|SignWriting List Forum|
Date: Fri Nov 12, 1999 10:17 pm
Subject: Re: A question...
How much time does it take to write a word/sign?
I have the opportunity to observe some elementary aged DHH students
'writing' both words and signs as we progress in our SignWriting
Literacy project. Writing signs is new for these students (new for me
too!) so there will understandably be more time and effort required
initially, particularly with handwritten SignWriting.
I've done some dictating of English word 'spelling' to some of these
same students as per their request. Depending on their individual
strategies to 'hold in memory' fingerspelled dictation, they might write
one letter at a time (most common), word syllables, or the whole word at
once. A classroom task of copying English notes from a black board
presents similar 'time and effort' challenges to some students.
We have been 'writing' signs using a few techniques to become more
familiar with reading and writing the parts of signs ie.copying and
tracing them from printed materials (SignWriting books, flash cards, SW
printed dictionary) using the SignWriter computer program to 'search'
for signs in the SW dictionary and to generate or 'write' sign names and
other new signs.
One student who generally uses that one English letter at a time
strategy surprised me with her 'writing' of a single sign.....'hot'. She
was using one of the SW books to copy the sign onto a dry erase easel.
She wrote (from memory) the facial features of the sign including the
eyebrow and mouth manual markers and the handshape. She returned to the
material to copy the remaining portion of the sign...the twisting
movement symbol. Did this all take time...yes, but it was what she
stored in memory before she referred to her source that impressed me.
Another student wanted to write (using SW) his plans to play football.
He was using the SW printed dictionary to locate the lexical items he
needed for his sentence. He was not able to locate the printed SW sign
for football (wasn't sure of the English spelling or maybe just did not
want to extend any more time to the search). He looked at his hands and
articulated the sign, 'football'. As he generated the written symbols he
did seek out accuracy confirmation from me. He wrote the handshapes, the
palm orientation shading, position of the two hands and the contact
symbol, the asteric or 'star' symbol as we describe it. We took this
opportunity to learn one more contact symbol...added two parallel lines
to the 'star' for the inter-locking of the open hands. What continues to
'inspire' me, if you will, is the genuine smiles that emerged as this 10
year old 'wrote' about his most favorite past time (football) in his
language of signs. Did this all take time, yes. Did he complain about
how long it took? No....not yet!