SignWriting In USA Directory

Algonquin Middle School
Averill Park Central School District
146 Gettle Road
Averill Park, NY. 12018

Teacher: Deborah Holden

Confirmation Letter

Web Report #1:
Why Do You Want To Use SignWriting?

by Deborah Holden

May 24, 1999

Jo Moccia
Director of Special Education
Averill Park Central School District
146 Gettle Road
Averill Park, NY. 12018

Dear Valerie,
The teachers of the seventh grade at Algonquin Middle School in the Averill
Park Central School District would like to participate in your SignWriting
Literacy Project. We have four students, two are Deaf and two are Hard of
Hearing. They range in age from 11 to 13. Their writing skills are very

One of our teachers would like to introduce SignWriting to her students.
The teacher is interested in learning and using SignWriting because the
students are motivated to learn it, and she hopes it will improve their
writing skills. The teacher has approximately four students who will be
participating in the Literacy Project.

She agrees to complete three Web Reports in return for the SignWriting
materials and technical support that you will donate to us. We understand
that this letter and all three reports will become public information and
will be posted to the SignWriting Email List and posted on the SignWriting
Web Site. You have our permission to use this information as needed.

Please send SignWriting materials for one teacher and four students. Thank
you for considering us for your project.


Jo Moccia

Director of Special Education
Averill Park Central School District
146 Gettle Road
Averill Park, NY. 12018

Web Report #1

Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999

From: Teacher: Deborah Holden

1. Why do you want to learn SignWriting?
I want to learn SignWriting because I think it is very important for Deaf students to value themselves. One way to do this is to increase their self-esteem. When I showed my students SignWriting the first thing I saw was an amazed response of pride. They then questioned, "This is ASL?" To my surprise the students could read the writing without any instruction. I believe if we could use SignWriting at our school Deaf students would be able to learn to read and write in their first language and then be able to read and write English, their second language better.

2. What have been some of your past frustrations when teaching?
I have noticed that my students have gaps in their knowledge. Their vocabulary is very weak. They know some words as signs only. They have never seen the English word on paper before. They know some words in print but do not know a sign for them. They know of real world objects but do not know a sign or printed word for it. This makes it very difficult when the students are fully included in all subjects, all day. Much time is spent explaining. Luckily my students grasp the ideas quickly.

3. Are you hoping that SignWriting might help? If so, in what way?
I was hoping that SignWriting might help fill in the gaps- that once the
students could read and write in SignWriting they would be reading and writing
more and thereby gaining all that exposure that they have been missing. Once
we got the ball rolling, I would hope that it would pick up speed, and their
reading and writing would blossom as never before.

4. How would you like to use your web page?
I imagine that my students and I would like to use the web page to do both: write our opinions and feedback about SignWriting and display the students writing assignments.

5. Please write other information about your group.
Our group is comprised of four students: two Deaf and two Hard of Hearing, three girls and one boy ages 11 to 13. This group has just completed sixth grade, and it is the first year we all have been together. Two girls moved into the district over last summer. One deaf girl and one Hard of Hearing girl both are signers. They knew our one Deaf boy from school as babies three years old. So it was a reunion for them. Our Deaf boy and Hard of hearing girl moved into the district four years ago. The girl did not sign but has been picking up signing from our full-time interpreter and the other students who sign ever since. For all of my students, writing is a difficult task. They are reluctant to do any kind of writing. However the students think that SignWriting is neat and are really motivated to start reading and writing with it in September. I'm looking forward to receiving my first shipment of material which should arrive soon. I'm eager to start planning for September. Until my next report, thanks for reading, enjoy life, and drop us a line; we'd love to hear from you!

Teacher: Deborah Holden

Averill Park Central School District
146 Gettle Road
Averill Park, NY. 12018