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Learning Walls

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  • Enigma
    I would start over with R&S even if you plan to use something else later. Those ducks are magic, I promise. I used them like Waldorf Math stories. "Addition Gnome was in the forest and he saw two ducks, etc..."

    I would use only ONE WAY of teaching/explaining the concepts over and over with consistent terminology. It sounds like she may be confused by too many examples. Keep it short and simple.

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  • armymom
    Actually, I do have a set of Math-U-See blocks, which is in base ten. I even have their Decimal Street made up with all of the numbers living in their houses (units in the unit house, ten in the ten house, etc.) I also have a two tone Right Start style abacus. We started the year with Right Start, but by a couple of months in two things were clear, there was too much new information, and she had no basis for "discovery learning." Her guessing was wild rather than organized, because she never caught on to patterns like a math balance tips one way if the answer is too high and the other way if the answer is too low. Mostly we have been using the inexpensive mastery based KinderMath. However, because of her particular struggles I am not sure whether to keep repeating the same things over and over when it is failing to work, or whether I should jump to other material and come back. Plus, I don't know what other material to skip to - money confuses her because both skip counting and attributing different values to a single coin confuse her. And that pretty much takes out most of what is taught in K!

    We have done a lot of the suggested games, building numbers and naming them. I have gone back and forth naming numbers (four-ten and forty) which probably didn't help. I did make a set of number cards that stack to show 21 as 20 and 1. I am actually Montessori trained, so I know tons of ways to demonstrate math concepts, especially lower arithmetic! However, she is good at every one of those games - and the knowledge doesn't transfer. Honestly, I suspect that a fundamental issue is that she is deaf to patterns. I can remember looking at carpets and being really bothered as a little kid when they were put together wrong and messed up the pattern. I could just tell that the whole thing look "off." My dd spent a month learning that ABABABA__ meant that she needed a B next. When we first started patterns she sometimes picked things like F as an answer to what comes next. That wasn't even in the pattern! As a result, we tried to learn to count by twos and she would throw in a number like 19 and it didn't sound out of place to her. So, she can build 46 on decimal street and we try to add one and she thinks that the answer is 56. So we do it with the blocks and she tries to write the answer as 74. Or 447. (?!!) Honestly, she is a pretty good sport about it most of the time. She only flips out if I try to fix HER paper. I am the one that is usually closer to tears! This year we have learned basic line patterns, writing numbers (mostly), counting, and addition with small numbers and comparisons. However, even with those there isn't always transfer. She can tell me in math time that 87 is more than 33, but when she is looking for a hymn in a hymnal, she will start turning pages the wrong way and never catches on that there is a number line in place. She mixes up fourteen and forty and doesn't see why I think it is such a big deal.

    I guess part of my issue teaching is that I am not sure how to use her memory. It is excellent. She can learn anything through drill. (Except how to form letters.) However, I am not sure whether I should try to show different model after different model in the hope that something clicks or show her the same model over and over in the hopes that she internalizes it or simply have her memorize the information that she can't use now in the hopes that at some point it will make sense and she will have it to use!


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  • cherylswope
    Hi, Lena.

    Which math program and level are you using with your daughter?

    If you're not familiar with Rod & Staff, R&S 1 provides a consistent, clever conceptual tool for teaching place value to young children: 1 box of ten crayons for tens, single crayons for ones. This image repeats throughout the book. Every new number over 10 is introduced daily by 1 box of ten crayons and the correct number of single crayons.

    The teacher's manual provides a printable place-value chart in the back, so you can reinforce the concept all year.

    In this manner, place value is both integrated and reviewed. Although some misunderstand R&S as "practice only," R&S teaches concepts and understanding for mastery, just as you teach calculations for mastery.

    Some tips, regardless of the math curriculum you choose:

    1. Continue using manipulatives as needed

    You might not achieve a single "light bulb" moment with manipulatives, but you may steadily improve her understanding. Use these in a quick, simple way each day.

    Consider obtaining Base Ten Blocks , or something similar, exactly as CelticaDea suggested. Great ideas.

    My daughter struggled with place value too. I found a set of base ten blocks, so we could create numbers from the blocks each day. (1 ten, 7 ones represent 17). We created 17 with 17 ones to show how silly it would be to count 17 single blocks, and how much more efficient the 1 ten block can be.

    Eventually we did the same with the huge hundred block. We stacked 10 tens blocks next to the hundreds block.

    The blocks became useful during addition and subtraction too. For subtraction, we traded a strip of tens for ten single blocks.

    Whenever we did not use the blocks for lessons, I rotated the set into her independent play time. We included little play men, so they could climb on the walls of ones, bridges of tens, and towers of hundreds.

    You could create inexpensive representational numbers such as ten small pretzels and 1 large pretzel; ten single crayons and 1 box of ten crayons, etc.

    2. Allow to simmer
    Your daughter is still quite young. As you noted with her long vowels, your varied approaches do work over time. You're a very persevering mom and teacher. (I still remember the creative playground images you designed for your daughter's handwriting lessons!) Eventually, she will understand.

