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How to use Adaptive Books during Guided Reading with DHH students

How I use Adapted Books during Guided Reading with D/HH students. 

Adapted Books for Guided Reading 

I don't really want to start every post with a comment about language deprivation, but it is so deeply ingrained in our every day teaching with deaf and hard of hearing students. 

So task is always this, 

                           STEP ONE: teach meaningful vocabulary

                           STEP TWO: everything else.

Insert literacy, both English and ASL literacy.  Really, you cannot be literate in anything if you have no vocabulary.  So the task is always to build native language vocabulary. For most of my students this language is ASL.  Most enter my classroom with extremely limited vocabulary in any language. But immediately upon entering school they are expected to begin developing English literacy skills.  

What we know
Students need multiple exposures to a word before they are able to understand it, use it, work with it. BE LITERATE.

For deaf students that means they need multiple exposure to both signed and written language.
So the beginning steps go like this.

               Connect a sign with an object/action
               Experience MANY situations to use the sign in the correct context
               Match the sign to the object
               Receptively understand the sign 
              When given the sign, student can demonstrate understanding                           (pointing to an object/picture etc.)
               Expressively use the sign in context.
               Student is able to use the sign to communicate about his/her                            environment

I created these Adaptive books to assist in this process.  First of all the adaptive/interactive nature of these books makes them highly engaging and students can't wait to get their hands on them. 

I always begin introducing the vocabulary as a group as described in this previous blog post CLICK HERE to read that. 

Once I have the students at my table for guided reading, we repeat the process in the whole group activity.

I might say something, like today we are going to read a book about food.
Tell me some foods you eat.

Go to each picture and discuss the picture, what is it? Have you eaten it? Did you like it? Would you eat it again? etc. etc. 

Go through the book and allow the student to choose the correct sign for each picture ensure the student is signing the item correctly. 
Do this for the single sign book.  
When your student is ready he/she can move up to the sentence book.
Follow the same procedure teaching the the new signs included in the sentence. 

I am going to skip a few steps here that you will find detailed in 


I created 3 assessments that I believe to be ESSENTIAL for DATA collection.  Each form provided MEANINGFUL data for me as a teacher.

First is the 


I assess each item on this list. 

Can the student MATCH the sign to picture.

IF I SIGN the word, can the student demonstrate understanding of the sign by pointing to the picture, touching an object etc.

I show a picture or item to the student and he/she demonstrates the sign.  Students could also touch the picture of the sign, but here I am really looking for the student's accuracy with the movement. 


Is the student reading every word? I use checkmarks over each word to show the words the student got correct.  If there was a mistake I then I evaluate the reason for the error
M- meaning (was the error a mistake that would make sense)
ex. looking at the picture of chicken and signing turkey
S- structure (the error occurred because the SIGN OR THE WORD was similar to another known word  but still makes sense.  ex. Signing I /voicing me.  Signing I LIKE chicken instead of I EAT chicken
V- Visual the error looks visually similar to another known word ex. chicken and cheese.

I calculate the score as demonstrated on the form and determine a Fluency and Independence score.


What is this book about?  Has your student developed an understanding of the category involved in this book. For this level of book, the category and the title are the same, but the answer here should include the category and not a list of the items.  That's next.

List 5 items FROM THE STORY  of course.  This seems obvious, but not always to our students.  Now with the level of students I work with, I fill out this form for them, but I introduce the 5 handshape list format so that the students can begin learning how to list what they know.  I also, do not require them to list the items in order. I am teaching the skill of recall, an important skill in assisting students in moving their vocabulary from short to long term memory.

Using the Adaptive books helps the students gain the practice with vocabulary they need as well as develop Concepts of Print skills and begin the literacy process.   So, we end up with students who LOVE reading, DATA for teachers and parents and students well on their way to literacy!  

There are currently 6 books in the Adapted Food Book Series with the target phrase    I EAT
Click the links to see each of the sets.

There are more sets coming.  Tell me, which set would you like to see next? Weather? Family? People? Sports?

To read parts one one and two of this blog series click below.

Would you like to read more about Guided Reading with Deaf Students?  What have been your struggles or your successes?  Please share, we are in this together. 

What's So Great about Adapted Books?

