:: Salt Lake Tribune | West Valley: iPods in the classroom ::

West Valley: iPods in the classroom

They’re just the thing Michelle Tanner’s deaf students need in their ASL studies

By Tabatha Deans
Close-Up Staff

Article Last Updated: 04/12/2007

Michelle Tanner.jpgStudents in Michelle Tanner’s classroom at Gearld Wright Elementary are getting iPods to use in class, thanks to a grant Tanner received from the Qwest Foundation.

    Tanner, a teacher for the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind, teaches deaf students at the West Valley City school, and said using the popular entertainment devices will help them excel in learning American Sign Language (ASL).

   ”With the iPods, I’ll be able to videotape myself telling stories, or put spelling lists on them,” said Tanner.

    The challenge of teaching ASL, says Tanner, is being able to properly articulate words in a visual manner.

   ”Like any language, there are subtle differences in forming words,” said Tanner. “With a visual language, the best way to teach them is to show them the correct way to express words.”

    Tanner has always used visualization to teach, videotaping lessons for students. Historically it’s taken her a lot of time and effort to do, including erasing the current week’s videotapes and recording next week’s lessons on them.

   ipod ASL.jpg With the new iPods, Tanner will be able to quickly record lessons, and students will have access to previous lessons stored on the devices.

    Tanner applied for, and received, a $2,500 grant from the Qwest Foundation, which will pay for iPods for her five students, a laptop and several software programs that will enable her to video-edit lessons.

    The iPods also will be used by students to read books, and the software included in the grant will allow Tanner to teach students in real time.

    Tanner, who teaches 8- and 9-year-olds, said she was a little surprised to find she enjoyed teaching ASL.

    “I originally went to Salt Lake Community College in graphics design,” she said. “I was bored with the class work, and took an ASL class to fill some time. I only knew one deaf person at the time, but I fell in love with the language and teaching it.”

    Gearld Wright Elementary houses Tanner’s classroom, which serves deaf students in the area through the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

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