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    #119786 - 01/11/12 05:29 AM Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration
    vwmommy Offline
    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]
    frannieandejsmom Offline
    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]
    Austin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/25/08
    Posts: 1840
    Loc: North Texas
    Originally Posted By: vwmommy
    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]
    Iucounu Offline
    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. smile Singapore Math would be a great choice for supplementation in my opinion, since it tends toward clear answers and problem-solving 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).
    _________________________
    Striving to increase my rate of flow, and fight forum gloopiness. sick

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    #119796 - 01/11/12 07:10 AM Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration [Re: vwmommy]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Originally Posted By: vwmommy
    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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    #119797 - 01/11/12 07:24 AM Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration [Re: vwmommy]
    st pauli girl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    If you have a kid who encounters very little challenge, it is necessary to provide the type of challenge that your DS is facing. If he already understands one way to do the problem, it could be an issue with how the sub is explaining the new way of solving. Maybe you can find out the particular issues and explain at home. Or else try khan academy for videos. We just got a great khan video explanation of "mode", even though DS knew what it was, mom and dad were not so familiar with that term!

    As for learning and using several different methods to do the same thing, I think that it's very useful for kids who learn in different ways. It also might help a kid understand why something works, rather than just rote memorization. Then at some point a person should be able to choose his/her preferred method of solving, the one they're most comfortable with. But that's just my opinion, and I am not mathy.


    Edited by st pauli girl (01/11/12 07:26 AM)

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    #119804 - 01/11/12 08:25 AM Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration [Re: vwmommy]
    mnmom23 Offline
    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 two-digit 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 hoop-jumping.

    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.
    _________________________
    She thought she could, so she did.

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    #119808 - 01/11/12 09:04 AM Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration [Re: vwmommy]
    vwmommy Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/06/11
    Posts: 85
    Loc: Minnesota
    Thanks for all the advice everyone. I am hoping that once the regular teacher returns we'll be a little more settled. When this teacher took over the class she asked to delayed Connor entering into her math class for a week while she "got to know him" in reading (which he had already been in for a month) first. From what I understand she is an older teacher who teaches in more traditional ways than what is common at the school (a charter STEM school)-- i.e. she has been teaching math to the whole group whereas the regular teacher usually splits the class into smaller groups.
    I also had a discussion with him about other ways he could deal with his frustration besides getting mad. I tried to suggest that he could raise his hand and ask the teacher when he had a question. His first response was "No, her voice is too loud and it hurts my ears." He has always had sensory issues especially regarding sounds so I don't know if this is legitimately the reason he doesn't want to ask or if he is just making excuses to not ask (he has NEVER liked asking for help). We also discussed the idea that things that are difficult can be very good for your brain. He loves anatomy and can relate to the idea of your neurons making new connections. I am hoping that we can help him find constructive ways to work through this. Any advice on how to help him handle his frustrations better?

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    #119811 - 01/11/12 09:32 AM Re: Teacher Questioning Math Acceleration [Re: vwmommy]
    DeeDee Offline
    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]
    Grinity Offline
    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 skill-training 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
    _________________________
    Coaching available, at SchoolSuccessSolutions.com

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