Sunday, April 17, 2011

Learning Styles 2

My intention, while writing the first post about learning styles was to quickly jump into this second post about Jetter and Builder, but because their learning styles are different from the first two, and they are very different from each other, I've gotten bogged down in details.  I will try to simplify a bit more here, while still being thorough.

Going with the same format at that first post but trying to simplify significantly, we move on to Jetter.

Disposition: Thinks / Creates  (A bit of an "Inventor")
Modality: Visual Spatial Learner
Style: Global
Other: Introverted, excellent visual memory, ADHD tendencies, needs routine

A description of the Thinks / Creates disposition, according to Discover Your Child's Learning Style, is "Creates mental images, thinks in abstractions, enjoys being alone, open to new ideas, idea oriented, preoccupied, imaginative, daydreams, questions, wonders, doodles."  Yep, that's Jetter!  I could also put him in the "Inventor" disposition for some things.

Jetter is a  strong VSL - Visual Spatial Learner.  I find that he is a delight to teach, but I admit VSL learners do create challenges for teachers in schools.  Some articles that will help you to understand a VSL are listed below.  For Jetter, I will just try to summarize by saying academically, he does well with diagrams, maps, word mapping activities, sketch narrations and organizing by color.  He is great at math concepts.  Learning to read was a terrible struggle, but now that he is reading comfortably, he really enjoys it.  He does not do well with curricula that are random.  He needs things to be very organized for him because he doesn't do so great with organizing them himself.  It would take pages for me to describe in detail the strengths and struggles that Jetter has in regards to learning.  Instead I will refer you to these very informative links:
Visual Spatial Learners - Gifted Development
Helping the VSL - Harmony Art Mom Blog
I Think in Pictures, You Teach in Words
Soaring in School

Curriculum and learning strategies that work well for Jetter are as follows:

Religion - Bible History, Saint Studies and Catechism.
  • Bible History - I read this text to Jetter and while I read, or after I've read, Jetter draws what I call a picture narration.  We compile these into a notebook.  They are delightful to look at because Jetter is such a detailed drawer.  This is one of our favorite things to do together.
  • Holy Traders Activity Kit - I purchased this for Jetter thinking the short concise biographies of the saints that are found on the cards and in the book would be appealing.  I also thought he would enjoy collecting the cards.  I was right about collecting the cards!  The book that comes with the cards has the information from the cards as well as some fill in the blank questions below.  Unfortunately, Jetter just likes to fill in the blanks without really reading the whole page of information so he is not gaining as much as I thought.  Next year we will probably go back to reading biographies of the saints in book format.
  • St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism 1 While memorizing the Catechism questions has been a real struggle for Jetter, we have enjoyed the simplicity of the first two St. Joseph Catechism books.  The pictures are excellent.  If I had to do it over, I would have Jetter copy the picture for each lesson, as best as he could, into a notebook and have him narrate the concepts for that lesson.  The pictures are wonderful at helping him to remember the concepts.  I find that there is great depth in them, even in the first and most beloved book that we started with in first grade.
Math - Abeka Arithmetic 4 Normally in 4th grade we switch to Saxon Math.  However, Jetter does so well with Abeka I had him continue for another year.  Abeka uses a spiral approach like Saxon.  The benefits for Jetter are that he can continue to write in the workbook as apposed to transferring his answers to paper, Abeka is challenging which keeps him from getting bored, and the lesson explanations are very short.  I noticed, at least up until the 4th level, that the explanations use fewer words than Saxon, and are more visual.  This appeals to Jetter and he is able to grasp the concepts quickly.

