From ABC's to Algebra

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Today, I've enjoyed a discussion over themes in The Great Gatsby with a teen and broke down into steps some complex algebraic equations for a Madison College student's homework. Next up: working on consonant and vowel sounds for a beginning reader!

I work with all ages. You may not always see that side on this page as I often think to take out my camera when working with younger kids because we might have toys or drawings that make for an adorable snapshot. When it comes to older individuals, sometimes I forget to grab the camera when we are engrossed in some serious learning. Bottom line: I work with individuals of any age, of any developmental disability or not - anyone that would benefit from strengthening their foundational skills in reading, spelling, comprehension or math. And it makes for a very interesting day.

"Thanks To You I Learned To Read"

I wished a former student a happy 21st birthday today and included a picture from their 7th birthday. What was in my inbox in return made my day:

"Thank you so much Mikki! I loved when you came over to my house when I was a kid. Thanks to you I learned to read. Thank you for remembering my birthday. :) "

Most of the time, kids just see the fun they have with me (and sometimes they don't even realize how much they're learning). And in return, I also remember all the fun, imaginative, or unique times we have together. Sometimes, even I can use a reminder of what we've really accomplished together. "Thanks to you I learned to read" was a happy reminder today.

Understanding in Pictures


...Remember these stories?

I love the visuals in these notes that help this student sequence and recall all the important events in the novels they are reading in school.

Making a movie in your head about what you read (and strengthening those skills) is a crucial strategy to improve reading comprehension. Notes with drawings in them can help a student rewind, fast forward, and cue up parts of that "movie" so that they can better summarize the story and answer critical thinking questions about it. 

More Learning?! Yay!

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Kid: "I think next time is my last time with you because school will be ending."

Me: "Actually, we get to keep playing and reading together once a week during the summer."

Kid: "What?! Yay!" And runs to jump and give me a hug.

... It seems she agrees that we are making reading fun!

It's even sweeter because her first couple of lessons started with a meltdown because she was afraid I would "make her do learning stuff" and she made it clear she didn't want to. So we built a relationship, combined play with the "learning stuff," and now she is excited to keep it going!

From 123's to 9 to 5's

In the big picture, we work on reading and math so that one day the kids will be adults confident in using these skills in their community and in their future jobs.

I've known a handful of high school graduates that have told me they loved their experience with Project SEARCH and that the experience helped them with their future employment. It's a great option to look into for adults with disabilities to get on-the-job training and work experience after graduating.

And it's a great reminder that building skills in reading and math isn't only about taking away some of the daily school and homework stress kids face (although that is important too), it is about giving them tools they will use in the future.