Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My own learning struggles

For 33 years I have struggled with balance.   This was from a car wreck.  I think it is one reason I have such a desire to help others.  It is getting better but has been a long road.  I often walked two and a half miles. Then I did not walk at all and was on crutches for about two years.  Then some days I could walk and some days I would fall.  It was like waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I have tried many things.  Each has helped some.  In June of  2008, I could think clearly for 12 days in a row.  For a couple of days,  during this time, it felt like butterflies in the back of my head.  Currently, I am going to someone who uses cold lazer and it is helping my balance.  I stand on a balance board and the lazer is on the back of my head.  I am walking smoother also.  I am working on closing my eyes while I am standing on the board.  The board is placed about a foot in front of a door frame so I will not fall forwards and someone stands behind me so I do not fall backwards. This  has taken a lot of energy but is also very exciting.  I have to be careful not to overdo and allow myself the time to heal. This is exciting.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reading Chapter books

Sometime back a third grader informed me that she was not reading chapter books.  They were just too big and too long.  I read a couple of chapter books to her in tutoring with her telling me they were too hard.  We discussed each chapter and what happened.  I also stopped and asked what she thought was going to happen.  I often tell the people I teach that it is always easy to do something that you know how to do well.
She told me that the ones she was supposed to read were longer than the ones I was reading to her.  I laughed and told her we would get to the bigger ones.  Today, she was excited and told me that last week she read a chapter book that had 9 chapters and it was easy.  I have continued to use the rocket phonics as we worked on her compresentation also. I am smiling.
Also, notice I teach one on one or one to two instead of twenty to one with lots of paperwork to be completed and someone else to please.  I please myself and my student as we play games to teach.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My teacher thinks I am not trying

Today, I worked with a child who is already, in early November, being told he will need to repeat third grade.  I have worked with him before.  He has ADHD.  He has a wonderful teacher.  He just needs more than she has the time to provide.  Hopefully, I can work with him enough and teach those helping him at home how to help him.
The first time I told him he was smart, he stopped and looked at me. Puzzled, he said, "Not many people tell me that."  I told him that, "I could not help it that other people were wrong.  He just looked at me.  I asked if that was ok with him.  He seemed to think about the idea.
Back to today.  He was out of school because of surgery.  The school sent home many papers to do while he was recovering.  He had a placement test in math he had taken and done poorly on.  I noticed today also that he does not write his letters but instead draws them.  When I tried to figure out what the test wanted, he tried to hurry me.  I told him I had to try to understand out what the paper wanted before I could help him.  He said the teacher told him he had hurried to do the paper and did not try.  He told me he did try but just did not understand how to work the problems.  I used the back paper of a tic tac paper to write the problems on so it was bigger and not crowded.  Often children who struggle to learn need more space and one problem at a time so as not to be confused.  I used the back of the paper so we could play tic tac toe when we had done a couple of problems.  This is a built in reward.  As we were working, I realized his brain was going fasted than mine.  I told him that his brain needed to slow down and allow me to catch up with what he was doing.  When he added 45 to 25, he carried the 1 to the tens column.  Instead of adding 1 and 4 and 2, he added 5 and 2.  When I realized what he was doing, I told him he was doing a step in his head and I did not know what he had done at first.  This allowed him to slow down and not try as hard so he could tell me step by step what he was doing.  Then we could find his mistake and fix it.
I played Farkle with him after we did the math and had him keep score.  When he was adding the score, I told him the answer quickly when he hesitated because he needs to learn to build confidence in his addition.

Word or Vocabulary usage

Yesterday, I worked with a child who was concerned about a test.  She had a test in science and had done poorly on the study guide.  The teacher had given the class the right answers to the ones they had missed.  Why then did this student insist she needed help?  First, I had her stand and work on the balance board so she could regroup and think in a different direction.  Then I looked at the question and asked her why it was hard for her to remember the answer.  The question asked what instrument had to be invented before the cell could be studied.  The answer was microscope.  She did not understand what instrument meant in the science context.  I explained that it was a tool like her uncle used to build something.  It was like a hammer and nails, or saw he used.  When we talked about how it meant a tool, she could understand and remember the answer. Several of the questions had words that she just had no understanding to build on.  How often do we forget what it is like to have a clue missing when we learned something?  As we were  studing for the test I had her stand on the balance board to repeat the answers once she understood the questions asked and correct answers.  She did not have the book so when I did not remember one word meaning, she was surprised when I called and had a friend google the word meaning.  I think one reason she will ask me questions is she sees me ask others.  She still said I could not say I did not know the answer.  I laughed and told her I did this all the time.
Have you ever known you should know something but just not been able to come up with the answer?  When we allow children to see our weaknesses, we allow them to learn without the embarrassment of not knowing.