ASL Students Sign Together During Lab Days

East, West ASL Students Sign Together During Lab Days
Posted on 11/01/2019
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High School Students signing together“In real life, you aren’t just sitting down practicing sign language. You are doing what we are doing right here, having a conversation,” said West ASL II student Riley Sutherland.

In true #WEareLakota and #WEareInThisTogether fashion, Lakota East and West ASL students came together this week for Halloween-themed Lab Days.

“ASL Lab Days are times in which we take the information (vocabulary, grammar, and cultural information), and do our best to create an authentic environment for students to apply the skills they have learned,” said East ASL teacher Jessica Snyder. Lab Days are usually held on a monthly basis, but this is the first time East and West students came together in the same learning environment. 

Nearly 550 ASL students from East and West participated. The popular world language has grown dramatically at Lakota; there are now 6 teachers (3 at each high school) -- double the number of teachers in 2013. Classes are offered for ASL I, ASL II and ASL III; the curriculum for ASL IV is under development.

During the Lab Days, students rotated among three different learning stations: a #whyWEsign chair game, a #WEtrickortreat Simon Says game, and a #WEhaveconversations circle with conversational questions and answers. Station rotation is a personalized learning style that provides activities designed to reinforce lessons, allowing students to engage in learning through different ways. It also gives teachers the opportunity to work with students in smaller groups or individually.

During the Lab Day activities, students experienced authentic spontaneous conversations. Students from both ASL I and II participated, and the activities were planned in a way to allow for both levels to benefit from the experience. Often in world language classes, it is challenging to allow students to view or hear a variety of language models. “By having all of the classes together, students were able to interact with all ASL teachers, across district peers, and have a variety of language models,” said West ASL teacher Jessica Frye.

I learned that people can sign things different ways, and it was cool to communicate with other people that know the language,” said East sophomore Stephanie Brumant, who is taking ASL I. “And it was good to know that other people could understand me too.”

The ASL Lab Days covered a number of world language learning standards, and based on the positive experience this week, Lakota’s ASL team hopes to plan another combined Lab Day in the future.

This type of collaboration is not new to the ASL Department; in fact, they work closely together to plan lessons and assessments. “By working together, we find creativity and personalization is easier to accomplish,” said Katie Nicol, who teaches ASL at West. “Helen Keller once said, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ We find this especially true when planning with our ASL team.”