Thank you for all your comments on third grade math. I did stop in before school (so I wouldn't embarrass Jessie) to inquire of her teacher 3 things:
1. They started learning this mental math 2 weeks before Christmas break. Jessie had no clue. We never saw a math homework paper come home before Christmas. We first found out about it Tuesday night, which the paper was actually a REVIEW for a test on Wednesday, and then she had the homework last night. Of course, she had no clue – why would you wait until the night before the test to clue us into the fact that she is having problems with this. If she had sent home some practice papers for over Christmas break – we could have worked on this.
And I have been asking her teacher if she needs a tutor or some extra help in math – she gets it, she is just very, very slow at it.
2. Why are you waiting until 2 weeks before this grading period ends to inform us that you think her math grade is going to suffer for this 9 weeks?
Again, I have been calling her at least once a week to see how Jessie is doing in Math – oh she's doing average and about what I expect of her is the response I've been getting for the past 6 weeks….
3. They have to do timed Math papers in each of the 4 basics – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – 100 problems in 5 minutes that they have to get them all correct. Is this for a grade or for practice? I wanted to know. The last one Jessie brought home, she got 82 problems correct, and didn't answer the last 18 problems – but the ones she did answer were all correct. I would have come unglued if it was being done for a grade at this point. Nothing like putting a little pressure on these kids…..
No, it is not for a grade, this is a tool they use to improve their memorization of the math facts.
And I wondered why we hadn't seen any graded papers, or why Jessie had never said I'm having problems here. Turns out, the papers from 2-3 weeks before Christmas break....weren't graded til this last weekend.
So I spent about 30 minutes with her teacher, learning myself what they are doing in Math and what they are going to be doing, and getting about a million practice sheets so that in the evenings, I can help her with these (as her teacher still doesn't think she needs extra help – Hello – the child is getting all A's in everything else, and a C- in Math. Don't tell me that she isn't struggling). Personally, I don't see why they need this mental math and all this estimating. Talk about adding extra steps in there. You end up having to do 2 addition problems before you can even think of doing the subtraction problem. And I made it known that I want on Fridays a general idea of what is going to be covered the next week in all subjects, and when tests were coming up so that we could study at home and prepare ahead of time. Having a Math Test, a Social Studies test and a spelling test on the same day is Just. Not. Right. Especially when you find out about all of these the day before the tests.
Don't get me wrong – I love her teacher, and I think she is doing a great job. I just get the feeling (and I know from seeing the other kids in her class) that there are other kids who are struggling worse than Jessie, so Jessie is getting left by the wayside a little bit. But she needs some help in some areas (ok – 1 area mainly) and I don't think she is getting it. And if she doesn't get the basics now, she really won't get it in a couple of years.
I don't know if I got the answers I wanted but…..at least now I have an idea how to help her over this hump. I'm thinking when I stop in later today to get the outline for her subjects for the rest of this week and next week (and I was not pushy about it – but I think as a concerned parent I have the right to know about what they are studying. Just because I mentioned talking to the principal and superintendent about my concerns about the difficulties of the stuff they are learning….), that I'm going to have Jessie do different projects at home based on what they are studying in school – not a lot of projects but maybe 1 or 2 each week. And her teacher is just awesome enough that she is lending me a math book, a social studies and science textbook so we can go over them together at home so that Jessie doesn't have to drag them back and forth from school to home and back again every day (because, ironically, her teacher thinks she is still doing ok in Math (remember, c- here) and she is worried about her social studies grade (98.5% here)).
PS - anyone have any good ideas for a science fair project?????? All help appreciated!!!!!!!