Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Update on second grade challenges - part 2

Our meeting with Nick's teacher on Monday also served as our parent/teacher conference. This means we received Nick's report card. Since I've stated that this blog is a record for my children, I'm using this post to document his grades.

I never saved any of my report cards or school papers and I'm always jealous of others who have these documents from their childhood. (Hence the posts about Ben Franklin and Ronald Reagan.) I've decided to post Nick's grades for this semester as well as the reports on his on-task vs. off-task behavior. I've shared the good in our lives but I think it's important to document the struggles. (Like I said before - it's for better or for worse in our household.) So here it goes...

First 9 weeks: 84.4%
Second 9 weeks: 81.3%
Third 9 weeks: 82.1%

First 9 weeks: 89.9%
Second 9 weeks: 84.2%
Third 9 weeks 75%

First 9 weeks: 89.2%
Second 9 weeks: 76.9% (This drop is what prompted our original meeting with Mrs. Teacher.)
Third 9 weeks: no grade yet due to Mrs. Teacher losing his unit test

The students take the NWEA test in the fall, winter, and spring. The spring tests are being administered in April but here are the first two test results.

Fall score: 99 percentile (out of all second graders taking the NWEA test)
Winter score: 96 percentile

Fall score: 89 percentile
Winter score: 72 percentile

Language Usage
Fall score: 92 percentile
Winter score: scores where compiled yet

And now the observations from the special education teacher. I should note that Nicklas had no idea that he was being observed. He still doesn't know. We've explained that Mrs. Teacher has noticed these things as we don't want him to alter his behavior when he's officially being observed. This weekend, I plan to share these numbers (and his grades) with him because I think seeing concrete evidence about his drop in performance will have an impact on him and I'm pretty sure it will motivate him more. (This will all be done in a positive manner so hopefully, it goes well and won't be a detriment to him.)

These observations were meant to be done by a neutral third party. They paint quite an interesting picture of what's going on.

Observation 1: March 4 - Math Class
On task behavior: 67% Peer: 96%
When I entered the room, Mrs. Teacher asked the students to put away their accelerated math work and folders and to get out their homework. Nicklas did not follow the directions at first. Mrs. Teacher had to personally prompt him to get out his homework which he then did. He was the last student to get out his homework. He followed along as the class went over the homework. Then the students were told to put the papers in their mailboxes. Nicklas carried his paper between his legs as he walked over to the mailboxes in a very awkward way. He stopped at three students' desks on the way to the mailbox and at two students' desks on the way back. He was the last student to get back from the mailbox. The students were then instructed to get out glue and scissors. Nicklas was the last student to get out his glue. He could not find his scissors. He followed along as Mrs. Teacher explained some math vocabulary words using the smart board. Mrs. Teacher asked the students to write the vocabulary words on the figure. He played with his glue stuck as Mrs. Teacher continued giving directions. The students were then told to put together a three dimensional square pyramid. Nicklas had great difficulty with this task. He constantly looked at other students to see what they were doing i.e. how they were cutting out the figure, how they were folding the figure, how they were gluing the figure, etc. Mrs. Teacher's aid gave him one on one help three times, and he was still unable to put the figure together. After awhile he appeared to give up on the project and waited for more help. As he sat and waited, he talked to his neighbors about a giant soccer ball, sang a baseball song, "The base of the baseball game," or played with his pencil box. Even after the aid came back to Nicklas for the third time and explained that he needed to fold on the dotted lines, as she had instructed previously, he looked at what the other students were doing. He did not follow the dirctions. When I left the room at the end of the thirty minute observation, his pyramid was still not finished and Mrs. Teacher was moving on to another figure as the rest of the class had completed the pyramid.

(I do want to point out that Nicklas has always struggled with his fine motor skills. Cutting, coloring, tying shoes, doing buttons or snaps, gluing - things like this are very difficult for him. We don't push it, we continue to encourage him and yes, we often end up doing these things for him. We need to stop that and encourage him to keep trying and practicing. I guess I've always felt he would "get it" eventually but it's obviously affecting his school work. My point though is that I don't think he wasn't following directions because he didn't want to. It's more about him not being able to physically do the task.)

Observation 2: March 17: Language Arts
On task behavior: 70% Peer: 93%
When I entered the room, Mrs. Teacher was going over a reading worksheet about inference questions. Nicklas was not raising his hand to answer any of the questions, but he was quiet and looking at the teacher, seeming to be paying attention. The students were then told to put their papers in their mailboxes. He was one of the last students to respond to the verbal prompt and on the way to his mailbox stopped to get a drink and to pick up a paper off the floor. He was one of the last to return to his seat. When he returned to his desk, he was told to put away his reading book. Nicklas and one other student were the only students to still have their books out.

