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Famous Deaf People and Career Choices. What can I do when I graduate? For Middle School Students by Michele Wendling. Unit Design Process using Understanding By Design. Stage 1: Identify unit outcomes based upon authentic student needs and external standards.

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famous deaf people and career choices

Famous Deaf People and Career Choices

What can I do when I graduate?

For Middle School Students

by Michele Wendling

unit design process using understanding by design
Unit Design Process using Understanding By Design
  • Stage 1: Identify unit outcomes based upon authentic student needs and external standards.
  • Stage 2: Identify assessment activities across the six facets that will ensure understanding of unit outcomes.
  • Stage 3: Develop teaching lessons and activities that lead to success of the six facets and therefore, achievement of unit outcomes.
stage 1 identifying authentic student needs
Stage 1: Identifying authentic student needs
  • Students in middle school need to begin identifying career interests that will lead to realistic and authentic career choices during high school
  • D/HH students often lack appropriate D/HH role models, and information about how D/HH individuals have made career choices in their lives. This includes how D/HH individuals have learned to overcome obstacles in their lives.
  • Students need experiences in learning to set goals, and develop realistic plans that will lead to accomplishment of these goals.
  • This class knew PowerPoint and enjoyed using it, so the unit extended this knowledge by asking them to summarize unit learnings and information into a PowerPoint presentation.
stage 1 using the ohio dept of education middle school standards
Stage 1: using the Ohio Dept of Education middle school standards


  • Develop a plan for gathering information
  • Locate and summarize important information from multiple sources
  • Organize information in a systematic way
  • Communicate findings orally, visually and in writing or through multimedia

Writing Process

  • Clarify ideas for writing assignments by using graphics or other organizers
  • Prepare writing for publication that is legible, follows an appropriate format and uses techniques such as electronic resources and graphics

Writing Applications

  • Produce letters (i.e. business, letters to the editor, job applications) that address audience needs, stated purpose and context in a clear and efficient manner
ode standards continued
ODE Standards continued

Writing Conventions

  • Use correct spelling conventions
  • Use conventions of punctuation and capitalization in written work
  • Use grammatical structures to effectively communicate ideas in writing
  • Communication: Oral and Visual
  • Give presentations using a variety of delivery methods, visual materials and technology
  • Present ideas in a logical sequence and use effective introductions and conclusions that guide and inform a listener’s understanding of key ideas

Social Studies

  • Interpret relationships between events shown on multiple-tier time lines
  • Compare cultural practices, products and perspectives of past civilizations in order to
  • understand commonality and diversity of cultures.
stage 2 identifying unit assessments across the six facets


Desired Outcomes

Facet 1 Explanation

Present information on their famous Deaf person to their classmates. Explain how they are the same and how they are different from their famous Deaf person.

Complete a power point presentation containing no less than 6 slides that will describe the famous Deaf person’s career, their life growing up, what made him/her select the career they chose, what they had to do to accomplish their goal, what made him/her famous, and what the student will have to do in their future to have the same career as this person. Also complete a Venn diagram to show similarities and differences between the student and the person they researched. This can include hardships they both faced growing up (different or the same), things that were easier for each, family traits, school they attended etc.

Facet 2 Interpretation

Set future goals for themselves and understand why setting a goal is important.

Set no less than 3 future goals and a step-by-step plan to reach these goals—must include at least 3 steps for each goal.

Stage 2: Identifying unit assessments across the six facets
stage 2 facets continued

Facet 3 Application

Use the classified ads to write a resume and cover letter.

Students will look through the classified ads of the newspaper and identify at least 1 position they could see themselves applying for in the future. For this, they will need to develop a cover letter stating the job of interest, why interested, why they would be good for the job, and then a closing statement. Resume must include name, address, phone, Educational experience (fictional—what would be required for the position), and prior related job experience/qualifications (fictional)

Facet 4 Perspective

What was easy/difficult for the famous Deaf person? What events did their famous Deaf person live through?

Students must create a timeline to show what events took place in the life span of their famous Deaf person and describe what was easy or difficult from the person’s perspective for each event.

