“I CAN” sign!

I had originally planned on doing one post this week with the history and other variations of sign language as well as my learning of the language, but that ended up being one very long post so I decided to split it up into two. To read about the history, see this post. If you are looking for my progress in learning ASL and the resources I have used this week, this is the post for you!

Last week I had found this other site that I wanted to try out to help me learn ASL. So far, I think this is the best site to check out if you are interested in learning more than just the language. I decided to try Lesson 1 and found that the lessons are structured closer to the language classes that I have come to expect. This first lesson’s video teaches you how to ask “wh-” and “yes/no” questions, say what your name is, and begins to emphasize the importance of facial expressions at times.

I did struggle with the memorization while following along a little bit. For myself, I found that verbally saying the words or phrases I was signing helped me to get them to “stick”.

What I like most about this site is that it has a list of “I can” statements for each lesson. As a teacher in training who has had practice creating lesson plans, I have seen the value in having these “I can” statements available for students, worded in a way that they can understand and check themselves if they have learned the desired outcomes and indicators.


“I can” statements from Lesson 1 of Lifeprint.com’s ASL lessons. Screenshot retrieved from: https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/lessons/lesson01.htm 

As you can see from the list of “I can” statements, this site goes more into the culture of ASL. I really appreciate the inclusion of this information in the lesson because there is so much more to a language than the language itself. I browsed through the other lessons and noticed that they almost all have a bit of a culture piece associated with them. I enjoyed being able to read these while I was working on my history of ASL post

Here is a video of some of my progress I made by watching the video for Lesson 1 on Lifeprint.com! You’ll notice that I need to practice a few of these a bit more before I become really confident with them but I hope you enjoy!

Standing the Tests of Time

In my last Learning Project post I noted the most common question I received from friends and family in response to finding out I was learning ASL: is there just one variation of sign language? As I said in that post, I knew there were likely other variations but I did not know much about them. I decided to look into those variations and also learn a bit of the history behind ASL. Here is what I found!

I found that in Richard Brooks’ “A Guide to the Different Types of Sign Language Around the World” there were seven, of 138-300, common sign languages listed as being used throughout the world that he broke down. They are:

  • British, Australian, and New Zealand Sign Language (BANZSL)
  • French Sign Language (LSF)
  • American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Irish Sign Language (ISL)
  • Chinese Sign Language (CSL or ZGS)
  • Brazilian Sign Language (Libras)
  • Indo-Pakistani Sign Language

Each of these, and the many other sign languages, have their own variations. For example, here is the BANZSL alphabet:


BANZSL alphabet retrieved from https://blog.ai-media.tv/blog/sign-language-alphabets-from-around-the-world. For other sign language alphabet charts, check out this site


Now, trying to find a complete history of sign languages was a little trickier. What I did learn is that non-verbal communication has been used since the beginning of verbal languages. This made sense to me, there are some signals that we can understand mean a certain thing such as waving for someone to ‘come here’. I figured it would be nearly impossible to find the root for all forms of sign language and so decided to focus on the origin of American Sign Language. I read several origins, comparing and contrasting the information they had. The information I am sharing was taken mostly from Dawn Sign Press’s page “History of American Sign Language” because it only included the story behind ASL, making it easier to navigate. If you are interested in learning the history behind sign languages all together, I would recommend checking out GoReact’s “The History of Sign Language”.

Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, interested in learning how the French were teaching sign language at one of their schools, traveled to Europe in 1815. He attended the LSF school in Paris and met Laurent Clerc who he asked to return with him to America to set up a school for the deaf. Clerc was a deaf teacher who had graduated from the French sign school. Gallaudet and Clerc opened the first American school for the deaf in 1817 in Connecticut called the Connecticut Asylum for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons (now called the American School for the Deaf).


American School for the Deaf. Image retrieved from: https://www.britannica.com/place/American-School-for-the-Deaf

31 students attended the school by the end of the first year, including some from Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts and Henniker, New Hampshire, both of which were deaf communities who had their own form of sign language. These sign languages brought by students from home, Clerc’s LSF, and other signs created at the school were what combined to create the ASL that we have today. Those students who graduated from this school went on to create their own schools and spread this language across America.

Today, deaf children are being integrated into public schools rather than attending residential schools specifically for the deaf. ASL has become an established language and continues to thrive today.


A,B,C’s and 1,2,3’s (ASL Learning Project

Following along with the TakeLessons ASL series on YouTube, this past week I have learned the alphabet, numbers, and started to learn colours!The alphabet and numbers came fairly easy to me but the colours I am needing to practice a bit more. The biggest challenge I have faced so far? Hand cramps. I expect that this will continue until I am able to strengthen the muscles in my hands and wrists.

Learning the numbers was interesting, I thought it would be very similar to how I would normally finger count. I found that there were many differences. in particular, I thought that the way you sign the numbers 11-20 to be a good way to continue in similar fashion to the numbers 1-10. And I never thought you would be able to sign 20 numbers using only one hand!

