By Renee M. Newman, M.S, M.Ed., Founder, Dyscalculia.org . Published February 24, 2020.
Experience to learn. Teach to Remember.
Authentic Constructive Assessments = Students Teaching = Lasting Mastery. This is a way for all students to achieve deep understanding of challenging concepts and lasting, readily accessible memory that is the foundation for advanced learning and effective independent performance.
Dyscalculic students struggle to keep up during instruction, fail to make essential connections, and are chronically in need of assistance. Because recall is inconsistent, they must relearn frequently. Limited processing capacity is gummed up with things that should be automatic. In addition, they unconsciously make errors in processing and production when reading, writing, reasoning, and speaking. They can’t trust their fist impressions and conclusions, and constantly must triple-check. For this reason, they default to primitive strategies like counting with fingers or dots. They have difficulty quickly making sense of directions (ex. left-right), visual-spatial information (clocks, math), and complex sequences. They easily become overwhelmed and unable to think clearly.
- Instead of asking a student to solve 12 practice problems, require the student to effectively teach the concept to others.
- Help the student identify the key ideas and the language involved - the words and symbols, as spoken and written.
- Experience to Learn. To achieve deep understanding, students must experience concepts within relevant contexts, and must deeply understand the language and the relationships involved.
- The student must deliberately practice many different ways of expressing an idea, in order to achieve fluency in the language of mathematics.
- Help the student experience the concepts until they deeply understand them and can richly explain and demonstrate them to others.
- To teach successfully, the student must identify, define, illustrate, and demonstrate key elements, vocabulary, rules, and procedures, while explaining what, when, why, and how.
- Assessments are done at home, where the student can take their time to reason through, investigate, practice, and create, in order to independently communicate ideas verbally, visually, and with physical demonstrations.
- The student submits a video of themselves teaching a lesson, or submits a project (webpage, presentation, movie, or other unique product) used to teach someone else.
- Authentic assessments are excellent alternatives to paper tests. The student is optimally engaged and recruits all brain areas to consider, organize, problem-solve, create, and communicate. The result is memorable relevant experiences that the student produced, rather than just consumed.
- When a student is responsible for successfully conveying ideas, they will determine prerequisite knowledge and will work to secure it before introducing new ideas. They will conger up ways to relate the new to the known, and to organize, illustrate, demonstrate, and use the concepts. This is how they will come to own the knowledge. Ownership gives the freedom to use it at will, now or in the future. You never own what someone shows you or lends you.
- You can't say you know how to ride a horse after merily watching videos and reading books; you must ride a horse repeatedly until you are experienced, capable, and confident; only then can you teach someone else and pursue advanced activities like racing and dancing.
- Experience to learn and understand deeply.
- Teach to remember, so that the owned experience is readily accessible in the future.