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How to get teachers to respect other ways of solving problems? - Page 2

post #21 of 87
well, I've taken college-level math fairly recently, and I wouldn't know what to do given those instructions. as someone else said, "number" is a vague concept, and the question should have said numeral, and if that's too difficult for kids to understand, that means they aren't being taught math vocabulary like they should be.
post #22 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post

So, how do you get teachers to properly word assignments and to show children that they value their thinking?

Dd is in first grade.
Because this post is in the gifted forum, I will address your bolded question with the answer that I think you're asking the wrong question. What curriculum are they using? Is it one that lends itself to acceleration or differentiation? What do you see as your daughter's strengths in math?

I can't believe she isn't receiving any math instruction. I have a same-age dd who is advanced in math I do understand the frustration with having a kid who is well above grade level in that area and what it takes to navigate the system to get more appropriate work.
post #23 of 87
I'm not certain if this is helpful but I saw the first part of the worksheet and just KNEW that the answers were exactly what your child wrote! Now, I see it was nit the case and I guess it would have made sense in context of prior work.

In MY vocab? they wanted the numeral....

The biggest question in my mind is did the teacher
a) mark it wrong and hand it back
b) mark it wrong and say "hey, nice shot but I was looking for the number not the number word (or whatever their vocab is)
post #24 of 87
expecting_joy, have you had her tested yet? I cannot tell you the tremendous difference this made in the teacher's orientation to teaching DS.

My bigger question is why is she being asked to do these worksheets? They can't be meaningful to ODD at all.

Qualifying the above by noting that my strong suspicion is that ODD is EG+ based on reading your posts the last couple of years.
post #25 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post
Dd is given worksheet after worksheet. Each problem is different and what I wrote is the sum total of the directions given. It was not based on any class instruction. There was no sample set. Numerals were not mentioned anywhere.
Did the teacher tell you she didn't give the class instruction or are you assuming this because the worksheet had no sample set or definitions. Teachers usually give instruction first, go over examples, then have students have at it. I think you should clarify this with the teacher and go on to complain to the principal if she truly isn't giving the kids any math instruction. I really doubt that the kids had no instruction before doing math unless this was a pre-test. It may be that the problem you need to work with your daughter and her teacher on is that your daughter didn't pay attention to instruction and didn't write down the numbers. If she isn't paying attention and doing the work correctly then there is no way the teacher can know what she can do.

I am finding that getting differentiated instruction is very hard because they expect kids to solve things a certain way and to follow a certain format before they will concede that the child has any ability above what other students have. It is very frustrating. Following directions and paying attention are also important though because teachers can't see what a child's abilities are if they aren't paying enough attention to show that they can do basic skills. At my dd's conference her teacher and I talked about the difference between what she can do and what she is showing and she is finally willing to concede that it may be okay for my dd to do higher math with her one strategy, but that agreement still hasn't paid off with differentiated instruction.
post #26 of 87
Does her teacher have any training or experience with working with gifted children? It doesn't sound like it. Divergent thinking is something that should be encouraged and someone who's used to teaching gifted kids would know that especially in math and science there are expected answers but also logically correct answers that are non-routine instead of only one correct written in stone solution, at least with most things. The thing with divergent thinking is a teacher may not be able to word things just right all the time. She just needs to be respectful of logically correct answers instead of seeing things so one dimensionally.
post #27 of 87
When I read the problem, I solved it the same way the OP's daughter did. The question was not clear. I think number word vs numeral is really picky for first grade as well. In fact, I wouldn't distinguish between them so concisely as an adult in most cases.

I think the best way for the teacher to handle it would be to admit that the problem was unclear, then explain what she had expected instead, and given her the chance to demonstrate that skill.
post #28 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by expecting-joy View Post
There's a little history.

