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# How to get teachers to respect other ways of solving problems? - Page 3

I'm not sure why everyone keeps calling this "divergent" thinking. I don't see the OP's DD's interpretaion of the directions to be very strange or creative. I'm not saying the child is incapable of divergent thinking, but this just doesn't look like an example of it.

The directions said to "write the number." The use of the word "write" makes me think of writing out. If the directions said "give the numeral" then I would see the way the teacher suggested being correct.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by annettemarie The directions you copied said "write the number" not "write the missing number word." Number (or numeral) = 7, 8, 9 Number word = seven, eight, nine
I agree with AnnetteMarie here.

While it is a clever invention to a certain kind of problem, the instructions were there and clear.

Save an example, I don't see how it could be clearer.

I understand that you are seeing that she solved another problem correctly, but lots of people solve the wrong problem on tests and that just doesn't get the credit that the right answer does. They're not looking for *a* right answer. They're looking for *the* right answer to the question at hand.

Now, I would certainly speak with a teacher about ambiguous instructions, e.g. "fill in the blanks".

But:

Quote:
 number noun 1 a whole number numeral, integer, figure, digit; character, symbol; decimal, unit; cardinal number, ordinal number.
Seems clear enough to me.

Quote:
 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....
If it's not fourteen lines, it's not a sonnet. It's not a three-paragraph essay if it doesn't have three paragraphs. Other people worked their bums off to come up with something great within the parameters, so why SHOULD exceptions be given simply because an idea is interesting?

Effort and ability to manipulate our own raw powers of logic and knowledge to fit into a set medium are extremely important skills to have. They also produce some of the world's most exquisite art, in my opinion.

Of course standardized tests are imperfect measurements of... pretty much anything, BUT! I do not think that structured art forms and writing forms are bad in and of themselves. I think they engender creativity, not stifle it.

What if they asked to write a haiku and the kid wrote four lines? And it was an amazing poem but not a haiku?

Should that really get credit?

I say, no. It's brilliant, it's art, but it's not the answer. Save it for the extra credit notebook at the end of the year.

OP, this is not all directed at you, obviously. I can imagine how frustrating it is to watch your kid do something really clever and not get credit.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy Interesting. So numerals are now numbers and the written form of a number is now a number word? Is there consensus on this? That would be helpful information to pass along, if it is indeed the new eduspeak. I guess part of the problem is it is now November and she has yet to receive math instruction, just page after page of problems where there is just one of each type. I think they are waiting for her to hit a ceiling or something. She has to extrapolate from very little what it is that is asked for. Anyway, it's not a huge deal, this one problem, it's more a concern about question wording and the feedback given my child.
I do agree that there is a lot of blurring of terminology in my son's math curriculum. There are tons of concepts he knows how to demonstrate but they use words in the directions that I don't even know (and I was a math teacher).

Example: Write the partners of 7.
I would have written: Write the pairs of numbers that add up to 7.
I am an adult and consider myself somewhat smart and if I were handed the worksheet just saying to write the number, I wouldn't have known what exactly they meant.

I remember in school doing exercises about following directions (the first step says not to do anything until you've read through everything and the next step says to do xyz and people usually end up doing everything til they get to the end and it says 'good for reading through, you don't have to do any of the other steps.) but I also had a class one where we we did a MAKING directions exercize.

It was all about how you have to make sure your directions are completely clear and it was HARD. Most of us failed to write out directions that EVERYONE could understand without asking questions (we had to write directions to build something simple.. most of us built most things incorrectly) and it really made me understand that you can't assume people will know what you mean.

'Write the number' is ambiguous. write the numeral for the word written? write the next number in the pattern? The teacher could have easily expanded on the directions to either of those. 'write the number' is simply too vague in my opinion, especially for a first grader who is doing a ton of worksheets and might have had to do all sorts of things with numbers and just did the first thing she thought of/remembered.

I don't see what she did as divergent or wrong. I see that the worksheet simply wasn't clear enough for ALL students.
Ambiguous instructions, trust me I know what that is like with my Dd sometimes when helping her with her HomeWork. The instructions are not clear.

