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Aspie and word problem recommendations


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My son with AS is great at math, as long as he's working with numbers and symbols.  When I try to introduce word problems he melts down.  We have tried various approaches with step-by-step explanations of how to decipher word problems and he can solve some on a really good day.  Does anyone have a good resource for working through word problems for a kid on the spectrum?  If not, is it worth the meltdowns and headaches, or should I just skip word problems, knowing that he does understand the actual math concepts?

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If you've not done so, you might try giving him a chart showing what the key phrases in the word problems mean using symbols.  (difference -, all together +, how much more than -, etc.)

 

 

If that hasn't worked, then I personally would go with maybe continue to work through one or two word problems a week together.  Start out doing most of the work yourself and explaining why you are choosing what you do for each sentence in the problem.  Have you tried doing the Singapore method using bar illustrations? 

 

If you expect him to be able to take standardized tests then it is a skill that will need to be mastered.  I don't know if we'll get there or not.  I admit, I always found the extra words, attempts to misdirect, etc. of word problems to be highly frustrating.  :glare:

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Could you back up and do problems that are significantly below his level, combined with the PP suggestions (that's similar to how we tackled--or think we've finally tackled--long division)? Also, some word problems are really badly written. I have found Singapore's problems to be challenging but clearly written. If you are not familiar with the program, they make a Challenging Word Problems book for each grade level, and many people do them a semester "behind." The CWP books have example solutions worked, and the answer key in the back has the steps to solving the rest of them. I think they also have an additional book that gives extra practice specifically with the "bar method" of working problems, but I have not used that set of books or heard a lot about them.

 

I'm sorry to hear that you are having trouble. My son with Asperger's gives me this kind of reaction to the non-word problems and to nearly all writing assignments. It's awfully hard to deal with anxiety around schoolwork.

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Singapore.  Ugh.  I have looked at Singapore and it confuses the heck out of me.  I was a math major in college, and I don't get Singapore.  But I don't have AS.  I haven't looked at in a few years though.  Maybe I should try again if both of you recommended it.  Maybe his mind works better that way and I will just have to figure it out.

 

I hadn't thought about standardized testing having word problems.  I do not look forward to having him take standardized tests. Double ugh.

 

And yes, the anxiety is challenging.

 

Thanks for the input.

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Singapore.  Ugh.  I have looked at Singapore and it confuses the heck out of me.  I was a math major in college, and I don't get Singapore.  But I don't have AS.  I haven't looked at in a few years though.  Maybe I should try again if both of you recommended it.  Maybe his mind works better that way and I will just have to figure it out.

 

I hadn't thought about standardized testing having word problems.  I do not look forward to having him take standardized tests. Double ugh.

 

And yes, the anxiety is challenging.

 

Thanks for the input.

 

Computer glitch, so if this ends up a double-post, sorry!

 

http://www.singaporemath.com/Elementary_Mathematics_for_Teachers_p/emft.htm This is a good book about the method (amazon is cheaper). Are you confused by the materials (lots of components and versions), the method, or both? I think you could use the word problem books without diving headlong into the method. You might also find some support on the board for how to figure it out.

 

If you really don't want to use Singapore, you could reformulate your question to ask how to teach an Aspie word problems using X curriculum and then post it again to see what happens. I love Singapore, but you won't break my heart if your answer comes from another direction. Or maybe leave the Asperger's out of the question and then put it as extra information at the end of your message in case it helps give context. Some people may have had a child with the exact same problem, but their kid doesn't have Asperger's, so they would be uncomfortable replying. The biggest difference, to me, is the anxiety since neurotypical kids may not be quite so anxious even when they are upset or frustrated.

 

I may have another piece of information for you if I can talk to my neighbor. Her elementary age son has a pretty specific and thorough checklist for word problems (as I understand it). She teaches calculus and found it both useful and impressive, so she was going to pass it along to me one of these days. Let me know if you'd like it (I have been forgetful lately).

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What I am using with my son are the FAN math Process Skills and Problem Solving workbooks by Singapore. http://www.singaporemath.com/Fan_Math_Process_Skills_in_Prob_Solving_L1_p/fmpsps1.htm They have 6 levels, but I started at grade one even though he was older. These books do a nice job of stepping a child through the process of solving various types of word problems. It's very incremental and the steps, as well as the mathematical thinking behind them, are clearly presented. We go very slowly. I'm looking for gaining ability/working towards mastery, so the time frames aren't important to me. These books will teach you how to approach the problems in a Singapore way, too. I had no clue about their approach before we started these. In addition to the really clear presentation, all the solutions are clearly worked out in the back.

 

What I do is go through a problem (or 2, whatever depending on difficulty and his attention ability) together. If he can do the problem on his own without my help, great. That's happening more often as he gains skill. If he does need help on a problem or problems, I make a note about those we had to work together. At some point, whether after just 1-2 problems or after completing a whole section, I stop going forward in the workbook.

 

I type out a sheet with 2 of the problems we worked together/he needed help to complete.  My goal is that he will work the previously "shared" problem on his own. If I have to help a lot, I reprint the sheet and he tries again on his own the next day. We continue like this with 1-2 "repeat" problems on his own a day, until we've covered all the problems we worked together to solve.  My son uses a calculator for these word problems. I really want to isolate the problem solving aspect, without burdening him with computation, as he tires mentally easily in math.

 

It's slow, but it has really seemed to work. I've seen noticeable improvement, even in tough problems.

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Rather than a step by step process to work through a word problem?

You could take an opposite approach, where you start with the answer.

Then you explore different ways to arrive at that answer.

So that the focus shifts to working out the question?

Where the elements that form the question, can be seen as variables.

 

So that a word problem is seen more like a journey to a destination.

Where a word problem is seen as whole, and can then be looked back at, to understand how the answer was arrived at.

Basically it's the difference between a word problem, as a part to whole, or a whole to part process?

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What I am using with my son are the FAN math Process Skills and Problem Solving workbooks by Singapore. http://www.singaporemath.com/Fan_Math_Process_Skills_in_Prob_Solving_L1_p/fmpsps1.htm

 

That's the book I was trying to think of. I haven't used it, but what sbgrace describes is exactly what I had heard about it.

 

I'll try to get the information from my neighbor asap.

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Kbutton - Sure.  If it's not too much trouble, I'd love to see that checklist.  Thanks!

 

Sorry it took a while to get back to you. I now have the checklist. The student needs to draw a diagram or picture representing the problem (can be tally marks or bar model type of picture). From that, the student writes an equation (math sentence, actual math problem). The answer must be in sentence form (6 people went to lunch together). The rubric at the bottom lists the following:

  • My work is neat and organized.
  • I have shown my work in more than one way (this is the picture and the equation)
  • I have answered in a complete sentence.
  • My answer is correct. (My neighbor and I think "logical" might be a better term here, or if the student knows how to check their answers for this type of problem, it could be step saying they checked their work.)

The checklist is not as elaborate as I anticipated, but I think it could be useful. You could possibly add more items if you need to or even make an actual process out of it, describing how to set up the problem, how to plug in the numbers, having your child circle key words like sum, product, difference, total, etc. in the question.

 

I hope it's getting better and that you are finding a way to work through this.

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We just started a new text book and it has a checklist, basically containing the steps you described in your post, but more detailed.  But it does not have the rubric. I can see how the rubric would also be a helpful addition.  He's actually working some problems right now, which is what reminded me to come back here to check.  Pray that it works.

 

Thanks for the input!

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