Re: [xmca] working with special ed. students

Date: Wed Jun 29 2005 - 14:04:46 PDT

Thats interesting
I have been teaching SpLD/ASD kids (dyslexia etc and asperger syndrome) in
Maths and Science for many years and run occasional teacher courses
I define SpLD as a disrupted performance with culturally constructed tool
along culturally expected ways. This means similar to Vygotsky the specific
learning difficulties appear at first on a social plane and secondly on an
individual ones. I think these culturally expected ways of mediating with tools
and symbols is the key point to define learning difficulties rather than just
pinpointing the individual and finding again culturally motivated methods to
help studetns overcome their problems. I am using the idea of mental
functioning as indiivdual ways to mediate with tools - i call these storage, processing
and communication facilitators. and i assume that social interaction may
either provide substitutes suh as social memory or that over time mental
functioning may change due to successful engaging in culturally expected activities.
Here in the uk maths for dyslexics advocates still teaching materials and
methods which are context removed and show strong sign of behaviourism (i am
being polite here) also a new government glossy guidance advises some kind of
scaffolding that can be removed ... but is utterly teacher orientated and
what is there to be removed??????????
 The changes in theory of mathematical learning and teaching in general
still havent found their way into "remidial" teaching or even inclusive teaching
for a number of reasons.
My thesis which is about to come to readable stage focuses on how students
restructure previous experiences during new experiences and form abstractions
which i describe (similar to Herkowitz and Dreyfuss) as more complex
restructuirng of initial experiences, but i am looking at collective and individual
abstractions. These abstractions seem to appear in interesting patterns and
depend on each other or even function as predictors of initdividual
development. I am secondly interested how students transfer these abstactions to solve
problems and at the some time of course construct further abstraction in even
more complex form. Thirdly I am looking at more complex constructs which
include more than one thread of abstractions in Mathematics. Ups I know the last
discussion was fascinating and i wanted to engage but I had to much to do
sorting this thesis out.
My approach to teaching is very much activity theory orientated, i tend to
let the kids (10-17years) debatte and channel the debatte or highlight
important steps but i try not to tell them anything, unless its rearranging formula
or other context removed algebra.
I found in the past that most of my studetns with langauge difficulties
found mathematics and science diffculty because they had to engage in a langague
they are not fully able to process, however giving them the chance to use t
heir own langague in uterance, drawings etc to communicate provides the kids
with a sense of mathematical and social achievement and many of my past
students left school with good marks in Maths and science some have even gone on to
study a science, although they hated it before they came to the school.
They always called my lessons "talking about maths" ,and "its not what we
used to do at other schools" (thats how they used to explain maths to new
studetns) - i liked that description from the kids alot.
I always felt it was my job as a teacher to make the content of the lesson
relelvant to the kids - so we did stock market projects - designed housing
blocks - built robots (great for combining maths and science) - i engaged the
students in making desisions on theprojects they wanted to do. it was a lot of
work but makes teaching soooo much more fun
in general i find talking at first more succesful that anything else in
particular as their selfesteem and social skills are limited. I pair kids in all
different ways to keep social hierarchical structures as flowing as possible.
i also always have reading pens floating around - they are easy to use and
can talk back most general words
I know that computer programs can be a help - for example doing statistical
graphs, if they have difficulties in keeping their utensils in order, well
than expecting the computation by hand of lots of data is a clear setup to
failure - alll my studetns left school with great proficiency in using Exel and
being able to analyse daily statisitcal data - they loved finding the triks the
government uses to play down the unemployment graphs (point averages) etc.
But many computer programs are repetetive and not neccessarily related to
everyday exerpiences and no computer program can remove the fun of
experiementing in Science -
maybe that makes some sense
there is an exciting conference this summer in Glasgow on inclusive
education, many presentations are highlighting activity approaches - i am looking
forward to many intersting discussions and also of course to present my work.
all the best

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