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Does better talking through problems - is this a common learning style?


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I feel almost silly posting this, because I don't feel that I'm articulating it well.  But posters here always seem to have such good advice and insight, that hopefully you can understand what I'm asking even if I'm not explaining it well ...

 

My daughter, a high school junior, has just returned to homeschooling.  We are assessing her current math level and working to review any gaps before moving ahead.  Today while working with her I noticed that if I ask her to read and do some problems on her own, she tends to do poorly.  She'll look at the problems and won't really think them through and just say she doesn't know how to do them.  When I had her sit with me, though, and asked her to read the problem out loud, and explain to me verbally how she might approach the problem, on many problems that she previously said she didn't know how to do she would say "oh, I get it!"and solve it, without further input from me.

 

Now that I think back to her previous homeschooling (through 8th grade), she had this same work style when she was younger.  At first I thought maybe it was a lack of focus or attention or even a lack of confidence in her abilities, and if we worked together for a while she would improve.  And she did, somewhat, but not completely.  And I wonder if this is part of her struggling with math at B&M school that I knew she should be able to do well - she is very quiet and shy in a big class and so probably rarely if ever spoke up.  It seems like she needs to verbally articulate her thoughts in order to make connections in the material.

 

Is this a learning style that anyone else's kids have?  Are there any techniques that you'd recommend?  Any techniques that can help when she needs to work silently - e.g., on the SAT?

 

We were planning to use AoPS so she could work independently, but now I'm thinking that perhaps I should reconsider that.

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Yes some people need to "hear" what they are doing.  DS is like that.  I was told that for some this means they have not developed a strong inner voice so have to verbalize to think.  Also, though, I think some people in general just think better with auditory input.  DS thrives if he has visual reference tied to auditory input.  If it is visual reference alone his comprehension drops significantly.  He also does well with audio books.  DD? Nope.  She needs silence.  LOL.

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I do that, and so do many of the people I work with. If we aren't sure what to do about something, we'll talk it through while the other person grunts and nods. I think this is very common, and quite a good strategy. 

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This is very common. Talking through a problem is a very powerful technique, and I am using it in my Physics Learning Centers, because it is almost like magic. Very often, once the student has articulated a question they go "never mind, I just figured it out". There is something happening in the brain when we explain it out loud.

What I observe is that students need to talk a lot while learning, and once a concept or technique is mastered, they can work silently.

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Thank you, everyone, for the replies.  It helps to know that this is not uncommon.

 

She's not in a B&M school any more, so in the short term accommodating this won't be a problem.  But thinking ahead to college, are there techniques that she can learn to use to help her adapt to a group class setting?  Do we need to make focusing on small colleges with fairly small classes a priority in her college search?

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Is this a learning style that anyone else's kids have? Are there any techniques that you'd recommend? Any techniques that can help when she needs to work silently - e.g., on the SAT?

 

We were planning to use AoPS so she could work independently, but now I'm thinking that perhaps I should reconsider that.

For the SAT and ACT, my DS11 who needs to talk could talk in his head for just those Saturday mornings. After that the floodgates open and we have to hear him talk from test center to lunch to afterwards, basically 3hrs worth of talking that he has been holding in his head. Same goes for the AP Computer Science A exam he took, he just talk non-stop after the exam.

 

He talk himself through AoPS prealgebra, intro to algebra, intro to geometry, intermediate algebra, intro to number theory, intro to counting and probability, and currently precalculus. My DS12 and I prefer silence so we put headsets on if the “noise†gets to exasperating level. Either that or we use classical music as background music to “anti-noiseâ€. At one time we were teasing my husband to buy a few sets of the expensive Bose noise canceling headsets.

 

My DS12 rarely opens his mouth unless something puzzles him, then we hear him talking as he puzzles it out. He talks so rarely that nobody minds if he talks. It can be logic, math, physics, chemistry, politics, economics, etc so not just mathematics.

 

ETA:

DS11 has no problem with staying quiet for the duration of AMC8, AMC10 and AMC12 but was chatty as usual afterwards.

Edited by Arcadia
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Thank you, everyone, for the replies.  It helps to know that this is not uncommon.

 

She's not in a B&M school any more, so in the short term accommodating this won't be a problem.  But thinking ahead to college, are there techniques that she can learn to use to help her adapt to a group class setting?  Do we need to make focusing on small colleges with fairly small classes a priority in her college search?

 

Regarding small classes - I don't think so, because you may participate more, but it's not usually in the sense of talking out specific problems or assigned problems. It's not going to help with homework or other assignments/projects. My youngest is like this to the nth degree, and there's been no big difference between her smaller and bigger college classes in that regard. 

