How do I teach the language of math?

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by bella84, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Does anyone know of a good program or resource for teaching math to a student with a severe dual expressive-receptive language disorder? I have a student who has average nonverbal intelligence but functions at a 68 IQ when it comes to verbal intelligence. He can perform rote skills, like adding, subtracting, and counting money with fluency. He is also great at patterns. However, anything that involves language, applied problem-solving, or abstract concepts is painful for both me and him.

    We've been working on money using TouchMoney, but he is stuck on seeing how one nickel is the same value as five pennies. He will stare at a nickel for minutes without replying when asked "How many nickels do you see?" because he isn't sure if the answer is one or five. I'm about to lose it, and he already has. Please help! I'm not looking for basic gen ed strategies, because that's not this kid. He is quite honestly the most severe and perplexing student I have ever worked with in regards to language. His vocabulary is so limited that he doesn't know words like: yard, collar, eraser, and so many other common words. He's in fifth grade, and English is his first language. I am now working with him one-on-one for a few chunks of the day, and I really don't know how I am going to make it through June! Am I expecting too much of him? If so, what else should I be working on? I really need some advice. :confused:
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I had a tutoring student with very similar disabilities and a slightly lower IQ compared to yours. The cause was a missing part of a chromosome. The poem that starts, "Penny, penny easily spent, copper brown and worth one cent..." Worked well for coin identification with him. I really never had much success with word problems or many, many concepts. He could circle groups of items and use them to multiply, but he never got beyond counting each and every object or tally without grouping them. Even for groups of two, though he knew how to count by twos. It was a very complicated disability to understand, at least for me. And the student had received services since the age of 18 months. I saw him for several years and finally recommended a specialized school to the family.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Thanks for sharing. So maybe I am just expecting too much and need to lower my expectations? He is able to identify coins. He can skip count in order to count the value of money. He just can't answer questions like: "If you have five nickels, how much money do you have?" He knows the a nickel means five cents, and he'll count it as such, but he doesn't get the concepts of an abstract value in comparison to a concrete value. He doesn't understand how one object can be both "five" and "one". I haven't even started with dimes, quarters, or dollars yet. Maybe I should just move past the trading/valuing and just keep going with counting but start to include other coins. I think it will be quite challenging for him, but I think that I could probably even start working on spending money to purchase two items (meaning that he has to add the price of both items together). I wish I could say the opposite, but I'm just constantly amazed at the things that he CAN'T do. :(

    I actually have told the family that he would be better off in a special school. Although they are struggling to accept the severity of his disability, they are working towards pursuing that. It's tough to accept just how low he is in regards to academics and language knowing that his adaptive skills and nonverbal reasoning skills are smack dab in the average range. Even knowing that he'd be better off in a specialized school setting though, I struggle to come up with ideas about what he would be taught if he was already going to that special school.
     
  5. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I don't know what the plan is for this child. I was invited to my student's IEP meeting one year and I really was underwhelmed with their plan.

    Even if your student can't verbalize the abstract concept such as counting the group of coins, keep on using as much tactile practice as possible. Have him touch the coins as you count together. I would move on to focus on what he can do, such as lower level skills, rote learning, and written math problems. Keep it as positive as possible. When you notice a lack of understanding of a concept, teach it separate from a word problem. I focused on prepositions with pictures and acting them out. I, too, was often surprised at the concepts that were incomprehensible to my little guy. He seemed to skip all directions, too, so that he could avoid difficult concepts.
     
  6. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    When I worked in a 1st grade room we had a worksheet/mat with hands on it. We would put buttons or coins to learn to add them. It was a great way to see the values.

    We also played a dice game that we had to either add the 2 dice or make the amount in coins. You could start with 1 die and work up to more.
     
  7. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Thanks to you both. I think I will lower my expectations somewhat and lower the complexity level of the skills even more than I already have. I already thought that I was heavily scaffolding for this student, but I guess I need to do more. Thanks for the advice!
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I have to ask, what type of language services is he receiving? Can they be working on the concept of "how many" and "value" with him in addition to what you are doing in math? What does the speech and language pathologist say? That may be the place to go for suggestions since that is a common problem among people with language disorders.

    Seems he needs to understand the difference between "how many" and "how much".
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    You are exactly right. Those are the two concepts that he cannot distinguish between... in regards to learning about money in math anyway. There are many others in other areas!

    He is getting 60 minutes of speech and language services per week (two blocks of 30 minute sessions). I think he needs much, much more than that, but I guess the SLP thinks that that is enough. She actually said that no one else on her caseload gets as much as he does. She works on other language concepts, like Wh- questions and comprehending single sentences. I think she is working on spatial concepts like "above" and "below" with him, too. There is truly so much that this student needs in regards to language, and he just can't learn it all in 60 minutes per week. And, I have no specialized training in teaching language, so I'm grasping at straws here. I've already talked with her somewhat, but she honestly seems almost as clueless about what else to do as I feel. Neither of us have ever worked with someone who has such a discrepancy in their nonverbal and verbal IQ. It's 100 nonverbal to 68 verbal. He functions at such a low level, but his parents keep holding onto that 100, thinking that we should be able to do get him to function at a higher level because of that 100.
     
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I should add that he also gets private at-home therapy from a SLP once or twice per week after school, in addition to the speech/language therapy that he receives at school.
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    I must agree that this child most likely needs a specialized school.

    The only thing I can think of is practice using money by starting with no-fail situations and using "how much" and "how many" phrases. Lots and lots of repetition with both of you using the phrases if his communication level is good enough.

    Have you practiced this with bills instead of coins since bills actually have the value written on them in a very noticeable way?
     
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    No, I have not. I was following the TouchMoney program, using their scope and sequence. However, since that is not working, I guess I'll have to try something else. Bills might just be a good idea.

    Speaking of specialized schools... His mom has asked me what type of school she should be looking into, and I really don't know what specifically to tell her. Any ideas?
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    My little guy went to a school for kids with varying disabilities. They take Mackay scholarships.
     
  14. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I've never heard of Mackay Scholarships. What are those?
     
  15. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Hmmm, I thought they were federal, but maybe they are state. They are funding toward payment of tuition for students with disabilities. It's more paperwork for the schools, but not hard for parents to apply.
     
  16. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Oh ok... I just Googled it. It does say "Florida Department of Education". That's nice though. It would be great if it was a federal program!
     
  17. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Thanks, Bella. It sure would be nice.
     
  18. bros

    bros Phenom

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    Yeah, McKay scholarships are Florida only.

    The parents could always argue that the student is not being served adequately in the public school.
     
  19. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    That's what his mom is working towards, one step at a time.
     
  20. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    And that could take a while. I did it once for my own child here in this county (Palm Beach District). It didn't end up helping much.
     

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