Thursday, June 5, 2008

Growing Pains

We have a new student. That may not sound like much, but it is causing some big changes in what was a smooth routine. I have been working with three students since the end of January. They are a tight-knit group and as we approached the end of the year, our days ran like a well-oiled machine.

Two weeks ago, a new student joined us. Besides being new to the group she is completely new to online learning and does not seem to have too much computer experience.

The biggest challenge for me is that she is a very different learner than the others. We are used to chunks of discussion and instruction, either all together, in small groups or individually, during their morning to prepare for work time in the afternoon. This is very challenging to her as she has difficulty taking in all the information and multi-step instructions. She is a learner who requires tiny pieces of information or instructions in single steps at a time. There also seem to be many gaps in what she has learned previously, so she gets lost easily (e.g. she is grade 4 age and she does not know the word “author,” gets confused by the conversation). She does not say anything when she is confused or does not understand, she just imagines what I must want and plows on. From the other side of the online classroom, I cannot read her facial expressions or body language and I cannot class at work that she is beginning to make sure that she is on the right track.

I am having a lot of trouble re-structuring the class to accommodate her needs. I have tried having her follow another student’s day to get the idea, but she is overwhelmed. I have tried giving her a small step to go do while we are online. She was to come back and text me that she was ready. As it turns out, she did not understand what to do (despite having assured me that she did) and did something else. She then tried to type the something else into the text chat. Other times she daydreams or is “thinking,” for a very long time. She is not independent enough for this model.

We only have 14 classes left in the year. I hope we can push through the growing pains and find a solution soon.

No comments: