In our district, hybrid learning started this week. As a parent with two school age kids, I was nearly paralyzed with the amount of information coming my way as we all prepared for this transition. I thought I had read each communication thoroughly, but on the first day of in person school, I found myself frantically searching to see what the drop off window was. So I finally took my own advice: I started printing stuff off!
I have been studying and observing how kids learn to read on a computer and how they read to learn on a computer for about 9 years now. My research at Ohio State included developing and testing a computer-based reading program for elementary aged kids. And the one thing we noticed was, that for struggling readers, there seemed to be a discrepancy between their fluency and comprehension when given material on the computer vs. when given paper material. This was an ancillary observation of the targeted variables in our study that made for an interesting discussion point in the line of research, and that made for relevant implications in practice when I went back to the classroom.
Often times, with kids who are developing literacy skills, they are also simultaneously developing executive functioning skills. Add in the “how to do” distance learning, and I am seeing a lot of cognitive overload in many of my students. So as I have been helping them with their class assignments and embedding structured language/literacy study into their curriculum, we have started printing as much off as we can. It not only seems to help lighten the cognitive load, but it also makes the literacy dependent tasks much more doable. (And near impossible to forget to do, or finish when they are holding blank assignments in their hands). The byproduct of that is increased confidence and a change in their negative self-talk from “I can’t do this.” “This is too hard.” to positive self-talk “I did it!” and “I only have one more to go!”
So on Saturday when I opened a very detailed list of things that I needed to remember to do for my Kindergartner next week, I felt my brain starting to shut down. Heard some negative self-talk. Felt myself glazing over the words. I stopped. Thought of my students. And pushed print. We are changing the structure of how we do school plus there is a lot of content to absorb. For those two reasons, I decided that I owed it to myself to use a little ink and maybe even bust out a highlighter so that I get it right without having to be frantic or forget something next week.
Grace. Patience. Self-Awareness. These were my three words this week for my students, and for myself!
Have a great week.