I’ve only spent two days working on colours. I thought I would have been able to learn them well for the video I was posting today since I picked up on numbers and letters quickly but that hasn’t been the case. This did not surprise me too much when I really thought about it, however. I have taken French classes and in each one I always came to a point in the class where the memorization and understanding of some words and concepts became tricky than the previous ones had been. All this means is that I will have to keep on practicing as I move forward in this learning project!

This week I shared my learning with some friends and family and received the question “is there only one kind of sign language?” many times. Since I am learning American Sign Language, I figured there must be other sign languages too! I decided that this is something I should look into while I continue to learn to sign. I found a couple of websites that I plan to go through over the next few days (“History of American Sign Language” Dawn Sign Press, “The History of Sign Language” GoReact, and “A Guide to the Different Types of Sign Language Around the World” Richard Brooks). I also came across another website, lifeprint.com  with 60 lessons on it. These next few days I plan to follow these lessons to see how they can improve my learning.

Until then, here is my progress so far!

Building Professional Connections At Home

Last Thursday night myself and my fellow EDTC 300 classmates had the opportunity to join in on our first Saskedchat. This was such an exciting and fun experience getting to network with Saskatchewan educators who have a passion for Edtech. Following the conversation on Twitter, I saw that we had made #saskedchat second on the list of what was trending in Canada!

Saskedchat 2 trending

#saskedchat is trending!

EDTC 300 has opened me up to a whole new community that I never knew existed. I had used Twitter to stay caught up on current events in the past and to use for fun but never in professional development. Now that I know this community of Saskatchewan teachers exists on Twitter I can see myself using this as a networking platform as I move forward into my career as an educator. Teaching and learning, in my opinion, should be a collaborative experience. In the short time I have been using Twitter for this class, I have already noticed the value in the sharing of resources and ideas that can go on through this platform and I think this is incredibly important so that I do not become “stuck” in the same old teaching strategies that I become comfortable with. Twitter provides us with a platform to stay up to date with what is trending in the world and also allows us to explore new methods in teaching.

Now, one of the things we were asked to consider was how we could use Twitter in the classroom. This post has actually been sitting in my drafts wince Thursday night because this was something I was stuck on. I was trying to imagine a time in which I would want my students to be using a social media platform such as Twitter but couldn’t come up with one. I have heard stories about young people using similar platforms and getting into a lot of trouble because they post hurtful comments that follow them into their futures. Trying to think about incorporating Twitter into my classroom, this was always something that I came back to. Then I realized that this could be an opportunity to educate students on their online presence. As we become more and more connected everyday I thought about how everyone could use a lesson in how the internet always remembers what you post. I believe that lessons on how to build a good online presence for yourself would be an important topic that could be followed by the introduction to online platforms where students can post their thoughts and ideas while networking with others that share interests.

I am excited about my new use of Twitter and look forward to furthering my understanding and networking through the community that I have found!

Predictions on Projections: What learning will look like as a result of Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought on stress and anxiety for the global population about the ongoing situation as well as what changes we will see as the world begins to reopen. Each day there are changes to the situations we find ourselves living with. We also have a little (or a lot) of uncertainty about what life will look like a month, a year, or even ten years from now. This past Tuesday night, our EDTC 300 class joined Dr. Alec Couros‘ class in a discussion on remote learning and what we expected to come in the future of education.

Looking at this coming fall, the group as a whole seemed to think we would be continuing with remote learning come September. Universities have already begun to announce that they plan to offer the majority of their courses online for the Fall 2020 semester and we expected this will likely be the case with elementary to secondary schools as well. We had the opportunity to break out into smaller groups to allow everyone to share their thoughts. In my group we mentioned that solely remote learning would likely continue into the fall, but also discussed the possibility of a blended sort of learning. The model we predicted would involve classes attending face-to-face classes on alternating days to prevent a high number of individuals from all being together in the schools. They would then have assigned remote learning lessons to go through and work away at until their next face-to-face class. This would allow for students to get the help needed and ask questions they are stuck on when they meet up again with their teacher.

We were also asked what we expected learning and teaching to look like five years down the road in 2025. In my smaller breakout group I commented that we wold likely be doing more blended learning. This is something I feel educators have been working towards anyways but with the push going on right now due to Covid-19, more and more educators are learning about some of the technologies that could be implemented to develop their online teaching. A blended teaching style would allow for the students to be more flexible in their learning and also help to teach them skills they would be able to take into the real world, such as time management.

While these seem like possible adjustments, there are many factors outside of the education system that can affect how smooth these alternate learning styles can be put into place. First, many parents will be going back to work once the province opens up. This would mean parents would have to find someone to care for their children while they are away at work. There is also the connectivity challenge. If we were to switch to a largely online based style of teaching there is a possibility that some students may not have their own devices to connect and have access to the programs some educators may want to use. These possible challenges along with others were ones that the group struggled to come up with a solid fix for.

