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Unit 11 – AWESOME ANIMALS Awesome animals

Clip 11.2a: Do you have any pets?


Do you have any pets?

Yes, I have a rabbit.

What's your pet like?

It's grey, and white, and soft.

It likes to eat carrots.

My cat is brown and fat.

It's got long ears.

Learning vocabulary and aspects of Deaf culture

The students will learn the names of animals in NZSL and investigate hearing dogs.

Learning vocabulary 
Play Clip 11.1a, which introduces the animal vocabulary the students are going to learn. Repeat the clip until the students can sign the names of the animals along with the presenter. Tell them to note that signing GUINEA PIG involves fingerspelling G and then adding the sign PIG.

Blank out the English words on a copy of Worksheet 11.1. Give photocopies of the altered worksheet to your students. They write in the English words that match the signs. Play Clip 11.1a again for them to confirm their responses. Project the original worksheet so that they can check their accuracy.

Make flashcards using the illustrations of animals in one of the sets on Worksheet 11.2. Show each flashcard in turn. The students respond by signing the name of the animal illustrated. The speed of their response will give you a measure of how well they are making the sign–illustration link.

Play Clip 11.1a again. Ask the students to focus on their signing accuracy and fluency. For example, can they keep time with the presenter? Are they making their signs well? Discuss these two aspects of their progress with the students.

Sets of cards and group work
Make sets of cards using the template on Worksheet 11.2 and laminate them. Hand out one card per student along with 12 counters. Put the students into groups. One student in each group signs the names of the animals, one after the other. The others place a counter on the picture that matches each sign. The first to finish signs THUMBS-UP! The others respond with FAR-OUT! and applaud (by waving their hands in the air).

Hearing dogs
Ask the students to find out about hearing dogs and discuss with them how they could do this. The information in the introduction will help you to set guidelines for their research. Tell them that they will be designing a poster in class to help others understand more about hearing dogs and where to go for more information.

When the students return to class with information about hearing dogs, facilitate a discussion. Hand out sheets of A3 paper, one per group of three or four students. Ask them to design and complete posters according to guidelines you set. Arrange to display their posters so that others can learn about hearing dogs.

Household pets such as cats and dogs are often informally trained by their Deaf owners to respond to specific commands such as COME, FOOD, and OUTSIDE. Your students could try teaching their pets some commands in NZSL if they have the time, patience, and perseverance needed to teach an animal to respond appropriately.

Describing animals

The students will ask about and describe animals.

Checking understanding
Play Scene R – Taking a break. Find out how much of the dialogue your students can understand. For example, can they pick out the names of any animals? Use the Scene R transcript to help you lead the discussion.

Play Clip 11.1b: Words to describe animals.

Hand out copies of Worksheet 11.3 (descriptive vocabulary) to the students for their reference. Ask them to practise signing along with the presenters as you replay the clip several times. Point out that the sign for EARS refers to human ears. Animal ears are signed according to their shape.

Play clip 11.2a. The presenters model sentence patterns that show how descriptive words (adjectives) are used in NZSL. For your information, these are called descriptive classifiers in NZSL as they indicate things such as size, texture, and shape. Hand out copies of the sentence patterns from the Unit 11 overview for the students to have as a reference.

Viewing and interpreting information
The following tasks focus on viewing and interpreting information when others are signing, which is an important aspect of the communicative process. They will help your students to practise and embed the linguistic knowledge they need to communicate effectively in less structured situations and contexts.

Animal bingo
Using the template on Worksheet 11.2 (animal bingo) and enlarging the illustrations in one set, make sets of 12 cards, enough for one set per group.

(a) The students spread the cards face up on the table. Each student in turn signs the name of the animal and gives a one-sentence description, for example:

My dog's big.


My cat's soft and furry.


(b) Deal the cards to the members of a group. The students take turns to describe the animal illustrated on their card without showing the card to the rest of the group. The other students guess what the animal is by raising their hand and then signing the name of the animal. The first student to do this correctly wins a point.

(c) Recall earlier vocabulary that your students can use to extend their descriptions, for example, stating likes and dislikes (Unit 5), foods they eat (Unit 9), and colours (Unit 8). Place the cards in a stack face down on the table. The first player takes the top card and describes the animal in NZSL without showing the illustration to the others or signing its name. The other students draw the animal according to their understanding. The drawing that best matches the description wins a point.

(d) Pairs of students converse about their pets, extending their descriptions and questions.

Has understanding progressed?
Play scene R again. Find out how much your students can understand now and what has helped their understanding.

Completing a class survey

The students will complete a class survey to find out about each other’s animals and animal preferences.

Setting up groups
Divide the class into four groups labelled A, B, C, and D. Groups A and B work together and groups C and D work together, taking turns to interview each other. Hand each group a class list with three columns alongside each name where they can record responses.

Sentence patterns clips
Play Clip 11.2a and Clip 11.2b, where the presenters model the sentence patterns. Remind your students to use these patterns and the vocabulary that they know to respond to the questions.

The questions are:

1. Do you have a pet?


2. What's your favourite animal?


3. What animal don't you like?


Graph of survey responses
When each group has recorded the survey information, get your students to pool the information and make a graph of the responses to show:

  • the animals class members have as pets
  • the total number of animals
  • the total number of each kind of animal
  • the most favoured pet
  • the least favoured pet.

For example, working individually or in pairs, they could complete this task by using a computer programme that does tables and graphs. Display the results in your classroom.

Then they work out how to present the information in NZSL and practise presenting it to each other. Select some students or ask for volunteers to present this information to the class.

Play Scene R. Hand out copies of the Scene R transcript, one per student. They use the transcript to practise along with the people in the scene. Once they are well rehearsed, they role-play the scene in front of each other in groups or before the class.

Assessing progress

Pet parade

The students will take part in a pet parade to assess each other’s progress.

Fingerspelling alphabet
First, revise the fingerspelling alphabet with the students.

Show Clip 1.1c: Fingerspelling the alphabet and use Worksheet 1.3: The fingerspelling alphabet if you decide this would be helpful. Give them time to familiarise themselves once more with the finger positions and to practise.

Ask them to prepare a description of a pet that includes fingerspelling its name, for example, Sooty.

Use the Assessment criteria from Unit 10. The following suit the requirements of this task.

The students can:

  • produce information
  • sign well enough for others to understand what they are communicating
  • sign sentences without hesitating too much.

Pet parade presentations
The students present a pet parade. They draw a picture of an animal they wish to have as their pet. The pictures need to be big enough for others to see them. Taking turns, they present their animals. Get them to work in pairs, with one student holding the illustration while the other one gives the description. Then they swap roles. The rest of the class is an attentive audience.

As each presentation is completed, have the students offer an assessment using the criteria listed above. In this way, all the students will receive feedback on the areas they need to strengthen for their next-steps learning.

Role-playing a scene
Play Scene R. Have the students role-play the scene in groups.

Tell them to focus on being able to communicate naturally and easily in NZSL, both receptively and productively, showing appropriate social awareness. This means that they need to use non-manual behaviours to communicate with each other effectively.

Play the scene several times to give them a good model to follow as they develop their communicative skills in NZSL.

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