Woodland High School student taught a fourth-grade class how to use American Sign Language to sign the school’s pledge


Jaylee Graham, a sophomore at Woodland High School, created a video to teach Carey Hanson’s fourth graders at Columbia Elementary School

WOODLAND — Jaylee Graham, a sophomore at Woodland High School, created a video to teach Carey Hanson’s fourth graders at Columbia Elementary School how to sign the school’s Woodland Way pledge using American Sign Language (ASL).

Jaylee Graham, a sophomore at Woodland High School, created a video to teach fourth graders how to sign the school pledge. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District
Jaylee Graham, a sophomore at Woodland High School, created a video to teach fourth graders how to sign the school pledge. Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

Hanson wanted her students to learn how to use ASL to sign the Woodland Way, the school’s pledge about making good decisions and exhibiting good behaviors. “I like to have my kids recite the Woodland Way immediately following the flag salute so the concept of making appropriate choices at school and home are forefront in their minds,” said Hanson. “I wanted to make the pledge even more meaningful, so I figured ASL would be the way to go.”

Hanson reached out to Kim Novak, Woodland High School’s ASL teacher who enlisted Jaylee Graham, a sophomore, to record a video teaching the fourth-grade class how to sign the pledge. “The video was perfect – Jaylee was so great in the video that she has a future in teaching if she wishes,” said Hanson. “The kids think being able to sign the pledge is so cool and I’ve posted the ASL alphabet in my room so my students can learn more whenever they want to.”

Novak connected Graham to Hansen to arrange the making of the video. Graham comes from a family of teachers, and while she does not know what she wants to do after high school, yet, she has thought about going into education like her mother and grandmother. “Making the video was a great project to help me give education more thought,” said Graham. “I think the most challenging part of making the video of myself signing was having to watch myself and try not to mess up.”

Graham decided to take ASL at the high school because the father of one of her brother’s friends is deaf, “I had always wanted to find some way to talk to him and now I can,” she said. “Another reason I wanted to learn sign language is that it’s a very fascinating language.”

For Hanson, the idea for her class’s project stemmed from her own interest in sign language, “I’ve always wanted to learn ASL, but I’ve never had the chance to take a formal class,” she said. “Additionally, I’m always looking for ways to include movement, interest, and fun in my class so this seemed perfect as it’s also something my students will always remember and may continue to do.”

Kim Novak teaches American Sign Language (ASL) at Woodland High School (photo taken pre-pandemic). Photo courtesy of Woodland School District
Kim Novak teaches American Sign Language (ASL) at Woodland High School (photo taken pre-pandemic). Photo courtesy of Woodland School District

Knowing how to sign the Woodland Way also increased student engagement for Hanson, “It can be challenging getting my fourth graders to join me in a GoNoodle video, but every one of them will participate when signing,” she said. “We learned to sign pretty quickly by watching Jaylee’s video and slowing it down, stopping to practice when necessary.”

The students particularly enjoyed having Hanson join them in learning the new language. “My students felt better about making mistakes themselves if they say that I was struggling with a sign,” she said. “At the end of only a week or two, we were all able to sign the pledge.”

With Columbia Elementary School home to the district’s Dual Language Immersion program, Hanson now plans to introduce yet another culture to her class, “My next goal is to have my students learn and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish as well as English,” she said. “Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to recite both pledges in English, Spanish, and ASL.”

Learn more about how Woodland Public Schools educates students and serves the community, by visiting our dedicated news webpage at www.woodlandschools.org/news/wsd

Stay informed with the latest updates about the eventual transition from remote learning to in-person learning and more about COVID-19 at Woodland Public Schools’ dedicated website: www.woodlandschools.org/covid-hq

Information provided by Woodland School District.

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