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Haley23 03-01-2019 07:14 PM

Follow up math question- specific student
I have a 3rd grader who I've been working with for 2 years now who still cannot do very basic things like subitize or "make 5," "make 10", etc. She has learned her numbers 1-100 and can count or write a sequence starting from any number, but this is something she's just memorized at this point.

She's made significant improvements in her reading fluency and accuracy, but again, I've noticed as of late she doesn't use the phonics skills I've been teaching her- she's a whole word reader, again speaking to memorization.

At what point do you decide someone is simply not going to learn to subitize or mentally make groups of numbers? I don't want to "give up" on her, but it's been two years, and she's shown me she CAN memorize things. At this point it seems to me to make more sense to focus on teaching facts and telling her ONE way to solve computation problems (traditional algorithm) and have her practice just that one way over and over again until she can do it.

However, my P is SUPER anti everything I just mentioned. She doesn't want kids learning their facts or traditional algorithms and wants everything to be about higher level thinking and problem solving. She's read some research about how kids who can't do these problem solving/higher level things aren't successful in life (yes, major paraphrasing there LOL) and now she's kind of obsessed with it.

How do I get P to let me do this? I can't just "shut my door and teach" because we have walkthroughs and we do everything in intervention blocks, so we're constantly having to meet and talk about what we're doing in our groups as a data team. She might see my way if this girl had a cognitive disability, but she doesn't- just LD.

Lakeside 03-02-2019 04:56 AM

Math Student

At this point it seems to me to make more sense to focus on teaching facts and telling her ONE way to solve computation problems (traditional algorithm) and have her practice just that one way over and over again until she can do it.
I completely agree with you!

I believe that current trends in education are focused way too much on correcting children's weaknesses instead of playing to their strengths. Not all children learn the same way. - But memorization of facts has it's own benefits in the brain, and whole word readers are actually faster in everyday situations than phonics readers.

We need to build on the things our students can do, and help them be proud of their learning.

NewCAteacher 03-02-2019 03:04 PM

I absolutely HATE when we are told things like this. My suggestion is take a look at the psych report. In my experience, kids like the one you mention generally have very weak working memory abilities, visual spatial skills, and/or sensory processing issues. Make a copy of the report, highlight the specific areas which show this, and let your p have a look while you explain it to her. I had to do this with a teacher who just didnít understand why her student needed so much extra time (he had a very slow processing speed). She understood a little better after I talked to her. PP is right. This child deserves to have an education that builds on what she CAN do. Sounds like your p is grossly out of touch with reality!

Haley23 03-02-2019 05:33 PM


whole word readers are actually faster in everyday situations than phonics readers.
"Whole word reader" is a bad word in my building :rolleyes:. New P came in last year and was all about systematic and explicit direct phonics instruction and we've seen a lot of benefits. The ironic thing is that I've been doing this kind of instruction for years before it became the "popular" thing, and of course I know the benefits of this for most kids, but I am now constantly having to defend the position that some kids just don't read that way.

I'm now dealing with the 3rd case where an entire team (classroom teachers, interventionists, etc.) is wanting me to evaluate a child whose fluency and accuracy are meeting grade level expectations because she's a whole word reader. We do everything in intervention blocks and when we meet as a data team they want these kids in the lowest groups :confused:.

They're constantly saying, "But they won't be able to do multisyllabic words when they're older!" I could see that being the case for kids who got some sort of intervention where they were specifically taught words from the Fry list with tons of repetitions (which isn't the case for any of these kids), but not for kids that just seemed to pick it up on their own. Besides that, they're already reading multisyllabic words just fine in the 3rd grade DIBELS passages.

Sorry, that was a tangent!

NewCA, unfortunately her cognitive testing doesn't really show that. She was low average in visual spatial and working memory and average in processing speed. She was just barely 6 when she was evaluated and I'm wondering if it's not that accurate. I have many kids who do have big documented weaknesses in those areas who are ions better than her at these math skills. I've truly never seen anyone struggle so much with this much intervention, including a couple of kids in my first school who actually had cognitive disabilities.

The other thing that doesn't help is that the other sped teacher in the building is all about working on higher level thinking stuff only, and the P has eaten this up. The sad thing is that other sped teacher doesn't always even believe that herself, but she's so obsessed with her eval that she continues to do it to get all of the marks on there (tons of higher level thinking stuff). She will tell others that P "won't let us" focus on basic skills, but the whole reason P believes in this is because other sped teacher has "shown her it's possible." It's a very frustrating set up.

pdxteacher 03-02-2019 10:18 PM

My principal loves, loves, loves data, so if I can go to him with some that backs up my plan Iím more likely to succeed. What would happen if you take the data that shows the last two years of data have shown that current instruction *isnít* working for this student, and then ask for a month to try something else, then revisit the data? IEPs are supposed to be individual. ;)

Song of Joy 03-02-2019 10:44 PM

That would be so frustrating! This is where Common Core is a disservice to students who really need to figure out one way of doing things so they can function in the real world, just as you're suggesting.

Is there a way to get the parents to advocate with you, or would that just open a can of worms.

I can tell you really know your student and just want what's best for her.

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