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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Wed Oct 6, 1999  9:44 pm
Subject:  A teacher's experiences....

October 6, 1999

Dear SignWriting List:
As you know, Stefan Woehrmann, in Germany, is teaching SignWriting to his
young Deaf students. Stefan has sent me several attachments of signs
written in German Sign Language, and he has also shared some "classroom
experiences" with me. I collected them together, and then received
permission from Stefan to post this. I thought some of his experiences
might be valuable for you to know is what he told me:

All the quotes below are from Stefan Woehrmann:

"One of my Deaf students, Irina, was so happy this morning. I explained the
basic handshapes - when we came to the gap - palm parallel to the floor - I
accidently made a mistake - all of a sudden she contacted my elbow with her
pencil pointing at my mistake. This is something we will never forget. We
realized that we are learning together."

"The first time my little students - three weeks at school now....went to
the blackboard where I wrote several SW - signs (car, Mama, Frau). They
wrote the German words in big letters underneath. You know what Iīm talking
about? Without any effort at all they accepted that they have to be sure
to interpret these signs into the German language as well. The timetable is
becoming more and more complex - filled with SW symbols - "Good morning" -
"today is Wednesday", "first lesson", "Mr Woehrmann" .. and all the other
teachers names (hopefully written correctly in SW)"

"I donīt know how to tell you clearly what is going on with me, with us. My
family and my students realize that "something is happening". My biggest
concern at the moment is that I donīt want to get them into trouble by
presenting or teaching wrong SW-symbols."

"Canīt tell you how exciting things are turning out to be....When little
Irina entered the classroom - she went straight to the
blackboard and wrote ( really !!!!) "Good morning " in SW in "b i g"
signs. I wasnīt sure how to write it correctly - and then the whole class
(all my little friends) took a seat on the floor and I showed some
pictures from your SW materials to them. So now we know the difference
between flat hand, open fist, closed fist, palm facing towards myself,
receptive view - You were right - little Irina - coming from a deaf family
- loves to learn and write SW as much as I hadnīt imagined before!"

"Itīs a hard job to look for all single symbols I can get in order to
figure out how I can adapt them to our DGS - sometimes Iīve got to change
only a little bit. This afternoon I spent several hours writing lots of
cards with SW hands symbols. Step by step --"

"Your ideas are working. I feel the spirit thatīs growing in our learning
groups . My students canīt wait to see the second video. The first video
took two school hours. And - believe it or not - my students seventh grade
got big, big smiles on their faces when they happened to identify the one
or other SW symbol I simply wrote on the blackboard."

"My little students love to write the signs at the blackboard. I'm writing
a timetable with more and more SW-symbols. Later on I`ll
show that to you. You may post that into our website! Iīll let you know all
I learn from my little friends. Iīm taking photos during lessons so you
will get soon the first impressions. Itīs simply very fascinating, how
quickly they understand what you had in mind when you developed this

"When I teach and show to my students the difference of light and black
signs - they have to produce "dark" parts with white chalk at the
blackboard! Next week Iīm going to change that. Iīm going to buy a real
block of paper on which we really can draft black on white. This problem I
never thought about before..."

Stefan Woehrmann


Val :-)


Valerie Sutton

SignWritingSite...Lessons Online

SignBankSite...Databases Online

Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

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