I am constantly amazed at the role language learning plays across all academic subjects–math, science and social studies to name a few. I am working with a sixth grader who has language deficits (processing, word-finding, expressive language) and I am supporting the language concepts in her academic subjects.
Last week we worked on her math journal. She was given a word problem (language) to solve and go through the steps of how she solved it, explaining the steps in her thinking. First of all, it was hard to solve. We were given two bits of information on the order of specific shoes that were to be displayed in a window. First I drew pictures of the shoes, but that didn’t help her. Finally I took objects to represent the different colored shoes and it was like a light went on. She started moving around the objects into different orders that would be possible, given the facts. Now we just had to put all that thinking into words!
This week we worked on science–experiments, identifying independent and dependent variables, and writing hypotheses. Look at all the language in there! Explain the difference between the variables and how you determine which is which (look for words that suggest something you can measure for the dependent variable like “bigger,” “higher” or “more.” Then rephrase the concepts into a hypothesis. She got it after we worked with it for a while.
I came home and told my husband that I’m not sure I can go beyond 6th grade. It’s too hard!