What is so great about Adapted books 

with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students?


THIS IS PART 2 OF 3 CLICK TO READ PART ONE Everything You Need to To Teach Guided Reading with Beginning Deaf Readers.


My students absolutely love them! From students with very little vocabulary  (English or ASL) to my beginning readers, these books are always a first choice. 
 I first found adapted books being created by special education teachers and SLPs. The books would require students to match a picture to a picture or an English word to a picture.  While those books are highly engaging for my deaf students they were missing the signed vocabulary piece.  So, when a clip artist came out with ASL clip art, I got to work right away, creating these books with an American Sign Language component.

I know I'm preaching to the choir when I talk about how language (vocabulary) deprivation that my students enter the classroom with, affects their ability to develop both ASL and English Literacy. And how I am, nearly all of the time, simultaneously teaching both ASL and English.  

 With these Adapted books, students are required to match a sign to a picture a food.  As students advance and learn the target vocabulary, they are then asked to complete a sentence.  The target sentence is repeated on each page, allowing the student to master the sentence with the target vocabulary. 

How can you use these books in the classroom?


I typically start with introducing the vocabulary in a whole group. (this could be a guided reading group or selected based on vocabulary or however you determine) 
 I begin with introducing the title and probing to see if students are familiar with the category. In this case, the category is FOOD.  I will probe to see if students are able to name any foods.  I am never surprised when students are unable name even one food.  While they may eat a variety of foods, and they may very well have a sign or label for that item, their brains have not yet developed a CATEGORY for the word food. 
Being able to categorize words is an ESSENTIAL skill for young D/HH students. (but that is for another blog post)


After determining the students' level of expertise with listing foods, I show them the cover of the book and probe to see if they are able to label any of the foods on the cover of the book. 
Following that task, we begin a picture walk of the book. We look at each picture in the book and discuss. Do you know what it is? Have you eaten if before?  Do you like it? Did you eat it at home, at a friend's house, at school?  If you are able, bring in the real food, or demonstrate with plastic food.  I really do WHATEVER I CAN to be sure the students become familiar with the vocabulary. 


Finally we are ready to start reading the book.  I demonstrate each sign as I pull it off the velcro and put it in a pocket chart, visible to all the students. Then I turn to the page and demonstrate the sign again with the picture visible.  I ask the students to come up one at at time and choose the correct sign to match. (This helps students to associate the 2D static picture with correct 3D parameters of the actual sign). We continue to practice as a whole group until I feel the students have a good grasp on the vocabulary. 
Some ideas for whole group practice include
  •  students holding the book and asking peers for the target sign.  
  •  students choosing a sign card out of a box and finding the page to place it 
  •  hiding the cards around the room, letting them search and find then coming back together and finding the correct page to place the sign.
  • students signing the target word and having a peer find the page and another peer locating the sign

Now you are ready to use your books in guided reading.
To access these resources you can click on the following links

Click here to access 
Using Adapted books to support Guided Reading with Deaf and Hard of
Hearing students.

Everything You Need to Teach Guided Reading with Beginning Deaf Readers

Adapted Books for Guided Reading


Where do I start?  What do I need?  How can I possibly teach students with limited vocabulary to read?  How do I teach the vocabulary in a meaningful way? How do I teach students to read that have had limited exposure to language, books, vocabulary... the list of questions goes on and on.....sigh.

I hear these questions ALL THE TIME.  I have asked these questions.  There are many resources out there that support guided reading, but none, that I have found, specifically address the needs of deaf and hard of hearing students.

 So..... based on my experiences in teaching D/HH students and the extreme amount of studying I have done on the topic of reading, I created my own beginning series. I included the components that I feel are ESSENTIAL in using Guided Reading to teach deaf and hard of hearing students.
Check it out HERE

Adapted Books

These adapted books are HIGHLY engaging for students who are just beginning to interact with books and beginning reading. In this set you get two adapted books, one with single word target vocabulary, and one with a repeated target sentence.

Supplemental materials

We know that students need multiple exposures to words before they are able to transfer them to long term memory.   I created a variety of practice cards for students to work on in multiple situations to extend their practice with the target vocabulary.  You may use ALL of these resources with some students or just one or two with others, depending on their learning needs.


