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Math: how would you remediate this 5th grader?


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I just got my daughter’s Stanford test scores back and they show a need for some remediation, especially in math. She is in 5th grade, but testing at the 18th percentile overall in math. Now I realize that standardized tests don’t show the entire picture, but throughout the test, she kept saying she couldn’t remember how to do various problems that should have been familiar. Even without taking her test scores into account, I see some deficits in math and have been trying to find a way to address them - the test scores just reiterate the need. 

Some background: she spent 3rd and 4th grade attending a private school part-time in their homeschool hybrid program. She was in school 3 days a week, home 2 days. School divided math as follows: they covered math operations in those 3 days, sending no homework, and parents were supposed to work on math facts, time, measurement, money and word problems at home. In hindsight, she was not getting nearly enough instruction OR practice there. This year, she has completed 3/4 of Math U See Epsilon but she is DONE with fractions every day. She wants more variety, but when I show her something like CLE, she gets overwhelmed by the variety of different problems and the length of the lesson. I had some old Singapore books on hand (3A and 3B, which I had bought for her before we decided to send her to the private school) and she’s doing those but a) it’s 3rd grade and b) I’m not sure if there is enough practice or review. Her teacher at the school reported that she was diligent in her work there and understanding things well. At home, she shows signs of ADHD and also has some anxiety at play. 

I’d posted a few days ago about whether to allow children input in choosing curriculum and I think we’re at the point where I need to make an executive decision, although I’ll definitely take into account her learning style. 

Recommendations for resources that could help me bring her up to grade level, taking into account her need for review? I personally think CLE would be good for her, but it will definitely be a challenge for her. 

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Have you looked at Math Mammoth? I got a lot of recommendations for that curriculum when I asked about math programs, and it looks like a really solid program that would help cement what she needs to know. Have you looked into Learn Math Fast to get up to her grade level? Maybe something a little slower with lots of mastery and review? Rod and Staff, or Math-U-See?

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Math Mammoth is my go-to for remediation (which as a foster parent, Ive been through several times).  Even when going with another program, I like their placement tests best.  They have grade specific books, as well as topic specific books and it's an easy program to run mastery style or as a spiral.  There are a LOT of problems.  Many people say too many problems, but I generally make kids do them all, even if it's every other on day 1 and then the leftovers a week or two later to review.

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I agree with MM.

Weirdly, it's tough and high concept, but I have a 5th grader too (in progress ADD/dyslexia diagnosis) who is thriving with it doing it 2x a week for 30 min. at her tested level. It's behind her other program, but the one on one reinforcement has been great.

We are doing it alongside Teaching Textbooks, also with Prodigy and ST Math. (She likes TT! It is an easier program, as in it doesn't explore theory or expect kids to understand what or why just hHOW to do it)

It's a lot of math.... but she has such a hard time remembering what she learns. She can DO the algorithms in the unit, but if she's in a testing environment where she has to know what to without being explicitly shown after a month or two without seeing it, she fumbles unless reminded with pointers. 

She still counts basic adding and subracting on her fingers while doing long division and such, but knows her multiplications mostly by heart through song/rhyme.

She is nearing grade level, and I think the constant review over and over and over is making the difference. 

I will say that with fractions, place value, and decimals she understands only on a solve basis - she doesn't grasp place value 100% and likely won't for a few years. She'll still not realise 0.25 x 0.11 = 254.5 is obviously wrong unless I guide her to double check EVERY problem. 

 

MM is inexpensive, and I would look at a lot of program's placement tests to get an idea of where the issues are so you can help her. If it really is only 1 issue, like fractions, either MM or Math U See or whatever you're using with additional manipulatives. If it's a general behindness, you might need to figure out specifically what the root issue is. 

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13 hours ago, Gobblygook said:

Now I realize that standardized tests don’t show the entire picture, but throughout the test, she kept saying she couldn’t remember how to do various problems that should have been familiar. Even without taking her test scores into account, I see some deficits in math and have been trying to find a way to address them - the test scores just reiterate the need. 

I've heard good things about Math Mammoth as well, so I like that idea. 

However, I'd also love to help you troubleshoot specifics. Could you give me an example of something she can't remember how to do? Then I might be able to suggest things that'll develop understanding. 

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15 hours ago, Gobblygook said:

She is in 5th grade, but testing at the 18th percentile overall in math.

 

15 hours ago, Gobblygook said:

something like CLE, she gets overwhelmed by the variety of different problems and the length of the lesson.

Is there any possibility she has SLD Math, ADHD, or anxiety? Those could also factor into those scores and explain why she's being overwhelmed by some of the materials.

I'm not saying you *should* use them, but an alternative to the CLE would be to look for something *shorter* like Evan Moor's Daily Math Warm-Ups, Daily Math Word Problems, etc. Several publishers have these type of brief, single page spiral review programs. It could allow you to keep in MUS but get in more variety/review with amounts that wouldn't overwhelm her. 

