Saturday, July 11, 2015

The COGAT, Working Memory, and Dyslexia

As mentioned in my last few posts, the pillars of the COGAT are working memory, vocabulary, and a third bucket that I'm still working on called cognitive skills.  I'll define the third bucket later.

In the meantime, I was talking to a Dyslexia expert recently and was stunned to be able to put all of the pieces together on a subset of the Twice Gifted, in this case gifted kids with Dyslexia.  I have a theory that it is the Dyslexia that causes giftedness.

Here is how one form of dyslexia works in practice.  The kid reads 5 > 3.  The eyes report 5 < 3 to the brain.  Then the brain has to translate 5 < 3 into 5 > 3 in order to process it and solve the rest of the problem.   Whereas normal kids get a 1 step problem (normal math in the US), dyslexic kids get at least a 2 step problem (cognitive skills tests).   Every problem is a working memory builder for these kids.  Thus GAT test prep is built into everything they do.

As the problems increase in complexity, these kids have to put it all in their working memory.  Writing it down is even more painful than just solving it mentally.  I know of at least one dyslexic person who hates to write even a sentence, but can total a list of numbers on site.  These special kids can be voracious readers.  I'm not sure why.

My oldest child fits this description.  I don't know if it is because he is a stubborn 10 year old boy or if he has a mild form of dyslexia.  From the Singapore math book, we did problems like this:  "Joe is 36 and Jim is 11.  When will Joe be twice as old as Jim?"

We argued about this problem, specifically the meaning of "twice as old".  That falls under the "Read The Question" skill and is somewhat related to cognitive skills but more of a problem solving skill.  He tried a few times with little success.  So I showed him how to formulate and solve the equation 36 + x = 2*(11+x).  Easy peasy.  He refused, and then proceeded (out of spite) to write down correct answers to the next few problems without doing any work on paper.

How can I diagnose this behavior?

First, I ripped out the answers out of the back of the book and threw them away.   We'll see what happens tonight.  I'm always skeptical.  He already knows that looking up the answer without doing any work is the highest form of problem solving.

Secondly, I have been working with him on working memory problems for the last 6 months.  He may in fact have plenty of working memory built up because I never give him a one step problem.   Lots of brain teasers, which require working memory and brain storming simultaneously.  I focus on convoluted, tricky questions with hidden meanings.

Thirdly, he has a tendency to memorize things.  Did this come from dyslexia, or from our 15 to 30 minute a day Home Schooling academic program he's been doing since he was 6?

I'll give him a test.


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