***Just a note, these cards have been updated to include the English word on each card*** 

FOUR Reproducible books


Following exposure to the Adaptive Books and the target vocabulary, student are ready to do some independent practice.  These two books would be great to use at independent center time or to send home for out of class practice. Parents or caregivers can easily help student (and learn the signs at the same time) Students love cutting a pasting into their own books and while this may take some supervision with students initially, it is a worthy investment. 

After students have become familiar with the vocabulary using the
Adaptive Books, they are ready to "graduate" to THE REAL DEAL book. That's right, no picture/sign support just straight up reading the words.  I can tell you, as excited as my students are to read and interact with the adaptive books, they beam with pride when I bring out the student readers.  
I choose to keep the color copy as my teacher copy that multiple students will read with me.  I make student copies of the black and white book, that students are able to keep in their reading boxes or take home. 

An organization system

I will admit I am NOT  very organized and I constantly have random pieces of a variety of resources hiding in all kinds of places, and NOT at the table with me when I am working with a student...#typeBteacher.  So I need to include a piece that would keep me organized. 
I made sure to write down exactly what goes in each section, so if I have a paraprofessional working with the materials (or finding them somewhere in the room) it would be easy to see where they belonged. 

This post is the first in a series of blog posts about guided reading and emerging deaf readers. Click THIS RESOURCE to see the product on TPT. 

 I would love to hear from you!  What are your questions about guided reading?  What are you doing right now that is helping your students learn vocabulary and become fluent signers and readers?

 Click this link to read Part 2,  What's So Great about Adapted Readers with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Beginning Readers

Thanks for Signing Up with,

Why I started Creating Resources for Deaf and Hard of hearing students.

Where to start?

I teach deaf and hard of hearing students at a school for the deaf.  I teach in the elementary department.  We are small school have just 4 teachers for Kindergarten through 5th grade.  I typically teach the youngest group and have students in my class working at the kindergarten through 2nd grade level. 

Unfortunately,  many of our students arrive at our school with minimal exposure to language. Not just English, but language.  Many don't even know their own names or the names of their family members.  They are unable to label common things in their environment, like chairs, doors, cars, toys etc. I have met 6 year old students with as few as 5 signs.  I know, it seems impossible, but when a child has little or no access to sound and his/her family members have not yet learned signed language, the ability to access the world is extremely limited.  

A typical student entering kindergarten has a spoken vocabulary of approximately 13,000-22,000 words.  When students enter school, teachers begin to help them organize that vocabulary into a spoken and written language. 

Deaf students are also expected to begin learning grade level content. They are expected to read, and write, count and do science experiments. They are expected to follow directions in a language they have never even been exposed to before.  Some of the first words taught in a typical kindergarten classroom are from the pre-primer dolch list ( in, is, it, the, to, and). The rest of the 40 words are comprised of mostly verbs and adjectives.  What do these words mean to someone with little to no language?  Not a whole lot.  

Now, it would be AMAZING if we could get a few academic free years to work on language development only, but that is not the reality.  So, the game of catch up begins.  Is it possible for students who are 4-6 years behind in language development to "catch up" to their hearing peers.  Yes it is.. sometimes....and no it's not....sometimes.  Every student is an individual and some kids absorb every bit of language and academia that you present, while others struggle with learning so much new information after missing critical years   Regardless, it is my job and the job of many other deaf educators to teach language and academic concepts at the same time, to bridge the gaps and make learning MEANINGFUL.

Make learning Meaningful

How to teach communication and academics at the same time?  First, we need labels. Think of every three year old you have ever known.. Dat? Dat?  Dat? Dat? Dat?  they say as they point to EVERYTHING in their environment.  Of course you give them a label for each thing, that's the sky, that's a table, She is your aunt - mommy's sister.  They will then move on to the question  Doing?  Doing?  Doing?  or the ever popular  why? why?  why?  Again, we explain our actions and our reason by giving those actions a label.  I'm swimming.  I'm eating.   I like swimming when it's hot. I eat potatoes because they are my favorite food.  etc etc.  