However if the child answers the question incorrectly despite being given proper instruction then the teacher has to tell the child that he/she is wrong along with explaining to the child what he or she did wrong. That way the child will see his/her mistake. Thats the only way children will learn and also learn to interpret questions correctly.
I don't think it was written clearly, and it sounds like she overthought it, which can happen. My dd is very sensitive to criticism too, so I can understand why she was sad about it. I think the issue is that teachers need to be very gentle when someone doesn't understand directions, particularly if the directions aren't clear.
I think the bigger question is why is a child of this ability level being made to do extensive quantities of worksheets. Really, the content was checking whether the student could match the number word to the numeral. Really?

This is about way more than how mom feels about the teacher's response, or getting credit or not. At the micro level, it's certainly not positive for DD to be getting negative feedback, but at the macro level, this seems like a wildly unsuitable curriculum level and approach.

OP, what options do you have?

So much interesting feedback. I've only got a minute to get dinner going, but I'll come back.

joeandsally: I do agree. We keep waiting for her to be given appropriate math work for her ability. I didn't post the example thinking hers was a brilliant example of divergent thinking. I disagree that her original answers were wrong. I'm not saying they were the right ones, either, though.

I'm not sure what our options are. I need to dig around some more. It is possible that we need to have her tested, but money is super tight. I will be looking into options there again. We will have to revisit different school options. I am hoping we can find a way to get through to her school.
Did you initiate a conversation with the teacher and what was the teacher's response?

We have struggled with the math curriculum in terms of, well, it's wack, but have always gotten cooperation from teachers giving credit when the correct answer is obtained even when the strategy being taught wasn't the strategy being used. The math is taught now makes me, personally, nuts, and at home we do things the way I was taught, which is much easier (there are a lot of additional steps to math probs these days, at least with Saxon math).

I'm interested in the teacher's comments about the issue. Did you find the teacher reasonable?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl 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.
Yep -- if one of my students had handed in what your dd did, I would have immediately given myself a dope-slap for not being clearer. IMO, what your daughter did made more sense because she was given word prompts and so she found the pattern. What they wanted was for her to match the number word to the numeral. Also a reasonable thing to do, but not totally clear given the directions.

IF I raised the question with the teacher, I would simply ask: what part of the instructions were supposed to tell dd to use the number symbol instead of the number word? It's clear she missed that, and I'm wondering if she missed the directions somehow."

Quote:
 Originally Posted by Chamomile Girl 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.
Yes.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by kathymuggle 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.
Yes indeed.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by kathymuggle 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.
A nice way to think about it -- I think that gives the child more power than simply saying "Oh, I hate how they do this" or "Well, those are the rules, so you have to learn them." Dh had an incident in high school PE where he chose not to conform (in a school that HIGHLY valued conformity!). It drove his teacher batty, but the teacher was so rigid, he couldn't see dh's point of view. I highly value that trait in my dh.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy I'm not sure what our options are. I need to dig around some more. It is possible that we need to have her tested, but money is super tight. I will be looking into options there again. We will have to revisit different school options. I am hoping we can find a way to get through to her school.
Start with your local public school district -- ours has forms for parents to fill out to request gifted assessment for their kids. While I realize you're in a private school, if you can fill out the documents it might be a place to start with your dd. I can't imagine that they're still "assessing" her in November! Our kids go to a Title I school (high poverty), and so are subject to a ton of NCLB testing. They are assessed a lot -- but they're all assessed for level within the first 2-3 weeks of class. Dd got differentiated instruction for reading and math before I ever got my act together to fill out the paperwork!

I am going to have her formally assessed through the school district precisely because having the paper is helpful. I wish I'd done it early for ds. He's not listed as gifted in math, and while I agree that his computational skills aren't highly advanced, his understanding of concepts is. If he'd been assessed in 1st or 2nd grade, he would have come out better than he did when I waited until 3rd grade. His math skills actually declined in 2nd grade.

So, I would be a polite, but firm thorn in the side of the teacher. "What are you doing to meet dd's needs?" IME, sometimes private schools need more of a push than public schools do to actually implement differentiation. They have fewer teachers/resources per grade, and there is the idea somehow that "everyone is above average". And while that's probably true (largely because the parents self-select, and there are strong correlations between socioeconomic status and school achievement), there is still a place for differentiation for kids who are clearly not getting their needs met.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy dd answered very ambiguous questions with perfectly intelligent responses and was told they were wrong and that she needed to write something less thoughtful. I know this is the stuff that makes her crazy at school.So, how do you get teachers to properly word assignments and to show children that they value their thinking? Dd is in first grade.
Aargh! This is one of our problems too. Dd is also in 1st grade, and doing what she calls "easy math". Yet, easy as it is, I have to sit with her to do all her math homework, because about 75% of the time she "reads" the instructions wrong.