Language Arts
  • English/Grammar -Currently we are working through Abeka's Lanuage A.  Like the math program from Abeka, the lessons are short and explained very briefly.  The books have a variety of activities and incorporate some color. 
  •  Spelling - All About Spelling is a good program for VSLs. The tiles make it possible for the child to concentrate on the spelling concept not on the formation of the letters. The review cards are simple and colorful, also appealing to a VSL. It is rather mom-intensive so I am thinking of ways for Jetter to use it more independently.
  • Latin/ English Roots - We are using English From the Roots Up as an introduction to Latin as well as English vocabulary.  This program works well because I am also incorporating the Greek and Latin Notebooking Pages from 4RPress
History - We've done several things for history this year.  We started with the text, Pioneers and Patriots and added in some additional reading according to the MODG syllabus.  I decided Jetter needed a visual, so when we were studying the Revolutionary War we watched the Liberty Kids DVD's, which all my children enjoyed.  This worked out okay, but I don't feel the Jetter really learned as much about that time period as the other kids had.  Now we're into the Civil War period and, once again looking for a visual resource, I ordered History Pockets Civil War.  What a hit!  I highly recommend this resource for visual and kinesthetic learners.  It sort of has the flavor of a lap book but  the student doesn't make all the small booklets.  While Builder really enjoys lapbooks, all the cutting and pasting is really too much for Jetter.  He gets lost in the process and the content gets overlooked.  History Pockets is kind of the best of both worlds, in my opinion.

Science - Science didn't go as well has I had hoped this year.  Jetter is still very interested in astronomy but the Apologia text we are using is moving too slowly for him.  It's a very informative text but I'm afraid it's almost too much.  Jetter is getting bogged down in details.  We'll be looking for something different for next year.   In years past, I really incorporated a lot of our science studies into our nature hikes.  It was sort of an immersion approach since the kids were in the midst of what they were studying.  I'm not sure of another way to describe it, but it works!  It's hard to really immerse a kid into astronomy!

Handwriting - Jetter has been using Handwriting Without Tears since his kindergarten year.  What a blessing this resource has been for us.  We went from "wailing and gnashing of teeth" to an "oh, I CAN do this" attitude.  Jetter's struggles with handwriting are hard to explain.  One day, his penmanship is beautiful, whether it is cursive or print.  The next day, or maybe even the next hour, it is barely legible.  I honestly don't believe this is a discipline issue.  He truly wants his handwriting to look nice and works hard at it. 
Handwriting Without Tears has helped him to make huge strides. 
That being said, I think it is time to move away from the HWOT books.  Lately, instead of having Jetter do the workbook pages, I have been making my own copywork pages for him using Startwrite.  Startwrite is a program that allows me to make my own handwriting or copywork sheets using any font I want, including the HWOT font.

Geography - This is one of Jetter's favorite subjects.  He's memorizing the states and capitals, and the location of each of the states.  His favorite part though is drawing the states and creating a geography notebook.  For each state, he uses an outline map, either from Uncle Josh's Outline Map book or from the Dover United States coloring book to draw the map and add the important details.  He really enjoys using the Dover coloring book because it includes drawings of the state bird, state flower, and several other details.  He enjoys drawing these things onto his maps.  Jetter has a great visual memory and from this exercise he can usually tell you the name of a state simply by looking at it's outline.  I find that states like Florida and Michigan are quite easy to distinguish but South Dakota and some of the other, boxier states are confusing for me!

Well there you have it for Jetter.  Once again a much longer post than I had hoped!  The final post in this series will be about my totally hands on learner, Builder.


Mary3589 said...

I have some questions about Abeka Math 4. Do you buy the tests and speed drills? Do you make them do all the problems? Also do you buy the answer keys?

Mary3589 said...

I have some questions about Abeka Math 4. Do you buy the tests and speed drills? Do you make them do every problem?
Also do you recommend buying the answer keys?

The Academy of the Good Shepherd said...

Hi Mary,
Regarding Abeka Math 4, I did purchase the tests and speed drills but I did not use them all. Actually, I used the speed drills but I found that there is so much review with the regular lessons and so many lessons, that I didn't need, or even have time to do the tests. I think the speed drills really help with the overall success a child has with any math program. Before using the Abeka speed drills I used Calculadder. Also excellent. The quicker a child can do basic addition or multiplication, the less frustration he will feel with the longer math assignments.
I make my children do all the assignments on most days. If I can tell it's going to be a bad day, I try to cut some down: "Oh, you already know how to do this really well, we'll skip that part for today". I don't want my kids to think that can happen every day though. I believe that part of math is also the discipline required. Sort of a work out for the brain.
Yes! to the answer key at this grade. I can certainly do 4th grade math but it only takes minutes to check with an answer key. That helps me to stay on track with checking.
Hope that answers your question!