While I would enjoy taking my deaf students on journeys every day to let them discover language naturally, that is just not possible.  So now we have the task of combining natural acquisition with curriculum.  Here in lies the problem of  teaching limited language students to read and write.  We begin to read and write words that are familiar to us. So using the pre-primer dolch list of  pronouns and adjectives really doesn't make much sense. 

In search of ASL resources

In the search for a mainstream curriculum that met the needs of these students, I came up empty. Nearly every curriculum can be adapted and I searched and searched for one that needed the least amount of adaptations.  I finally landed with the Reading Milestones program.  It is not a complete system and I use it strictly for reading and writing instruction. However it has key elements that are designed for Deaf /English Language Learning students.  It is nice introduction to bridge the gap between language and learning to read. 

Unfortunately, it is a bit boring for little learners. The simplicity is good and structure is good, but , it definitely lacked in fun resources.  I searched for things that included similar words and simplified language structure and I found.......that's right..... NOTHING. So, I decided to start supplementing on my own.  I bought clip art to provide pictures for each word, and started using those in my classroom. They worked well with my students but again I ran into a few problems.  I wanted to be able to send homework for my students, but I found their families to be struggling with keeping up in the signing abilities and thus were not able to help their students. I contacted several companies who make sign language clip art and asked them if I could use their clip art to create products.  They ALL said no.  BIG GIANT SAD FACE!  

I had to seek out my own resources.  I put in a request on TPT for an artist willing to make ASL graphics and I found Kate Pullen of Away With the Pixels . Kate began creating signs for me to coordinate with the pictures of each sign.  Her graphics are AMAZING!!!! I started creating right away!  I couldn't wait to share these resources with my students!  I continued to creating and recently found another ASL artist on TPT creating more amazing clipart, 35 Corks Art Studio.

Now that I have what I need, I do what I love... I teach, I create, and make my resources available to other teachers who are in need of products specifically designed for deaf students.
If you'd like to see what I have been busy creating, please use this link to my store.

Thank you for listening and I would LOVE to hear about you. 
Do you teach deaf/hard of hearing students? Have you faced similar challenges?  
Where do you go for resources?


Bulletin Board Hack #1 USE FABRIC!

I am so happy to link up with Angie at Lucky Little Learners 

This month we are all talking about Bulletin Boards.  I want to tell you that as a beginning teacher, I used to LOVE changing my bulletin boards.  You could frequently find me at school after hours cutting paper and changing borders.  Well, this will be my TENTH year teaching (how did that happen?!?!?!) Anyways, about 2 years ago, I discovered the beauty of Fabric.  I chose my favorite fabric colors, and put them up in my room. Those fabric backgrounds stayed up all year.
I didn't break the bank either, cheap, cotton, solid color fabric highlighted with fun borders.

because changing paper AND borders AND bulletin board content,


 The pictures above are from 2013.  This is the first year I added the fabric. Some boards stayed the same all year.  For example the monkeys, we made as a class on the first day of school, stayed up all year and we added bananas for achievements  (I can count to 10. I read 5 books etc.) The school behavior board stayed up as well.  The rest of the boards had content that changed with lots of student work and learning targets. As you can tell, I was pretty big into the Safari theme that year!


 Last year, I kept THE SAME backgrounds!!! YES I SAID THE SAME!!!  But, I cleaned up the content and added these adorable banners!  These were my boards at the beginning of the year.  The same fabric... the same borders, but a totally different look!  I also made classroom decor to match my bulletin board colors. It gave my room much cleaner look.  As you can see, I am not a type A model classroom girl, and I haven't spent thousands of $$$$ to make everything match and look like a show room ( you know, all the classrooms you drool about on pinterest).  But there IS a method to my madness.

ASL word wall
ASL Calendar


Classroom Decor


Classroom Banners

This bulletin board is from 2014 it stayed up in the hallway ALL YEAR and students were able to put up their achievements and student pride work next to their favorite superhero.
They LOVED doing this.. so each month it would look a little different (if only I had taken pictures) but the main board (and all the work) stayed the same.

I am changing it up a bit for 2015, so STAY TUNED for my classroom reveal happening September 2nd.  Thank you for joining me and don't forget to check out all the other amazing bloggers on this link up!

