Multiplication facts /Reading Fluency

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by Elizabeth09, Aug 23, 2017.

  1. Elizabeth09

    Elizabeth09 Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2017

    Do any of you wonderful teachers have suggestions on helping a student with basic multiplication facts? I have a 5th grader who still struggles with basic multiplication facts. Her parents would love suggestions on how to help her at home with that and becoming more fluent in reading as well. Aside from reading, do you have any suggestions? They want to help her but feel like they're repetitive and are having to start from the basics all over again each night, making homework take even longer. I am new to special education so would love advice from others who have more experience.
     
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  3. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    With reading - work on finding some just-right books that that kid can enjoy, and get them reading as much as possible. You might talk to the parents and challenge them to find time to fit in time where they read together (perhaps of some slightly harder books), and possibly borrow audiobooks that the child could follow along with in a book. If they watch any TV, have them turn the closed captioning on, too. As much exposure to words and literature, the better!

    With math facts, first, DO NOT have them simply working on memorizing them randomly, nor have any timed tests or whatnot. Rather, just like primary kiddos work on adding with strategies (7+6 is the double 6 plus one), work on that number sense with multiplication. They need to know that multiplication is repeated addition (etc), and then look at different patterns (i.e. skip count by 5s, what patterns do you notice? How can you use that?) and different strategies (if you know 4x4 = 16, then 8x4 is just double that). In the end, when they're working on other concepts, give them a multiplication chart and/or calculator to use, so that they can be focused on learning the other concepts. And be patient with them - don't let it become something that stresses them out or lowers their confidence in math!

    Here's an excellent read, by Jo Boaler (the big name in math education right now) about math facts...I highly suggest you read it through!
    https://www.youcubed.org/resources/...research-evidence-best-ways-learn-math-facts/
     
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  4. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Get a multiplication chart and have the student use it every time saying the facts while they trace the lines. Aldo skip counting helps.

    Agreed with the reading advice. What is the underlying deficits leading to fluency problems.
     
  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I realize that it's what they say for multiplication but I still find it rediculous. You know the difference between this generation and past generations? We all know our math facts because we memorized them. Sometimes the simplest answer is the easiest one. I learned them because Sister Yadviga used to force me to write them every time I got in trouble. I've never forgotten them and was then able to do higher level math.

    As par as reading, tell them to hire a tutor trained in Wilson Reading program though it's probably too late for that in school. It's treated like a joke once they get to that age. It works better with younger kids.
     
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  6. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Read the article that I shared.

    In addition, the "generation" argument doesn't work: unless you have data to show that one generation is better with their math facts than the other, it really isn't valid. I linked an article that includes research that supports what I shared.

    Secondly, just because you remember them, and were able to apply it to higher mathematics...doesn't mean everyone else was (cherry picking fallacy).

    Yes, you need automaticity of math facts. But purely memorization is not the way to that.
     
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  7. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I agree on what the research says. I said that in my reply. After teaching G&T math for 2 years, it didn't change my opinion.

    I did a lot of research (if you use google scholar you could probably read several studies I used for papers) comparing math training here vs. Asia and like it or not, their teachers are better educated in math and as a result are better able to teach it. No matter what style we present it in, if it's not presented well by people who deeply understand it, it won't get better. Basically the people teaching secondary math need to teach elementary math and the people teaching college math need to teach high school math. They also then need to translate their understanding in developmentally appropriate ways.

    My position is only opinion based which I said.

    This article actually lays out our discussion pretty well. I believe he wrote a book too if you're interested: https://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/12/...istory-of-the-new-math-and-lessons-for-cs-ed/
     
  8. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    AlwaysAttend how old are you? I thought you're only in your 6th year of teaching? Your description of the "good old times" makes you sound like you've been out of school much longer than that!

