LHS English class uses sign language to learn

Published 8:04 pm Monday, February 15, 2010

The ninth-graders in Mitzi Gates’ English classes at Linden High School recently read “The Miracle Worker,” the story of famous Alabamian and amazing American Helen Keller and her equally famous and amazing teacher, Annie Sullivan.

In preparation for reading the play, the freshmen worked in groups to prepare research presentations on one of the following topics: Helen Keller, Annie Sullivan, Michael Anagnos, Alexander Graham Bell, Perkins Institute, Louis Braille, or Ivy Green and Tuscumbia, Ala.

The students spent several days in the library researching their topics with the help of LHS librarian Marnise Stevenson.

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Presentation requirements included a typewritten essay and an oral group presentation based on the essay. In addition, each group was required to incorporate two visual aids into their oral presentation: a Powerpoint slide show and an original creative visual aid.

One of the most creative visual aids came from the Perkins Institute group: a sign language presentation of “Jesus Loves Me.” To prepare for their presentation, the students in the Perkins Institute group were fortunate to have sign language experts Rev. and Mrs. Randal Mims from Thomaston Baptist Church teach them the basics of sign language in one hour-long workshop.

In this workshop, the students learned basic alphabet finger spelling as well as several conversational signs before they learned the song of their choice, “Jesus Loves Me,” which they selected because of its familiarity as well as its message.

They learned the song as they sang it along with the Mimses, but they performed the song to a recording by the well-known group Alabama. Their classmates learned the chorus quickly after seeing it performed one time.

The Mimses learned to speak sign language because it was a needed ministry at a church where they were members prior to coming to Thomaston.

They were delighted to share their knowledge with the five LHS ninth-graders who comprised the Perkins Institute group: Anthony Robinson, Davian Elmore, Jasmyn Jones, Shaquinta Jackson and Alaidrian Thompson.