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How to help a student with attention to detail?
Old 02-22-2018, 03:49 AM
 
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I am tutoring a ninth grade girl who needs help in pre-algebra. She is diagnosed with ADHD and autism (what we used to call Aspergers). After meeting with her, I discovered that she seems to have two issues:

1. She is a visual learner and needs lots of feedback. She needs to see graphs, have someone to point out landmarks on the graph, explain in detail what to do and how to do it, etc. Her math program is on line, and it just isn't making sense to her. I can definitely help her with that.

2. She misses important details. For example, if she is calculating the distance between -1 and 6 on a number line, she gets 5 as the answer. Or if the slope is 1/2, she might get 2 for her answer. She is learning to write the equation of a line given two points right now. I am having her graph the line, figure out the slope by calculating rise/run, use y=mx + b to determine the y intercept, and then verify with the graph. (The problems in her program merely give two points and say "calculate the value of b). Since it takes her longer to do the graph too, I am giving fewer practice problems, but I expect them to be correct since she can check visually.

I do wonder if she truly understands the idea of negative numbers...

Also, she constantly wants to convert fractions to decimals with her calculator...not sure she really "gets" the idea of slope.

Will lots of graph work make a difference? Is there something else/more I could do to solidify these ideas in her brain?

I am going to work with her several days a week for awhile to get her "caught up"...and then hope to back off a bit to maybe once a week.

(I'm a retired science/chemistry teacher, not a math teacher...so I am not confident that I know all the tricks for helping out with math, although I used math all the time in teaching chemistry & physics).


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more practise
Old 02-22-2018, 04:31 AM
 
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I think that you're doing everything you could. Since you are her tutor, I would also touch base with her regular math teacher. I would even go so far to ask if the student can get supplemental materials. Providing her with more opportunity for practise like more homework on just one skill may help her remember steps. And then work on a different skill and gradually increase chances to help the student make connections.

If it's about details like the concept of number line and distances, it's best to keep reinforcing with pictorial or a visual. We know that distance means a question of how far so the distance from a mark indicated as -1 to the mark that shows 5 is six units long [ 5 - (-1) = 6 ]. In the idea of slope though it's about rise over run stuff so we know that 5-(-1) is not -1-(5).
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:00 AM
 
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I'd say that the more concrete the examples, the more understanding your student will have.

Would she rather climb a hill with a slope of 1/2 or one with a slope of 2?

Or for negative numbers--if the temperature rose from -5 to 20, how much warmer was it?
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Old 02-25-2018, 08:42 AM
 
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You mentioned "visual learner" and trouble with the on-line program. Can some of the questions be printed out? Maybe then she could highlight certain parts of the question using different colors?

Concrete examples was a good suggestion. Those she can easily draw out.
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Old 02-25-2018, 09:50 AM
 
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I will have to see if printing out questions is an option. Highlighting could be very useful for word problems. She already uses colored pencils to keep track of systems of equations...that was her own idea.

I did some work with her on note taking for vocabulary, which will be a skill she can transfer to any subject. She was not watching the videos provided, thinking that they would not be useful! So I showed her how to stop the video, write down key words, and use the review at the end to check her understanding.

Negative numbers are the biggest sticking point for her...she gets confused by almost any problem that has a negative number in it if she has to rearrange the equation to solve it...or just do arithmetic with a negative number in the problem. I may need to spend a session just drilling that. She often just omits the minus sign or forgets that it is there.....


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