I think the "reading" part is a BIG part of the problem. Where we are, beginning 1st graders are not considered "readers", so the instructions are ambiguous, exceedingly simplistic, and far too generic. 1st graders also are not exposed to a whole lot of math vocabulary (number vs. numeral vs. number word, etc.) or taught to differentiate between these similar math terms. It is SO EASY to misinterpret the intention of the worksheet designer.

For us, getting access to 2nd grade work also allowed dd to receive 2nd grade written instructions - so much clearer! Perhaps you could insist on a 2-3 week trial period where your dd gets 2nd grade work, and see if it works out. It's so frustrating to have ability hidden by poorly designed tests.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy So much interesting feedback. I've only got a minute to get dinner going, but I'll come back. joeandsally: I do agree. We keep waiting for her to be given appropriate math work for her ability. I didn't post the example thinking hers was a brilliant example of divergent thinking. I disagree that her original answers were wrong. I'm not saying they were the right ones, either, though. I'm not sure what our options are. I need to dig around some more. It is possible that we need to have her tested, but money is super tight. I will be looking into options there again. We will have to revisit different school options. I am hoping we can find a way to get through to her school.
Assuming you're in the US, you don't need money or insurance or anything. If she's been have ongoing issues like this at school, go speak with the guidance counselor about getting her evaluated for learning disabilities. I think that even private schools are bound by the law in regards to learning disabilities and getting tested.

this is what happened with us.
1) went to guidance counselor, explaining all the issues that my son was having.
2) guidance counselor ordered a "child study" on him. that's when, without your child knowing, they go in and observe the class and your child to see if they notice some of the same things you mentioned.
3) they order a meeting between you and other proffessionals and talk to you more, the proffessionals get to hear from you all about your kid and the issues you may have had, even from years back when she was a baby/toddler, and then based on that and what they've observed, they let you know if they've approved or denied your request for evalualtion.
----->Important caveat: if they deny your request, you have a right to request they do it anyway, and they have to go through with it.
4) after request is approved, these professionals will pull the child out of class periodically and evaluate them, and work with her to find what strategies help her learn the best so she can implement these in her class, or so the teacher can accomodate her.

like i said, with my kid's teacher, her gridlock on doing anything (other than punish him) changed dramatically once I got other people involved

ask your guidance counselor for one of the little free books that walks you through the process.

also, just because she may (or may not) have a learning disability doesn't mean that she isn't also gifted. Many kids are both. For many kids, the true extent of their intelligence becomes more apparent once their special learning needs are met.
I would be careful relying on the school for a gifted assessment if the school doesn't play that game.

A private school can simply say, "we can't meet the needs of your child," in the case of a learning disability, or worse, say they will but not actually do it. Private schools are good at marketing, and part of that is telling you what you want to hear.

Also, be careful relying on school psychs for any meaningful gifted assessment. In many cases even if a school psych will give an individualized test once the child reaches a 'gifted' score, they stop counting. Unless they are experienced with gifted kids... they may reach 130 and stop there.

I've been through both the TAG testing and ID and then the special ed route with an IEP. Our situation is unique in that we aren't in a traditional public school, but one that allows a lot of flexibility and everyone is viewed as an individual learner. We have the same teacher this year as last, so there is no waiting to be assessed, etc.

I would be concerned if a teacher told me they were still assessing my child this far along in the school year. That sends up huge red flags, how can you child be learning if they are still being assessed?!

I think I would decide in the next month if you want to continue with this school. It might be better to use the tuition money on private testing, and then advocate for your child in the public school, where the school is legally bound to provide an adequate education. Or homeschool, where at least no harm is being done.

http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2618&q=320938
IIRC, OP's DD has no indications of an LD. I think she's likely very, very gifted in a very ill-fitting situation.

My son is 2E and tested EG recently. The school had known he was gifted before, but this latest testing is being taken much more seriously and has opened some opportunities. He isn't the high achiever type at all, and is an extremely divergent thinker. We HS'd gr1 as there was no way he would thrive in worksheet land, and then have found an alternate program for him which works overall. It doesn't "challenge" him, but he's interested and engaged (group work on open ended projects, interactive learning, emphasis on arts and creativity).

