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Testimonials from Blue Sky volunteers

On Mar 10, 2014, at 4:45 PM, Dolly Looi wrote: Hi ladies, This email is to link all 3 of you up as Zhi Xiong's primary tutors for English. Do feel free to exchange information with each other on Zhi Xiong's progress or if you need to be in tune with each other with regards to what you are teaching him. Kind regards,Dolly Sent from my iPhone


On Mar 10, 2014, at 7:50 PM, Anna Ooi < wrote: Hi Catherine, Selina, I was hoping to touch base with you wrt Zhi Xiong, as I think it'd be great for us to sync up on our observations of and learning plan for Zhi Xiong. On top of that, I'd love to have suggestions from you too ... as I'm not a trained teacher hence need some help here :) Broadly, I've been working on the following with him: ** Completed: letters of the alphabet (capital & small letters), numbers 1-20, basic colours** Telling time: he's familiar with telling the hour now. We're working on half-past** Days of the week** Reading (I've been reading to him) ... he loves being read to & will often requests for books by subject matter -:) My latest observation of Zhi Xiong, which blew my mind was ... he's starting to read! Am so impressed and happy :) While playing a word-picture-matching jigsaw ... I found that he knows some familiar words (cat, dog) and can roughly make out new words (eg: slide, plane, tree ...). I'm keen to know what you are focusing on and how we can perhaps build on his learning ... eg maybe, we can think of a theme for a week, or a type of activity (eg: telling time, reading ..) so that we can working on a similar topic/ activity each week ... building on each other's 1.5 - 2 hours with him a week. Am I being clear? The other thing that I've been curious about is how to teach him to write ... but I don't know how to start. Would love to hear your thoughts. I'm so thrilled by his quest for learning and will love to groom him to the best I can :) Cheers, Anna



On Mar 11, 2014, at 12:21 AM, Catherine wrote: Hello, So nice to hear from you! I also think he is making great progress. I too have seen him sounding out words recently:). I think coordinating a theme or emphasis for the week would be great and give him more continuity. As a bit of background, below please find a brief description of what I often do. (He stores away the small things I bring in his desk ... So the clock book, handwriting book, flash cards, coloring book, that I mention below, he may have in his desk.) At the beginning of each time I come, I also bring a few books to look at, talk about or read, some he really seems to enjoy and others not so much. Pop up books with trucks were a big hit ... We looked at that those two weeks in a row:) Recently I brought a book with a clock on it that he could move the hands on to change the time. I was happy to see how well he could do the hours, but I did not push him on the half-hours, but now I will. After books I try to play a game(s) with him. (He enjoyed hide and seek one time which I think Selina had played with him.) Every other week or so we work on numbers by building giant domino trains to knock over counting while we go or I bring letter tiles for him that I put into words and have him try and spell words or say the letters. We have tried playing with cards, coloring together, playing with remote control toys, etc. all while talking to him in English. I then spend time going through flash cards, since he is now trying to sound out words, even if he does not know the picture he sometimes gives the word a try. I do not go through all of the flash cards, but have been working on a group of about 50 that he is quickly mastering. We play a game where he keeps the flash cards of the words he knows and can say and I get the ones he does not know - he "won" over 40 the last time we played and I had challenged him to just get 30. He was very happy with himself and I was thrilled! (I think I may need to look for another vocabulary deck in the coming weeks.) I just started working on writing a little. I brought a simple handwriting book, that he did a few pages in, but he tired somewhat quickly. I hope to continue trying to work with him on that. (Holding the pen or pencil does not seem very comfortable.) Near the end of the lesson, I do bring out my iPad, as I used that a lot with Hui Jia and have a lot of educational games on it. Although we were using it educationally, he has recently found Angry Birds. So for the last few lessons the last 20 minutes or so I have let him play Angry Birds. I try to work on colors, numbers, sizes, and a few additional phrases while he is playing. He is now very quick with the iPad and can open it, turn it on, key in my password, choose games and play all on his own. It has been great to see his independence continues to grow, even if Angry Birds is his favorite at the moment. Hope this gives you a general idea of what we often do. I would happily follow a theme for the week and really appreciate your reaching out. Thanks! Catherine Sent from my iPhone


