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Unit 1:  What’s Your Name?


  • To provide each student with name signs in a culturally appropriate way.
  • To introduces students to both asking for and giving information.

Providing names to students is an important start for making for an accessible classroom. I have found that as an interpreter in a classroom, it greatly benefits Deaf students to have name signs which can be referred to during interpretations of class discussions. For this reason, I begin with the naming unit.

Unit Vocabulary

The video below has video examples of unit vocabulary. It is best if you can use pictures of the actual items from your school or classroom to make it as relevant as possible to the students.  This vocabulary is designed to be introduced during the first lesson of the unit.

Unit 1: What's Your Name?

View individual lessons below by clicking on each toggle.

Lesson 1: Naming

Lesson 1:  Naming

In partnership with the Deaf student(s), give names to all of the members of the class, students and teachers. In working with younger students, use Sam Supalla’s Book of Name Signs as a resource and provide the Deaf student with several culturally appropriate options for a name sign for each child. The Deaf student then has both an opportunity to learn culturally appropriate name signs and have the authority of naming. Don’t forget to include fingerspelled names as an option for shorter names.

In my work with young children, I have specifically chosen not to use a name sign, and instead fingerspell “D-O-U-G.” It gets kids used to seeing fingerspelling, and I have found that they are able to begin producing my name surprisingly quickly.

Once the name is selected, have the student who just received the name practice a couple of times to make sure they can say their
own name.

(For two student papers on Name Signs that provide some of the basics, click here.)

Lesson 2: What's Your Name? (Individual Dialogue)

Lesson 2: What’s Your Name?

Individual Dialogue

At the front of the room, demonstrate the dialogue shown below, either using yourself for both roles or asking the Deaf student to be a model. Click on the video below to see an example.

A: What’s your name?
B: Respond with name, (Ask A )  What’s your name?
A: Respond with name
B: Nice to meet you.*
A: Nice to meet you.*

(*The ending responses can be simplified to a THUMBS-UP depending on your goal and level of class.)

Example Dialogue

Once you model this with you as A: and the Deaf student as B:, have the Deaf student take on the role of A, and select another student to be B. Allow this rotation to continue for about 5 minutes, allowing each student who was just A to pick the next student. Be ready to guide the students through the dialogue if needed.

My experience has been that you can’t take the time to let everyone take a turn for the dialogue and still maintain the attention of the class. When I sense that the class is getting restless, I break into the group activity.

Lesson 3: A Group Activity

Lesson 3: What’s Your Name? and Who’s _______?

A Group Activity

I always start my group activity directions both signing and voicing, with the sentences:

“I’m going to give you directions and then I will count to ten. When I get to ten, you will….(and give directions.)” …stand up, and start asking each other “What’s your name?”

“When you have finished with one person, ask another and another and another. But you have to remember their name, because when I wave my hands, (or flash lights) you need to all sit down again. And I will ask you “Who’s _____?” and give a name. And the person who’s name it is needs to be quiet, and everyone else has to point to the right person.

“OK, ready…1,2,3…”

Click on the movie below to see an example of giving group directions.

Allow 3-5 minutes for the group asking each other names, depending on the size and behavior of the group. If it starts getting out of control, have them sit down right away.

Then ask questions: Who’s____?

Be sure to use RIGHT and WRONG to affirm or correct answers. If possible, try to ask the question for all of the students in class so everyone is pointed out.

Lesson 4: Storytime

Lesson 4: Storytime

Click on a movie below to see an example of a story you might tell which includes a repetitive pattern and which you can modify to have include your students as characters.


Ask kids their name throughout the day as appropriate. On the playground, at lunch, in the hall, etc. You can also ask students the names of their neighbors, etc. Or you can also encourage Deaf students to ask these questions directly.


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Originally created in 2002.
Updated and moved online in 2016.