    As for the argument that the old way worked, the problem with that perspective is that kids who didn't do well in school simply dropped out, so memorization has always only worked for a certain percentage of students but in the past we just let those kids walk out the door whereas now we have people like Boaler trying to figure out how to prepare all students for a workplace that required a level of numeracy and literacy that simply wasn't needed 50 years ago. That's my 2 cents.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  9. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I'm 30 but Catholic School didn't change much in math instruction over the decades (except for their brieft shift to New Math and swapping out an abacus for base 10 blocks). That's where I learned my math.

    I dropped out of school and I turned out ok. You can't really tie the drop out rate to how we teach math otherwise it would be statistically even across race, gender, etc. heres som stats i just googled: Based on data from the Current Population Survey, the status dropout rate decreased from 10.9 percent in 2000 to 5.9 percent in 2015. Over the most recent 5-year period, from 2010 to 2015, the status dropout rate fell from 7.4 to 5.9 percent. Between 2000 and 2015, the male status dropout rate declined from 12.0 to 6.3 percent, and the female status dropout rate declined from 9.9 to 5.4 percent. While the rate for male youth was 2.1 percentage points higher than the rate for female youth in 2000, there was no measurable difference between the rates for males and females in 2015.

    The dropout rate being lowered is more attributable to the notion that every student "needs to go to college" and the stigma attached to dropping out. You used to be able to dropout and go to a factory and have a middle class life. This no longer exists.

    The kids who traditionally struggled with math, still struggle with math. Number bonds and bar models haven't reversed the trend of sucking at math. Some people are good at math, some can become good, others will always be challenged. The real question is why we try to force a one size fits all education model on unique individuals.

    The kids who suck at math won't become computer programmers in the new economy. There are still other highly paying careers that are irreplaceable. They can get those jobs no matter how they learn math. But if they memorize multiplication, addition, and subtraction, they'll be able to function in the world.

    Who even cares really, their phones can do it for them. Since that's the case, why teach math at all. Why not shift to philosophy instead? They learn reasoning skills without the numbers...
     
  10. Always__Learning

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    Elizabeth,

    I am going to second the recommendation to look at Jo Boaler's stuff. Her site youcubed is amazing. There is even a free course for kids. She has 3 weeks of inspirational math. She has great videos about growth mindset and math and why we need to teach all students that they can be good at math. I think her stuff is particularly important for kids that traditional math approaches have not worked for and I've seen it have a huge impact on students who are struggling. I've been blessed to co-teach with some amazing math teachers and her stuff has really taken the whole math department to the next level.
     
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  11. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    The whole point of growth mindset within mathematics is to address this. Everyone can succeed. Will they all achieve the same heights, or all continue on with math? No, of course not! The moment we start putting those limiters out there though, that's what many key onto. I challenged my kids as readers to be wilder readers last year...knowing full well that some will continue reading wildly, and some will just grow a bit next year. By maintaining that attitude, instead of "well, some of you won't reach the heights of others" or "some of you won't need to have a ridiculously high vocab", they read from 2x to 30x more than their previous year, and it showed in their growth.

    Growth mindset is going beyond a "one size fits all". The attitude that some will always struggle, some will always be good, etc..., is limiting to say the least, and a dangerous attitude to have as an educator, in my opinion. I cite the many letters I've had written by kids at the end of the year, who have struggled in math mightily, who mentioned how I never gave up on them, or how I was the only one to stick with them. They saw that I knew they could succeed, and knew that there was no part of me that thought that they would just be one of those kids who would "always be bad".

    And math isn't all about the basic operations. It's about problem solving, looking at problems in creative ways. Of course not everyone will use differential calculus in their jobs, but everyone uses math. Everyone problem solves in some fashion.
     
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  12. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    How do you teach a given unit of Math? I'm assuming it goes something like this: pretest, group the kids, differentiate based on the groupings, assess along the way, back fill based on those formative assessments, have students extend knowledge, post assessment. Maybe not exactly like that, but probably close if you're in elementary school.

    The differentiation is tied to a concept based presentation that might not be based on the strengths they might be best at learning.

    I completely understand the notion of high expectations.

    I see this debate in the same way I see the voucher/charter debate. We know some kids would do better if they were allowed to learn elsewhere, but we want them all to stay put so as not to hurt the greater whole. I'm for the best solution for every child.

