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Syllabus: American Sign Language, Level 1

Course description:
An introduction to American Sign Language. Topics include: basic vocabulary, grammar, history, fingerspelling, numbers, terminology, and Deaf culture.

Instructor: William  (Dr. Bill) Vicars, Ed.D.
Contact information: See
(contact info)

Course Format
This course is an instructor guided online independent study course. The learning and activities take place online. You will complete 15 lesson quizzes, 3 review quizzes, a research paper,  a video project, and a proctored receptive final exam.  You are expected to have a valid email address during this course and check it at least once a week. Any changes to your email account should be forwarded to your instructor. An important note: In order to pass this course you must receive 70% or better on both the video project and the final exam.

Suggested process:

1. Go to Lesson 1 at lifeprint.com
2. Click on each of the vocabulary links (about 20 links) and study the sign.
3. Click on each of the sentence links (20 links) and sign along with the sentence. If you feel like you understand the vocabulary and sentences well enough you can go ahead and take the graded quiz for the lesson.
4. If you need more demonstration, watch the instructional video for the lesson (the one where I'm teaching the student one-on-one).
5. Take the graded quiz for that lesson: The right ones for you are at
: www.lifeprint.com/quizzes50q/  or use the links in the schedule section of your syllabus. Make sure you take right quizzes or they won't show up on my server. The graded quizzes are the ones where I sign 50 questions (about 30 vocabulary items and then 20 sentences).
6.  If you have time, it is good to click around and read the various information available in the lesson. If you don't have time, then move on to the next lesson.
7. After you finish 15 lessons (for level 1) do the video project, write your research paper, and request to take the final exam by sending your proctor's contact information to Dr. Vicars.
 

SCHEDULE: Assignments and tests

Choose your own due dates to match your needs.

 

Lessons

Assignment

Score Possible

Your Score

Date Due

Lesson 1

Quiz 1

20

   

Lesson 2

Quiz 2

20

   

Lesson 3

Quiz 3

20

   

Lesson 4

Quiz 4

20

   

Lesson 5

Quiz 5

20

   

 

Unit 1 Test

50

   

Lesson 6

Quiz 6

20

   

Lesson 7

Quiz 7

20

   

Lesson 8

Quiz 8

20

   

Lesson 9

Quiz 9

20

   

Lesson 10

Quiz 10

20

   

 

 Unit 2 Test

50

   

Lesson 11

Quiz 11

20

   

Lesson 12

Quiz 12

20

   

Lesson 13

Quiz 13

20

   

Lesson 14

Quiz 14

20

   

Lesson 15

Quiz 15

20

   

 

 Unit 3 Test

50

   

 

Research Paper

100

   

 

Video Project

250

   

 

Final Exam

200

   

 

Total

1000

   


Course Materials:
The materials for this course consist of a series of online lessons and quizzes at lifeprint.com.

Grading System:
100-95%=A, 90 = A-, 87=B+, 83=B, 80=B-, 77=C+,73=C, 70=C-, 67=D+, 63=D, 60=D-, 59=F. 
Note: Video Project and the Final Exam must be passed at 70% in order to receive a grade for this course.
Note: All quizzes and examinations are cumulative unless otherwise stated.


Quiz assignments:
You will need to take 15 lesson quizzes and 3 unit quizzes. See: www.lifeprint.com/quizzes50q/ 

See the schedule.  Fill in due dates that will allow you to finish the course by the time you need to be done.  The schedule has active hyperlinks. By clicking on the quiz links you will be taken to the quiz.
Do not confuse the various "practice quizzes"
with the real quizzes.
You should go through the lessons sequentially starting with lesson one. Go to the website www.lifeprint.com. Find the "Lessons" link and click on it. Then open up lesson 1. Read through lesson one and click on the links to the vocabulary. For each vocabulary link you should read the whole page and do the sign until you have it memorized. Then sign all of the practice sentences and read any of the other material in the lesson.  Go through the practice quizzes if you'd like, but the goal is to take the "real quizzes" at www.lifeprint.com/quizzes50q/ 

Note: If you click "submit" on a quiz and the form accepts it and tells you your percentage of correct answers there is no reason to email your answers since the form emails it to me for you.  (But do keep your backup answers until the end of the course).