Mrs. Teacher then began teaching about irregular verbs. Nicklas responded chorally to questions about the verbs. While Mrs. Teacher was teaching, he engaged in a number of off task behaviors; playing with a sucker wrapper, scratching his head as he looked off in space, staring off into space, playing with his pencil grip, looking around, and sitting sideways in his desk and looking at a book. After Mrs. Teacher finished teaching about the topic, she handed out a worksheet for the students to do independently. She specifically told students not to look at other students' papers. Nicklas did not get started right away on his work. He waited a few minutes before starting. He did glance around at other students' papers when he started. It did not appear that he was looking at answers, just looking to see what they were doing. While working, he looked around the room and looked at other children who were reading books since they had already finished the worksheet. When he was finished, he got out a book to read and read quietly. When all the students completed the worksheet, Mrs. Teacher went over the paper with the class. during this time Nicklas was off task doing many of the same things mentioned before: playing with a wrapper, playing with his nose, staring in space and talking to a student at another desk grouping when he was supposed to be sharing a sentence with his neighbor.

Nicklas appeared tired today. He yawned frequently and seemed to open his eyes very big numerous times, as if trying to wake himself up.

(Note to self: Nicklas needs more sleep. I can hear my mom saying, "I told you so" right now.)

Observation 3: March 19 - Language Arts
On task behavior: 62% Peer 96%
Nicklas was taking an AR quiz on the computer when I entered the room. He finished the quiz and then put his print out into the tray. He took a long time to accomplish this. He paused at the tray as he put his paper in it. Then he took a very circuitous route back to his desk, walking around the room. He then got to his desk, but he did not sit down. He stared at another student doing her work for about a minute. Then, he got out his Harry Potter book and started to read. Mrs. Teacher then directed the class to get out their reading papers. Nicklas did this right away. Next the students were directed to exchange their papers with a table mate. Ge did this right away also. Nicklas had to redo his paper as hr did not use capital letters at the beginning of sentences. As he was redoing his paper, he played with a scrap of paper on his desk. He also was trying to read a book over his neighbor's shoulder as she read when he was supposed to be redoing his work. He finally finished his paper and brought it to the teacher, so she could check it. Again, he did not use a capital letter to begin a sentence, so he had to redo the paper again. He had ample time to check over his work to make sure that used capital letters and periods, and the class received numerous reminders from Mrs. Teacher regarding the use of capital sand periods, but he still did not not do the paper correctly. As he was redoing the paper again, he continuously stopped working in order to read over his neighbor's shoulder. Most of his off task behavior consisted of this. He also stared around the room at various times and talked to a neighbor when he was supposed to be working. He did finished the paper and got it checked by the teacher's aid. It was done correctly the third time. While the teacher's aid was talking to Nicklas about his paper, he walked away. She had to tell him to come back and listen until she was finished. He then went back to his desk to read his Harry Potter book, but he again stopped reading his own book many times in order to read over the shoulder of the girl next to him.

Nicklas did not seem tired today, but he did open his eyes very big numerous times during half hour I was there.

So there it is, folks. What do you think is going on?

1 comment:

Heather T said...

Wow, Natalie, what a lot for you to take in!

What do I think's going on? It's too little information to tell (I know, hard to believe!). Plus, though I have some idea of the variety of factors out there, my experience with my own daughter colors my objectivity.

I would say something is going on, though. Nicklas is GT, but that doesn't mean that's all he is. In fact, thank goodness he is GT and he can use those talents to overcome whatever tasks are difficult for him.

I would say that go yeah, go ahead and document his sleep habits, food, vision, etc. But there's no reason the school can't look at other things at the same time. I assume since he's at a GT school he's already had a WISC administered. If it's been more than 2 years, they should administer it again, ESPECIALLY since he is so young. Additionally they should do assessments in specific areas, as well as ask the teacher and you at home to give feedback regarding his behavior in many different situations. In fact, this would be helpful information to have in hand before you see the pediatrician, if possible.

Again, all this assessment may find nothing. But it would be nice to have the data in front of you to know that it's nothing, rather than continue to guess. And don't worry about Nicklas feeling singled out. These things all feel like special testing situations and he'll have no idea that anyone is looking for a problem. GT kids get these kinds of assessments all the time.