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Everything posted by hepatica

  1. I probably harp on this ad nauseam, but these may be one in the same. Gifted children are frequently also children who struggle or have a learning disability. In fact, the best IQ range for school success is usually high average or just slightly above.
  2. Just read The Knowledge Gap, by Natalie Wexler. Essential reading if you want to really understand what is going on in schools and why it seems like a lot but is often not working very well. The most important take away is to focus on content (which, btw, kids love). I get the hand wringing about writing. I have three dyslexic kiddos and I was always worried about how much writing their public school peers were doing. But, just by accident, we did exactly what Wexler is recommending - we learned lots of content. Even when my kids couldn't read we were constantly reading out loud, listening to audiobooks, watching documentaries, going on field trips, etc. In other words, we were learning about real stuff. I think homeschoolers do this naturally because we are not so brainwashed to think of every lesson as a conduit for teaching a skill described in an educational standard. We learned history and all kinds of science and read all kinds of great books and read poetry. Neither my DD18 nor my DD15 could write multiple paragraphs until middle school or even high school in some cases. Yet they are both excellent writers now. Why, because to write well you need to know stuff. So much of the writing elementary school kids are doing is just personal narrative. Many elementary kids can spew out tons of this stuff. That doesn't help them when they later need to write about actual things like history or science or literature. Wexler says it much better than I am saying here. It's a fantastic book and, IMO, really gives insight into why homeschoolers are often successful educators.
  3. I would not pay a dime for my kids to attend any Ivy (and a bunch of other private colleges as well). I think they are parasitic on society. I'd like to see them have to justify their non-profit status.
  4. Altogether I read this article as one big argument for fully funding and expanding (as in basically tuition free) public colleges and universities. Very little of this comes as a surprise to me as we live at an elite New England boarding school and see this process all the time. I am at the point where I no longer care how bad places like Trinity and Wesleyan feel about their small populations of minority and lower socioeconomic students. As Moonflower said, they are businesses and this is their business model. The reality is about 75% of college students are non-traditional (ie not the "just out of high school, 4 year residential college student"). These places just aren't making much of a difference at all when it comes to social and economic mobility. They are practically irrelevant. Places like City College of San Francisco or the SUNY schools, these are the places that really are making a difference. We are only talking about places like Trinity because these places want to see themselves as the epicenter of higher education in the US. They are not. They are increasingly perpetuating and extending economic inequality and cater to a tiny percentage of the population. I am exhausted from hearing about the pangs of conscience felt by their admissions teams. This is an interesting companion read about how college athletic scholarships are now going increasingly to the wealthy as well. It's time for the states and federal gov to get back into the game and actually fund public education. We are paying the cost of decades of defunding.
  5. They are not required to take the AP exam and it doesn't impact the course grade. They won't even get exam scores till summer. So that will likely be our plan - just take the course and not the exam, at least as long as the CB is still denying accommodation. My DD does have all her accommodations for the class itself, so she should be fine in the course. Interestingly, the High School uses the school day SAT for their junior year state testing now (although they do not administer the essay section I think), but I spoke with a lawyer from the CT dept of Education and he told me that they required the College Board to recognize all the school accommodations for the test and to still provide reportable scores before they agreed to adopt the SAT as their state test.
  6. It's not quite that bad in our school system, but frankly I was pretty appalled at the behavior in DD15's non honors level classes last year. She was recommended for honors after placement testing as a freshman (which was really just vocabulary testing??) but we decided to put her in non honors just to ease the transition to school since she had been homeschooled her entire life. That was definitely a mistake. The student attitude was very different in the two levels, and the constant behavior problems were a real shock to us. And, it was frustrating to DD because it was mostly the boys, and she found the teachers to be quite biased in their "boys will be boys" attitude, and actually much stricter with the girls for occasional small transgressions that were completely overlooked for boys. But that may be a whole other issue about what is not working for boys in schools these days... But, we also have the same problem of honors classes migrating to AP at the upper level. By junior and senior year I think the only non AP honors courses remaining are math and chemistry and some language. So if you don't want to be in the "everyone else" level then you must take AP English, AP science, and AP history. We are on our third appeal to get DD's 504 plan computer accommodations accepted by the College Board, but if they are are not then she will also just be taking the class and not taking the exam. And most teachers really don't get the dyslexic/dysgraphic thing. They like her in class. She is engaged and intelligent in her contributions, so when they see her handwritten work they think she must just be lazy and not living up to her potential. I hate that the College Board is dictating school curriculum. It puts these 2E kids in a real bind because they have a such a stranglehold on what is being taught.
