Sometimes, the greatest successes are found in the stories behind the stories.
Take, for instance, the case of a young man entering his sophomore year of high school and, for the first time in his life, being diagnosed with a learning disability.
Despite making good grades across the board, his reading skills were not quite as high as they needed to be and written expression was a significant area of weakness.
“I truly believe he had never been pushed to submit any written work, as he was so strong verbally,” says veteran SIM Professional Developer Jerri Neduchal of Orlando, who worked with him that year. The student had always managed to talk his way out of any sticky academic situation.
Far from being an isolated case, this student’s situation represents a more widespread problem among youth, Jerri says.
“Today, we have so many more students who are relying on their verbal communication and have weak written expression,” she says.
To boost the student’s reading skills, he and Neduchal first tackled the Word Identification Strategy. He quickly mastered that strategy and moved on to improve his writing skills with Proficiency in the Sentence Writing Strategy.
“He learned to write simple sentences with little difficulty, and then progressed through compound and complex,” Neduchal says. “By the end of the year, he had mastered all types of sentences.”
His crowning achievement came in the form of a 10-page paper he wrote for American history that year.
“You have to understand,” Neduchal says. “He had not written anything all year for anybody.”
Bursting with price, the young man showed Neduchal the paper—and the B+ grade he had earned on it.
What made the story so memorable for Neduchal was not the young man’s achievement on that single paper, satisfying though that was. It was that he had made it to 10th grade without writing and then, because of SIM instruction, he finally had the tools to succeed in his general education classes.
And he doesn’t have to talk his way out of educational corners any more.
—This story first appeared in 30 x 30: Thirty Stories of Success, Hope, and Innovation, © 2008, The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning.