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    #236999 - 03/08/17 10:05 AM Options for fourth grade math
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 86
    My son is in fourth grade at a local public school. Our district has no gifted programming whatsoever. He's not had much testing -- he did achieve scores in the 9th stanine across the board in a second grade CogAT -- but I suspect him of being in the HG range. We've gotten by up until now with engaged teachers who've done various sorts of differentiation, and I've done some enrichment outside of school.

    (Every time I come here for advice I feel awkward because we haven't tested, so I end up asking for advice on how to find testing resources. But despite all that, I still don't feel like testing would add a lot of value for us in understanding him. I know his traits because I was a gifted child, and I know he needs more than what standard pedagogy offers. His second grade CogAT confirms he's got above-average ability, and that's enough for now, you know?)

    Anyway, our current issue is that the work load is higher in fourth grade so it's been hard to add enrichment. And although we discussed differentiation at the fall teacher conference, we haven't seen much of a change.

    This week my math-talented little guy was crying over his math homework AGAIN, stressing out because it was so tedious but he kept making simple typos that caused the computer-adaptive program to add MORE problems to the already-excessive amount of practice, so I promised him that I would explore some alternatives that I can present to his teacher at spring conference time in a few weeks.

    So I'm wondering, what does math differentiation, subject acceleration, or other accommodation look like for your math-loving HG public school student?

    My son is very very reluctant to consider accelerating into the fifth grade classroom for math time, and anyway it would be tough to coordinate and wouldn't help him very much since the pacing would still be all wrong. He's willing to consider individual tutoring (since I have a math/science degree I'd be taking that on, pulling him out for one-on-one work during math time,) but he is concerned that even this would stand out too much among his peers.

    What other options can I consider and suggest?

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    #237001 - 03/08/17 10:46 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    Have you looked at Beast Academy. You could start at 3A and work a bit quicker.

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    #237007 - 03/08/17 11:24 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    blackcat Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    If he's doing a computer adaptive program, can he do it at a higher grade level? Another option is Khan Academy...just make sure you put him at the correct grade, not 4th grade. My fourth grader did Khan Academy in 2nd grade as well as some workbooks that I sent in that were a couple grade levels up. It wasn't a great long term solution and our school district has so many issues that we finally went to a different district and they immediately subject accelerated him 3 years. Now a middle school teacher comes in and teaches him and 3 other kids for an hour, then she leaves again (she is a math intervention teacher I think but took on these 4 gifted kids). I didn't ask for it, the district set it up. I'm not sure what will happen next year because he needs to take Algebra and the other kids will be moving to middle school and he will not. The problem with math has been probably the most difficult thing I've encountered (other than special ed). Its all too easy for people to claim that differentiation is going to happen, but it doesn't actually. Most kids are fine with grade level work and if they need enrichment, they can do some word problems or something. But when a few kids need to move at a really fast pace the schools just don't know what to do. I think the only solutions are to either do online learning (which is unfortunate) or subject acceleration to the correct level. Neither one of those are optimal. Having a kid stare at a screen by themselves isn't good, and subject acceleration isn't good if the pace is still too slow. DS moves at a pretty fast pace now because all of the kids are able to move quickly.

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    #237015 - 03/08/17 07:56 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: Portia]
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 86
    puffin: He first did 3A when he was 6. wink We currently own 3A-D and 5A/B, and he loves it all. He prefers to jump to the starred problems and wrestle them into submission. LOL. We just don't have a lot of time for it.

    Originally Posted By: Portia
    It sounds like you have 2 different things going on: 1) unchallenging math and 2) social appearances.

    First one: I have seen a parent go to the school to provide math. In some cases, I have seen a parent offer the math "course" to more than just her child, which helped with concern #2. In both types of situations, things seem to have worked well.

    Second one: Is his math class close to some sort of break (lunch, end of day, beginning of day) so that you can just check him out for a bit? Or could you teach him math at home and have him do the work during math time without teacher support (ex: flipped classroom)? Another option to consider is to just have him come take his math class with you and see what the others say. If anyone says anything, have a good comment such as "I wanted to do something different with math." Most classmates know when a class is not a good fit for someone.

    Just some thoughts.


    He says they typically do math first thing. So I suggested that he should just come to school an hour later, and we'll do the math bit at home. (It's a 5 minute drive, so this isn't a hardship.) Or I could pull him to work in the hallway or library. He's sort of okay with this. But he's worried that he'll feel like he's bragging if he ever discusses *why* he's doing things differently. You're absolutely right, it's not like the other kids don't know. And plenty of kids get pulled from various subjects for all kinds of reasons, mostly remediation. It wouldn't be that weird.

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    #237017 - 03/08/17 08:12 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    Maybe just move on to prealgebra then. He could do alcamus at school if they want on line stuff. If he likes BA, Khan probably wouldn't do it for him. My 9 year old has just started 5th grade and has been finally advanced 2 years in maths. Unfortunately that puts him in the top class and I think he might still be near the top in the advanced class. I am going to start him on AOPS PA to give more depth to what they do in class then hope I can organise his maths for the two years after this.

    Eta. If you could get permission to start school late the kids would accept it pretty quickly and may even be envious. Ds9 just has someone from the other class fetch him when it is time.