If for some reason the form isn't working, copy and paste your answers into a document and save it for safe keeping. Then contact me and let me know you need assistance.
 (I might go so far as to recommend that you keep two copies, one on your hard drive and one on a removable disk, but perhaps I'm overly cautious?). 

Expressive Project
You must earn a score of 70% or better on this test to pass this course.
Introduce yourself, spell your first and last name, tell me where you live, where you are from, and what you do.
Pick one sentence from each of lessons 1 through 15. You should end up with 15 sentences.
Copy the sentences to a new document and number them 1-15. Then sit down in-front of a camcorder and videotape yourself signing the sentences the same way I videotaped mine on the quizzes. For example, sign the number and then the sentence. You need only show me the sentence one time. Pay particular attention to your "yes/no" and "WH-question" expressions for each sentence (because I'll be looking for your facial expressions in addition to your vocabulary and general fluency).
If you stop once or maybe twice during the videotaping due to some technical issue or whatever I won't be concerned. But stopping between each question indicates a lack of preparation and smacks of not knowing the material well enough to simply sign the sentences without having to look each sentence up on the web. I'll make you do it again if I think you need more preparation.
Some students write the sentences on poster paper and stick them on the wall behind the camera so they can read them while signing to the camera. That’s okay, but a lot of work.
Other students just print out a paper with their sentences on it and put it in front of them. They lean forward to read the sentence and then look up at the camera and sign it.
Show me the numbers 1-30, the number 100, and the number 1,000.

Upload your video to youtube.com or however you'd like to get it to me.  You are welcome to send physical media (see below for acceptable formats)  Email me your script so I'll have an electronic copy to edit and make notes on for your feedback.
I'll correct it within a week or so of receiving the video. And then I'll email your feedback. You may submit this video on any of the following: VHS-format full-size cassette, Mini-DV cassette, Video-CD (VCD) using MPEG-1 formatting, Digital Video Disk (DVD) using [DVD-R+, DVD-R-, or DVD-ROM], or as a video file on either CD or DVD in Windows Media File format, Quicktime, Flash, or just upload it to youtube.com. If your signing isn't "good enough" as judged by your instructor, you will be given instructions for improvement and required to do the video again. This is regardless of your other scores.
Please, do NOT send any High 8 tapes or compact-VHS tapes.

Here is a hint or tip: Here is a page with notes I've culled from feedback given to students in the past (on their expressive finals). http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/topics/signingnotes.htm   You might want to review those notes prior to doing your own video.


Receptive Final:
You must earn a score of 70% or better on this test to pass this course. 

The "Final" is a proctored examination (that means someone trustworthy needs to be there to watch you take the exam according to the rules. When you are ready, send me a "request to take the Receptive Final Exam." Include in your email the full name, title or position, and email address of a responsible adult who will function as your proctor. Choose someone that you could prove is responsible and impartial in case a future school ever questions your completion certificate. Upon getting your email I will contact your proctor and will provide him or her with instructions and online access to the testing video.

You take the test with the proctor in the room making sure you do not use any books, websites, or other external material. You watch the video. On the video you will see someone (me) signing a number of sentences to you. Write the sentences down (or type them) in either English or ASL gloss (just string the ASL signs together). You may pause and rewind the video as many times as you would like. If you miss even a single concept or change the meaning of the sentence you may miss the whole sentence so practice hard and don't try to bluff your way through this test.

The sentences are similar to those in the practice sheets in the lessons. It is important for you to do the practice sheets throughout the course so you will be able to do well on your receptive final. These sentences may not be exactly the same as the ones on the website (the vocabulary is the same of course though) so pay attention to each sign in the sentence. When you get done, have your proctor email your answers to me. In the email, include your name, address, and local school name along with your answers. Also include your proctor's name, phone number and email address.