Stage 2: Facets continued
stage 2 facets continued8

Facet 5 Empathy

Understand what was difficult for the person when they were growing up and what may have been easier and relate it to their own lives.

Identify how barriers or problems resulted in struggles in attaining goals and how the famous deaf person felt.

Facet 6 Self-Knowledge

Use the problem-solving model (pros/cons/unknown) to evaluate goals set for themselves.

With a class-developed rubric to compare successful goal setting, students must create a pros/cons/unknown list on accomplishing the goals they’ve set for themselves. For example, will steps 1 2 and 3 aid me in accomplishing my goal?

Stage 2: Facets continued
stage 3 planning lessons and activities
Stage 3: Planning lessons and activities
  • Use facets to develop lessons that lead to successful facet evaluations for students
  • Use local D/HH persons, or websites and links to successful D/HH individuals in a variety of jobs (e.g., www.deaflibrary.orgor DeafZone: www.deafzone.com/welcome/index.html)
stage 3 materials needed for unit
Stage 3: Materials Needed for Unit
  • Due dates set up by the teacher
  • Caption Media videos for stations, computer with program for goal setting/planning so that students can create future goals; college catalogs, trade school information, websites to explore to retrieve more information on career choices and colleges as well as BVR and MRDD
  • If applicable, rubrics created by the class for each project
  • Dialogue journals/journals to keep records and important information
  • LCD Projector to show PowerPoint presentations (if available)/and /or computer
  • Research materials (journals, encyclopedias, internet websites etc.)
  • Highlighters for each student
  • Library presentation
  • Classifieds from local paper
  • Resume paper/envelopes
  • PowerPoint program
  • Worksheet of 6 communication tools
  • Poster board
  • Box of props
  • Stop watch
  • Video camera
lesson plan 1 introduction to the unit
Lesson Plan 1:Introduction to the Unit
  • Behavioral Objective: 1. Each student will make a list of at least 5 things that they do well. 2. Each student will give at least one logical reason why a D/HH person either would or would not be qualified for a particular job.
  • Procedure: Students will enter the classroom to 5 stations and the sentence “What Things Do You Do Well?” written on the board.
  • 5 stations include: video library of many different career choices students can watch and learn about(ordered from Caption Media—all videos are captioned); different books/videos on famous deaf people; computer with program for goal setting/planning so that students can create future goals; college catalogs, trade school information, websites to explore to retrieve more information on career choices and colleges as well as BVR and MRDD and how they can help students reach their goals; personality tests students can take to see what careers they may do well at in case they’ve never thought about it.
  • From the question “What Things Do You Do Well?”, students will make a list of these things in their dialogue journals—they can share with the class if they feel comfortable
  • Pose a second question: “Can You Be Deaf and Have a Career?”. Explain the difference between a career and a job (i.e. , a career involves planning and purpose, and may be a life calling, something they may have to have schooling to achieve. A job often doesn’t—it’s what “happened”)
lesson plan 1 continued
Lesson Plan 1 Continued
  • Play devil’s advocate in order to turn this question into a debate among the students by saying this such as “some people don’t believe deaf people can have a career….go to college etc.”.
  • Let the students debate the issue of whether deaf people “can” or “can’t) while you act as facilitator—guide the discussion with questions or statements to probe for reasons (some jobs that require hearing may not be available and can’t be accommodated by technology; but many can). Encourage students to question each other and their reasons.
  • Project work: Students will use the list of the things they have constructed to find careers that match these traits; they should ask their parents and family for ideas and suggestions, they must research on the internet (using list of jobs and/or deaf job sites), and use the resources within the stations and in the classroom and school.
lesson plan 2
Lesson Plan 2
  • Behavioral Objectives: 1. Students will highlight important facts from the readings 3 out of 5 facts correctly identified. 2. In groups of 2-3 students, students will use the highlighted statements to create chapter summaries that are divided into topical paragraphs 2/3 paragraphs forming a consistent topic.
  • Materials: Encyclopedia, journal, newspaper, magazine, websites; highlighters (one for each student)
  • Vocabulary: Summarizing
  • Prerequisite skills: students must know that highlighting is a way to make important information stand out. They must also know that there are many different types of research materials even if they’ve never used them before.
  • Teacher will bring in encyclopedias, journals, newspapers, and magazines. Information will be authentic and interesting such as the sports page in the newspaper, articles on famous people in the magazine, journals on space travel, and encyclopedia page on a famous astronaut. Teacher will begin the lesson by asking who’s seen these style of books before. The students will have to explain which books they’ve seen before and how they’ve used them in the past.
