Sunday, November 27, 2011

Writing class


Chance's writing class is broken up into 3 groups: One group reads a book such as "Tom Sawyer", one is a poetry group where the kids read, write and analyze poetry and to be honest, I am not sure what the third group does.

Chance is in the poetry group. I noticed last week that he kept asking me what words meant as he did his homework and then it dawned on me that it was taking quite a while for Chance to get his homework done which is not characteristic of him.

Some of the poetry used words in ways that no one would ever use in normal conversations. Or writing for that matter.

Other poems had words that were not used often or old fashioned.

It occurred to me that Chance may be struggling with the vocabulary of these poems and when I asked him if he had to figure out what many of the words meant before he finished the assignment he said yes.

Then the last day of school before Thanksgiving break, when I thought all of his homework was done, Chance informed me that he had not gotten two poems finished for his poetry unit which was due that day.

Chance is very conscientious about getting his homework done on time and when I asked him why he did not have the two poems ready to turn in, he told me that he had done all of the others, these were the last two and he had done his best.

I asked him if the words in the poems made it hard for him to finish getting them done and he told me yes.

So I went in and talked to the teacher. I told her that some of the vocabulary made it hard for Chance to get through all of the assignments as he had to figure out what so many of the words meant before he could do the assignments and asked if I could work with Chance over the Thanksgiving break and get the last two poems done. She was very understanding and said that would be alright. I want Chance to do all that he is capable of and rarely do I feel that he needs special time lines to turn in assignments, but when I realized just how much the vocabulary was affecting his ability to get the work done, I felt it was only fair to allow him more time to complete the assignment. Chance is pulled out of the last bit of writing for speech once a week as well, so sometimes he misses what the teacher explains during that time.

Now the night before school starts back up again, Chance is done with his last two poems. We had a discussion as to what "analyze this poem meant" and what logical and nonsensical meant as he was supposed to pick out examples of nonsensical and logical verses from a poem they had done in class.

Just little things that amount to a lot when you are trying to get through a poem. Chance actually did most of the assignments with out my help. Most of the difficult vocabulary was in the assignments that he already turned in before the break and once we sat down and talked about what certain words meant so he understood what he was expected to do he was fine.

The last assignment involved Chance writing a poem about some of his ancestors so we hauled out the book I have filled with stories of some of our ancestors. Chance read through them and then decided to write about his great great grandma using activities she did in nature as his theme. He talked about how she loved to play outside as a girl and picked giant mushrooms to sell during the great depression from fields by her house. It was quite a good poem and I think Chance got to know his great great grandmother a little better as well.

Vocabulary will be something that I think we need to stay attuned to for the rest of Chance's school career. Chance is smart and catches on very fast, but all it takes is missing what a few words mean to blow your ability to understand what is being talked about.

As Chance gets older, the vocabulary will get more intense. I know he can do it. We just have to make sure that he gets the vocabulary ground work laid so he doesn't get frustrated.

The audiologist Carol Flexer talked about the importance of vocabulary and deaf kids when she came and gave a conference last spring. She actually said that if a deaf or hard of hearing child starts to struggle in a subject, especially one that has not been a problem before, to not assume that it was the child, but to look at the vocabulary and see if that is the problem.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One of those annoying cell phone people in Costco

I was one of those annoying cell phone people in the store Costco on Saturday. You know the ones, where you can hear their conversation across the store.

I didn't mean to be. I usually like to be quiet and unnoticed when I get a call on the phone. I figure everyone is not as interested in what my kids are doing as I am.

I can only blame Chance for my practical announcement to all of Costco that I was on my way home and that I would have Chance's birth certificate to the soccer game before it started so that he could play.

