Category Archives: educators

Why Camp Ollin?

Are you trying to decide which summer camp to send your kids to? Still not convinced your child needs summer camp? You want the best for your children. We have 8+ ways your kids will gain lifelong benefits from coming to Camp Ollin.

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What is Camp Ollin?

Give your child the gift of a summer to Remember – that will set him or her up for a life of success. Limited space available.

Making the Most of your “We Succeed Because We Can” Poster

Teachers! We are so happy you have ordered your “We Succeed Because We Can” posters! Here are some great ideas of how to make the most of your poster in your classroom!

Heck, we even include the Common Core Standards the activities fit under!

Together, we CAN make a difference in the lives of youth everywhere!


Students actively engaged in a lesson about the Poster.

Lesson Plan Ideas and Suggestions

  1. Together as a class, pick a person from the poster. Create an ASL letter poem with that person’s name or occupation. Use qualities of good community helpers (honest, brave, hard worker, etc.) and what that person does. Have students pick a person and do one on their own, or in partners.
  2. In turn, have each student pick a person and keep it a secret. Play charades with each student acting out the career he or she chose. You can also have dress up clothes that are used in the different careers to do some creative play.
  3. After a lesson explaining the different jobs and careers, making sure that the students understand that ALL of the individuals are Deaf, have each student choose a career that he or she would like to research or become in the future. Give the students time to do research on that career and write about it. The writing assignment could be a simple essay or a fictional narrative that pictures himself or herself as the person he or she wants to be. Add to the activity by having each student do a presentation of their writing in ASL.
  4. This activity is done best with a small group. Discuss several careers and individuals on the poster with the students in ASL. Write questions about some of the individuals in English on the board and have students write the answers on their own. Allow the students to go to and look at the poster in order to answer the questions. Review some of the answers as a class in ASL. Example questions: Where does ______________ work? Find someone who was the first Deaf person in their career field. What does _____________ do?
  5. Create cards with the name of different careers and place one on the back of each student. Have the students play 20 questions to discover what career they have on their back. When they guess correctly, have them get another card until all the cards have been used. You could also use these cards to play a matching game where students find the matching word on the poster.
  6. Have the students imagine themselves all grown up. What job might they want? Is it a job that is on the cards or a different job? Have them draw a picture of themselves in their future career and share it with the class.
  7. Bring in a guest speaker, or go on a fieldtrip to visit a deaf adult at work. It could be someone in one of the careers on the cards or a different career. This could be a good opening activity for this unit as it would bring careers and working into reality.

CCSS Reading Standards for Literature K–5 (RL)

  1. RL-K.1: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  2. RL-1.1: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  3. RL-2.1: Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  4. RL-3.1: Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
  5. RL-4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  6. RL-5.1: Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

A Deaf Sense: a Sense of Belonging

Last week I introduced the idea of Maslow’s Hierarchy and focused on the need to create a sense of belonging. It is important to create that sense of belonging in the family. Today we’ll look at outside the family to foster a sense of belonging in the youth around us. Both deaf children and hearing children that are connected to the world of deafness in some way need to develop this “Deaf Sense.”

A sense of belonging is a sense of unity, a connection with others who are like you. A Deaf Sense is when that belonging is felt as a deaf individual. This is actually where the name of our business came from. When individuals can FEEL connected to themselves, they can start to belong to something outside of themselves. The first place this usually happens is in the family, as I described last week.

However, there is another place that belonging is needed. And if the belonging in the family is struggling, youth look to the larger community to feel belonging. Individuals need to belong to a group in society. For Deaf children, that group is Deaf people. Sure, deaf youth can be a part of other groups: sports, church, etc. but the belonging that will come from a group that shares the same experiences, challenges, values and language will be so beneficial in their lives.

I have also seen the value of having CODAs and SODAs come together and share common experiences. They support each other and gain common understanding. It’s important for them to understand their place in the Deaf community and also feel a sense of belonging to their hearing world.

Research shows that identity is important!

Research has shown that those who can identify themselves in the world have a more positive sense of well-being. This well-being increases when the children can identify themselves in their family and then in the w

orld at large, and even more when they can do so bi-culturally with both the deaf and hearing cultures.

Celebrating Deaf History Month can give deaf youth a sense of belonging to the deaf community: A Deaf Sense. This identity and acceptance of his or her own Deaf Sense will then allow each individual to continue onto the next level of Maslow’s hierarchy: a strong Self Esteem, accomplishments and Self-actualization. Children who belong are more likely to become successful citizens who contribute to society and give back in a way only they can.

