At a cross-level team meeting this week I learned that Rosalee spent four years in a Montessori primary class, where pre-schoolers usually spend just three years. When I brought forward some of Rosalee’s language and learning difficulties in my class, her primary teacher explained that she had been cared for during her first few years of life by a Spanish-speaking grandmother who didn’t want to confuse her, so she just didn’t talk to her at all! The teacher said that when she came to school, Rosalee had almost no language, hence the necessity of retaining her an extra year.
Rosalee has been diligently working on a report about Jordan this past month. Each step has been a major undertaking—taking notes, writing paragraphs for a rough draft, working through an edit with me to correct misspellings and grammatical mistakes (often subject/verb agreements or other grammatical irregularities). For two days Rosalee worked carefully to make a final copy in her best handwriting and then she insisted on typing it, a very difficult undertaking that required much revision to arrive at an intelligible on-screen version. Throughout the project, however, her interest heightened and her concentration increased. When I brought her a magazine article on Jordan’s queen, she took the article home to show her mother and came back with some of the pictures cut out for her book. Tomorrow she will put her book together, practice reading it with a friend, and then present it to the class. She’s already told me this is her plan for Monday.
Rosalee has also been faithful in reading an abridged version of “Anne of Green Gables,” a book she chose from several options, along with several of her friends. The reading level is probably about a grade level behind her fourth grade. However, she is reading with interest and apparent understanding based on the questions she brings to the discussions and the answers she is able to give. However, I did peek at the questions she had written for the discussion and found the spelling and grammar almost inscrutable: “what had she seed for?”
I have distracted Rosalee with a few math lessons during this three-week period, and she has dutifully tried to do the follow-up work with equivalent fractions and some “fact family” work with addition and subtraction facts. However, her individual work indicates that her mind is elsewhere.
Language work is clearly Rosalee’s challenge, her focus, her work. It doesn’t seem a good time to try to “balance her curriculum.”
Would it be wise to try to “speed her up” in this process of language learning?