ASL Tales
© ASL Tales:2015
Common Core State Standards and ASL Tales                  - by  Susan Schaller Scaffolding lessons for different abilities that are needed as outlined in the C​ommon ​Core ​State Standards is essential.  ASL Tales through the engagement of multiple sense modes, multiple media, multiple languages, and storytelling, attracts and supports learners at different levels, and with different challenges and learning strategies. Cognitive benefits of exposure to a new language are well documented​.​  ASL or English and/or one of the spoken translations in​ ASL Tales triggers metalinguistic and metacognitive thinking.  Students see their native language as a language, enabling analysis. This meets the emphasis of CCSS for students to be able to master more than one register of language, enabling the specific analytical and expressive skills for academic literacy. For ​example, ASL is much more explicit than English, pointing to the idea of implicit language. Students see that something in the text is left out that the imagination must read in. The English text reads, in The Boy Who Cried Wolf, “He climbed a tree.” The ASL version shows that he first got bored, then had an idea to climb, walked up to the tree, and then climbed it. ASL Tales’ stories for early readers can easily be the starting point, the first step, leading to new steps, leading up to what is described in the following standard. See Rapunzel sample curriculum. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. Visual language allows many struggling readers to follow and analyze the story when they could not with the English text alone.  The ASL story is closer to the play and acting of most kids, enabling them to see and “move” through the action, following the storyline, as needed for this standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text. As more complicated texts are used, students become ready to engage in more sophisticated analysis, called for in this standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone. Being able to see an iconic sign supports greater comprehension of English vocabulary, and gives far more information about the ideas of connotation and figurative language, aiding students in exploring those cognitive closets.  Upon even a cursory reflection, students will see that a figurative phrase in English cannot be translated literally into ASL.  For example, in The Princess and the Pea, “…or, I might die”  is not translated literally, and can lead to a discussion of why such figurative phrases make us laugh, setting a tone in the message.  When are such phrases appropriate and when not.  This is also another stepping stone or lesson on the scaffold that can lead to standards relating to developing skills in determining registers of language. ASL Tales meets the CCSS for Communication standards (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational). In addition, the standards of four other areas for learning languages: Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities, an entry into world languages, one of the emphases of the core standards. The multimodal/multilingual teaching of fairy tales and fables with ASL Tales offers more than a couple ways for students to demonstrate knowledge and skills, including the process by which they solve problems. Integrating knowledge and learning strategies across disciplines with visual, aural and kinesthetic languages is possible with the richness of English literature and simultaneous exposure to a new and attractive visual language (for hearing non-signers). Teachers continue to see more ways to apply ASL Tales to meeting standards, as their students, individually or in a group, are more than willing to keep exploring ASL, spoken translations, English text, and the timeless situations of tales and their possible variations. Contact through for more information or references. A note from ASL Tales: There are countless ways that ASL Tales links to the Common Core.   See our pilot program  opportunities or contact us for support about how you can use ASL Tales in the classroom. See the sample curriculum for ASL Tales: Rapunzel.