  7. Insane, especially since they are already in the process of putting them online?? I think the stupid admissions scandals here have really hardened the resolve of testing agencies to deny everything they can. I have repeatedly asked my Senator to initiate some oversight of the College Board monopoly. I have even filed a DOJ discrimination complaint, but it takes a long time and lots of complaints to get anything done, and frankly this issue just can't break through the crazy here these days.
  8. I have to sometimes stop and wonder at the absurdity of the hours and hours I spend trying to get computer accommodations for my kid when in a decade or so we will probably all be using the computer for everything at it won't even be an issue. All the kids at her high school are already issued chromebooks for the entire four years.
  9. I might look into DE, but right now she is trying to integrate into the high school experience since she has been homeschooled all her life. Not sure how the pace of the AP courses will work for her. She is definitely interested in AP English, but part of why she likes English is that she actually likes to write and she is a good essay writer, she just literally can't handwrite. She is currently in the AP Seminar course which they offer for sophomores, but that course is not a content course but rather a research and analysis and presentation skills course. She is a very interesting thinker and really likes the format of the AP Sem course. She got to substitute it for world civ and civics, which at the freshman and sophomore level is essentially all note-taking, which is a nightmare for her. She does much better when she has essays and analysis as her assessment. But, right now, she will just take the course and not the AP exam because there is no way she can take it without the computer. She uses the computer for all her classes.
  10. Yeah, I really don't have a good handle on which of the tests are testing what when it comes to the fine motor issue. Her testing is three years old, so she would be due for more, and the High School is supposed to do her triennial evaluation this fall (although this will be the first evaluation for her actually done by the school). I don't know what they typically do. Seems the college board is completely uninterested in processing speed issues. They consistently say that is not enough to justify accommodation. It's baffling. They truly do not seem to know what they are talking about.
  11. Yes, private neuropsych testing when she was in middle school and we were still homeschooling. I essentially brought the high school all the necessary information before she started so she could get a 504 plan right from the get go. The downside of that is that the school system does not have a record of failure to document. She has done pretty well with the accommodations, although definitely below what you would expect given the IQ testing. The CB apparently sees the computer accommodation as an exception to their 2017 policy, so they feel free to demand additional documentation. She is a 2E kid and is interested in taking a couple AP courses but there is no way she could take the AP exam without the computer. I think it is a shame that the CB gets to set the curriculum for the High School, but that is what they offer for their higher level courses. She can only manage one or two higher level courses at a time, but the classroom dynamic is really different in the lower level classes. It's a weird predicament. Not sure what the CB obsession with fine motor skills is. I think they would like to reserve the computer accommodation for kids with disorders such as cerebral palsy, and just don't understand dyslexia at all.
  12. I'm still not sure I understand the fine motor part of dysgraphia. The College Board is insistent that you have to show a fine motor issue for computer accommodations. I think my DD15 was given some sensorimotor test that included finger tapping and imitating hand positions (I'd have to check the report to refresh my memory), but the scores weren't awful. In any case, the test was scored in large percentile blocks rather than specific percentiles. She had just a couple of scores that seemed somewhat low, I think, but mostly not that bad. She can draw pretty well, and enjoys it, and she learned cursive in second and third grade and it looked ok, and she has had classical guitar lessons since she was age 3, so lots of fine motor coordination there, but she still cannot write (compose) by hand. So, when I think about it, it seems the issue really is with the language processing and not the fine motor. In other words, when language is not involved you wouldn't really notice her as having a fine motor issue. I find the College Board requirements very frustrating. They repeatedly state that poor handwriting is not a justification for computer accommodations, as if poor handwriting is just the same words written poorly. But my experience has been that using the computer has a huge impact on content. She can't write the same kind of sentences, with the same vocabulary and phrasing by hand that she can write on the computer (and this is not using any kind of speech predictor or grammar program, just typing in a standard word processor). It's almost like she is a beginning foreign language student trying to compose sentences when she is writing by hand. There is no automaticity. It's all very frustrating.
