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Friday, May 3, 2013

Naomi Pederson #3

Youngsil and I have certainly had a great time this semester. Reading so many books, some several times, together has been such a great opportunity :) She's even started to practice more at home, and over the last several sessions, has picked out several books that she has wanted to read at home.

Some of the things that I have seen with Youngsil are really quite amazing. She is learning a new language that she didn't speak before, and learning to apply that to reading, communicating, and school is just fantastic. She is also learning several sounds that she is always very careful about, like over pronouncing her 't's and ending consonants. She also corrects me whenever I skip over those, and reminds me to not contract my words when they aren't written that way.

Like some children I know, she is very picky about details, and I'm sure that they help her with learning English correctly. She also has become very adept and changing what she wants to say so that she can say what she wants even if she forgets or doesn't know a certain word -- she knows that a word does fit in the sentence, but since she can't remember, she changes the entire sentence to avoid it.

Finishing off this semester, the last session of Reading Buddies was very bittersweet. Hearing and seeing all of the Buddy Books really showed how much everyone worked this semester. Youngsil, she really worked hard. She doesn't like reading out loud, and I know she was very nervous. Even so, I know that she was happy to be able to read out loud to her parents. But it was so sad to say good bye :( I really do hope that she participates in the program again next semester, and keeps on getting better and better with reading, writing, but definitely with confidence -- I know that if she would just believe in herself and her abilities more, there's nothing that she can't do.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sierra Kohlruss #3

Now that Reading Buddies has come to an end, I am realizing that reading with Atticus was usually the highlight of many weeks. Within this last month, Atticus has really stepped out of his comfort zone and has chosen books that were more difficult for him to read. He has really warmed up to me as well, running up to me the minute he gets to the library and wouldn't stop talking the entire time. He would even try to rush through making his name tag so that we could get to reading books.

Through this last month, Atticus finished writing and illustrating his book, and read it in front of the parents. He worked diligently on his book and was very proud with the outcome, as was I. I could tell he did not want Reading Buddies to end, because as he finished reading his book to the other reading buddies and the parents, he wanted me to read another book to him. That request proves how effective the program Reading Buddies is and how excited the kids get about reading. I also learned, the more the Big Buddy puts into the program, the more the Little Buddy cares about reading and participating each week.

When relating LING 1000 to Reading Buddies, I have found that the more effort you put into learning a language or the culture behind that language the more you will benefit in the long run. Same with Reading Buddies, the more the Big Buddy puts into the program and involves their kid, the more the Little Buddy gets out of it and learns the "language" of reading. Reading, for young kids, is like learning a new language; they have to recognize specific patterns of letters in words, silent letters in words, and how to pronounce those words.

Through this program, I have learned how to be patient with Atticus, how to involve him with reading and get him excited about learning new words. I have gained a lot of insights and great experiences through Reading Buddies and I hope to come back next semester, hopefully to have Atticus as my Little Buddy again!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For the final blog in this Literacy Practicum, I would love to share some reflections about my experience at The Family Learning Center and show how they overlap with some of the material learned in LING 1000, Language in U.S. Society.

In LING 1000, language and ethnicity has been a topic of focus for us. We have been learning a lot about ethnicity and culture derived from a particular language group. A lot of the preschoolers at the Family Learning Center are bilingual speakers of both Spanish and English. Being a bilingual language learner involves a lot of different qualities for a person when they are in social contexts, for example there is a feature of bilingualism called “language crossing” where code switching of both languages are involved. Code switching is when people move between different languages or dialects within a conversation. I noticed this a lot with the preschoolers and it was kind of a light bulb moment when I could identify with the term used for the situation. A lot of the students will talk amongst each other in Spanish and talk to the teachers or the volunteers in English. I found that the students were more likely to talk in Spanish with their peers when it was about something specific to a situation of play and when they had to report to the teacher or volunteer they were more likely to use English.

In Language in U.S. Society, we have learned that there are four reasons for language crossing; to identify with other speakers, to mock or distance from other speakers, in reported speech, and for humor in conversation. My assumption of the reason why the preschoolers use this type of language quality is to identify with their peers who they know also speak Spanish and maybe because they assumed that I didn’t speak Spanish they would have a more “private” conversation. From what I have picked up on from information from the teachers there, the students primarily speak Spanish in their home environments and a half and half amount of English and Spanish in the school environment.

I was able to observe the amount of English and Spanish ratio in the school environment and for every sing along song in-group circle where we would sing in English, there was also a song in Spanish as well. When they go over the days of the week and weather, they go over everything all together once in English, and then again in Spanish. “Today is sunny, Hoy es soleado” “Days of the week, Los dios semana”. This was awesome for me to refresh on my basic Spanish-speaking skills, and really cool to see the incorporation of bilingualism in the school setting.

I must say that I am very happy that I chose to be a part of the Literacy Practicum from the beginning of the semester. It has been such a joy and positive environment for me to be involved with The Family Learning Center. I feel like over the course of the semester I have made many positive connections with people at the school that I will hold close. I would highly recommend anyone interested in being a volunteer for the Literacy Practicum to be a part of the Family Learning Center; it really does feel like a family there and a very great environment for preschoolers to keep their busy minds learning.

