Students at Silver Creek Public School in Halton Hills have learned so much about sign language this year that they have written a book to teach others about communicating with people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Two dozen students in Kindergarten and Grade 1 have published a book explaining American Sign Language (ASL). Teacher Elizabeth Cook, who is leading this unique approach to instruction, says she learned ASL as a Rotary Exchange student when she was in high school.
She explained the reason for creating the book with her class was based on a simple premise: to encourage her young students to remain patient as their classmates prepare to head outside for nutrition break by using sign language. Intrigued, students began asking questions about ASL.
It progressed from translating their favourite words, such as ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’, to understanding the sign for each individual letter in the alphabet to the point where students are now learning how to sign the Canadian national anthem. The book idea was a natural progression, Cook says, because students began teaching their families about ASL.
“I thought it would be good to capture this, as siblings and friends in other classes at Silver Creek wanted to learn some of the signs.”
The book is comprised of photographs of students signing with the translated word at the bottom of each page.
“We made our own ASL dictionary,” Cook says. “We keep adding words every day. I hope to keep adding pages every month until the school year ends – maybe even next year.”
Cooks says this project has benefitted students.
“It has helped with their letter awareness, spelling, and printing,” she says. “Most importantly, I feel it has helped them be more understanding of all people. They understand that everyone communicates in different ways, and that some people speak different languages, and this is another type of language. One day, they will communicate with a person who speaks ASL and it will hopefully mean the world to that person that someone took the time to learn their language.”
The book is available in the school library so all students can read it and learn ASL “for years to come,” Cook notes.