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I am curious about other people's experience with their gifted child and rocket math. My son knows all his math facts and has for 2 years (currently a 2nd grader). He loves numbers and has figured out multiplication and adding double digit numbers on his own in 1st grade. He does word problems, double digit addition, etc. in his head and is extremely accurate and quite fast. He seemed to enjoy doing the Rocket Math (1 minute math fact speed tests) during 1st grade and was most of the way through the addition book. But in 2nd grade he didn't test out of the number writing book until the end of 1st quarter and seems to be struggling to get very far in the addition book. He seems discouraged. He keeps trying hard on all the tests (daily) but is still the farthest behind in his class even though his is in the top math group. I am worried and not sure if there is something I can or should be doing to help him.
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Arithmetic speed drills test a number of skills. Mathematical ability is not really one of those skills.
To get through the problems, first you need to read them, then you need to form the answer in your mind, finally you must write the answer on the paper. Though the test is meant to be about the middle step (having the answer) the first and last step (reading and writing the answer) is what costs many students the most time. So, a student who is very competent in math, but has slow painful handwriting will score poorly.
Further more, most schools emphasize using memorization instead of calculation for basic arithmetic. While a good memory is a generally useful skill, it has nothing to do with math ability.
The good news is that the school your DS is attending seems to understand the arithmetic speed drills are not an indicator of math ability so they have placed your DS appropriately in the high math group. As long as the school keeps him in the appropriate math group, I would just keep encouraging him to do his best. Maybe work on each skill separately so you can focus on the one that is slowing him down (handwriting is often the cause of slowness.)
Yep. What eepster said.
Does he have trouble with writing otherwise? I struggled with math facts and writing in 2nd grade and I never did complete those tests. But I made it through calculus without much problem.
You may want to chat with your son about those tests. Let him know, that you understand he is having trouble getting the numbers on paper fast enough, but it doesn't have anything to do with his ability to do math. That may give him a good dose of reassurance, so he doesn't get bogged down by them. (I felt stupid and dumb because I couldn't do them. I wish someone had told me that they didn't have much to do with math and more to do with writing fast! I would have had less headaches!)
They're not typos. . . I can't spell!
Totally agree with eepster, too. I don't know Rocket Math specifically, but I'm assuming there is a timed factor. Ds has slow handwriting. He is also a slower processor, I think. I don't know exactly what he can/can't do in math, but I know he has a very fine, firm foundation in his understanding and the concepts, but he doesn't easily "pass" the timed math tests they do. Schools spend a lot of time emphasizing speed and memorization over conceptual understanding and knowledge. If more teachers looked beyond the timed factor, they'd probably get a better idea of what their students can do.
Yes, there is a timed factor although supposedly the goal number of problems is individualized for each student. In theory, slow writers will have fewer problems they need to complete to move up a level. But it does not take into account slower processors since their goal seems to be to increase processing speed.
I agree wholeheartedly with your last 2 sentences. I am getting really frustrated with the emphasis on speed. He does his homework in a really short time, he has no problem doing double digit addition in his head...so why the obsession with speed of just the math facts. Frankly, at least part of the difficulty I see for DS when he is expected to do extremely repetitive tasks is that his brain starts to wander. He will get distracted thinking about the numbers rather than the problem itself. It is now 2 weeks later and he still hasn't moved up even a single level. Definitely frustrating him. He doesn't like me to bring it up so we just talk about other much more interesting things to do with numbers.
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Totally agree with eepster, too. I don't know Rocket Math specifically, but I'm assuming there is a timed factor. Ds has slow handwriting. He is also a slower processor, I think. I don't know exactly what he can/can't do in math, but I know he has a very fine, firm foundation in his understanding and the concepts, but he doesn't easily "pass" the timed math tests they do. Schools spend a lot of time emphasizing speed and memorization over conceptual understanding and knowledge. If more teachers looked beyond the timed factor, they'd probably get a better idea of what their students can do.
