A walk to the stables

A walk to the stables
Tamerin at the horses: we walked there on Thursday and talked rugby nearly all the way!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reading Abridged "High School Musical"

The reading of the abridged High School Musical story is going well. Both of us enjoy it! Tamerin does not yet read fluently, but compared to her reading ability a year ago, her progress has been very good. Comprehension is also much better. After we have read and discussed an extract, we watch the DVD, but only that particular part. She has watched the whole HSM DVD many, many times on her own before, but I do not think she has really understood the dialogue up to now. (English is not her mother tongue, however, she has always been taught through the medium of English.)

In my printed version I try to take out most new words - we now read just for the fun of reading and for the story. I have for instance substituted "learner" for "student", as she is more familiar with the South African term for school going children. However, of course there are also new words necessary to the understanding of the story like "audition" and "drama".

I also try to stick to the original dialogue so that it is exactly like the DVD, but this is not always so easy. In this video clip that I took yesterday she reads the dialogue of the basketball players discussing Sharpay. Until now she has not understood the reference to Sharpay as the Ice princess. In this exerpt there are still too many new words like "muttered". Today's had even more like "academical" and "accompanying", but I can't wait for Monday: there are no new words in Monday's piece. We are just going to consolidate for a while.

The sheet with loose words next to the page she is reading, is the sheet we used for matching, choosing and naming the sight words of this page. This method has worked well for her (and many other mentally challenged children I have taught before). I got the method from my sister in law whose Down Syndrome daughter learned to read very well this way. I will try to make a video clip of how we do it, but not next week...! No new words for a week!

Monday, January 26, 2009

High School Musical Mania or How parties can promote language.

Hannah Montana is on ice for the time being. Tammy wants a High School Musical party for her 14th birthday next month. She plans a singing competition and quizz on H.S.M. 1. She will ask the questions, but of course she must know the answers as well. I bought her the book, but plan to give it to her on her birthday. In the meantime I "rewrite" it in Tammy English i.e. in words I know, she knows or can make out. For example instead of self-assured, I write confident, instead of vacation resort, I write ski resort, instead of crisp air, I write cold air. I also leave out most of the jargon about basketball that neither she nor I really understand. (Because time is of the essence right now, I do not want to bother too much with "new" words.) After reading, we watch that part on the DVD again and discuss questions. Her vocabulary is expanding rapidly, and expression is miles better, but still a big handicap for her.

Today we watched the eclipse. We made round holes in a sheet of paper and saw the half moon sun shining through the holes. After the eclipse, the sun shining through the holes made full circles again. She wrote about the eclipse in her diary and her homework is to tell her parents what an eclipse is and what we have seen. We practised the sentences a bit in class and I hope she remembers them. She really tries hard.

We also watched cricket. South Africa thrashed Australia! Tammy seems to understand the game much better. We watched a website which gives the score the continuously for a while. We worked out how many balls were left and how many runs S.A. needed to score in order to win. (Multiplication with 6 and subtraction.) We did the last few "unknown" multiplication tables today. (Last part of 7 and 8 times tables). I am looking forward to teach her multiplication problems. Adding with ones and tens is improving steadily - she understands the concept much better now and got 46/50 for her last homework.

There are so many activities we would like to do and so little time. Please pray for us that we will get our priorities right!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

First two days

We spent the first day fixing the year calendar on the computer. I made a calendar on Excel for Tammy, but I made it in Grade 1 font. I forgot that their computer does not have Grade 1 font, so Tammy had to select all and change the font to Ariel. It was good Excel practice nevertheless. I have had this calendar for a long time: every year I just retype the first 7 days of the month and Excel calculates the rest e.g. if the first Monday is 3 and in Cell A4 then the next Monday is =A4 + 7, i.e. 10. I have to change the holidays of course. It takes a little bit of time to do it, but then I get a custom made calendar. Next year I will let Tammy make all the changes.

She also completed the weather charts and register of November 08 on Excel. She fills in the weather on the calendar every day and on the first day of the next month, she enters this handwritten data onto an excel data base. Excel automatically reflects this data in visual charts. Tammy thinks it is so "cool". It helps to see that summer is hotter and has more rain than winter.

Of course our charts are not complete, because they only reflect the weather of school days, but one gets a reasonable picture anyway. This year we will add the daily rainfall - there is a rain-meter in the garden. Our charts reflected very few rainy days, as she only drew rain on the calendar when it actually. However, it seldom rains in the morning, so her charts reveal only about 1/3 of the rain!

Well last year's charts are now filed along with the printed register and the calendar with the hand written weather on it. Our register reflects all the outings we had and of course also all the sick leave or vacation leave either Tammy or I had.

We have started to read Hannah Montana: "A Nightmare on Hannah road" and it is a hit, but she does not read it as fluently as I have hoped she will. BUT she read 5 PAGES IT WITHOUT PRACTISING SIGHT WORDS BEFOREHAND! I must just be careful not to push this "test" of reading too far. It must remain easy and fun, so I will probably revert back to the match, choose, sight read method. It is a bit tedious for me, but she never seemed to mind and the important thing is, it worked. She asked for Hannah Montana work sheets where she can fill in words again. We will concentrate a little more on drilling of spelling as well - that is something the end of year tests indicated could be helpful.

