For most of their day, our children operate in 3-dimensional space. Within that 3-dimensional space, many of their activities take place on the vertical plane rather than the horizontal. Even though they may stand on a horizontal plane, their body is usually in a vertical position and they relate things to that vertical plane. When we take children to the horizontal plane for paper and pencil tasks (this can include printing, artwork, or math activities) many of the position in space words we use could be confusing for children who relate those words to the vertical plane. For our English Language Learners it can be even more confusing as they are trying to learn the vertical plane meaning as well.
I want to share a personal experience to illustrate this concept. I was setting up my brand new projector to use with my power point presentation. After a few phone calls to the help desk, I had the laptop synced, slide 1 was on the wall and I was ready to start reviewing my presentation. I clicked the up arrow on the remote, but nothing happened. I clicked again and again and again, but still nothing happened aside from a slight movement of the first slide. I was becoming quite frustrated, but really didn’t want to have to contact the help line yet again! I hit the remote, accidently pressing the down arrow – the slide changed to number 2! My ‘up’ was their ‘down’!
I had a completely different mindset of the terms ‘up’ and ‘down’ from what the manufacturer intended. In my mind, going from slide 1 to slide 2 to slide 3 . . . was the process of counting ‘up’. Yet, when your slides show on the computer screen, it becomes a process of going ‘down’ the list. Confusing!
Our students can become just as easily confused and frustrated if they have a different idea of what a word means. In the next several post, I will discuss some of the common position in space words that change meaning when taken from the vertical plane to the horizontal plane and give suggestions to support children as they practice their printing.
* Position in space words refer to words we use to describe a location or a direction: in front of, behind, beside, up, down, near, under, over, above, below, between, inside, outside, on, off, left, right, forwards, backwards.