Q&A #5882

At-risk students

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From: Suzanne A. (for Teacher2Teacher Service)
Date: Mar 05, 2001 at 09:29:08
Subject: Re: At-risk students

Dear Nina, I don't have any experience with a commercial math program that is designed for the needs that you have but I can suggest a method that I used last year with a class I was given of eighth grade students who had all received an "F" first semester in their Algebra class. They were all pulled out of their elective classes and given a second math class. Besides having low skills they had morale and, of course, discipline issues. I used two resources with these students. First, I had a packet of overhead transparencies of "problems of the day" from an elementary series that I used as a Sponge Activity every day and second, I used the Accelerated Math program which is worksheet driven but individualized. I worked hard at selecting problems of the day that had a wide range so that if you just read the problem and thought about it you could answer it using basic arithmetic or guess and check methods but also it could be displayed with manipulative and/or written algebraically. Sponge Activity: It may take a few tries to find the type of problem that isn't so easy that the students don't have to work a little, but isn't too hard so that they don't have a chance. I found with my students that if it was a problem that was reachable for most of them, it was something that they could read and understand but wasn't immediately apparent then it worked well. So, here is one example: There are two cousins, Bob and Jack. If Bob is 26 and twice as old as Jack, how old is Jack? This type of problem kids can figure out if they stop to think. They don't need algebra (although it is fun to introduce algebra this way). Also this kind of problem can lead into working on math phrases like "twice as old," "half as old," etc. So, once I gave the students a little time to work on the Sponge Activity and for my students I had them keep one sheet of paper that they copied the problem onto and then wrote their answer. I required a complete sentence answer. To avoid "losing" work my students each had a manila folder and we kept this "Sponge Paper for the Week" in that folder along with other papers. Some class periods the sponge activity branched out and went to related math ideas and I let that happen. Other days we went to the next activity using their textbook. My students knew the routine quickly, though. As they came in they picked up their folder from the box where I stored them. They knew to get out their Sponge Activity paper and they knew to read the new problem on the overhead. This set the tone. Because the problems that I chose were engaging and led other places, we ended up doing a lot of math! Here are some possible places where you can find ideas to use: House of Math Word Problems for Children http://www.mathstories.com/ Rick's math web http://www.ricksmath.com http://www.mccc.edu/~kelld/page200.html (This is an online quiz but could be copied to present to the class.) Elementary problem of the week http://mathforum.org/elempow Accelerated Math: There is a discussion here on T2T to read comments from other teachers: http://mathforum.org/t2t/thread.taco?thread=2916 Their site is here: http://www.renlearn.com/am/default.htm -Suzanne A., for the T2T service

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