Take the receptive final exam
after you have turned in your quizzes.

Proctor:
See: "PROCTOR INSTRUCTIONS" for guidance on choosing and using a proctor.
 

Research Paper:
As part of this course you are to do a research paper. 

See: "RESEARCH PAPER" for a bit more in-depth discussion regarding how to do your paper but here are the basics:

Instructions:
*  Choose a topic regarding Deaf Culture or Deaf History that you would like to research. 
*  Email your topic to your instructor for approval. Most topics are approved, but please think of a couple of backup topics just in case.
*  The body of your paper needs to contain a minimum of 500 words and a maximum of 10,000 words. If you would like to write a longer paper, email your reasons and justification to your instructor.
*  In your paper you must cite each of your resources.  You need to include a minimum of three references.  
*  At the end of your paper you must include the full reference for each of your citations.
*  You may follow any of the major formatting and style guides such as APA or MLA as long as you are consistent.

Checklist of things to ask yourself:
  Do I know the deadline for when this paper is due?
  Is my topic a culturally appropriate topic? (In the past students have submitted papers regarding "cochlear implants" and/or papers regarding efforts to cure deafness. That is why you need to submit your topic prior to writing your paper.)
  Is my report 500 words or more?
  Did I do a research paper rather than a “book report?”  (You should use a variety of sources for your information, not just one book or article.  You should tie that information together into an interesting way that makes sense and focuses on a specific topic. Book reports are fine if that is the assignment you are supposed to be doing. This checklist is for "research papers" --not book reports.)
  Did I document where I got my information?  Did I cite at least 3 enduring, traceable sources of information?
  Even if I have changed "every word" in the sentence-- if I've borrowed someone else's idea--did I provide a reference?
  In the body of the paper did I include parenthetical expressions (citations) at the end of ideas that I've gotten from other people? Do these citations correspond to full references at the end of the paper?  Citations in the body of my paper use an opening parenthesis, author's last name, comma, year of publication and a closing parenthesis.  For example (Vicars, 2001).
  At the end of my document did I include a list of references that include the author's last name and first initial, the publication date, the name of the article, book, or journal, the publisher, and the place of publication?  [Dr. Bill recommends "APA style" references.] 
 Did I strive to limit the length and number of direct quotes from books or articles?  (No paragraph-long quotes.)  When it was absolutely necessary to quote directly, did I make sure to include the exact page number in my reference entry at the end of my research paper?
  Any time I used an author’s ideas word for word; did I put those words in quote marks? 
  I have used online references only if I've been able to ascertain the actual author's name, date of publication, title of the document, and name of the publisher.
  If I’ve needed to write less than 500 words have I secured permission from the instructor?
  Have I grammar checked my document?
  Have I spell checked my document?
  I know that this paper might be published by Lifeprint and unless I inform them otherwise I give them permission to publish it in part or in whole with minor edits.
  Did I get it in on time? (Did I submit my report in electronic format prior to the due date?)

Acceptable references at ASL University:

In the body of your document just use the last name of the author and the year, for example, (Vicars, 2001). Then at the end of your document you put the word "references"  followed by a list of the books and articles which influenced your writing. 

If reference is a book:
Author's last name, first initial. (year). Title of book-- underline it. Place of publication: Name of publisher. 
Example:
Vicars, W. (1998). Sign Me Up! Salt Lake City, Utah: Lifeprint Institute.

If reference is a Journal:
Author's last name, first name. (year). Title of journal article only capitalize the first letter. Name of journal underline it. Volume number, starting page number-ending page number.
 
Example:
Vicars, William. (1999). Teaching ASL online. Journal of ASL. 7, 139-156.  

[Okay, I just made up that "Journal," as an example here, but don't "make up" resources on your paper or you'll get an "F."]

If you find an online source that specifies the actual author's name, date of publication, title of the document, and name of the publisher--(good luck)--I'll accept the reference.  Note, this must be from an original source document on the web, do not quote someone else's research paper.