    Edited by puffin (03/08/17 08:20 PM)

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    #237018 - 03/08/17 08:55 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: blackcat]
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 86
    Originally Posted By: blackcat
    If he's doing a computer adaptive program, can he do it at a higher grade level? Another option is Khan Academy...just make sure you put him at the correct grade, not 4th grade.


    The problem, as you might also experience, isn't the starting level so much as the amount of repetition. The teacher seems to think that when they use Front Row (which is adaptive and pre-tests them into a level where they need work) it serves as enough differentiation -- but it's asking him to do tens, if not hundreds, of problems on topics that he grasped within the first few minutes of instruction, you know? And they do Khan sometimes, but you're exactly right that subject acceleration is no good if the pace is still too slow (and the instruction is still overly procedural, which I find is the drawback of Khan.)

    I'm kind of liking the flipped classroom suggestion. He loves Alcumus...if we were permitted to forego homework, I could possibly teach him AOPS Prealgebra and then let him do Alcumus during class, especially when they have Chromebook time anyway. Hrm.

    I'm super jealous of your kiddo's individual instruction. smile Good luck with next year!

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    #237019 - 03/08/17 09:06 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: puffin]
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 86
    Originally Posted By: puffin
    Maybe just move on to prealgebra then. He could do alcamus at school if they want on line stuff. If he likes BA, Khan probably wouldn't do it for him. My 9 year old has just started 5th grade and has been finally advanced 2 years in maths. Unfortunately that puts him in the top class and I think he might still be near the top in the advanced class. I am going to start him on AOPS PA to give more depth to what they do in class then hope I can organise his maths for the two years after this.

    Eta. If you could get permission to start school late the kids would accept it pretty quickly and may even be envious. Ds9 just has someone from the other class fetch him when it is time.


    Cross posted! laugh I think AOPS/Alcumus would be a great fit. DS loves the "dive in and break your brain" aspects but hesitates over the more structured aspects of (any) textbook. I might just have to buy it and see how it goes. >.<

    His concern about being treated differently, starting late or pulling out at math time or whatever, is that he knows it's not appropriate to brag about being more advanced. But everyone knows he's the "smart kid" and knows that's why he'd be pulled for special treatment during math. And he doesn't know how he'd talk about it without coming off as bragging, you know? So he hesitates when I suggest those kinds of solutions. He would LOVE a small group situation where he could share special instruction with peers -- but from what I'm gathering so far, there might not *be* any peers, at least not in fourth grade. He's trying so hard to find coding buddies to help him with his pet project of creating a video game in Javascript or C, and no one is as motivated as he is. Such a tough age in a lot of ways. :\

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    #237030 - 03/09/17 10:47 AM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    mecreature Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/14/11
    Posts: 358
    When my ds was in 4th we had talked to the school about doing AoPS pre algebra. They agreed we cold but it all fell through pretty quick. Backup plan was to do it after school at home. DS would do AoPS at home every evening and one night a week we had a tutor (High School Boy) come by for an hour or so to answer questions and work on some solutions with him. It worked wonderful.

    DS was subject accelerated 2 grades in math since 1st grade so he took 5th grade math in 3rd so he was out of curriculum in that building. They had wanted him to do a whole grade skip several times but we chose not to. They had a High Ability program but it was really just in name only IMO.

    In 5th we switched to a private school for gifted kids where middle school starts in 5th. It was a very good match. You could test into upper level math classes.

    So it seemed to me that 4th grade forced our hand.

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    #237031 - 03/09/17 12:41 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    sunnyday Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/08/14
    Posts: 86
    Yeah, fourth feels like a pivotal year. We're not just playing around any more, we're setting genuine foundations. Plus, we're at this scary cusp: he is currently very motivated to go way farther, way faster. He sees all the applications of advanced math and he wants it NOW. But...the repetition, and the busywork, are grinding him down. I'm watching his enthusiasm get crushed and it horrifies me.

    Early on I did try to keep his enriched content limited to the topics they were covering in school. This helped reduce the amount of sheer boredom before third grade, but of course it's now backfiring. Because there are a few topics in fourth and fifth grade math that he's not yet fluent in, and it's a lot harder to convince them that he doesn't NEED direct instruction in things like unit conversions because he will easily fill those holes on his own. But if he's not given something to sink his teeth into, math is going to be lost to him forever.

    He also has a talented sister coming up behind him and I'm realizing that she actually needs me to advocate for her even more than he does. Because she is content to do the assigned work and doesn't push or complain, I haven't had as many teaching moments with her to encourage a growth mindset and a love of challenge. So we need to figure out how to work with teachers and administration to get both their needs met.

    Unfortunately there aren't other districts or private schools feasibly available to us. I hope we can make this work.

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    #237032 - 03/09/17 01:35 PM Re: Options for fourth grade math [Re: sunnyday]
    mecreature Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/14/11
    Posts: 358
    In 3rd and 4th grade we started doing some local math competitions. In the AoPS pre algebra book it kind of goes that way. They use some problems from previous math counts and AMC 8 competitions. If he likes grinding them out he will like these. I used to print out some of the competitions and cut single problems out and tape them to his binders. I had him go over them and try to solve them and then we would go over the solutions sometime that week. It was different than school math.

    Sometimes it is not so much just acceleration when it comes to math but doing problem solving problems. You can buy a lot of time by just doing harder or different problems. He will still be sharpening his addition, multiplication and such but understanding how it all links together.

    There are more problems with solutions out there then you will ever use.

    This is just what we did in 4th to get through.

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