Learning What you Need

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Virtual Teaching-Going from memorizing to understanding

Yesterday was a huge "Ah Ha" moment for one of my virtual students.

I started lessons with her about a year ago. She was in 9th grade. I tested her skills and discovered she did not know how to turn on a computer, did not know Nemeth (Braille math) and did not know a plethora of other blind skills. She also lacked orientation and mobility skills (cane travel). BUT, she did know Braille and that had gotten her to the point she was, however she relied heavily on a para and her parents to help her do her work.

The biggest problem was not understanding how a computer works or what it could do for her. She relied on memory. She tried to memorize every step, and for those of us who use JAWS talking software, we know you cannot always depend on memorizing steps because JAWS is unpredictable. But, if you "understand" how a computer works, no matter what occurs you can figure out the issue and take control of the computer instead of it controlling you.

Anyway, as we did our virtual lessons, she would move along, but spent a lot of time memorizing "hiccups" (unexpected occurrences with talking software) that occurred as we moved in and out of the Internet. Many times the lessons were smooth and flawless as she followed her memorized steps. However, when she tried to do the lessons on her own, and ran into a "hiccup" she was stopped in her tracks.

Yesterday however, she turned a corner in her approach to learning.

I always start my kids out using BASIC HTML in Gmail, which is one of the most accessible emails there is around. Once they learn the basics, I switch them over to Standard View because there are so many more options available, but far more commands to learn. One being texting, two being video chat, three being the auto filling of addresses and so on.

Now this young lady is VERY stoic and proper. Something VERY special has to occur for her to crack a smile or laugh. As I was doing a virtual lesson with her, I showed her how she would not need to memorize email addresses any more with the auto fill aspect of Standard View. As I showed her, I actually got an "OHHHHH WOW". More importantly, when I showed her how easy it was to go back and forth from Basic HTML to Standard, her approach shifted and she actually asked the right question to let me know she understood the difference AND how to do it whenever she wanted.

She was moving from that all important step of just memorizing steps to do something, to understanding what she was doing and that SHE had the power to make that computer do what she wanted instead of the computer taking that power away from her due to her lack of understanding. With understanding, we gain power!

1 comment:

Joey Potter said...

Yeap - I need dat power daily!