All Signs Point to Classroom Management

By Bryan Toporek — October 19, 2009 1 min read
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Long thought of as a tool for deaf and special education students to improve communication skills, sign language is making its way into traditional classrooms. Teachers are incorporating sign language into their daily class routines in order to manage their classrooms more effectively, a recent story in the Washington Post reports.

According to the Washington Post, several products exist for helping teachers learn how to sign, including DVDs, CDs, and posters.

Second-grade teacher Fran Nadel, who works at Woodburn School for the Fine and Communicative Arts in Falls Church, Va., invented a system four years ago where students sign letters for basic needs— “B” for bathroom, “W” for water fountain, “L” for library, and “S” for pencil sharpener. Nadel responds to the signs with a nod or by pointing.

“The very first year I taught, I realized how much time I was wasting in my classroom...,” said Nadel. “I realized if they could do this without talking, I could send them somewhere with a flick of my finger.”

“It’s fun because it’s pretty quiet in the room,” said seven-year-old Steven Ly, one of Nadel’s students.

Bridget Chapin, the principal of Woodburn, believes that sign language can boost instruction, particularly in the age of accountability. “So many kids are so visual that words just wash over them,” said Chapin. “A lot of times the more words you use, the less effective you are.”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.