I am the reading specialist at a community college who has recently begun working with dyscalculiac students because the math teachers don't function at that level. I am applying the reading techniques (structured, sequential, multisensory) to teaching math to a generally severely learning-disabled student, and I'm finding out everything I can about teaching math.
Welcome here. You're doing a job that will give a good 'future' to someone who otherwise would have a bleak one. I hope that the college gives you all the support possible for the work that you are doing.
At my cc there is a course on teaching Special Needs students. The course has no pre-requisite, and I would really like to take it. But right now, I'm on Financial Aid, so I must take the courses that they will pay for instead. I hope to circle around and take that course 'on my own' later on. If you don't mind, or if you want to, would you tell us what your degree is that turns you into a 'reading specialist' at a cc? Sometimes we dyscalculics are looking for a future 'career' for ourselves.
I speak Spanish as my second language, and I've worked as a Substitute Teacher and also as a Bilingual Teachers Aide. When I was a Bilingual Teachers Aide, the second grade teacher who I assisted put me to work doing the 'small group' reading assessments in both Spanish and English. I worked with two or three 'story book' booklets which were at different reading levels, and about 4 students at a time at a small table. I held a checklist for each individual student as they read, marking errors and strengths. This second grade teacher had been assigned the most 'difficult' students, which included at least one very brilliant boy who had speech and behavior difficulties. At that time (about 4 years ago), unbelieveably I knew almost nothing about LD's! I only found out about dyscalculia two years ago.
It's so nice to have you here on this forum, <smiles> though I'm not sure that you've come to the right place to learn about 'teaching math'. - jus'
You have good instincts: keeping track of errors and strengths is an important thing to do.
I'm a reading specialist because I'm a trained Orton-Gillingham tutor. O-G is the foundation method of teaching dyslexics to read using phonics. It's the basis for all the phonic reading programs currently in vogue.
I've tutored in a public middle school, but I'm not certified to teach K-12 public education. Fortunately, colleges don't require certification, and mine recognized the value of what I do.
I think a lot of behavioral problems arise when l.d. students are not taught properly and begin to feel that they are stupid. The most brilliant reading teacher I knew (she could teach a blind baboon to read, but it would take her a year instead of six months) once told her colleagues that if they'd give her the kid, she'd teach him to read so he'd have something else to do in class instead of trying to look up girls' skirts (third grade).
If the college administration finds out I'm doing one-on-one tutoring with my two course releases, I won't be allowed to continue. That's why I'm talking to a couple of really good colleagues (one of whom referred my math student to me) and running around finding resources!
I enjoyed your insights immensely. But I need a little help with the meaning of what you said in your last paragraph where it says, "... I'm doing one-on-one tutoring with my two course releases...". Sorry, but what is a 'course release'?
I know what you mean about some teachers just having that 'knack' of being able to 'teach' the apparently 'unteachable' person. These are teachers who bring all of their 'senses', all of their training, and all of their empathy to bear on the task at hand. These are also the teachers who often find themselves defending their methods. They are just so resourceful that they are accessing every imaginable field of human knowledge to 'get the job done', and their criticizers, sadly, have a more limited exposure to the world around them,... so that, they've 'never heard of' all the science that goes into the mix of the 'brilliant teacher's' method.
When I was a Bilingual Teacher's Aide for a second grade teacher, I got 'loaned out' to other teachers on a rotating schedule. While assisting a third grade Science teacher one afternoon, the teacher put me to work listening to a little girl read to me, and correcting her when she mispronounced or didn't understand what she was reading. There was only one 'book', the one she was reading,... no extra copies. So, while I sat in a 'desk seat', the little girl sat on the floor, at my side, and I looked down at the book, over her shoulder, while she was reading it. This gave us, unintentionally, the sweet configuration of a 'mother and child', both using the same book,... unlike most well-equipped, and rather 'antiseptic' modern classrooms. As she read, when she would pause, I allowed her, first, time to think. [I don't like it when I'm on the verge of getting the answer myself, and someone who is 'out of tune' with me 'SAYS' the answer, just before I'm able to say it myself.] If she couldn't make any progress, I'd give her a clue. Or, I'd say the word and help her relate it to the context of the story. Sometimes she would look up at me with those unbelievable adoring eyes that children sometimes still have, even in this day of television and video games. She seemed to be getting 'faster' even in the half hour that we spent together. Then it was recess time.
I told the little girl to put a 'marker' at our spot, and that we would finish it together after recess. That never happened, as I was sent, unexpectedly, to another assignment. But later, her teacher told me that when she sat down with the little girl to 'finish' the story with her, the little girl had at first refused to read for the teacher, telling her that "Ms. Jus' said that she and I would finish it together.". The teacher had to convince the little girl, saying, "I'm sure that Ms. Jus' won't mind if you finish it with me." The teacher told me this with a bit of a nervous, insecure, laugh.
I really had wished that I could continue to teach that little girl, and I'm sure that that feeling carried over to the little girl's heart. I don't think that she'd been assessed with an LD, but she must have been 'behind' for me to have been assigned to her.
I've written you such a long story, Judith. I hope you don't mind. I've just had so many jobs that paid poorly, and got me mistreated, but I know that there are things that I do 'by nature' that would make the world a better place.
