App adds new level to students' learning

By Kaysha Brownlie

1 comment
Sign language teacher Kath Shepherd (left) works with hearing-impaired student Starr Phillips and Averill Wilbraham works with hearing impaired student Dontaey Hill at Ebbett Park School, Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland
Sign language teacher Kath Shepherd (left) works with hearing-impaired student Starr Phillips and Averill Wilbraham works with hearing impaired student Dontaey Hill at Ebbett Park School, Hastings. Photo / Warren Buckland

A Hastings school is leading the way for its young students in more ways than one.

Ebbett Park School is one of the first in the country to take part in the New Zealand Sign Language programme, and it has also just adopted an app designed to connect parents with their child's learning on another level.

Principal Steve Bloor said the app, called Seesaw, was trialled at the end of last year and was launched at an informative meeting for parents at the school last night .

The children used iPads on a day-to-day basis and Mr Bloor said this app was another method to "strengthen learning-parenting relationships between home and school".

"It's a fourth type of communication we use."

Two years ago the school became involved in the signing programme, and it had now "become second nature to what we do", Mr Bloor said.

Currently, there are two students at the school who require deaf communicators and another four with hearing issues.

Dontaey Hall has a cochlear implant, otherwise known as a bionic ear, or in Dontaey's case, "his hearing".

He had already embraced Seesaw and communicated with his mother via video using sign.

The app also gave communicators Averill Wilbraham and Kath Shepherd an opportunity to assess his signing.

Although it was introduced in the New Zealand curriculum in 2007, there was still no sign language assessment which, like the English language, has subtle differences which can change meanings.

Each week the National Anthem is communicated in the Maori language, English and sign language, and can also be recorded and sent out to parents through the app.

They came at a small cost to the school and it was free for all parents.

The principal said this "fourth platform" gave parents who rarely got the opportunity to come into school an insight into their child's day.

"Some parents work two or three jobs or shift work, so they never get here.

"This is one way they can still keep in touch."

Mr Bloor said the school community was diverse and the app had allowed them to "reach parents we have never been able to reach before".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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