Please give me ideas for summer programs for son struggling in science and algebra in grade 8

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by thesub, Nov 17, 2016.

  1. thesub

    thesub Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 17, 2016

    His forte is definitely the arts - he gets A grades easily. ( However he is not in any gifted & talented program or advanced English. )

    He's a bad test taker in science and math and loses 20 points almost always in tests. When I do random checks on his math homework, he makes careless mistakes like not writing down the final answer, not using the variable to figure out 3 numbers in consequence etc.

    His only extra-curricular activity so far has been a black belt in karate. He hates school clubs and has no other hobbies/interests.

    He is also hearing -impaired with low muscle tone and stamina - cannot play sports with peers since he is not quick like them.

    Since his grade 9 transcripts will count for college application,I'm worried about him. What should he do in 2017 summer before grade 9? Do Kaplan, Sylvan benefit students like him? Should he do SAT practice tests? How can I make sure he gets into a good state school?


    Thank you so much.
     
  2.  
  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    841

    Nov 18, 2016

    I often question if careless mistakes are always due to carelessness. Often there are other hidden factors. If this is a sudden difference in his academics, I would usually recommend to parents to check with the pediatrician; probably nothing is wrong, but it never hurts to double check. Another factor I would recommend checking on, with a hearing difference, his auditory processing might be changing during early adolescence; one thought I had that might be a clue, algebra and science teachers move and turn around in the room more than other teachers to write on the blackboard, do demonstrations, or monitor several groups in the classroom. The change in voice level or not being able to see the teacher's facial expressions or lips can sometimes present difficulty. But concerning the actual subjects, if it won't interfere with his other schoolwork, I would recommend concentrating on them now rather than waiting until summer. What I would not recommend is doubling up on more of the same approach--obviously it's not working. I'm assuming his teachers are doing an excellent job teaching, it's just that 25% or more of students sometimes respond better to other approaches. His teachers would have ideas that might better suit him.

    I'm an elementary teacher, but some of the same helpful strategies might apply. If test taking and mistakes are the main problem, it will help if he can discover strategies to adjust this situation such as separating each problem with lines drawn on the paper, switching to a more comfortable mechanical pencil (#7 doesn't break as easily), looking up after each problem is finished, re-checking his work (some do better checking after each problem is done rather than going through the entire paper), guesstimate to see if each answer makes sense, etc. What often helps students is to re-observe the subject and discover how interesting the subject actually is. Right now it's frustrating him to pieces; 8th graders are especially sensitive to not succeeding the same as their peers. I would recommend starting from scratch at home. The library has children's books on algebra and science from different perspectives and bookstores have "easy" to use books. In most situations, a project or story problem approach would be the best choice, especially if it included hands-on activities, charts, pictures, etc. If a combination algebra/science situation could be found, that might be ideal.

    Specifically with algebra, sometimes it helps to construct or draw an imaginary scale; place cardboard numbers on each side of the scale and place markers to represent the hidden numbers such as variables. For example on 2a + 3 = 13, place 2 markers (such as a board game marker) and a 3 on one side of the scale and the number 13 on the other side. To keep the scale balance, whatever he does to one side he has to do to the other. (Negative numbers can be a different color). Or, rather than using written numbers, base ten blocks or beans could be used). There is a commercial product that teaches this way, but I can't remember the name of it. In my opinion, if at home he gets to the point of not showing all his work, I'd personally allow for that as long as it didn't interfere with his regular classroom requirements (most teachers today require explicit examples of all the steps, which in the classroom and for assigned homework I agree with, also). As kids develop expertise and interest, it is natural for them to find time saving methods for their notation.
     
  4. thesub

    thesub Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 18, 2016

    Thank you so much - great to get your feedback.

    I like your strategies of rechecking each problem and not all of them at the end, guess estimates - I will mention these to him. For the last one week, my husband has been sitting with him for math and science and remarked today that our kid needs to catch cup with 2 years of learning. Funny you should mention starting from scratch!

    Btw, he has an FM system that amplifies the teacher's voice over the classroom noise and there is a special ed teacher (with the gened teacher) In all of his classes. I mentioned the hearing issue because there is no sports scholarship in his future and his success in life depends on a good college education.

    Thanks again for your time.
     
  5. Tulipteacher

    Tulipteacher Companion

    Joined:
    May 7, 2016
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    92

    Nov 19, 2016

    It sounds like he understands the math but isn't paying attention to the directions. He could highlight the directions or highlight the variables given. Then when he does his work he should check that he did all of the steps. Also, get him in the habit of circling his final answers. That will make it easier for him to check his work.

    Do some investigating of the GPA he needs for college. Most of my state schools are around a 3.8. So an A in art can balance out a B in math.

    It seems like he just doesn't care about grades so that's why he is making careless errors. Personally, I try to make my kids care by giving them consequences if they aren't reaching the grades they should. (Which means I'm happy if one of my kids has Cs or higher while my other child needs all As/high Bs.) So if they aren't getting those grades, they have a loss of privileges until they get them up.
     
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,330
    Likes Received:
    572

    Nov 19, 2016

    I teach science. I hear this from a lot of parents. Parents often say that their children are bad test takers because those scores are the lowest. But in middle school those grades are often the only grades that truly assess student learning. The other grades are often based on completion or copying something as a teacher models. That doesn't mean the kids are bad at taking tests - it means that the kids haven't learned enough from the other activities to get high grades.

    If both math and science are giving him a hard time, he might struggle with analyzing. Has he reviewed his old tests with his teachers? Maybe he is unable to piece together bits of information to answer a bigger picture question. Helping him ask himself questions as he processes a problem might help. What does the problem ask? What is important information? Do I know how to get the answer directly or do I have to take multiple steps? What DO I know about this? How do the answer choices (for multiple choice questions) relate to one another?
     
  7. thesub

    thesub Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 20, 2016

    2ndTimeAround, you are very correct. My kid has no clue on how to answer analytical science questions or how to apply a definition to figure out the problem asked. My husband is now sitting with him a few times/week and we will see how this goes. I will see if the teachers can review his old tests with him - this is a great idea.

    Thank you so much.
     
  8. thesub

    thesub Comrade

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2008
    Messages:
    462
    Likes Received:
    7

    Nov 20, 2016

    Tulipteacher, thank you for your tips. My son, unfortunately has no vices like binge-screening and is a very sweet kid and all his teachers love him. So we have to sit with him and explain how to analyze and answer questions to the point and not rush through the paper. Like you say, I'm hoping the arts will balance out the math.
     
  9. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    18,938
    Likes Received:
    681

    Nov 20, 2016

    Don't feel bad, thesub. My tutoring students really can't do their work independently without significant intervention, for various reasons. I'm always trying ways to help them become more self-reliant, and some of them work. One-on-one does help.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 333 (members: 0, guests: 309, robots: 24)
test