View Full Version : This child is far beyond the category of "at risk" in mathematics...


ADDitives
05-03-07, 05:40 AM
.... I'll give you the context of how I come into all this.

As part of my course, I am in a unit of study called the Diagnostic Mathematics Intervention Clinic. First we learned all about Diagnostic Testing and Data Driven Decision Making (type either of these into a search to read more), and then we went into a school to test children, and work with them in small groups or on a 1:1 basis.

My group has year 4 (4th grade, 8 - 9 years old) children.
The child I have, got NOTHING CORRECT on the year 4 testing (most of it was interview style testing). Not even reading a 3-digit number like 253.

I had planned to test her on the year 2 material today, but went no further than the second page. All the questions were things like "count how many snails", or "write the number the teacher tells you" or "read these numbers".
There was no point going any further into the test.... SHE COULDN'T EVEN DO THAT!

Further probing told me that she actually can't count past 12 with confidence. Sometimes she even gets 5, 6, 7, 8 mixed up. She usually skips 15, and even went one time from 16 to 19.

I showed her a 0- 99 chart, and how the numbers go from 0 -9 and this repeats over and over again (e.g. 0, 1, 2.... 20, 21, 22.... 30, 31, 32.....), and how it also repeats in the 10s (e.g. 0, 10, 20, 30, 40...).

It then came to my attention that not only does she NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEENS AND TENS (e.g. 13 and 30, 15 and 50) she can't actually discriminate the SOUNDS. She will call 50 "fifteen".

She just can't SAY it (apart from not knowing the sequence).

I even did some ad-hoc speech therapy, getting her first to say "teeN" (emphasising the N like "tee- neh") and then without the N, by getting her to say "eeeeeeeeeee" then "teeeeeeeeee" like "a cup of tea" and "the letter tea"..... still didn't get it.

Then I started writing down things like..

- I wrote '4' and told her to say it, then next to it i wrote 't' and asked her to say that, then say it together... 4t.... she still said "four teen"


THEN... we counted buttons, and she didn't understand why it's important to say all the numbers when you count things.

I explained that...
- we count to say 'how many'
- the last number you say tells you 'how many'

and demonstrated that you don't get 'how many' if you skip a number... e.g., I laid out 6 buttons (actual buttons, like the ones on shirts..) and counted "1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8" while pointing to them. I said "are there 8?" and she counted them and said "no there are 6".
Then I demonstrated that no matter what you DO with those 6 buttons, even if you shake them, blow on them, wave them above your head, and mix them up on the table (I did all that too!!) that there are still 6. The only time 'how many' changes, is when you put more in or take some away.

THEN.....
I laid out 4 popsticks. "I have four, how many more do I need to make 5?".
child's answer.... 5? 6? 4?????
She also tried just counting me 5 DIFFERENT sticks..

So I picked them up. "I am HOLDING five sticks.... I don't want to put any down.... I want to keep these ones... but I want to be holding onto 6.... you need to give me some... how many???"

She still couldn't do it.

SO I WENT LOWER!!!!! Can you guess?

"I am HOLDING ONE STICK..... I don't want to put it down.... but I want to have TWO STICKS... how many do you need to give me?"
child's responses were such as : 4?? 6?? 3?? 2??

finally we got to 'one' and verified that by saying "we know that one plus one is two".


Wow..... And this child is 8 or 9. This stuff is below the first year of school.... And I have anohter 3 sessions, one hour each, over the next 3 weeks.

I'm starting out with flashcards 1 - 20.
I decided getting her to count 1 - 50 was too optimistic.

I think my desired outcomes will be....

- counts 1 - 20 with fluency
- counts a collection of objects, upto 20
- recognises the numbers 1 - 20 in symbol (numeral) format
- gives (by counting) a requested number of objects, upto 20

And I almost think THAT is a little too optimistic.


Background on the child:
- Father is an Indigenous Australian, mother is Italian. I don't know any more than that
- Her literacy is low too. I think the only thing she can spell is her name. But she knows the letters.
- She has difficulty reading a simple sentence like "What do I think I am good at in maths?"

