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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Brian's Story

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I had been warned about Brian. “Low, low,” they said. “In fact, so low that he can’t tell the difference between a 4 and a 6! Good luck with this one. There’s only so much you can do. And frankly, you can’t save them all.” Thus began my first special education teaching assignment in public education.

They were right. This amiable first grader was a challenge to teach. Print of any kind was a huge obstacle. In fact, he didn’t recognize his letters or his numbers. Since I was also trained as an art teacher and had subbed a lot in special education classrooms, I had been hired to teach in this resource room because of my ability to do hands on activities to promote the learning of these highly challenged youngsters.

Story time was Brian’s favorite. He especially liked the activity time after the story when I would set out a variety of papers, glue, scissors, markers, and random collected items with instructions to make, draw, or design a way to tell me about what we had just read. That became a glorious time of day when this challenged little boy became a skilled designer of three dimensional space shuttles, haunted houses, and pilgrim villages.

The reading table was a different story. Brian’s desire to read and learn and please his teacher was impressive. But the outcome was much less magnificent.

As I sat across from him and watched him struggle, always willing to try, but plodding and strained, it struck me, “It’s the eyes! Wow, look at those eyes! No wonder he can’t recognize letters and numbers, let alone put several together! But wait, he’s been screened by the school nurse! Everything is 20/20! Still, if I could just get behind those eyes and see what he is seeing, I think I could help.”

The next year, this bright and creative little boy won the grand prize at the school’s academic fair. His entry was filled with 3-D models and intricate drawings of a space shuttle constructed from typing paper and paper towel rolls. They were accompanied by a detailed report. Brian’s project was the hit of the fair! He was anything but “low, low.”

After the next year, Brian moved to the intermediate school and out of my life. But not really. Brian will always be with me, because he sent me on a journey of discovery that led me to SOI!

How would Brian’s educational experience be different today in an SOI Certified Learning classroom that understands and honors the development of children?

As a kindergartner, Brian (an English as a second language student and child of poverty) would stay in the classroom with his peers and use Certified Learning every day. That means he and his classmates would have specific exercises designed at the most fundamental level to strengthen the basic perceptual skills, visual, auditory and sensory-integration according to each student’s need.

His teacher, well-trained in Certified Learning, would be aware of his visual dysfunction (even though the standard school vision screening would continue show he has 20/20 vision). Steps would immediately be taken to get him the help he needs. If he was weak in any of these areas (which he was), he would have additional help using Mini IPP (motor sensory and visual lab) intervention daily. His general learning abilities would be addressed and built daily. Brian would learn eye-hand coordination, cognition, memory, evaluation, problem-solving, and all the abilities necessary to be a good learner.

With Certified Learning, Brian would be guided through the curriculum requirements of a kindergartner by the managed computer program, and asked to master 90% of the grade level requirements. Because the instruction is individualized and continually monitored, he would be allowed to take the time he needed to understand and master the concepts. The rest of his day, spent with his peers (not in a pull-out classroom) would be filled with typical kindergarten discovery and language development.

If he were unable to finish his kindergarten program in the school year, he would slip seamlessly into the Certified Learning program at the next school or grade level.

Life for many little Brians exists today. But now, their learning is being improved through Certified Learning! They are truly not left behind. What a concept!

If you are interested in Certified Learning, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

written by: Renee Anderson, Senior Program Consultant

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