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Discussion Starter #1
<p>I have a similar post in Montessori, but thought maybe it was more appropriate here.</p>
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<p>Talk to me about timed math tests.  Is there research to show that they are effective in giving kids a better understanding of math?</p>
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<p>At the risk of sounding like sour grapes, I am frustrated because it feels like ds (6) has stagnated in his math progression because he's not completing the basic addition timed test in the alotted time.  It's not that he doesn't have the concept - he can do all of the problems on the page and much harder problems accurately.  It's just that he's not a fast enough retriever. </p>
 

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<p>The idea that people need to be able to do math quickly to be good at math is a load of BS. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Plenty of students become convinced that they have no skills in math because the can't complete X number of problems in Y amount of time, when they actually have a very keen understanding of the mechanics of math and the relationship numbers have with each other in regards to different operations.</p>
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<p>If he can do the problems, and harder ones, accurately then it doesn't matter how fast he is able to "retrieve" the information. Memorization is just code for "we don't want to bother with making sure you understand <em>why</em> these things work and how you can use this to your advantage in the future when you find yourself faced with a problem you've never seen before".</p>
 

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<p>Here's my take.  They are really, really into automaticity for math facts.  I get it.  It makes it easier to teach and execute larger concepts later.  But, I think that automaticity comes at vastly different rates, and just because a child doesn't have it, doesn't mean they don't understand the concepts!  I have one child that really, really struggles with this.  She actually gets some pretty abstract concepts of math (mostly dealing with geometry), but the sequencing of math facts is a horror for her.  I have another that breezes through these facts.  I don't think that I would venture to say which is going to have an easier time at math at the end of the day in high school or college.  The thing I like about the way my middle daughter's math group is going (this is the one that happens to breeze through these facts), is that the timed math tests are almost separate from the rest of math.  They have taught the concepts, and continue to teach new concepts, but they only have the timed tests once a week.  And they chart their improvement of these tests as a separate math activity. </p>
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<p>It sounds like it is maybe time to talk to the teacher about this, and see if there is some kind of accommodation that can be made to keep him interested as he progresses with his speed.</p>
 

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<p>Thanks for those replies.  I think I will talk to the teacher about this because it just seems silly to me.  I don't want to be the parent to argues everything, but I, too, see little association between how well a student understands a concept and how quickly they finish their timed tests.  It's not an assessment of knowledge.</p>
 

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<p>Just to jump on the same bandwagon - I understand that automaticity makes math easier and that it is helpful to be able to learn new concepts without struggling with basic facts.  But, there are lots of kids who don't do well with timed math and still manage to do quite well in upper level math. </p>
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<p>For example, my daughter could not have passed a timed addition test at age 6.  I don't think she would have passed one at age 8 or 9 either.  She could also do problems with greater difficulty, she just didn't have fast recall of facts.  She was tested at age 8 and found to be profoundly gifted particularly in math.  Last year she completed Geometry and Algebra II with grades in the high 90's (what points she missed were arithmetic errors) and scoring high advanced on state end of course exams.  She's gotten high scores on math competitions, although I have no doubt her inherent lack of speed hinders her somewhat.  She was 11 at the time.  </p>
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<p>Timed tests at a younger age would have killed her enthusiasm.  We tried a few - it was painful for her - we stopped!</p>
<p>She became more automatic by tackling interesting problems.  That was the kind of practice she needed, and I think most kids really need. </p>
<p>Good luck with your talk with the teacher, I hope it goes very well.</p>
 

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<p>I thought he was in a Montessori school?  Where/why is he taking timed tests?</p>
 

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<p>I posted a similar thread a month or so ago.  You might search for it, as there were some really great responses.  I think it was called "math speed drills". </p>
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<p>We had much the same issue.  My ds knew the "math facts" but was not speedy about it and this was affecting his grade.  I think you will find a lot of people are for timed math and a lot of people are against it. </p>
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<p>Good luck.  I know how frustrating it is.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #8
<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>eepster</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280989/timed-math#post_16081391"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-bottom:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-right:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>I thought he was in a Montessori school?  Where/why is he taking timed tests?</p>
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Yes, he is in a public "Montessori" program.  Don't get me started (insert *eyeroll* that I can't find on the new emoticon list).  As far as I can tell, it's public school curriculum with some Montessori materials and some global to specific teaching.  One of the charming pieces of the public school curriculum is that they seem to believe that timed tests are assessments of ability.  <span><img alt="banghead.gif" height="20" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/banghead.gif" width="25"></span>   We can't afford real Montessori, so I just have to live by the mantra that it's better than our neighborhood school.</p>
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<p>Mom2ponygirl - Ds likes being given challenging problems, too.  The low level math facts are always present, so the more he could get to do those, the more automatic they would become.  While ds is probably not profoundly gifted in math, I hope that his enthusiasm is not sqelched with these silly things.</p>
 

