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Em progress report and learning style

September 30th, 2008

After staying up too late Sunday night, I decided not to run on Monday. I figured I’d get back on the horse this morning, but I forgot that today is a teacher workday. So no running this morning. And tonight’s the night Mr. Tvini does his regular 30 mile ride on the bike, so if I do go tonight, it’ll be late. I guess it won’t kill me to wait until tomorrow morning.

Em’s class had a field trip yesterday, out to Camp Thunderbird. The kids got to learn how to use a compass and go out in canoes. It was billed as a team building exercise. Em apparently was the kid in the middle of the canoe, so she didn’t get a paddle. She seemed okay with it, but it was plain she would have liked to have paddled. I know she enjoyed it because she’s saying that there should be an expansion pack for The Sims 2 where the Sims can go canoeing. Heh. She and I can go canoeing sometime and she can steer. We’ll alert everyone before we go in case it turns into a Lewis and Clark expedition.

Em got her first quarter progress report yesterday. She’s doing all right. A’s in reading and social studies, a B in science and health, and C’s (with modifications to the program) in math and writing. It’s hardly surprising – those are the ones that require putting pen to paper the most. Her handwriting still lags quite a bit. A math sheet came home with the progress report that showed her getting 11 out of 40 right, but when I looked at it, she’d actually answered the questions showing that she knew the material. It looked to me like she either didn’t quite get what the directions wanted her to do or else she was trying to avoid writing in the spaces provided, which is often difficult for her. An example is left. She knew the question was asking “which place does the 8 occupy?” and answered appropriately with thousands, hundreds, tens, etc. But she used “100” instead of “800” so it was marked wrong. This happens often. I do give credit to Em’s teacher, though. Given Em’s handwriting, perhaps my Christmas gift to the teacher this year should be an eye exam.


Em’s math tutor actually may have had an “aha!” moment. We’ve always known that if we draw a box around the place where she’s supposed to put the answer, she’ll write better. She has a concrete guideline, and it helps her to organize and keep her writing compact. I had always assumed that helped by helping coordinate her hand and eye. The math tutor, however, got an idea. She took two sheets of math problems, about 40-50 problems to a page. The pages looked pretty much like this (links to a pdf) but with more problems. On the top of one page, instead of just putting a box around the space for the answer, she put a box around the question as well. She left the other half of the page as it was, with no boxes. On the other page, she put boxes around questions and answers on the bottom half and left the top half as it was, with no boxes.

Results: on the halves with the boxes around the questions and answers, her time was 20 seconds. On the halves with no boxes, her times were 40 seconds and 45 seconds. Interesting, eh? So it seems that the boxes weren’t just giving her a guideline to write in, they were giving her a way to visually organize the information so she could sort out which problem she should be looking at. Otherwise, it’s just a sea of numbers. We’re going to check this further on Thursday, but it looks promising. This could be a new way of understanding how she sees schoolwork. I’m going to bring this information to her teachers, and hopefully they’ll be as revved up about it as I am.

Other issues with writing aren’t so easy to resolve. She scored 90% on a multiple choice reading comprehension test on an abridged version of Two Tickets to Freedom but the essay questions, which she dictated to someone else, are another story.
Q: At which point in the selection do you think William and Ellen were in the greatest danger of being discovered? Use information from the text to support your opinion.
A: Since it’s not very nice for having a great idea it would be a fine thing.

I think sometimes it’s like pouring ingredients into a bowl, then trying to pour them back out as separate ingredients again. I don’t know. It’s dispiriting. Maybe if she’s had more time instead of it being a test setting where she had someone with a pencil looking at her waiting to write down what she says. It might have been a kid instead of a teacher, too. I’m going to hope so, since they actually used “its” instead of “it’s” in the answer. American education, ladies and gents.

But she does make progress every day. When I was going to the grocery store the other day and she knew I was picking up ice cream, she said, “But if they have an Italian ice ice cream that’s not Italian ice, you can get that.” It was her way to say, “Mom, I really like those Lindy’s ice creams, but can we get the gelato that comes in the same cups as Italian ice, instead of Italian ice?” Good work, hon. The part I like best is that she tried, instead of just saying “the heck with it” and eating whatever I brought home.

That’s a Charlotte based company, by the way, and their gelato is TO DIE FOR.

She’s also asking more questions about the world around her. She loves the whole idea of new babies, and she finally thought to ask how the baby gets OUT of the mom. And she understood the answer. I don’t think we could have done that a couple of years ago.

All right. Em’s calling for me to make cookies, so I reckon I’d better go. I spent a little time yesterday spinning up more of Pat’s fiber that I dyed, and I may try to do that some more a little later. It’s calming, and just as important, I want to stay in practice with my wheel.

Later, taters!

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  1. September 30th, 2008 at 22:10 | #1

    Hey T, Question here since I know they do this with some of our kids. Have they tried using a tape recorder? We have one young man that uses a tape recorder with a mike like you use for singing into. He can turn the mike on and off as he is ready. Then she’s not having another person staring at her.

  2. September 30th, 2008 at 22:10 | #2

    Hey T, Question here since I know they do this with some of our kids. Have they tried using a tape recorder? We have one young man that uses a tape recorder with a mike like you use for singing into. He can turn the mike on and off as he is ready. Then she’s not having another person staring at her.

  3. September 30th, 2008 at 23:45 | #3

    Math and Writing woes

    I was curious about what you discovered with Em. Caleb may benefit. He is struggling in the same ways. I am going to suggest ordering his math the same way. We still Cannot get him to read or write and when he does it is so rough and difficult. He refuses to do any spelling. Good old school system says he is ok. They make him run laps and write home saying “Your child refuses to do any math or writing please get him to complete his work.” Well just wait until after tomorrow’s evaluations when me and my team including Caleb’s case manager show up at the school with results!

  4. September 30th, 2008 at 23:45 | #4

    Math and Writing woes

    I was curious about what you discovered with Em. Caleb may benefit. He is struggling in the same ways. I am going to suggest ordering his math the same way. We still Cannot get him to read or write and when he does it is so rough and difficult. He refuses to do any spelling. Good old school system says he is ok. They make him run laps and write home saying “Your child refuses to do any math or writing please get him to complete his work.” Well just wait until after tomorrow’s evaluations when me and my team including Caleb’s case manager show up at the school with results!

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