Going back to Maslow’s Heirarchy

Young woman without a sense of belonging.

If a young teenage girl does not feel like she belongs in society or her family, she may try to fit in by losing weight and cause an eating disorder. When the level of belonging is gone in the triangle, the lower levels also suffer.

Once this teen can feel a sense of belonging, she will be more likely to take steps to get help with the eating disorder. With help, the basic needs of survival and safety can be taken care of and the teen can move onto achieving goals and becoming the person desired.

For the teen that still does not feel any sense of belonging , she continues to search for it. This search for belonging leads children to gangs, to drugs, to sex… and for some, to suicide.  “If I don’t belong, why am I here?” They ask themselves.

Finding an identity within the Deaf community CAN and WILL make a difference.

What can you do?

You can make a difference by helping a youth feel that sense of belonging!

As a parent; as an educator, we have the power each day to help a child feel like he or she belongs in this world. A smile, a chat, a video of a story, a word of encouragement, a lesson about another deaf person, or an experience in  meeting other deaf youth is all it might take to let that youth know that you care, that there are others out there just like him or her and that he or she is important.

Confident student with a sense of belonging to her peers.

Please! Reach out today!  Reach out to that child who is struggling. Help him feel a sense of belonging in your family. Help her feel a sense of belonging in your classroom. Help him find his hearing sense and make sense of the hearing world he is a part of. Help her find her Deaf Sense through the fun of Deaf History.

Sign up for more great ideas to build self esteem in your child or students today:

Our posters are a great way to help youth feel that sense of belonging!

Get your Deaf American Time Line and the                         We Succeed Because We Can posters today!

Tired of Spelling? Try some of these tips!

Tired of Spelling? Try some of these tips!

Spelling is NOT usually FUN!

Elementary schoolboy listening to his teacher at lesson


It’s not often that your child says, “My favorite subject is… Spelling!” More than likely, it’s not a favorite at all. More often, no one likes to do it. Many classrooms have stopped focusing on spelling and instead focus more on the whole language approach. I, personally, like a balanced approach where spelling is taught, but differently than the traditional approach.

Traditional Teaching

Traditionally, spelling has been taught as a separate task. Teachers typically give 10 words a week and the students practice these words for a weekly test. Often these words are taught in isolation, or by themselves, with no connection to familiar text. Sometimes, especially in the early elementary they are taught by word families: words that look and sound similar to each other. Skill and drill prepare the students for a test. The problem with this approach is that the correct spelling of the words and their meanings don’t always transfer to reading and writing skills.

Teaching Spelling to Deaf Children

Where children who are deaf are concerned, teaching new words in a way that they will remember them is crucial. Teaching spelling  and vocabulary through context and world knowledge is a must. I love to teach new words and vocabulary together and focus on words that are in the literature book that is being read and re-read in language arts class. This does several things that naturally reinforce the learning and memorization of spelling words.

  • The context of the story and the content will provide world knowledge that the students can connect the individual vocabulary/spelling words to.
  • The reading and re-reading of the book provides repetition in context so that the students are not only seeing the word again and again but understand the meaning of it as they practice using it in natural language.
  • The students enjoy the story AND spelling the words, as well as what the words mean.
  • Reading strategies including how to figure out what new words mean can be taught as the spelling words are practiced. (hitting two birds with one stone)
  • As the children re-tell or answer questions about the story, in ASL or English, they have the opportunity to use the spelling words naturally.
In other words: teaching spelling from context is VITAL to the deaf child.

Another place where deaf students struggle with spelling, is when words have multiple-meanings. There are also multiple ways to sign the same spelling word. It’s important to teach the different meanings when you focus on that word, even if that meaning is not used in the text you may be reading. Remember how I said that I like a balanced approach? Students will need direct teaching of words with multiple-meanings as well as natural interaction with the words in text.  This sounds like a great topic for another post!

Find ways to have FUN with spelling!
  • matching games (have the student make the matching cards by writing the words out)
  • Hang man
  • make up silly sentences or stories using all of the words
  • Post the words around the house and have the kids spell them out before they can go into a room or use an appliance.
  • games using ASL, like the one below


This game is awesome because it not only helps kids remember the word and how its spelled, but also what it means!        New words CAN be FUN!