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What in the world ARE they doing for math?

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    What in the world ARE they doing for math?

    Our hybrid school has had an influx of new homeschoolers who were previously in public school. Does anyone have an inside scoop on what in the world these children have been doing for math these past years? I am bewildered and stunned. These are students who have just completed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades last spring, and parents reported that they do "lots of math every day" and they are all "very strong in math."

    My experience is that these children cannot do the most basic of arithmetic. I can somewhat understand the first graders would not yet be fluent in facts, but those who have completed 2nd and 3rd cannot do their 1-18 addition and subtraction facts AT ALL, without counting every single time. Doing just a few 2-digit addition problems took them an eternity, and during our first week, they were in tears having to complete just one lesson of R&S.

    Anyway, all are doing much better after a lot of practice and drilling, and flash cards sent home imploring parents to practice. Parents were stunned, as they were told that their kids had "fluency" with their facts. I think that "fluency" does not mean what they thought it meant.

    So I am just curious...what DOES math look like in these primary grades, with a Common Core curriculum? I don't understand how students are able to do any math at all if it takes them 5 minutes to figure out 12-7 ? I would love to understand this, so as to better prepare for students in the future who may make the switch.

    Thanks!

    #2
    I think it was Anita that posted a great video of common core multiplication. It is a split screen of a teacher working through a three digit multiplication problem on one side and a firefighter doing tasks on the other side. In the time she takes to solve the problem, he ties knots, gets dressed, fights fires and finishes with a nice cup of tea while she's still rambling on. Let me see if I can link it...
    Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

    DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
    DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
    DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

    We've completed:
    Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
    Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

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      #3
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYk3tsUH1x8

      Voila, for your viewing pleasure.

      Also, my son was just assessed for learning disabilities. He has a noted slow processing speed. The info is in there, it just takes time to come out. He knows his math facts. He does flashcards daily. It just takes patience on my part. She said it was all just too much work. That I should just give him a calculator and move him right on up to pre-algebra (grade level appropriate). He's currently doing rod and staff 4 and feeling successful. She also said I should quit spelling instruction, "he has spell check!"

      I mention this because that's the mentality you're dealing with.
      Married to DH for 14 years. Living the rural life in the Colorado mountains

      DS11- Simply Classical 5/6
      DD9- Simply Classical 5/6 (neurotypical, but schooling with big brother to save mom's sanity)
      DD 6- Classic Core First Grade

      We've completed:
      Classic Core Jr. kindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade.
      Simply Classical levels B, C, 1, 2, 3, and 4.

      Comment


        #4
        If you go to your state’s education board website, you’ll be able to see the state/national standards for each grade, in each subject. There will be a lot of fancy terminology to describe basic things, but that state site will tell you the minimum to which a public school aspires to teach.

        additionally, your local school may have a syllabus for each grade. I’d start at those site, because most parents have no idea what/why their kids are taught at away school.
        -Victoria

        at home:
        boy - 3rd grade
        boy - 2nd grade
        boy - k/1st
        girl - toddler

        Comment


          #5
          To be completely fair to that video- the teacher on the left is *teaching how* to do it and not actually just doing it. If the person on the right was explaining step by step how to do the standard algorithm he is using, it would take just as long or longer.
          as to what they are doing in class- I have to say I am stumped! We use Singapore Math which has a common core edition that isn’t much different than the US edition we use. I can totally see how someone using this might not have all facts mastered such as 12-5, but they should *easily* be able to quickly figure it out (without counting!) by recognizing that 10-5 is 5 but they had two more so it’s 7. That is drilled over and over in my texts. As far as adding double digit numbers, the 3rd graders and 4th graders should have easily been able to do any double digit addition in their head without even writing out the standard algorithm as that is drilled and drilled in level 2. From what I grasp of common core standards based on how Singapore teaches, that mental math should be mastered by 3rd grade. I have no idea why kids were allowed to still always count to figure out an answer. Did all the kids go to the same school? Some schools use a “discovery” method of math which expects them to figure all this out on their own just by trying things. Maybe that’s the math curriculum they had and they never made the connection from “try all these things” to “this is the way that works”??? I’ve always despised discovery style math even before common core. Putting common core number sense into discovery style learning is a recipe for disaster.
          Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
          DD, 25, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
          DS, 23, BS '18 mechanical engineering
          DS, 21, chemistry major
          DS, 18, Physics major
          DD, 15, dyslexic, 10th grade customizednMP plus co-op
          DS, 12, super squirmy, possible dysgraphia, MP 7A
          DD, 6 , K- finally one who seems to like drawing and writing- first one since my oldest!

          Comment


            #6
            ShawnaB can you ask the parents to bring in some examples of their kids’ most recent homework?

            Also, since you do have a lot of new students in your school, I’m wondering if it’s the major life change if switching schools, loss of friends, potential loss of a parent’s job, etc etc. those things can be traumatic. Plus, COVID-19 could have also caused these kids to miss out on months of math instruction, if you count summer, possibly half a year.

            at least you see the deficit, and you can tailor lessons to meet your students’ needs.
            -Victoria

            at home:
            boy - 3rd grade
            boy - 2nd grade
            boy - k/1st
            girl - toddler

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by momgineer View Post
              To be completely fair to that video- the teacher on the left is *teaching how* to do it and not actually just doing it. If the person on the right was explaining step by step how to do the standard algorithm he is using, it would take just as long or longer.
              as to what they are doing in class- I have to say I am stumped! We use Singapore Math which has a common core edition that isn’t much different than the US edition we use. I can totally see how someone using this might not have all facts mastered such as 12-5, but they should *easily* be able to quickly figure it out (without counting!) by recognizing that 10-5 is 5 but they had two more so it’s 7. That is drilled over and over in my texts. As far as adding double digit numbers, the 3rd graders and 4th graders should have easily been able to do any double digit addition in their head without even writing out the standard algorithm as that is drilled and drilled in level 2. From what I grasp of common core standards based on how Singapore teaches, that mental math should be mastered by 3rd grade. I have no idea why kids were allowed to still always count to figure out an answer. Did all the kids go to the same school? Some schools use a “discovery” method of math which expects them to figure all this out on their own just by trying things. Maybe that’s the math curriculum they had and they never made the connection from “try all these things” to “this is the way that works”??? I’ve always despised discovery style math even before common core. Putting common core number sense into discovery style learning is a recipe for disaster.
              I agree that some curriculum didn’t need to change much to align with common core standards because they already far exceeded those standards and might have just needed a bit of tweaking to align. Other curriculum choices were a hot mess way before common core was a thing. Everyday Math (University of Chicago school math project)is one that readily comes to mind which had a reputation for encouraging kindergarten dependency on calculators long before CC. Our school district used it, but tried to encourage me that they added in math fact practice. No thanks! As to the video, I agree that one was teaching and the other doing. She wasn’t teaching the method I use, but I did find it concerning some of the bits she felt she needed to explain. I did find it interesting to learn later in life that people in different parts of the world use different algorithms for tasks like multi digit subtraction and multiplication. They come up with the same answer. I just see no advantage in requiring a different method than what parents know (and the teachers know) as if it is better especially when most of the time the kids have no textbook to bring home to explain it.
              Dorinda

              For 2020-2021
              DD 17-12th with MPOA(Classical Studies 3), CLRC (Latin 6, Greek 5), Thinkwell (Calculus and Chemistry), Vita Beata (Divine Comedy), American History
              DS 15-9th with Lukeion(Latin 1 and Greek 1), Vita Beata (9th Literature)
              DS 12-7th with Right Start Level H online class, Vita Beata (6th Literature)
              DS 6 - 2nd blazing our own trail with Right Start D and a mix of MP materials

              Comment


                #8
                Yes! Yes! Math is math it’s okay to understand variable ways to an answer, once you understand the value of the answer.
                -Victoria

                at home:
                boy - 3rd grade
                boy - 2nd grade
                boy - k/1st
                girl - toddler

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by momgineer View Post
                  I have no idea why kids were allowed to still always count to figure out an answer. Did all the kids go to the same school?
                  I think there's two things. One is that, if the standards are low, everything is fine as long as the student can get to the right answer within a reasonable timeframe (for some definition of reasonable). Second, I don't think many schools focus on speed drills. They may do speed drills occasionally, but perhaps not as often as we do in MP.

                  Without constant speed drill practice, I think it's easier to get by for many years by counting.

                  So yeah, perhaps it's a symptom of the shift away from drilling math facts towards “discovery” as you mentioned.
                  DD13—MP7, MPOA
                  DS7—MP1

                  Comment


                    #10
                    For the past several years I have had my kids in a public Montessori school. They all tested into the GT program and were labeled as gifted in math. In fact two really are gifted and working well above grade level, one is somewhat above average but not gifted, and one is struggling. I knew that this one was having math problems but was assured that she was doing well. It was one of the reasons we decided to return to homeschooling. This year (7th) we've ended up using Math Mammoth 6. It would have been MM5 if I hadn't had her working on remedial math the last quarter of last school year during the COVID closure. It turned out that my GT kid was actually over a year behind and lacked basic fact fluency.
                    I think that the problems are large classes and standardized tests. How can a teacher possibly meet the needs of 28 kids? My kid didn't cause problems and either worked with a friend or brought her work home to get help from her older sister, so the teacher didn't notice that she was struggling. A lot of that was my daughter's fault. She was too proud to admit that she needed help, but in a smaller class the teacher would have seen through the ruse. Even a kid who lacks numerical fluency can do well on a standardized test because they spend at least a month prepping for the types of questions that are on the test. My struggling kid didn't understand fractions, division, negative numbers, or how to approach word problems. She still scored in the 85-95th percentile on standardized math tests in 4th-6th grades, so the teachers thought that she was gifted.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Thank you all so much for your responses! Very interesting. Tulip what you say about the disruption and loss due to Covid surely plays a role...no doubt! I think kids are dealing with a lot of trauma as well has just being long time away from a classroom!
                      As was suggested here, I did end up asking my parents to describe for me in more detail the kind of math their kids were doing while distance learning last spring. It was insightful and I thought I'd share. Turns out, it is a totally different approach to traditional arithmetic. We are in California, so standards here my look different than other parts to the country, but my parents said the following:

                      * Students do MOSTLY word problems. Lots and lots of word problems, with all kinds of problem solving.
                      * The methods for solving problems change constantly--student learn one method and then are taught another, and then another.
                      * The language and terminology are complex
                      * The purpose of math seems to be to intentionally confuse students and make them think harder and longer about solving problems
                      * Many parents were also confused by some of the math, and didn't understand the instructions or how students were expected to arrive at answers.

                      This connected a lot of dots for me, and explained why an 8 year old student who is considered "strong" in math does not know that a dime is worth 10 cents and cannot subtract 9 from 17 without first staring a long time at the numbers and then counting on her fingers. It explains why she has zero math independence or confidence, but rather waits for a teacher to walk her through each problem solving step. Nothing is automatic.

                      By contrast, the purpose of an arithmetic-based approach for young students is to make math easy and fast. As students develop as learners and enter the logic phase the tools of learning gained by arithmetic mastery allow them to begin solving complex problems of mathematics--because they are no onger thinking about how to carry and borrow or reduce a fraction or add 9 +7.

                      I am amazed at how quickly my little class is progressing now, and I'm very pleased. Their confidence is growing every day and today they all whipped through a page of multi digit subtraction with borrowing with accuracy and speed like its was just no big thing! No more starting blankly, and *almost* not more counting on fingers!


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