Make Your Masterpiece: My ASL SUPERHERO Alphabet posters

I am linking up again with Third in Hollywood for week Three of the TPT sellers challenge.  This is a product I have actually been working on for while and this challenge gave me get the push to finish it.   It is part 2 in a series of 3 ASL SUPERHERO Classroom posters.
American Sign Language Alphabet Classroom Decor

I am so thrilled to be able to combine two of my favorite themes American Sign Language and SuperHeroes! The students in my classroom use American Sign Language to communicate.  For many of them this is their first language and they are using it to learn written English.  They LOVE having visual supports that include both languages. (and so do I) 
Cute, bright, functional visual supports?????? YES PLEASE!!!

You can click on the link to MY ASL SUPERHERO ALPHABET POSTERS.  What's inside? 
26  A-Z  8.5 x 11 posters
American Sign Language Alphabet  Classroom Decor

American Sign Language Alphabet Classroom Decor

Each letter has 3 coordinating cards with a picture, primary lined printed word and the ASL sign.  Just a note, many words in ASL do not have a specific sign and instead are fingerspelled.  This fingerspelling IS the sign for that word.  Deaf children learn to spell (or often when learning, approximate the shapes of the letters) these words and often describe the word using classifiers (handshapes that represent the shape or movement of the object)

American Sign Language Alphabet Classroom Decor

American Sign Language Alphabet Classroom Decor
These cards are LARGE, 3 on an 8.5x11 page.  I prefer them to be large so they can be easily seen in  the classroom, however, if you do not have that kind of space, or you would like them smaller to be used in interactive vocabulary journals, you could print them 2-4 to a page and thus use the smaller versions. 

Finally, this set includes 4x4 letter cards to be used as headers on your word wall 
(or any other way you see fit). 
American Sign Language Alphabet Classroom Decor

I am loving the bright fun colors in this set and I can't wait to put them up in my classroom. 
If you'd like to check out the coordinating MY SUPERHERO ASL CALENDAR you can do that by clicking the link above.

Coming soon are the SUPERHERO collection is 

As always, thank you for Signing Up With Mrs. Burgen!

Thanks for hosting this linky!

Dare to Dream

TPT  Seller Challenge  Week 2:  Dare to Dream 

Share quality resources with other SPED teachers

We all have dreams.  Why did I become a TPT seller and blogger in the first place?  I teach Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.  Some of the students I encounter  are typically developing and have no difficulty learning. Most of the time this is not the case.  The majority of the students I teach have special needs, language delays, learning disabilities, autism, low executive functions the list goes on... I work in a school where EVERY student is on an IEP.   For this reason, I am CONSTANTLY creating resources to meet their individual needs.  I KNOW that many, many other special education teachers are doing the same thing.

When I discovered TPT about 4 years ago, I was THRILLED with the products I found that I could use in my classroom.  However, very few products were able to meet the specific needs of my signing deaf students.  Thus, my TPT store was born! Mrs. Burgen's Sign Me Up
American Sign Language Numbers Classroom Decor

Save Money for Retirement

I'm not sure what happens to someone in their 40's but the realization that "Life is Short" comes popping up to the surface!  There are SO many things I want to pack into this short lil life!  Travel, have the house I've always wanted in THAT location, go places, do things.... etc. etc.  Most importantly, I want to have the health and time and money to do these things.  I would like to retire, sooner in my life rather than later.  My dream retirement location definitely includes sun, a beach and a maid.  (think all inclusive resort) LOL. I am happy that TPT  is helping me everyday to get a little closer to living my dreams. 

Our Health

At the age of 22, my husband was in a catastrophic motorcycle accident.  He spent months in the hospital and years learning how to walk again. His left leg had most of the damage and while the doctors and therapists did a great job making it functional again, the years have taken their toll.  The time for a knee replacement is here.  This means taking 6-8 weeks off work, not to mention paying for the surgery and the therapy... YIKES!   
Troy need this to happen soon and so it definitely takes financial priority. I don't"need" lasik surgery,  but it sure would be nice!  

We all need a little "extra" in our lives.  Extra money for whatever it is we need or want it for.  Money can't buy happiness, but a little peace of mind never hurt anyone :)

Dare to Dream.
What's your Dream?

Check out all the Dare to Dream posts at 

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