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From:  Ruth E Kartchner
Date:  Wed Sep 16, 1998  1:22 pm
Subject:  Re: SW for Second Graders

On Tue, 15 Sep 1998, Judy Kegl wrote:

> The problem, in my humble opinion, is not that the SW ASL material is too
> complex for second graders. Rather, it is all too simple. If you want to
> teach kids to read , then you have to be able to read to them. The stuff
> teachers read to hearing second graders is pretty sophisticated stuff. The
> books the second graders themselves read are vastly more sophisticated than
> anything I have seen in SW ASL so far, with the excpetion of occasional
> newsletters.
> There is no overnight solution. Instead, there needs to be an intensive
> effort to produce the literature -- not ten sentence basic adaptations of
> stories that merely gut them, but truly complex stuff. Educators and
> storytellers should be assisting ASL speakers in producing SW adaptations.
> (I appreciate that much of the SW material thus far is intended as
> demonstrational.)
> The advantage of SW -- the real miracle of SW -- is that the system
> potentially puts Deaf kids at a par with their hearing peers when it comes
> to learning to read and write in their native language. But, you have to
> level the rest of the playing field for this to work. That means the Deaf
> kids need the same quality stuff, in SW, that hearing kids get in English,
> etc.
> So, there should be stories with adjectives -- lots of them --, similes,
> metaphors and so forth. Sure, you need basic sentence structures, but you
> need relatives and conditionals, too. ASL uses all this all some form of
> grammatical equivalent. And, you need stories with depth -- stuff that
> really peaks the interest.
> Produce these, and read them to kids everyday, and they will be truly
> motivated to want to read. Combine this with really basic stuff for
> beginner readers to learn to read and write. Flash cards have their place,
> but children learn to read by recognizing whole words in context. SW is
> visually phonetic -- that's why it's so valuable. But, phonetics alone are
> not enough.
> To adapt a story from English to ASL, you need: 1) a fluent reader of
> English who can teach storywriting; 2) a fluent ASL signer ; and 3) an
> adept user of SW. Also, respectfully, the notion that Deaf people's
> judgment in producing SW stories is inherently superior to that of hearing
> people whose culture revolves around putting spoken thoughts to pen is
> crap. (Well, now there, I've said it. But, then I'll bet you no one has
> produced as much literature in SW as I have. Alas, it's all in the wrong
> sign language for y'all in the States. I have been at it with a team for
> two years now, and that's why we have as much as we do. Still, we have
> just scratched the surface (one of those metaphors even second graders
> know.)
> So, if you want to contact me to assemble a team -- I'm in the USA 7 months
> a year.
> -- James Shepard-Kegl, director, Escuelita de Bluefields (Nicaragua)

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