kitchen table math, the sequel: Terry

Monday, August 6, 2012


I heard a lot about Terry while I was at Morningside Academy's Summer School Institute.
Eric [Haugton, one of the creators of precision teaching] helped his wife Elizabeth plan for a kindergarten student named Terry Harris. Terry had cerebral palsy, and walked with crutches. Elizabeth was teaching him to write his name. It had taken from September to Christmas vacation to teach Terry how to write his first name. Elizabeth wondered if there wasn’t a better way to teach him to write his last name. Even though there were only four new letters to teach, it still seemed like a daunting task. Eric asked her if Terry could write 250 to 200 vertical stokes in a minute. Elizabeth mentioned that Terry was quadriplegic — Eric replied, “I didn’t ask what he looks like, Elizabeth — can he do 250 to 200 vertical strokes per minute or not?” Elizabeth admitted that she didn’t think so. “Can he do 140 to 120 zero’s in a minute?” Again Elizabeth said he probably could not. “Those are the elements that make up the compounds for every letter or number we write. If they are not fluent, then learning to write numbers and letters will fail.”

Returning to school Elizabeth and Terry spent the next three weeks working on strokes and 00s. Terry went from about 50 vertical strokes to over 175, and from 25 zero’s to over 90. “But Terry and I were getting tired of this drill, and we were ready to try going back to writing his name.” So they did; how long did it take for Terry to learn to write Harris?

Terry learned it in five minutes.

LESSONS LEARNED: Eric Haughton and the importance of fluency
Wicked Local Hingham | January 22, 2012
Autistic children often spend years learning the same things over and over and over again in school.

What would happen if all of these students were moved from "discrete trial"/80% mastery criteria to precision teaching/fluency training?

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