More than half my class keeps failing the math test

Discussion in 'Fifth Grade' started by Peachyness, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 25, 2008

    I try everything! I work one on one, in small groups, I go over the lessons slow and make sure they understand what's going on, I put questions from the math test and lesson on the board as part of their morning math work, each tests has a form a and form b (I sent form a home as homework and gave form b as their real test).... nothing works!!!!! I still have a handful of kids that don't get it. And the thing is, that the math program doesn't expect mastery. It's a spiral curriculum meaning that even if they don't get it now, they will see it again later on. Problem is, what about the math tests. If they don't get it now, then how are they to do well on the test.


    I'm just so perplexed as to how to help them. I'm at my wits end. I allow them to take the graded test home and if they can explain to me why they missed the problem and what the correct answer is, then I will give partial credit.

    I don't know why more than half my class is failing!!! It's so frustrating. We go over each concept over and over and over again........ GAH!!!!!
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Jan 26, 2008

    Could it be that since you are using a textbook made test the questions do not align completely with how/what you taught? Thats all I could think of, but I wouldn't know becuase I don't use textbook tests.
     
  4. MsMaggs

    MsMaggs Comrade

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    Jan 26, 2008

    Peachy, I think I remember reading somewhere that you use Saxon Math, which is what I use too. My kids are having trouble with the test included in the test too, but, for my class, usually it's not the "new" problems they are missing, it's the review problems. So, they're understanding the new concepts, but they're forgetting certain pieces of the old ones, for the majority of my students they're missing problems because they forget what the terms mean. We're going to start doing a math vocabulary test each week to make sure they remember common terms like factors, multiples, product, quotient, etc. Sorry I kind of went off on a tangent, but I figured I'd share my experience and maybe there would be some parallels with yours. :dunno:
     
  5. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 26, 2008

    Yes, we use Saxon and that is one of the problems, they forget how to do some of the problems. I like the idea of doing vocabulary test. One of the problems they missed was because many did not know what difference meant or product means, even though we go over these terms pretty much everyday. OY!!!!
     
  6. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    Jan 26, 2008

    I use Saxon too. The last few tests have been rough, so I've been trying some new things. Since they give form A and B for the test, I give one test as a "practice" the day before. They take the "test," then we go over the answers. They can ask any questions they have over the test that day. The next day is when I give the actual test. I've only tried this twice so far, but it has helped a little.

    I have also started taking class time to grade the homework together. I answer any questions they have about homework problems right then. This does mean I have to shorten the assignments (give only odds or evens or sometimes just the supplemental practice) and warm-up (do only the mental math or only time test), but I feel like they are getting more out of the homework this way. So far, it is going alright. I have noticed students do not bother to look back to the previous lessons when they have questions. We are still working on that. Like I said, this is a new strategy I have only been doing for about 2 weeks, so I'm still waiting to see how effective it is, but you might want to give it a shot.

    I understand your pain! I'm dealing with it too!!
     
  7. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 26, 2008

    Okay, so at least it's not just my class!! What's so annoying is that we are only on lession 46. Everyone else at my school are in the 60s or 70s. We are so far behind, but that's because I keep having to stop to review things. I'm going to have to ask the other teachers how their students are doing on the tests. It's just so frustrating. They seem to do well on homework and in class. I have students come up and teach the class HOW they got the answer. Everyone seems to get it. I know who doesn't get it and I work with them one on one. Yet, when it comes time for the tests, 14 of my 26 students bomb it. It's very frustrating.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 26, 2008

    Try putting an example of a test question, in test format, up on the overhead/SmartBoard/projector and walk them through the process of cracking it as though they were taking a test with it - and make sure you start with some behavioral pieces: "Oh, no! Look at this question! I'm gonna die! It's gonna eat me alive! It's got two triangles; I don't know anything about trigonometry! I never saw anything like - ... um, wait: the triangles look alike except for being different sizes. Oh! Maybe this is a question about proportions? That would be okay; I know about proportions! Let me see..."

    The idea is to help them train themselves to look for what they DO know and can do in a question and to get less derailed by what they think they don't know or can't do. And this is a really common difference between good test takers and not so good test takers.
     
  9. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Jan 26, 2008

    I totally agree with teachergroupie. I have to teach my high schoolers good test taking techiques. About once a grading period I do something very similar to what teachergroupie explained. I walk my students through a test to help them learn how to take a test and to learn how to calm their test anxiety. I think it has really helped my students not only in my classes but their other classes as well. Since our students are tested to death, it only makes sense that somewhere along the line they leaned how to test.

    On a side note, as a parent I really hated Saxon math for the very reason discussed here. I think there are not enough practice problems when new concepts are introduced and not drilled enough to stick into their brains. When I noticed that even though my daughter would pass her math test with low A's and high B's, she would miss the long division problems everytime. So at home, she would do 15 long division problems every night for about 2 weeks until she finally got it. There were several other concepts that we had to drill at home. As a parent, I think Saxon math stinks.
     
  10. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Yes, that's another thing that I don't like about Saxon, not enough practice in the problem sets. After we go over a new concept, there is only like 5 of those in their problem set, which has 30 problems. I am having a really hard time getting used to this spiral concept. Bah!
     
