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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video: Introducing New Math Concepts

The following is a 11 minute video of a math lesson from Wednesday, April 18th.  I decided to record our lesson, so I cold go back and learn how Jackson responded to the way I introduced a new and challenging math concept to him - double digit multiplication. This is unedited, and comprises our entire lesson for this material.  If you scroll below the video, you will see I've made a few notes that correspond with the time stamp on the screen, as well as my big take-away from teaching him this lesson.


0:10   When introducing new concepts, I try to make the lesson short.  Here I clearly state that he only has to do 3 pages.  That helps him to not be anxious if the work is too hard at first.

0:24   After fumbling over how to explain step #1, he sees how I am writing the problem and offers his own term, "multiply down"...I quickly jump on that phrase because he came up with it and that seems to help him absorb new information better - ownership is important.

1:50   After he incorrectly says 7x7=14, I do not say, "No" or "That's wrong." He hates to get anything incorrect and often gets angry if he does. So, I simply remain silent or repeat the question which is his cue that there is a different answer.  An obvious way to avoid a meltdown that takes nothing away from the work.

2:06   He chits chats a lot during the lesson, which is his way of telling me that he is concentrating on something difficult.  He is like a tea kettle that needs to let off a lit steam so it doesn't blow.  Jibber jabber is his steam and it helps him focus - no shushing from me!!

2:31-3:10   Just like his language, he learns a lot of academic skills through mimicking. So here, I offer him the same white board, marker and racer I am using.  This helps him transfer the skill from me to him.

4:00   Excuse the nose picking:)

4:14 - 4:41   Took me 30 sec. to realize that he wanted to order that work differently than I was asking - he wanted to round all the problems first, then go back and solve.  It is important for me to give him the time and ability to tell me how he wants to approach a problem, not let my preconceived notions dictate his mind's eye.

6:05   He speaks so literally that his answers come out backwards sounding, "zero-twelve", because he is saying the numbers in the order that he solves them...ones place then tens, hundreds and so on...So i need to keep an eye on what he is writing to make sure he is getting the correct answer.

7:47   This is the beginning of the transition between me leading him through the process to him taking control over his own work.  I start by asking him if he still wants me to write the problems.  He is capable of telling me how much assistance he needs and when he is comfortable enough to do the work independently.

8:30   After only 8 minutes, he is ready to do the problems by himself.

9:38   Even though he is doing the work independently, he still needs a lot of positive feedback and reinforcement of correct answers.

10:15   And he even claps for himself after a hard problem because, at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want to do when we've done something hard and we've done it well!!

So my big lesson-learned from re-watching this video a few times is that J learns academic skills exactly like he learns social, linguistic, emotional, physical or behavior skills...by modeling and repetition, with a careful and deliberate transition to ownership and independence.  He's not complicated, just a bit more labor intensive than some kids...but I think a heck of a lot more fun!!!


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