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My son doesn't seem to get Beast Academy problems. I'm so frustrated!


idnib
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DS9 has been doing Singapore since K. He does well with it and gets most of the material the first time, and what he doesn't get only needs another repetition.

 

We've been doing a math circle once/week which uses AoPS-style problems. There is no homework and the class has no room for the parents to sit, so I've been mostly in the dark about how it goes in there. But we have been discussing the problems he remembers and there have been no concerns from the teacher so I thought it was going well.

 

For logistical reasons we cannot go to math circle anymore so I decided to start Beast Academy as a supplement to Singapore. He loves reading the text but he gets most of the problems wrong. Sometimes they are plain wrong and other times they are incomplete i.e. he only finds 12 squares in the diagram instead of turning is diagonally and finding 4 more. In the last set I would say only 25% were completely correct, 50% partially correct, and 25% made me wonder if he was using the same book I was.

 

Are people doing lots of instruction with BA? Just letting their kids read? Supplementing somehow? And any ideas why my really-good-at-Singpore kid is having so much trouble? When I bought the book he loved reading it and he still does but the problem sets are quickly becoming his nemesis.

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Is it mostly the spatial type problems? I have a harder time with those myself, as I'm not a VSL type at all.

 

Another thing to think about is that the AoPS folks think math should be challenging, so if the kid is able to get 100% correct, the problems aren't hard enough for that child. So BA is designed for kids to not get 100% correct. I don't know what would be considered "good enough" in BA, as I only used it briefly.

 

Has your son done the challenging problems in Singapore's IP and/or CWP? How did he handle those?

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He's done some challenging problems in Singapore and done fine. Not perfect, but nothing too surprising.

 

He's particularly having problems with problems in which he has to connect the dots to make shapes, or they give him a shape and tell him to find, for example, all the rhombus shapes within it. He does lots of spatial stuff in his day-to-day life as he's a bit of an engineer who builds lots of complex things.

 

I don't know how he would do with non-spatial problems on BA; these are at the beginning and we can't seem to get past them!

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We're not that far into BA, but the pentaminos chapter was one of the hardest ones for us so far. I almost think it was there to weed kids out! We did bits of it. Then we skipped ahead. Then we went back and did some more. Then Chasing Vermeer was our read aloud and we did a little more... But it's the only thing we haven't finished. And I don't feel bad about it. I'd go to the skip counting chapter and see how he does with that.

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We "buddy read" the textbook and stop to discuss while we read. Then my dd and ds do every other problem in the workbook. BA is mostly review for my dd so I encourage her to talk aloud while she works so my ds gets more teaching that way. On his problems, my ds works them independently and gets 75% right. To break that down further, there are some sections (skip counting) where that has been closer to 100% right including the starred problems. In other sections (perfect squares) he has been closer to 50% correct and I haven't even had him attempt the starred problems.

 

I just saw your new post. I would not use that section to judge the rest of the program. My ds did better than my dd (and me sometimes) because that seems to be a strength for him, but those are crazy hard. I would skim/move on as necessary and I think it will get better.

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Thanks everyone.

 

I think we're going to move on. We're both frustrated, him with the math and me with him.

 

I remember when he was in 1st grade he just couldn't get problems about money. We struggled and were frustrated and I grudgingly skipped it, thinking there was something wrong with how I was teaching it, but ultimately feeling like I had no choice as I had tried everything. We came back to it a year later and he did it easy-as-pie.

 

I guess this is one of those things.

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My DS is also a Mr. Mechanical who loves building with Legos, K'Nex, etc. I recently had him evaluated by a binocular vision clinic because I was concerned about eye teaming. As it turns out, the eye teaming issues are most likely due to needing an updated glasses prescription. However, part of the BV exam also looked at visual processing and spatial planning. In those areas he turned out to be borderline-low. We're currently on the waiting list for a full neuropsych eval because he is so all over the map that we suspect he is "twice exceptional" (gifted + learning disabled).

 

If your student has any of the symptoms of a visual processing disorder, I would encourage you to consider having him evaluated by a neuropsychologist.

