Oct 05 2010

Seen and Heard

Classroom technology helps hearing-impaired students engage in and understand lessons.

Technology can help hearing-impaired students better grasp concepts in class, says Susan Elliott, a deaf high school teacher who was honored as Colorado's 2009 Teacher of the Year.

Elliott, chair of Highlands Ranch High School's Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Department, teaches social studies and history to normal-hearing, deaf and hard-of-hearing students in her classes.

She uses an interactive whiteboard and document camera to add visuals, such as Microsoft PowerPoint presentations and pictures, to help students better retain information.

“In my classrooms, the technology is transformational because it adds visuals and makes language – text – visual,” Elliott explains. “Visual access to language helps students retain information because they see it and read it. The more access they have to the concepts I'm teaching, the better their retention.”

For example, during her lectures, she sometimes wants her students to read a passage from a book. But instead of having them look down in their books, she simply projects the text on the screen through a document camera. The approach speeds up the learning process because she doesn't have to wait for students to look back up at her before she can continue talking.

When lecturing with a whiteboard, Elliott often makes copies of the notes she writes on the board and puts them online, so students can review the material later.

Her students use student response systems to play the game show “Jeopardy” as a learning exercise. Because the Internet is a powerful tool, she also creates homework lessons or classroom projects where students do research online, she says.