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He just flunked algebra 1 chapter one test


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He says he wants to be an engineer some day. And then this...

 

We are on our third algebra program. (but we did not drop the second because it did not work, the point of mentioning that is that what we are doing now is review. So basically, he forgot what we did last year over the summer even though we completely re-did all the lessons with the new book). We spent fall of last year until maybe February or so using Jacobs. Then we switched to Foersters and used that until in to June. We took a break and started up with the 2000 "classic" edition of structure and method. (switched to get a better visual appeal)

 

I have sat with him and gone through every lesson and worked every example. Now, with the chapter done, I used the test in the textbook for his test. He missed half the problems!!!!! I am not kidding!!!

 

My husband wants to just have a talk with him, as if it is a discipline issue. I realize our entire year of school last year was a wash. Oldest son has to repeat all his math and this child is having to repeat everything. This child has been diagnosed as having a math learning disability. I am beating my head against the wall over this. 

 

I just cannot believe, after all the time we have spent on this chapter of this book, and after having spent the entire last year doing this, that he flunked this test. There is NOTHING else I could have done with him. NOTHING. 

 

I have no clue what to do next. I am lost. I am 100% lost. This makes no sense to me.

 

EDITED: edited to improve accuracy of the title to what I am trying to say.

Edited by Janeway
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If he has been diagnosed with a math disability, you need to consult somebody who has expertise in remediating dyscalculia before trying to teach him algebra with yet another program. If he has a math LD, his mastery of prealgebra will most likely be insufficient as a foundation.

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If he has been diagnosed with a math disability, you need to consult somebody who has expertise in remediating dyscalculia before trying to teach him algebra with yet another program. If he has a math LD, his mastery of prealgebra will most likely be insufficient as a foundation.

I have never heard of such a person. I would not have a clue as to who this would be. And on his paperwork from the psychologist, it gives no names of anyone to consult. So that would not work. I would not even know the type of person to go to to google to find someone who does this. And I already know our public schools have nothing, so simply forcing him back in to public school as a punishment for this is not a valid option. Besides, I do not think this is something that he should be punished for.

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I'm curious:

 

- If you give him an opportunity to correct the missed problems, can he do it?

- Are the errors conceptual or calculation errors?  

 

I'm sorry, I'm sure that really sucks to put in so much effort and not see it paying off.  

He cannot write equations from words. So, if Bob has some amount of money and Joe has the same amount plus $10. They have $130 total, how much does each have. And he will just answer that one has 60 and the other has 70. But he cannot make an equation. The numbers are small enough that he can just picture it and answer it. He did Singapore Math and is actually very good at the mental math stuff. That is the bulk of what he missed.

 

He also missed a question where it said the equation for the perimeter of a circle was 2 pi r  (written properly though, I just don't know how to type it in) and the r= some amount the book gave and then use 22/7 for pi..what is the perimeter. He had no idea how to do it and left it blank. 

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I have never heard of such a person. I would not have a clue as to who this would be. And on his paperwork from the psychologist, it gives no names of anyone to consult. So that would not work. I would not even know the type of person to go to to google to find someone who does this. And I already know our public schools have nothing, so simply forcing him back in to public school as a punishment for this is not a valid option. Besides, I do not think this is something that he should be punished for.

 

Then you probably have to do it yourself. Consult the  learning challenges board. Google. All I can tell you is that a child with dyscalculia will not learn algebra by doing four curricula because he almost definitely has gaps in the foundation with number sense and arithmetic.

 

Some CCs have remedial classes.

 

One thing i am curious about: he is taking algebra at an early age (you are posting in the middle school board); usually it is in high school. What prompted you to accelerate his math so much, given that he has difficulties? To me, there is some disconnect there. 

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He cannot write equations from words. So, if Bob has some amount of money and Joe has the same amount plus $10. They have $130 total, how much does each have. And he will just answer that one has 60 and the other has 70. But he cannot make an equation. 

 

Being strong at mental math does not sound like dyscalculia.

 

How did that go while he was doing the algebra course? Did you make him write out every single problem, or did you allow him to do it mentally?

Has he been taught a systematic approach to setting up variables and equations?

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Being strong at mental math does not sound like dyscalculia.

 

How did that go while he was doing the algebra course? Did you make him write out every single problem, or did you allow him to do it mentally?