I would probably say something to his teacher. She probably has to do the Rocket Math for her "progress monitoring" data collection, but it's important that that's not guiding his math instruction. If she can use another method to determine his actual ability level and at least let his work be at his ability level, then I'd drop it for the most part. Otherwise, she needs to know that this method is measuring neither his ability nor his progress. How frustrating.
I think Gifted children process math differently and rocket math is just not a good program for them after a few weeks. They are perfectionists who only write down the answer if it is correct. They often times struggle with handwriting and they strive to be challenged. Doing Rocket Math over and over for weeks on end does not meet their learning style. I asked my 2nd grade gifted child "What would help you to do better at rocket math?" His reply was simple and made a lot of sense! "The math problems are too easy and I've been doing them over and over again. I'd rather have my teacher give me a huge equation that makes me think!"
My son is similar to the OPs: really excited about math, advanced at arithmetic, understands fractions and decimals and so on, also in second grade, and also dealing with speed drills. Mostly he's pretty good at themhis class uses a computer game for them, so that's attractive.
If the speed drills will be useful to the child later on, there's no reason for him not to slog through them. It's OK for him not to be good at speed drills. Just because he's gifted doesn't mean he has to be good at everything. The main thing is, not to let the frustration take away his joy in math. For us, the big problem was that my son was a slow writer who got frustrated with writing out his work on story problem homework. I just didn't want frustration to rule and deaden his enthusiasm.
You have to supplement what he does in school with other, interesting math. I haven't found teachers to be much help with this. I was terrible at math at his age (and also now!) and I do a lot of research into what might be fun and interesting, and motivating, to help him connect the basic stuff in second grade to the stuff he's excited to learn.
The problem, though, comes in when you have a gifted child that understands the concepts of more complex calculation (long division, or double+ digit multiplication), but has a high level of inaccuracy because the math facts aren't down, or miscalculates them.
Because of this, I have a very mixed view on some of it. I have seen cases where math facts/timing is not critical for a child. In other cases, like here, I have yet to see any method that helps other than drilling. :/
Tammy
Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 232003.
DS has been making some progress and the teacher is supporting him in a positive way to try to make it to the end of addition by the end of the school year (end of July). She has been providing extra time for him to practice with a student teacher in her room. Fortunately they have restructured the rest of the math period so they pretest on each unit and then place the kids according to how much they already know on a subject. So for the nonRocket Math protion of the math session, he is getting to do more interesting and advanced material.
My issue with the Rocket Math program is that my gifted child who loves math has serious timed test anxiety. As a perfectionist, as one poster mentioned, she will not write down the wrong answer and has been instructed not to skip and go back. She also has been taught, at home and in her first three grades, to check her answers. On top of this she is a slow writer. Her current teacher began the program at the beginning of third grade without administering the writing sample test to determine what number of problems a child can physically write in a minute. After two weeks she sent home the first tests and my daughter who hadnt passed more than two wrote "I am so stupid" at the bottom of her paper.
I addressed this issue with the teacher and it has been rectified but she is so far behind the other kids and there is a chart to display this on the wall that she feels its hopeless and now says she isnt good at math. I think this whole program and automaticity is not only unproductive but inappropriate at this level of education. I am going to be bringing this up to the principal this week and if there is not a satisfactory solution, to the school board later this month.
I cannot think of one application where this form of testing will be helpful. Not one. But I can think of countless ways that undermining a child's confidence in her math skills will set her up for future failure.
Something has to be done with our school systems. Gifted childen should not be coming home thinking they are stupid. where does that leave all the other kids?
Speed equaling proficiency drives me nuts. OP, I hope you son's teacher can be supportive. My son is a perfectionist, and is very careful with his work, including math and reading/writing. I don't think he has any issues with his math drills/timed sheets, but I certainly wouldn't place him as the fastest. However, that bears no relation to his math skills, or understanding. We were recently asked to consider a grade acceleration in math, which I would guess has little to do with his speed. Same issue with readinghe is above grade level, but there are kids ripping through reading passages with far less of a grasp of the material, but speed is valued.
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