August 16, 2017

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These Teens Started a Sign Language Storytime and YouTube Channel

Maine West High School in Des Plains, IL, is known for its rich and diverse culture. Our students speak more than 58 languages, and 60-plus countries are represented in a variety of clubs and organizations.

One of the newest organizations represents a population that is unique in both language and culture. The Maine West American Sign Language (ASL) Club started last year after a group of students showed interest in learning the language and culture of the American Deaf population. We have met weekly for a semester, studying and practicing ASL, and we launched a YouTube channel where we perform signed children’s stories.

While our library Book Club members read the stories aloud, our ASL Club participants perform for children at our in-house preschool program and our local public library. This group has shown our school and town the power of libraries in the community.

Working in collaboration with other clubs and within curriculum, the ASL Club has grown from a small, isolated group to a student-led organization focused on integral outreach and education. Not all of the books we choose are in English, and we research the language and culture of the picture books we select and work to communicate those aspects of the story to our young audience. One of the best things about it? Any school library can facilitate this kind club.

Nicole Coover-Thompson is a librarian at Maine West High School.

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  1. This is so cool! I would love to see this idea spread. I would also like to share with you the free Teachers Guide for The William Hoy Story, How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game, which has activities for deaf and hearing kids. The book is on the 2018 Monarch Awards master list and is published in your backyard by Albert Whitman & Company. file:///Users/Nancy/Downloads/William-Hoy-Teachers-Guide%20(12).pdf

  2. Nicole Coover-Thompson says:

    Thank you, what a great resource, I appreciate you sharing!! I can use it at home and with our program at school!

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