Round and Round the Clock

Not once, while teaching Robert, I stumbled upon difficult to explain obstacles in passing information/skill to Robert.  Unfortunately, it often takes me (and others) long time to understand the nature of the problem before I could  design a method to address it.  In one of my previous posts I reported on Robert’s difficulties in memorizing addition facts.

I discovered that he was not able to remember (or pay attention to) three different numbers and two signs in the expression that makes an addition sentence.  For instance 3+8=11.  He was, however, able to remember (or pay attention to ) an addition sentence where the addenda were the same. For instance 7+7=14.  I wrote about this  in the post:

Alas,  I encounter such difficulties almost daily.

I am not always aware why Robert cannot understand what i am explaining him so simply and clearly.  Because that is what I believe I do.  I am often convinced that I explain or demonstrate a new fact/skill in the simplest possible way.   And because I don’t believe I can do it in any simper way, I repeat the same approach, the same drawing, the same words again and again with the same negative results.
Many times I have tried to explain to Robert that  if the minute hand on a clock makes a full circle that means that 60 minutes have passed.  Somehow there is a disconnection between my words and Robert’s understanding.

When I ask Robert to make a full circle with minute hand starting, for instance, at 3: 45, Robert stops the minute hand on any full hour.  It might be 4:00 or 5:00.

To make it more confusing, he knows that one hour after 3:45 is 4:45.  He just doesn’t connect that with a full movement around circumference.

My directions are not understood.  I explain(?) “You have to end at the same point you started”  “Just go around and stop at the same place.”  Robert pushes minute hand on a Judy clock well past mark for 45 minutes.

I give up explaining and return to counting elapsed time by subtracting times. As long, the two times are not on both sides of 12:00 Robert is fine.

It happened so many times, that I begun to consider it a problem in itself.  I feel that if Robert understands how to move a minute hand one hour from any time on the Judy Clock, he would also understand something else as Robert would gain a new thinking tool.

Today, I continued to work with Robert on time skills.  He counted elapsed time by subtracting the time the activity (  flight) begun from the time the activity ended.  He knew how to regroup minutes.  To subtract 3h 30min-1h 40min, he changed the expression to  2h 90min-1h 40min.  He did a few similar operations.  That went surprisingly well.

But again,Robert had problems moving minute hand for exactly one hour.  My words did not seem to carry any meaning.  “From here to here.”  “To the same place”  “You start here, and you end here.” “If you leave at 15 minutes mark, you have to return to 15 minute mark.”  I kept saying it one way, another way, many times, and Robert kept turning the minute hand up to full hour mark.

I am not sure yet, why my words are so confusing for Robert, but they are.

So i try a different approach.

I  drew a few clocks on a piece of paper.  I asked Robert to draw a circle that began at 45 minutes mark.  He ended at the same mark.  Now I asked him to make the same movement with a minute hand.  Robert passed 45 minute mark just for 5 minutes and stopped.  He realized that he went to far. We repeated the sequence. He drew a circle on a paper that started and ended at the same mark and then copied  that movement with a minute hand on a Judy clock stopping at 45 minutes mark.

I did not push for more.  One success is enough for today.  Tomorrow, we will repeat those sequences :drawing full circles on paper clocks, and moving minute hands on Judy Clock.  I will ask for that, not because I want Robert to have one more tool to count elapsed time.    I will ask Robert to do that, as a way to explain to him what it means when I say, ” Start and end at the same point /place” . It sounds so simple, but, as I learned already, the simplest words are the hardest to explain.