How to make an experience story for students with hearing loss

by Audrey Nemeth, M.S.D.E, CED, LSLS Cert. AVEd

Fall is here, and with its arrival comes the opportunity for field trips…to the pumpkin patch, to pick apples, you name it!  It’s simple to turn these fun outings (or any activity done in your classroom) into a language-rich experience story that serves your students with hearing loss.

Q: What is an experience story?

An experience story is a written and illustrated account of a language experience. Language experiences are teacher-planned and teacher-directed activities with specific vocabulary and language targets.  They are also motivating to students.  Experience stories can be written about novel experiences, such as going on a field trip, or daily activities that are part of your routine, like making a snack.

Q: How do I make an experience story?

1. Choose language targets.

The language targets should be achievable and relevant to the student’s daily life.

2. Choose the activity.

The chosen activity should be hands-on, motivating and age appropriate.  Typically, the activity is also relevant to the classroom’s current theme or unit being studied.

3. Conduct the activity.

When leading the activity or engaging students in the experience, take pictures at key moments (e.g., the students boarding the bus for a field trip or the students mixing ingredients to make a snack).  If taking pictures is not an option, you can always draw or create (e.g., Google images) the pictures later.

4. Write the experience story

Experience stories can be, and often should be, written with the students.  Writing the story together provides students with the opportunity to work on answering questions and formulating responses using target language structures.  It also helps students to develop print awareness.  The content of the story can include target vocabulary, sequencing words, or any language structures that are being targeted (e.g., past tense verbs, pronouns, conjunctions, etc.).

5. PRACTICE

Use the experience story to support language, speech, auditory skills and reading readiness. Print can be highlighted and/or underlined to help draw the student’s attention to any words or structures that require more practice.  Send home a copy of the experience story with each student for additional practice at home.

Try watching this video to see an example of an experience story being written!

Audrey Nemeth has been working as a Teacher of the Deaf for twelve years, serving primarily children ages three-five at CID, as well as at the Moog Center for Deaf Education.  She has taught a variety of language levels, and the importance of vocabulary, repetition and speech development can be observed in every lesson she teaches.

In addition to teaching children with hearing loss, Audrey provides parent/caregiver support on a weekly, bi-monthly, and monthly basis.  These sessions consist of: presenting information about hearing loss; discussing strategies, techniques, and activities for helping parents teach their children to talk, and providing embedded coaching to parents to improve their child’s communication skills.

Audrey also has a passion for teaching other professionals. For the past nine years, she has provided supervision and mentorship to student teachers from a variety of universities.

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