View Full Version : It's amazing what DD reminds me about school.


Stevuke79
11-17-14, 05:13 PM
I'm watching DD (6yrs old, 1st grade) do he homework, and she has handwriting (IMO, a totally pointless subject and skill), and she has to write a set of words 4 times. So she writes the first letter of each word and then the second of each word.. and of course she gets confused and has to do a ton of erasing.

I asked her why she does it that way: It's Sooooooooooo boring. I'm trying to make it interesting.
I think I remember doing the exact same thing for the same reason.

Then I see her doing her math homework. At parent teacher conferences last year they mentioned she was ahead in reading, but par in math. I was a bit surprised because I was always great at math.

She's working on a problem where she has 2 black blocks and 6 white blocks and they want her to count and number the blocks, and then write an "addition sentence" and a "subtraction sentence".
The addition sentence is like this: "6 + __ = ___
No problem, she fills in: 6 + 2 = 8
And the subtraction sentence is like this: __ - __ = ___
With equal confidence she writes: 7 - 1 = 6

And I think, I remember this being tough. To her (and to me, even to this day) 7-1=6 is an equally valid deduction from the pictures based on the instructions. I nudge her and I say, How many white blocks are there? 6 And black? 2 And total?, 8 ... See how each of those numbers is in the "addition sentence"? Can you get all those numbers into the subtran sentence?

And she erases and writes: 8-2=6

I fight the urge to say, "DD, I also had trouble when I had to guess what people wanted from me. But now, I don't have to play their games, I can just ask them what they want."

Instead I said, "I was like that too at your age,.. I could answer any question,.. I only had trouble when they wanted me to guess the question I was supposed to answer." She didn't get what I meant, .. but hopefully that will make a little impression in her head.

I'm not sure what my point is. Maybe it's just that we see them share our experiences.

MomToOne
11-18-14, 01:16 PM
I asked her why she does it that way: It's Sooooooooooo boring. I'm trying to make it interesting.
I think I remember doing the exact same thing for the same reason.


Interesting!

My son has ADHD, and my husband has since been diagnosed. No big surprise for him, but what struck me is how likely it is that I have it, also. I can remember being bored in school, and doing things to make it more interesting, like finding a friend to have a race with doing math problems, or learning to read words backwards. Yes, I really did this. I could look at most words and read them out loud backward and forward without thinking about it. I started doing it in French, too. :p

When I see some of the stuff my son does, which looks like goofing off to me, and he says he is bored, I'm going to ask him some questions. He hates writing and I encourage him to get through it as fast as possible but he appears to dawdle. I wonder if he is trying to find a way to make it more fun? He is above grade level in everything, but still struggles with writing.

Anyway, thank you for this thought-provoking post.

QueensU_girl
11-18-14, 02:05 PM
Some teachers encourage the use of manipulatives, including fingers, for counting. You can add and subtract on them, too. :)

Using a number line , or using blocks, can also help conceptualize numbers.

Stevuke79
11-18-14, 03:33 PM
Yup, that's actually what they were doing. 2 white blocks and 6 black. But to her, 8-2=6 was just as relevant to those blocks as 7-1=6. I was just noticing that it was the same sort of thing that I had trouble getting.

Maybe I read too much into it. And maybe it's not related to anything we have in common. But it felt familiar, and I thought it was interesting.

willow129
11-18-14, 03:45 PM
I still do similar things today, with the 8-2 and 7-1, that kind of misunderstanding the point of the directions or activity. There's a lot of crud like that in professional development and teacher eval...it is and was embarrassing lol :-/ I think it contributed to my not wanting to do homework.

MomtoOne...so, I used to do those things too - I mean, I learned how to read words backwards, and I would take notes with my left hand (I'm a righty). I think it was coming from a kind of dreamy place of "I wonder how I can do this differently" lol. I did stuff like that with math too...like looking at what time it was, adding all the digits, and then adding them again and again

(Did you know that if you do that, by the way, no matter how you add the digits you will always boil down to the same number? Kind of seems obvious now but it sort of blew my mind as a kid lol. Like it's 1:25 PM. OK...1+2+5=8. Also, 12+5=17, 1+7 = 8. 1+ 25 = 26. 2+6 = 8. etc...)

