The Solon Foundation, - remarkable dedication

Follow heartwarming descriptions of school-based projects in Africa and India where we are exploring the use of the Phonics International programme - particularly the Early Years Starter Package and the 'Series of 8 eBooks' in paper format - alongside a central 'giant' Alphabetic Code Chart. Where there is no internet and very few resources, how can children still get a first class education in reading, spelling and handwriting instruction? The 'Series of 8 eBooks' are purpose-designed as both teaching and learning 'pick-up-and-go' books - shared equally between teachers and learners.
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debbie
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The Solon Foundation, - remarkable dedication

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The Solon Foundation promotes education and health in Sierra Leone and Liberia, aiming to create meaningful and lasting social change.
https://www.facebook.com/solonfoundation

The Solon Foundation launches toilets and Phonics International in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

I have nothing but admiration for supporters of the Solon Foundation - up against such adversity and carrying on regardless.
Debbie Hepplewhite
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debbie
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The importance of oracy when learning the English language:


https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/e ... dium=email
Debbie Hepplewhite
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debbie
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The four Hs - hardworking, helpful, honest and happy:

https://vimeo.com/153274294
Debbie Hepplewhite
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debbie
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I feel very gratified and very humbled to have received this very kind feedback from someone working with my Series of 8 eBooks:
Greetings Ms. Hepplewhite,

I am working on the Language Arts Curriculum for Rising Academy and wanted to introduce myself. Prior to my writing life, I was a classroom teacher for 20 years, with a specific focus as a Reading Specialist. Here, in the US, that means I work with students who are having trouble learning to read for some reason—a traumatic life experience, a learning disability (like dyslexia), or a communication disorder (such as with speech or hearing).

I am explaining all this so that you might understand my next words.

My goodness-I am so impressed with your curriculum! I have worked for years (more than a decade) specifically on teaching phonics and found your program so incredibly easy to use for new teachers and students just learning phonics. What I loved was the sequence of the program. With phonics, each skill must be mastered before a new one is introduced and not every program does that. Most try to overlap with heavy comprehension and the kids just aren’t ready for that. Being able to take the program in small chunks and introduce it to kids who are just learning to read, or who have had trouble learning to read, is so important for their leaning. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see the kids grasping those concepts, but I know it is occurring. The program content is accessible and meaningful in ways that are growing readers. Since the focus in on a different age group, I have adapted it a bit, just tweaks here and there to more address the interests of teens, but those pages are truly invaluable for creating a school of readers.

This reads a bit like a fan letter, doesn’t it? J I’m not trying to butter you up, but do want to thank you for the contributions to the team. I do see that you are creating a website and other materials and I am very much interested in that. I do hope you send more information about it.

So glad to meet a fellow literacy advocate!
This is the information about the Series of 8 eBooks which are suitable for being printed in situ which avoids shipping costs of hard copy material:

http://www.teachyourchildtoread.co.uk

And here is a description of the Series of 8 eBooks via a pdf:

http://www.teachyourchildtoread.co.uk/e ... erview.pdf
Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by debbie »

Having sadly allowed too much time to pass before catching up with developments for the Solon Foundation, it was wonderful to touch base and to hear about some developments:
Hi Debbie!

So nice to hear from you, and huge apologies for not having been in touch for so long! It's been a very busy couple months, but overall things are going well and I'm excited by the progress we're slowly but surely making.

Rising Academies opened two new junior secondary schools in January, so we now have three in Freetown. We have JSS1 and JSS2 students (so grades 7 and 8), and will add JSS3 in Sept. The academic year is still being affected by the schools closure during Ebola - this academic year is only Jan to July. We're expecting that a decent number of our students will need to repeat the year, especially any new students who are just joining us in JSS2. They'll have a hard time being ready for the government exam they have to sit at the end of JSS3.

All that being said it's been pretty exciting starting to work in different areas of Freetown. We've had a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from parents and students which is great. And we're working on getting five more schools ready to open for Sept, two of which we're building (yikes!), so it'll be great to expand to some more new areas next year as well.

We're also planning for a large round of teacher training coming up just after Easter. We need to hire about 80 teachers so lots of work being put in to recruitment. We've also been meaning to start morning reading clubs, which we should be very soon, so we'd love to have your input on the structure and approaches for that as well.


On the charity front the Solon Foundation school in Liberia is doing well, although I haven't managed to visit them for some time so am hoping to soon. Our school on the Turtle islands we did manage to visit though just last weekend. It's always an adventure getting out there, so thankfully that all went well. I'll have to send you some photos, it really is quite the place. Feels like a whole other world! We have 8 students in class 6 who are going to travel to the mainland to write their government exams. As far as I understand they're the first students from the islands to actually sit these exams, so we're pretty excited for them. I actually assessed their reading last week, and was pleasantly surprised that many of them could read invented words. It was interesting though because when I asked them what sound various letters made, they didn't understand what I meant. But then when I showed them invented words they could sound them out. Also the boys read quite a lot better than the girls. So was a good reminder of the work still to be done, and I need to get those teachers ideally joining our upcoming training. But at least somewhat encouraging that even without direct support teachers are doing an ok job and students are making progress.

Also on assessments we have a team of researchers from the education dept at Oxford carrying out a three year evaluation for us. So I'm actually finishing up those assessments today. The assessments are the STAR reading and maths, so our students are taking them on tablets.

Please give my best to David and will send some photos of our schools when I'm back on wifi!
Debbie Hepplewhite
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