A Mom Blog Social Network
by: Jennifer Perez
We all know the song~let’s sing it shall we? A-B-C-D-E-F-G, H-I-J-K-elomenop, Q-R-S, T-U-V, W-X-Y and Z. Now we know our ABC’s….but do THEY?
This is exactly what I heard when tutoring a student recently.
This student, I will call her A, was very strategically trying to write her compound words in alphabetical order when I began to watch ever-so closely. A had written the 1st two words in the correct alphabetical sequence, but the 3rd however; was not.
Noticing this, I asked my student if she needed a brain break before continuing and she said, “No.” I then asked if she was confused with the task and she said, “No.” At this point, I knew something was wrong and I was trying to plan the next questions to ask that wouldn’t make A feel self-conscious. I asked A if she needed to brush-up on their alphabet, in which the response was a nod…”yes!”
Here we go~ “ABCDEFGHIJK elomenop QRG????” Imagine the complete shock I was in when I heard this! How can A not know the Alphabet? She will be going to 3rd grade in just a few weeks! How did this go on for so long? Why didn’t A’s three previous teachers catch on to this discovery?
Learning Opportunity for Little A
In a few short seconds, I realized that answers to those questions did not matter to Little A. I needed to teach the Alphabet and FAST! According to A, she “tried learning the ABC’s in Kindergarten, but someone was talking to her so she couldn’t hear the teacher.” All I have to say about that is … :(
I quickly wrote down the alphabet into her composition notebook and then closed it. I decided to sing the ABC song to A so she could hear each and EVERY letter. When I reach the “LMNOP” sequence I slowed down a bit and clapped one syllable for each of those five letters. Little A then told me she wanted to try so I encouraged her to use the clapping method. Did it work??? Not on the first try, but I admire my student’s determination in figuring out the “elomenop” cluster. Realizing she didn’t get it correct the 1st time around, A looked at me to see what I would say. I gave her a nod and a BIG smile~ translation: “You can do this! I believe in you so try it again.” Little A understood the translation perfectly…
Did it work the 2nd time??? YES!! A decided for the 2nd attempt that she would clap each individual letter. Once she reached the LMNOP sequence, her rhythm slowed as she carefully said each individual letter ~looking at me with approving eyes. As soon as she was finished, I gave her our “double high five.” (The double high fives are saved for HUGE accomplishments.)
A’s demeanor completely changed once she realized for herself this was a task and learning opportunity in which she was able to complete herself and learn from. I could see her self-confidence begin to increase as I told her that she could, “do anything with hard work and determination!” Little A understood what I meant which made my heart smile.
Learning Opportunity for ME
Even though this was a HUGE learning opportunity for A, this was also a HUGE learning opportunity for me as well. Being that A was about to enter 3rd grade, I automatically assumed she knew her alphabet. Never again will I do this. What I learned from this experience is every student has/had different learning experiences in school. Just because a certain skill or concept was ‘taught’ it doesn’t necessarily mean the skill/concept was actually “learned.” In my excitement to begin reading and digging deeper into text with A, I didn’t give her a chance to show me what she still needed to know-what I needed to know. I thank Little A for this valuable lesson. Not only did I learn from this experience, but it has also made me a better person. “elomenop” will now have a new meaning for me.
© Jennifer Perez 7/22/10