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  #11  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:27 PM
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mmswm mmswm is offline
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Remediation is an art form. When a student comes to you that far behind, they come to you with far more baggage than just not being able to do the math.

Your very low student probably does want to learn, but has trained himself through years of failure to not care. Somewhere down the line, he convinced himself he was too stupid to learn, at least when it came to math. Your job is to start undoing that damage. You might not be able to undo all of it, but you should be able to make a start. Pull him aside, let him know that you like him as a person. Tell him a story about something you struggle to learn. I always tell my students about my chemistry classes. In the plural. I registered and withdrew from first year general chem 5 times before I was able to pass it. Then I went on to earn a minor in chem. Funny how things change. Anyway, the point is to put him at ease and show him that you're human and you understand what it's like to struggle to learn something. Hopefully that will help him take down some of the walls he surely has built.

Next have a talk with him about a time when he did feel good at math. You might have to go all the way back to kindergarten, but it'll be worth it. You're doing this to remind him that he's not just "naturally bad at math". Something happened along the way. There was some topic he didn't get, or some teacher he didn't like, or some concept that he missed. The whole house of cards fell down from there. Your job now is to rebuild it.

Figure out where he is now. What is he good at? What does he struggle with? Use the topics he's good with to build from and learn the topics he struggles with. It'll be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.
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  #12  
Old 02-28-2013, 10:49 PM
MrMath MrMath is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmswm View Post
Remediation is an art form. When a student comes to you that far behind, they come to you with far more baggage than just not being able to do the math.

Your very low student probably does want to learn, but has trained himself through years of failure to not care. Somewhere down the line, he convinced himself he was too stupid to learn, at least when it came to math. Your job is to start undoing that damage. You might not be able to undo all of it, but you should be able to make a start. Pull him aside, let him know that you like him as a person. Tell him a story about something you struggle to learn. I always tell my students about my chemistry classes. In the plural. I registered and withdrew from first year general chem 5 times before I was able to pass it. Then I went on to earn a minor in chem. Funny how things change. Anyway, the point is to put him at ease and show him that you're human and you understand what it's like to struggle to learn something. Hopefully that will help him take down some of the walls he surely has built.

Next have a talk with him about a time when he did feel good at math. You might have to go all the way back to kindergarten, but it'll be worth it. You're doing this to remind him that he's not just "naturally bad at math". Something happened along the way. There was some topic he didn't get, or some teacher he didn't like, or some concept that he missed. The whole house of cards fell down from there. Your job now is to rebuild it.

Figure out where he is now. What is he good at? What does he struggle with? Use the topics he's good with to build from and learn the topics he struggles with. It'll be a lot of work, but it will be worth it.
I completely agree with this. In combination with showing him how math builds up. Don't just throw equations and formulas at him Show him how math is built up from the basic properties of numbers logically.
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  #13  
Old 03-01-2013, 05:51 PM
Mathemagician Mathemagician is offline
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Originally Posted by MrMath View Post
If you showed him simple axioms like distribution, commutative, associative, etc. Then you couls show that x+x = (1*x)+(1*x) = x*(1+1)=x*(2)=2x

A better way would be to explain that mathematicians hold the following assumptions.

P1 : a + b = b + a ___________ a*b = b*a

P2: a + (b + c) = (a + b) + c _____ a(bc) = (ab)c

P3: a + 0 = 0 + a = a _____ a*1=1*a=a
(1 is not equal to 0)

P4: a(b+c) = ab+ac

Then you can show him that x+x = 2x by:
P3: x+x = 1*x + 1*x
P4: = x(1+1) = (by addition ) x(2)
P1: = 2x

Much easier to tell him that an apple and an apple makes 2 apples, so what does an x and an x make?
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  #14  
Old 03-01-2013, 07:13 PM
MrMath MrMath is offline
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Originally Posted by Mathemagician View Post
Much easier to tell him that an apple and an apple makes 2 apples, so what does an x and an x make?
My as well not even teach him math at that point. By showing him the axioms you give him and understanding of how math works and a proof that x+x=2x. I'd never advise students just to take my word for things, but to prove and figure it out for themselves. Especially in math with is heavily proof based.
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  #15  
Old 03-01-2013, 07:48 PM
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mmswm mmswm is offline
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Former math teacher
Out of curiosity, MrMath, how long have you been teaching math, and what grades do you teach? Also, how much experience do you have with seriously under-prepared students?
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  #16  
Old 03-17-2013, 08:05 AM
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Barbd Barbd is offline
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Middle & High School Math
I completely agree with what mmswm said earlier. I'd also suggest asking him questions to lead you to how he learns best. When is a time he remembers learning really well (teacher led, working with other students, working one-on-one, etc.) and when does he remember completely losing focus (too much distraction, teacher lecturing, etc.). Chances are small groups aren't going to work *unless* you have students with him that can support without doing the work (as so often happens).

If you can get him on board with bringing up his basic skills, tutoring, online practice, practice worksheets, etc. can be worked on while you are still teaching Algebra basics.

I highly suggest attempting to get an honest assessment of his math skills (a STAR math or Accelerated Math test or similar). You can't bring him to speed without knowing where to start.
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