I see the stakes being really, really high with really out of norm kids - those early messages can be so supporting or so undermining.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by joensally I see the stakes being really, really high with really out of norm kids - those early messages can be so supporting or so undermining.
Yes. yes. yes. The stakes are really high, and you can spend years undoing what a bad year does to a child.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by carmel23 I would be careful relying on the school for a gifted assessment if the school doesn't play that game. A private school can simply say, "we can't meet the needs of your child," in the case of a learning disability, or worse, say they will but not actually do it. Private schools are good at marketing, and part of that is telling you what you want to hear. Also, be careful relying on school psychs for any meaningful gifted assessment. In many cases even if a school psych will give an individualized test once the child reaches a 'gifted' score, they stop counting. Unless they are experienced with gifted kids... they may reach 130 and stop there. I've been through both the TAG testing and ID and then the special ed route with an IEP. Our situation is unique in that we aren't in a traditional public school, but one that allows a lot of flexibility and everyone is viewed as an individual learner. We have the same teacher this year as last, so there is no waiting to be assessed, etc.
It's true, i'm not sure how all of it rolls out when it's private school. I do know that it's the law for public and private schools to accomodate learning disabilities, should the child have one. Also, the OP stated she has no real resources for getting an evaluation outside of the school, and I do believe that it is law (in the us) that the school (regardless of whether the are public are private) has to accomodate for this themselves. Free of charge. The school still has to assess your child's specific learning needs, even if you have a diagnosis of a learning disability. But one isn't necessary. it may not be the best of ways to use the school to do it, but it's something for now. (if it's even necessary for the OP. She may feel it's not.)

Quote:
 I would be concerned if a teacher told me they were still assessing my child this far along in the school year. That sends up huge red flags, how can you child be learning if they are still being assessed?!
i'm not sure if this is relating to my post or not. I had the assessment set up late. i didn't know what to do or which way to turn, and just recently figured it all out. better late than never! and besides, the assessment itself helps the to find the child's learning styles, and they can start implementing techniques to help them in class before the assessment is even over. the assessment process at least lets the teacher know that other people are on top of it, and keeps her on her p's and q's regarding that child (if she wasn't already before) and has also calmed the issues we were having in the classroom.

also the assessment process with the school is a longer process than ones done by your own personal care provider.

Quote:
 Originally Posted by joensally IIRC, OP's DD has no indications of an LD. I think she's likely very, very gifted in a very ill-fitting situation. My son is 2E and tested EG recently. The school had known he was gifted before, but this latest testing is being taken much more seriously and has opened some opportunities. He isn't the high achiever type at all, and is an extremely divergent thinker. We HS'd gr1 as there was no way he would thrive in worksheet land, and then have found an alternate program for him which works overall. It doesn't "challenge" him, but he's interested and engaged (group work on open ended projects, interactive learning, emphasis on arts and creativity). I see the stakes being really, really high with really out of norm kids - those early messages can be so supporting or so undermining.
There may be no learning disability. I was taking context clues from the OP's post about the teachers trying to "stump" her last year, as well as considering whether or not this is an ongoing issue.

If it is an ongoing issue, then it's something that needs to be addressed, whether it's a learning disability or not. Over here, learning disabilities and gifted needs are handled much the same way anyway. It's all a special need that your child has, either for mor advanced work, or help understanding how to do the work.

the OP may not need to take it this far, but if she has a gridlocked teacher like I did, who is labeling her kid wrong because of it, and it's stressing her kid out, then there are steps she can take to get straighten out the matter, regardless of her financial situation.

and, i dunno. i think constant misunderstanding of the directions and a need for very literal instructions IS a learning "disability". i don't like the word, because it's not a "disability", but it is a need for something different to be done specifically with your child for them to succeed with their work. a learning "disability" is something that causes the child's true grasp of the concept and depth of intelligence to be masked, and their grades are not reflecting their true grasp of the knowledge. I kind of thought the description of the OP fit the bill. it could be something as simple as the teacher coming over to her desk after she has passed out the work, and making sure she understands the instructions, and correcting her if she is doing it wrong. and if the teacher won't do that, then other people need to make her. that's what the guidance counselor is for.
I do not suspect any kind of LD. Maybe I wasn't clear about the kinds of problems she's had at her school:

1. Teachers keeping her busy, because she's easy. This year's teacher described her as the perfect first-grader.

2. Teacher's trying to stump her, like it's a game. That was last year.

3. This year's teacher noted that she is clearly very, very bright and always gets the underlying subtext that the other children don't get (in a book, classroom situation, etc.)

