Here you will see students as young as 4 and 5 years old doing algebra and "advanced" math, without ever knowing it's supposed to be hard.
You are invited to learn how to use this method...

## Wednesday, August 5, 2009

### Dyslexic doesn't matter.

Here are a bunch of block towers built into a city. Each block is counted, or skip counted and we practice our multiplication while we do it. If we are using three's we count 3, 6, 9, etc...as we (or they) build the tower.

Originally the plan for this blog was simple: I'd do math, take a few pics and then describe what I did before I went to bed or first thing in the morning...well it isn't quite working out that way. Fortunately I take good notes. I have done quite a few tutoring sessions since my last post here.

Here is what happened during a few of them.

This is a child aged 5 years. Severely dyslexic. Does not like to write or draw, however even in the last week that is beginning to change. He is very sweet and very bright. He also has slight challenges in speech and hearing. We work on saying the numbers as we go along.

Class starts with him putting away a mess of blocks from the student before him.

"So good." He replies. And I knew we were going to have a great day.

First things first, put all the blocks away in the tray and count them as we do it. We count 1 thru 9, then on some blocks where he is unsure we just say the name of the block over and over again as he puts it away. We also count the bigger blocks and then put them away.

All blocks put away. Now we build. First we build 10's then 9, 8, and at last 7. He does ALL the building by himself which is progress because he used to have to have me put one block in and then he would find the block that made ten. For example I would get a 9 and he would complete it with a 1. And together we would say ten!!! with great enthusiasm as denoted by the three exclamation points.

Now we have them all built in the tray...time for some exercises. Use one finger to point to the ten now show me the seven and what goes with it?

"Three!!"

Do this for every combination in the tray.

Now it's time for TWO fingers.

Use one finger on each hand to point to the combinations. Get fancy, cross over with his hands in other words point to the six that's on the right with his left hand and the four that's on the left with his right hand.

Now lets build some robots. First we build the thing and then we replace the parts with it's addends. (i.e. if it has a nine in it we replace it with a two and a seven, or a three and a six etc.) This kid likes robots, other kids build other things like pirate ships or rockets or airplanes. Whatever is most fun. In the picture at right we see on robot that has yet to be new and improved and one that has.

Then we built some skyscrapers, which continues to refine his fine motor skills and then we built some towers with three's and we were done. There was a time when he could barely build any of these things and would get frustrated because he would knock the blocks over before he was finished. I have been working with this child for almost 18 months his progress continues to amaze those around him.

We put the blocks away and an hour was gone.

It didn't matter at all that the kid was dyslexic, he could still count and put numbers together and learn the concepts in this lesson; we never even got out a pen and white board, or paper and pencil. Other times we do and the child can barely make a "1" or a "C" much less a "8" or something complicated like "3". Of late he has gotten good at "0" and "1" and has learned to make "9" (a zero on a stick) a "10" and is beginning to make 8's...he often writes "10" as "01" which gives us a lovely opportunity to talk about making sure the numbers are in the right places and place value.

He knows he has a problem because it seems to depress him when it's time to try some drawing. He heaves a big sigh and says "okay" as glumly as possible. He is improving, however. The blocks make it so when the time comes all he has to do is concentrate on making the symbols; the concepts will already be easy. With this method the symbols don't get in the way. In fact we will see that the symbols do what they are supposed to do which is save time. Symbols are faster than drawing or getting out blocks. Dyslexic or not.

It is overwhelming when doing symbol based math to only see 4 + 5 = 9, for example. The symbols are difficult to copy and draw because they don't see what we see, and then they have to remember how many four is, and then they have to remember how many five is, and then they have to add it together and then they have to make the symbols...and then...it's too much. This method breaks it down for them and they learn what the symbols mean. It's easy because the blocks make it visually obvious. We progress in stages; bite sized pieces that are easy to swallow. By the way he can do algebra. We just didn't do any that day..

It really levels the playing field for these children and builds self esteem because they can do the math they just can't always make the symbols but that will be mastered too--just not as quickly as other children his age. Doesn't mean he's special, or more or less than other students just different. I treat him like any other kid and he appreciates that most of the time. (Of course everybody likes special treatment.)