Has he been taught a systematic approach to setting up variables and equations?

Let me send you over a copy of his test scores, I would love your opinion..will take me a minute though..I mean...that concluded the math LD. brb..I have to pull them from the cupboard and take pictures.

 

Oh, and I did not accelerate him past anything. He completed everything prior to algebra. And also, I forgot to mention, he has also done the first 4 keys to algebra books too.

Edited by Janeway
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Let me send you over a copy of his test scores, I would love your opinion..will take me a minute though..I mean...that concluded the math LD. brb..I have to pull them from the cupboard and take pictures.

 

sorry, but I am not an expert in LDs. I would not know how to interpret test scores.

 

All I know is how to teach math :)

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There are a TON of math tutors and specific learning centers in your metro area.  Most charge about $50/hr, which is the going rate. 

 

For a lot of kids with dyscalculia, they kind of max out at the pre-algebra stage....because they don't have the skills to transition over.

 

Go find a tutor, and see what happens. If he doesn't progress forward after a bit working with someone else, then I'd contact the Winston school in your area and see what they recommend.  Mathnasium, Varsity tutoring, Purplemath....you've got options!

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I have never heard of such a person. I would not have a clue as to who this would be. And on his paperwork from the psychologist, it gives no names of anyone to consult. So that would not work. I would not even know the type of person to go to to google to find someone who does this. And I already know our public schools have nothing, so simply forcing him back in to public school as a punishment for this is not a valid option. Besides, I do not think this is something that he should be punished for.

I am confused as how you could get a diagnosis of a math disability, but have no idea of how to find a professional who can help you treat the diagnosed disability?

 

Fwiw, I tutor a large number of traditionally schooled students in my area.  When I begin working with most of these students, they are unable to solve story problems because the schools' math programs focus more on the rote algorithms than they do on actually solving math problems.  These kids need guidance on how to translate English into math as it does not come naturally to many kids. 

 

Once the story problem is set up, can your son then solve the problem?

 

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If you haven't already, I would go over each problem with him - have him redo them - and try to figure out why he got them wrong.  It could be that (1) he forgot pi on one problem, (2) made a careless mistake on another, (3) couldn't figure out what the language meant on another.... and so on, so that there are different issues that added up to the failure, rather than one single conclusion that he doesn't know algebra.

 

He cannot write equations from words.

 

This can often be a language processing issue or reading comprehension issue rather than a math issue.  I vaguely recall a lesson in Jacobs and perhaps also Foerster where the student must turn words into expressions, immediately followed by a lesson involving turning words into equations.  I would go back to those lessons, particularly turning words into expressions, even though he may scoff at the simplicity.

I second the suggestion to ask over on the Learning Challenges forum.

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I have never heard of such a person. I would not have a clue as to who this would be. And on his paperwork from the psychologist, it gives no names of anyone to consult. So that would not work. I would not even know the type of person to go to to google to find someone who does this. And I already know our public schools have nothing, so simply forcing him back in to public school as a punishment for this is not a valid option. Besides, I do not think this is something that he should be punished for.

 

Regentrude is right.  (ETA: and others!  I am slow today.)  You need to find someone who can help your son, or learn how to do it yourself. Not just with another curriculum, but how to address his particular LD.

 

Your can ask your psychologist for specific referrals to tutors or other professionals to help.  You can ask at your local homeschool group (if you have one). Google math tutors in your area and see if anyone has expertise in dealing with LDs.  

 

There is no reason for punishment.  Who is talking about punishment?  He has a documented LD.

 

My biggest, perhaps only, homeschooling regret is that I did not follow up well enough on math for my LD kid.   If I could go back, I would search high and low, and spend as much money as I needed to, to get him proficient in algebra and beyond.  

Edited by marbel
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So how did this go exactly?  Did he finish the last section of the chapter and the next day do the test?  Or did you have him review a day or two before doing the test?  If it was the former, I'd try the latter.  

 

How did you grade the test?  Did you give partial credit?  What sorts of errors is he making?  Are they conceptual or computational?  Was the test timed or untimed?  Do you allow calculator use?