When I started teaching I also began remembering a lot about school that I had forgotten.

Stevuke79
11-18-14, 04:45 PM
It's funny how "having kids" makes us remember when we were kids.

Fuzzy12
11-19-14, 09:30 AM
To be honest from your description I'm still not sure what the correct answer is. Is it 6-2=4? :scratch:

Nothing wrong with your description but I think that anyone who sets questions needs to make it clear what exactly they are asking. I don't think she should have to guess the question they are answering, especially not at her age. At a later age, part of the skill of answering a question can be to deduct what actually is relevant but if there's ambiguity then teachers need to take that into consideration. So if a question can reasonably be read in a variety of different ways and the answer given is correct in one of the ways, then, it's not wrong. When I set exam questions I'm super careful to make it clear what I'm asking. Sometimes when marking the answers I realise that there was ambiguity in the question after all if the majority of students have answered it wrongly in the same way and then I can't mark them down for it.

Are there any examples gives to help her understand the questions? I've always found those hugely helpful. Maybe you could make up some examples that involve subtraction. Also, it might help to rearrange the blocks, for example, by placing the 6 black blocks in the first row and the two white blocks right below that.

Sorry, not sure if that's what you wanted to discuss. I hate ambiguous questions, especially in maths.

Another tangent: Regarding handwriting, my hand writing sucks. It's the worst I've ever seen and I often can't read it myself. I'm so glad that these days I rarely need to write anything by hand. Still, I wish someone had encouraged me to learn to write more legibly (well, actually my mom did but I never listened to her :rolleyes:). I think, it's actually quite a useful skill. Now, it's a real problem when I proofread my student's papers and add comments and she can't read them. I'm not sure if writing the same word over and over again is a good way to do that. That would drive me insane with boredom as well but maybe writing a longer text or allowing her to make up the text might help.

Stevuke79
11-19-14, 12:02 PM
To be honest from your description I'm still not sure what the correct answer is. Is it 6-2=4? :scratch:

Right. Just to be clear, the diagram with the question is:
http://www.addforums.com/forums/picture.php?albumid=1571&pictureid=12101

So 2 white blocks and 6 black ones. (or maybe it was the other way around.. i forget.. also in her homework they were all evenly drawn, lol!)

So you can see, they want:
6+2 is 8 and 8-6 is 6.

Now, like you, and like DD, I can totally look at this and see 6-2=4. These are blocks, they can move around. I have everything I need here to deduce 6-2=4. There are all kinds of assumptions that most people just GET.

Nothing wrong with your description but I think that anyone who sets questions needs to make it clear what exactly they are asking. I don't think she should have to guess the question they are answering, especially not at her age.

I agree. And I mostly agree here too. In fact my first reaction was, "this isn't fair, they should do this differently. They are not testing her math skills, .. they are testing her mind reading skills, which I admit, hers are below grade level for a 6 year old. As mine were at 6 and as mine still are at 35.

At a later age, part of the skill of answering a question can be to deduct what actually is relevant but if there's ambiguity then teachers need to take that into consideration. So if a question can reasonably be read in a variety of different ways and the answer given is correct in one of the ways, then, it's not wrong. When I set exam questions I'm super careful to make it clear what I'm asking. Sometimes when marking the answers I realise that there was ambiguity in the question after all if the majority of students have answered it wrongly in the same way and then I can't mark them down for it.

It's true, I agree. But I don't a teacher to see it that way.

Especially because even the kids who would have trouble with "7-1=6" (which DD can do in her sleep), they still don't have trouble seeing the question is "8-2=__". In other words to most people, in this case deducing the question is not just "the easy part",.. it's the "non-part". It's like breathing.

But I did think to criticize the form of the question. But then I thought of something more helpful...

Are there any examples gives to help her understand the questions? I've always found those hugely helpful. Maybe you could make up some examples that involve subtraction. Also, it might help to rearrange the blocks, for example, by placing the 6 black blocks in the first row and the two white blocks right below that.

I sort of did that. I said, "Do you see how "6+2=8", that used all 8 blocks. They want you to use all the blocks in subtraction too. Can you think of a subtraction sentence that has the number "8" in it? And she started getting it.

