Jump to content

# Help! So stumped with math

## Recommended Posts

I could use some some advice about my student with math difficulties. Quick background: He is 14 and I teach him in a small group of 2 kids at a private school. We meet for an hour a day. I don't think he likes me too much, but that may partly be due to being 14  :huh:

We started the year doing a lot of Ronit Bird and he was really improving, doing fine telling me the "numbers inside" other numbers, doing addition and subtraction within 10. I found out that he was feeling upset about doing "the easy stuff" so I tested him out with 2-digit addition just for the heck of it. He did fine. I tried 2-digit addition with regrouping. Still did fine! (cue heart attack, maybe I am WAY OFF doing Ronit Bird!) Try another 2-digit addition with regrouping, and he adds the tens column and carries over to the ones. So he doesn't understand why he's carrying.

He seems solid with place value. He knows the places and does expanded form easily - 648 = 600 + 40 + 8.

After our winter break, I re-named our work for him as "algebra." He was proud to start algebra. But... 3 + ? = 8 is pretty much the level of stuff we do. It is definitely really difficult for him though! 3 + 8 he's fine with, but 3 + ? = 8 is really hard, even with manipulatives. We are also doing 2-digit addition with MUS blocks and a place-value mat. He is really resistant to doing anything he thinks is "baby stuff," or below his grade - like addition, subtraction, etc. He hates using manipulatives of any kind. I have an iPad, so maybe we could use that instead.

I'm pretty stumped here. There may be some IQ limitations involved. He doesn't really talk to me, or joke around, or anything. He does everything I ask, and he's a nice, polite kid. I just can't get him to open up, and I'm worried that I'm bumming him out about math. I want him to have fun and feel confident!

Help! What should I teach this kid?

##### Share on other sites

Hands-on Equations....It's novel, visual, and  3 + x = 8 is algebra.

I'd continue to work on the carrying using base 10 blocks or MUS.  RB teaches subtraction with a method called mental bridging.  I taught DS to do this by quickly jotting down a number line.

##### Share on other sites

Well what of RB are you using?  Stuff from the website or her ebooks or printed books?

##### Share on other sites

Mainer, while RB and MUS are helpful for children that are having a difficulty learning math.

They aren't helpful for children that have a math disorder Dyscalculia.

The idea of associating quantities with colors, makes little sense?

As it is just using colors as symbols.

##### Share on other sites

We've also had people come on saying they're using RB and what they mean is they went to RB's site and printed off what was free. I agree with Geoff that we can quibble over rods, how they're used, whether dots ought to be in patterns, whatever.  However actually reading RB's explanations would probably get a lot of people somewhere.  After all, she's a big dyscalculia advocate in the UK.  They're practical and a terrific starting point.  But if somebody just took what was on her website for free, that wouldn't get them very far and wouldn't show the progression of her thoughts.  The stuff on the website is just teaser.

##### Share on other sites

True, I'm in the "getting free stuff" category. It's kind of difficult to get permission to buy things at my school. I just need to plunk down the money myself, after all it's not very much.

Ok, this has given me the motivation to get the actual books. Thanks!

Meanwhile, anyone have any ideas about how to make a 14 year old feel better about doing, in his words, "the easy stuff"?

##### Share on other sites

You need to pick up the pace.  The problem is not that it's easy.  The problem is that it's foundational and you have to build on it and build quickly so he can see where it's going.  If you get the Dots ebook, you can probably blow through that in entirety with him in 1-2 days.  Then set him up with flashcards or some kind of drill method (that's what i'm looking for next with my ds) and get drilling on those.  Even the Eides say to use flashcards and for this kid I'm doing it.  Quizlet has been super fab awesome with my ds for Barton, so maybe I'll just do it in there?  There are a ton of apps.

So then go right into her C-Rods book and PICK UP THE PACE.  You're dawdling too long.  This stuff is all foundation.  As soon as he gets it and gets the click, get going!  If you blow through C-Rods, you can go right into 4 digit addition and then 4 digit subtraction with trades.  There's no need to slow down.  Then, while he's doing a couple problems of 4 digit addition and later 4 digit subtraction each day, work through her multiplication ebook.  PICK UP THE PACE.  You should have something going conceptually, something that is drill to build fluency, and something that is a little tedious stretch (a couple problems written daily).  That will probably eat your whole time.  Then assign a few problems on a printed strip and flashcards for homework.

You might look into some kind of spiral review for him.  http://simplesolutions.org has two kinds of math workbooks (regular and common core) Both are super short spiral and meant to be review.  You could start him down low and work up, whatever suits him. It would get him some spiral practice on things you might not be hitting like geometry basics, money, etc.  Go as low as what suits him and give a reward for every sheet he returns with completed.  For my dd spiral has been a good component.  It's not the only component she needs, but it's definitely a good component for her.  He's old enough to have some homework, so that trick is finding what he can do.  You can order the workbooks directly from the publisher by calling.