 

FWIW, a kid can have a dyscalculia diagnosis and still be accelerated in math.  My son (the 21yo) has a slew of dys- diagnoses related to his dyslexia, including dyscalculia, and he was extremely successful with Algebra I (Jacobs) at age 11.  The dyscalculia diagnosis was for slow/inaccurate fact retrieval.  He is going into his third year as a robotics engineering major.

 

 

Edited by EKS
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Khan Academy really helped ds (also doing Algebra 1). He gets frustrated when his progress bar didn't move it goes backwards, so he's motivated more that me just helping him correct. He actually doesn't get to move on. He is using the answer bar to work- adding and deleting steps. He hates showing his work on paper and tries to do it all mentally. He finally got equation building working on Khan Academy. Go figure! I'm putting aside the Jacob's for now and going with it

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There are a TON of math tutors and specific learning centers in your metro area. Most charge about $50/hr, which is the going rate.

 

For a lot of kids with dyscalculia, they kind of max out at the pre-algebra stage....because they don't have the skills to transition over.

 

Go find a tutor, and see what happens. If he doesn't progress forward after a bit working with someone else, then I'd contact the Winston school in your area and see what they recommend. Mathnasium, Varsity tutoring, Purplemath....you've got options!

About transitioning over, a superlative teacher can help make it happen. Dd had brilliant teacher in her self contained classroom. The teacher totally understood how dd is a visual learner. Dd's worksheets were custom made for her. Things were color coded. I love teaching math and am fairly good up to a point, but I could never have done what this teacher did.

 

One thing that helped was that I hs for middle school. I had planned to start SM 3. We ended up beginning with Miquon, then SM 1A , including some of the supplements -- not the challenging ones, the reinforcing ones. My dd had the best grasp of numbers, better than that of kids who should have been more capable. I don't regret for one minute the time we spent on basics.

 

Btw, dd's elementary school used Everyday Math [insert swear words here].

 

I am confused as how you could get a diagnosis of a math disability, but have no idea of how to find a professional who can help you treat the diagnosed disability?

 

Fwiw, I tutor a large number of traditionally schooled students in my area. When I begin working with most of these students, they are unable to solve story problems because the schools' math programs focus more on the rote algorithms than they do on actually solving math problems. These kids need guidance on how to translate English into math as it does not come naturally to many kids.

 

Once the story problem is set up, can your son then solve the problem?

OMG, story problems. They are so difficult to picture. We did drawing of many problems, used objects, changed all the big numbers to small ones, etc. one thing with SM is that the problems are designed to make you think, slightly different approach for each problem. Dd did better when we repeated same pattern of problem over and over. Once she got it, bingo. But logical reasoning is difficult for many kids.

 

Btw, we included a lot of simple logic books and games. I know one elementary teacher who does that, but I wish it were more common. IMO, that kind of *explicit* critical thinking can help kids who are challenged. As a kid, I loved that sort of problem and did logic puzzles for fun, with no help. But for many kids, explicit teaching helps. I think it's sort of analogous to explicitly teaching phonics, rather than rely exclusively on other reading methods.

Edited by Alessandra
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Being strong at mental math does not sound like dyscalculia.

 

How did that go while he was doing the algebra course? Did you make him write out every single problem, or did you allow him to do it mentally?

Has he been taught a systematic approach to setting up variables and equations?

What she said.

 

DD15 has a language based learning difference -- not a math LD -- and what the OP has described has been our experience over the past two years (two years in algebra 1, with a child who was previously seen as quite strong in math... until algebra 1 and word-based equations came into heavy play).

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Am I recalling correctly that this child is around 13?

 

I have never heard of a child with a math LD actually being ahead of grade level, unless they are using accommodations for a deficit in a very specific area (e.g. using a calculator because they struggle to recall math facts). It sounds like he has been placed too high, and could benefit from taking a few steps backward. 

 

I have never heard of such a person. I would not have a clue as to who this would be. And on his paperwork from the psychologist, it gives no names of anyone to consult. So that would not work. I would not even know the type of person to go to to google to find someone who does this. And I already know our public schools have nothing, so simply forcing him back in to public school as a punishment for this is not a valid option. Besides, I do not think this is something that he should be punished for.

 

I would encourage you to call the psychologist and ask for a recommendation for either a math tutor or an "educational therapist" (which I'm still al little fuzzy on, but seems to be a term that specialists in addressing learning disabilities have recently started using). 

