The Amazing Minds Network is a group of parents whose students have learning differences of all types... dyslexia, dysgraphia, attention deficit, and others. We meet several times a year to share information and learn from outside experts: the group is also deveoping a handbook for all MHS famlies on resources and SBISD protocol. If you are interested in joining, please contact Carolyn Bronston email@example.com.
Updated MHS Amazing Minds Parents' Handbook 2016-2017
Outstanding talk by Elaine Whitley of
Learning Success Advisors at SBMS Meeting 2/17/2016
Power Point Notes on Meeting and Q & A
SBISD 504 Accommodations in Pre-AP and AP Courses (2016-2017)
American Sign Language Q & A With MHS Teacher Ms. Laura Soto
(posted 1/27/2016) print copy of these remarks here
Please note that my answers stem from my personal experience working with a variety of students over the past six years.
*Is sign language recommended for students with reading issues, like dyslexics? If you have taught dyslexic students, how successful have they been?
Answer: In my opinion, ASL can be a great fit for students who struggle with reading another language. There is no written format for ASL. The receptive aspect of the language is watching a person sign. Any reading materials/ notes given in class are in English and have to do with Deaf Culture topics.
*How much reading and writing are required in the sign language class?
Answer: Reading is tied in with written directions (in English) for clarification of assignments and Deaf Culture topics. Critical writing in English is used weekly to help summarize lessons and cement Deaf Culture topics covered in class. Students are also required to translate ASL into written English for purposes of quizzes, tests, and homework.
*How much homework is involved with the class?
Answer: Homework is given weekly and I like to start them off working on it together in class so I can answer any questions and then they can wrap it up at home if they do not finish. They can also access videos of the vocabulary and assignments online from their class website if they need help.
*Do the reading and writing demands increase in the more advanced classes (ASL II and ASL III)?
Answer: No, the signing demands increase. They should be able to sign longer phrases with elaborations. They should also be able to understand signing at a faster pace and understand short stories in the intermediate levels and by advanced levels, they should be able to sign formal presentations.
*How much practical experience would students be expected to get? Do they turn in videos of their translating that are critiqued?
Answer: Students are expected to sign with each other on a daily basis. It is first and foremost a conversation class. They will be signing ‘on the fly’ and will also be turning in practiced presentations. These may be filmed and turned in electronically for grading. Students present a signed group project to the class at least once a semester.
*At the end of ASL III, would students be able to apply for certification by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf?
Answer: At the end of ASL III students would be prepared to enter a certification program at the college level. I would not recommend trying for the test unless they have daily practice with a member of the Deaf Community. Studies have shown that fluency takes about 6 years of study. The purpose of the upper levels in the high school course is to prepare you for college level ASL study. There are interpreting classes offered at the college level that focus specifically on interpreting aspects.
*To parents and students thinking of taking ASL I next year, what would you like them to know about your expectations for the class?
Answer: ASL is a class that is completely different from any other class. It is a visual, 3 dimensional language that requires visual concentration, spatial reasoning skills (students must be able to mirror signs and rotate 3 dimensional images in their mind,) as well as fine and gross motor processing skills.
There is no speaking while signing ASL and the grammar and syntax is different than English.
The Deaf Culture has a major influence on the language and as such is incorporated into every unit.
In my experience, the students who struggle the most with ASL are those who are auditory learners who struggle with a silent environment and those with challenged motor processing skills.
It is my personal belief that ASL should be open to everyone and as such, I try to accommodate those who have difficulty in these areas; however, it will take more work and practice on the student’s part and the student must decide if ASL is the best fit for his/ her abilities.
ASL is a physical language that requires daily, meaningful practice for retention and success. It is much like learning a sport or a musical instrument, you must do it in order to obtain the muscle memory needed to retain it.
In regards to my dyslexic students:
In my experience, most of my dyslexic students do well in ASL. I have had students tell me they enjoy ASL because they are not struggling to read like they had been in other auditory languages. The one thing they do struggle with in ASL is the finger-spelling. All students struggle with the receptive act of reading finger-spelling at first but the dyslexic students have told me that they require more practice before they get the hang of it. I use several modifications for dyslexic students:
-The option of taking the finger-spelling assessments from home on the computer so they may have extra time.
-Copies of class notes.
-Verbal assessments if writing is a challenge (I sign, the student tells me verbally in English what was signed.)
-I do not penalize for spelling unless it is a finger-spelling assessment.
The MHS PTA and Amazing Minds deeply appreciates the time Ms. Soto has taken to share information
about MHS’s newest foreign language offering, and her dedication to her students and her profession!
College Policies On Accepting ASL For Foreign Language Credit
(based on calls made 1/22/2016-1/26/2016 to Freshman Admissions Offices)
Colleges Unconditionally Accepting ASL As A Foreign Language
Louisiana State University (LSU)
Southern Methodist University (SMU)
Texas A & M
Texas State University
Texas Tech University
Trinity (San Antonio)
University of Arkansas
University of Houston
University of Oklahoma
University of Texas
Colleges That Do Not Require Foreign Language To Grant Admission
Colleges Not Normally Accepting ASL As A Foreign Language
Baylor (unless entering the Communications program)
Texas Christian University (TCU) (Academic Counselor's discretion to count or not)
University of Mississippi (Academic Counselor's discretion to count or not) revised 2/3/2016