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One way to make sure you have a successful inclusion of a deaf child in language arts instruction is to give students, special education teachers, and parents a schedule of the week's objectives and assignments. Students with hearing impairments can benefit from reviewing the material before it is discussed in the regular classroom. This review may take place in the special education classroom or at home. For example, if a fourth grade class is reading and discussing the book Shiloh, an assignment for the week may be to read, answer questions, and discuss three chapters in the book. If the student with a hearing impairment can read and answer the questions before the class discussion, she may be able to follow the discussion more easily than if she had no idea of the assignment before she entered the classroom that day.
The same is true of any instruction in comprehension skills, grammar or punctuation rules, or other language arts instruction. If the child is aware of the lesson and has even been pre-taught some of the skills, then she will most likely be able to follow along better with the regular classroom teacher and participate in activities and discussions.
First and foremost, by the way, you should feel free to use the term "deaf." Many educators believe that it is more politically correct to refer to non-hearing students as students with hairing impairments. But deaf people do not mind being called deaf--for one thing, it's easier to spell! It's considered to be "culturally correct."
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General Tips for Seating, Discussions, and More
Some tips for successful inclusion of a deaf child in language arts instruction can be applied to other subject areas as well, where students receive instruction from a classroom teacher and discuss ideas with one another. In language arts instruction, here are some general tips to help a student with a hearing impairment:
- During literature discussions, the student with a hearing impairment should face other students who are speaking. Teachers may seat students in a circle away from their desks. This way, the student can read lips or be in a closer proximity to other students. If there are a large number of students, the hearing impaired student would benefit from a small group discussion in a classroom with no other groups in the same room. This can be possible if the student has a paraprofessional assigned to her or if there's a class-within-a-class setting, so one teacher can stay with the remainder of the class. If possible, eliminate background noise for successful inclusion of your deaf or hearing impaired students.
- The student with a hearing impairment may need a different assigned seat depending on what is happening in the lanugage arts classroom that day. If the teacher is instructing using visual materials, it is important that the student can see the teacher clearly, especially if he or she reads lips, and also to hear the teacher well if the child is using a hearing aid or other device. The visual materials will also help the student understand what is going on in the lesson. On another day, the teacher may have to move the hearing impaired/deaf child to a seat next to a peer partner who can take notes for them and/or help the student with directions.
Two important tips to remember for successful inclusion are to read and discuss the student's IEP with the special education team and evaluate strategies implemented for success throughout the year.