 

He cannot write equations from words. So, if Bob has some amount of money and Joe has the same amount plus $10. They have $130 total, how much does each have. And he will just answer that one has 60 and the other has 70. But he cannot make an equation. The numbers are small enough that he can just picture it and answer it. He did Singapore Math and is actually very good at the mental math stuff. That is the bulk of what he missed.

 

He also missed a question where it said the equation for the perimeter of a circle was 2 pi r  (written properly though, I just don't know how to type it in) and the r= some amount the book gave and then use 22/7 for pi..what is the perimeter. He had no idea how to do it and left it blank. 

 

Can he write equations from word problems that only require arithmetic, and not algebra? 

 

Being strong at mental math does not sound like dyscalculia.

 

How did that go while he was doing the algebra course? Did you make him write out every single problem, or did you allow him to do it mentally?

Has he been taught a systematic approach to setting up variables and equations?

 

I don't believe Janeway said that her son has specifically been diagnosed with dyscalculia. There are various types of learning disabilities in math, which do not always include difficulty with mental math. 

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If the learning issue has to do with language and math together, then I would think that Structure and Method wouldn't be a great choice as it's heavy on sometimes tricky word problems.

 

I agree with the advice to get a tutor who is specifically versed in math disabilities or to get clear for yourself through talking with whoever did the testing exactly what accommodations and issues might be at play. It is the job of the person who did the testing to explain all of this to you - both orally and in a written report.

 

I wouldn't assume that a student who missed half of them after seeming to "get it" in lessons necessarily can't get it or has "failed." It seems like instead of sticking with a topic and just doing it all over again, you've been program hopping. Which can be a useful thing to do sometimes. However, if the same thing keeps happening, I would try instead sticking with a topic and style for an extended time. Just stay on him and keep practicing. Find more worksheets and practice problems. The Key to Algebra books are really good for just straight up practice of really basic ideas.

 

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:grouphug:   What's the dyscalculia dx based on?   How's his working memory?  That's fairly easy to accommodate.  So much depends on why he's struggling.  "Math disability" can meet a lot of different things, depending on the underlying issues.

 

I have not used this curriculum, but maybe something like Hands On Equations would help?  I'm just putting it out there.  Hopefully someone who has used HOE can weigh in on how helpful it would be.

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If your son is only thirteen, then I would not spend time and money on any kind of therapy yet. Many kids are not ready to understand algebra at that age. For the next year I would spend time drilling and solidifying arithmetic and perhaps working through some pre-algebra.

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That's the older brother that she referenced as having to redo his math in the original post.

 

If most of the problems he missed were turning words into equations, then I'd focus for awhile on how to read the words & make them into math equations. Then, I'd take math equations and make them into word problems. Then, I'd go back & review turning words into equations. Then, I'd have him look at the problems he missed again (fresh - not with his work in front of him) and see if he can do it again.

 

Then, I'd make sure he practiced every (week) day. And, keep looking for holes to plug. (Why are you on your 3rd textbook for Alg 1 again? What made you feel like you had to redo everything?)

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How about something like BJU DLO Fundamentals of Math? It will review all arithmetic with a teacher who never loses their cool and can repeat and repaet and repeat. If the child is just 13, that is too young for Algebra. They have a $99 sale in December.

 

Is there a reason you feel he needs to push forward so quickly? Wanting to be an enigneer does not mean he has to accelerate through math.

 

And I agree, that sounds more like auditory processing/lang disorder than math. Your tester should have explained their findings better.

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Did you sit with him as he did his test? There can be many reasons he is not passing but you won't know exactly what's going on unless you watch him and talk it through with him. My DDs have similar math issues. I am convinced that it is a language problem and not a math problem and it is compounded by anxiety. They can do the exercises, but test poorly. I believe during tests they become nervous and make little mistakes and they blank out and forget what they knew 5min before and will know 5min after.

 

I'm nervous about them attending school next year, because I doubt they will be able to show what they really know and I'm trying to get IEPs in place to help.

 

To help them succeed, I will watch them as they test and answer each question. Sometimes they copy the problem wrong- I point it out before they continue. I ask them to read the questions to me orally and talk me through what they are doing. Saying it out loud helps them to hear their mistakes before they write them down. If they read the question wrong, I stop them and have them re-read it until they read it correctly. Sometimes their minds assume words are there that are not there. They have diagnosed anxiety and during their normal homework, these issues aren't as common.