Right now it is impossible to imagine exactly what teaching and learning is going to look like come Fall 2020, let alone Fall 2025. For the time being I believe it is important for current educators as well as pre-service teachers like myself to understand and explore as many programs and technologies that can aid in remote teaching as possible. And if we do end up back in face-to-face classrooms sooner than expected, all that we learn right now will be there to complement the face-to-face learning and prepare us for a future that is becoming more and more technology based.

If you are interested in checking out other possible challenges in remote learning and some of their solutions, visit this blog post done by the Kami app: “Common remote learning challenges and how to fix them”.


Common remote learning challenges and how to fix them

Image retrieved from: https://blog.kamiapp.com/common-remote-learning-challenges-and-how-to-fix-them/  “Common remote learning challenges and how to fix them”.

And we’re off! (Introduction to ASL Learning Project)

I am so excited to begin my Learning Project for EDTC 300, American Sign Language (ASL)! One of the very first days the syllabus for the course was available I gave it a quick look over and noticed this project. Immediately I thought of choosing ASL as I was interested in learning another language. In my last two years at the U of R I have taken a couple of French classes that have gotten me to where I can use a basic understanding and vocabulary in communicating with others. Even this small amount has helped me to see the value in learning another language.

So, why ASL over other languages? Although I have had limited experience working with students in English as an Additional Language (EAL) programs, what I have noticed is that they learn English as they work through other subject areas. These students do have some sort of program or aid in place that helps them in their studies. But what about students with hearing impairments? With the goal of an inclusive classroom in mind, I thought about sign language and how it could be easily implemented into class, all that it required was that the teacher knew this language. I believe that ASL is a skill that I can use in my personal life as well as when I am an educator. So this is my topic I have chosen to explore as my Learning Project!

I am beginning this project with no knowledge of ASL so I sought out beginner level resources that I will be able to use. I have found a couple of apps as well as a YouTube channel that I plan to use to learn from. The YouTube page TakeLessons has 11 videos for beginners at ASL. I plan to work through these videos to develop this skill. The main app I plan on using is called Sign School. It has so many different topics on it so once I work through some of the lessons on TakeLessons I will begin to explore these other topics, beginning with School! The first two topics I will learn will be numbers 1-10 and the alphabet.

To kick my project off, I decided to learn how to spell my name!

EDTC 300 Introduction!

Hello everyone and welcome to my EDTC 300 section of my blog! I am excited to learn about educational technology, especially at a time when some of these resources are being used to their advantage to aid in distance learning.

Before I get into more of my thoughts and experiences coming into this class, here are a few things about me:


Castle Butte (Big Muddy) near Bengough, Sk. (2017).

First, I absolutely love the outdoors. Whether I am out hiking, kayaking, skiing, snowshoeing, or simply enjoying a book in my backyard, I enjoy my time most when I am out in my environment. I think that it is so important for us to develop a connection with Nature because there is so much you can learn from the environment.

I think that part of this love for the outdoors stemmed from growing up on a farm in Southeast Saskatchewan. Although farming was never a full-time occupation for my parents, my dad always


Bottle feeding was always a “chore” that was fought over!

had animals on our little hobby farm. We raised cows, sheep and chickens which meant there was always chores that my two younger sisters and I could help out with.

Another love of mine is music. All music. Starting in Grade 2, I began taking guitar lessons, in Grade 5 I joined my school’s Concert Band where I learned to play the flute and continued with the program until graduation, and in my first year of university I was gifted a ukulele for Christmas which I have been teaching to myself since. Once I got older, that love of music meant my summers were filled with music festivals (that picture from Castle Butte was from a day trip during Gateway Festival!).

All of these elements contributed little by little to another enjoyment of mine: volunteering. Growing up I always helped out at community functions such as Lions fundraisers and Dinner Theatre as well as helping my aunt and uncle host concerts in their small music venue, Grace Land Live. Volunteering opened up many opportunities, such as Student Leadership Conferences, two band trips to Banff, and meeting 2017 and 2018 lineups at Rockin’ the Fields of Minnedosa, all while allowing me to meet other members of the communities I was a part of. Most importantly, volunteering opened my eyes to the importance of collaboration on various projects.

This is one of the reasons I am most excited for EDTC 300. This class will help us to develop a network of other individuals in our field and help us to explore other blogs and sites that have existing information and activities that we can use to our advantage in building a teaching toolbox. Until now, I have had some of an experience blogging from previous classes and things such as Twitter for personal use. Other than this,in my studies I have had experience using simulations for some science classes that were done online.

IMG_0774 So this is my starting point. Stay tuned in to this section of my blog if you are interested in all the things I learn over the next few weeks as I explore Edtech! Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter, @madeline_s,  as well to join in on other conversations!