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<p>DS (9) is also slower with math facts, but superior with conceptual understanding.  He is now in 4th grade, so the teachers are really expect quick recall from addition to division.  These timed tests were really stressing ds out, so he was performing worse than his normal slow pace during the tests.  Even though I was confident that eventually he'd pick up the pace, it wasn't likely to happen soon enough for the school.</p>
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<p>In desperation, I picked up a nintendo ds game that has really, really helped.  </p>
<p><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325&tag=motheringhud-20&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FPersonal-Trainer-Math-Nintendo-DS%2Fdp%2FB001LNYM90%2Fref%3Dsr_1_1%3Fie%3DUTF8%26qid%3D1291138766%26sr%3D8-1" rel="norewrite" target="_blank">http://www.amazon.com/Personal-Trainer-Math-Nintendo-DS/dp/B001LNYM90/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291138766&sr=8-1</a></p>
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<p>It's timed, and he works to beat his previous time.  There is reading involved, and you write the answers on the screen with a stylus (not sure if that would be an issue for your ds or not) but everything is very positive & encouraging (no matter how slow!) and the game progresses to different levels as ds "masters" the current level.  What was helpful for us is that I didn't have to pull out flash cards or work sheets (yuck!), because ds can do this independently.  There is a Daily Test, which takes less than 5 minutes, and also separate exercises for additional practice.   Ds, who has test anxiety, actually LIKES doing the daily tests (sometimes he does more than one a day) and working on additional practice.  It has boosted his confidence at school, lowered his anxiety with timed tests overall, and his recall is much faster. (Additionally, ds has problems with number reversals and the game doesn't recognize reversed numbers, so it's also forced/encouraged ds to work through this as well.)  </p>
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<p>I'm sure that there are similar things like this online -- We just happened to have a nintendo ds, and this particular game is not flashy with a lot of animation, such as Timez Attack, which wigged ds out when he tried that - definitely wasn't helping him relax.  lol!   The key for ds, I think, was brief, *daily*  timed practice that he could do independently, and the positive encouragement of the game to keep trying to beat his previous time.</p>
<p>Just thought I'd share what's working for us.</p>
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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Rose-Roget</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280989/timed-math#post_16080922"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Thanks for those replies.  I think I will talk to the teacher about this because it just seems silly to me.  I don't want to be the parent to argues everything, but I, too, see little association between how well a student understands a concept and how quickly they finish their timed tests.  It's not an assessment of knowledge.</p>
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<br><br><p>The biggest thing I see is that children who cannot retrieve the information in a reasonable time are going to need significantly longer to do their work as they get into math. My MIL has many 6th graders in her class who have not mastered/learned/memorized (whichever word you'd like to use) their facts, and they (and their parents) complain about their math homework taking too long. The reality is that it takes so long because they're slow - not because of the length of the homework for someone with a command of the facts.</p>
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<p>That said, I think 6 is young for timed tests because I would imagine that writing speed is as big of a factor in how quickly one finishes the tests as the actual mastery of the facts.</p>
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<p>My kindergartener has an exceptional conceptual understanding of math. We've worked up to Algebra 1 problems with him, and he has a phenomenal intuitive understanding of math. When it comes to addition and subtraction facts, however, I'd say he's only slightly above average, though I've seen a lot of improvement in the past month. It is something we plan to start working with him on because I believe both speed and accuracy are valuable. I also know that arguing for differentiation for a child who has not mastered all facts is a tough battle, but that's another thread.</p>
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<p>In general I take a middle-of-the-road stance. Timed tests should measure your improvement over time and not you against an arbitrary clock time. They shouldn't be a significant portion of your grade. At the same time, be careful of what I often see here, which is that people assume fast means inaccurate. That's not true either. People can be both fast & accurate, and that's the real goal, though it's not going to be attainable for everyone.</p>
 

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<p>You can talk to the teacher.  It might help - probably it won't.  Most teachers tend to beleive the way they are teaching things is the right way for the class - or they would not be doing it.  You may be able to have accomodations made if you have grounds -or you may not.  Asking for untimed math tests for your child is certainly worth a shot..</p>
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<p>I would focus a fair bit of my energy at home.  Talk up math in a positive way, let him know you take time to come to the right answers (but that you usually get the right answers in time) and introduce him to fun aspects of math so he does not become overly frustrated with the subject through the schools handling of the subject.</p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>VisionaryMom</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280989/timed-math#post_16082261"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Rose-Roget</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280989/timed-math#post_16080922"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>Thanks for those replies.  I think I will talk to the teacher about this because it just seems silly to me.  I don't want to be the parent to argues everything, but I, too, see little association between how well a student understands a concept and how quickly they finish their timed tests.  It's not an assessment of knowledge.</p>
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<br><br><p>The biggest thing I see is that children who cannot retrieve the information in a reasonable time are going to need significantly longer to do their work as they get into math. My MIL has many 6th graders in her class who have not mastered/learned/memorized (whichever word you'd like to use) their facts, and they (and their parents) complain about their math homework taking too long. The reality is that it takes so long because they're slow - not because of the length of the homework for someone with a command of the facts.</p>
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<p>That said, I think 6 is young for timed tests because I would imagine that writing speed is as big of a factor in how quickly one finishes the tests as the actual mastery of the facts.</p>
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ITA -- with all of this.   As a person who still counted on her fingers into college, I thought I was average, at best, at math.  In reality, I had great conceptual knowledge, but because I was slower at computation I wasn't able to do those timed tests as quickly as other people.  I did well enough so that I always passed the tests, but it wasn't automatic retrieval -  it was hard, stressful work to get the answers.   In high school when calculators were allowed helped me and I had no problems with higher level math and science.   But the feeling of being less than adequate in math overall kept me from pursuing math related fields.  </p>
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