 

Watching them take the test also helps me to catch when they misunderstand directions. A common problem when they were younger was that if there were several questions relating to one prompt, they didn't understand that the information they used in a previous question was intended to also be used for subsequent questions. Naturally, the problem could not be solved without that info, but they'd just sit there frustrated thinking it was unsolvable. By watching them, I could teach them how to read the test and intervene before frustration hit. If they simply get it wrong, I stop them immediately and have them redo it step by step, correcting them if needed the second time around. I've found this causes less anxiety than turning in a completed test with many wrong answers. I'm not cheating- it's still wrong, and then they review those sections and retest later.

 

I agree that he shouldn't be punished, but I think you all are doomed to frustration on both sides until you can pinpoint what exactly he is doing when he makes errors. If it's simply that he can't translate word problems into math symbols, I think he needs to step back and work on easier non-Algebra word problems. You can also make him a cheat sheet of translations and allow him to use it during tests. Eventually he won't need it. It would look something like: of=multiply; together = addition; difference = subtraction, etc.

Edited by Paige
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My DS has dyscalculia, and he's pretty good with certain types of mental math. During the 8th grade, we used HOE and a standard McDougal Littell Pre-Algebra textbook.

 

https://www.amazon.com/McDougal-Littell-Pre-Algebra-Student-2005/dp/0618250034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502882787&sr=8-1&keywords=pre-algebra+mcdougal+littell

 

We spent 2 years on algebra. I broke it down to Algebra 1A and Algebra 1B. For 9th grade, we completed about half of Foerster's, and in 10th grade, we picked up and used Lial's. I prefer Lial's. For extra problem sets, we used A+ Notes for Beginning Algebra.

https://www.amazon.com/Plus-Notes-Beginning-Algebra-Pre-Algebra/dp/0965435229/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502883271&sr=1-3&keywords=A%2B+prealgebra+and+algebra

 

James Tanton is an excellent resource. He teaches a method of factoring called the Galley Method that is awesome for visual learners.

 

Lewelma recently wrote an excellent posting about math tutoring. I have never located a local math tutor that I trusted enough to work with DS. I called the local math learning center, and the tutor had no experience with maths disability, wanted to borrow my math manipulatives, and wanted me to pay her more than I was getting paid as a part-time system engineer. I had more maths experience than she did. She formally taught in an elementary classroom. One would think that there would be math tutors crawling all over the place, but I've never located one. Most mathematically minded teachers that I know prefer to deal with math accelerated students because the payoff with these kids is more immediate. I can't blame them because working with a dyscalculiac can be very difficult. Anyhoo...math was a major reason we homeschool.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/605941-how-does-math-tutoring-work/

http://www.jamestanton.com/

Edited by Heathermomster
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I'd suggest starting with the DOMA pre-algebra or ADAM K-8 math assessment by LetsGoLearn and see where the gaps are. Then, go back to where it shows. Something more concrete, like Hands on Equations, AlgeBlocks, Algebra tiles, or Math U See Algebra may help for the algebra component, but it is very, very likely that there are gaps earlier on. Fractions is a very common sticking point, as is factoring. Taking 8th grade to build those skills and then doing Algebra 1 will still put him on a reasonable high school schedule, but with a much higher chance of success.

 

Also, check on the Learning Challenges board-there are a decent number of people there who have enough experience with test scores and psychologist's reports to know what they imply and what might work.

 

 

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That's the older brother that she referenced as having to redo his math in the original post.

 

If most of the problems he missed were turning words into equations, then I'd focus for awhile on how to read the words & make them into math equations. Then, I'd take math equations and make them into word problems. Then, I'd go back & review turning words into equations. Then, I'd have him look at the problems he missed again (fresh - not with his work in front of him) and see if he can do it again.

 

Then, I'd make sure he practiced every (week) day. And, keep looking for holes to plug. (Why are you on your 3rd textbook for Alg 1 again? What made you feel like you had to redo everything?)

All the words he missed were word problems. Except, I mean, the one about a circle.

 

We did Jacobs at first. He picked it. He struggled a lot with the discovery format. He then asked to switch to Foersters. When I think about it, my title is misworded. He didn't not flunk chapter one with Foersters. But the print in the newer book along with some color is better for the visual issue he has.