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I am not a math person....my math kids definitely take after their dad! But, I have watched my ds's math coach work with him as well as how AoPS interacts with their students. Both ask questions trying to get students to consider other ways of looking at the problem. It really is like Socratic questioning directed toward mathematical concepts. So, for example, when you state "he only finds 12 squares in the diagram instead of turning is diagonally and finding 4 more," a math coach might suggest something like, "what do you see if you look at the image from a different angle?" (I have never seen BA, so I'm not sure what you are describing, but am assuming that would be an aid.).

 

Ds's math coach would also sit and work the problems at the same time so that they could converse while working through the problems. They would ask each other questions while talking. So when she was actually directing him toward more correct thinking, it seemed like the questions were just part of the conversation. :) Fwiw, I have adopted this approach with my older kids and I do sit and work through the math problems with them at the same time. It really is a great way to understand their thought processes and know what questions to ask and redirect their thoughts in the correct direction w/o having to tell them "how to do it."

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My ds is much better at the problems your son struggles with (whereas the skip counting chapter was super challenging for him) but, even so, BA is definitely a team effort for us. I give him lots of questions, hints, etc when he gets stuck and usually, after working through a few together, he gets the hang of what they're going for and then he does them faster than me. But I think it is the rare kid who could work independently on the workbook and score anything like 100%. It's supposed to be pretty challenging.

 

ETA: I also suggest moving ahead to the next chapter for a bit and then coming back. The skip counting chapter is not dependent on successful completion of the first chapter.

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ETA: I also suggest moving ahead to the next chapter for a bit and then coming back. The skip counting chapter is not dependent on successful completion of the first chapter.

I'll second this. My son got stuck near the end of the first chapter, but got through it pretty easily when we came back a few weeks later.

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We treat BA as a challange, a puzzle, not to be completed with 100% accuracy. Since I have a perfectionist is child who tends to become very anxious about school work, him trying was enough of a victory for me. We spent 4-5 months on the first book since we took it in such little bites.

 

When we moved into 3B we were able to pick up the pace quite a bit; I think it really does get easier!

 

 

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These are all good suggestions. I really like math and always have so I don't mind the Socratic method of doing these problems. In a way I was doing this, but through gritted teeth, trying to understand how to make this work. So I can ask the same questions but with enthusiasm rather than exasperation!

 

When I was a student I was gifted at math and my son is not. But he has grasped Singapore at a reasonable pace so I haven't run into the "how can you not see it?" problem before. Also I think because he has been used to Singapore he approaches it from the point of view of finding a single correct answer. In other words, as soon as he has a single answer he thinks he's done instead of continuing to study the problem. When he "counts the rectangles" he does the obvious ones and figure he's done without delving into rotation, or remembering that squares are also rectangles.

 

CW, do you think they would cover the same "spatial planning" and "visual processing" in an IQ test? He took one as an evaluation through our district and all his scores except verbal were normal or higher at that time. Or would this be something different?

 

Thanks all.

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I sit right beside my dd and do the problems with her. I help her to see what she needs to see if she is not quite getting it. I look at the answers ahead of time so I know where BA is heading. We have a lot of fun with it and sometimes Mom even gets it "wrong" and that's okay. I'm using it to drive home the idea that math can be totally fun and not intimidating and if we don't get 100% every time, it's not the end of the world. I wish I had had this when my ds was this age.

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He loves reading the text but he gets most of the problems wrong. Sometimes they are plain wrong and other times they are incomplete i.e. he only finds 12 squares in the diagram instead of turning is diagonally and finding 4 more. In the last set I would say only 25% were completely correct, 50% partially correct, and 25% made me wonder if he was using the same book I was.

 

Are people doing lots of instruction with BA? Just letting their kids read? Supplementing somehow? And any ideas why my really-good-at-Singpore kid is having so much trouble? When I bought the book he loved reading it and he still does but the problem sets are quickly becoming his nemesis.

I too had to quit going to a math circle for logistical reasons, so I sympathize.

