Collaborative eBooks with Indonesian Sign Language

Field Trip to Santi Rama School for the Deaf

UOI: How We Express Ourselves

CI: People can create and manipulate messages to target specific audiences.

To introduce ourselves to students at Santi Rama School for the Deaf…Grade 4s prepared an ASL version of Owl City’s “Fireflies”!

The purpose of this trip was to build a new relationship with students at Santi Rama, as well as apply our understanding of the learner profiles communicator and open-minded To address the central idea about manipulating messages to target an audience, students would transform a short story by the students at Santi Rama into an eBook that includes Indonesian, Sign Language and English.


We have been building up to this visit for several weeks now…starting with our first student-led action from 4J student Emily who wanted to teach Grade 4 about Sign language. Students have been practicing the alphabet and learning “Fireflies” by Owl City for homework and in class time.

Our field trip to Santi Rama School for the Deaf was filled with mixed emotions of anticipation, excitement and nervousness as the majority of students had never encountered any hearing-impaired students before. We discussed some differences they might notice and appropriate ways to respond.

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When we arrived, we gathered in the main hall, SWA students on one side, Santi Rama students on the other. There was a lot of whispering and pointing and giggling happening but it seemed as though the students were just trying to find out about their soon-to-be new friends. Some students even engaged in silly faces with each other…the first step towards good communication is always laughter!

Santi Rama teaches SWA the ABC

To start building relationships with the students, the Santi Rama students sang the Bahasa-Indonesia version of the ABC song. We did our best to follow along but realized a few of the ASL sign letters were different than Indonsian Sign Language. Still, it was a good ice breaker.

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Getting to know each other…

Students were paired and sat together to try and get to know each other. Our grade 4s only knew how to say the Indonesian Signs for “My name is” (or ‘nama saya..”) and “what is your name?” (or ‘si apa nama kamu?’). Some enthusiastic grade 4s were confident risk-takers, trying to learn new signs from their partners and doing their best to mime communication. Several boys were paired with girls, but that didn’t stop them from passing notes in Bahasa-Indonesia to get to know each other better!

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Pairing up to work on eBooks

In preparation for our visit, students at Santi Rama drafted short stories in Bahasa that we would then type up on our macbooks. Our grade 4 students were practicing using Keynote to create a blank story template, and also practiced inserting videos. Our first practice Keynote story was the ABC book in ASL…followed by a draft book of some key ASL words such as “like”, “yes/no” and “thank you”.

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Student teaching students

Many, if not all, of the Santi Rama students were new to Macbooks and laptops in general. The students did a great job showing them how to type in the ‘text box’ and also taking over when typing was too cumbersome. For the first session, students divided up the text and split the text over several slides. This didn’t take long as most stories were only one page long (about 6-10 sentences). Following the first session, students had some time to play. This was when the real connections were made…students naturally bonded over the playground and basketball court!

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Videoing the sign language

After the first session, students got together again and worked on videoing the story. This was much more complex! Trying to find space in the auditorium area was challenging! Students also needed several takes to make sure that the Santi Rama students signing was within the frame of the video. Santi Rama42 Santi Rama43

Creating illustrations

For those students who finished in time, the remainder of the session was dedicated to creating illustrations to go with the videos, either on the macbooks (tux paint) or by hand. Students collaborated well on this part and were able to reconnect through art!

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Editing & Publishing Begins…

Our field trip ended around 1:30pm as we needed to give at least an hour (with Jakarta traffic!) to get back to school. The goodbyes were surprisingly emotional! With a few tears shed by the Santi Rama students who had clearly enjoyed the experience of working with our grade 4s, and the laptops.

Back at school, students are working with Indonesian Language teachers to edit and translate the text into English. The finished product will be a tri-lingual eBook: Indonesian, Sign Language and English. This experience is front-loading for the summative assessment task, which will be to create a Book Launch Campaign to target a specific audience. Students will choose one audience to target their book at, and work to apply our learning from our UOI to their book launch campaign.

When the eBooks are in publishing format, we will invite the Santi Rama students to our school to share the stories, and perhaps even publish some on the iTunes bookstore! Stay tuned….

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8 thoughts on “Collaborative eBooks with Indonesian Sign Language

  1. As always, 4J and Ms Jocelyn, you have blown me away!

    This is an incredibly powerful inquiry with so much creativity, language and humanity in it.

    I can see that you are becoming excellent communicators and very open-minded people. I think you will remember this experience for the rest of your lives.

    I love following your class blog and I can’t wait to see some of the published books. Keep up the wonderful work!

    Ms O’Dwyer
    Your Fan at Beijing BISS International School

    • Thanks for your comments Ms. O’Dwyer!

      The students have also written reflections on their personal blogs (see ‘blogroll’ on the right of my website). If any students at BISS would be interested in reading/commenting on the trip, please pass on the blog and the blogroll to them!

      We really appreciate all your thoughtful feedback:-)

    • Do you know sign language? My brother started teaching me once but I forgot all of that supercalifragilisticexpialidocius stuff. By the way I am friends with the awesome dude roman.

  2. What a super trip,

    James it was great hearing all about it and I loved the Blogs too.

    You should all be so super proud.
    Nina B (James Mom)


  3. Pingback: 4P27 Curation -How will I incorporate the 21st century literacies into my own practice? | Jessica Ho

  4. Pingback: Students teaching students | Jowita Prominska

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