Well here we are again working on note taking, again! This skill has become something pretty critical for middle school and requires two things Bird lacks which are joint attention (for my purposes this means the teachers attention and his own to the sheet which he should be filling answers in history or science class) and writing (his long time nemesis).
We worked on this a lot over the summer with Ted Talks (my favorite TV watching by a lot!). He, his sister and brother would sit together and watch any of of 100’s of Ted Talks (one per day) ranging in variety from engineering and design to criminal recidivism and working on the parole system. The point was to think about the entire program with minimal jotting of notes and then summaries what you saw and learn about multiple subjects. We had pretty good success with this as seen by the length and detail of writing from the first day to the last over 3 months.
Our issues now again is that Bird has difficulty writing when he is listening. I wanted to try something short so it could be daily because time is really stretched thin during the school year with homework (the loin share of his after school time), karate, ccd, boyscouts, football and soon soccer (sigh). A woman on our list serv brought to my attention a sweet story about a boy with Asperger’s and his mom in Story Corp on youtube. The story was sweet and very short and animated so fairly interesting to Bird! Thanks Sheree for the intro to Story Corp.
I played the video for Bird and his sister as their first Story Corp writing assignment. The instruction was to write 3 sentences about the video ONLY while it was playing and then time was up. For this 4 minute contribution to their academic skills they were paid 15 minutes to do whatever they wanted once finished! Both kids jumped at the chance to have an additional 15 minutes BEFORE homework! Bird’s notes were not detailed and were all statements. Peep’s (his twin) were so detailed and long that she was only able to get 2 of hers down before it was over. Both were “paid” and felt happy.
Fast forward to today where only Bird asked to do the assignment (he loves chances to earn things from years of token economies). Today we watched a 3 minute video by Studs Terkell (great playwrite of Working as show I did a long time ago). Bird was unable to take a single note. He was pretty upset and wanted to cry when I brought the lack of writing to his attention. He then wanted to write when I was going over my notes. I told him that he could neither cry nor write or we would not do this again. ANY TIME you make a statement like this about not doing something again you need to be prepared to back it up! I was certain without a doubt that he wanted to do this again to gain skills and free time and that I could win him back so I did it. We went back over the video and I pointed out 5 things I think might have been good to write down. I again explained why this was an important skill now and for his future.
After we get down about 20-30 of these I will look for something longer where he needs to fill in a sentence or two mimicking his current school work to help out with being able to recognize what to take notes on and then writing enough and legibly to make the notes worth taking.
All For Our Kids,