    If I think they are worse off because of a philosophical shift toward instruction models, i would encourage the alternative. That also happens to be what most parents do when they are helping their kids with homework too.

    I know math isn't all operations, that's why I brought up philosophy instead. There is plenty of problem solving in analytical thought, reasoning, and expression.
     
  13. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    We actually don't really teach math using traditional discrete units anymore. We spiral the curriculum, so we teach all strands in every unit going into greater depth in each unit, so the DI is actually built into the activities. We don't really teach traditional lessons anymore. Instead we have students work on a few (maybe 2-3) math problems per period at vertical, non-permanent surfaces using visible random groupings, which again leads to DI being part of the natural structure rather than another thing to add to a traditional lesson. It's actually mind-blowing amazing what our math classes look like now and all students are doing better on standardized tests using these strategies.
     
  14. AlwaysAttend

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    My other point would be, it would be different if we had a population of educators who were as capable of teaching math in this way.

    Would you say we do? All one has to do to know that isn't the case is by reading about elementary educators struggling to pass what amounts to a basic skills math test to become a teacher. It's something that has to be gotten past when in reality, to teach elementary math you should probably take at least a minor in math (18 credits seems reasonable). If you aren't capable of passing a 300 level math class in college, should you be teaching others math in a more complex way?
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2017
  15. AlwaysAttend

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    We all spiral curriculum. The concepts are repeated in a spiraling fashion through multiple grade levels. I was speaking to the structure of the unit as presented to students.

    What grade is this?
     
  16. Always__Learning

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    Hi AlwaysAttend,

    We do this in Grades 7-11. A lot of similar strategies are used from K-6 - in fact most of what we've learned in secondary about how to teach math started in elementary. We also use a lot of similar strategies in 12 but some of the pre-college math courses are still being taught using traditional units.
     
  17. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    That's not how things are done in elementary schools in America. I don't deny how math is presented was learned from the shift in how elementary is presented.

    If You asked students to work on two problems per class period in elementary school, it wouldn't even be developmentally appropriate.

    I can't speak to Canada obviously, but what are your thoughts on the difference between you as a secondary math educator and a general elementary teacher?
     
  18. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    Well we learned the idea of focusing on 2 math problems per period from our elementary colleagues. They acknowledged that 5 years ago they wouldn't have done it that way and would have thought it wouldn't work but after doing training and reading using people like Small and Boaler they tried it and changed their minds. I'm not a secondary math educator. I am qualified in math according to my provincial standards but not based on your measurements that teachers should have x college math credits. I have no college math credits. I'm a co-teacher who works with teachers in all subject areas, including math teachers. Our intermediate teachers (who are brilliant) are not math educators either but general elementary teachers who have pursued pedagogical learning about math. I would say if I was to make any generalizations that the teachers who do the best at this are ones who have about 10-20 years under their belt. These teachers are fierce. They are experienced, have strong pedagogy and knowledge, they have tried different things, they have wrapped their brain around a number of different approaches to teaching and are able to be nuanced in their approach while concurrently be open to new pedaogies and ways of doing. They also are very team oriented. Teams of teachers of all backgrounds and all experiences (newer teachers with MEds in math but lacking in classroom experience, experienced teachers with 20 years but less recent professional development and everyone in between) work at this collaboratively, try things, fail together, try again, get better.
     
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  19. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    To the concept of spiraling, I am not talking about spiraling through grade levels. In Canada we have a curriculum that has say 4 or 5 strands. So, there might be data management or geometry, etc. In my District (and its getting pretty common across the province), we don't teach Geometry anymore. We teach a 3-4 week unit that includes everything (data management, geometry, measurement, etc), then we teach a second unit that includes everything (data mangagement, geometry, measurement, etc) but goes a layer deeper. Teachers are really committed to it, sharing the problems they create with each other and building units together.
     
  20. AlwaysAttend

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    I'm curious to read up more on your test scores.

