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Teaching ASL:  tips

General tips:

Tip:  Instead of YOU writing on the board, consider having a student do it.
For example, once in a while you might need to introduce a new vocabulary word via fingerspelling.  Most of the time not all students will catch it via spelling.  Rather than waste a lot of time fingerspelling it again and again, you might want to "put it on the board."  I tend to throw a piece of chalk (or a marker) to a student who doesn't yet understand the word and then I have one of the students who knows the word spell it to the student with the chalk.  That way it gives a student the chance to practice his/her expressive fingerspelling and it gets another student up out of their seat and doing something active.  

Tip:  Have the students choose the next participant.
For example, suppose you are doing a fingerspelling competition where you spell a word to two students and then whichever of them catches the word first wins.  The person who wins gets to go back to his/her seat.  But before going  back he/she has to choose his/her replacement.   This works much better than simply going up and down the rows.  Why? Because if you go up and down the rows (or around the semi-circle) the students who have already gone tend to switch off their brains because they feel "off the hook."  They figure that since you are going down the row, their turn is done and they can check their text messages because you are "busy" with the other students now.  But if there is some aspect of randomness involved the students stay awake and attentive.

Tip:  Choose your participants via a random process.  For example buy a 24 sided die (dice which you can get from specialty role-playing game stores or online). Then assign each person to a "side" of the die.  When you role it that person becomes your next participant.  And since the die may land on the same person again and again all the students tend to stay awake because even if they have already participated they might have to do so repeatedly.

Tip:  Draw names out of a "hat" (box, bowl, whatever) to select your next participant.  Then put that person's name BACK in the hat.  That way he/she won't switch off his/her brain when his/her turn is over.

Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   GET IT HERE!  

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