Sunday, February 2, 2014

Smarter than Me

When I was a youngster back in the 50’s school was really hard for me. I struggled in every subject—the 3 R’s especially—and I was keenly aware that many of my classmates found school easier than I did. I liked lunchtime, P.E., recess, and sometimes science.

My difficulties in language arts lessons had a lot to do with inspiring me to come up with Soundabet. A tool like Soundabet ought to make it easier for teachers to show the code that underlies reading and writing. I wanted to save other kids from struggling as much as I did.

Of course, not every kid struggles with language arts. For some kids, school comes naturally.

Friday I was giving Martin, one of my English language learners, the mid-year DIBELS benchmark assessments. I was working on the test that measures how many letters a student can name in 60 seconds. 

The page I was working with looks like this.



I gave Martin the scripted instructions and started the stopwatch.

“Karate” I thought I heard him say.

“What?” I asked him, thinking that he had misunderstood the directions.

“Karate!” I thought I heard him say again, though it sounded like it ended in the "D" sound. What he actually said was more like “karoddy.”

He pointed to the top line and pulled his finger across the first five letters (C-R-O-D-Y) and blended them again into a word as he did, saying, “Crody.” 

He couldn’t understand why I was so confused by his answer. 

Sometimes it takes me a little while to catch up with my students.


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