If reference is a web page:
Author's last name, first name. (Year, Mo. day). Title of the article or web page goes here, underline it and only capitalize the first letter and words that are always capitalized.  Title of the journal, general website, or book goes here . Name of the publisher or the sponsoring organization goes here. Retrieved day Mo. Year: <full web address>.

Example:
Vicars, William. (2001, Jan. 4). Nonlinguistic communication. ASL University Library. Lifeprint Institute. Retrieved 12, Feb. 2001: <http://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/nonlinguisticcommunication.htm>.
 

Legal matters:

This syllabus and the schedule are subject to change in the event of extenuating circumstances. For persons physically attending class:  If you are absent from class, it is your responsibility to check on announcements made while you were absent. No makeup tests without an obituary of a relative or a note from your medical professional or school administrator. Turn cell phones to vibrate or silent settings. Do not wear baseball caps during quizzes. No reading newspapers in class or other distracting behavior. No videotaping the lecture or bringing visitors or guests without permission. All students are always expected to work independently on graded quizzes and/or assignments unless specifically directed otherwise by the instructor. Assignments turned in late for any reason may receive 0 credit. Penalties for cheating and plagiarism may include receiving an F for a particular assignment, an F for the course, or expulsion from the program or university. Upon identifying themselves to the instructor and the university, students with disabilities will receive reasonable accommodation for learning and evaluation.

This syllabus and any later email communication from the instructor supersede whatever information you may find at the general ASLU website.

Prepare ahead of time to have backup internet access in case your regular computer crashes. If your computer is prone to crashing, save your work often and submit it early. Dead computers are not an excuse for late work. If you are in doubt as to whether your email has gone through, send a separate email with the subject line  "*** ASLU- Reply requested. First Name, Last Name"

Keep a backup copy of all submissions until the end of the course and your grade has been received.  

Pep talk:
You can do this.  I have near infinite patience. I love teaching and explaining.  If you have questions, ask in class or  just email them to me and I'll get back to you within 48 hours.  If you think I've overlooked your email, feel free to send your question again I won't feel bothered--rather I'll be grateful for the communication.  If there is something I can do to make the class better for you please do suggest it.  This class may be one of your more challenging accomplishments but I know if you work hard and put in the time you will succeed.


Notes:  One last point.  There is something I wish to give you advance notice of.  Typically students, (even high achievers), do not do as well on the expressive portion of the exam in a "distance education" course as they do on the receptive.  Many students who get an "A" on the receptive end up getting a "C" on the expressive because signing without having had someone to practice with is like swimming without water.  (Which often results in "A" caliber students receiving a combined grade of a "B.")  So, please understand that I will grade you according to college standards as if you were one of my in-class students who had been attending class twice a week for three months. To pass an expressive test in an asynchronous (you and I are in different places at different times) distance education environment will require a serious effort.  I don't wish to discourage you, quite the opposite.  But I do want you to be informed ahead of time that you will need to work hard to do well.


Questions from students:

Question:
I have been contemplating a paper topic for a while. Are there any topics that you suggest looking in to? Or would you rather we find one?  I haven't exactly thought of a good one yet, that is why I ask.

Answer:
Ask yourself: "What is my hobby? What things am I passionate about?" And then pick one of those answers and add "...and the Deaf." It doesn't matter how off-beat your topic is. If it is something you are passionate about it will generally turn out to be a pretty good research paper. For example, suppose you are passionate about "skateboarding" -- then add "and the Deaf" to end up with a topic of: "Skateboarding and the Deaf."
If you decide you'd like to do a more traditional topic, then pick something that might be useful to other users of the web such as: "How to become a teacher of the Deaf." Imagine you honestly wanted to become a teacher of the Deaf and you needed actual step by step instructions. Also, consider interviewing actual working teachers of the Deaf! Call them up on the phone -- they won't bite. If they are Deaf, just use the video relay to call them, etc. What's that? You've never heard of a "video relay for the Deaf?" Well that's another good topic to research: "video relay services."  Please don't use Lifeprint.com (this website) or wikipedia as your "source." Go find other sources from active players in the game.