4. She is very social and gets along well with everyone because this is where she expends her energy; she seems to be functioning so well that she's easy to ignore, especially where there are struggling readers in the classroom.

5. She is sensitive and affected by problems that aren't clear to her, but it's not a learning disability. The questions are not clear. We are working with her to teach her to advocate more for herself, but she is just six.

6. She has a lot of creativity, is a bit of a perfectionist, really cares what her teachers think of her, loves to learn, is very detail-oriented and a very advanced reader. Socially she is very funny and a leader.

7. Her teachers think she is a great kid, but they miss how sensitive she is on the inside and how much she needs to be taught and supported.

I am working on what to next discuss with her teachers and then the principal and figuring out the testing. I don't really feel that should be done through the school. I am also concerned she may not test well if she doesn't like the tester or buy into the process. I would prefer she not feel any pressure about it, so we'd have to figure out how to present it to her, too. I am also very torn about taking her out of her school and away from her friends. She has some wonderful friends there. That definitely affects my thinking.

I am going to work on these things. What does it look like when kids do math without reams of worksheets? They do some manipulative work as a class, but it's mostly counting, grouping, sorting - nothing advanced.
Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy I do not suspect any kind of LD. Maybe I wasn't clear about the kinds of problems she's had at her school: 1. Teachers keeping her busy, because she's easy. This year's teacher described her as the perfect first-grader. 2. Teacher's trying to stump her, like it's a game. That was last year. 3. This year's teacher noted that she is clearly very, very bright and always gets the underlying subtext that the other children don't get (in a book, classroom situation, etc.) 4. She is very social and gets along well with everyone because this is where she expends her energy; she seems to be functioning so well that she's easy to ignore, especially where there are struggling readers in the classroom. 5. She is sensitive and affected by problems that aren't clear to her, but it's not a learning disability. The questions are not clear. We are working with her to teach her to advocate more for herself, but she is just six. 6. She has a lot of creativity, is a bit of a perfectionist, really cares what her teachers think of her, loves to learn, is very detail-oriented and a very advanced reader. Socially she is very funny and a leader. 7. Her teachers think she is a great kid, but they miss how sensitive she is on the inside and how much she needs to be taught and supported. .
ok, if it's not an ongoing issue, then maybe it's not a learning disability. but that whole list could still be accurate with a child who DOES have a learning disability, just to be clear.

I just hope that if you can get it straight with the teacher without having to take it much farther. She should do a lesson on math instuctions. I remember they did that when I was in school, so we would clearly understand what we were being asked to do. Are any other kids having problems understanding the directions?
Quote:
 Originally Posted by expecting-joy she seems to be functioning so well that she's easy to ignore, especially where there are struggling readers in the classroom.
Though this is obviously a problem in any school it feels much less tolerable in a private school. A public school has to simply work with whatever number of students at whatever ability level they get. Private schools on the other hand, can decide how many students of what ability levels they wish to take. The teacher should not be over whelmed by too many students at such extremely varied levels.

You paying money for this school on the basis that they will offer you something better than public school will. It doesn't sound better than public, and the cost is prevent you from paying for testing and possibly enriching activities. Is the public school in your area really so terrible that this is a better solution?

Quote:
 I am also very torn about taking her out of her school and away from her friends. She has some wonderful friends there. That definitely affects my thinking.
This I understand. I suspect the issue will just become more muddled the longer she stays there. I would set a very clear and not too far off deadline for them to start actually providing the instruction you are paying for, then move on to plan B.
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie
But:

Quote:
 number noun 1 a whole number numeral, integer, figure, digit; character, symbol; decimal, unit; cardinal number, ordinal number.
Seems clear enough to me.
Seems clear enough if you choose the one definition of the word "number" that fits with the teacher's intentions. But the difficulty is that the word "number" has several related defintions. Here's what Dictionary.com says at the top of a list of a dozen or so definitions:

Quote:
 numÂ·berâ€‚ â€‚ â€“noun 1. a numeral or group of numerals. 2. the sum, total, count, or aggregate of a collection of units, or the like: A number of people were hurt in the accident. The number of homeless children in the city has risen alarmingly. 3.a word or symbol, or a combination of words or symbols, used in counting or in noting a total.
According to the third definition a "number word" (a term I'd never heard of until this thread) is indeed a "number."

Miranda
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