remedial reader

I was a remedial reader in the 8th and 9th grade. I remember the small room off the side of the gym. I have no idea what my classmates were doing, but I was given a booklet of paragraphs followed by questions I was to answer. I  don’t know if it helped my reading scores, but it did teach me one thing. I was alone in this tiny room and the gym noise meant no one would hear me, so I read the paragraphs out loud to myself and then answered the questions.
I am reminded of this as I am reading the directions for making a quilt. When I have a graphic design, I can follow it easily. When the directions are written, I find myself reading them out loud, sometimes more than once. At home, my noisy reading bothers no one. When I was at college or in the company of people who wouldn’t understand, I mouthed the words. Almost as good.
I was looking at quilt directions for a friend the other day. There I was again, moving my mouth to understand what I read. I explained  it to my friend and she understood.
It’s the same when I give knitting directions at the pool. (I know, this is not your usual venue for knitting lessons, but one of the Poolettes is a beginning knitter.) I looked over her pattern and tried to explain what it meant. Hard to do when our hands are wet and there are no needles and wool nearby. I recall telling her to read the directions to herself out loud. Perhaps I should not have said that. Not everyone is an auditory reader.
I went home and purchased the knitting pattern she was having trouble with. I read the directions out loud, several times. I tried to follow them. By night time I went to bed, frustrated, with a plan to rip out what I had knit the next day.
Morning came, I read the directions again and faked what I thought it said. I won’t give the  pattern specifics but I can tell you, they are some of the poorest knitting directions I have ever seen or read out loud and I have been knitting and reading directions for more than 60 years. I even charted the design on graph paper, and it was poorly designed.
I guess the reading teacher must be thanked for those lonely times in remedial reading.  I will also thank those wonderful teachers who taught me to write and gave me A’s on weekly themes in high school. Whoever wrote those knitting directions, needs to get some lessons.
When I read novels, mysteries being a favorite, I read silently and skim a lot. If I need to remember what I am reading, there goes my mouth again.
I am reminded of a lecture given  at teaching conference a long time ago. I think the lecture had something to do with different types of learners or learning styles.There were several hundred people in the room and the question was asked: “If I were to give you directions to my house, would you prefer a map, or oral directions: “Turn left at the next gas station, right at the church, go 6 blocks  … and so forth”. I was sitting next to a friend who was amazingly bright and was shocked when she and more than half the participants in the room said they wanted oral directions. Give me a map, please.
This also reminds me of a principal once who told me I did a lot of right-brained activities with my students and that it was rare. Who knows. If it means hands on, lots of paint and shapes and cutting and making big messes, give me that any time as long as I am not shut off in small room with paragraphs I don’t really care about.

My students in the Florida school sat on the floor, crawled into the coat closet corners, looked for a quiet place to read or write, or with friend to share a story. I let them sit anywhere except under the table, only because I could not crawl under there with them when they needed help. The principal often stuck her head in the room wondering what we were doing. She smiled at me and didn’t stay long. It was obvious work was being done. I am reminded of Amelia’s little preschoolers in her blog, sitting alone or in groups sharing books!

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5 Responses to remedial reader

  1. Diana says:

    I was a struggling reader too. In many ways, I still am. I’ve thought many times about my second grade teacher who used to sigh and suck her teeth every time I couldn’t remember a word. You sparked so many memories of when I tried to figure out the directions for my sewing patterns. As a kid, I read way more Simplicity patterns than I did stories. I loved how-to texts. I still have my macrame book I bought in 5th grade. My favorite part of your slice was where you described how you were helping a poolette understand knitting directions.

  2. mag says:

    Your perseverance paid off. You will be an inspiration and a hero to your students.

  3. elsie says:

    I too, read aloud if I don’t get it, I also use my finger to help me focus on the details of what I missed the first time.

  4. Tam Hess says:

    One incident in our lives goes a long way, doesn’t it? Your postings remind me to go back and find those memories that have shaped us–thank you for your inspirations.

    Poolettes? Love it!!!

  5. Huh. I never knew that about you. I understand now why you were so knowledgeable and understanding about dyslexia.

    I wonder sometimes about learning styles. I learn some things better one way and other things in a different way. Yes, I want the map. But I also appreciate the landmark verbal directions. Barry loves his GPS, and I have come to appreciate it, but I want to see what this little computer has in mind before I set out on uncharted territory!

    I guess some of it is visual versus verbal and in other cases verbal versus written. I want the written instructions available, but if you can tell them to me, I prefer that.

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