    Does your province post them? What type of assessment tool are you using that is showing this growth? You are far ahead of us in global ranking, so what I'm looking to see is the jump from when these programs started and what was doen before.
     
  21. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Wilson is intended for students in grades 2 through adult. A student fifth grade is certainly not too old for the program.
     
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  22. DAH

    DAH Companion

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    Aug 26, 2017

    [QUOTE="mathmagic, ,
    • DO NOT have them simply working on memorizing them randomly, nor
    I'm going to get that book, Mathmagic, thank you.
    But if I may comment on memorization, because I come from that generation as well that learned things that way, and IT WORKED! I don't think you have to find a new way to do something if the old simple way works. I'm sure you've heard the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." <----I see the issue of "learning multiplication facts," that way.

    Your generation has made something MORE COMPLICATED by adding too many other factors to remember. I know it's designed to make math more comprehensible, and adults might like it, but kids find it more confusing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2017
  23. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    The reading specialist in my school said they stop caring and the growth seems to slow/stop. I can't speak to the efficacy, I think her issue as they got older was behavioral.
     
  24. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I can speak from my own experience with it. Sure, just like with anything, some students may stop caring. However, that's not true across the board. As long as the teacher demonstrates enthusiasm for it and works to engage students, the program works. It shouldn't be used with students in K/1 or younger, though, as it's not geared for students at those developmental levels. There are better programs for younger students.
     
  25. AlwaysAttend

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    Yea, they do fundations (though I'm not sure what grade that starts) and build up from there. Obviously the growth expected in the lower grades is so much higher than by 5th grade for example where the level isn't changing as rapidly.
     
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  26. Always__Learning

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    Dah, it worked for students who were still in school. Comparing how a strategy worked 20 years ago vs today is apples and oranges. In the past, lots of students left school without these skills and didn't do well with memorization but we said memorization worked because it worked for the kids who were left in the school system.

    Always Attend, Canadian provinces post their test scores, yes. My school is a typical cross section of demographics and has very high scores. Our math teachers have always been good at preparing students for the tests, but they are doing even better now and it is our math teachers who are saying that this stuff works. I see it in their classrooms and I trust their perspective. Ultimately, there will always be people who say old ways of doing math are better. I don't hear that from anyone who is spending time in classrooms using Boaler's stuff.
     
  27. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I suspect that I'm from the same generation, DAH. I did well in math in school, because I could memorize facts and formulas and could remember the procedure of what number to plug in where. However...I had no real understanding of the why behind what I was doing. The only way I could explain my thinking was to revert back to the procedure--"I know that my answer is correct because I used the right formula and I didn't make mistakes in the calculations". I've worked with lots of kids (and their parents) who believe that a child is "good" at math because they can recite times tables, or can rhyme off the formula for the area of a circle. For me, the power of math when the students are able to see the why.
     
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  28. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Just came across this.
     
  29. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    ^^ What MrsC said.
    "It worked" is a dangerous, and far too broad of a statement. I certainly memorized plenty too. As a result of this, I was able to do tons of mathematics and soar well beyond my peers as a kid. Here's the thing: I was then, and to some extent now (though to a far lesser point, having gone through a math teaching endorsement, a full math degree, and plenty of years of teaching math now) hampered by that same memorization: I could do plenty of problems, but ask me to solve a problem that required creative use of it, or steps before I could get to a point with using those memorized bits, I struggled a bit more.

    No one is saying that automaticity of facts is broke. Pure memorization isn't the best way, though. It might for the short term, but not for the long term.

    Look at reading: do you ask kids to memorize every single word, or do you build up their ability to understand how to pull apart a word in order to read it? Do you ask them to memorize the meanings of every single new word, or do you ask them to utilize words/roots they know in order to determine the meaning of new words they're encountering?
     
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  30. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Yeah, just saw that shared today on the Youcubed facebook group - great article (and many of the comments, as tends to be the case, are a bit depressing)
     
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  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I never read the comments, but I work with a few teachers who would strongly (and loudly) disagree with the article).
     
