Most kids want the summer off from any work. This was no exception for one of my students I will call Sunshine. Sunshine, mom and I had worked incredibly hard together for the past years to get her caught up to grade level, with no time off.
Sunshine did not begin her blind instruction until the middle of third grade. At that point, she was reading print on a CCTV (closed circuit TV which enlarges print) at 12 wpm. You can't even say she was at the bottom of the class. She was about k-1st grade academic level. She could not see anything on the board and she had to hunch over her work at 2 inches to see what she was doing and every year she got further and further behind her peers because she could not access her education.
To say the least, her mom was getting very stressed about the lack of support for her daughter. Let's just say MOM learned the ropes and is a great advocate now. In 2 years her daughter completely caught up to grade level. She can read braille up to 100-115 wpm, but that varies depending on her reading consistently. Yes, kids forget fast! Those fingers have to be on the braille dots to remember. She also went from not being able to use a computer to really getting to the point where she could teach most aspects of it. She only has 3 fingers but that child can type up around 70wpm and can whip in and out of programs incredibly fast using her JAWS talking software.She does all her work on the computer and emails all assignments to her teacher. Teacher makes comments and emails back grade. Very fast, very efficient.
So now to tell the story. Sunshine REALLY wanted to take the summer off with NO braille reading. When I tested her last week, she was reading around 48wpm, yes her speed had decreased significantly. She was a bit shocked at the decrease. I had her reread the selection and she was up to 100 wpm within 4 minutes. So that is how fast it can come back.
As we talked about her "no reading policy for the summer," I showed her the iPhone and braille display and told her she could text her friends using these tools, but she had to have those good braille skills. Sunshine's eyes lit up 10 fold, and an "Oh yeah" immediately came back. Just finding another way to keep kids moving on the skills they really need.
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