Sunday, November 27, 2011

High school tips (grade 9)

We're about half-way through grade 9 for #1 son at a Twin Cities public high school. I'd grade the beginning as a 'C', but now we're probably B+.

These are somethings that have worked for us; things have gotten easier as my son learns the system and improves his organizational skills. B+ is pretty good considering the dire funding situations -- aides in particular are hard to find.

  1. We really focus on his "Planner". Dad tries to review all kids planners every day. Stickers and credit for writing things down, especially when assignments are handed out and when they are due. It took about 1 week but now all use planner well.
  2. We use his planner to communicate with his Aides. I think there's some benefit to this. In our school system we cannot contact an Aide directly.
  3. Wrote 1 page dossier on him for teachers to read. They don't get much information on students.
  4. We read the parent portal web site regularly. It's not great software, and I think the teachers struggle to make it work, but it's better than nothing.
  5. His teachers do very well with email. Phones and meetings are a lost cause -- but email works very well. I didn't expect that, nice benefit.
  6. In our IEP we requested gym every trimester. For our guy this is a big help. Physical activity helps him. We sacrificed Art and Technology (computer skills). The former is probably a lost cause, and the latter he gets at home.
  7. We have a regular weekend slot for homework and a classmate/friend with somewhat similar disabilities joins him for this. I think this is helping both of them, it certainly helps my guy.
  8. We are very aggressive on following up on missed assignments. The Parent Portal can help with this -- esp. prior to end of trimester it gets updated. We track down and do missing assignments.
  9. I am surprised that he can do simple algebra and his basic physics equations. I didn't expect that. He does get help from an aide there, but he's still writing out the expressions and completing many of them. I think his science teacher feels we're exaggerating his disabilities.
  10. His history teacher is relatively demanding, which is working well. Of course he's not evaluated at grade level, but to get a B he has to actually work. If he doesn't work, gets a D. This is a good opportunity to push his cognitive limits. It's a fight of course, he wants to scrawl some illegible roughly related words and move on. Even so, it's not that BIG a fight. For this class I review the topics myself, translate them into diagrams and notes that are very close to answering his study unit questions, then give him those to interpret. I think he's picking up some history, but mostly he's learning to read, interpret and write. (I'm also picking up some history. His "World History" class is light years better than what I had. (I've studied quite a bit of history since, but there's a lot to be said for a grade 9 level overview!)
  11. He's done very well with adaptive sports and we continue to sign him up for those. He also does mainstream sports teams, so there's some push and pull there. Either way - real value.

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