Friday, March 25, 2005

Cornerstone: Website

Cornerstones: Building Blocks to Literacy

Website: http://deafness.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=deafness&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fpbskids.org%2Flions%2Fcornerstones%2Findex.html

I was extremely excited when I came across this website, because it further explains and provides the materials for the Cornerstone curriculum I read about in a previous article (and post). It is a curriculum designed at repetition and meaning in language to assist deaf and hard of hearing students with developing literacy. The site provides background information for the project/curriculum, an introduction to the curriculum, the technical resources one would need to make it work, reproducible teacher and student resources, links to the online, interactive games that accompany a story, and comments from teachers who have used the units before. Also, it provides additional links to related websites for resources and information for deaf and hard of hearing students.

One of the aspects I like most about this website is that it allowed me to really conceptualize and understand the article I read before. As seen in the previous post, I found the information on the Cornerstone units to be extremely beneficial and believed they would drastically influence the literacy of any student, deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. However, this website allowed me to truly understand what I was reading and view the materials, videos, games, and comments of other teachers. The website validated what the article said and what I had thought. I think the most valuable experience on the website, besides that it provides all the needed materials, is that I was able to try out the games and videos and review the lessons. I was thinking about my internship at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and was trying to picture my students completing the games or exercises. Although I think they would be able to complete the unit since it is focused on repetition and exposure, I had a somewhat skeptical view of certain aspects of the games. The games are geared toward comprehension and vocabulary and that is wonderful. However, they seemed to rely quite a bit on reading. I am assuming the creators are thinking that students who go through the unit will be able to complete the games and understand the writing, but when I think about my students who were reading on a preprimer to primer level, I just don't see them being able to complete the games alone...at least not at the point they were at, but perhaps the continual use of Cornerstones would assist them in getting to that point.

However, on a positive note, the expansion of vocabulary and meaning in the games was wonderful. The hypermedia text allowed students with access to further explanations on meanings of words through written English and accompanied pictures. I can see this as being an extension used in centers with the more whole class activities, such as reading the story and teaching of concepts, being done during language arts time. I think one comment I read said it best when it stated that Cornerstones provided teachers of deaf and hard of hearing students with great spring boards for further development of ideas. The key to teaching...take it and make it your own! My future interest in this program is rapidly expanding, because all materials are availabe to teachers online and are free! My hope now is that the Cornerstone producers will take the curriculum a step further in designing materials for students at a slightly older age group (the ones now are for primary elementary years). Overall, I think this would be a great addition to any classroom, and it could be used with other programs such as ENFI or the Sign Smith software (which could be used to possibly attach signs to the games that require more reading...hmm...something to look into) to focus further on reading and writing!

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