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From: David Berg
Sent: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 8:51 AM
Subject: James’ letter
Thank you for coming by to give me James’ wonderful letter, and I’m so sorry I missed seeing you. Please give this email to James for me.
Thank you so much for your wonderful letter. I am so pleased to hear of your successes in math, especially your ability to make a picture in everything you do all the time. I am very impressed with your understanding of how important making a picture is, and I want to congratulate and encourage you to continue your excellent work.
James, your letter is so good, I would like to ask your permission to publish it on the Making Math Real website so others may be inspired by what you have achieved, because what you describe in your letter is exactly why I created Making Math Real. Please let me know.
All the best to you,
Date: Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 2:14 PM
Subject: Re: James’ letter
To: David Berg
Thank you so much for your email. James was thrilled and had a big grin on his face for the longest time :). I hope it’s okay that I had him email you back directly.
We dropped by the workshop yesterday since James wanted to give you his card in person. Had I not made a mistake about location (I thought the class was at Cal State East Bay), he would have been able to do so. Sorry we couldn’t wait because I needed to be back in Belmont by 3, and left the card on your table.
The simple fact that James will be placed in algebra next year is incredible given his learning profile (see attached assessments if you are interested). We won’t stand a chance of improving the quality of his school life without you and Making Math Real. THANK YOU!!! James has mastered basic concepts and skills of Algebra I, and most importantly, he has become aware of his own processing style and challenges in executive functions. MMR has given both of us the possibility to advocate for what’s the best placement for James. To have that opportunity is truly a life-saver, as it will reshape his learning environment, peer group and his social emotional well-being for years to come.
It was not an easy decision for me to advocate for an advanced placement for James. As an MMR inspired parent and teacher, I understand this choice widens the developmental gaps between James and his classmates, other factors aside. This is a choice, believe or not, for survival. James’ middle school has 4 different tracks for 8thgrade math: Common Core, Algebra, Advanced Algebra, and Geometry. 3 different tracks for 7th grade. Imagine a 7th grade common core class with bottom quartile performing students, and a not-yet-credentialed teacher who has no classroom management skills, taught all 6 periods in the day and all 3 grade levels without any prep time. James could not stand the behavior in the classroom, and after exhausting all of his bathroom passes, he started to hurt himself physically and mentally, pinching and scratching his arms and saying all sorts of negative things to himself during math class. He was beyond miserable and was in a mental health crisis. How can we ever thank you enough for empowering us with MMR, so that we have a chance to get out of that situation?!
THANK YOU David. MMR undoubtedly has changed our lives for the better.
Date: Tue, Jun 20, 2017 at 1:40 PM
Subject: Thank you
To: David Berg
Dear Mr. Berg,
Thank you for the opportunity to have my thank you note on the Making Math Real Website. I really appreciate it. By the way, I would like to have the thank you note on the Making Math Real Website.
I am very grateful to have Making Math Real in my daily life. I am grateful because it helps me get around with my daily life in everything I do, not just math. For example, when I am at school I need a picture of which supplies to get out, which textbook page to turn to, and what homework is due.
Another reason that Making Math Real helps me is even though I still go random, I know that the math is not the problem. Not using the picture is the problem. I am working on using a stop sign to slow down and get the picture before the pencil hits the paper.
Thank you for all of your help. I look forward to meeting you in the future.
Date: Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 5:10 PM
Subject: No Small Miracle – THANK YOU!
To: David Berg
We’d like to let you know that James has mastered Algebra I word problems (Rate Time Distance, Mixture, & Work) with the help of your “bucket” system. He feels so very much empowered now and we can’t thank you enough!
This would have been a near impossible task for James, who has very low working memory (4%), language processing/comprehension difficulties, linear processor/lack of central coherence, very low visual perceptual/spatial skills and executive dysfunction (especially sequential processing, selecting out and focusing in), etc.
Your “bucket” system creates a beautifully still, consistent working memory picture, and the MMR training has taught me to be aware that teaching is a developmental intervention. Those factors have made the otherwise impossible learning possible. Yes it is the teaching, never the program. I can’t wait to read your upcoming series of articles!
The best that has come out of all this for us is not just math, or even the various aspects of development we worked on while learning math, which in itself is no small miracle (eg. his accuracy is in the 90%’s consistently compared to 60~70% a few years ago). James has learned about the way his brain processes information, what’s easy and what’s difficult for him through day in and day out concrete math examples. This self-awareness is going to help him self-advocate in life in the future. The core cognitive deficit of ASD has made it incredibly difficult for many to “get it” in life in general. I feel that we are making strides in the most difficult yet important area. No small miracle in deed.
I’ve read the article by Cavallaro. I wish I could be just as articulate and have enough experience to let the world know what a profound impact MMR can make for kids on the ASD spectrum. I think for many, math could be their relative strength.
We certainly would not be where we are today without you and MMR.
With much gratitude,