It all started when I left to the store and planned to just meet Chance at his soccer game. I had arranged with Chance's friend and fellow soccer player's family for Chance to ride with them.
As I shopped however, I got a phone call from a distraught Chance. Apparently, people cheat in this world and try to let their older kids play on younger kids soccer teams to better their chances of winning. At age 11? Really? Anyway, due to this dishonesty, Chance was not going to be able to play in the soccer game until I showed up with his birth certificate and proved that he was indeed 11 years old. Only I didn't realize this fact until I got the worried phone call from Chance.

When Chance called, I could hear the television in the back ground at an abnormally high volume plus his siblings were playing and making noise.

So, my conversation with Chance went something like this:

Chance :"Hello mom? Where are you?"

Me trying to be quiet and polite in the aisle"I am at the store."

Chance:"What?"

Me:"I'm at the store."

Chance:"What? I can't hear you!"

Me:"I AM AT THE STORE."

It should be noted that talking louder does not always mean Chance can actually hear me better. Sometimes it just muffles the sound more but this time, he kept asking me to talk louder.

Chance:"When will you be home? "

Me:"In just a little bit, Cade's family is giving you a ride to the game, remember?"

Chance:"What? I can't hear you!"

Me:"YOU ARE GETTING A RIDE WITH CADE TO THE GAME!"

Chance:"I know but I have to have my birth certificate or they won't let me play!"

Me:"Ok, I'll bring your birth certificate to the building before the game so you can play."

Chance:"What did you say?'

Me:"I'LL GET TO THE GAME WITH THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE BEFORE IT STARTS SO THAT YOU CAN PLAY!"

Chance:"O.K. bye."

I think everyone who was with in 3 rows of me at Costco heard that I would be bringing Chance's birth certificate to the soccer game before it started. I'm sure that put them all at ease:)

We may have to actually break down and get phones that text. Chance does not have a cell phone at the moment and Chance's dad and I can text on our phones but we pay for each and every text - so we turned off texting capabilities. Each time we have had texting turned on, we get slammed with ads. We end up paying for people to tell us about a three bedroom house that is for sale in our area. Or that we just won a cruise if we just call the 1-800 number. We pay more for people to advertise to us than we do actual texting from people we want to hear from.

But the time may have come to get a new phone plan and get texting so that Chance can text us when he is not hearing well on a telephone. (Of course, that also means providing Chance the ability to send & receive the texts - meaning getting Chance a phone) And then all of the people at Costco can shop in peace without hearing the drama that goes into playing soccer:)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Writing class

When I walked into Chance's writing class to help out, I was a little late. I peeped through the window in the classroom door and found Chance sitting at a table with a friend.

I made my way over to him and noticed that several of Chance's classmates were telling Chance that I had arrived, yet he didn't really respond or look up.

That was O.K., I figured he was just really immersed in whatever he was doing. And he was really immersed.

While the rest of the class hummed with the sounds of kids memorizing a poem, Chance sat calmly focused looking at his computer.

He finally saw me when I sat down next to him and then signed to me that his implants were turned off.

I nodded in acknowledgement realizing that was why he did not respond to the kids telling him I had arrived, and set my purse down.

Then it hit me that Chance had just told me that his implants were off while he was sitting in class.

I tapped him and asked him why.

He said that he could focus better on the poem he was supposed to memorize. And focus he did. Chance sat totally unperturbed by the girls at the next table over who were making up a hand slapping rhythm to memorize the poem.

In fact, the entire room had a low buzzing quality to it as a classroom full of kids repeated the verses and sometimes worked with a friend next to them.

Chance had a friend next to him too, who just kind of looked at Chance every so often. It's not like he could talk to him or ask him a question. He seemed just to understand that and sat alternating between looking at his own computer and checking out what the other kids in the class were doing.

Later when Chance got home from school, he informed me that he had gotten his poem all the way memorized.

I congratulated him and could not help but think that being able to turn off the rest of the class had major benefits sometimes.

I did tell Chance that he might want to let his teacher know when he removed the processor off of the magnets to let them dangle in unhearing bliss. Just so the teacher would know that if he did say something of importance, Chance was blissfully unaware:)