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Topic: Number Sense and Computational Fluency
Replies: 92   Last Post: Jul 24, 2008 5:09 AM

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Missy Taft

Posts: 6
Registered: 12/3/04
Action Research-New Strategies for Struggling Students
Posted: Feb 27, 2000 4:13 PM
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I'm piloting Investigations for the second year. Overall, my students
have adapted very well to the program. Number sense, problem solving,
and computation stategies are becoming increasingly sophisticated for
almost all kids. Or almost all. I have a small group of students who
came to 5th grade with weak backgrounds. They failed the 4th grade
MCAS or hit the failing/needs improvement line. They have no
foundation of number sense from 3rd and 4th grade to build on, so are
getting left in the dust by their classmates who are REALLY catching
on. These low kids do not understand what inverse operations mean.
They see 10 X 9 = 90 as something completely different from 90 divided
by 9 = 10. Cluster problems were only possible for them in
cooperative groups. When asked to do them alone, they couldn't even
explain what a cluster problem was. We used manipulatives, multiple
towers, factor/multiple posters, 300's charts, and lots of other
resources. They still struggle in spite of lots of group work and
manipulatives. As you would suspect, their self-confidence is low.

I am beginning an action research project in my classroom to develop a
menu of instructional strategies above and beyond what I am already
doing to help these kids fill in the gaps in number sense, and allow
the rest of the class to move ahead. I am thinking about
differentiating instruction for the same activity by substituting
easier numbers for lower kids. I'm also thinking about trying to
differentiate instruction by making up packets of classwork at varying
levels of challenge, and letting students self-select packets at their
own level. I'm also going to try peer focus groups where students
work in groups based on the strategy they like best, or some other
chosen criteris (not who their friends are working with).

Does anyone else have any suggestions for specific strategies to use
within the classroom that don't involve tutoring (they already get
that, with activities from Gr. 3 and 4 of Investigations)? Any
suggestions will be appreciated.

I'll let you know how the research turns out.

Thanks,
Missy Taft
Holland Elementary School






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