And then I said, "DD, this was never my forte. I just tell people to either be clear with me or they can get the %^#$@ out of my office and stop wasting my time,.. but you can't say that yet, and not to your first grade teacher."

Her response: "Huh?! Daddy, what are you talking about?"

Sorry, not sure if that's what you wanted to discuss. I hate ambiguous questions, especially in maths.

The problem is that NT's don't see the ambiguity.

Which means that DD needs certain skills early on,.. I needed them too at her age. Probably so did you,.. it's who we are. We all figure it out.

Another tangent: Regarding handwriting, my hand writing sucks. It's the worst I've ever seen and I often can't read it myself. I'm so glad that these days I rarely need to write anything by hand. Still, I wish someone had encouraged me to learn to write more legibly (well, actually my mom did but I never listened to her :rolleyes:). I think, it's actually quite a useful skill.
I think that's our first disagreement. I worked like heck on my handwriting,.. to no avail..

Now, it's a real problem when I proofread my student's papers and add comments and she can't read them. I'm not sure if writing the same word over and over again is a good way to do that. That would drive me insane with boredom as well but maybe writing a longer text or allowing her to make up the text might help.

I can write quite legibly when I need to,.. using skills and techniques I made up and unfortunately were not taught to me in school. I have to semi-block print and write letters in non-traditional ways, and I need to make lines even when they're not there.
There are ways to write letters that circumvent spatial impairments,.. I wish someone would make a study of it and teach it to kids with trouble. It takes much longer to write "my way", but the result is much better. It looks like legible "fair/poor" handwriting... you can tell that I make certain letters the wrong way, but it doesn't seem out of the ordinary. And with all the practise in the world I would never write well the other way. I've tried that!! that's why it upsets me when DD suffers through all that practise,.. I feel like I've already tested that approach and can absolutely verify - it wont help her!!

TurtleBrain
11-19-14, 01:18 PM
This is officially the first time I'm responding to a post in this section because I can relate to that in school.

I remember how when I had to write some repetitive things down on paper, one thing I'd do is write a word or two for each line of words and then keep adding a few words to each line... not sure how to explain it other than an odd technique I have to make tedious repetitive boring crap seem oddly interesting.

I also like to tackle really easy things first and then finish the harder part of the homework afterward.. although I found I tended to forget and have incomplete work (which happened quite often actually).

I never liked math that much.
My mom would make me learn my multiplication tables. I used to think "but mom! this is boooring! ...could I pretend each number is a pokemon?"

Stevuke79
11-19-14, 06:36 PM
I would like to take this thread back. Yesterday I was giving Dd's math home work the benefit of the doubt.

Today: "You have 5 buttons. What is the greatest number of buttons you can give away?"

DD: I want to keep them all.
Me:But how many could you give away?
DD:3?
Me: But what if you didn't need any buttons?
DD: 4? (Her tight shoulder and quizzical face said: "isn't this a little irresponsible? Shouldn't we keep one?")

(I'm proud of myself for not saying: "DD, I know this is a dumb aasss question, .. But you NEED to LET GO of these phuqing buttons!!!" What I did say was:...)

Me: What if at the end you didn't want to have any buttons?
DD: 5? (was what she said with her mouth. Her raised eye brows said: Then can I come to you when we need buttons?)

There [I]is no interpretive lesson in this dumb question!!

BellaVita
11-19-14, 06:39 PM
Steve, I've read your OP several times and I *just* now got how she did the math problem wrong....to me it looked right! :lol:

(I've been confused over this for quite a while now, glad I finally got it :o)

Stevuke79
11-19-14, 07:27 PM
Steve, I've read your OP several times and I *just* now got how she did the math problem wrong....to me it looked right! :lol:

(I've been confused over this for quite a while now, glad I finally got it :o)

Ha! Yeah, .. But I bet to most 6 year olds 7-1=6 would make no sense once they got 6+2=8. But you or I could be 100 years old and we won't see why 8-2 is an inherently better interpretation. If you think about it, it's slightly more obvious t not really. There are loads of equally valid subtraction sentences.

TurtleBrain
11-20-14, 03:14 PM
I would have said pretend the buttons were really cow poop... lol jk jk :lol: