Put them in Order

As long as I have been working with Robert using haphazardly chosen workbooks, we kept encountering tasks that required putting words in alphabetical orders.  At first, they were easy.  Three words with different first letters. It became exponentially more difficult when the problems required learner to look at the first, second and the third letter in the word. When that happened, I helped Robert as much as it was needed to complete the task. I wrote the alphabet on top of the page.  I underlined the first letters in each word. If the first letters were the same, I circled the second ones.  If those were identical, I placed  lines over the third letters in the words…

Although I  tried to expose him to that skill so he could form general idea, I did not expect Robert to learn it.

I felt, the skill was too complex, and would require detailed programing. Besides,  with the arrivals of IPADs dictionaries,  placing words or sets of letters in an alphabetical order seemed obsolete.

But, we still have libraries  where the books are assigned positions on the shelves based on their  specific codes.  To find a book or to return the book to its proper place, one has to have both dictionary skills and number skills.

Robert and I spent considerable amount of time comparing numbers.   We didn’t spent much time on alphabetical order.  That is until now…

In the Writing Extension workbook, a part of the Reasoning and Writing, Part C curriculum, I found many pages devoted to just this skill.  They start with a list of words with different first letters and slowly progress to more complex lists.  Step by step. There are lists of words with the same first letters, but different second letters.  There are words that start with one out of two letters, but their second letters are different.

Sadly, this step by step approach was still not sufficient for Robert. However,  completing the series of lists, let me realize which step is the most difficult for him to take and what additional practice is required for Robert to master the skill.

The power of a good curriculum is not only that it results in student’s independence, but that it also makes better and more independent teachers. Even if that is a DIRECT INSTRUCTION PROGRAM.

A few day after writing this post, Robert and I found a new opportunity ( or rather a need.)to use alphabetical skills.
We were using self check register at the Stop and Shop Supermarket. Robert smoothly passed all the items throught the machine turning their bar codes towards the reader and then stopped. An eggplant did not have a bar code. It didn’t even have pin. And thus Robert was presented with a task of finding eggplant on a proper screen. To find a proper screen, Robert had to decide which group of letters placed o the different screen buttons included “e”. His pointer was moving sideways in then proximity of the button with “c- g” on it. Still Robert was a little hesitant in touching it, as if he wasn’t sure if what he had learned at home reallycluld be applied in this real life situation. Finally, he went for it, and soon found a picture of an egplant on the screen.

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