Also, check but MUS used to have a worksheet generator that would make all kinds of worksheets to give you more review. So you could generate them to keep fresh previous concepts.

5th was when my dd first started with evals (for vision, then psych for the ADHD and anxiety), so it's something to watch for. Things just become more obvious at this age and sometimes evals can be the right move.

I agree with the suggestion to do placement tests. It will let you see the different emphases of each curriculum as well. 

Dopamine (chemical of attention) is necessary to get things from short term to long term learning. So forgetting and ADHD just go together. And conversely, when you treat the ADHD some people's math scores will go up dramatically. 

So I wouldn't assume she doesn't completely *know* the math and I wouldn't assume doing a *lot* of it will fix what's wrong. My dd's math scores jumped dramatically when she started ADHD meds and it's *very* common. 

Then, fwiw, my ds is diagnosed with SLD math. He forgets things, and that goes with the SLDs. I focus less on procedures and more on word problems. I use very much like the Daily Math Word Problems type workbooks. Here's an example. https://www.amazon.com/Daily-Word-Problems-Grade-4/dp/1629388580/ref=pd_lpo_14_t_0/135-0917887-9279206?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1629388580&pd_rd_r=6f44b031-20fc-43c8-af22-449a173d20ae&pd_rd_w=X5TN1&pd_rd_wg=QGgmF&pf_rd_p=16b28406-aa34-451d-8a2e-b3930ada000c&pf_rd_r=DMGASVMDS3MEVN0ZM3CS&psc=1&refRID=DMGASVMDS3MEVN0ZM3CS  Make sure you're getting an updated version that is to Common Core standards, as the problems are significantly better.

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10 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

I focus less on procedures and more on word problems.

Honestly, I think that's a good idea with basically all kinds of learners. Procedures need to make sense. For them to make sense, they need to hook to something. If you can't get them to hook to something, your kid probably won't remember them anyway, at least not in the long term. 

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3 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I've heard good things about Math Mammoth as well, so I like that idea. 

However, I'd also love to help you troubleshoot specifics. Could you give me an example of something she can't remember how to do? Then I might be able to suggest things that'll develop understanding. 

I actually used the Math Mammoth topical series with her last year, when we only had certain topics to cover at home and school was supposed to do the rest. So that’s definitely an option.

She said she just blanked on the test. We’ve been working on fractions all year, and she tells me how incredibly bored she is with them, but she couldn’t remember how to multiply them. She couldn’t remember how to do a subtraction problem where she had to borrow twice. She couldn’t remember how to do long division. To be fair, with the weird scope and sequence she’s had, with two years at the school and this year with MUS, there were some concepts she hasn’t had a lot of exposure to - like decimals and percentages. 

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47 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Honestly, I think that's a good idea with basically all kinds of learners. Procedures need to make sense. For them to make sense, they need to hook to something. If you can't get them to hook to something, your kid probably won't remember them anyway, at least not in the long term. 

That’s good advice. Word problems are hard for her, and I probably do need to focus on them more than I have. 

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Your DD sounds a lot like my 5th grader. We've finally had success this year with Mathematical Reasoning F from the Critical Thinking Co., after trying RightStart, Math Mammoth, Teaching Textbooks, and Life of Fred over the past two years. 3rd time through 5th grade math and it finally seems to be sticking 😉

I really wanted either RightStart or Math Mammoth to work for her because I like the design of the programs so much, but she's responding a lot better to Mathematical Reasoning, which is colorful, varied, and direct. It doesn't provide quite enough teaching for most students, I would think, but I don't need a program to do that for me yet.

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Peter Pan, I don’t think she has a SLD in math. She definitely has anxiety and likely ADHD. Her anxiety has worsened considerably with Covid although it has improved in some ways more recently. I tried to pursue an anxiety diagnosis with her ped, but he suggested counseling. Which may very well be the right decision, but between Covid and her unwillingness to talk to other people about her anxiety, it didn’t happen. She meets a lot of the criteria for ADHD as well - I’ve wondered about this for years. Maybe now is the time to pursue this with her doctor. 

I’ve used quite a few of the Evan Moor books as supplements for my older kids, so that’s a good suggestion - I’ll look at adding that in. 

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1 minute ago, Gobblygook said:

We’ve been working on fractions all year, and she tells me how incredibly bored she is with them, but she couldn’t remember how to multiply them.

I would say that this means that focusing on the rote stuff hasn't worked very well for her, and that doing something more engaging and conceptual would be a good idea. 

To disentangle fraction multiplication, I'd probably want to know

a) What her mental model of a fraction is 

and 

b) What her mental model of multiplication is. 

 

1 minute ago, Gobblygook said:

That’s good advice. Word problems are hard for her, and I probably do need to focus on them more than I have. 

