Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Early High Point and Impromptu Science Lesson

Passed muster on my first meeting with my handler this week. (My "handler" is the adorable teacher lady who has oversight over our homeschool. Really, her job is to check in and make sure I am really teaching something. She also has the unenviable task of translating my teaching plans into California standards.)

Been thinking of things I need to say about teaching my struggling learner. I guess I thought I would have all these wonderfully creative ways of helping him assimilate information to report. What I am finding is that simply having one on one teaching is worth a thousand teaching theories.

My proudest moment of the week came as we discussed prewriting for a compare/contrast essay. When I write, I use a semi-outline; main ideas with bullet points and mind vomit on the lines following. It works for me. I wanted to give SJ the freedom to try something different so I showed him how to mind-map, using bubbles and a sort of diagram form to organize his thoughts. His first attempt required a GPS to follow. At first I praised him for the effort. I thought that if he knew what it meant, it would be ok.

Showers offer lots of clarity. It was there that it occurred to me that he really didn't "get" the mapping thing. Part of me didn't want to struggle with doing it over but the sane part told me, "Carrie, if you don't have him do it right, you will spend more heartache on revising a poor essay." So much to my dismay, I had him start the following day with his map. The boy didn't flinch. In fact, by the third point, he was off and running ahead of me, mapping sub-points. He "got it." It made me happy.

Then came the paper. Frankly, I didn't expect much. So far we have done much of our work together and this was one of the first long assignments he had to do on his own. Independent work proves challenging, whether it's because of his learning issue or because he is two weeks shy of 13, I'm not entirely sure. By Friday I knew I could not avoid reviewing the thing. I figured I would have him read it out loud so he could hear all the problem spots.

Imagine my shock as he read what I would consider an A or B grade essay! He made his points, supported them, and gave concrete examples. I was ecstatic. He grinned. It was a good moment. I think this is gonna work. 

One thing we discovered over this past week is that the allergies we have been battling for the past eight years are really gigantic adenoids. And this is the thing I love about homeschool--we jumped ahead in the science text to the lymph system so he could discover what that meant and what a surgery might entail. I am not exaggerating when I say our entire family looks forward to the day when he can breathe clearly again. I can only imagine how this condition has affected his learning (attention) over the past several winters.

Two weeks down and I am still having fun. The lithmus test is SJ and according to him, homeschool is "good." That's his way of saying, Thanks Mom and Thumbs Up.

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