  • Teacher will talk about how he/she really want to learn about something but sometimes when they read, they forget what they’ve read or it doesn’t sink in. Teacher will ask the students what good readers do when they forget what they’ve read. The answer you’re looking for is “go back and reread”. But because rereading is a waste of time, we can summarize information in our minds while we read, highlighting information as we go to help us remember. Teacher will explain that these strategies make he/she happy because he/she can remember information better, learn important information, and not waste time reading over and over again.
  • Teacher will break the class into partners and explain that they’ll be working together to read through important information.
lesson plan 2 continued
Lesson Plan 2 Continued
  • We will take turns reading the information as a class. Teacher will begin by reading the first paragraph and as he/she reads he/she will think out loud—oh, that sounds very important, I better highlight that. And when he/she comes to information that’s not important, he/she needs to also think out loud and say that’s not very important. That sentence doesn’t tell me much of anything, so I’m just going to skip over that.—Explain why the information is important and why the information isn’t important.
  • Teacher will explain that they will need to do the same thing when it’s their turn to read, so they should have their highlighters ready. Teacher will also explain that they will need to tell he/she why they’ve highlighted it or not.
  • We will do this once as a class and then they will do it independently with their partners.
  • Once teacher has visited each group and feels that they have a grasp on how to highlight, teacher will ask each group to read aloud to the class just the information they’ve highlighted. They will read theirs one group at a time.
  • After the first reading, teacher will ask the class questions such as did it make sense?, do we need all those other words that weren’t read to understand the information?, can you see why it’s important to highlight only the important information?
  • After the second reading, teacher will ask students to then summarize what they just heard. They can take turns coming up to the board and writing important information they remember. Teacher will explain to them that even though you’ve highlighted the most important information, it’s difficult still to remember every word that was read. And if someone asks you what the story was about, you may only remember 5 important points, but it still gets the idea across, and that’s what’s important.
  • For homework, students will need to highlight only the important information in the copies teacher gives them of the encyclopedia pages. They will turn this in the next day so that he/she can see if they really understand how to sift through expository text.
lesson plan 3
Lesson Plan 3
  • NOTE: This lesson involves a trip to the library that will need to be set up ahead of time so the librarian can prepare a presentation. Behavioral Objective: Each student will identify a deaf person who shares their same career interest, and collect key facts about their life.
  • Now it’s time for students to share the careers that match their traits of things they do well.
  • Teacher will take notes on each student while each student shares with the class what careers were a match for them.
  • After students are finished sharing, the teacher will explain that in the next few weeks, they will be researching information on a famous Deaf person who had the same career that each student is interested in. If students had more than one career as a match, they must choose one to research.
  • Teacher will also explain that he/she has information they may use in station 2 to research this information, a website www.deaflibrary.org (a virtual library with resources about deaf culture and famous deaf people), but that doesn’t mean they will find all the information they are looking for in those places, so they will be taking a trip to the library to learn how to use reference books etc.
  • Students will then take a trip to the library where the librarian will give a presentation on the Dewey decimal system and how to look up information as well as how to find it.
  • Once the presentation is finished, the teacher will explain to them that they have (amount of time teacher allots) to research their famous deaf person and find information about struggles the famous person had in obtaining his/her career or meeting his/her goals; they will also need to think about their own lives and how it will be easier or more difficult to obtain the same career the famous person had (will need to include what steps they’ll have to take to obtain that career I.e. go to college etc.)
  • Teacher will also remind students to use their skills they practiced the day before to pull out the important information needed to answer the questions. He/she will also explain that they need to keep the information they find in their journals so that they can include it in the PowerPoint presentation they will complete later. Let the students know that you will explain this at a later time.
lesson plan 4
Lesson Plan 4
