A Flipped Classroom: Deaf Style

One of the biggest drawbacks of working with students who are Deaf is the fact that they often have been exposed to so much less than their hearing counterparts.   While I read this and it made sense, I never really understood it until I had my own children.   I am still in awe at the things that my children say, most of it simply because they heard it (mommy had to learn to control her trucker mouth really fast)!  I have been a teacher ten years longer than I have been a mom, so I still work on the belief that explicit instruction/direction is how children learn, because that is how my students learn.  That is not the case for most, just my small population of students.   To give you an idea, most of my 12th grade students can not fill in a job application independently because they do not know their basic information.  So, needless to say, the thought of a “Flipped Classroom” in the way that I understood it, made me nervous.  I found this wonderful video on Youtube from a Deaf teacher who explained how she uses it in her classroom and the benefits she has seen.  Here is the link, but warning, it is in ASL and not voice captioned.  This search led me to do some more research (which actually led nicely to my final topic) where an itinerant teacher of the Deaf (these are the teachers you see in public schools) discusses how a flipped classroom presents a challenge that many forget, the Deaf student.   Many times the videos are not captioned, they go to fast, require skills that a Deaf person cannot do (watch an interpreter and take decent notes) or miss gaps of information that are assumed. Check out the Minnesota Hands and Voices blog here.  3Play Media also discusses the importance of captioning in the flipped classroom.

So, needless to say, I was a little leery.   However, like most things in education, I needed to look at it from a Deaf perspective.  Most of the time, my lessons are styimed by the fact that half of the class is able to keep up while half is struggling.   I created a video through VoiceThread that I will use in my classroom.   I consists of 4 slides of the same article.   Each slide has a different requirement for the student.  Slide 1 asks them to remember to use pre-reading strategies we have discussed in class.  Slide 2 asks students to read the article independently, Slide 3 is a teacher interpretation of the article while slide 4 focuses on questions related to the article.   Each slide is signed and voiced.


I really like VoiceThread because students can send a video reply to me directly on the thread.   I do not like that it is more costly to use these days 🙁  Since I am making some changes this year, I do not want to bite off more than I can chew.   This may something that I attack at a later date, however, I could see this being used when I am absent.  I see it being much more effective than a worksheet and bust work.





12 thoughts on “A Flipped Classroom: Deaf Style

  1. Hi Meghan,

    I love the fact that you are interactively circling things in your presentation as you teach! I did have some trouble hearing you in the video. Your voice was very soft.

    However, utilizing a video to show sign language seemed like a very effective way to teach! I think students could follow along with this very well! The videothread program would be awesome to use on sub days!

    Did you ever use a video like this before with your class? If so, did you think it was effective?

    Christine Dennis

    • Christine,
      Thanks for your feedback. I will be honest, I made sure that the voice part was there, never thought of volume. I have used videos to explain directions when I was absent, but not as a teaching tool. I am planning on recording some to have on the back burner for those unplanned sick days!

  2. I always look forward to your posts as your student population requires you to look at our topics with a different lens.

    I am wondering if there is a tool that would allow you to create picture in picture videos in which a person is signing. Perhaps the students could assist in making the videos. It would reinforce the concepts for your students this year and allow you to create videos for the following year.

    • Jennifer,
      I would love a tool like this. If you know of one, that would be awesome! Currently, my students do make videos in class. We have a vocabulary cards where the students use QR codes to sign and define words. It has been quite helpful. Having been a teacher for almost 20 years, I am thrilled with what technology allows me to provide to my kids. It is an exciting time for sure!


  3. Hi Meghan,
    Thank you again for another insightful post. It is so nice to hear your perspective on each of our topics. I really enjoyed viewing your resources and VoiceThread. I think that it is very appropriate for your classroom of students. As I was researching this topic, I too was trying to figure out how I could use this model with my students. Primary students learn a tremendous amount of foundational skills throughout the course of a school year. It became very apparent that this model needs to be molded in a way that meets the needs of each teacher and their students. It was so nice to know that there are numerous ways to implement this model and it sounds like you found one that may work for you. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

    🙂 Erin

    • Erin,
      I am sorry that my reply did not post. I could not agree with you more that we, as teachers, need to figure out to make this work for our students.


  4. Meghan,
    I really love using Voicethread. Even my students really enjoyed using it as well. Being able to have video in your flipped lessons is so important for your students. I mentioned Screencast-o-matic in my post. I used that a lot last year to capture what I was doing on my screen. The great part about it is that I can have a picture of myself talking through the steps. I usually don’t do that because I don’t like to see myself, but for your students, that would be great for signing. Just another option for you if you plan to flip anymore lessons.

  5. THANK YOU!!! I was trying to remember the name of that tool and totally forgot! Added to my Symbaloo page and I will be playing with tonight.


  6. I love that you found information on how to utilize flipping in your context! Whether it ends up being something you decide to use on a regular basis or not, it is fantastic to see that you were able to actually evaluate it in the context in which you serve. So often, when I see a new idea or hear stories from teachers, I cannot see how to integrate such a plan in my 4-grade classroom. Finding the link is important, and you were able to do that.

    Most helpful to me was your information regarding the impact of the flipped classroom on deaf students. While I do not have any deaf students, I do have students who are still learning English. I had always been told that flipping was better because students could pause and replay so they could catch things they would miss in a traditional lecture, which is true. But I noticed that some of my students – almost always the ones who most recently moved to the US – did not perform much better after watching my videos.

    Your post gave me some important clues as to why they were missing information. When I would ask the students, they would say things like “the work was still hard” or “I didn’t have enough time” which, while true, did not help me know what to do better. As you listed the ideas that the speed can be too fast, there are no captions, and it requires skills they do not have, I realized all of those have strong implications for my ELL students as well. I do talk fast and I tend to joke and use forms of humor that are subtle (understatement, minor sarcasm, exaggeration, etc). The speed and lack of captions in their native language are already difficult, but my humor style asks them to try to use tools they have not yet developed. I am asking them to not only interpret into English but to somehow unlock these humor styles that require a very strong understanding of language. It never crossed my mind.

    On behalf of my students and myself, Thank You!!

  7. I am glad that I had some wise words. School started for my kids today and me on Wednesday, I am a bit scattered.


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