- I am THINKING.. but don't know for sure, that she hasn't had much schooling. I don't know how it happened, but it just seems to me like this is her first or second year of school, and she was obviously already "behind the 8-ball".
- My lecturer suggested to me that maybe she has Dyscalculia... and just won't be able to understand 'number' concepts.


SIGH....

Comments, suggestions, your own stories, suggestions, help, respite????

ADDitives
05-03-07, 06:23 AM
Furthermore, the biggest "thing" for me is that.... Even if she achieves those outcomes, if she doesn't get other help, it's all worthless. Couting to 20 and being able to count upto 20 things is useless without further knowledge. My agenda isn't to GET her more help, that's not in my capacity.

But for me.... it's just wondering what on earth it is i'm trying to do for this child and where that fits in the bigger picture.

It's a deep cavernous and dark place for me to be in right now.

Teaching is the business of hope (Prof. Sue Willis)... but..... there's no hope here. This is just stupid.

I'll fulfil my roles as a student in the unit, for learning how to do all this, and my moral obligation and desire to help this child... but.... it just seems worthless. It's like some sort of failure on my part.

Everyone else has normal kids, who are "at risk" but it's things that they just don't understand yet, like how to add 2 digit numbers or subtract, or place value. I said to the whole class at the workshop after the teaching hour today... "The kid I have can't even count past 12...."
Positively one might say "ok, she can sometimes count to 12...", but the point is... it's sort of a silent struggle for me.

I know I'm the right person to be teaching this child over the next 3 weeks (even though it's 1 hour a week and not a lot can happen in this case.....) , but.... it's a big 'weight' and I'm almost jealous of the students who just have 'normal' kids to teach...

But if I can get through this, then maybe I should consider making a career out of working with children 'at risk' in mathematics. I'm already doing a Maths Major anyway.

I think I'm just posting for support and encouragement. Any practical suggestions are helpful too.

ADDitives
05-19-07, 08:40 AM
I'm actually a bit surprised, and disappointed, that out of 45 reads, there has been no reply from anyone...

FightingBoredom
05-19-07, 12:13 PM
I'm baffled that any parent would NOT know their child had this need.

As a parent I'm appalled that any other parent would not know this situation existed and not bring it to your attention and already be working on fixing it.

Of course, if they met that standard you wouldn't be starting at 1 + 1 this late in her life...

I would bet you haven't gotten replies because most people are dumbfounded by the sheer magnitude of the issue at hand. My first reaction was to think of my own 6 year old daughter who seemingly couldn't read a word 6 months ago and barely knew her word sounds. Today she's reading at the 2nd grade level.
To make a long story short--my daughter was essentially hiding the fact that she could read because she was embarrassed that it wasn't "good enough".

My first thought on your student was that she is playing you and probably is barely behind in math but acting like she doesn't get ANY of it. After your lengthy description of how you worked with her it seems this isn't the case.
She needs help. The parents need help.

Imnapl
05-19-07, 06:41 PM
I'm actually a bit surprised, and disappointed, that out of 45 reads, there has been no reply from anyone...Sorry, I didn't notice this thread. Additives, welcome to the world of special education. :D Recent statistics for my local district: 30% of students entering middle school (grades 7 to 9) don't know the multiplication tables. Your student, with more developmental maturity and practice, may one day be able to say fourteen and she may not. It is not unusual for an elementary school teacher to be teaching several levels of math in one classroom of children in the same grade. Not everyone is born with the same abilities.

QueensU_girl
05-19-07, 09:16 PM
Some people use 'manipulatives' to teach math. e.g. blocks

They can be EXTREMELY helpful.

-------------

Guess it needs to be determined if she is:

1. LD (30%+ of folks with illiteracy are dyslexic, for example)

or

2. The outcome of 'neglect' & lack of parental capacity.
You mention that the one parent is Aboriginal, etc. (Canada has incredible educational problems in its Aboriginal populations, too, thanks to the White Man.)

(E.G. You say she can barely read. We cannot read unless we are read to. Parents, who were not parented (eg natives raised in residential schools), do not just 'INSTINCTIVELY' know how to 'parent', based on biology. Remember, a lot of these parents were kidnapped from their families and raised by Nuns or the "government".)