I'm suggesting you go with the RB *ebooks* rather than the printed books for the lower upfront cost and the clarity of structure.  I think you need to pick up the pace.  It seems like RB is helping you dig in where his understanding holes are, but you need enough structure to pick up the pace.  You'll be able to start them today and prep your lessons, and together the 3 books cover *roughly* the content of Toolkit.  From there your next step with printed materials would be Overcoming (the follow-up to Toolkit) and possibly Resource (for extra activities).

I would also consider taking in games that are socially useful to give him skills and confidence.  Ticket to Ride is exceptionally challenging and will build working memory as well as allowing him to work on his math.  Card games can be fabulous for this if people aren't opposed to playing cards.  I haven't played Cribbage in years, but anything like that where you're having to scare and calculate.  There are some cute purchased games as well.  If you're allowed to take in playing cards, then games you can find to play with those will all be free.  RB will include some in C-Rods.

##### Share on other sites

Thanks OhElizabeth, that's really helpful. I agree we need to pick up the pace, but not sure how fast we can. This is the kid who still counts the dice patterns. It's been two months. When he sees a 6 dice, he says 4. When he sees a 5, he says six. I think he has some language troubles that may not really be math related, but are impacting his math.

##### Share on other sites

Well that's where it would be interesting to get the Dots ebook and see what happens.  My ds has apraxia, and yes there was something glitchy.  The numbers didn't MEAN anything to him.  RB's progression made it click for him.  I guess just dig in.  But for \$5 you can't go wrong.  I took what you had said to mean things were clicking, which was why I thought he'd go through Dots quickly.

For my ds, Dots worked and it's an immediate and less expensive answer than getting the printed book.  And my suggestion is that if you work through it and still aren't getting a click with the lessons that you email RB.  She'll write you back and she might have more ideas.

##### Share on other sites

HOE sells an IPad app.

I was just rereading your original post.  You are dealing with a 14yo that struggles with basic math.  I expect he feels terrible about not doing well especially in front of another student.  Has he been tested for LDs?  Can you suggest that the parents take him to a private neuropsych for testing?  Determining whether he has a maths LD or something like NVLD is important information to have as the tutor. Is he 9th grade?  What are the school's expectations?

Here's a public school math program titled Connecting Math Concepts.  Are you his official math teacher?  Your student sounds like he needs to be working daily on a math program that deals directly with his learning issues.

ETA:  Read geodob's directions (msg 31) for using hands to help perceive numbers.

##### Share on other sites

Thanks all, I appreciate it.

Yes, I'm his math teacher/tutor. I don't know about his official diagnoses, but I'll check it out tomorrow. I'm sure he's been tested up and down for years. He's in 8th grade now. Expectations are fluid based on how this year goes. I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to work directly with his needs one-on-one, but identifying the needs are proving to be more tricky than I anticipated. Of course I also want him to feel good about what he's doing in math - I want everything to at least feel age-appropriate.

OhElizabeth, it's strange. He can do 2-digit addition with carrying, yet the words... six dots = the word six... somehow gets lost. I'm not sure if that's important or if I should just move on.

##### Share on other sites

OhE,  I was looking at Amazon for books to help.  I just came across this dyscalculia book written by Dr. Brian Butterworth, a prominent UK dyscalculia researcher, and Doria Yeo.  Anyways, a quick peek inside the book revealed dot pattern activities and other exercises promoted by Ronit Bird.

##### Share on other sites

Thanks Heigh Ho, I do say regrouping to him. To myself though, it's engraved on my brain as carrying! I don't think I really understood the reason behind "carrying" while I was actually learning it  :huh:

##### Share on other sites

In RightStart we call regrouping/carrying "trades".  I think trades means a lot more to the student, because you can physically see the trades happen with manipulatives.

##### Share on other sites

OhE,  I was looking at Amazon for books to help.  I just came across this dyscalculia book written by Dr. Brian Butterworth, a prominent UK dyscalculia researcher, and Doria Yeo.  Anyways, a quick peek inside the book revealed dot pattern activities and other exercises promoted by Ronit Bird.

RB is tighter.  What they're doing is like RS.  With my dd I found the triads really did nothing to help her actual computation.  I think RB is right in emphasizing visualization more purely.  I don't know if she says this, but my assumption is we need to transfer it to flashcards to build automaticity.   (per DA) I don't think doing the inbetween steps necessarily is so useful.  That's what I did, and I'm just saying it didn't help.  It's useful to a degree because it helps them think through word problems less linearly and more conceptually, but I think for fact work it can be a rabbit trail.  But happy to eat crow on that.  Just saying where I see those samples going.

##### Share on other sites

Heigh Ho, interesting point!

