Guest Post: Turkish Educator Uses Project WET Activities with Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students

By Dr. Nazihan Ursavaş

Science teacher Ms. Neriman Çakır and Project WET Coordinator Dr. Nazihan Ursavaş at a Project WET training for science teachers last yearScience teacher Ms. Neriman Çakır and Project WET Coordinator Dr. Nazihan Ursavaş at a Project WET training for science teachers last year For almost 30 years, Neriman Çakır has been teaching science to students who are deaf, hard of hearing or have other disabilities. Recently, she was trained to use Project WET, and she has now adapted several classic Project WET activities, including Incredible Journey, Blue Planet, A Drop in the Bucket and 8-4-1, One for All, for use in two of her 8th-grade classrooms.

“They liked the activities very much,” Ms. Çakır said. “They learned about the water cycle and know it very well now. They tried to find answers as to why one of the tributaries of their local river has been running low, and they have also started to think about how their daily activities affect their water footprint.”

Deaf and hard-of-hearing students in two of Ms. Cakir's classes learned about the water cycle using the Incredible Journey activity, explained using an auditory-oral approachDeaf and hard-of-hearing students in two of Ms. Cakir's classes learned about the water cycle using the Incredible Journey activity, explained using an auditory-oral approach To conduct the activities, Ms. Çakır explained the background using an auditory-oral approach, which does not use sign language or finger spelling to support the understanding of spoken language. (According to the website Aussie Deaf Kids, the auditory-oral approach “aims to develop speaking and listening skills in deaf children, emphasizing the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants to make the best use of any hearing a deaf child has [their 'residual hearing']. Most auditory-oral approaches will also use lip-reading to help the child's understanding.”) Once students understood the context, they took part in the activities.

In the case of Incredible Journey, they played until they collected 10 beads. They drew circles on a paper for each bead and painted them with the same color they collected while they were playing. They realized the way water moves while they were playing and understood why they were collected together at the ocean, ice and clouds.

Ms. Cakir said that hands-on activities like Project WET's develop students’ communication skills more than traditional teaching methodsMs. Cakir said that hands-on activities like Project WET's develop students’ communication skills more than traditional teaching methods After the activity, the students wrote their water journey stories. They explained where they had been and what they had become as water drops, cementing their knowledge of evaporation, condensation, precipitation and other ways for water to move.

“I have found that these kinds of hands-on activities develop my students’ communication skills more than traditional teaching methods,” Ms. Çakır said. “Project WET has also made them aware of water resources.” 

Dr. Nazihan Ursavaş coordinates Project WET in Turkey as part of her work as a faculty member with the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Üniversitesi Faculty of Education in Rize. In July, she will be training additional science teachers to use Project WET through the same program that Ms. Çakır participated in. So far, more than 230 educators have applied for the program’s 24 spots, more than double the number who applied last year.

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