  • Behavioral Objectives: Students will set 3 future goals and will develop a step-by-step plan to reach these goals—this plan must include at least 3 steps per goal.
  • After reading information on their famous Deaf person and how he/she was able to accomplish their career goals I.e. saving money to buy an airplane etc., students must create 3 goals to help them attain their own career in the future.
  • These goals will also have at least 3 steps attached to each goal. Teacher will demonstrate a goal of his/her own (I.e. how you obtained your teaching job) and write at least 3 steps so that students understand.
  • Students use class time to do this.
  • Once students are well on their way to finishing, teacher will explain the Problem-solving model=Pros/cons/unknown. Students will have to evaluate their own goals by asking themselves the pros/cons or unknowns about whether steps 1, 2, and 3 will aid them in accomplishing their goals. This can be homework and all will be turned in with the end project
lesson plan 5
Lesson Plan 5
  • Behavioral Objectives: 1. Students should be able to create a timeline of at least 7 events that occurred during the life of their famous Deaf person. 2. Students should include at least 3 sentences to explain the event that occurred.
  • Materials and Key Vocabulary: Internet, Research Materials, Poster board, Vocabulary: Timeline
  •  Prerequisite skills, knowledge, and experiences: The students must understand that there is a future and a past and must know the difference of both. They must know that events occurred even before they were born or even a thought in their parents head and so forth.
  • Teacher will begin this lesson by asking the students about their famous deaf person because by this point, they should know who they are researching as well as have done some research already. Teacher will ask them if they like their person and if they feel they can relate to their person.
  • Teacher will ask them if they realize that many events took place during their deaf person’s life. Teacher will give them an example of a deaf person who no one has and after doing some research themselves, will talk about some events that happened during this person’s life. For example, the person may have lived during World War II etc.
  • Teacher will then pass out poster board to every student and explain to them that they will need to include pictures or artwork as well as detail about the event that occurred. Teacher will emphasize that this is a time to be very creative.
  • Once everyone has their poster board and you’ve answered any questions they may have, teacher will pose the question who knows what a timeline is. And then will ask them to write their ideas down on paper—they can work in pairs if they feel it will help them.
lesson plan 5 continued
Lesson Plan 5 Continued
  • Teacher will write on the board examples of a timeline in one column and nonexamples of a timeline in the other column. Students will need to write down one example and one nonexample of a timeline under the appropriate columns. They will raise their hand to volunteer and come up one at a time to do so.
  • Once everyone understands what a timeline is, using their own explanations as well as teacher’s explanations—most important points they should know: 1. dates and their matching events are displayed in order, 2. dates are displayed in a line with tick marks, 3. dates are within the span of their deaf person’s life—teacher will tell them that their timeline will be due the same day as their presentations
  • The students’ homework is to create a timeline that matches the life of their famous deaf person. They should be as creative as they want. They will have until the end of the project to complete it. It will be due the same day as their presentation.
lesson plan 6
Lesson Plan 6
  • Behavioral Objectives: Students will tell the class a story where they will speak for 2-3 minutes (on a topic they know), and they must demonstrate 4 out of the 6 steps of the communication process.
  • Materials and Key Vocabulary: Box of props, Stop watch, Video camera, Worksheet with list of 6 communication steps
  • Prerequisite skills, knowledge, and experiences: Students need to understand that from time to time they may have to communicate in front of people who may be evaluating them either for a grade or for a job.
  • Teacher will ask the question, who gets nervous when they have to speak in front of a group of people? And then he/she will ask the question who gets nervous when they have to speak in a serious situation even if it’s only to one person.
  • Once everyone has answered and discussed why they feel nervous etc., Teacher will pose the question, do you think you could feel less nervous if you felt more prepared?
  • Then he/she will say, well, I’m here to make you feel prepared. Who knows what the 6 steps of effective communication are? You can take the time to think about it, brainstorm with a partner and make a list of what you think they are.
  • Once their brainstorming session is over, teacher will make her/his list on the board and see if their lists match. Some may have ideas that we all feel should be on the list, so I will play this by ear.
  • i.Know your audience and get them involved if possible
  • ii.Make eye contact
  • iii.Time yourself and practice, practice, practice in front of the mirror
  • iv.Know your topic inside and out
  • v.Use visual aids