Colonization-wise, Canada also is dealing with the inter-generational problems and fallout of the Residential Schools, like Australia is. (If the film Rabbit Proof Fence is any indication.)

This sort of fracture of their community causes severe dysfunction in people's learning, childrearing and abilities with regard to adaptations. (e.g. people are homeless, alcoholics, incarcerated, etc.


One of the leading causes of low IQ and developmental delay (translation mental retardation) is 'sociocultural neglect'.

Kids can be so neglected by emotionally and cognitively incapacitated parents that they are normal but BECOME, 'developmentally delayed'. Each of us here is only smart b/c our parents read to us, had love to give us, etc.

Developmentally delayed kids for the most part (unless they are Down's syndrome, etc) look 'normal'... so it is not an appearance thing ("phenotype") that a teacher can readily judge.

I guess that what I am saying is that there can be LDs at work, but there can also be other factors (and deficits) that are affecting her learning. One has to have teaching, to learn, and that is hard if the parents (or one of the parents) are from an socially very high at-risk group.

-----------

Hint:

1. Another thing to do is to hook her up with a study buddy who is 'getting it' and whom she can 'shadow'.

This way she'll have a kid to watch who is 'doing things right'. This may help her with prompts in her answers, and learning from the other child's problem-solving steps.

2. If this is her first year of school, perhaps she needs to be in with Grade 1 students, or doing Grade 1 work. It is not really fair to expect her to be at Age Level, is it?

3. Don't tear your hair out. You sound flustered. If your impatience or annoyance or frustration is being conveyed to her in facial expressions, tone of voice, bodily tension or comments -- you are sending her the emotional and non-verbal message that she and her failure to progress is upsetting to you. I'm sure she would love to progress and please you if she could, but she cannot, as of yet. :(

These negative emotional messages can shut down her learning further.

Try to relax and have some fun with her!

VisualImagery
05-19-07, 10:44 PM
popsicle sticks are great manipulatives and very cheap, great idea ADDitives.

I find putting number stuff in terms of money or candy helps kids grasp concepts better-they can relate to spending money and eating candy-you don't have to buy candy or give money though. Try and see if it helps.

This little girl could be very low on the IQ scale or mildly mentally impaired too. or have a severe math disability. Her parents might need some help to know how to help her-they need dignity and respect which I am sure you give to parents. You help the student more that way I have found. I am a teacher too-high school.

You really care, that means alot to students. They know when teachers don't care. My best to you in this situation. Do your best, even though you might not be able to fix the whole thing-don't be too hard on yourself. Just start where she is-progress is important-but at her ability and speed.

Good on ya,
ME

ADDitives
05-19-07, 11:45 PM
I was writing an answer and it disappeared... So I'll be very quick here.

Thanks for all your replies. I did consider that it might just be that nobody really knew what to say!

The first point is - seeing as this is a university-based thing, and we're working in the school for 5 hours in total, I won't have contact with the parents. I will only have contact with the teacher, and then, it's only a written report which is given to her by my lecturer at the end of next week.

The most alarming thing for me right now is, I don't think this is her first year of school, and the fact that if teachers were cognisant not only that they have students in their class of differing levels, but that they actually have to do something to help all the kids in their class (yes, all of them...!), then this child wouldn't be so far behind. Even her current teacher... just gives her the same year (grade) 4 maths worksheets as the rest of the class, and she either hands them back blank or with random numbers on them.

From my further experience with the child - she can't read properly, and she doesn't write the letters properly (they are distinguishable, but the way she does it makes it hard for herself!), and her number 7 looks like the letter T.

We've been counting and playing a board game I made, and last week I made a book about subtraction called "five in the bed" which is the same as the song "there were ten in the bed..." which you all probably know. Then we modelled subtraction with one inch plastic bears, and we wrote number sentences to match. What I found from this is that she doesn't consistently do the right action for "add" and "take", and she also doesn't know what the symbols are...

+ - =.... are all "plus" for this child, so that something like this...

7 - 5 = 2.... she will read as "seven plus five plus two" or if you are lucky... "seven take five plus two".

This week, the final week, I want to work on the addition and subtraction concept. i.e. what happens when you add or subtract, and what is adding and subtracting. I think I need to do this partly devoid of actual numbers.