The point is that my dd is very sensitive. No one actually teaches her math. They're still "assessing" where she is. She wants to please. She wants to learn. We see how being told she is wrong sometimes really affects her. She needs to learn how to deal with that, of course, but we'd like the teachers to take a little responsibility for how they present things and respond to her attempts. Most of the problems are more challenging. These little doo-dads really throw her for a loop.

this is a special education need, honestly. especially if she's having frequent issue enough that a parent/teacher conference was needed.

my child is being tested for being on the spectrum. he's extremely brilliant, but his mind thinks in very literal ways. instructions have to be explained to him as literally as possible for him to understand them the best. i could totally see him answering that paper just like your daughter did.

also, has she tried asking the teacher to clarify the instructions? for some students, having the instructions orally explained works better than seeing them written out. or maybe, having an example at the top of the paper. have all of these things been tried? are you sure the teacher doesn't say the instructions aloud first?

also, maybe finding out what's going on with the kid-teacher communication there. does she ask for clarification on the instructions if she doesn't understand? if not, why? if so, how is the teacher responding to that? My kid's communication skills skip a beat sometimes. in certain situations, he sits there inside of his shell instead of asking for help. so the communication between teacher and himself breaks down on his end, because that's how his mind works. but this may not be the case with your kid, see if she is trying to get help or not.

instead of marking her answers wrong, she should instead be trying to understand how your daughters mind works, and within reason, try to cater to that. if the teacher is not giving the instructions in different ways, then your daughter is probably not the only student who would benefit from the instructions being presented differently. so while those kids may not have problems enough to warrant a conference over it, they still may also improve if the teacher switched it up a bit. so it's not like she'd be singling your child out or anything.
post #29 of 87
I agree that the directions were confusing, too. Write the number to me makes me lean towards writing out a "number word" which is a term I have never heard of (but then again I'm an English teacher But seriously, it's the teacher's job to define these terms if she wants to use them so specifically, and to make instructions clear). Write the numeral would have been far more clear, but it sounds like she's actually not been instructed in any of that anyway. By November, yeesh!
post #30 of 87
i notice you said your kid had issues last year and has been having ongoing issues this year too.

i don't know if you are in the US or not, but if you are here, the school systems are required by law, to teach in such a way that your child will understand. sometimes that can be as simple as an understanding with the teacher that he or she has to make sure to put a visual example up for every test, for instance, or it can go deeper than that sometimes. (i.e., pulling your child out of class at regular intervals to have a more experienced special education teacher teach them the subjects they struggle with in such a way that they can absorb it.)

if the teacher is are unwillling to try simple methods to help your kid understand the instructions better, then talk to the guidance counselor of the school. i had to when my kid's teacher kept pulling the "I got too many students to do that, you'll have to take him to get formally diagnosed before we can do anything" route. the guidance counselor got the ball rolling towards getting my kid the understanding that he needed. I don't think we would have gotten there without the guidance counselor. Either way, the teacher will have to unbend a bit and to make sure her methods of teaching are in such a way that your child can understand, because it's the law.

it's amazing how fast the "issues" that my kid's teacher was "too busy and overwhelmed" to deal with melted away once she knew that there were a team of evaluators periodically coming in and examining how he learned and watching everything that happens between the two of them.
post #31 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
Look, as a teacher I've gotta say that when a student answers a question based upon an incorrect interpretation of the instructions it is because it was a crappily written assignment 9 out of 10 times. I think that the way your daughter answered it makes perfect sense.

A good teacher will not use an opportunity like this to shame a student or tell them they are wrong...but to see what the child knows when the instructions are made more clear. So I think the teacher should have gone over to your daughter and said "Hey Susie, how would you do this differently if I asked you to write the numeral next to the spelled-out number?" And then go from there.

Teachers need to be able to work with kids...there are many different types of learners and not all will interpret instructions the way the teacher intends (who is a specific type of learner herself). Any teacher who cannot see this (or will not) is being arrogant and abusing her power IMO.


I think positive feedback is in order when a child does something unexpected.

"cool - you found the pattern! The question, though, asks that you write the numeral next to the written word. Example (and write it out) 5=five. Could you correct these for me, please?"

Getting things wrong when you have no idea why is a waste of time, and a little deflating.

Op - you are not alone! I too have numerous examples of where my DD was marked wrong after unclear or just plain bizarre instructions.