  13. I simply refer to my middle DD as dyslexic as well, even though her "official" diagnosis is written expression. It all goes back to the language processing.
  14. I have done the Barton spelling words aloud with my son, especially the sight word review. You could also just cut back on the sentences and have her do one instead of three, or let her use the phrases she has already written in the sentences. I do think doing some of the Barton writing is valuable, but it is challenging. Hopefully as the rules become more solidified in her mind, the writing will get a bit easier.
  15. Agree with this. Working on the content of writing worked way better for us than working on handwriting. Using a computer has done more to improve spelling than all the spelling programs I have spent money on.
  16. This rings true to my DD's experience. She could copy but she could not write.
  17. You would think a formal diagnosis would be sufficient, but IME it has not been. My DD also has a SLD written expression diagnosis from a private psych (which we paid a lot of money for). She was diagnosed in middle school, when she was still homeschooled, so the school did not do the testing. When she entered the public high school in 9th grade the school was great about it. They looked at her neuropsych report, had a PPT meeting and gave her a 504 plan with extra time and computer accommodations. She has used these accommodations from day one and they have worked great. But, even though she has a school 504 plan, the College Board has already denied her computer accommodation twice. The school is gathering additional documentation from her current teachers and will continue to resubmit, but the College Board has a specific list of documentation that they want to see for computer accommodation. They don't seem to understand dyslexic dysgraphia very well, and seem to be looking for documentation of a motor coordination issue. The College Board claims in their 2017 policy revision that they will no longer second guess school officials or diagnoses by qualified professionals, but they don't really follow their own policies. Computer accommodations seem to fall in the category of exceptions to this policy. It is probably best to get as much documentation as possible.
  18. I think dysgraphia is really poorly understood. Dyslexic dysgraphia is especially misunderstood. My DD could read passably well at age 8 and she learned cursive handwriting and did all her copywork in cursive and it was pretty nicely done. She had tons of spelling instruction. She hated writing, however. She could copy fine, and she is actually a pretty good artist, but she hated writing (composition). By the time she was in middle school her writing was illegible. The increased demands of language processing for higher level reading and writing meant there was almost no bandwidth left for actual handwriting. Thank goodness for typing. So, IME, you can put in a lot of time with handwriting and spelling and mechanics in the elementary years, but it is not uncommon to see it all fall to pieces in the middle school years (don't be surprised if you feel she is going backwards). If I had it to do over again, I would start the typing much earlier. If your DD loves typing lessons then keep those up, and make sure you get documentation so if she needs accommodations to use a computer at some point she can have them (College Board doesn't understand dysgraphia either). Actual composition is helped much more by content knowledge than by fluent handwriting. Spend most of your time on content - learning actual information - because that's what enables reading comprehension and composition. A decade from now we probably won't even have to ask for keyboard accommodations in school. Everyone will be writing and taking notes and tests on a keyboard. Seems so silly that we have to fight so hard for these things now.
  19. I had an interesting conversation with an urgent care physician about this very thing. About a month ago I was having lyme symptoms. I have had lyme a couple times before (live in CT) and so I am acutely aware of the symptoms. I was headed out on a backpacking trip in a couple days so I decided to try just going to urgent care (I had a primary care physician for years but she left the practice to set up her own private concierge type practice so I don't currently have a designated PCP, although I guess I am still considered a patient of the practice). Anyway, the urgent care doctor kept insisting that I should really see my PCP for these types of things because he was just an emergency physician. I explained to him that the truth of the matter was that even when I did have a PCP, I only ever saw her for yearly physicals. All three times I had seen a doctor for lyme in the past it had been whomever in the practice was available that day (which of course was never my PCP), and that the care he gave me was indistinguishable from the care I received from doctors in the practice. I could get timely sick appointments, just never with my PCP. I eventually came to the conclusion that there is not much use for a PCP unless you have an ongoing health problem for which you are making regular follow-up appointments (ie, appointments that are scheduled weeks or months in advance). If you are like me and only see the doctor for a yearly physical and the very occasional thing like lyme, then you are going in blind anyway. IME, the only solution to this is to avoid doctors in big multi-physician practices. But of course doctors like these big shops because they don't have to worry about billing etc. My kids have seen a pediatrician in her own private practice, by herself, and they have had exactly the kind of care medical professionals seem to be alluding to when they tell you to get a PCP. We schedule routine physicals far in advance, but she does same day or next day sick/injury visits and of course they always see her, so we have a 15 year history with the same doctor. She knows me, she knows our family, she knows our lifestyle and just generally she treats us all with respect. She also knows how insurance and billing work, so she is able to warn us ahead of time about which things might not be covered, or how to get around various insurance requirements. She is generally more knowledgeable about insurance than doctors in large practices, which is also a huge benefit. Anyway, I fear this type of care is quickly disappearing....