I think word problems are hard for basically all kids who think that math isn't describing the world and is kind of alien. Word problems go better if your math is tied into your perception of the world. 

 

4 minutes ago, Gobblygook said:

She couldn’t remember how to do a subtraction problem where she had to borrow twice. She couldn’t remember how to do long division.

That would make me guess she has place value issues. Can she explain how to take 1 away from 1000 without using an algorithm, just by trading? 

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I realize you're using MUS now, but I wanted to mention that I used MUS with a kid who was melting down in Saxon 7/6.  I had him take the MUS placement test, and he placed into Beta!  So that's where we started.  He made it all the way through Zeta in six months and from then on was totally solid with arithmetic.

MUS is really easy to accelerate.  What ended up happening for each level is that we would go through the first 10 or so lessons in the first day , then the next 10 lessons at like one per day, then then after that we did a lesson every 2-3 days with some taking up to 5 days.  I added review pages as needed, and I only had him do enough worksheets to solidify things.  He didn't take the tests.  

You are smart to take the results of the achievement testing seriously.  An 18th percentile score in a kid who is not otherwise working at an 18th percentile level is a red flag that needs to be investigated.  That coupled with her behavior during the test (this is key--I got as much information watching my kids take standardized tests as I did from the scores) definitely points to her needing some remediation.

Regarding the suggestions upthread for MM--if your daughter is sensitive to crowded text or too many problems on a page, if you decide to go with it, you might want to alter how you use it so that she doesn't see the text.  My son used it for all of three minutes and proceeded to have a meltdown.  He was younger than your daughter at the time, but I just wanted to pass that along.

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8 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think word problems are hard for basically all kids who think that math isn't describing the world and is kind of alien. Word problems go better if your math is tied into your perception of the world. 

 

Word problems have been hard for my son all along. He's great with the problems (other than silly math errors when his brain rushes ahead of his pencil and/or he can't read his own writing). But then he'll get tripped up with the word problem.  We've been struggling along trying to supplement since 5th grade (And he's 8th now)

 

Now my daughter is 4th and her math teacher does something interesting -- she gives them problems and has them write their own word problems that make sense with it.

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8 hours ago, vonfirmath said:

Word problems have been hard for my son all along. He's great with the problems (other than silly math errors when his brain rushes ahead of his pencil and/or he can't read his own writing). But then he'll get tripped up with the word problem.  We've been struggling along trying to supplement since 5th grade (And he's 8th now)

Now my daughter is 4th and her math teacher does something interesting -- she gives them problems and has them write their own word problems that make sense with it.

Yeah, word problems stay hard. They were hard for kids in my calculus classes in college...

I always tend to remediate that from the other side by going back to what operations mean. And I tend to encourage ANY solution that a kid can explain, rather than focus on the fastest ways.

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On 2/27/2021 at 4:02 PM, EKS said:

I realize you're using MUS now, but I wanted to mention that I used MUS with a kid who was melting down in Saxon 7/6.  I had him take the MUS placement test, and he placed into Beta!  So that's where we started.  He made it all the way through Zeta in six months and from then on was totally solid with arithmetic.

MUS is really easy to accelerate.  What ended up happening for each level is that we would go through the first 10 or so lessons in the first day , then the next 10 lessons at like one per day, then then after that we did a lesson every 2-3 days with some taking up to 5 days.  I added review pages as needed, and I only had him do enough worksheets to solidify things.  He didn't take the tests.  

You are smart to take the results of the achievement testing seriously.  An 18th percentile score in a kid who is not otherwise working at an 18th percentile level is a red flag that needs to be investigated.  That coupled with her behavior during the test (this is key--I got as much information watching my kids take standardized tests as I did from the scores) definitely points to her needing some remediation.

Regarding the suggestions upthread for MM--if your daughter is sensitive to crowded text or too many problems on a page, if you decide to go with it, you might want to alter how you use it so that she doesn't see the text.  My son used it for all of three minutes and proceeded to have a meltdown.  He was younger than your daughter at the time, but I just wanted to pass that along.

This sounds exactly like my daughter, I came to the forum today searching Saxon vs MUS posts because we are struggling with Saxon and suspect she may benefit from MUS.  Did the child you accelerated MUS with watch the videos for each lesson?  Did he continue the program once "caught up" in math, or did he go back to Saxon...or to something else? 

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12 minutes ago, ASmith said:

Did the child you accelerated MUS with watch the videos for each lesson?  Did he continue the program once "caught up" in math, or did he go back to Saxon...or to something else? 

I think we fast forwarded through the easier videos and then watched the ones of the harder material.  But the real lesson happened after the video working with me.

As for what happened afterwards, it was a bit mixed up.  We did half of Jacobs Algebra that next year, but when we went to complete the book the next fall, he refused to write out any work, so I backed off and had him do about half of Saxon 8/7.  Then we started over with Jacobs and he zoomed through all the way to the end.  

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