From-the-Field in Puerto Rico

 

CamyZoe B. Agosto

It was very thoughtful of you to write this in English. Whatever the language, you are doing wonderful work, CamyZoe.

PRcamy4

After becoming familiar on how to use Souns with my two daughters of 1 and 4 years old during the summer, I started using “Souns” in my classroom on August 2015. I’m a Special Education teacher from Lares, Puerto Rico. I work with 13 students ranging from 14 – 22 years old with moderate and severe cognitive disabilities. Before Souns, none of my students were able to recognize any letter. They were having lots of problems remembering letter names and sounds. By this month (November 2015), my students are showing progress through letter-sound association and recognitioPRcamy2n. I am astonished how this program is working with each one of my students. This has given them a boost to their self-esteem. Parents are so grateful, because they never thought that at this stage, their children were able to learn sounds and recognize letters the way they are doing it. The process is slowly but steady, growing each and every day. Now they loved to help each other, and help one to another when someone is struggling with a letter sound. Moreover I am learning a lot during the process and acquiring great knowledge about the fascinating link between the hand and the brain.

(The Souns materials for this classroom were provided by a Global Grant from Rotary International – RD6900 and RD7000. Thank you, Rotary!)

PRcamy5

In SA – Time to Build

FullSizeRender-2 copy 2
This is Part II of our Souns training trip to South Africa where classrooms have Souns materials thanks to Rotary International Global Grants. Clubs involved in this literacy work are RC Smyrna (RD6900), RC Peachtree City (RD6900), and RC Pretoria East (RD9400). Many thanks to the Rotarian volunteers from both districts who propel this project forward in so many lasting ways.
 

The second week of training has been most informing: with Souns, children learn faster than teachers expect! Hands-on activities make such a difference in learning.

When, in school after school, you hear the same doubting comment each time a particular question is asked of the teacher, and the children prove the doubt is not merited, there is a lesson for all. Such information defines a focus point for our training and confirms learners are almost always ahead of where the teacher expects them to be.

Good practice with Souns suggests teachers focus Grade R (kindergarten) children on letter-sound associations beginning the first day they walk into class.  With consistency in daily, short, engaging activities, building words by listening to sounds in spoken words will be happening in their classrooms by end of first term or early second term. Many learners will be ready to sound out words by third term, if not sooner. All three stages of Souns should be present in a classroom by beginning of fourth term: continued learning of letter-sound associations, building words, and sounding out words.

Our visit was exciting because in every case the children were on course. This is the end of their first term in South Africa, but the teacher had not introduced building words yet! “It is too early! They are not ready!” Well, the children were ready! It was a delight to demonstrate for the teachers how ready the learners were. The teachers and the learners had done such good work to date. Now it was time to trust the learners and move on. Those ready learners will show the path for others in the classroom who are on their way. Young minds are always watching and always learning.

With two to three schools a day and from two to four classrooms in each school, this training week was intense and fulfilling. It has taken the first few years of this work for teachers to see the possibilities with Souns. Now the training is more about the steps the teachers need to take in order to build patterns in classroom practice.

A few sites included work with toddlers and adult learners. Building readers in South Africa – across language, circumstance, and age – is a reality for Souns. Thank you, Rotary, for putting Souns materials into the hands and minds of so many.

FullSizeRender copy 10

FullSizeRender-2

Part III in the near future: surprising results of this good work in other Souns sites

“I love working with Souns!”

detailsounsmat

Manipulating concrete symbols of our print makes such a difference! Below is a comment from an Orton Gillingham teacher using the Souns materials:

I love working with souns! It adds another kinesthetic aspect to my OG lessons.  Mind and body are working together to write words. For the students I have worked with who have problems with motor skills(handwriting) it has been a relief to be able to write without the added obstacle.

I also love that students can look at what they have written and make changes easily. It lessens the fear of misspelling and correcting when you don’t have to mark through and erase.

Younger children who can’t sit still get to move while they are learning so you can keep them engaged.

As a teacher I love that Souns is so flexible, no matter the concept you can write it out and you always have the right materials. 😃

There Is A Moment!

asawithw

There is a window, a clear view into the moment a child “knows” … the look on the face when a detail has moved from the outside to inside that little mind. I saw that again yesterday.

A mom and her toddler son visited Counterpane wanting to sign up for the free Souns Early Literacy Workshops (ELW) we have about every two weeks during school sessions. Meeting a lovely, engaging mom and a lively, smiling, attentive young man of about 14 months was a delight.

I had the time and chose to share the concept of Souns so they would know what to expect at her first ELW this Friday. I fetched the first four Souns letters – /o/m/s/t/ – and sat down on the floor with the child. I introduced each, one at a time, and he spent several minutes exploring their shapes, sometimes two or three in hand at a time. Ready smiles intertwined with play with the symbols…moving them from one corner of the room to another on tip-toes all the way.  He would place one on the floor, exchange one for another, dance about, and repeat.

