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The constant pull to keep adding more content to curricula.
Curriculum designers face a constant challenge to avoid what I refer to as "curriculum creep" which is an insidious gradual expansion of content.
It is always so tempting to people who are passionate about their topic to keep adding more and more educational content.
If you are a sign language instructor you tend to want to just keep adding more and more vocabulary -- showing yet another version, one more regional variation, an amusing way the sign used to be done, and the newest edgy non-initialized version.
Before you know it you have two semesters worth of content crammed into one semester of teaching time.
Curriculum creep also happens with the curriculum starts introducing less frequently used signs too early at the expense of more frequently used signs. (Because, gee, everyone should know the sign PURPLE if you are going to teach any colors at all, oh, and PINK too!)
The hard thing (but the right thing) to do is to decide, "No, just because we teach the sign WITH -- we don't need to teach every single inflection of it in this particular lesson."
For example, Lesson 5 of the Lifeprint curriculum used to include signs for ahead, behind, chase, race, catch-up, etc.
Those signs were (previously) included in the lesson because they seem to naturally flow from the sign WITH.
A discussion regarding those signs can be found by going to the "WITH" page (in the Lesson 5 vocabulary list) and then from the WITH page click on the "WITH"-(advanced discussion) link -- for a bit of a deep dive. When you learn a bunch of things that relate to each other you can think of that as "clustering." Some aspect of the content ties it together into a cluster.
Clustering allows us to make use of horizontal transfer of learning. You learn a principle and expedite (hurry up) the learning process by applying that principle to multiple related concepts. For example the hand positions in WITH are relational (prepositional actually). By changing the position of the hands you change the meaning in ways that make sense by relating to concepts we already know from maneuvering or navigating in real life.
Clustering can be effective for those who are truly / genuinely interested in learning a language -- but it stresses out the 96% of (college) students who just want to get their grade and move on with their degree.
Rather than throwing away the additional vocabulary discussion (regarding the sign WITH in Lesson 5) I chose to deal with it by creating a "WITH-(advanced discussion)" page and moved the extra information onto that page and added a link to it from the WITH page .
Not a perfect solution but it let me move on without feeling too guilty about trying to keep the lessons focused on more frequently used vocabulary while not totally giving up on the idea of "clustering" as a tool for those who want and appreciate the deep dives.
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