Implementation of “My Hand is my Mouth” (SOI-MT-354)

Author: Joanna Saliba Bowman (Learning Support Educator)

School/Organization: St Augustine College Primary, Marsa, Malta

The learning scenario My hand is my Mouth (LS-GR-700) created by Eleni Malamidou, offers the opportunity to introduce students to different types of communication and give them an idea of everyday life of deaf people.  

This scenario was applied to 8-year-old students and adapted to Maltese Sign Language. This was chosen as the students already discussed about different modes of communication in Social Studies syllabus and Religion. However, the students never encountered a student with hearing impairment and as an educator I believe that this type of communication should be introduced to meet demands of diversity in an inclusive educational scenario and to prepare them for complexity of a global society. This will help the students to foster empathy and refine interpersonal skills.

Nuża idi biex nitkellem (I use my hand to talk)

A group of 24 students were chosen to implement the learning scenario above.  The age range of participants is that of 7 to 8 year olds.  The students already cultivate inclusivity values as the school environment promotes diversity.   All students were already familiar with different impairments which might hinder communication as last year different speakers with various impairments such as visual were invited to our school to speak about different modes of communication.  Hence the students are already familiar to various impairments.

Introduction of the lesson 

The students were shown a set of sound blocking headphones and all of them had the opportunity to wear them and to reflect about their feelings.  A small discussion was followed by sharing their experience and they all agreed that they felt like they were diving in deep water and they were not feeling comfortable that their friends were speaking and they could not listen their friends while speaking. (10 mins)

Sharing the learning outcome

To encourage the students to take more control of their learning, the lesson objective was shared in order to give a purpose to the learner.  In order to put the students into the setting, a short video of a 9 -year old girl who has hearing impairment was projected. The girl talked about her regular activities during her day while an interpreter translated.  The students were then asked an open ended inquiry about their opinions, and they expressed their concern about how the other students could understand her demands and how they can communicate with her.  Following that a direct question was posed to the class asking them to explore in groups the challenges and issues that they might encounter in public spaces.  (15 mins)

Discussion’s follow up

Overall, the students shared similar visions and they all came to the conclusion that ideally the students learn sign language to facilitate the life of children with hearing impairment.  

All but one of the students had never considered these challenges in their life.  This student revealed to the class that he communicates with his sister using sign language at home.  Then it was shared that famous persons with hearing impairment including composer Beethoven and Thomas Edison were also deaf.  They were fascinated. (15 mins)

Learning Scenario conclusion

Finally the students practiced several Maltese Sign Language vocabulary like  Bongu (Good morning),  Iva u Le (yes and no), skużi  (sorry) grazzi (thank you). (15 mins)

Instilling the sense of empathy and responsibility for the people with hearing impairment.

It is clear that the goal was accomplished based on the responses provided in class by the students and the class Learning Support Educator.  Additionally, it was noted that neither the educators, nor the students are prepared to deal with the situation that if a student with hearing impairment is admitted into the class since neither of them at the moment know how to use sign language.  They only know a few words.  Thus it was suggested to the Head of School that as from next year the school introduces a lesson to all students to learn sign language.

Personal reflections 

It is crucial to get the students engaged in the subject before introducing this learning outcome.  I recommend to introduce this particular outcome for younger students by means of a social story and to introduce, whilst inviting sign language speakers to older students.  According to the lessons’ feedback, I believe that greater attention should be focused to the various impairments and initiatives should be put forth to find strategies to manage such circumstances in our daily life from a young age. 

Use of Europeana resources 

This was a great opportunity to learn about diverse learning scenarios used in various countries who implement the Teaching with Europeana resources.   Using the arts and science digital heritage is a way to introduce students to different cultures and historical aspects of countries in the world.  The use of these resources helped in the implementation of lessons and the understanding other learning enviroments  around the world.  

Students trying the headphones
Introducing the video


Brainstorming for Group Work


Learning Sign Language

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? My Hand is my Mouth created by Eleni Malamidou

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CC0 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Statens Museum for Kunst.

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