 

When I did the first chapter of BA, we did everything together. I sat next to him and I either could tell the answers or looked them up. If he said 12 and there were 4 more to find, I told him to keep looking. I made a paper template for building pentomino structures on top of, instead of freehand (see attached).

 

Come to think of it, it was the best and hardest section of BA. But it was me helping him, if only in terms of being there to talk to him and encourage him. I did not have him do it by himself.

 

If you want to create a math circle environment, it's not just about the problems, I don't think. It's about the environment of puzzling.

 

I think a lot of math problems require challenging assumptions. It may be good for him to have his mind expanded and do some wacky problems. I think it would be good for him to have the experience of thinking something through, and working on it for a while, and coming back to it.

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I walk dd through the BA lessons. At first it was extreme hand holding with me pretty much showing her how to work the problem and get the answer. I honestly felt she was not getting anything from the book until I saw her using the BA style thinking in her other math studies. I still need to hand hold through the BA lessons but she is slowly doing some of the problems on her own. I think the BA curriculum is to math like Phonics is to reading. Your child might know sight words or be able to memorize certain words, enough so to read books, but they have not decoded the reading of words. BA makes the child decode math, it is hard for some, and walking the child through each step (like you did with phonics) tales time.

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I am not a math person....my math kids definitely take after their dad! But, I have watched my ds's math coach work with him as well as how AoPS interacts with their students. Both ask questions trying to get students to consider other ways of looking at the problem. It really is like Socratic questioning directed toward mathematical concepts. So, for example, when you state "he only finds 12 squares in the diagram instead of turning is diagonally and finding 4 more," a math coach might suggest something like, "what do you see if you look at the image from a different angle?" (I have never seen BA, so I'm not sure what you are describing, but am assuming that would be an aid.).

 

Ds's math coach would also sit and work the problems at the same time so that they could converse while working through the problems. They would ask each other questions while talking. So when she was actually directing him toward more correct thinking, it seemed like the questions were just part of the conversation. :) Fwiw, I have adopted this approach with my older kids and I do sit and work through the math problems with them at the same time. It really is a great way to understand their thought processes and know what questions to ask and redirect their thoughts in the correct direction w/o having to tell them "how to do it."

 

That is how I do things with ds on the more challenging sections. I try to get him to look at problems from another direction or to recall previous info that might help. I think it sets them up for success when they do future problems as they can think, what all did I try before to figure this out. I know sometimes I have to look up the answer to think of suggestions. I am planning on going back through BA this year w/ ds to tackle some of the more challenging parts and go over it again. I believe I read that the writers of BA encourage doing it in this manner.

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...I am planning on going back through BA this year w/ ds to tackle some of the more challenging parts and go over it again. I believe I read that the writers of BA encourage doing it in this manner.

 

Yes, I plan to do the same thing when we start back up in the fall. Here is the quote (although it is way cooler in comic book form, lol):

Some of the topics in this book go well beyond what is taught in a third grade math class. Don't worry if you don't understand every lesson in the book the first time. You can always come back later to review some of the more difficult sections.

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3A was probably the hardest for my eldest. I don't know if it was the subject content or simply because it was our first taste of BA. But I ended up doing most of the toothpick and pentomino problems myself, and then explaining them to my slack jawed children (my middle child participated at first, until I decided to hold off on her). But now the eldest is in the middle of 3D and doing just fine. Yes, she needs some pointers occasionally (mostly because she refuses to read the instructions at the top - I swear it's like she doesn't see them and it's a new discovery each week when I point them out to her), but once she knows what she's supposed to do she's good to go. I wouldn't give up yet, if I were you.

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I'm feeling better.

 

I think I need to approach this differently and the ideas you guys have are great.

 

I need an approach in which we learn together and it's fun and experimental. I need to accept DS where he is at instead of thinking about my own experiences with math or what I perceive as his required level.

 

We just purchased MCT and I like the way we work together on it. I'm going to try the same thing with BA and just ask questions. I like the idea of looking ahead to see where this is going.

 

I was feeling a disconnect between the amount of instruction in the text and the difficulty of the problems but now I understand the bridge is discussion.

 

:thumbup:

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