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Help me sort out her math trouble please


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DD13 is creative, really bright in so many ways, but math just isn't one of them. We've used many great resources: C-rods, Zacarro, Beast Academy, Kahn Academy, Math Mammoth, Life of Fred, lots of manipulatives and games, probably others. She has a hard time conceptually and she can't seem to retain much. She is S.U.P.E.R. self motivated and works really hard, keeps trying to find resources that will stick. Despite my telling her to take a break from formal math for a while (I believe in some white space for the brain), she does not want to "fall even further behind" and keeps plugging away. The problem is, I think this has been counterproductive and she has a subconscious block against anything called math. However, for a recent event, she constructed complex costumes out of cardboard for our entire family that involved lots of measurements, angles, proportions - without her realizing it, of course - and they were absolutely amazing! Ask her about angles or proportions and she'll say she doesn't understand them. She feels really bad about herself about this. (All this is internal; there is no external pressure here whatsoever). Any recommendations for figuring her out and providing math resources that she could be successful with? 

 

Edited to add: She has trouble starting all the way back from the multiplication algorithm (it's hit and miss), long division (also hit and miss, though she can do it with rods she doesn't see how the algorithm is representative), and adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions really frustrates her. She's not even up to percentages...

Edited by HappytoHS
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Does she have memory issues with other subjects?  

 

Does she understand the concept of multiplication? Can she mentally multiply 2 digits by 2 digits easily?

 

How is her visual ability?   

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Does she have memory issues with other subjects? She used to find it difficult to remember things but on her own she found tricks and workarounds and can make plans for how to remember things. Except math.

 

Does she understand the concept of multiplication? Yes, I think so. Can she mentally multiply 2 digits by 2 digits easily? No, but I'm not sure if she can't or she just thinks she can't, so she can't.

 

How is her visual ability?   Excellent. She very artistic, and draws beautifully.

 

Edited by HappytoHS
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when she multiplies, how does she do it?  can she explain what she is doing?  can she draw the concept?

She can understand, explain, draw and compute any number multiplied by a single digit number. When it's multiple digits x multiple digits, she loses herself. There have been times when she has gotten it and successfully completed sheets of problems, only to forget how to do the same problems after she moves on to something else. She literally feels stupid. It doesn't help that she has some older and younger sibs who are naturals at math.

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sounds like she is missing the concept and needs to nail it and place value in order to move on to understanding the algorithm.  

 

perhaps working on a double digit multiplied by a single digit will help.  How did you explain this concept in the past?  I have had the most success with using the poker chip method, as it forces place value.  The area model is too distracting to some. 

Edited by Heigh Ho
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We like to talk on this board a lot about getting the foundation and concepts first... but I do think for some kids practicing the algorithm has to come first before they can get the concepts behind it. Too bad the Key to Math books don't have multiplication and division - I feel like they're perfect for this and once she masters the multiplication and division stuff, she might thrive with the Key to Fractions and Key to Decimals to vault her forward. I also have a kid who sometimes holds himself back with anxiety over work like that. If this were my kid, I think I'd back her up and make her do something really simple - Spectrum workbooks or something along those lines. Just basic, basic, practice, practice. You've clearly done a ton of the "fun" and the "in depth" stuff and tried manipulatives and stories and so forth. I think I'd try another tact.

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Miquon only barely goes up to where she is though. It does introduce multidigit multiplication and division, but only barely. I wouldn't think it would be enough practice for a 13 yo. And it sounds like she has everything else up to that point for the most part? If she's really struggling with fraction concepts, maybe? I'm usually an advocate of Miquon for older kids, but I think by this age she may need something else.

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Thank you all for your responses. Farrar, in typing out my op and earlier responses I was beginning to arrive at the same conclusion - back to basics, just go with the algorithm, and practice, practice, practice. She probably moves on too quickly from one topic to the next, before the first one is really ingrained. So maybe I can convince her to take a restorative break and then go back to basics and take it much slower with constant review. Thanks all!

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Have you tried the Danica McKellar math books with her? It kinda kills me to recommend them because I'm not a fan of the stereotypical female examples that she uses nor the titles themselves, but my DD has really enjoyed them. We've used all of them except geometry so far, and the math is solid, in a narrative form, and has just a few practice problems, but it was entertaining and informative!

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She would benefit from a tutor who can explain using visual representations (aka pictorial) and move her to abstract (numerals..) ...her artistic work says she has part to whole relationships, so really a matter of moving from pictorial to abstract correctly. The algorithms aren't too important at this point; she can use a calculator until her numeracy skills are where she can easily understand the algorithm.  What's important if she is going on to Algebra is that she has the part/whole relationships down, the ability to group and regroup, as well as the understanding of the distributive, associative, and commutative properties.  A good tutor will have her happy fast. I can't even recommend a program, I pull from different books to get the explanation on paper for a student to take home as reference...you'll spend less on a tutor than resources you have to dig through in order to complete her k6 learning.

 

someone like this: 

http://www.mathforelementaryteachers.org/part-1x-multiplication-algorithm-with-chip-model/    this guy is teaching teachers in the video, rather than students.  You will note the pictorial is not distracting with colors or textures and taking base 10 blocks apart/putting them together or even the more abstract area model. Its just the essential group/regroup and place value understanding with pictorial representation.  Abstract comes later, and concrete needs to be left behind.

 

on memory, has she done any bloodwork?  memory is related to b12, and there are plenty of people who have low b12 due to genetic variations and find their memory recall improves once they have are taking the correct supplement.  Of course, the problem could be that she needs the visual representation rather than the verbal abstract explanation in order to move the concepts into memory at this point in her math development. I"m not sure what tricks you are referring to for memory aides, but it is of course common for people to use such visual techniques as a memory palace as a learning aid.  Things like the nines finger trick though, are absolutely useless as far as understanding and knowing. 

Edited by Heigh Ho
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I was thinking Math U See since she's visual and does well with manipulatives. I'm not one to suggest a different program, usually, but MUS speaks to a different population than the stuff you've already tried. I'd see if someone would let you borrow their videos.

 

(I have an artist who hates anything "math.")

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Christian Light has been a huge help for my struggling math student. The constant review of many different topics has been so great at building her confidence. I wish we’d switched years ago.

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We like to talk on this board a lot about getting the foundation and concepts first... but I do think for some kids practicing the algorithm has to come first before they can get the concepts behind it. Too bad the Key to Math books don't have multiplication and division - I feel like they're perfect for this and once she masters the multiplication and division stuff, she might thrive with the Key to Fractions and Key to Decimals to vault her forward. I also have a kid who sometimes holds himself back with anxiety over work like that. If this were my kid, I think I'd back her up and make her do something really simple - Spectrum workbooks or something along those lines. Just basic, basic, practice, practice. You've clearly done a ton of the "fun" and the "in depth" stuff and tried manipulatives and stories and so forth. I think I'd try another tact.

 

:iagree: :iagree: :iagree:

 

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I disagree with the advice to backtrack to computation. It's totally common for a kid with ADHD (which is very possible, given how hyper-creative she is) to forget things as they move on. If she has been taught it and understood it at the time, let her use a calculator from that point on. Do not stay on computation if she's developmentally ready to move on to pre-algebra. How is she with FRACTIONS? That's what matters right now, not multi-digit multiplication. Anything she can do with a calculator, let her use a calculator for and MOVE ON.

 

Yes to MUS. No to taking a break from math. 

 

My dd was like yours, especially with the costuming. We moved her over to MUS in high school and it was a good fit.

 

Have you tried Hands-On Equations?

Edited by PeterPan
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