This semester couldn't have gone by any faster! I can't believe that Reading Buddies has ended and that this is my last night with Bridget. Spending time with her and getting to know her fun little personality has truly been a blessing.

Last week we did evaluations of the program and it made me realize what an amazing program Reading Buddies is. They are extremely organized with how they run things yet they allow students and their little buddies to get to know each other and not be forceful with a curriculum. I feel like the children and students both grow greatly from this program by learning to work together. The only thing I wish they would have included more is activities besides just reading, because it is a very long time to only read books.

Tonight we are sharing Bridget's story with the rest of Reading Buddies and I am so excited for her. I couldn't believe she was able to read the entire book when we practiced last week! Her mom and siblings are coming to watch and I know they are going to be so proud of her. Her book is so silly and it’s about a group of tigers who fight bulls then get adopted by a girl named Katie who has a broken arm. Her imagination is wild and I know one day she will look back on her book and laugh.

Bridget told me last week that when she grows up she wants to be a reading buddy which made me smile because it implies that I was a positive influence on her life and I was a part of something she wants to continue in her life.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with these kids!

Jeffrey Rice #3

After meeting with Hugo this semester I have learned a lot about him. He is a motivated student who actively seeks out information. If he hears a word used in a conversation and isn't sure of its definition he takes a mental note to discuss the word in our time together. Hugo is a fine English speaker and I am glad I got to work with him. I can see him striving for his dreams. He wants to own his own farm one day with many animals. He is working hard in Boulder to provide himself a better life later down the road.

He has talked about the novelas he watches and how they interact with American culture within these short series. I was excited to hear that he watches English television and listens to English radio quite frequently. Hugo I believe has learned and retained a lot from our short time together, and this is quite fulfilling for me. I plan to continue to work with him this summer outside of the program if we can coordinate our schedules. This is due in part to the fact we were assigned to each other fairly late in the semester, and mostly because we both enjoy the experience.

Overall I hope Hugo takes my use of technology in our course and implements it into his own life. He sees how easy it is to simply Google the answer to common questions he might have. He was wondering about fruit flies and how they are formed and we simply Googled it and he read the article and comprehended it. The goal for me is to give him the ability to carry on this active search for information in the future, and be able to gain the knowledge he desires. A simple thing I showed him was the online thesaurus, and this has enabled him to find words that are outside of his typical vocabulary. He now has the ability to find extremely intellectual lexemes, and use them in his day to day conversations.

As a student I would recommend the SWAP program to any student who wants to gain a meaningful experience, and make a difference in someone's life. The impact may seem small, but the conversations had with the staff at C4C help students gain insight into other cultures and common problems immigrants have with language. The goal isn't to make them perfectly fluent in English, it is to make them feel welcome in the community at CU, and to show staff members the appreciation we do have for them. You get a credit, you get cultured, and you can help make someone's move to the US a little bit easier.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jeffrey Rice #2

After a couple mishaps I am happy to say the SWAP program is working out. My first student, after a couple meetings decided she was too busy to continue working with me in the program. Now I have a new student named Hugo; we have had a couple of classes. Unfortunately Hugo had to miss our first week of classes because he hurt his back working. Hugo is for the most part fluent in English, and is a lot of fun to talk to. He is a level 6B and is almost done with the program. This is very nice for me because my first student was a 2A and I really had difficulty communicating with her. I am glad to say that we both love sports and talking about them. He likes fĂștbol and I like football so it was interesting to see how the cultures are similar yet different. I plan to take him on a field trip out to breakfast one of these days. The material we're going over is less everyday vocabulary and much more narrowed focus. It deals with the timing of events and understanding some less popular slang ways of saying things like "beats me". I'm excited to see Hugo continue to learn English after this class and hope he becomes completely fluent in the next year. Overall, this semester has been a good experience, and I am excited to finish the semester strong with Hugo.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Bridget and I have gotten a lot closer over the past month. She loves sharing stories about her friends at school and about her fights with her brothers and sisters. We usually spend the first 15 minutes of our session catching up about her week. We then work on our name tags for the day. She loves her name written in cursive so I have been teaching her how to do that. She thinks her name looks prettier written that way. When we finish nametags, we switch off between reading, drawing pictures for her book, and recently making origami every session. We found a book that was on how to make origami and Bridget wanted to learn how. Her favorite thing to make is a shape that looks like a boat one way and a hat if you turn it the other way.

I have noticed that Bridget is a very observant child. She loves watching all of the other reading buddies and is always interested in what they are doing. I find it hard to hold her attention for a long amount of time. Bridget likes when we have a schedule for the day and when we don't stay focused on anything for too long. The more I have planned for the day, the more fun she ends up having. I have found that switching things up and always having a plan for the day holds her attention. If I do lose her attention though, I ask her if she likes what we are doing or give her an option of doing another activity which often refocuses her.

Overall, Bridget is very successful in the reading buddies program. She loves reading and is always interested in new books and new things to be doing. Most of the other reading buddies struggle to get their little buddies to want to read but I never have struggled with Bridget. She is a bright and very easy little girl to be around.

My favorite activity Bridget and I do together is work on her book. She is so funny and creative with what she chooses for her characters to do. Her tigers get ice cream, fight bulls, and have family dinner together. Her pictures are very elaborate and she loves spending time on the details of their stripes.