Thursday, February 20, 2014

Using American Sign Language: Top 10 Signs To Teach Your Class

One of the best pieces of advice I received as a new teacher was to use nonverbal cues to direct students.  The veteran teacher leading my professional development session said that it commanded students' attention to teachers gave them a stern look and told them what to do by pointing or gesturing.  I have found over the years that my students tend to respond really well to it.  It actually is a very effective way to direct students without being verbally confrontational.  Students who struggle with auditory instructions or speaking clearly appreciate the visual and kinesthetic form of communication.  Plus, teaching them American Sign Language comes with the added bonus of teaching them another real language while making them more aware of how people communicate when they can't hear.

Many of the signs I use don't even need to be taught; my students seem to just know what I'm saying.  Even if they don't at first, the nonverbal signs seem to peak their interest and they reflect for a moment on their behavior in order to interpret the sign.

Here are ten that I think can come in useful in any classroom.  If your students take to it, there are online dictionaries that can teach you and your students how to say much more.

1) pay attention
2) toilet
3) sit down
4) look
5) wait
6) calm down
7) finished
8) yes
9) no
10) understand

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