Thursday, March 5, 2009

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Last night we had Drew's parent teacher conferences. We first met with his science and math teachers together. His science teacher said that she reduces his grade on each paper he does if he doesn't do it in a timely manner. She deducts five points at a time. I asked her whether she thought Drew understood or cared whether he got a lower grade and she admitted she didn't think he did. And she said that some of his work he'll do well, and other times he bucks for no reason at all. She said there was no pattern to it. Eric said, "Well, I see a pattern right here. The papers where you deducted points required a lot of handwriting, and the ones he did well did not have as much." And we suggested that if she wanted to know the answer to the question, maybe she should allow him to answer verbally, or to give him mutiple choices. She didn't think that would make a difference at all.

His math teacher said he will not work on the computer and he doesn't even know how to use the mouse properly. Which of course is not true at all. He can maneuver his way around his favorite websites no problemo. But, apparently at school, he acts helpless. She had a new gadget which I thought looked pretty neat called the Flash Master.
It is a handheld tool which goes through math facts, and you press the number buttons on the bottom to enter your answer. I can see this being beneficial for him.

Next we went to Program and Vision. Program is the neurodevelopmental program they use the concept of neurodevelopmental therapy. From their website:

In this approach the brain is viewed as a pliable organ that can be trained to perform new functions. Given the proper stimulation, the brain can "learn or re-learn" to perform the functions of brain areas that may have been previously damaged or underdeveloped.

Anyway, Drew is doing a lot better at doing all the exercises, but the instructor said she has to "yell" at him a lot. He will stop and she has to tell him to keep going. And of course, it has to be using the same words every time. He will correct her about what to say if she doesn't say it exactly right the first time. And if you have a kid with Fragile X, you're probably already familiar with this behavior. Routines, routines, routines!

From the school's website, Vision class: Vision is more than 20/20 eyesight. It is a complex process involving over 20 visual abilities and 2/3 of all of the pathways to the brain. Nearly 80% of what a child perceives, comprehends and remembers depends on the efficiency of the visual system.

They work on eye-hand coordination, and this instructor likes to change things up on a daily basis. And of course, this causes problems for a kid who thrives under a regemented schedule. We suggested she make a visual schedule of the class for the day, and use her visual timer to let him know when each activity would be done. She said that he'd just go over and turn the timer so it ran out of time. We thought maybe putting up where he can't reach it would be helpful?

After this, we went to Reading and Social Studies. His reading teacher said he is doing well, especially since they've started doing his spelling tests on the computer. She also has implemented use of more visual, hands-on type activities. She said since he knows all his letters, though he has difficulty writing them, she'd like to start trying keyboarding with him. I thought that was a great idea. She said at the end of every class, she allows him to sit in the reading corner for a few minutes and read books. He loves this, and it helps motivate him. She lets him work on once a week, and they have Starfall workbooks they use to supplement the computer work.

And finally, we talked to the Social Studies teacher. She didn't have a lot to say, except that she can see a difference in his behavior since we started the Vyvanse, and she is working on him writing his first and last names. She also recommended the Zac Browser.

Overall, it was a mixed bag of reviews. The main theme was that Drew is stubborn and doesn't always want to do his work.


Mark said...

Kristie and Eric,
Maybe they could do the same work two days in a row. If done not get the first time, maybe he will understand it more clearly if seen again. I know, I need to see and hear instuctions 3 times before I completly understand and remember the project.
Like you said: Routine,routine, routine!

Eric made a VERY good point more information input, give more time!

Keep doing what you have been doing. Routine,routine,routines!

Alexander Grambell found 99 ways to not invent the hearing aid, and ONE time by accident invented the telephone!

Jodie said...

What a fun conference!!! I wish I had the answer to what would do the trick, but I think you and Eric are awesome parents and fighting hard for your boys!

the other lion said...

I think Drew's teachers need to meet him in the middle a little more with some of these issues. He probably senses their frustration with him and reacts to it. FXS kids want to be successful, but it sounds like he's not always being set up to succeed. Maybe if they alternated the more difficult work with easier work, he would stay motivated and feel good about himself. Just my two cents. =)

Holly's Mom said...

That teacher who marks 5 points off the late assignment really annoys me. It is about teaching him, not getting a grade. She needs to retire. :-(

Anonymous said...

I feel your frustration. It's not exactly a let down but nothing to rave about. FX kids can be really stubborn and teachers need to see it's not about "breaking" them but finding a common ground that works for both parties.

John Evans said...

It sounds to me like the teachers are being as stubborn or even more stubborn than Drew.

More middle ground might work, but as a former stubborn child what worked (works now) for me might work for Drew; they need to find a way to make the work interesting.

He seems to be uniterested in writing, so oral responses might be better. Knocking off five points just gives the teacher something pointless to do to occupy her own time.