##### Share on other sites

RB is tighter.  What they're doing is like RS.  With my dd I found the triads really did nothing to help her actual computation.  I think RB is right in emphasizing visualization more purely.  I don't know if she says this, but my assumption is we need to transfer it to flashcards to build automaticity.   (per DA) I don't think doing the inbetween steps necessarily is so useful.  That's what I did, and I'm just saying it didn't help.  It's useful to a degree because it helps them think through word problems less linearly and more conceptually, but I think for fact work it can be a rabbit trail.  But happy to eat crow on that.  Just saying where I see those samples going.

This is funny.   I just rechecked the peek inside and can no longer see the pages with dot patterns.  Honey, I have no idea what you are taking about.  I am going to need to look up this triads thing.

##### Share on other sites

This is funny.   I just rechecked the peek inside and can no longer see the pages with dot patterns.  Honey, I have no idea what you are taking about.  I am going to need to look up this triads thing.

That is because you forgot the secret nose wiggle.  :D  No, seriously, I shut the book sample and reopened and it wanted me to sign in??  Dunno, but when I clicked sign in it got happy and showed me a ton.  I'm just saying for me it was ho hum because we did at that in RS.  It was sort of curious how similar the pages looked.  Maybe there's something about british word processor fonts?  Dunno.

Oh and I open up RB's Resource today to find something fun to try with ds, and there are triads (part whole circles, what have you) only she draws them as trees without the circles!  It's for her Regroup game, pg. 15, and she calls them triads.  Anyways, I liked them.  I'm planning to order the magnetic numbers set from Lakeshore Learning to match my magnetic letters and I thought while I was at it I'd throw in their thin flat magnetic numbers, which I thought might be super fab for the sudoku games in Resource.  Wouldn't be rocket science to print them up yourself either if you have magnetic printable sheets (avery makes them).  I do, but I'm terribly lazy.  Easier just to throw in the box and have it be done for \$10 than to screw around with it and spend hours on fonts and colors and waste ink and junk.  But anyways, that was my idea.

Today we did the mirror image work from C-Rods.  I get so crazy when I look at the printed books because there are so many options.  For me the ebooks are just idiotproof.  Sit down, read the two page spread, do the activities, done.  I can handle that, lol.

##### Share on other sites

I don't own the Resource Book either.  Son's math ability fell off the rails after learning addition and subtraction facts to 20.

I still don't know what you mean by triads, but that's OK.  Wait, are triads on the cover of the Overcoming book?  Are triads the same as number bonds?

I only used c-rods to teach multiplication and demonstrate the distributive and commutative property of muliplication.  I basically took RB's list of multiplication pre-skills and ran with it. If DS did not benefit from or care for an activity, I went on-line and sought out another that taught the same concept.  Do what works.  I can never tell what will or won't click with my own child, let alone someone else's.

##### Share on other sites

Do what works.  I can never tell what will or won't click with my own child, let alone someone else's.

Ain't that the truth!

##### Share on other sites

Heather,

Brian Butterworth developed a Dyscalculia Screener, where the test of instant Dot number recognition, is the primary test for Dyscalculia.

Which is essentially a test of the ability to instantly recognize different sized groups.

The key issue here, is the ability to use Spacial processing, to form and recognize Groups with these dots.

Which forms an association between them.

So that their is a sense of these different sized groups.

Also crucially, a sense of a group as a whole.

One group of four.

Then groups within groups.

RB's use of Dots with Dyscalculia?

Reflects a total lack of understanding of Dyscalculia.

While they may be able to learn to recognize dot patterns as Symbols.

Their will remain no sense of them as different sized groups.

To concieve of groups within groups.

Though Heigh Ho, your mention of egg cartons, made me consider the idea of egg cartons with only 10 eggs?

With a division in the middle, with 5 eggs on each side and their own lids.

So that when you add the fifth egg to one side?

You close lid, and then add to other side.

When you add the 5th egg to it, to form a total of 10.

You close the lid on that side as well.

Then move that 1 carton to left, and place an empty carton of the right side.

Which can then be added to.

So that their would be a strong sense of that carton, as a group of 10.

As well as the concept of 10 becoming 1, carton,

With 'place value', being the placement of the full carton on left.

Where 10 cartons are put into box, further to the left.

Though in regard to Dyscalculia?

I am more interested in developing a way to concieve of numbers.

But this could be expensive? Given the cost of cardboard cartons, as well as eggs?

##### Share on other sites

If all RB did was use dots, I'd see your point.  But she doesn't.  In her book The Dyscalculia Toolkit, she lists about twenty things that need to be happening in an effort to build cognitive models and provides activities utilizing different manipulatives.

I keep trying to parse what you are saying into something that is actionable.  Besides the finger counting where the pinkie represents number one, Soroban abacus, and now egg cartons, where are we to go for helps?

ETA:  Here's a link to a printable 10 frames mat.  My kids won't eat a plain old egg.

## Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
×
• Create New...