University of Edinburgh

Assessing and Monitoring the Writing Development of Deaf Learners

Presented on Tuesday 28 October 2008

Teaching approaches to writing – choose a target, choose an approach and explain how you will help the pupils achieve the target through this approach

Produce a student book. Elect an editor, sub-editor, picture editor and production manager. All pupils comment on each others’ work before they put it to the editorial team. (See Sign Writing.)

Language experience approach: write down stories the pupil tells you and use it as reading material for that pupils as well as others. (See My life in Turkey.)

Visit the science museum. Take a video camera and record people’s favourite exhibits – pupils explain how they work. When back in the classroom, each one writes about the process using the video to help.

Set up a paper making kit in the classroom. Make the paper. Record with photographs. Write it up with illustrations.

Write and lay out a treasure hunt for a younger class.

Watch back episodes of Switch from See Hear. Write a film script for a deaf soap opera – model the first episode, rough out the plot then divide up the work. Act it and film 2 or 3 episodes.

Read and analyse a review of a film. Go to a signed or subtitled theatre performance and write a review.

Read and analyse a report about substandard housing in your area. Discuss what should be done to improve facilities for deaf young people. Rough out the report, divide the work up and assemble the report using a word processor. Send it in to the people responsible and wait for a reply.

Read and analyse letters for and against an issue in a newspaper. Have a discussion in class about an issue, eg; not allowing people aged 18 to buy alcohol. Write letters to the newspaper before and against. Make a wall display for other classes and invite comments on a wall newspaper, or votes.

Read a story, eg; So Far From Jo'burg. Write a letter from one character to another.

Create a corner shop noticeboard of items for sale or wanted.

Use the data projector and laptop to discuss what is going to happen next week. Discuss and correct each others' work. Print it out and reread – pupils can annotate things they want to remember.

Interview staff round the school or people who work for us in the neighbourhood. Take pictures and write about their jobs.

On a field trip to the Highlands, visit a black house and take pictures. Imagine you have just been evicted. Back in the classroom after more exploration of the Clearances, plan a letter to your friends from your new home in Australia.

Skype a deaf pupil in another school. Later pupils write a letter to the other pupil about their families.

Ask the science teacher to explain how science experiments should be written up. Analyse one. Watch a science experiment. Do it yourself then write it up.

Do a drama simulation of looking for a job starting from reading the advert, reading the job description, filling in the form and going to the interview (video it), then receiving the letter afterwards. After this, focus on writing the application letter to go with the application form.

Read a range of fairy stories including 3 little pigs. Watch the BSL story 'Three little pigs' by Gary Quinn. (You will have to ask him to come to your school!). Write Gary's version.

In the home corner write a shopping list and use it in role play or real life.

Read a story set in a different culture or different time. Enjoy watching/listening to it being read aloud. Discuss what may happen next and write a personal response.

Write a journal regularly. The teacher replies so the pupil writes every day or two.

Maternal reflective method: on a school visit take the digital camera. Record what people say or sign. Back in school write it up with speech marks. Keep to the level of the child, that is if they say two word utterances, don't extend it. But include examples of longer utterances by some children. Use it as reading material several times. Later expect the pupils to write up visits in the same way. Display on the wall with pictures and speech bubbles, as well as text with speech marks down below.

Read a range of comics and graphic novels. Analyse the language in the speech bubbles and the commentary. Find the best artists in the group. In pairs or small groups create an outline for a graphic story. Divide out the work. Draft and edit each others' work. Produce for others to read.

Walk from the school to the shop, recording the journey on a map. Back in the classroom work together on written directions and the map. At home pupils write how to get from their house to their friend's house.

Focus on tenses. Pupils make a poster for the present, present continuous, past, past continuous, future and perfect. Pupils illustrate them and put them round the room to refer to when they are writing.

Download pop song lyrics. Project them on the data projector. Sign or sign them. Look out for rhyme – video it and focus on lip patterns for rhyme and rhythm. Write a pop song (using a lot of models) about love or rejection. Perform them with sign if appropriate and video for the school foyer.

Analyse newspaper stories to see how the first paragraph works and the tenses work. Visit the local newspaper office and talk to the journalists. Write a newspaper story about a school event.

Read and focus on the language in a range of agony aunt columns in newspapers and magazines. Do a drama of asking for and getting advice from the class agony aunt (a pupil). Video this. Write the letters and replies. Comment on each others work to prepare for publication on the wall.

Read a report of a road traffic accident from different views: policewoman, passer by, driver. Mock up a road traffic accident in the playground (ask teachers to help position cars/bikes). Film and interview the actors. In class write up the report from different viewpoints – could be an insurance claim letter with diagram or a letter to a friend.