Saturday, June 20, 2009


This event was a grand smash on the 4th day of the ASL Festival.

What is the ASL Bee Competition?

Our JEOPARDY! style ASL Bee was indeed a rousing success, a stand-out among many during our week long festival. Each class selected one student representative and these children were then divided into four teams with names like 'stinger', 'hive' and 'stripes'.  

In true JEOPARDY! form each team was asked to answer questions from the following four categories.
  1. Deaf Culture
  2. Handshapes
  3. Picture This!
  4. Our School
Each question was assigned a point value corresponding to its level of difficulty. Picture This! required the students to sign a phrase like "walking through the mud" or "raining hard" in American Sign Language.  The answers were provided via video by staff members.   

As the competition became more heated the original four teams were whittled down to the final two. These two teams were then asked one final JEOPARDY! question which was to "create a brief story using those two handshapes (an open five handshape and an O handshape were pictured).

The teams huddled together while some of us in the audience sang the JEOPARDY! theme song - more than once.  Finally, the teams were ready to present their stories. 

The first was about planting and the second had an ocean theme. Planting won!  The crowd went wild.  The winners were certainly proud but the best part was seeing the happiness on the faces of ALL the students.  The 'losing' teams were bouncing along with the rest of us. 

It has long been my thought (and that of Mary Poppins) that the best way to learn  is to 'add an element of fun. Find the fun and SNAP! the job's a game'. Although the ASL Bee was a game I actually learned a bit about American Sign Language myself. I imagine that this can be said for many of the folks seated in the chilly auditorium.  

What more could you ask for?


Barbara said...

Sitting at brunch today, my son recently back from Germany talked about a woman from Australia who had come to Hamburg to learn German sign language. I find it so interesting that there must be so many different versions of sign language out there since there are deaf people in virtually every culture.

I'm so excited the Bee went so well. Friendly competition is the best for enhancing creativity. Kudos to all involved! Someone should make a documentary of the week. Maybe in your spare time...

Gary said...

Barbara - I think for our monthly Spirit Days we should highlight some of the various forms of sign language and teach a bit of them to our students. We have people at our school who know several of them and this would be interesting for everyone.


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