 

I have decided to have us just move on to chapter two but then every day, do a couple word problems in hopes to target that area.

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Try Hands-On Equations to see if that clicks for him. He may need help visualizing the math.

Are you able to do an error analysis?

he is fine with computation but cannot seem to turn problems in to equations. And because he can picture the problems, he gets the answers in his head. He cannot set up the equations.
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he is fine with computation but cannot seem to turn problems in to equations. And because he can picture the problems, he gets the answers in his head. He cannot set up the equations.

 

If he has been doing the problems in his head all this time, he may be missing the basic skills of solving equations.  That includes setting up the problem by writing out the equation in words (like rate of speed in miles per hour x number of ours driven = total number of miles driven) then converting those words into algebraic expressions, or perhaps writing out a basic formula then on the next line plugging in the relevant numbers.  Once the problem's set up, it includes showing your work - writing down what you are subtracting from each side or multiplying each side by, etc.  Working each line from left to right, then starting on the next line and again working from left to right.  Copying the problem accurately from the book or board.  Those kind of skills are essential, but the more a child can do in their head, the longer they can get away without practicing those skills.  Then wham! they are faced with problems that can't be solved in their heads and they don't have the skills to tackle the problems.  

 

So like PP's have said, looking at exactly where his challenge lies (sounds like converting word problem to algebraic problems) is key to knowing where you need to focus the effort.  Your plan of extra word problems each day is a good one.  I encourage you also to focus on PROCESS in his homework, not just getting the right answer.  He needs to show his work for every problem.  Make up a reference page that shows how you want the problems laid out, and explain why he needs to do it - because it's building a skill set for when he gets to harder problems.   

 

It can also help to have a reference page for strategies for word problems - draw a diagram, make a model, use a formula, make a table, guess-and-check, and so on.

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I have a similar problem with an advanced math student - if you give an equation, he works through it but if you give a word problem, he just spits out an answer and doesn't know how to write down what he did. I've been having him tell me what he was thinking, So, if he says that 'well, 2 of them were the same except one had 10 more, so I used 240 instead of 250 and then divided it in half' then I can talk him through the idea that if 2 are the same, you use one variable and write 2x, and then if you take away 10 you need 250-10, except that you really should write 2x + 10 so that it equals the total of 250. I've had some success with this, but it can be frustrating to work with and very hard to figure out what they did wrong when they have a mistake...and when they have problems that they can't 'see' the answer to, they get frustrated because they don't know how to break it down into a bunch of parts that combine to get the whole problem. I keep reading this thread to get ideas!

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It sounds like he is missing a critical skill -- turning word problems into equations. It also sounds like you have been fine with this skill being missing up to this point because (before now) he didn't find it necessary to write the equation before his mind produced the answer to very simple non-algebraic math problems.

 

If this seems right to you too, I think what has happened is just a snowball: the math got harder, so the equations became necessary, so now he has to learn the math skill of chapter one at the same time as he needs to learn the equation writing skill out of thin air. Since he couldn't do both, he couldn't pass the test. I think you could just pause the new content and walk him back into the world of familiar math in order to teach him the interpretive skills for the words-to-equation step. Once he is back in familiar math, he will begin to mentally produce the solutions again, but you need to stop him and require him to show you, in writing, which equation his brain used as it found the solution. If he can't, let him tell you, and you show him what that equation looks like.

 

He will really try to tell you that the answer is all that matters -- and you might be tempted to believe him -- but it isn't. The steps matter, and the skills matter, even when they seem so easy and pointless. You want him to do those 'steps and skills' for the easy questions so that when the questions become hard, those parts are the easy parts... not more hard parts.

 

It's like some kids can naturally doggie paddle, so playing in the shallow end of a pool doesn't feel hard to them. They still need to learn to swim properly, if they ever expect to leave the kiddie pool. Work it until it works -- because he really can't proceed without this skill.

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I love bolt.'s explanation. I run into this when our math program (Abeka) starts to teach the steps of long division using easy problems like 12/4 and 24/3. The kids already know the answer, but I force them to go through the steps (divide, multiply, subtract, etc.) as I explain that they are learning a new skill with information they already know so they aren't trying to do two hard things at once.

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