Imnapl
05-20-07, 12:00 AM
It sounds like you have some creative, fun things to do with your student. Do you have a number line in your bag of tricks?

ADDitives
05-20-07, 11:16 AM
Yes. The first week I used a 0 - 99 chart. Last week I used a ruler.

I think I will make a specialised 1 - 15 one this week. I'm not going past 15 because 11 and 12 are almost too hard for her to understand.

Bigger numbers might be more user-friendly than my ruler!

ADDitives
05-20-07, 11:20 AM
Queens... I love it how you say "some people".

It shouldn't be "some people", it should be "everyone".

Have you heard of the CRA Model?

Concrete --> representational --> abstract,

it works on the premise than concrete objects and examples, plus correct language, lead to abstract thinking.

I'm definitely a 'maths person' - I'm doing a maths major with my primary (elementary) teaching degree, and I'd love to be a maths specialist in a primary (elementary) school. There's a lot of need for it here, though it's not really a specific and readily available job... there's definitely a niche for it.

I think I'll start a new thread in this teacher's corner, about teaching maths. Another day. A place for people to discuss their ideas and ideologies.


:soapbox:



Some people use 'manipulatives' to teach math. e.g. blocks

They can be EXTREMELY helpful.

-------------

Guess it needs to be determined if she is:

1. LD (30%+ of folks with illiteracy are dyslexic, for example)

or

2. The outcome of 'neglect' & lack of parental capacity.
You mention that the one parent is Aboriginal, etc. (Canada has incredible educational problems in its Aboriginal populations, too, thanks to the White Man.)

(E.G. You say she can barely read. We cannot read unless we are read to. Parents, who were not parented (eg natives raised in residential schools), do not just 'INSTINCTIVELY' know how to 'parent', based on biology. Remember, a lot of these parents were kidnapped from their families and raised by Nuns or the "government".)

Colonization-wise, Canada also is dealing with the inter-generational problems and fallout of the Residential Schools, like Australia is. (If the film Rabbit Proof Fence is any indication.)

This sort of fracture of their community causes severe dysfunction in people's learning, childrearing and abilities with regard to adaptations. (e.g. people are homeless, alcoholics, incarcerated, etc.


One of the leading causes of low IQ and developmental delay (translation mental retardation) is 'sociocultural neglect'.

Kids can be so neglected by emotionally and cognitively incapacitated parents that they are normal but BECOME, 'developmentally delayed'. Each of us here is only smart b/c our parents read to us, had love to give us, etc.

Developmentally delayed kids for the most part (unless they are Down's syndrome, etc) look 'normal'... so it is not an appearance thing ("phenotype") that a teacher can readily judge.

I guess that what I am saying is that there can be LDs at work, but there can also be other factors (and deficits) that are affecting her learning. One has to have teaching, to learn, and that is hard if the parents (or one of the parents) are from an socially very high at-risk group.

-----------

Hint:

1. Another thing to do is to hook her up with a study buddy who is 'getting it' and whom she can 'shadow'.

This way she'll have a kid to watch who is 'doing things right'. This may help her with prompts in her answers, and learning from the other child's problem-solving steps.

2. If this is her first year of school, perhaps she needs to be in with Grade 1 students, or doing Grade 1 work. It is not really fair to expect her to be at Age Level, is it?

3. Don't tear your hair out. You sound flustered. If your impatience or annoyance or frustration is being conveyed to her in facial expressions, tone of voice, bodily tension or comments -- you are sending her the emotional and non-verbal message that she and her failure to progress is upsetting to you. I'm sure she would love to progress and please you if she could, but she cannot, as of yet. :(

These negative emotional messages can shut down her learning further.

Try to relax and have some fun with her!

Imnapl
05-20-07, 03:36 PM
Yes. The first week I used a 0 - 99 chart. Last week I used a ruler.

I think I will make a specialised 1 - 15 one this week. I'm not going past 15 because 11 and 12 are almost too hard for her to understand.

Bigger numbers might be more user-friendly than my ruler!It really helps with subtraction to include negative numbers on the number line.