    3. Continue to strive for the joy of mathematics

    A pleasing trend in new applications of classical education is an appreciation for the quadrivium! Your husband did not enjoy this as a child, but you are determined to help your own children enjoy mathematics, even if they do not excel. This will be accomplished not just by a good math curriculum, but also with a patient -- even restful -- exploration of patterns, concepts, order, wonder, symmetry, and beauty in lessons and in everyday life.

    You might enjoy researching at the library for children's number books, such as the beautiful 1 is One by Tasha Tudor.

    We enjoyed the Sir Cumference series. Though possibly a little advanced, the Sir Cumference book on place value might be enjoyable as an ongoing read-aloud: Sir Cumference and All The King's Tens

    Your own perseverance will serve your daughter well here, Lena. No need to stop teaching. Just keep seeking the "why" - i.e., a love of mathematics, and I'm very confident you'll determine the "how."

    If she continues to struggle, you might consider using R&S 1 in 1st grade. Much would be review but in a different format, so she could gain confidence and skill. The consistent presentation of all early math concepts in R&S, including place value, might serve her well.


    Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child

    Cheryl Swope, M.Ed., with Foreword by Dr. Gene Edward Veith

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  • CelticaDea
    I can't speak to getting over walls in learning but for place value specifically:

    Do you have unifix cubes, base ten blocks, an abacus (though I don't know how to use one to teach specifically)?
    You could make up some cards that say 40, 20, 30, etc....and some others that are for the ones (1,2,3,..). If you're up there yet also hundreds (100, 200..) Keep the ten blocks stuck together (if using unifix type cubes) for the 10's and use separate individual blocks for the 1's. If you have enough, don't keep sticking them together and then taking apart. leave the 10's together and the 1's separate. The hundred plate with the base ten blocks are cool too. You can show how 10 ten's is the same as the 100. or how 10 one's is the same as 1 ten.

    You can have her bring the right number of units for the card you give her. And then you can go the other way give her the amount of blocks (ex: 20) and have her give you the number card that goes with it. You should explain what goes with what before you try to 'test' her by having her match them up. It'll sound funny but if you say "4 tens" instead of 40 at first, it can help. After she gets it, then you can explain that forty = 4 tens..

    Then do the same with the ones etc.... (you can also do 1's first, maybe better to start with the 1's to help show the correspondence with card to object at a simpler level before going into where she's struggling)

    After she's good with the just 10's or just 1's, then give her, for instance, the 40 card and the 2 card and have her bring those things (keeping the tens together as a specific unit of 10 each). And also go the other way with giving her the units and having her find the right number cards. After she's good with that, you can then show that you can put the 2 on top of the 40 (physically with the cards) and make 42. and that you still have 4 ten's and 2 units. Switch back to saying forty whenever she can handle it.

    Then you can move the blocks onto paper (perhaps each into its own marked column) and have her write underneath how many 10's 1's etc...
    She should end up, then, writing 42 because she had 4 ten's and 2 ones. Try different combo's until she can do it well.

    Hopefully that was fairly clear to understand. If it didn't make sense, I can take some pictures to make it make more sense.

    I hope that gives you some ideas to try. I'm sure it'll take more than a day to get all that worked through but a little practice each time will help get the idea into her mind.
    Last edited by CelticaDea; 04-02-2014, 01:39 PM.

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  • armymom
    started a topic Learning Walls

    Learning Walls

    I am not sure where this post belongs, because I am not sure that it is caused by a learning disability, just more general stuggling learner. What do you do when a child just hits a wall with a topic?

    My Kindergarten dd hit a wall with long vowels and I tried half a dozen resources, repetition, time off, and nothing seemed to help at all. Then one day she woke up and could read. Probably it is a good thing, because boy was this an act of God's grace and not my own effort! At least I will try to remember that when teaching the future kids. Oddly, she still really stuggles with the phonics rules. Decoding FSR book D is harder than reading Little Bear.

    Now she is stuck in math. She does not get place value. Just does not get it. I have reminded her. We count to 100 every day. I have demonstrated on math manipulatives. She admits that she would be mad if I gave her two MMs instead of twenty, so she has some sense of quantity difference if she thinks about it. But she sees 41 and says "it is a four and a one." Other times she confuses the tens and ones place. We have been going over and over and over this since last year, but she is still not connecting the words to any reality. So my question is, when you hit a spot where progress has just ground to a halt, what do you do? Should I be looking for new ways to explain the topic? Should I take a break from math? Should I try to find other topics to teach that don't deal in high numbers? Am I waiting for her mind to mature or do she need more repetitions? I have to admit this is really difficult for me in math. I like math. She is her fathers daughter and he hates math. They are extremely concrete thinkers, not abstracters. Dd take metaphors so seriously. (The baby hit a wall at the park? Did it hurt? How does a wall have anything to do with naptime?) My dh left school with a terrible attitude about math, and I am desperate not to have that repeated in my children. I do not want to teach her that math is a set of memorized parlor tricks with no basis in understanding. But now I have used up my bag of tricks and I am not sure how to proceed. How do you handle situations where there seems to be a hang up in understanding? Do you take a break even with a core subject? Do you repeat? If yes, do you go over and over and over the same lessons? Do you have them memorize something that they don't "get"? Do you try to find lots of different ways to explain and hope that something eventually clicks? Any thoughts on how to proceed?