Routine, Routine, Routine

January 15, 2020

We are still learning. Sort of.  We repeat the same pattern every day.   I am not sure, however,  if following the same order for extended periods of time helps with the acquisition and retention of  information and skills or does not. Maybe reruns of the same steps over and over again carve the path too deep to allow smooth transition to other ways of acquiring and utilizing new facts and abilities.

But then, I would also like Robert to gain confidence in his ability to solve tasks that the world places in front of him by presenting him with limited number of tasks.

But maybe too limited and thus leading to increased rigidity.

That is a dilemma I face every day. Dilemma I try to solve by using the same form but filling it with varied tasks.

Years ago, Robert and I used Saxon Math grades 1 to 4.  Each page presented 10-12problems, but they all belonged to different subset of math knowledge. One task was about measuring the line. The next asked to tell the time on the clock. There was a problem demanding adding or subtracting and there was also a task of completing a number pattern.Those were followed by drawings of partially shaded figures with questions about represented fractions.

Saxon Math pages were very different than typical workbooks made of pages filled with only additions or only multiplication.

However, the next page in Saxon Math had exactly the same format. First task on page one and page two required the same skill -for instance  of drawing the line of a given length. So did page 3 and 4. That was where routine – familiarity -was present.

In the last few weeks I have used Evan-Moor workbooks with titles starting with the word “Daily”.

There are:

Daily Word Problems Math . Grade 1 and 2.

Daily Math Practice Grade 3 and 4.

Robert challenges with understanding language as it relates to math problems are reasons for the discrepancy in the levels of those workbooks. It had to add that Robert was capable of solving problems from fifth, sixth and even seventh level of Momentum Math as we proceed from one unit to the next. The difficulties became obvious when there was a need to switch from one sort of tasks (for instance only adding fractions) to others (rounding numbers). That is why the above mentioned workbooks come handy.  On one hand they present Robert with easier demands but require him to apply different strategies to find answers.

Daily Reading Comprehension Still on Grade 1

Very simple texts followed by three multiple choice questions. We read two of them each day. They are not very interesting, We read them only because they are easy so Robert doesn’t have difficulties answering questions.

At the same time Robert is reading one chapter each day from one of the set of 40 Usborne Young Reading, currently  The Strange case of Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Those books are considered to be on the third-fourth grade level. The easy texts are followed by questions to check comprehension in a non threatening way.  So Robert reads and chooses the answers to one of the three questions. I don’t ask, however, any questions following the reading of a chapter. Yes, I do sometimes quickly substitute a synonym for more difficult word. Yes, I come with sentences  connecting the texts with the illustrations, but I don’t punish Robert by checking his comprehension.

I need to add, however, that in two previous years, Robert and I worked with the old curriculum Reading Mastery V and VI.  We both were successful. He in learning and I in teaching because the curriculum addressed as much Robert’s needs as a learner as my needs as a teacher.  Unfortunately, those materials were also very expensive and I could afford only the old used ones.  The direct instruction format allowed me to present to Robert the string of  the well designed questions that addressed many different skills.  Yes, I followed the routine, but my  routine resulted in enlarging Robert’s world with new perspectives.

While writing this post, I realized that  there is not much benefit for Robert from Daily Reading Comprehension and that I should return to Reading Mastery. Why, didn’t I realize that sooner?

Well, I followed the daily routine and dug the path too deep to see that it doesn’t lead anywhere.

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