I am writing this as Teacher of the Deaf in Charge of the Hearing Support Facility at Bevendean Primary School in Brighton. Our school have been part of the Talk For Writing (TFW) project this year. It is the first time I have used TFW with the deaf children I teach. However, I have always taught in a very interactive way, igniting imagination and desire to write. TFW has given a new, innovative structure to this teaching method.
The children I teach are very language deprived and significantly language delayed. I have been so excited by the way they have progressed using the TFW model. The structure of the models gives confidence and skills. The opportunities for over learning in an exciting and imaginative way, reinforce and build upon these skills, which is exactly what is required for the pupils to progress and reach their potential.
As I am new to TFW, I am still developing my own skills and gaining confidence as I go through each project. I am learning the huge benefits for deaf and language delayed children, but also certain aspects that require a higher level of adaptation for my own cohort. I believe that a conference for the use of TFW with statemented and SEN children would be of great benefit.
My cohort this year, is group of profoundly deaf Year 2 and 3 children. They are in a special facility for deaf children, and this is because they are unable to access the curriculum in their mainstream schools. They are taught in a group of 6/7 children for English each day. I am writing a case study on 2 children, both of whom are profoundly deaf, have bi lateral cochlear implants, are ESL and have a language age significantly behind their hearing peers.
Aklima is in Year 3. She has a very severe language delay, so that at the age of 8Yrs, her expressive and receptive language is about 4.5Yrs. At home, her parents speak to her in Bengali, and she has siblings who communicate in British Sign Language. She has average cognitive skills. Hanna is in Year 2. She is a very young summer born child. She is profoundly deaf, and arrived in England a year ago. She speaks Hungarian at home. She was in a mainstream school, but making no progress, and therefore transferred to our special facility. Her cognitive level is above average.
Levels in July 2014
Aklima – Low Level 1A.
However, when Aklima came back in September, she had regressed below this level, as many do after the long summer holiday.
Hanna – 1B
The program and input for each child is very individualised. During carpet time, the children are given many opportunities to rehearse and practise orally, and have high level input during short burst tasks. Due to the size of the group, we have the advantage of being able to use guided reading and writing during most sessions, unless the child is asked to work independently, as during a hot task. There is a lot of sentence planning before writing, and focus on maintaining interest for a reader. I have written a brief outline of the 3 projects we have covered this year. In between TFW projects there have been mini projects on poetry, Christmas stories and deaf awareness.
The progress is evident when looking at the work produced. However, the syntax is still very immature, and in some cases deviant. Tenses are mixed and there is poor use of plurals. There is also immature use of pronouns, articles, prepositions, verbs and adjectives. These are all typical challenges for deaf children with language delay, and they will reflect the spoken language of the child. This is why the imitation phase is so useful in terms of providing language models to inform the child’s overall language development. There are times when it is evident that the model chosen is too far ahead of the child’s own language, and at these times it is important that adaptations are made for individuals.
Genre: Fiction – Traditional Tale
Story: The Papaya that Spoke
Cold Task: We had a hat in the classroom, into which I has hidden a talk tin. The class were talking with me, when suddenly the TA jumped in surprise and said that she heard the hat talking. It was saying’ “Heloooooo”. The TA screamed and ran outside the window. The class really enjoyed this, and I then asked them to write the story of the talking hat. I reminded them that we had talked about the story needing a beginning, middle and ending, and also about speech marks. The cold tasks are in green.
• Talked and signed the story.
• Looked at and described papayas
• Wrote letters to the king, asking him to say sorry to the farmer. A TA dressed up as the farmer, and we videoed him saying how bad he was feeling about being called foolish.
• Worked hard on speech marks, connectives and adjectives during ‘short tasks’.
• Innovated by changing the characters and settings keeping it very simple at this stage.
• Focus on developing clear sentence structures, using speech marks, and always saying who was talking when developing speech.
We used the same title, “The Hat that Spoke” from the Cold Task. The stories were planned using a storymap. Speech bubbles were used to help with the idea of using speech in the final stories.
Aklima – secure level 1A
Hanna – Level 1A
Genre: Non Fiction – Recount.
Cold Task: We went on a walk around the school, visiting various sites. When we returned, we revisited the idea of using connectives. The class independently wrote a recount of the walk. Targets were set from the cold task.
• Trip to Bignor Roman Villa
• Ordered photographs on return and developed a class recount together. This was deliberately quite basic.
• Practised writing full sentences, and developing these sentences with more adjectives, determinors, pronouns
• Focus on use of the past tense, and regular and irregular verbs – this requires extra focus with deaf children who do not hear word endings such as ‘ed’ for past tense or ‘s’ for plurals.
• Focus on own editing, checking that sentences have correct subject, verb, word order
• Focussed on re writing paragraphs of the recount making them more interesting for the reader:
• Adding adjectives
• Using a variety of connectives
• Involving reader by telling them which activities preferred and why
• Add extra sentences to make text more interesting – we often act out what a boring sentence is like!!
Hot Task: We went on a walk around the local area, up the hills and over to the sea. We took lots of pictures. When they got back these pictures were ordered and plans were completed. They then wrote a recount of the trip.
Aklima – Level 2C
Hanna – Level 2C
Genre – Fiction – Warning Story
Story Model – ‘The Boy and the Greedy Goblin’, based around ‘Kassim and the Greedy Dragon’
Cold Task: I decided to get the class to write the story of a boy who took the goblin’s diamonds, close to the actual story, but before having learnt it. A goblin came to the classroom, and told everyone that a boy had been to his cave and taken his diamonds. They wrote the story ‘The boy who stole the goblin’s diamonds’. Targets were then set.
• Made ‘Wanted’ posters involving lots of description to catch the boy who took the diamonds
• Practised saying and writing warnings, with adjectives
• Learnt about, and wrote similes
• Practised use of exclamation marks
• Looked at contractions, specifically don’t, related this to other contractions.
• Went on a goblin hunt to the local woods. The goblin was there in his cave, and was very grumpy
• Had a visit from the local police officer, who said he was looking for the goblin, so please could the class write very good descriptions, as they were the only ones to have actually seen him.
• Made goblin skin, and used this to make into our own goblins
• Named our goblins with appropriate names reflecting their characters
• Wrote descriptive poems about our goblins
We innovated the original plan using the underlying pattern for a ‘warning story’
The focus areas were:
• using warnings, interesting openings
• pronouns, prepositions, using articles correctly
• exclamation marks
• descriptive language to describe characters
• clear structure to stories
• interesting endings
Hot Task: Write own story about how the policeman, PC Hoddle, caught the greedy goblin.
Aklima – Low Level 2B
Hanna – Level 2B/2A
The progress of the 2 children has been ‘outstanding’. For 2 profoundly deaf pupils to be making progress in line with, or above the national average is excellent. The rest of the class are doing equally well. Not only that, the class are gaining confidence and a great pleasure of writing. They love the imitation phase, the activities and life that is brought to their experience of writing. They are benefitting from the fun focus on grammar and word level work: this is something we have always had to do with deaf children, due to their delayed language, but it is refreshing to have this validated and developed through this project.
Teacher in Charge, Bevendean Hearing Support Facility.