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  32. AlwaysAttend

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    I meant can you tell me where to look for the scores. In NJ, we'd go to the NJ school report card then can pull by district. It's not really that important.

    Do you think the kids who didn't understand math before would do significantly better now based on the mindset philosophy? We graduate record numbers of students in NJ and an insanely large number of them still require remedial math in college. I would argue it's the diagnostic and formative assessments coupled with the interventions that improve test scores.
     
  33. AlwaysAttend

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    When we read, are we constantly using strategies to decode words or do we do that to memorize how letters and sounds work together so we can read? Do we continually examine roots to determine meaning or do we memorize meanings to build a depth of knowledge? Does that completely shut us down if we come across a word we don't know or are we able to solve that problem?

    Why are we memorizing language? Maybe it's stopping a generation of children from inventing a new way to speak, read, and write. Actually they already are doing that with emojis, memes, and gang signs.
     
  34. Always__Learning

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    AlwaysAttend, you can google which provinces do standardized testing and in most provinces, the information is public but I honestly don't think the statistics will show you much in this case because the standarized testing agencies are not asking teachers about pedagogy and, like anything new, it is being implemented with more or less fidelity in different classrooms/ schools so I think we need probably 5 more years before province wide data will be very helpful. What I can say is that from working in classrooms that students who were doing well are still doing well and students who were not doing well are doing better in both math in general and on the standardized tests.

    But I actually would argue we need to step back from standardized tests when choosing pedagogy. I actually believe in standardized testing: not the type where we test kids to death, but the type where kids do several standardized tests over their K-12 Education. But the tests should not drive the instruction.

    Beers talks about this in terms of reading in her new book Disruptive Thinking really well. In essence, we should use the best pedagogy to teach. We know that if we teach to the test students actually do worse than if we teach using the best pedagogy and just keep the tests in the back of our mind. This, of course, is easier to do in places like Canada where your test scores do not impact pay, evaluations, etc.
     
  35. AlwaysAttend

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    I only brought up data because you said the shift showed demonstrated improvement with data. At least that's what i remember (I could be wrong but I'm too lazy to reread).

    I don't disagree with you as far as testing is concermed in making pedagogical decisions. However rigorous assessments aren't a bad thing and are necessary to determine if interventions made are having intended consquences.
     
  36. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Do they really stop caring or do they get so demoralized by years of failure to keep up without the type of support they really need that they say they don't care because that is better than admitting they are failures or less than others?

    Proper interventions given after years of failure to provide robust and effective interventions usually result in people of almost any age not trusting that what is being done will help. Since there is so much judgment in school, spoken or unspoken, kids feel they are failures.
     
  37. a2z

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    There is a difference between believing everyone can always better themselves in some way (growth mindset) vs anyone can do anything (which is just patently false).
     
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  38. Always__Learning

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    a2z - I understand what you are saying but I also still agree with mathmagic. I think the key thing is that as educators, we don't know an individual student's "ceiling" so to speak so at an individual level I really can't assume that because a student is struggling with a particular subject today, with me that they are only capable of x. Einstein did horribly in school. If I'd been his teacher I'm not sure I would have recognized his potential but I would hope that I wouldn't have limited it either.
     
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  39. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    One of our Special Ed teachers is terrible about this; I don't know how many times I've heard her say that a particular student has "plateaued". It is, for them, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they aren't expected to do more, they don't. I try to be the opposite and push them beyond what they think they can do.
     
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  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    It depends how reading is taught. For a few decades teachers in my area were not teaching decoding. They were teaching whole words with the belief that students would eventually recognize the patterns in the words. If a student didn't recognize the patterns, they were stuck with whole word reading and on longer words they weren't even taught how to use the dictionary's phonetic key to know how to say the new word.
     
  41. AlwaysAttend

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    Aug 27, 2017

    These were rich kids with access to tutors and plenty of interventions. If anything they were oversupported with interventions to the point that parents wanted them removed so they didn't miss out on other things in the classroom.
     

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