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#119786  01/11/12 05:29 AM
Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration

Member
Registered: 12/06/11
Posts: 85
Loc: Minnesota

DS6, who is in K, has been skipping up to 2nd grade for reading since the beginning of November and for math since the beginning of December. The regular 2nd grade teacher who had planned all of this with his K teacher has been out on FMLA since the beginning of December but will be coming back soon. I have always assumed that reading was Connor's stronger suit and was initially surprised when the school suggested 2nd grade math acceleration as well, but since then he seems to have been proving me wrong. He has developed a huge interest in numbers and math of the last couple of months and, at least according to him, has been enjoying his math class. Fast forward to yesterday and I get a call from DS's K teacher. She tells me that the 2nd grade teacher (the long term sub) told her that the math that they are learning is "going over his head" and that he is getting frustrated in class and that she doesn't think that its good for him. She suggested that 1st grade math would be a better fit because they're more likely to be at his "comfort level". Mind you, I have told his teacher all along that if there were ever any gaps that she was noticing to let us know because, since math has been a newer interest for him, its not something he has learned as much about at home but he learns quickly enough that those could generally be made up with a 5 minute discussion at home. I am no curriculum expert but I'm pretty sure he won't be learning much in a 1st grade math classroom considering he already knows multiple digit addition and subtraction and carrying, basic fractions, and has been learning multiplication and division on his own recently lately. Secondly, I know my child, and he is a massive perfectionist. If anything has too much risk or chance of failure then he will ooften just not try. Frustration, with him, is often just a sign that he is having to do something that isn't entirely innate. We search out those experiences for him since so many things come easily. I am not comfortable with telling him "Well, this must be too hard for you so why don't you go back to doing things that you already know how to do." On the same note he expresses NO frustration about this class or subject matter outside of that classroom. Thirdly, I don't know much about the 'Everyday Math' curriculum but it appears that what he's having a hard time with at the moment is doing the same addition problems that he already knows how to do in different ways, using different logarithms. My (and his K teacher's) question is If he already can do the math why does he have to learn a bunch of different ways to do the same problem? I can understand having value in showing different ways to accomplish something but if a child has learned a way on his own and is proficient at it are the other logarithms really needed? Right now it seems like his K teacher and I are on the same page that we should hold out on any changes until the regular teacher comes back but if any of you have been here before I'd certainly appreciate the input. Thanks.
Edited by vwmommy (09/19/12 12:35 PM)

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#119788  01/11/12 05:42 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 02/01/11
Posts: 833
Loc: somewhere out there

Does your school district use NWEA MAP testing? Those are very telling at what a child knows and is ready to learn next.

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#119789  01/11/12 06:08 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 06/25/08
Posts: 1840
Loc: North Texas

at least according to him, has been enjoying his math class. he is getting frustrated in class and that she doesn't think that its good for him. She suggested that 1st grade math would be a better fit because they're more likely to be at his "comfort level". .. I am no curriculum expert but I'm pretty sure he won't be learning much in a 1st grade math classroom considering he already knows multiple digit addition and subtraction and carrying, basic fractions, and has been learning multiplication and division on his own recently lately. Secondly, I know my child, and he is a massive perfectionist. If anything has too much risk or chance of failure then he will ooften just not try. Math is not easy like a lot of other things. You are not supposed to be comfortable. Its a good thing to get frustrated and then get it  especially if he is a perfectionist. That is normal. As long as he is getting it, then stay put. Based on your description of his skills, he sounds fine. He may be getting frustrated with the teacher who may be wanting to go over and over what he already knows. If his skill level is expanding faster than the material he is being fed... You may want to consider supplementing him at home with Singapore Math.

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#119790  01/11/12 06:13 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 06/02/10
Posts: 1457

