As of Today 11

December 16, 2014

We are still  learning.  Robert and I. But not every day.  Lesson after lesson from Singapore Math, grade 4. We review and relearn but in a new format. We still practice rounding up and estimating.  Today, Robert demonstrated sparks of independence. To estimate (for instance) 384+1217- 848 he drew three line segments: 300__________350_________400;    1200____________1250_____________1300


Next, he placed:

384 on right side of 350 and rounded it to 400;

1217 on the left side of 1250 and rounded to 1200;

848 on the left side of 850 and rounded to 800.

He added and subtracted in his mind.

He seemed  more confident than before and rather pleased with himself.

We followed with unit 54 from Reasoning and Writing Part B. Robert  slightly hesitated while completing  sentences describing routes the character took to reach another point on the grid. For instance, ” X went three miles north and two miles south.” More problems Robert had with exercises related to understanding speed.  After learning that a specific character runs 4 inches per second, Robert almost automatically counts by four to find out where on a picture, the character finds himself at a given time.  And yet, some of the simple questions still baffle him.  The simplest ones are the hardest.  “How many inches in a second does X make?”  It should be easy, because above the picture it has been written, ” X travels four inches in each second”.  But by the time, Robert has to answer the question, he has already forgotten the sentence he read.  He used it to complete the picture, but not to answer the last question.  As of now, he needs my prompt to return to the sentence to find the answer, as if he couldn’t switch attention back from the picture to the sentence.

Discovering these kinds of problems allows me to understand Robert better and to some degree address the issues he has.  It might be that the problems with reading comprehension are the result of similar approach to the text.  When you read, you go down, down, down the page. To find answer to comprehension questions you have to go up, returning to what you have already read.   In case of those exercises, the picture placed between sentence and the question related to that sentence seemed to be an obstacle to retrieving the same information Robert has already used.

We followed with a page from  Talking in Sentences. This time, Robert was  using a sentence structure similar to this one, “Birds have wings so they can fly.” Just the animals were different.

Lately, I am using a lot exercises from Walc 6, Workbook of Activities for Language and Cognition Functional Language by Leslie Bilik-Thompson.

For someone who doesn’t have any training as a speech pathologist, this book is absolutely priceless as it addresses on different levels many troubling aspects of Robert’s language as both communication tool and thinking tool. Some levels are easy, some are difficult. The book allows me to find appropriate zone to start with. For instance level 4, Two-Step Directions With Multiple Object Manipulation was much too hard, Level 2 One-Step Direction with Single Object Manipulation was too easy. Level 3 One Step Directions with Multiple Object Manipulation provided some challenges without overwhelming Robert with complexity.  It was also preparing him for the next level.

Unfortunately, there are tasks which are very hard for Robert on every level.  “Yes and NO” questions are still very hard. The difficulties are caused, in part, by Robert’s reliance on signals coming from my face. Robert can find the right words to finish the sentences , but not to answer “Yes or no” We still struggle.

Robert also has problems with telling sentences with a given word. He was confused by the demand to use “apple” in a sentence. There are too many choices for Robert to be able to zeroes on one.  Too many choices, I have to add, with too little practice and/or exposure to models.

Not surprisingly, Robert has more difficulties with retrieving synonyms than with antonyms. Antonyms come to him almost automatically.

But, Robert has much fewer difficulties asking Level 1 Situational Questions.  The past work we did using two different workbooks (Nashoba WH  and Teaching Children of All Ages to Ask Questions brought some small but encouraging results.





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