Category Archives: General

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Learning What You Have No Interest In

How about you and I start studying geology today?  Let’s spend from 1 to 3 hours a few days per week on it.  Sounds fun, eh?  If you happen to love geology, replace it with something you have absolutely no interest in learning.

Now, let’s turn it around.  Let’s say you finally get to take that dream vacation to Russia.  You have 6 months to learn as much of the language as you can.  Let’s go further, let’s say you even love the sound of spoken Russian.  You imagine having conversations with the people you will meet. It would be a lot easier to learn, no doubt.

I don’t think that this is a bland statement.  Ask a child to describe school using one word.  I do this often and hear the same word: boring!  When I hear something different, it usually involves having a teacher that “makes it fun.”  I do hear that, but not nearly enough.

If I have learned one thing in my professional career it is this:  Most people can learn what they need to know when they need to know it with no penalty.  This especially holds true if the learner really wants to know about something.  Then, it seems impossible to stop them.   So, why not let the kids lead a bit more?

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Filed under educational gaming, General, literacy, parenting, Reading, skatekids

Helping Troubled Kids In Schools Pt. 1

I once had a kid accuse me of torturing another kid.  Today, I am here to renounce torture.

This is my experience with two little boys that set me on a journey to explore every angle of literacy and learning.

“Mr. Fletcher, you’re torturing him.”

Here’s how it all went down. A few years ago, I was working with children who had been defined as emotionally impaired at an Elementary school in Michigan.

All boys.

A typical day in that classroom looked like this:

Kid gets in trouble.

Kid gets sent to my room.

I had to figure out and find something “meaningful” for him to do.

Not a problem, really. I always got along well with these boys because I enjoyed them and felt true sympathy for the variety of unfair situations that had placed them in this group.

At this time, I knew nothing about how to teach reading, but I knew that literacy was a big issue at this school.

That day, I had two students at once. Red-headed Blake’s mother had left the family and now his single dad was raising him and his brother alone.

Second grader Dean was sent to me for pushing in line and was struggling through his own emotional issues.

Neither were emotionally impaired–quite the contrary. They were having a natural human reaction to stress and loss. However, this wasn’t the ideal situation to try and share my enthusiasm for reading.

I was trying to get Blake to sound out words in a book but he was having no part of it. The more he resisted, the more I pushed, until Dean turned to me and said, “Mr. Fletcher, you’re torturing him.”

Ouch!

I vividly remember stuttering and stammering a bit in my own defense, but I was caught.  The feeling of shame and disappointment in myself was pretty harsh.

I had to admit that I knew nothing about the psychology of reading.  Sure, I knew how to read. But I had no idea how to teach it to Blake.

That night I went to the store, bought a few books and started my journey.  Later I’ll tell you how  I discovered a way to introduce children to reading and how you, as parents, grandparents, teachers and friends, can do it too.  Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime!

Links used in story:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture

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Filed under education, General, learning, literacy, Math, mathematics, parenting, Reading