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How this teacher uses Ellevation Math with her ASL class

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Rose Yañez is a Deaf Ed teacher at Burges High School in El Paso, TX in her 19th year in teaching. She works in the Signing Deaf Education Regional Day School Program, and is visually impaired and deaf herself. Yañez teaches a self-contained classroom of all deaf and hard of hearing students who face a unique language barrier.

“In their family history, language is almost obsolete. 90% of our student population don’t sign, their parents don’t sign - so they don’t have the language access that most kids do,” Yañez shares. “Because of that language barrier, I have to provide an additional level of support for my students.”

Ellevation Math has become one of these levels.

Why it works

“I think it’s an amazing program. Our students actually are very visual learners and they need emphasis on the words that go with our math curriculum, our math standards - that’s what they see on the STAR test. So if they don’t have that opportunity to see the word as repetition, they won’t retain those words,” Yañez explains.

Ellevation Math was designed to introduce academic language in context using real world scenarios. For Yañez, this is another valuable feature of the primers.

“That’s what they see at home, what you see outside, what you see at school. To apply a real life scenario, then they can share and discuss that word and what the meaning is.”

Embedding into instruction

Yañez begins her lessons by emphasizing the new vocabulary first, which is how she embeds Ellevation Math into her instructional routine.

She uses the primer most aligned to the standard to introduce the vocabulary whole-group by projecting the video for the class and reading the text aloud as text is highlighted on screen. She also signs the lessons to the students, and pauses frequently throughout the primer to check in with the students and discuss the academic language they are learning. 

“I go through the pictures one by one and ask them what’s happening. They share their ideas about the vocabulary and I do a check for understanding and a recall of if they have prior knowledge or not. If you click on the highlighted word (in the primer) of the vocabulary, you can see the picture to better clarify those misunderstandings,” Yañez says.

Checking for understanding

Since it is difficult for students to clarify content or re-learn a concept outside of the classroom, the confidence questions at the end of each primer are particularly important so that Yañez can determine what students understand and where they need additional support.

“I sign to them the question and I sign to them the answer choices, but I don't give them the answers. I let them do their critical thinking skills and they pick their answer and then later have to justify why… so it becomes a class discussion. What they have to do is self advocacy, so they tell me if they don’t understand.”