Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's All Greek to Me

Do you ever wonder what it's like to struggle with reading, spelling or writing? When I was visiting my daughter in Greece a few years ago while she spent a semester studying abroad, I had the chance to experience what it may be like for students who struggle with reading.

It had been many years since I had studied the Greek language as part of my heritage, and although I remembered the names of the letters, the sounds of the letters were not automatic. One syllable words were fairly easy; multi-syllabic words were painfully slow and difficult. It struck me that this may be what it's like for students who finding decoding challenging. Fluency and comprehension were out of the question.

I believe it's important to understand the struggles our students experience. Is it possible to put ourselves in the shoes of our students, even for a brief time? Trying to read an unfamiliar language, especially when it looks completely different ("It's all Greek to me!") is one way to simulate the experience. The PBS.org Misunderstood Minds website offers another way to experience learning challenges, specifically reading, writing, attention and mathematics firsthand .
When you get to the site, click on the text pictured to the left. You will have the opportunity to explore the challenges for yourself by choosing activities related to the skills. Next click the "Try It" links. It just might help you feel a bit more sympathetic to the attentional, reading, writing or math difficulties faced by your students. Understanding (potentially) increases awareness; awareness (potentially) improves instruction; instruction (potentially) improves learning.

What do you think? Which activity helped you to appreciate the struggles faced by your students?

7 comments:

Paul Bogush said...

I have shared this site with staff members...great site, unfortunately didn't make a dent in their mindset!!
Wish all teachers were forced to be in a situation in which they were learning something that played to all of there weaknesses.

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jth says said...

Hello,

Thank you for that great website link. I currently student teaching and I am always looking for sites like this to help me understand from a student's perspective. As you stated that it is important for teachers to recognize the struggles students experience as we forget what it's like to be in the student's shoes. Great post.