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Montgomery Township has an increasing Chinese population, so the founders of Sunflower Learning shared the vision to pass on the language and culture as a "gift" to the next generation of Chinese immigrants and Chinese-Americans. We believe students who learn and understand Chinese culture and language today not only bridge the gap with their Chinese relatives, but may also discover new and exciting ways to succeed tomorrow. Beyond the value of learning, a vital and relevant language in today's global economy will be useful to take advantage of tremendous opportunities in world travel, and a chance for young students to broaden their horizons.

Our school understands the challenge that our American born Chinese children find learning Chinese, seeing it as difficult and boring. We adopt 6 strategies to counter the challenge:

1. Our Chinese teachers use visuals, gestures, body language, expressions, modeling, and movement to complement verbal cues. For students to learn a new language in meaningful contexts, teachers use every instructional strategy available to them, including the use of every day objects, pictures, videos, and gestures to express meaning. This will allow students to develop comprehension without direct explanation.

2. Our Chinese teachers encourage students to stay in the target language. Students who are still new to Chinese are encouraged to respond to teacher prompts and questions in English if they are not yet able to express themselves in Chinese. At higher a grade, from 4th to 7th however, students are increasingly encouraged to use Chinese exclusively in all of the classes conducted in Chinese.

3. All Chinese classes are conducted under a relaxed, social setting. Our teachers strategically use various types of student interaction to promote a dynamic learning environment. We mix the following types: teacher-students, student-student, whole group, and small groups.

4. Our teachers regularly assess the students comprehension and skills development, they monitor the students understanding through questioning techniques and formative assessments. As students continue to develop their skills, teachers are consistently encouraging students to use new words and expressions, more complex language structures, and more culturally appropriate language in their interactions and responses.

5. Our teachers incorporate social language into their classes, not just content language, exposing students to as many varieties of language as possible to create a target-language rich environment. For example, when teachers ask open-ended questions, the teachers challenge the students thinking while giving ample time to articulate each response. Teachers encourage students to give longer and more varied replies to expand upon or support their answers with examples or evidence. Following up this way it helps students practice a wide range of expressions and to keep incorporating fresh words and patterns into their productive repertoire.

6. In addition to teaching children to learn the Chinese language, at Sunflower, we also focus on helping students learn and experience the Chinese culture and traditions, bringing fun into learning. Every Friday at the Chinese culture classes, students can find out some interesting facts about China, its people, its history and its culture. Teachers may tell the stories of the ancient Chinese myths and fables or talk about famous historical figures, or teach classic Chinese folk songs. Students can solve fun puzzles and riddles, play some traditional Chinese games, or enjoy the Chinese craft ideas from making a paper lantern to colorful paper-cut in celebrations of Chinese New Year.

Achievements: Our students numerous articles and poems have been published by Chinese newspapers in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT). In 2014, our 9 year old student Catherine Zhuang won the 2nd place in the Chinese Essay Competition hosted by a major Chinese newspaper "China Press" in the metropolitan area.

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The Math Enrichment Program was introduced in 2014 and it has been helping students outperform the expectations of their parents and teachers.

The Math Enrichment program is NOT just a class to "catch students up," but to also enrich the students and expand their understanding of content through real-world applications, project based learning, and student discussions. Our math Enrichment fosters a positive environment to help build up the students confidence and esteem for mathematics, as well as understand that it is okay to make mistakes as long as they learn from them. Students receive direct instruction and guided practice each week to reinforce concepts. We model multiple methods for solving problems so students can find the method that best suits their needs - not all students learn the same way!

Our curriculum uses different materials to fit the instructional needs of the students. For the 1st grade to the 4th grade, the math program is based on Singapore Math. Teachers focus on teaching problem solving and logical thinking, supplementary math worksheet/materials are given weekly to reinforce basic math skills. Students are able to understand the material on a deeper level; they are not just learning it for the test. For 5th grade and up, the math program is based on the Math Counts and Math Olympiad materials, students are introduced to important mathematical concepts, learn major strategies for problem solving, and develop mathematical flexibility in solving problems.

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STEM Program is the latest program that we have introduced to our after school program. In this program, students design, build, test, and program robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology. We seek to create environments where learning happens in a hands-on and motivational way: Helping students discover their talents and translate learning from the core classroom. The program helps students to learn critical thinking, team-building and presentation skills. For many students, the robotics class is a highlight of their week.

To fully engage and challenge our students to become innovative and creative thinkers, we offer 2 robotics programs that are under a program called FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). It is an international youth organization that operates the FIRST Robotics Competition, FIRST LEGO League, FIRST LEGO League Jr., and FIRST Tech Challenge competitions.

Junior First Lego League (6-9 years old) This program is designed to introduce STEM concepts. Working in groups, students explore a real-world scientific problem such as weather disasters, recycling, energy, etc. Then they create a Show Me poster that illustrates their journey of discovery and introduces their team. They also construct a motorized model of what they have learned using LEGO elements. In the process, teams begin developing teamwork skills and discover the wonders of science and technology. Our junior team will be participating in Junior First Lego League Expos later this year.

First Lego League (10-14 years old) This project-based program helps to build science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) knowledge while incorporating lessons in language arts. Working in groups, students apply real-world math and science concepts and build models and then use the intuitive software program to bring them to life. 10 students under this program are participating in the First Lego League competitions to compete with other teams in the league.

Achievements: In November 2014, Sunflower's First Lego League team was awarded a special judge award "Rising Star" as the best rookie team in their very first appearance in a Lego League competition. In November 2015, Sunflower's First Lego League team won the first place in a Lego Robotics competition hosted by the New Jersey Science Museum, and awarded the "Robot Performance Award" and "Champion Award". In December 2015, Sunflower's First Lego League team came in the 8th place in the NJ State Championships.

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