  20. I find this Susan Barton video very helpful for understanding what kind of spelling mistakes a child is making.
  21. Just my experience, but I'd go with typing rather than spelling. All these spelling programs are effective, but likely not for your kiddo, especially if you have already done 8 levels of Barton. So, as you say, there is a time suck factor here. He will need to type. Typing will be time well spent. You can do TTRS or just learning to type, but either will be time better spent than on another spelling program. My oldest dyslexic turned out to be an ok speller (not good but not horrible like her younger sister). Spelling did not begin to get better until at least age 12-13. I think the cognitive strain of writing was just too great before then, an in reality she was 16 before I'd say her spelling was good enough that she could hand write a test essay and not have it be riddled with errors. She also benefitted from the visual of seeing her misspellings highlighted in a word processing program. My middle daughter is 15, and she is a horrible speller. She types everything. She is, btw, a fantastic writer. The problem with so many spelling programs for dyslexic/dysgraphic kids is that weekly routine of writing words, writing definitions, writing sentences etc, takes ssooooooo long that there is simply no time or cognitive energy left for anything else. I have found it is much more academically useful for my kids to spend their time reading (or listening to) books with advanced vocabulary and content and actually writing and composing, than to spend hours trying to get simple sentences down on paper. There is no way my kids could ever get experience writing paragraphs or essays without being able to type.
  22. Yes exactly. 2E becomes a less useful label when you are grouping all these kids under that one label.
  23. I watched much of the bright and quirky conference (and some of the video) and I agree that it was predominately focused on gifted/ADD/ADHD/ASD issues. There wasn't a whole lot of new info for kids like mine who are dyslexic with highly superior verbal comprehension and fluid reasoning. When I first came across the 2E label I thought it was useful because it captured the dilemma of struggling with some academic skills like reading and writing but also needing the intellectual stimulation of honors level academic work. But, I do think some of these types of schools have coopted the term to refer to primarily the ASD/ADD and gifted group, which as everyone has pointed out is a somewhat different set of issues revolving around emotional and social behavior. My kids have some ADD traits, as is typical for dyslexic kids, but would not likely be diagnosed as such. My kids also suffer from anxiety, but I think that is a function of being smart enough to recognize and be aware of the fact that they are struggling with things most kids find rather simple, like writing a paragraph. Most of the 2E newsletters and podcasts and such that I have found really do have a strong focus on ADHD and ASD. I have yet to find something like Bright and Quirky that is focused on language based disabilities.
  24. What about DM does not appeal to you? I know some people think DM is too difficult, and I agree that it is rigorous. I have found that while 6A/B does not take a full year to finish, DM 7 and 8 take more than two years, so it works out well. DM is integrated, very much like the elementary math in its rigor and approach, and if you finish 8B you are into the equivalent of High School Alg 2. So I can see why some might want to move slower, or follow a more traditional B&M curriculum order (all valid points), but it doesn't seem accurate to say that Singapore just leaves you hanging.
  25. I have used Singapore US ed. for three kiddos, and my youngest is currently in 5b. I always hem and haw about this, but then just end up doing SM 6 (or parts of it) and then moving on to Dimensions 7. I do not understand why the Singapore 7 and 8 are not used more frequently. They are fantastic, especially for kids for whom Singapore is working well. Both my older girls transitioned to either public or private high school math with no problem.
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