K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
October 2010
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2010. Terms of use

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In the classroom

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Through expert interviews and classroom footage, this video discusses the role deafness plays in a student’s development of language, and how this affects the way a deaf student may write and speak. Includes an explanation of visual phonics — a tool that helps students visualize sound.

This video is one in a seven-part series about educating deaf students in the inclusive classroom. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Deaf Learners and Successful Cognitive Achievement.”


Kathy Metzer (00:09)
I wish that all educators knew about the huge impact deafness has on language, both receptively and expressively. Because their deafness, and the fact they don’t hear the language, impacts all academics. It impacts reading, it impacts social studies, science, math. And I think until you have experienced it, it is a very difficult thing to grasp. Even the hard-of-hearing child, depending when they got hearing aids, when they had a cochlear implant, there’s still that discrimination piece. Because once I’m in the regular classroom, if I have some hearing, there’s also lots of other noise that goes on that causes me not to hear it the way I might hear it in a quiet classroom. The rustling of paper causes those children not to hear things, or discriminate. That I think is the piece that’s real hard to get them to understand until they’ve had that child for a period of time, and then they start seeing it in their reading, or in their writing. As an educator, I feel like it’s my job, as well as the interpreter’s job, for us to help that teacher become more educated on, well, this is how a deaf child would write. I think that is the biggest piece, is just helping them understand it.
Mary V. Compton, Ph.D. (02:01)
One modification that can be very helpful is to collaborate with the teacher of deaf and hard-of-hearing students in terms of vocabulary. Lack of vocabulary, or a gap in vocabulary is a big issue with deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Because by the time a hearing child is of a certain age, they’ve heard thousands and thousands of words in context and can know what that context is. So it would be helpful to give the teacher of the deaf or give the child — or the child’s family — a list of vocabulary, let’s say that’s going to be in the upcoming science unit.
Kathy Metzer (02:38)
Okay, Trevor’s saying:
Student [translated by Kathy Metzer] (02:48)
“Cried” doesn’t mean you’ve cried as in tears, it means you yelled because you’re happy.
Kathy Metzer (02:48)
Okay, you understand that Ryan? Does Mole [imitates crying], or does he go, “Weee!, I’m — what?”
Student [translated by Kathy Metzer] (03:03)
Yesterday Ms. Hughes helped me and told me
Kathy Metzer (03:05)
And Ms. Hughes did a wonderful job. Good. I am proud of you for remembering, that’s wonderful!
Kathy Metzer (03:11)
All of our interpreters have been trained in a tool that we use with deaf students called Visual Phonics where there are different hand shapes so the deaf students can see the sound, but it helps to know, okay, what sounds are we going to work on? Even what words.
Kathy Metzer [in classroom] (03:33)
Fell out of what? Yes. “Nest.” Look, look. Can you say that? “Nest.” Did you see, four sounds in that word? N eh ss tt [sounding out word]. Four sounds, okay? Alright.
Kathy Metzer (04:09)
Visual Phonics is a tool that we use with the reading program, that we use to help the deaf student that signs or has no hearing see the sound. Now that we have used it for a few years, I can see that it would benefit any child who has a difficult time learning to read. It enables the child to see the sounds on your hands. For example the word cat, if we use Visual Phonics, would be c aah tt [sounding out word], so the child learns that a letter has a sound, and a sound has a letter. We have used it and have really seen good results from it. It gives that student something to attach that sound to. It is how your brain connects that visual piece, that kinesthetic piece, to learning. In the past, deaf students — profoundly deaf students — are sight word readers, and we’ve learned you can only memorize so many words. Even as smart as you are, you can only memorize so many words, so this has given us a tool to be able to help them to put a sound to what they visually see and retain those words and the meanings of those words for a longer period of time. It’s all in how that brain connects it to something. We have one student in particular who’s been doing it for, this will be the third year, and with that student, we do see that it all connects. And that student has been able to maintain being on if not above grade level with reading, and he’s profoundly deaf. So that just tells me that it works. We are using it with all the students here and a little bit of experimenting even with some hearing students who are really having a difficult time learning to read. Because we all don’t learn the same way.