 

Study groups, lots of study groups. She can set these up herself as needed. 

 

Tutoring center. 

 

Group texts with family, lol. We have two college students and two working people constantly going, is this right? How should I word this? Can you look this over with me? In person is better, but this helps, too. 

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 But thinking ahead to college, are there techniques that she can learn to use to help her adapt to a group class setting?  Do we need to make focusing on small colleges with fairly small classes a priority in her college search?

 

I don't think she needs to do anything different. In a math lecture, students watch the prof solve problems and take notes. In a math discussion section or lab, students are encouraged to talk, work in groups, perhaps demonstrate problem solving on the board. Talking about problems is built into the learning process. Even large enrollment courses will have small recitation or discussion section.

For math homework, which is where the majority of the actual learning happens, she should work with a study group/math center/help session where students are encouraged to talk through problems. Once she has mastered the material, she will be able to solve problems without talking.

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Is this a learning style that anyone else's kids have?  Are there any techniques that you'd recommend?  Any techniques that can help when she needs to work silently - e.g., on the SAT?

 

From all the reading I've done, this is a sign of an auditory learner.  I have two auditory learners (dd12 and dd10) and they also do this.  No, I'm not sure how to get them to be quiet when they work (lol).  Mine will also read aloud when they are reading (also supposed to be another auditory learner thing) and silently form words with their lips when they're reading.  We've been joking that they just might need their own private classroom when they take the ACT.  It drives my older teens nuts.

 

I'm a visual-spatial learner and people working through problems out loud stresses me out.  I usually "draw the problem" on paper when I'm trying to solve a problem.  I've noticed that I can handle about 3 steps when someone gives me directions/solutions out loud, but after that, my mind goes blank and I can't really visualize the steps anymore.

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One of my roommates in college did this.  She had to read her textbooks out loud.  She'd try to be quiet when I asked, just mouthing the words, but then she'd start to whisper, and then she'd start speaking out loud again.  I finally started studying elsewhere where it was silent.  I have no idea how she managed the ACT.

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I feel almost silly posting this, because I don't feel that I'm articulating it well.  But posters here always seem to have such good advice and insight, that hopefully you can understand what I'm asking even if I'm not explaining it well ...

 

My daughter, a high school junior, has just returned to homeschooling.  We are assessing her current math level and working to review any gaps before moving ahead.  Today while working with her I noticed that if I ask her to read and do some problems on her own, she tends to do poorly.  She'll look at the problems and won't really think them through and just say she doesn't know how to do them.  When I had her sit with me, though, and asked her to read the problem out loud, and explain to me verbally how she might approach the problem, on many problems that she previously said she didn't know how to do she would say "oh, I get it!"and solve it, without further input from me.

 

Now that I think back to her previous homeschooling (through 8th grade), she had this same work style when she was younger.  At first I thought maybe it was a lack of focus or attention or even a lack of confidence in her abilities, and if we worked together for a while she would improve.  And she did, somewhat, but not completely.  And I wonder if this is part of her struggling with math at B&M school that I knew she should be able to do well - she is very quiet and shy in a big class and so probably rarely if ever spoke up.  It seems like she needs to verbally articulate her thoughts in order to make connections in the material.

 

Is this a learning style that anyone else's kids have?  Are there any techniques that you'd recommend?  Any techniques that can help when she needs to work silently - e.g., on the SAT?

 

We were planning to use AoPS so she could work independently, but now I'm thinking that perhaps I should reconsider that.

 

I don't think it's abnormal to have it make better sense when you read it aloud.  When we read a paragraph we often skip words or skim from line to line.  This doesn't work well with complicated math problems.

 

I will often talk to myself when I'm working through a problem.  I also make a point of recopying the problem if it is an expression to simplify or an equation to solve.  I copy diagrams onto my own paper.  I make note of a lot of what I know with figures in geometry.  For example I will write the names of each similar triangle.  Sometimes I'll even make a quick, not to scale sketch of the triangles with vertices labeled.  This helps me keep straight what I'm using to find missing values.

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Thank you, everyone, for the replies.  It helps to know that this is not uncommon.

 

She's not in a B&M school any more, so in the short term accommodating this won't be a problem.  But thinking ahead to college, are there techniques that she can learn to use to help her adapt to a group class setting?  Do we need to make focusing on small colleges with fairly small classes a priority in her college search?

 

Not necessarily.  My son has found that getting a couple people together for study groups helps quite a bit.  She may also find that she likes to study in academic buildings where she can use large white boards.  My other son's dorm has several study areas on the floor, each with large white boards so that people can study in small groups.  

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