative needs,
warrants further investigation. SignWriting, a way to read and write
signs, may not only enhance second language literacy learning of English
but may also assist Deaf and Hard of Hearing students to self monitor
the 'affective filter' regarding English literacy development. Learning
to read and write signs may produce more 'smiles' (evidence of weakening
the affective filter) in biliteracy educational contexts. SignWriting
will be the focus of my Ph.D. dissertation, a community based action
research that will describe how Deaf and Hard of Hearing students
experience learning to write using SignWriting.

2. What have been some of your past frustrations when teaching?

"I rarely meet a friend or colleague (in deaf education) who is happy in
the service these days" (Stringer 1996 p.149). Explanations for this
'unhappiness' run the gamut; lack of administrative support, inequitable
economic compensation, minimal participation and discipline backing from
parents, discounting of previous accomplishments, criticism of sign
proficiency, blame for student academic failure, over abundance of
report writing, IEP goals, end of school reports, parent conferences and
so on. Perhaps the more current educational paradigm shift, bilingual
bicultural education, has generated the most ambivalence or 'crisis'
(opportunity for change or a 'dangerous wind') among deaf educators.
Throughout my professional career as teacher, parent educator,
instructor of Sign Language and counselor, I too had to deal with bouts
of relational and philosophical conflicts which caused a lot of stress.
What can be expected is that relational stresses experienced among and
between adults will eventually spiral down to the relationships with the
students. What is inherently frustrating about working with Deaf and
Hard of Hearing students is the belief system that they have been
socialized to believe, that learning to read and write is too hard and
they'll never be really good at it.

3. Are you hoping that SignWriting might help? If so, in what way?

I propose that Deaf and Hard of Hearing students learning to write the
language they use for everyday interaction, that is learning to read and
write signs using SignWriting, will enhance their literacy experiences
in academic contexts, will effect their self-esteem development, will
make them smile more, will promote a cultural and linguistic
empowerment, will heighten their awareness of the power of the written
word, will increase their metalinguistic awareness and abilities, will
contribute to their expressive language development, will validate the
language they use everyday, will strengthen and reinforce bilingual
skill development, will motivate students in their ongoing English
literacy development, will provide opportunities for collaborative
biliteracy experiences and will offer insight and provide an informed
perspective into the academic literacy experiences of Deaf and Hard of
Hearing students. While the above account generates a long list of
proposed 'hopeful wishes', my primary hope is that SignWriting will help
Deaf and Hard of Hearing students recognize and acknowledge their
language making capabilities signified by real true smiles with fully
engaged cheek muscles.

4. How would you like to use your web page?

Initially, the web page would be used to post brief descriptions,
provide a picture, of what transpires during SignWriting lessons. As we,
the project stakeholders (students, teachers, families, researcher/
teacher/observer) become more engaged in the spiraling LOOK, THINK, and
ACT research routine (Stringer 1996), we will democratically negotiate
how and what will be contributed to the APS SignWriting Literacy Project
web page. Contingent on our developing proficiencies in SignWriting and
our technological computer-'ease', posting the products of our
SignWritng literacy events would be a hoped for contribution.

5. Some additional information about APS sign literacy learners.

Even though Albuquerque does not rank among one of the largest
(geographically) cities in the country, it is one of the fastest growing
urban communities in the southwest. A community of Deaf and Hard of
Hearing students does exist in spite of geographic separation between
one elementary program (on the west side of the Rio Grande) and the two
other program sites. Most of the students met each other at New Mexico's
state school for the Deaf preschool satellite program located here in
Albuquerque. The students affectionately refer to those early school
experiences beginning a conversation with an opener like, 'remember the
little red school?". The trim of the building happened to be red
sometime in its history but even with paint upkeep, no matter the color,
the school remained, 'the little red school'. The satellite program is
now housed in a beautiful new building specially designed for the
communication and learning needs of Deaf and Hard of Hearing
preschoolers. It is located in the 'backyard' of an APS elementary
school where the two current APS elementary Deaf and Hard of Hearing
programs will combine and be reestablished as one entity.
Demographically that will situate all mainstreamed programs servicing
elementary, middle and high school Deaf and Hard of Hearing students
into the same district cluster which will enhance program continuity and
the delivery of professional services. More significantly, bringing all
the programs together geographically will allow for the strengthening of
a community of sign language users. Perhaps as the SignWriting literacy
project progresses within APS, the inquiry focused on the how of a
writing learning experience will evolve into 'a search for understanding
in the company of friends' (Stringer 1996 p.160).

Stinger E. (1996) Action Research a Handbook for Practitioners. Thousand
Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Cecilia Flood
Teacher/Counselor f/t Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Albuquerque Public Schools

Ph.D. Candidate
University of new Mexico


Valerie ':-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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