May 10, 2012
Rachel Manning’s second-grade class recently completed the book, Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman, which tells the story of a class of deaf children who attend a concert—only to learn to their surprise—that the orchestra's percussionist is deaf as well.
While reading the book about people with special talents, second-graders became interested in learning sign language. It happens that the father of one of Mrs. Manning’s students is deaf, so she enlisted his help to teach her class to sign.
Watervliet dad Michael Caminiti, who has been deaf since birth, began learning sign language when he was 10 years old at a school for the deaf in White Plains, New York because, as he told his son’s classmates, when he was growing up there were no schools locally that taught sign language.
Prior to his visit, the second-grade students decided on several sentences they wanted to learn how to sign. The students broke into small groups and Mr. Caminiti worked with each group to practice all five sentences:
Welcome special people (to greet family and friends during the Grandparents and Special Persons Night on May 14).
I love school.
Butterflies are flying in our classroom (a reference to an ongoing science project).
I have a cat.
I have a dog.
Then assisted by his son, Michael, Mr. Caminiti answered questions that the students had come up with in the days prior to his visit.
Mr. Caminiti who uses hearing aids to help him hear, told the second-graders that sign language is important because he knows many deaf people who cannot talk and rely mainly on signing to communicate. Several members of the Caminiti family have hearing loss and sign language is used regularly in their home.
To thank their special guest, a group of second-graders who read together regularly performed a short poem for Mr. Caminiti called “Quiet Donald.” The students selected that poem specifically because parts of it are recited using sign language.