In one respect, Trinh Trinh's memorable name underscores her approach to early education. She presents herself as an educator intensely focused on getting results. She leaves nothing to chance. As if a carefully orchestrated space mission, her approach to school administration relies on tested teaching methods with failsafe back-up systems.
Trinh has built two indisputably successful schools in Los Angeles over the last 10 years, both bearing the resonate name of Monticello Academy. This vigorous native of Vietnam, who moved to the United States as a child, attributes the popularity of her schools to a curriculum designed for motivation and consistent positive reinforcement. This includes self-paced, hands-on learning of math, language arts, social studies, science and history.
Monticello's math testing results epitomize her success. "My kindergarteners are at the first-grade ninth-month level. My first-graders are at the third-grade fifth-month level, and my second- and third-graders are currently doing fourth-grade math.
"It was quite simple. We talked about the TouchPoints and how to use them, and then we let the children try. They just went at it and loved it! They picked it up in less than a minute. Now we have successfully gone through every TouchMath kit, including multiplication, with our students."
Trinh views TouchMath as an essential ingredient of early academic achievement. She views it as conceptually similar to building a house. Her teachers start with a foundation of counting and basic operations and then build from there. Further, TouchMath allows teachers to introduce a lot of hands-on activities featuring TouchPoints. They find the program to be self-explanatory, and children are able to learn at their own pace without constant direction or supervision.
Her long tenure in education reveals further insights about her testing results. "During my last 19 years in education, I have learned that if children are not comfortable with what they are doing, they will not try because they are afraid to fail. TouchMath allows children to be confident about their math skills.
"In our schools, children who have mastered TouchMath teach others having difficulty. We play this game in class that the children enjoy. Whoever finishes their work first gets to be a teacher's aid. Every child loves to help the teacher. Because TouchPoints are so simple, every child picks up math and everybody gets a chance to be a teacher's aid."
Trinh is also enthusiastic about the impact of TouchMath's unique touching/counting technique on self-esteem. "TouchPoints are fun for children to learn and this methodology helps Monticello's teachers build a rock-solid bridge between concrete and abstract thinking. Children begin with TouchPoints and eventually they understand abstract concepts."
Brimming with obvious pride about the math-teaching excellence that permeates her schools, Trinh concludes, "You can see children thinking about problems. They don't use their fingers anymore. They solve problems internally. It's powerful to see how they take something concrete and make it abstract. Math becomes a natural part of learning."
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