ADDitives
05-22-07, 06:38 AM
It really helps with subtraction to include negative numbers on the number line.
In Australia, before high school, we don't teach about negative numbers (i.e. we don't teach about integers until 13 years of age)

We teach that you "can't do" something like 7 - 10; until you get to high school, then you find out it's -3. I don't think it's conceptually appropriate to be teaching an 8 year old about negative numbers, let alone an 8 year old who doesn't understand the natural numbers upto 12.

However, I certainly see the value of a number line reflected from zero, to include positive and negative numbers, when teaching about integers. In fact, I don't think it's possible to introduce the idea properly without referring to a number line, and some practical examples (e.g. above and below sea level, debt and credit).

stepka
11-06-07, 11:33 PM
I can't help much here, I'm only a substitute, but one thing I noticed when I worked in a low income special ed class for 2 weeks is that many of the kids were like that, and all of these kids came from really poor environments. All of them were caucasian, and some of those kids literally came in not even knowing their own names. The school had to teach it to them. Can any of us fathom the level of ignorance in the homes where the kids are that behind? My theory was that they locked them in a room with a TV and sometimes threw them food.

ozchris
11-06-07, 11:47 PM
you sound really frustrated so I hope the kid is taking it okay, chances are she's feeling it and maybe not working well under pressure or something??

I don't think I'd be able to teach, sounds quite stressful.

Is it possible that she has dyscalcular (sp)?

I think you need to make sure she gets a label of some sort of learning difficulty so she gets the attention she needs.

It seems if kids don't have a learning disability labeled they are ignored and given the same work as the other kids. Maybe you could help organize an assessment?

dyingInside
01-22-08, 08:53 PM
Sorry to resurrect this post, but I wanted to encourage everyone not to give up with students like this. My brother was labeled with "developmental disabilities" or an "emotional disorder" when he was younger, eventually they called his condition either autism or brain damage from a childhood stroke. I suspect he also has ADD because he is often lethargic like me and at other times highly verbal. He reads at about an average level although his handwriting looks like mine when I try to write with my left hand. It seems that the school system just dismissed him and failed to teach him how to make change and carry out financial transactions. Just the other day he handed four ones to a lady collecting fifteen dollars for a music show. She looked at him like he was nuts or something and repeated that it was fifteen dollars. It's a good thing I was there to help (he is in his thirties). I am trying to work with him using those fake money sets you can find at Wal Mart in the school section. I also bought some colored dice to do arithmetic with. I only wish I had started this years ago (before I had an interest in teaching).

Imnapl
01-22-08, 09:26 PM
Real life is the best teacher. Has your brother had much experience shopping and paying cash?

dyingInside
01-22-08, 09:45 PM
My brother is afraid of confrontation with strangers, he often won't look them directly in the eye, which is one of the symptoms of autism. As it turns out I'm one of the few people who can get through to him. Since I learned about my own "disability" I have a deeper connection with him than I used to. When you don't give somebody the correct cash/change, they may insult you, rob you, or call the police, so the real-life approach probably won't work with him, but when he's out with me I make him pay for stuff so he can practice (with me there for guidance).

Anyways I don't want to hijack ADDitives' post.

Imnapl
01-22-08, 10:16 PM
It seems that the school system just dismissed him and failed to teach him how to make change and carry out financial transactions.Thanks for clarifying this. When my son was seven years old, his teacher announced that he didn't have a clue about dealing with currency. It had never occurred to me to let him count out money when paying for things. I learned to appreciate patient cashiers who ignored the line-up to allow a small boy to learn how to count money.

Torry
02-06-08, 12:46 AM
Sorry for the possibly silly question.

Has the child's hearing been tested? Are there any other speech/hearing issues?

And I'll add a suggestion for your bag of tricks ... one that some will hate to hear ... an old VCR or some other device (cheap) that would give a number read-out similar to the TV the child is probably used to seeing. It needs to be the type of read-out that needs a button pushed to advance. Even a normal calulator.

It's quite possible the child knows a lot of numbers - as channels on the television. "1" and "0" would be problematic, but at least the child is seeing familiar objects and you can try building a path from that.
"You're on 9. How many times do you push the button to get to 10?"
"One time."
"9 plus 1 equals 10."