*Tip for attendees: use mini post-its to mark off the pages in your program with your desired sessions, and write the times on the post-its.
As a side note, I am also enjoying the metropolitan sights offered by downtown Denver, where I last set foot in 1993. A highlight of my stroll down the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall was seeing a man on stilts dressed as Superman run down the sidewalk while a random passerby shouted, “Up, up, and away!” Ah, the city—my old friend.
A bulk of the convention activity takes place in Denver’s Convention Center. Curiously, when you’re riding down the escalator, the center has piped in the sounds of people talking and laughing. The first time I heard it, I did a bit of a double take, thinking the man behind me was watching a video on his phone with the volume turned up too high. The second time I heard it, I realized, oh, I guess they do that on this escalator. The third time I heard it, I was ready for it and watching – watching to see if anyone else would notice the sound, be perturbed by the sound, look around for the sound.
This is essentially my three-step process of discovery. First, I am aware of it; then, I identify it; then, I see how the world reacts to it. In school, many teachers follow a similar three-step methodology when teaching something you: I Do/We Do/You Do. I do the task first, wherein I make my students aware of something new. Next, we do the task together, which is how they identify the steps towards accomplishing the task by themselves. Finally, they do the task on their own, hopefully drawing connections between their own lives and the new information, i.e. they react.
It is that final step that is so integral to a student’s independent success, yet that is where I struggle most as a special education teacher. My students can 9 times out of 10 work alongside me and do the work. But that 10th time, when I set them free, they flail or accuse or get frustrated or refuse to even try and simply accept failure. Am I holding their hand too much? Am I helping them in such a way that they depend on me?
Of all the sessions at the conference, the one I have enjoyed the most thus far is Dr. Judith Fontana’s because she gave me a number of tools that I can use immediately to encourage my students to become independent readers of content based texts. I’m hoping for more between now and the end of the conference and I’m confident I won’t be disappointed. My next post will surely be a bounty of good ideas!
What are some things you do to encourage students to take the final leap to independent success?