vi. Maintain good pace and posture

lesson plan 6 continued
Lesson Plan 6 continued
  • Teacher will then demonstrate communication using all 6 steps (one good example) and will demonstrate one bad example so students can see the difference. Teacher will use a prop from the prop box as my visual aid. Teacher also will explain that he/she uses note cards to cue herself/himself so they’re not reading to the audience.
  • Teacher will also ask the question, what reasons are there to communicate? You’re looking for the answers to persuade, to inform, to debate, and to blame. If time allows, teacher will show them examples of all of these types of communication.
  • Now, it’s time for the students to demonstrate their communication skills. Teacher will pass out a worksheet that has all 6 steps on it so the students have it right in front of them.
  • They will get 20 minutes to practice a story that is familiar to them (can be anything that happened to them or to someone they know, or it can be a book they’ve read over and over).
  • Teacher will then videotape each and every one of them giving their speech. At a later time, teacher will watch the clips one on one with each student and together will come up with 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses.
  • Each student will write goals and objectives to improve their 3 weaknesses for homework.
lesson plan 7
Lesson Plan 7
  • Behavioral Objectives: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of business letter skills by including 1. The date, 2. The person’s name/title and address, 3. Greeting line, 4. 3 paragraphs, 5. closing, and 6. signature line in their final product.
  • Materials and Key Vocabulary: Computer (word processing), Business letter paper and envelope, Local newspaper’s classified page, Key Vocabulary=Cover Letter,


  • Prerequisite skills, knowledge, and experiences: Even if the students have never written a business letter before, they need to understand that there are different types of letter writing to meet different purposes.
  • Teacher will ask the question who knows how to apply for a job? If you get some hands raised, then ask the students to tell you how they would go about applying for a job.
  • Then, pull out the classified ads in the local paper and tell the students that they are going to get the chance to apply for their own job. Teacher will make sure they understand that this is for pretend and practice for their future career.
  • Teacher will remind the students that the list they made of things they do well will need to be pulled back out. While one group of students will look through the classifieds to find a job they want to apply for, (no one can apply for the same job) the other group will sit at their desks and create sentences from their list of things I do well.
  • When the students have chosen a job they want to apply for, teacher will blow up a copy of their ad for them to attach to their business letter. (This may have to be after class, not during)
  • Now ask the class how they think a business letter is different from a friendly letter. You will make a list of examples and nonexamples on the board in which either the students will write their own idea, or they will say the idea and teacher will write it. I.e. professional words compared to what’s up!
  • Teacher will then explain the 6 items that must be included to create a business letter. Teacher will show them examples of business letters and we will make a template on the board.
lesson plan 7 continued
Lesson Plan 7 continued
  • Teacher will then explain that applying for a job is very competitive and that although he/she didn’t allow two students to apply for the same job, in the real world, there may be 50 or more people applying for the same job. And that’s why a cover letter is so important because this is their time to sell themselves and make themselves look better than their competition.
  • Teacher will explain that it’s important to do research on the company they are applying to and include that information in their cover letter. Show example sentences of what you mean, such as relating your experience/characteristics to that of the job they’re applying for.
  • Teacher will show examples of what an envelope looks like that the letter will go into.
  •  Students must create a business cover letter along with the envelope to be handed in along with their presentations and timelines.
conclusion and desired project product
Conclusion and Desired Project Product
  • Students will present their PowerPoint to the class to include:
    • no less than 6 slides that will describe
      • the famous Deaf person’s career,
      • their life growing up,
      • what made him/her select the career they chose,
      • what they had to do to accomplish their goal,
      • what made him/her famous, and
    • What the students will have to do in their future to have the same career as this person.
    • Include a Venn diagram to show similarities and differences between the student and the deaf person they researched. This can include:
      • hardships they both faced growing up (different or the same),
      • things that were easier for each,
      • family traits,
      • school they attended.