November 11, 2017 at 2:33 PM #39964Karla Martin@karlamartin
I have a fourth grade girl who struggles in math. She watched the Times Tales DVD over the summer which has greatly helped her multiplication and division skills. Her daily lesson grades are usually in the eighties but so far she has failed every test. I am doing daily drill in specific problem areas and am seeing progress her lessons. She gets more correct in those areas with less help from me. How do I get this to happen on her tests as well?
November 11, 2017 at 3:20 PM #39967Peter Goertzen@petergoertzen
I’m afraid this post will be more about commiseration than being helpful. I have a high school student who’s really struggling in my business math class. He too can often do well on his daily lessons, but does very poorly on tests. One thing I’m trying is to set boundaries for the help I give him with his homework. (It sounds like you’re probably past this stage if your student is needing less help from you.) He asks for a lot of help, and all that hand-holding is one of the reasons he can get good grades on daily homework. But I can’t help him that way on his tests. I haven’t exactly told him this, but I’m trying to give him help only if he has a specific question about a problem, something more than “I don’t know how to do this.” (This is after the concept has been discussed and practiced in class.) And instead of answering questions directly, whenever possible I respond with my own questions that I hope will lead him to find the right answer for himself. Anyway, we’ll see how it works.
November 11, 2017 at 5:33 PM #39968Becky Bollinger@beckybollinger
I agree with Mr. Goertzen that it is important to help students in such a way that you are guiding them to independence. I think that responding to students’ questions with more questions to help them think for themselves is an excellent way to go about it. Often, when students say that they don’t know how to do something, the 1st thing I do is ask them to read the question or the directions out loud to me. It is amazing how often they are able to answer their own questions.
It seems to me that if your student is able to complete the daily assignment reasonably well on her own, but isn’t able to do the same level of work on the test, then there must be something that is getting in the way.
These are the questions that I would ask next:
1. Is there some testing anxiety going on? Is your student freezing up when she gets to a test? Would there be ways to help her think of a test as an opportunity to show what she knows vs. something to be afraid of? I have found it very helpful to explicitly teach students how to take tests or how to approach certain types of questions.
2. How does the format of your daily lesson assignments compare to the test? Might the formatting on the test be tripping her up? Is she actually reading the directions or the word problems or just skimming over them because she thinks she knows what to do?
Just some ideas…
November 13, 2017 at 5:02 PM #39981Crista@cris
Would it be possible to divide the test into smaller segments? The student could complete one part of the test, complete other tasks and later complete the rest of the test. Or is it possible to reduce the number of problems on the test until the student begins to show some success and gain some confidence? The number of problems on the test could gradually be increased.
Maybe the student could be given a practice test that is similar to the test. Another option might be to teach very specific test taking strategies. Teach the student how to read and reread the directions, take one problem at a time, complete the easy problems first and highlight the important words of the story problem, etc.
November 17, 2017 at 9:54 PM #41211Carolyn Martin@carolynmartin
It may be of interest to explore why she is failing the test. Does she understand the concepts and use the correct processes but has the wrong answers because she makes errors with the facts? Example: in long division, can she follow the correct steps but because she thinks 8 x 7 is 57 she gets the answers wrong? Encouraging accuracy, taking time to recheck, etc. may be helpful. (I’m thinking about a particular student at our school right now.) Or is the problem more of an issue understanding concepts and processes?
I attempt to have students visualize what is happening as much as possible; draw pictures to illustrate story problems (or act out the story problems sometimes), use manipulatives they can handle, etc.
If you know where the gap is, you may have to back up and catch up; especially if she is not understanding some foundational areas that the work is built on.
But if you are not holding her hand while she is doing her daily work and those grades reflect what she can do, it may mean that she needs some test taking strategies as Becky mention above. Maybe the idea of “it’s a test” can be down-played to help avoid test-freeze.
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