Elizabeth Morgan’s third grade class at Washington Elementary presented the play, Gooney Bird Greene, and a poem and song “Once There Was A Man Named King” about Martin Luther King on Friday, January 31. Morgan’s class, comprised of 26 hearing and three Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) children, is part of the bilingual immersion program teaching American Sign Language (ASL) alongside English Language Arts at the Burbank elementary school.
All of the eight- and nine-year-olds in the class signed the song and the poem featured key signers, according to Morgan.
“One is a deaf boy from a deaf family, who takes on the responsibility of translating our weekly poems into American Sign Language with the help of deaf adults,” explained Morgan. “He then teaches the class how to sign it appropriately. [He’s] a very patient future teacher!”
“The three other signers are children who have been in the signing program one to two years, who are all hearing, but have become very capable signers because of their placement in the DHH program,” added Morgan.
The students performance of Gooney Bird Greene, a book written by Lois Lowry, brought forth a lot of laughs from the audience. Two teachers from Washington Elementary also signed the play, interpreting for a DHH class attending the performance.
There are approximately 20 children at Washington Elementary from preschool through fifth grade in the DHH program. The school also serves infants through the Foothill DHH Selpa Program. A variety of instructional approaches are available for DHH students in middle and high school.
“We have had several students come up through the program starting at Washington, graduating from Burbank High School and then going on to CSUN, finally graduating and becoming teachers of the deaf, interpreters or instructional aides,” Morgan commented. “It is very exciting to see our program go full circle when these students come back and work for BUSD, due to the skills they gained in our program.”