Ex: DD is asked to put a dot on a map where our community is located. Our community is not on the map (is off the page, actually). DD puts mark on edge of page - on the margins and not the actual map - she is marked wrong. Somewhere in pages of instructions (it was one of those follow these 20 step projects) she is told she can colour the grass any colour she wants. She picked pink. She lost marks for it. She has also lost marks for not centering a title, not picking an opposite of a word when there was no opposite, etc. I am a little torn on what to do -if I pointed out every ambiguity or error I would be writing a note almost weekly. DD is not too keen on that - and I am not sure it is a good long term plan, anyway - but UGH! At this moment, we write on ones we are asked to sign where we are clearly right. I do point out where I think the teacher has erred, and always suggest she tell the teacher about it, or, if she wants, I can write a little note. She usually (not always) declines - but at least she is learning that:

a) teachers/authorities are not always right
b) we can advocate for ourselves if we choose.
c) choose whether or not to code switch (like that term!). Her school values organisation and conformity (blech!) - they see careful colouring and centered titles as signs of care and organisation. If she wants to do well, she might want to colour neatly. She may choose not to, but that is her call. At least this helps her see that different environments have different expectations and underlying principles.

My DD is quite a bit older than yours, though (almost 12). If she were younger and being marked wrong when she really wasn't (or the question was ambiguous) I would advocate more heavily. I honestly think our culture expects too much self-advocacy out of young ones...many are not capable of it, and should not be penalised for their inabiltiy to advocate. In early years, that is what parent are for, lol.

I would search for the win-win in these scenarios. The teacher does need proof your daughter does know 5=five. Could you suggest to the teacher that any time your DD writes an answer that is divergent and logical but not what the teacher wants, that the teacher spend a few minutes with her and assess her skill in the area the teacher is looking for? In many cases this can be done verbally, or with one or two questions.

I have to agree with the poster upthread who suggested getting your DD properly identified. I have had 2 kids in school - one with gifted papers, and one without. I have had a much easier time advocating for my one who is formally identified than the one who is not. It is not all roses, but at least I have papers that say "no - really - she does need differentiation - do it!"

sorry for the book - it is a bit of an issue for me.
post #32 of 87
This is the kind of thing that I know would drive me crazy if my kids were in school. I don't think I'd try to work on changing the teacher's attitude, though - I doubt there's much chance of that. Instead, I'd try to help my kid develop the right attitude, to learn to shrug those things off as unimportant. If something is marked wrong because you didn't understand the concept or read the directions right, then you've learned something useful about what you need to work on. If something is marked wrong because the instructions were bad or the teacher made a mistake, your mark isn't telling you anything useful about your performance, so you don't have to be concerned about it. It may not be "fair," but so what? The teacher is probably making similar mistakes with all the other kids, and grades in elementary school aren't important anyway. If you put a lot of effort into trying to show the teacher how your daughter really was right, you're making the mistake you don't want your daughter to make - giving too much importance to something that may be mildly annoying (or extremely annoying - as I said, it would probably drive me crazy) but really doesn't matter in the long run.
post #33 of 87
I solved it by home schooling. That teacher has over 20 in her class, in some states, over 30. Then she gets a new class every single year. It is doubtful she will change her way of anything for you or anyone else. Sorry. But I get why this is bothering you. It is killing your daughter's love of learning and desire to learn. Hope I have helped.
post #34 of 87
I'm a teacher; in that situation, the first time it happened, I would give her credit BUT I would find a quiet moment to talk with her and explain that she misinterpreted the directions, and that I was thrilled with her answer since she perhaps didn't understand the directions... however, if the school is preparing her for a standardized NCLB test (and most schools are), it is imperative that that she is able to respond in the way the test-writers want, because scorers aren't going to spend time figuring out how to grade that sort of answer -- it will just be marked wrong.

That's why it's critical for the teacher to find a way to A.) find some way to recognize that she supplied a good, if technically incorrect, answer, and B.) make sure she understand the directions for future assignments.

