Thursday, January 8, 2009

3rd grade math saga continued

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… 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)).

Go figure!

PS - anyone have any good ideas for a science fair project?????? All help appreciated!!!!!!!


Lib said...

Hi Kris,
Oh math!I count on my fingers, Dh and DS is gifted in math, they amaze most folks !Its a gift from Dh side of the Family .
Good luck!
Have a great day!

isolada. by design said...

Oh, Kris. This is why you are a good parent. You have patience. You listen and know your daughter. You are INVOLVED, every day, home and away.

How you didn't come unglued just shows respect for another human being, especially a teacher. "She's doing average and what I expect of her," would so not be an acceptable answer for me. It's what Jessie expects for herself that is MOST important AND what you know you're child is capable of here that then becomes what YOU expect of her. Oh, boy. You've hit a nerve. And I don't even have children!

The extra textbooks were a very nice thing for her to do.

You've lots of support in all ways, near and far! I don't know what I could do long distance, but I would what I could.

Breathe deep in all you've understood today. You done good!

Ana :)

Anonymous said...

You are doing your absolute best kris, and I'm sure Jesse is too. The best advice I can say is just ty to get her through this. There will be other math lessons, and some she will get, and some she won't. But in my experience, as someone who struggled with math, particularly algebra and geometry (And doing the same as Jesse, all A's accept the offending subjects) she just may not be ready for it yet. But the older she gets, it just may start to click for her. I know it did for me. As time went by, somehow it just started making sense to me in a way it hadn't a year or two prior. She sounds like a wonderfully intelligent girl, she'll get through this, particularly with such a wonderful mom as you!! xoxo :)

countrychicken said...

This could be a hereditary thing on Grandma's side - as I was terrible in math. Grandpa was much better, maybe Tyler will get that gene

Gill - That British Woman said...

our son is an accountant, so obviously he is good with figures. Our daughter, just plain sucked, I mean she was hopeless, we had to pay for a private tutor in highschool, just to get her through the required levels. Then the tutor told her that she shouldn't take maths again, which she didn't.

However she also excelled at other subjects, and she is in her final semester of doing her Masters at University. I find that girls tend to be better at writing/English and boys better at math,

Gill in Canada

Judy T said...

At my children's grade school they each have a planner that they use starting in 3rd grade. The students write down their assignment/upcoming tests each day (or week). It is initialed by the teacher at the end of the day so she is sure they have everything written correctly and then we initial it at home each evening to check off their homework. It is a great system that not only helps them learn good skills for later in school and life, but makes everyone somewhat accountable. Maybe an assignment planner would help you and Jesse keep track of her work and upcoming tests. It has helped my most disorganized son (11) tremendously.

Sara said...

Yeah, I hate math - I failed Algebra. Its going to get worse, trust me! And mental math is stupid, but that is the "New" math that they teach - whatever...I will check my old science books for a neat science fair project. WHen does she have to do this by?

Unknown said...

There is some great articles related to this at Math Tutor Lab.