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[xmca] Re: Some of the difficulties children face in middle school

Thanks for the tips, Carol. Amazing how little focused attention there is on
the problem
of kids who are forced daily to do what they cannot possibly do because they
have not been provided the necessary and sufficient means for doing so. And
it goes below the radar of public knowledge except as "an achievement gap"
without any appreciation
of the qualitative chasm that has to be bridged,. So the kids fall down the
canyon, and
resurface at age 18 with guns in their hands and we wring our hands,

The poem was by Rilke.

Ording the books.
be well

On Thu, May 28, 2009 at 9:35 AM, Carol Macdonald <carolmacdon@gmail.com>wrote:

> Mike
> Sorry to write 4 days later, but sometimes xmca has to be put aside, when
> overdue work is being done.
> The problem of the transition between Grades 3/4 or 4/5 (depending the age
> of entranceto school in a culture perhaps) is in the common domain of
> teacher's knowledge, but most people don't have a clue how to confront this
> problem.  If you have children changing the language of instruction from an
> indigenous language in Grade 3 to English in Grade 4, you will recognise
> that this phenomenon. bothers me greatly as it is just about an
> insurmountable burden for the children.
> The best writing on things like school language either then or in the
> secondary school:
> Bruce Gilham 1986 (ed) *The language of school subjects*.     London:
> Heinemann
> and the best person overall is Katherine Perera, who has a chapter in this
> book, but has written a very helpful book herself:
> Perera, K (1984) *Children's Reading and Writing.* Oxford: Basil
> Blackwell.
> This writing is not and won't become out of date.  I have used KP in some
> of my writing and her principles when analysing text, either me trying to
> increase readability or teaching students about how to write for young
> children.
> If you would like to do some collaborative work on this phenomenon, by all
> means.
>  Also (can't remember the author) it has been said that middle class
> children developed during the summer vacation because they do things like go
> to camp, whereas the working class children, going nowhere, actually
> regress. Maybe it was Lois.
> By the way, I think that your poem about the unicorn was wonderful--the
> notion of causality was so immanent. C.S Lewis (do American's know his
> children's Narnia books?) had great respect for them in his writing--even in
> battles against evil, nobody would ever dare ride a unicorn, let alone put a
> saddle on one, but they are there, always on the right [good]side of the
> battle and in the thick of it.[And obviously, they are never killed.]
> Carol
> 2009/5/24 Mike Cole <lchcmike@gmail.com>
>> Thank you all for your responses, and David K for trying to answer my
>> incoherent
>> questions a couple of days ago. I will respond to David in spearate note.
>> Here i will
>> try to explain again the general problem which I take this and prior note
>> to
>> be symptomatic
>> of.
>> This example is the second of two meant to point to a GENERAL phenomenon
>> that
>> I have been seeking to address (along with Peg and others) for many years:
>> The problem
>> of children who reach 3-4th grade and are about TWO GRADES behind in
>> theoretically
>> important constituent skills (here I will stick with math because these
>> are
>> the examples I have
>> provided).
>> In each of the two examples, this and the one involving a child tackling a
>> multiplication problem,
>> the major concern is that the child is unable quickly and confidently to
>> solve constituent kinds
>> of problems which the current level of instructions assumes they have
>> mastered. The dozens of
>> examples extracted from fieldnotes collected by my students (who are not
>> teachers in training as a
>> rule, but (in some sense) know basic arithmetic operations and are often
>> ingenious in their instructional efforts when kids struggle) show this
>> consistent gap between the knowledge/skill level presupposed by the
>> homework
>> assignments and what children could possibly deal with effectively on
>> their
>> own.
>> The problem shows up in 3-4th grade in standard US instruction where there
>> is a marked change in the nature of the material the children are supposed
>> to learning and their ability to deal with presupposed
>> "prior knowledge."
>> Here is my question: What literature exists documenting the prevalence of
>> this kind of knowledge gap
>> that goes beyond standardized grade-level scores to specify what is
>> missing?
>> What programs of
>> re-mediation exist for which evidence of effectiveness also exist?
>> I greatly value the considerations that people have brought to the
>> examples,
>> and for sure I believe
>> that the general issue can be addressed through a variety of seismic
>> shifts
>> in society and education.
>> But the only seismic events among the children among whom I work at
>> present
>> are decreased adult
>> employment, increased gang activity, a long summer facing them, and the
>> near
>> certainty that when fall arrives they will be further behind than they are
>> at the current moment.
>> I plan to try yet another assault on this problem for these children. I
>> would like to do it as well informed
>> as possible. Hence my call for assistance in identifying a literature that
>> tackles this problem. I feel it
>> must be there, but I am being blind to it. -- And doing a lousy job of
>> explaining my concerns to you all!!
>> mike
>> On Sun, May 24, 2009 at 7:36 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>> > Well, my reading of this, Mike, is that A has not firmly fixed the two
>> > operations, + and -, and is simply getting them mixed up sometimes,
>> about
>> > which rules she has to apply. Maybe at some point she has moved too fast
>> > from learning adding to subtracting while adding was not firmly learnt.
>> I
>> > would take subtraction practice off the schedule for a little while.
>> (Yes, Andy, I see the problem in a similar way. No sure I agree on the
>> solution, but want to get the general issue on the table or be persuaded
>> to
>> change entirely the way I think about the issues).
>> mike
>> >
>> >
>> > Andy
>> >
>> > Mike Cole wrote:
>> >
>> >> Another example of a struggling kid and how the strugggles manifest
>> >> themselves in talk and action.
>> >>
>> >> They were the same as the problems I had helped her with the week
>> before.
>> >> I
>> >> asked her if she remembered how we added the two easy numbers together
>> and
>> >> then added the third umber to that answer. She nodded yes and so that’s
>> >> what
>> >> we did for all the problems. For example, if the problem was 3 + 3 + 7
>> we
>> >> added 3 + 3 first, which is six and then added the 7 to six, to get the
>> >> final answer. One thing I noticed, which I noticed before, is that A
>> seems
>> >> to subtract a lot of times instead of add. So if I ask her what 7 + 3
>> is
>> >> she
>> >> blurts out 4 really fast and then says, “no…” (Counts on her fingers)
>> and
>> >> then says 10. I’m not sure why she wants to subtract but this seems to
>> >> slow
>> >> her down a lot because she has to really think it through.
>> >>
>> >> Again, ability presupposed by school and teacher are absent.
>> >> mike
>> >> _______________________________________________
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>> >> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
>> >> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>> >>
>> >>
>> > --
>> > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> > Andy Blunden (Erythrós Press and Media) http://www.erythrospress.com/
>> > Orders: http://www.erythrospress.com/store/main.html#books
>> >
>> >
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