By Marva Cooley. 4th Grade Math. Published at Monday, November 09th, 2020 - 21:28:55 PM.
This was one of the Ah-ha! moments of my life. If these children could not take apart and put together concrete objects as basic as simple inset puzzles, how on earth could they take apart and put together abstractions, such as letters and sounds. Our classroom changed. I kept those opened puzzles in the classroom, and I bought more simple inset puzzles for my students, as well as easy interlocking puzzles with only a few pieces. The students became adept at taking these puzzles apart, then putting them together again to create a predetermined whole. I bought blocks for the classroom, which they put together, then took apart, then put together again in different ways, creating a wide range of things, similar to what we do with letters when sounding out words.
Often, the instructional year is looked at in isolation. 5th grade teachers only look at 5th grade curricula, 3rd grade teachers only look at 3rd grade, 8th grade teachers only look at 8th grade, etc. Rather than planning your academic year based on your textbooks only, consider looking at your academic year as one "leg" in a relay race. Its your job as an educator to cover the skills, strengths, "speed," and accuracy of the leg youre on, as well as the hand off to the next leg in the race. Using backwards educational goals makes this much easier, and the scope of your classroom instruction will be much more thorough.
I used some strategies that had proven successful in the past. This included going back to basics... checking to see what each child DID know, and what the specific gaps were for each student. All of the boys knew the letters of the alphabet and had some beginning knowledge of consonant sounds. Each could read just a few words. We started there, at their instructional level, with games and activities that I created as I tried to teach words with the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) short vowel sound pattern. I was amazed at how difficult it was for these 10 and 11 years old boys to put letters and sounds together in this simple CVC pattern.
Consider the recent Occupy Protest movements that sprung up in New York and major cities across America and the globe. Basically these protests came down to jobs and the ability for folks to provide for their families, it came down to hope for the future. The fact is the majority of people around the world want jobs. This is a change from the past century, where the number one thing citizens expected from their leadership was food, shelter and security. Today that number one desire is simply good jobs. These protest movements, which were for the most part peaceful, are just a sliver of what is to come for countries and cities whose leadership fails to understand this new economic reality and this new global war for jobs. Folks around the world want and expect their leadership to make the right decisions, which allow for economic growth, job creation and stability in their countries, cities and communities. Take that away to a high degree and the recent "Occupy" protest movements will seem like a walk in the park and instead government leaders may experience widespread havoc, violent protests and even attempts at overthrowing their entire government leadership. Similar to what we have witnessed recently in many of the Arab countries, like Egypt, Syria, Libya, where entire government leadership was forcibly thrown out. Or Spain, where youth unemployment is also rampant.
A few minutes later I sent her an email and apologized. She responded to my email a few days later with a simple Apology Accepted, an emoji thumbs up, and a wish for a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. Just like that I had apologized, and she accepted. It was over. Something I have worried about on and off for almost 40 years was over. Im not sure what I was afraid of or what I expected to feel, its not like she would have actually called me, its not like Id bump into at the grocery store, we lived almost 1,000 miles from each other, but I was still afraid. I guess I expected to make my amends and feel great, like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders, but I didnt. I expected to see unicorns outside my window sliding down a rainbow giving me a high five, but I didnt see that either. I just thought to myself, OK check that off the list.
We tend not to think about how we can prevent learning problems with our children. An effective prevention is a form of intervention. Prevention makes it appear there were no problems in the first place. "Good" parenting is effective prevention. When parents are involved with the childs learning and developmental and academic progress, they focus on what the child needs to learn and support the schools efforts by working with the child at home. A major contributing factor that parents can do for their children is to help them develop articulate, complex language skills with an extensive vocabulary. Those skills alone will greatly impact the childs ability to achieve at school. These are the hallmarks of homes with educated and highly skilled parents who often choose to live where their children attend highly rated schools. They are also the hallmarks of parents, concerned about their childrens future, who are involved in all aspects of their childrens lives on a daily basis. They take time out of their busy schedules to attend to their children first. Schools in crisis try to support parents but often fall short. One reason is that many adults believe it is the schools job to educate their children. Another is that the adults, struggling to afford the basics of shelter, food and clothing, are simply physically too tired to attend to their childrens needs. Although there are many more reasons, most simply come down to the fact that many parents themselves do not have the skills to develop preventative levels of school-readiness skills in their children.
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