How has your 'math resource quest' been going? - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on July 10 2010 04:10 PM
I apologize for using jargon! The normal number of courses that teachers at my college must teach (course load) is five a semester. I am assigned three classroom courses and then use the time for the other two in being the college reading specialist (course release). No one has defined what I'm supposed to do with that time, and I do many different things, but I'm sure the Administration doesn't mean I should do one-on-one tutoring instead of being in a classroom with 16.
You're right about good and innovative teachers being criticized. I knew an excellent seventh-grade reading teacher who constantly had to fight to allow her students to use books on tape. She didn't stop teaching them to read, but hearing the books meant they could stay up on the story and also got a sense for language. But people kept telling her she was cheating.
You're right that it makes sense to continue a good teacher-student relationship and not bounce someone around all the time. I'm not surprised you're badly paid. It seems that most people in the helping professions are. I always say that it's home health aides who should make $100,000 a year!
A friend who home schools told me about Math U See, which seems to be a program that is based on the same principles that I use to teach reading. The materials are expensive, but I can get a lot free on line.
I hope the world acknowledges your worth, and very soon!
I always look forward to hearing back from you, Judith. I hope that your project is continuing well, even without any help from us. ;) Thanks for all the 'understanding'.
Actually, I've spent the past two days working on my college funding. I've had to write an essay and fill out two forms for a special, almost unknown, souce of scholarship money for people with a disability (and I'm not telling). I'm going to drive up to my college right now to turn that in.
Earlier today, I mailed in paperwork and a 'thank you note' to donors for a different, financial-need-based, college scholarship. I'll be getting this money for Fall Semester. I'm a little apprehensive because I've had to 'sign away' my privacy to get the money,... like of like a 'Jerry's Kids' thing? I had to agree to a photo session of me with the donors, to be taken at a Scholarship Recognition Dinner. (The invitation reads: Scholarship recipients will have pictures taken with donors.) I just hope that I don't become their poster child. I don't think that I could handle seeing myself 'enlarged' on a poster. Happily, I don't think that anyone else could handle seeing that either!!! <smiles>
I'll look up Math U See, just as soon as I'm back from delivering my Essay to the school. Thanks for telling us about it. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on July 14 2010 09:23 PM
I´m sorry to interrupt such an interesting exchange between Jus and you, but I got trapped at your introduction with the word "sequential". I think it is about the teaching method that you use, but in any case, I want to bring your attention to the fact that people with dyscalculia may have a problem with sequences. A 3-step procedure would be for my daughter more that what she can normally follows without help.
Only to take into account.
It's nice to see you here. I went back up to Judith's first post to see what you were referring to. She's said, "I am applying the reading techniques (structured, sequential, multisensory) to teaching math to a generally severely learning-disabled student, and I'm finding out everything I can about teaching math." This is the method that Judith uses to 'teach'. The learning-disabled student wouldn't necesarily be aware of the sequential process that Judith is using to teach her. In my own case, I can't learn algebra due to my problems with remembering sequences and proceedures. However, when these sequences and proceedures are linked through logical reasoning, I have a much better chance of remembering them. - jus'
Judith, I just went and had a look at Math U See, and I think that it's very good! Yes, very good. I've only watched the first few minutes of the video at the link that I'm going to post here, but from what I've seen, this is exactly the way that I'm able to do math. I visualize 'chunks' of squares and rectangles. At first, I was afraid that the teacher was going to go into the 'number realm' and loose me. But then I saw that he really does understand that not everyone can 'think' that way. I can't watch more right now, but I'll be interested to see how Math U See handles higher math,... the things that I haven't been able to do. - jus' http://www.mathus...California
Edited by justfoundout on July 15 2010 01:08 PM
Thank you for asking; it's good that people remind me that not everyone knows what I'm talking about.
By "sequential," I mean that I don't teach a new skill until a student has mastered the preceding skill. In teaching reading, for example, we teach the sounds of individual letters (one at a time) before we teach blends (like "bl" or other combinations. In other words, a students learns the sound for "b" and the sound for "l" before putting them together in a blend. In every lesson, we review what the student already learned before we begin something new.
I know that my daughter was in a math class where the teacher jumped to a new topic every week, and it was so confusing. When she went to a school that used older books, I was pleased because I could see that each chapter built on what came before. That way, she had to review what she knew before she began a new topic.
We have a new parent on this forum (I forget her name, of course) who was asking for ways to help her daughter with math. I'd forgotten about Math U See that you've given us. I'll be sure to 'paste' that link to the Thread where the new member, parent, is. I'm glad to see you back.
Also, Judith, if you'd like to remove that pesky <smiley face> that shows it's big teeth at an inappropriate spot in your post, just click 'edit' below that post, then click 'delete icons' (or remove smileys, or something like that), and click 'save changes'. That way, no smileys can appear in your post, no matter what combinations of 'signs' appear together. I saw (on the lighter side) where someone wrote that he had been texting his boss (a female) about his 401K, and that his cell phone make that combination produce a big pair of red kissing 'lips', every time he'd written 401K. hahaha. - jus'
Edited by justfoundout on July 26 2010 12:49 AM