When it was time to go, I asked if I could write the four sounds on his hands. Both mom and child agreed. I carefully wrote the /o/m/s/t/ – one on the top of each hand and one inside each hand. As he was walking out, mom and I discussed how she could reinforce the work at home. When the child heard us say /o/ that lttle body stopped, he looked at the hand that had the /o/ on it and then over at us.  It was one of those moments where the eyes speak, “I know!”

Interact Implements Souns at the IRC

handsandsitIRCsmall

This blog shares the good works of out Counterpane Interact Club, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Peachtree City, GA, in RD6900. Students go weekly to the IRC (International Rescue Committee) in Atlanta to train teachers and learners

Two Interactors and a parent and/or teacher go to the Atlanta location of the IRC each week to assist in the training with Souns for the refugees. These lovely people from so many places in the world are often not literate in their own language and then must adapt to our culture within a short period of time. Souns has helped them tremendously and helping with the program helps our students as well. For a time we worked with the refugee children as well, but they are not there long enough to make a difference and it is the mother that is our focus now. The mothers most often do not feel competent as teachers of their children. We are changing that, as we train them to train their children with  Souns, in the same way they learn themselves. It is pretty impressive to see the difference it is making. We have been doing this for nearly five years now. It is no small outcome to see the compassion demonstrated by our students.

Click this line to see an IRC Bulletin sharing this project.

 

 

“Babies Can’t Wait / Souns” Update 2013


golfclassic13-1

Hosting the Counterpane Golf Classic to support Babies Can’t Wait are nine members of the Counterpane Interact Club sponsored by the Rotary Club of Peachtree City, GA (D6900).

If your child is enrolled in Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program in Fayette or Coweta Counties, he or she is eligible to receive, free-of-charge, certain materials from the Souns for Literacy program. This is being provided through the generous giving of those who support the Counterpane Golf Classic. Counterpane is grateful to our community and for our ability to give to children beyond our walls. Together, we have helped hundreds of Babies Can’t Wait families build literacy through Souns. As one father shared:

“My child was born a premee – now he is top of his class thanks to Souns and Babies Can’t Wait.”

Recent national research in early learning is pointing to the need to expose children under three to the printed symbol, thus combatting our rising problems with childhood literacy in this country. The research also confirms that the method of teaching reading to children that shows significant success is one that exposes children to learning the sounds of the alphabet.  The Souns method works by caregivers giving their child lower-case letter shapes (4 inch, hard, nylon symbols) and using the most common letter sounds instead of the letter names to describe them to the child. The method uses natural learning through play and parent interaction. For a full description and photos please read the Souns White Paper.

Babies Can’t Wait is committed to helping children achieve their full potential through supporting a family’s capacity to give their children all the opportunities available to them. Providers in the Babies Can’t Wait program in Fayette County are trained in implementing the Souns method of literacy and can guide caregivers through the process while they are enrolled in Babies Can’t Wait. Once the child exits the Babies Can’t Wait program they can still continue to work with Souns materials and receive support through monthly visits to the Peachtree City Public Library, or attending Counterpane School’s free Early Literacy Workshops The only thing requested of the caregivers is open communication about their needs as they implement the program with their child. We realize importance of individualization for families and children.

The image above comes from our archives and reflects when each letter was crafted in wood. We thank United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta for funding molds for Souns. While wood is beautiful, it breaks and is not as easily cleaned as the nylon. Counterpane seeks support for this outreach program. Consider playing in or sponsoring our annual Golf Classic, designed specifically for our literacy outreach locally.

Please join our extended community to help this cause. We are making a difference.

A Jewel In Colorado!

dellavisit13

This lovely woman, Della Palacios, is now living in Boulder, Colorado. One of her offerings is Souns and Rhymes classes for little people. Get to know this remarkable talent. I celebrate that she is a Souns trainer as well!

Souns and Rhymes

The design of this class is to establish a foundation so firm that no holes will ever appear in fundamental literacy skills. It’s a simple brilliance that makes it so profound.  Souns® and Rhymes classes consist of two core elements: letter sounds and nursery rhymes.  Parents interact with children as language and literacy is brought to life.

I used Souns with my children and taught them nursery rhymes, but it was not until they were three and four years old.  Now, I am having the pleasure of watching one-year old babes learn nursery rhymes and letter sounds.  Two weeks ago, a 16 month-old said “row row row” in eager anticipation of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”  Another 17-month old pointed out the “mmm” when asked on the poster displaying the rhyme “mary had a little lamb.”  She connected the label of the Souns symbol, /mmm/, to the print on the poster.
 
Simple is best.  Teach children nursery rhymes.  Teach children letter sounds with lower case letters first.  Children will read.