There are actually good reasons for knowing multiple ways to skin a cat, as it were. At the basic math levels EDM may be focused on developing more number sense, ability to do mental math to check an answer, etc. You don't want a math student who can reliably calculate things a single way, but doesn't understand the reason for the calculation. Also, if they use EDM at your school, the regular teacher would probably be teaching the same material at this point. I'm not the biggest fan of EDM as used in our district, but your son's problems may be related to pace (especially if other kids have more fluency due to more practice), missing conceptual foundation (possible but unlikely I'd guess), or poor communication or rapport with the sub, who may be a bit of an unbeliever. The problem isn't really with learning multiple algorithms. Do you think it's possible he's refusing to do the work, or do you think he's doing his best? ETA (on my computer instead of my phone now): I agree with Austin, as usual. Singapore Math would be a great choice for supplementation in my opinion, since it tends toward clear answers and problemsolving practice, you can get extra Challenging Word Problems or Intensive Practice books, it helps a child build a strong conceptual framework (often by explaining things in multiple ways), and this is almost the best part I've found that it lends itself very well to acceleration. SM has extra workbooks that you can skip completely, just going through the text, and you can if you like use the review and practice sections as pretests to see how well your son's mastered the material in a block. ALEKS is very good too, and there are plenty of other options for enrichment or supplementation. I also agree that math should be challenging, and while your son is very young you need to start helping him deal with his perfectionism now (here's a recent thread with a list of strategies).
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#119796  01/11/12 07:10 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 2856

My (and his K teacher's) question is If he already can do the math why does he have to learn a bunch of different ways to do the same problem? If two adults are asking this question, it's likely that he's asking the question, too. Maybe the problem isn't that he doesn't understand how to do the work... it's that he doesn't understand how it has any value. Maybe all he needs is someone to show him why it would be useful to learn more than one method, and he'll be off and running again. It's a question that bears asking, anyway.

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#119804  01/11/12 08:25 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 701

I remember particular 2nd and 3rd grade EDM homework that required the student to do the exact same twodigit addition and subtraction problems in literally SIX different ways each. Good to know different approaches, definitely. Necessary to do each approach with the same problem? I could definitely see where frustration would set in and even a complete disbelief that the work even needs to be done. As I explained to my DS at the time, however, sometimes you just need to jump through the hoops of school. And, unfortunately, a lot of school is hoopjumping.
To me, though, it sounds like it could be more of an issue of both your son's perfectionism and his lack of challenge heretofor. I think almost all of us here have seen the frustration that accompanies the first challenge. Almost all of us here, though, have probably also seen that the frustration is short lived when they get slightly more used to the challenge and rise to meet the challenge and then, unfortunately, when the work becomes easy again (since they learn so darn quickly).
Since your DS seems happy when he talks about math at home and since you can see that he's up for the challenge, I think you should stay the course. Perhaps what is needed most is for you to attempt to educate the sub on how very common his reaction is for kids like him who are facing new and possibly challenging material for the first time.
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She thought she could, so she did.

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#119811  01/11/12 09:32 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 04/16/10
Posts: 2498

Maybe you could do some really hard math at home, and give him a script to use when frustrated, and practice the script. (This can be an "asking for help" script, or a "coping statement" like "I think I'll try this problem again another way" or "If it's wrong, I'll have a chance to fix it later.")
This sort of skill (the coping with frustration) needs a lot of practice before it's second nature.
DeeDee

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#119822  01/11/12 10:09 AM
Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
[Re: vwmommy]

Member
Registered: 12/13/05
Posts: 7207
Loc: Connecticut

All teriffic posts so far and I agree with all of the points. One additional approach. It's really hard to answer a teacher's complaints when you don't really know what she is talking about or what exactly is causing it. A way to find out is to gather more concrete information about what the problem is, and what the possible solutions might be. Is the material too hard or too easy? Is the material just right, but the experience of challenge new and skilltraining on how to express normal healthy amonths of frustration what is needed? Is the pace just wrong? If possible, go in and observe the math class, and then sit down with the teacher and see if you can observe the behavior that is of concern to the sub. Then sit down with the sub and let her have a chance to think aloud with your attention so that she can carefully rethink her original thought while explaining to you what she is seeing and 'how she got her answer.' If that isn't a good choice, sometimes spending time afterschooling Math with your son is enough that you can have the same conversation. I recommend www.aleks.com/ for their free trial, to encourage you to work intensively over a weekend, and see first hand what he's like when he's doing the work. The format of Aleks is useful, in that it gives new challenge after 3 correct answers or repetition if there is an incorrect answer. That takes you out of the teacher role, and lets you be a 'guide at the side' cheering him on and observing how he deals with a challenge, and what, actually constitutes a challenge for your son right at this moment. I know your real teacher is returning, and probably that will fix everything, but the sub is seeing SOMEthing, and it can be fun, if you have time, to figure out what that something is. Let us know! Grinity If not p
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