On 11 Mar, 2014, at 8:36 am, "Anna Ooi" wrote: Hi hi! Thanks for sharing what you do with him Catherine - appreciate it heaps! Isn't it amazing that we've been doing rather similar things without any pre-planning? I'm definitely gonna look through his desk now -:) I have Zhi Xiong on Wednesdays. Which day(s) do you take him? Zhi Xiong has been requesting for animal-themed picture books and I've been reading those to him. He's recently been hooked on an encyclopaedia on dinosaurs,seeking out the various species and asking me to read him the description of each. He has a favourite dinosaur too - it's not the typical T-Rex and both of us can't remember the name. In keeping with this theme, I'm planning to go over with him animal-based flash cards. I suggest we keep it simple. We coordinate our efforts on core activities (ie do the same things, use the same resources) & we keep each other updated on other activities. What say you? Core activities: 1) Reading: let's grow this budding reader. * How about we leave the books we are working on with him in his desk so that we can all work on the same books? * In Singapore, we use the Peter and Jane Series for budding readers. It's quite similar to the Oxford reading series (I don't have them) ... it starts with very simple words (eg: this is peter. This is Jane ...) and progressively gets more complex. I can try to source for these books (have given mine away) ... and maybe we can take it from there?* if you have other reading series ... am more than happy to use them. 2) Writing: ** Catherine, I'd take the cue from you Catherine on this. I'd look through the handwriting book you use with him & I'd get him to practise on a separate sheet of paper. Apart from these, I'd be working on: 1) Telling time: half-hour, moving on to the exact time. I find it tough for kids this age to grasp the concept of quarter past and quarter to, so will expose him to that but may not impose it. 2) Continue with days of the week - he's having challenges with Thursday & Saturday, intelligently calling them forthday & sixthday (cool right?)3) I'd start on Months of the year either this week or next4) Recognising names of animals through flash cards (in keeping with our animal themed picture books) Cheers, Anna


On Mar 11, 2014, at 7:28 PM, Selina Tan wrote: Hi Ladies! Zhi Xiong has indeed benefited from all your time and effort. It also helps that he's very motivated and bright. I come by on most Thursday mornings. We usually start with re-capping his upper case letters. Given his limitations, a guided writing book can frustrate him, so I have him write them down on a blank piece of paper. As he's shown proficiency, I've started on the lower case letters 'a-g' 2 weeks ago. Zhi Xiong is now able to write and spell his name, it was so rewarding seeing him achieve this in just a month! We'll then proceed with some coloring. He enjoys coloring. I'll play 'assistant', he'll call out the colors and I hand them to him accordingly. Then the much loved ipad comes out and I'll go through flash cards with him. He's done really well with 'PEOPLE', 'FOOD', 'BODY' and 'ANIMALS'. We're moving on to 'ACTIONS' and 'EMOTIONS'. I'll also practice simple phrases with him, "hello, I'm Zhi Xiong, I'm seven years old", "how are you?". We'll end the lesson with a memory game, puzzles or a story and songs (ABC, Days of the week). He gets to choose his reward, which is either a game of hide and seek or Angry Birds. As Catherine can attest to, he loves Angry Birds! Unlike the both of you, I have yet to start 'Time' with him. On the topic of the Peter and Jane series, Anna, they have a couple of the books in Blue Sky. I'll put them aside for Zhi Xiong to show them to you. I've read them to him sometime ago. I too am fond of the series. Zhi Xiong is a joy to teach, with our coordinated efforts, he can achieve so much more. Indeed, lets continue updating one another on his progress. I hope to also develop his confidence and self-esteem. Any tips? What should I do in addition to praises and rewards? Regards,Selina "give thanks for the little things and you will find a lot"


On Tuesday, 11 March 2014, 21:46, Catherine wrote:

Hello, It is great to hear what you are doing too Selina. Too funny about Angry Birds. I will work more on some of the basic conversational phrases that you mentioned. Do you happen to have the name of the ipad flash card game you have used with him? I was there today and he challenged himself to get 32 flash cards (phonics flashcards in his desk) and he was thrilled (I was also thrilled) when we counted 47 words that he got right out of 50 that I showed him. Some he has not truly mastered, but others he knows no problem. We did not do handwriting today, but his book is now in the book cupboard next to the desk, as is the telling time book (a big board book called Croc around the Clock - or something like that.). I started a simple reader with him today - he choose the story Worm builds. It has the words frog and turtle, that he knows and is for early readers. I would be happy to try the other series as well ... But unfortunately I do not have them at home. We also read/looked at a few books, a large book about the rainforest and another about cars, both in his desk now and a third on the animal kingdom (that I took back home.) We also did a big world puzzle so we talked a bit about continents and monuments. The puzzle has pictures and he could not understand why the leaning tower of Pisa leans:) Look forward to staying in touch and again I am so happy to see how much and how quickly he is learning. Many thanks! Catherine Sent from my iPhone


2014 email exchanges between volunteers

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