Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Snakes," Part II

You all know about my friend T from this post and others, including this one (in which he revealed his fascination with poisonous snakes). T has been having a difficult time lately, as I mentioned in my last post, which is why it has been so gratifying to watch him work on his senior project.

I took my friends to the school library last week so they could pick up some books for their projects, and T never hesitated. His long stride led him directly into the 500s and he planted himself in front of the reptile shelf. He quickly accumulated a stack of books on snakes, nice new books with lots of photographs and tables and statistics. He was hooked.

Today, he was among the first three kids who had already completed a rough draft of a written report. He told me he was ready for me to read it, which I did, with pleasure. Some people might be surprised to learn this, but T is a pretty good writer. He's very careful and methodical with his writing. Give him a structure and he internalizes it almost immediately. With T, at least, I've seen the wisdom of scaffolding and structure for kids with LDs. He struggles with writing when the assignment is more free-form, but something he can outline and plan and make boxes and bullet points for? He'll rock it. I gave him a few small pointers and made some corrections, and he nodded and scribbled and set about typing his handwritten notes on his computer.

I don't know if he still has lunch detention, but it's worth noting that, during a week that has been completely chaotic in my usually peaceful and orderly school, T has been very quiet. I'd like to flatter myself that this focused and self-chosen project is giving him a lot to do, and it's work that he likes to boot. I have no idea if this is the case. But I'm really happy to see him bearing down on his work--and, more to the point, doing it with almost no reminding or prodding from me. He's very self-directed right now, sitting and working for long periods of time without getting distracted or frustrated.

Good news? Hey, I'll take it.