kitchen table math, the sequel: 7/22/12 - 7/29/12

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Marna on Morningside Academy

Marna writes:
My daughter is learning disabled from a stroke at birth. This is her 3rd VERY SUCCESSFUL summer at Morningside Academy. When she started, she had completed 5th grade and was testing at 2nd Grade 0 month for writing. This year at the end of 7th grade, she tested 6th grade 6th month on most of her writing EXCEPT on the essay portion, which she scored 9TH grade!!! When she started Morningside academy, she couldn't construct a paragraph, let alone an essay. This year she is in their Study Skills class and loving it. I have taken many of their ideas about fluency and applied them to my math tutoring and math class business (I teach homeschooling math classes at co-ops) with much success.

I TOTALLY agree with Catherine. I wish our local schools would take a page from Morningside Academy. We are local;you would think they would, especially after the big flap in Seattle about the horrid math curriculum that parents did not like
It's the best.

No question.

FedUp Mom on emotional vs academic problems

FedUp Mom writes:
I am thoroughly skeptical of the ability of "experts" to determine whether a child's problem is emotional or academic.

Our Younger Daughter was refused admission to a LD school on the grounds that her problems were "emotional and behavioral, not academic." After a year of a great deal of academic work on our parts, guess what -- no more emotional or behavioral problems on her part.

It turned out that her emotional problems were caused by underlying academic problems. Basically, she wasn't learning how to read, which caused anxiety, which caused bad behavior.

Monday, July 23, 2012

the dead man's test

For years I have puzzled over the weirdness of diets and dieting.

When you're on a diet -- when I'm on a diet -- I'm trying to not do something. Not eat ice cream, or not eat potato chips, or not take 2nd, 3rd, or 4th helpings, or not consume any one of a gazillion different things a person would happily wolf down if calories were not an issue. Conceivably, the list of things I'm trying not to eat is infinite.

This has always confounded me. Infinite notness: does that even make sense? I mean, sure, the universe is infinite and all, but does infinite notness make sense as a plan?

Say you're a human being confronting a challenge or pursuing a goal: don't you usually make a plan to actually do something?

Take a concrete step or two?

Formulate a plan of action?

Assuming the answer is generally speaking 'yes,' where do diets fit in? With a diet, the basic idea is to spend 16 hours a day not doing something, so is not doing something the plan?

Not eating junk 16 hours a day every day from now on?

Is not doing something doing something?

I find the whole thing mystifying, and I always have.

The best answer I've come up with is that not doing something isn't doing something, not really. And, as a corollary, not doing something when it comes to food is harder than doing something.

My foray into quasi-veganism seems to support my hunch, but until yesterday I had no idea what research had to say on the subject if anything.

Turns out the precision teaching folk figured it out long ago:
The Dead Man Test

The dead man test was devised by Ogden Lindsley in 1965 as a rule of thumb for deciding if something is a behavior. The need for such a test stems from the importance of focusing on what an organism actually does when attempting to understand or modify its behavior. It serves as a guideline for the identification of whether the "behavior" of interest could be performed or measurably demonstrated by a "dead man."

The question posed by the dead man's test is this: Can a dead man do it? If the answer is yes, it doesn't pass the dead man's test and it isn't a fair pair -– for example "behave appropriately 80% of lunch hour" -– then it is not a well written goal. If the answer is no, you have a fair pair. For example:

Suppose that you wanted a fair pair target behavior for "swears at peers." Let's say that you came up with the target behavior "does not swear at peers." Does this pass the dead man's test? No. A dead man could refrain from swearing at peers. What would be better? How about "speaks to peers without swearing"? This passes the dead man's test because a dead man does not have the power to speak.
Don't eat ice cream is definitely something a dead man can do.

On the other hand, Stop eating ice cream is not something a dead man can do.


I'm going to eat an apple tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

here's something you won't see at a precision teaching school

The 100-Book Challenge.

Apparently, the 100 Book Challenge is yet another program that produces parent uprisings.

The people at Morningside say Robert Dixon's Reading Success is the best reading program on the market.

For writing, they use Anita Archer's Sentence Refinement. (Can't remember whether they use Archer's content reading programs for fluent readers -- I'm thinking they do.)

I'm back!


That was intense. Eight-hour classes during the day, 3-hour reading assignments at night, tests each morning, no family, no dogs, no kitchen, AND a whole new group of classmates to get to know --- Working memory blowout!

By the end of the Week 2, I was having mini-blackouts in class. I would be sitting in my Learning Position, wearing my Learning Expression and Tracking the Speaker with my eyes, and....I would suddenly come to and have no idea how much time had passed since the last time I actually heard something the speaker said. It was like SAT reading, only for listening.

Plus try jumping rope 100 times inside a hotel room. (I hit 100 in June.)

All worth it.

I've just spent two weeks of my life witnessing what is probably the best teaching on earth.

Many notes to share.