  11. Amers

    Amers Cohort

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    Jan 26, 2008

    I actually like that Saxon reviews past lessons, but I do agree that there isn't enough practice over new concepts. I've been assigning more of the supplemental practice problems lately to try to get my students some extra practice with the trickier new concepts.
     
  12. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 26, 2008

    We do supplemental every Tuesday. We have library during part of our math time, so that's when I just have them do the supplemental practices. Sigh.... Still not enough apparently.
     
  13. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jan 27, 2008

    I don't know anything about Saxon math and I rarely use our math text, but I will share some of the things I do with my fourth-graders.

    For Problem of the Day once or twice a week, I will have the students work individually, then share answers at their table, pick the answer and strategy they can all agree on, and then their table shares their answer on the overhead or SmartBoard. This way we often see more than one strategy, that will come up with the same answer.

    I ask the kids to write questions for an upcoming test, provide the answer, and have another students "try" their question.

    Play games, such as Survivor.

    Students make math vocabulary posters or cartoons to display.

    Answer a question as they line up or to get out the door to lunch!
     
  14. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jan 27, 2008

    Are your kids mature enough that if you asked them what would help, they'd have viable answers? I've done that with kids about their behavior ("What can I do to help you remember to ______") and sometimes they have really workable solutions. So maybe you could try the old "I'm doing everything I can think of to help you learn the material, but it doesn't look like it's working. Let's think of some ways that help you remember"
     
  15. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Jan 27, 2008

    Peachy,
    Have you gone and observed another math class in your school? Sometimes that will give you different ways to look at teaching it, that you could adapt to fit the needs of your students.
    I know you said that they are way ahead but it might help you in the future.

    J
     
  16. Hogwarts Alum

    Hogwarts Alum Rookie

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    Mar 14, 2008

    have you tried using whiteboards to use during guided teaching? it helps you to see who truly gets it and who doesn't.

    also, if you try to relate the math to daily living, they will often "get it" easier. and lots of real life word problems helps.

    lastly, teaching them strategies to answer words problems helps too, like identifying the main question that needs to be answered, any clues/information, or using the context of the word problem that will help them to solve the problem, and then and clue words that may hint at which operation they should use for the word problem.
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    have you tried using whiteboards to use during guided teaching? it helps you to see who truly gets it and who doesn't.

    Yes, I do this daily. I check to see who has it throughout the whole lesson.


    also, if you try to relate the math to daily living, they will often "get it" easier. and lots of real life word problems helps.

    I do this too. I would write a problem, using my students' names and everday events. Or, they have a daily story problem to solve, using math concepts they have learned.


    lastly, teaching them strategies to answer words problems helps too, like identifying the main question that needs to be answered, any clues/information, or using the context of the word problem that will help them to solve the problem, and then and clue words that may hint at which operation they should use for the word problem.

    Do this during our daily math story problem.



    Thanks for your advice. Really it just all comes down to the fact that I have 11 kids who do not know basic math. I still have to, on a daily basis, show my kids how to divide, multiple, subtract... heck, today I had to explain a very simple subtration word problem to two students. The problme was clearly a subtraction one, and yet they did not get it. Sigh....... I do see a lot of improvements in my kids since posting this thread. Yet, I'm still struggling to keep them up with the rest of the class.
     
  18. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Mar 15, 2008

    I used Saxon Math when I taught 2 & 3rd grades. I don't feel like it spends enough time on new concepts. For instance the program spends 1 day teaching long division. What average 3rd grader can spend one day on long division and really understand it? Needless to say, I had to add some lessons that Saxon didn't find necessary.
     
  19. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Mar 15, 2008

    Peachy, when our district used Saxon, this was the exact reason my fourth graders had such a hard time. My students actually complained there was not enough practice in the practice set on the concept they learned that day. I started to create my own homework problem sheet, and it helped. I also did the the Practice test A the day before, as someone else posted. The second year I actually "grouped" the lesson by content. I know, I know, we are not supposed to do that-BUT, I wasn't using the problem sets anyway, and I made up my own tests covering the content. It did help my math grades, and did help my kids with their OAT testing in the spring. Just some thoughts....
     
  20. Bridget

    Bridget Rookie

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    Mar 15, 2008

    This sounds all to familiar. I teach 3rd grade, but my school decided to skip a math grade this year putting my students in a 4th grade Saxon book. I don't know what to do anymore. I finish every math lesson so discouraged. We probably only completed 2 lessons of math in the past 2 weeks. Everyday I have to review. I've made all my own review and homework sheets. I work with kids individually and in small groups. I have them work individually and in small groups. Nothing seems to work. I now officially broke them into 3 math groups. I'm hoping that the math groups will allow me to continue to help all of the students individually rather than trying to catch the lower group up with the higher group. I don't think I'll give them another Saxon math test again. They seem to do fine with the tests that I create. It's probably because it's set up in the format I make my review sheets and uses the "language" we use during our math time.
     
  21. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Mar 22, 2008

    Me neither! I was actually just wondering about this the other day. Some of our discussions (especially in Science and Social Studies) lead us in directions not covered on the tests and away from things on the test. If I used textbook tests, most of my kids would fail!
     
  22. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Mar 22, 2008

     
  23. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I have a tendency to go off from the book and tell them stories or other things, related to science or social studies. And while we can go into great converstations, they are not on the test and I always have to say, "whoops, we got off topic, we need to get back to reading this darn book" :rolleyes:
     

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