Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Learning Comes in All Sizes

Photo Credit Six El Sid

I was sitting in an IEP meeting this week with our team discussing a young man.  Let's call him James.  James is a 5th grader reading and performing academically at about a 3rd grade level.  He has a pretty positive attitude, but school is definitely a struggle for him all day every day and he's showing signs of frustration and lack of motivation from time to time.  In the course of our meeting, we asked the same question we always ask parents, "So, what is James good at?  What are his strengths?"  Well, it turns out James can fix remote control off-road vehicles.  He asks questions from salesman at the store or uses videos on the Internet to figure out what needs to be done to fix these machines.  Turns out our 3rd grade reader is great with his hands.  What this tells me, is that James can learn!  So, how do we capitalize on this fantastic strength of James?  Here are a few things that we are planning to try with James to transfer this interest and skill into the classroom.

1.  Invite James to bring his car to school and teach his classmates how they work and how he fixes them.
2. Ask James to keep a journal of the modifications that he is making to his cars including explanations of what the problem is, how he found solutions, and what he did to fix the problem.
3. Create a video of his own to upload to YouTube explaining how he fixed problems that he came across.

Shouldn't school support James in this area of high interest and, at the same time, help him see how the world of literacy (digital included) can further help him in all areas of life?  
Shouldn't James be acknowledged and recognized for his skill, determination, and ingenuity? 
Can't we come up with a way to make sure every student is getting support at school to pursue their areas of interest and connecting those interests to literacy development?

I think we should.

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