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Q&A #18654


How to discuss my son's need for more math instruction

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From: Claire (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Jul 02, 2007 at 13:35:48
Subject: Re: How to discuss my son's need for more math instruction

Thanks for writing to T2T. I'm glad that you are willing to be an advocate
for you son's education, and that you are sensitive to approaching the issue
in a way that's effective. From 18 years of experience as an enrichment (GT)
teacher, I know that the parents who are most successful in advocating for
appropriate programming for their children 1) do their homework by being
informed of legal and educational issues, 2) approach the task in the spirit
of teamwork with the school, rather than confrontation, and 3) deal with
school personnel respectfully but firmly.

You are right in recognizing that simply more of the same kind of work does
not qualify as meeting your child's needs. There are a number of recognized
strategies that might, including acceleration (faster pace or advanced
content), enrichment (greater depth), compacting, cluster grouping, or some
combination of them. Susan Winebrenner's book "Teaching Gifted Kids in the
Regular Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use to Meet
the Academic Needs of the Gifted and Talented" offers lots of practical
ideas. http://www.susanwinebrenner.com/

If your child's placement for next year isn't set in stone yet, you might
talk to the school's principal to lobby for having a teacher who is more in
tune with differentiation strategies. It's critical that bright children get
challenged and stretched. Otherwise they are denied the experience of
learning how to work hard and struggle with difficult tasks.

As your son gets older, look for programs outside of school, such as summer
institutes, that give kids the opportunity to spend time with others of
similar interests and ability. It's important, especially as they reach
adolescence, to know that there are many other like them.

The Texas Association for Gifted & Talented should be a good resource:
http://www.txgifted.org/index.cfm
There is a Parent tab with information and suggestions. Each state's laws are
different in terms of GT education, but according to Davidson Institute web
site, Texas mandates that gifted students be served and provides at least
some money. That's not to say that it always happens, but it's helpful to
know that there does exist law or policy to provide some leverage, if need be.

Here are some other resources for you to check out:
The National Association for Gifted Children
http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx?id=1261

Davidson Institute for Talent Development:
http://www.ditd.org/

Hoagies' Gifted Education Page
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/

Keep supporting him at home. I'd recommend working on problem solving over
the summer. Good problems can be approached by various strategies, and don't
depend on specific skills. They help students build connections to other
strands of mathematics.

I'd strongly suggest a student subscription to our Problems of the Week,
especially once the new season starts in August.
http://mathforum.org/problems_puzzles_landing.html
You can get a free 21-day trial account to check it out. It's also something
you might suggest to your child's teacher or school. They are especially
valuable for brighter children who need extra challenge and can very often
work on them independently, or in a small group, with minimal intervention
and planning on the teacher's part. No doubt there are other children in the
school who could benefit as well.

In the meantime, check out the "Other Problems and Puzzles" link from that
web page for other sources of problems.

Other good sources of rich problems:
http://www.pasd.wednet.edu/school/mathwasl/
http://nrich.maths.org/public/index.php
http://www.nzmaths.co.nz/PS/index.aspx

Another good resource would be the book "Family Math"
(http://www.lhs.berkeley.edu/equals/books.html).
There are lots of games and activities that build children's understanding.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck. Please write again if you have more
questions.

 -Claire, for the T2T service

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