Author Topic: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?  (Read 3482 times)

AMandM

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #50 on: March 17, 2017, 08:10:34 PM »
Another vote in favor of memorizing math facts, especially the times tables.  I have taught math at all levels from elementary to university, and I can't tell you how many times I've seen a student's understanding impeded by lack of the facts. A fourth-grader who can't understand how to reduce fractions; a high schooler who can't factor quadratic equations; a university student who can't recognize a geometric series... the list is endless.  It's not only that you need the efficiency in multiplication, as ARS described. It's also that you need to be be able to recognize numbers as products.

But this is not to defend tests that require perfection to pass, much less making such tests gateways to advanced math.

There are many methods other than flash cards to help with the memorization.  Google Times Tales (for visual learners), 10 Days to Multiplication Mastery, Wrap-ups, skip counting songs, etc.  If you do use flash cards, IMO the best are the Three-Corner ones because they reinforce the commutative principle and the connection between multiplication and division.

marion10

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #51 on: March 17, 2017, 08:27:27 PM »
Wrap ups! That's what they were called!

MayDay

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #52 on: March 18, 2017, 12:42:15 PM »
This week's 3's test, he missed 3 problems. One he didn't get to (ran out of time), 2 he made mistakes. If I quiz him on the same problems at home, he gets the right.

I talked to the school principal and a parent of older kids. Principal explained the system- it's a rubric of scores, MAP, math facts, grades, teacher recommendation. If he doesn't have the math facts he can still accelerate into adv. 4th math based on the other things.

In order to go into advanced 5th math he has to have a requisite cog score, which he does, and pass a 4th grade material exam with ~80% knowledge of the 4th garden curriculum. He will be able to do that no problem. He is strongly self-motivated to accelerate in math.

The parent I spoke to (with four older gifted kids) said she often saw her kids suddenly self motivate to get faster at math facts around 6th grade when they start factoring​. She has a kid similar to DS who is in his class right now, who scores high on cog tests but is still dorking around on the subtraction times tests, lol.

I also found out the other program that starts in 4th is the gifted language arts class. His previous scores are borderline, and it's a hard cap at 20 kids, so we just have to see how the scores shake out with other kids in his grade, and see if he wants to do the harder work.
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kimmarg

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #53 on: March 18, 2017, 01:23:47 PM »
Those of you mentioning you want the higher order thinking and don't care about memorization: studies show not having the basics memorized inhibits higher order understanding.

E.g. if I'm explaining why you invert and multiply when dividing fractions, as a randomly picked example (this is a fun lesson, fwiw), not having basic facts down impedes the understanding.

If we're doing area and perimeter, and on each example problem you have to stop to work out 3x4 and 6x2, you'll have a much higher chance of losing the overall concept.

It's not the memorization that's important, it's the not having to waste working memory on it, so your focus can be understanding the concepts, instead of having to divert brain power to something that should/could be automatic.

I have to say that 3rd grade timed multiplication tests were pretty much my glory days of math so I may be biased. I think I side with arebelspy here. I actually *use* the math facts I memorized probably every day. I can't say the same thing about the subordinating conjunctions in alphabetical order or the capitals of South America which I can also recite...

Laura33

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #54 on: March 18, 2017, 03:14:13 PM »
This week's 3's test, he missed 3 problems. One he didn't get to (ran out of time), 2 he made mistakes. If I quiz him on the same problems at home, he gets the right.

I talked to the school principal and a parent of older kids. Principal explained the system- it's a rubric of scores, MAP, math facts, grades, teacher recommendation. If he doesn't have the math facts he can still accelerate into adv. 4th math based on the other things.

In order to go into advanced 5th math he has to have a requisite cog score, which he does, and pass a 4th grade material exam with ~80% knowledge of the 4th garden curriculum. He will be able to do that no problem. He is strongly self-motivated to accelerate in math.

The parent I spoke to (with four older gifted kids) said she often saw her kids suddenly self motivate to get faster at math facts around 6th grade when they start factoring​. She has a kid similar to DS who is in his class right now, who scores high on cog tests but is still dorking around on the subtraction times tests, lol.

I also found out the other program that starts in 4th is the gifted language arts class. His previous scores are borderline, and it's a hard cap at 20 kids, so we just have to see how the scores shake out with other kids in his grade, and see if he wants to do the harder work.

I'm really glad to hear it's a rubric that considers a variety of things.  I have zero issues with the concept of math facts being really important for future math work -- my DD is one of those kids who never got super quick/fluid with that, and she struggled in algebra for the reasons arebelspy mentioned above, i.e., too much brainwork devoted to "doing the math," so she'd forget where she was in actually trying to solve the problem (note that the ADHD didn't exactly help with this). 

But the idea that a kid needs to get 100% on a series of one-minute tests as a mandatory criteria for moving up strikes me as completely ridiculous.  Especially where the kid has a documented issue with processing speed and has otherwise demonstrated that he knows the actual math (i.e., that it's not gaps in his *math* understanding that are causing the problem).
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E_Monkey

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #55 on: March 21, 2017, 07:40:05 AM »
OP, I am so sorry that you're having to fight this battle. Timed tests are the worst. Keep pushing, you'll get your kid into the advanced math.

I can't believe that no one has mentioned Schoolhouse Rock! yet. It's much easier to remember things if you sing! There is a 4-CD set of Schoolhouse Rock on Amazon. Yes, it's expensive, but it's WORTH IT. It's on heavy rotation in our car. The 4-CD set covers multiplication, American history, the parts of speech, and science.

I believe that there are things you just have to know, and then you also have to know HOW to figure out things. If you pay attention in school, you will learn both. Schoolhouse Rock is amazing for teaching the things that you have to know, and it also builds enthusiasm for academic topics. If you don't want to get the CD set, you can get the DVD (again, put it on in the car) or you can get just the individual CDs.

I leave you with "Three is a Magic Number."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU4pyiB-kq0&feature=youtu.be

msilenus

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Re: Has anyone had to fight the school about "math facts" tests?
« Reply #56 on: March 24, 2017, 02:51:30 PM »
There are a variety of ways to get your student to drill themselves on this, ranging from flashcards to online tools.

I swear that when this thread was young I saw someone recommend a site called xtramath.org.  I can't find that referenced anymore, so it might have been deleted.

Anyway: we gave it a try for our second grader with high-functioning autism, a severe allergy to busywork, fine motor/handwriting issues, and the deep lag in math facts tests you'd expect from all that.  Xtramath is his new favorite thing.  It locks him out until the next day after he finishes that day's exercises... so every morning he wakes up and immediately does his xtramath before breakfast.    His score in the first set (additions resulting in <= 10) has shot from 44 to 88 in the last week.  Some of that is figuring out numeric typing, but a whole lot isn't.  He's known how to add since he was half his current age, but he's never made fluency gains like this before.

Anyway: to whomever noted this earlier in the thread --thank you so much!  I can't imagine all or even  most kids would take to it this way, but it's sure as heck working for us.