Learning ASL: The Alphabet

To begin my learning journey with ASL, I thought it was best to start with the basics: the alphabet!

The ASL alphabet has a specific sign for each of the letters found in the English alphabet, and many of the signs look similar to how we would write them in English. For example, W is a “w” shape made with the fingers, so is C, L and O.

Photo Credit: lifeprint.com

To begin learning the alphabet, I decided it would be easier to watch someone else do it. The website I had chosen to follow along with (lifeprint.com) did not have the alphabet available in video form, so I went to trusty old YouTube, and typed “ASL Alphabet” into the search bar. The very first video that popped up turned out to be the one I liked the best, because I thought it was good pace to follow along to.

via YouTube

I practiced along with the video for awhile, and found that the more difficult letters for me were G, P and K. After awhile though, I started to feel pretty confident!

After I felt pretty confident with the alphabet, I returned to lifeprint.com to begin lesson #1. However, I realized pretty quickly that I disliked their layout, and the vocabulary lists seemed to be random and illogical.

Lesson One Vocabulary via lifeprint.com

So, I decided to switch resources, and went back to Google to find a new website to use. I typed in “learn ASL online”, and a I picked through a few before settling on http://www.signlanguage101.com, because it is extremely user-friendly, uses videos for its lessons, and the videos are in an order which makes sense for users when trying to effectively learn the language.

via signlanguage101.com

I decided to start with Lesson #1: “Gestures and Body Language”.

via YouTube

What I really liked about Lesson #1 was the way that the instructor speaks to the learner, and begins with gestures that are probably already known to the learner, making them feel more at ease and capable of completing the task. The instructor was easy to follow and went at a good pace, and introduced a good base set of vocabulary words, including ones that are probably already known to the learner.

This coming week I will attempt to complete lessons two and three, which are “ABC’s, Colors & Pronouns” and “Everyday Signs and Common Phrases”. Continue with me on my learning journey here on my blog, or by following me on Twitter @ms_kday.


My Twitter Experience

This week we talked about Twitter in the classroom and as a professional development tool, and created our own professional Twitter accounts to use for the term and beyond.

Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Twitter. Growing up with social media meant getting your own MySpace and Facebook page at around eleven or twelve, then branching off to Twitter, Tumblr and later, Instagram. But when I made a Twitter at age thirteen I didn’t really know how to use it (other than closely watching my favourite celebrity crushes tweets)– the hashtags were confusing, and finding things that my friends were posting was harder than it was on Facebook. Thus began the Twitter cycle: every couple of years I would log into Twitter, read my embarrassing tweets, delete them all, tweet for a week, forget about Twitter and repeat. However, this past week I have been able to use Twitter for something that I never thought to use it for, personal development and connections.

The kinds of connections that you can make on Twitter I have realized, are irreplaceable. 280 characters, although twice the old limit, still isn’t quite enough to articulate thoughts in a way I’m used to, and I find myself being able to get right to the point because of that limitation. Perhaps that limit is part of what makes Twitter itself so mysterious and fun to use, but it really helps users to understand what another user is trying to articulate in a post. Straightforwardness allows people to understand better what their colleagues and peers are really thinking, giving important insight without beating around the bush. This is something I have found incredibly valuable as I learn to write my own tweets and navigate others.

The Sask Ed Chat which our class participated in was an eye-opening experience that really showed me what twitter can do. TweetDeck made everything much easier to navigate as well! The chat itself was full of varying and interesting opinions on questions I had never thought of before. I think the whole idea of a Twitter chat, while slightly overwhelming at first is a fantastic for any kind of professionals, not just teachers, to engage in meaningful dialogue together.

When I was in grade twelve French, one of our tasks was an ongoing Twitter, similar to this very project. We used Twitter to connect to French music artists and students, collaborating online and using French the whole time. Based on that experience and this one, I can really see how Twitter in the classroom can help students to connect to others who they may not normally have the opportunity to connect with. Twitter in the classroom also helps students think about what they are posting, and the purpose of each post.

A few months ago, I tried to use Twitter again, but fell into the same trap I always had. I just didn’t know how to use it or, more correctly, what to use it for. However, I am really enjoying using Twitter now that I am using it for a purpose, and I think it’s something I will use and keep up with for the foreseeable future as I continue on me pre-service and eventually, teaching journey.




My Feedly Experience

Today, I tried Feedly for the very first time. And while I may have been a bit confused in the beginning, I quickly learned that this resource will help me quite a bit in looking for resources related to Education and specifically, Education and Technology.

First, I tried to look at the Google Keyword Alerts, but quickly realized that it was a paid feature so I decided to stick with looking for Publications and Blogs.

The first thing I typed into the search bar was “edtech”, but unfortunately no results popped up. I tried a different approach, and typed in “Educational Technology”, and boy was I met with a LOT of results!

I followed every blog on the first page that was relevant to the topic of educational technology, because I want to be able to have a variety of different things to look at and choose from. One blog that stood out to me was “Educational Technology and Mobile Learning”, because it was the only one which specified mobile learning which I thought was interesting. The blog has several different categories, covering everything from iPad apps to 3D printing and educational blog resources. The blog itself really is a compilation of resources for teachers which I am glad I found, because I can return to it again and again.

I can see how Feedly and other RSS readers can help us educators to find resources which otherwise might be difficult to find. I’m excited to be able to use this resource to find other resources, and keep myself in the loop in terms of Ed Tech, and really whatever else sparks my interest!

Learning Project – ASL

For my learning project, I have decided to learn American Sign Language. I decided to choose this for my project because I feel like it is a useful skill to have, especially in the classroom, and it is something that I have always wanted to learn. Right now, I only remember a little bit of the alphabet from when I was taught when I was younger.

For this project, I will be using the website lifeprint.com, which features what’s called the “ASLU” — American Sign Language University. Within this site there are lessons and units which range in difficulty and are sequential. The lessons feature videos, as well as clear objectives and targets for each lesson. I plan on following these lessons while adding and taking out what I feel is necessary. For example, the first lesson doesn’t teach the alphabet, but I want to learn the alphabet first before I continue. I hope to reach at least the 15th lesson by the end of the term.  I’m really glad to have found this resource, which will allow me to keep track of my progress, and which I could use in a future lesson plan.  I’m really excited to get started on the project and see just how proficient I can be in ASL by the end of the term!

Intro blog – Meet me!

Hi, my name is Kali Day. I’m in my third year of university, and my second year in the Faculty of Education with a major in English and a minor in Social Studies. I’ve completed two placements and I’m preparing for my pre-internship next Winter semester. I’m passionate about learning and finding new ways to teach, especially in relation to technology. I believe that technology has a lot to offer students in the classroom — we live in a world where technology is rapidly evolving, and keeping students’ attention as well as maximizing the ways in which students can learn in a way that works best for them individually are important aspects of the classroom. I also believe that we as teachers have a responsibility to teach students not only how to use technology and use it as a tool for learning, but teach students how to use technology safely and responsibly.

This is the only blog space that I have ever used, and I’ve been using WordPress for a year now in relation to my own teaching journey, and my blogs featuring the first year of my journey as a teacher can currently be found under “ECS Blogs”, and this category will likely be updated in the future as I continue ECS classes. All blogs for Ed Tech 300 will be posted under “EDTC 300”. I find that blogging is a useful and interactive way to give and form opinions, thoughts, anecdotes and more while connecting with others and building a dialogue, and I can’t wait to do more of it as we continue this term! You can also follow me on twitter by clicking here.

Twitter via @_hibaqay