(In 3rd grade my son had to write a narrative about "A time you solved a problem" for a practice NCLB test; he wrote step-by-step directions about how to solve a simple algebra problem; it was originally scored a 0 because he didn't answer the prompt, but we appealed it (as the directions did NOT state, "write a narrative essay about a time you solved a problem" but simply "write about a time you solved a problem") and it was reviewed, and he ended up with a commended score on the real deal. Sometimes the wording is crappy and you have to point that out)
post #35 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
This is the kind of thing that I know would drive me crazy if my kids were in school. I don't think I'd try to work on changing the teacher's attitude, though - I doubt there's much chance of that. Instead, I'd try to help my kid develop the right attitude, to learn to shrug those things off as unimportant. If something is marked wrong because you didn't understand the concept or read the directions right, then you've learned something useful about what you need to work on. If something is marked wrong because the instructions were bad or the teacher made a mistake, your mark isn't telling you anything useful about your performance, so you don't have to be concerned about it. It may not be "fair," but so what? The teacher is probably making similar mistakes with all the other kids, and grades in elementary school aren't important anyway. If you put a lot of effort into trying to show the teacher how your daughter really was right, you're making the mistake you don't want your daughter to make - giving too much importance to something that may be mildly annoying (or extremely annoying - as I said, it would probably drive me crazy) but really doesn't
matter in the long run.
Exactly! I tell my kids school is about learning, not about grades, but life is easier if you can figure out what the teacher wants to see - it's the teacher's way of recognizing if you have done the learning or not, if that makes sense.
post #36 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBattleAxe View Post
if the school is preparing her for a standardized NCLB test (and most schools are), it is imperative that that she is able to respond in the way the test-writers want, because scorers aren't going to spend time figuring out how to grade that sort of answer -- it will just be marked wrong.
That was my first thought--she is probably familiarizing them with the wording that will appear on standardized tests.

I teach adults, and I am often frustrated with the wording on the standardized assessments my students are required to take. You can be sure I use the same crappy wording when I am preparing them for the test, so that they understand what to do when they see it!
post #37 of 87
And that is why standardized tests are ! Seriously, I hate them.

Reminds me of when I too the CSET test (teaching subject test for history). It had an essay question on the Black Death which was great because I have a freaking master's degree and my emphasis is medieval plagues, death and dying. So I answered their crappily worded question (the premise of the question was dubious at best) and they gave me a three out of five. Probably because I pointed out the dubious premise. But geesh...who grades this stuff? Do they get all the answers out of a textbook from the 1940's?

Knowledge is not standard! Interpretation matters.
post #38 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnmama View Post
That was my first thought--she is probably familiarizing them with the wording that will appear on standardized tests.

!
Which leads to teaching to the test...not always best practice or best for the students.
post #39 of 87
Thread Starter 
So many great, helpful and truly thoughtful responses. Thank you! You have given me a lot to think about as far as what to ask my dd and what questions to ask the teacher. I do not think the wording is in preparation for standardized testing. We put her in private school to avoid that. She will not be tested in school until fourth grade. I also do not think her teacher had anything to do with creating the worksheets.

I have to run out to a birthday party, but will check back in very soon on the other thoughts. In general, her teachers describe her as "an ideal student," so the problems I am talking about are things they don't see, although we are trying to point them out. She only has trouble with poorly worded problems. She's fine with things that are clear.

kathymuggle: that would absolutely drive me insane. How frustrating for your dd!

The parent conference was not requested by us. It was a regularly scheduled conference.

shh: this is something I plan to bring up again with the school. I don't feel very confident about the gifted teacher training, but I don't know who's had what.

We are in the U.S., but in a private school - at least for now.

OK, I really have to go or we'll be late. BBL. Thank you all so much again. I'll chat a little wn route with dd.
post #40 of 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl View Post
And that is why standardized tests are ! Seriously, I hate them.
But geesh...who grades this stuff? Do they get all the answers out of a textbook from the 1940's?

Knowledge is not standard! Interpretation matters.
I can answer that, because I've worked for the company that scores most of these standardized test (ETS) and the one that scores most public school NCLB tests (Pearson). Depending on what you are scoring, you have to meet qualifications -- they vary according to what your subject it is -- and your scores have to agree with that of a master scorer for the first several rounds. ETS may require a master's degree depending on the subject. Pearson hires only teachers with a degree in their subject area (though that may be changing to only teachers with a degree in ANY subject area + certification).

Scorers are held to the rules of a rubric and cannot deviate. The people who write the tests work in concert with others who develop rubrics. Some of the rubrics imo are downright crappy. And in no case can scorers give credit for a response that doesn't answer the prompt, even if the answer is brilliant; scorers can flag responses for review. That's about the only recourse. So, if the rubric says that to score a 7 you have to include three transitions, five supporting statements, and four annotations (I'm making this up of course), no matter how incredible a response is, if it doesn't have those things, it won't score a 7. Which is one of many reasons why I have learned to loathe standardized tests....

BTW scoring those tests is mind-numbingly tedious.
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