For history we discussed general world news very briefly: the cholera in Zimbabwe, the trial of Jacob Zuma and the new political party COPE and more at length the fighting in Gaza. I copied news articles and rewrote them in simpler"Tammy" language for work sheets. Yet, even simplified there is a lot of new vocabulary! We have covered new concepts like infrastructure (a very topical one for anyone in Southern Africa!), the United Nations, firing of rockets, Hamas, controlling (of borders) destroy, smuggle, terrorists, import, export. The Gaza theme also compelled us to revise concepts we dealt with last year like refugees, borders, government, political parties, Egypt and Israel, elections, unemployment. Of course we used the globe to locate Israel again and maps to locate the Gaza strip and the West Bank. (While explaining I wrote on her board "people lose jobs" and she corrected me "People loose their jobs"! It was a sentence in her prize giving speech last November!)

We live in an interesting world and Tammy is part of it and should know what is happening is this world! She said she would ask at Sunday School that they pray for Gaza: "The fighting must stop." The pictures and news of Gaza fill us with such sadness! It is all so unnecessary, if only....

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Plans for 2009

I thought school started yesterday, only to find out that it starts on Thursday! Anyway Tamerin finished her 2008 register and weather chart on Excel and printed them - there was not enough time to do it on our last day last year.

Our overall goal remains getting her ready to stand on her own two feet (life skills) and to be able to do a job (probably as a clerk in an office doing something on computer) (academics) and to be a HAPPY, self-confident "independent" young lady one day! ( "One day" meaning by the time she is 18. She will be fourteen in February).

These are some of the objectives for the first term:
  1. To ask what God's will is everyday, and to be obedient! (God will tell us what scripture to read and discuss - He has always done it in the past.)
  2. To fill in a personal profile, so as to get her to know herself a little better. (I must compile the questionaire still today. It will contain questions like "What is your favourite colour? Who is your favourite T.V. star?")
  3. To improve language: speech, comprehension (verbal and written) and reading. (We made great progress last year, but this remains our toughest challenge.) Specific objectives this term: to talk about the themes we deal with and to tell the story of the books we read. Chosen books: "Nightmare on Hannah Street" (A Disney Hannah Montana book) and "My Secret Unicorn - A touch of Magic" by Linda Chapman. To practise talking about themes and other school work, we'll compile and "practice" a speech again as we did the end of last year (see previous post.)
  4. To practise conversations e.g. on telephone and to give verbal directions how to get to house from the main gates of the estate.
  5. Spelling: at least 20 new words per week. We did not really practice spelling last year, but in the tests I could see that practising it could help.
  6. To learn new computer skills e.g. publisher or on-line scrapbooking. (I don't know it myself yet, so will have to learn it with her. She is creative and being able to use the computer for expressing yourself creatively could be fun and less frustrating than working with hands that cannot really cut and paste neatly or draw lines or fold papers accurately. It can also be helpful to get a job in the long run .)
  7. To use the alphabet daily e.g. to look up words in the dictionary or specific telephone numbers.
  8. First term themes will include parliament, politics (we have an interesting election coming up and then there is the inauguration of the U.S. president), economy (the oil price, inflation etc., but with main focus on practical economy like shopping, making a budget, saving etc.) and we'll find a nature theme. Gardening perhaps? ( This will be a tough one for me as I don't like fiddling in the soil, but most women do, so I should encourage gardening. It could be very satisfying for her.)
  9. To make lapbooks of her themes, throughout the year. This term: parliament and the judicial system. (It sounds so grand, but it isn't really. The opening of parliament is soon: we watched in on T.V. last year and discussed it, but she will understand it much better this year. Jacob Zuma is constantly in the news and with new court cases definitely in the pipeline, courts, laws etc. are very topical.)
  10. To continue with her diary, but to bring more photography in it!
  11. To complete the weather chart more thoroughly - also over weekends - so as to get a better picture of the weather. She will also record the rain fall in their yard. (She still struggles a bit with highest and lowest temperature - but we'll get there, if we faithfully record it. I also want her to record the classroom temperature this year instead of just writing down the temperatures of the weather forecast The aim is improved concept of more, less, most, highest. lowest etc and also practice in the use of Excel as she fill in the data for the charts!
  12. Other math's: To know and understand all the tables. To improve adding with ones and tens. To practise estimation as basis for long division later. Measuring using decimals (length, mass, volume).
  13. To sew simple things like bags or pillow slips: things that she can sew without my constant help. (Any ideas for Valentine's day?)
  14. To use whatever the Lord provides in terms of learning content. Last year I found that He kept on supplying us with a practical, usable curriculum as life happened.
Or end of year concert? Probably along the same lines as last year with the inclusion of at least one dance, physical exercises and guitar playing. (She got a guitar for Christmas, but here her family will help - I haven't got a clue!) Apparently she manages the chords quite well already. She might just really surprise us, as she surprised us with her ability to master typing on the computer!

Dear Lord Jesus
Please bless us this year, as You have blessed us so much last year. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, so that we will hear your voice and be obedient as You tell us which way to go. Please take our hands - without your guidance and help, our efforts will be meaningless. Help me to choose the right content and methods for Tammy and help Tammy to remain positive, focussed and willing to work hard. With Your help, miracles can happen again.
Let it be so, Lord Jesus!