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1/16/2013 9:30:00 AM
She teaches 'second language' to kindergartners
Louise Wellborn
Louise Wellborn
Photo by Matt SantosStudents Lainie Bassi and Tomasso Hedgpeth help model the signs as Ms. Wellborn teaches the class their letters in American Sign Language.
Photo by Matt Santos

Students Lainie Bassi and Tomasso Hedgpeth help model the signs as Ms. Wellborn teaches the class their letters in American Sign Language.

Diane DeHamer
Feature Writer

Many people aren't aware that American Sign Language is now recognized as a second language.

Kindergarten teacher Louise Wellborn of Territorial Elementary School in Chino Valley has a very unique way of helping her kindergartners learn their letters and numbers. She teaches the students not only how to read and write their letters and numbers but also how to sign them.

"Between the ages of 0 to 7, children are in a 'concrete stage' of development. When teaching them letters and using the signs for the letters the child physically holds that letter in their hand. I feel that this accelerates their letter names, and by using their bodies to communicate, I think this helps the students tremendously with their language development," Wellborn said.

At the beginning of the school year, the student may not be able to say the name of the letter, but they can show me the sign," she added.

Wellborn explained that she got into signing after having a deaf student in her class when she first started teaching seven years ago, and has been teaching it to her students ever since.

"We not only sign the letters, but my class can sign their numbers all the way to 100. When the children are at my feet on our 'magic carpet' for group learning, I can tell at a glance that everyone is participating because they are using their sign language," she said.

Wellborn said she also is teaching her students songs and the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language.

"I myself am still learning more signs all the time," Ms. Wellborn admitted.

"In the years to come I will absolutely continue to teach my students American Sign Language because of its value as a fabulous teaching tool."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Cori Herwick

Mrs. Welborne is a most awesome teacher. What she does with these kids and sign language has made remarkable impacts on learning. So nice to see her recognized for it!

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