Friday, February 26, 2010

Math Woes

On Wednesday, I gave my students a test of Math Topic 12- Area and Perimeter. Throughout the entire Topic, I did all I could to make sure that my students understood the material. I had them take notes in their Math Journals, we completed the first couple of problems on their homework together so they would understand exactly what to do, and I also had small group interventions with the students that did not seem to understand the concepts. I also created a study guide before the test and we spent one entire Math lesson working in groups to review for the test. With all of this said, I just knew that my students would do better on this test than they had on any other. I could not have been more wrong. I had one student get a 2 and everyone else earned a 1. I was almost in tears after grading these tests.

Well, I came to school today and showed the tests to my CT. We looked at the test questions, how many students missed each question, and what type of question was missed. We wondered, and have wondered, if the problem with our students’ performance on Math tests results from not understanding the questions. Many of our students struggle with reading comprehension, so it would make sense that they would possibly struggle to understand the questions on the test. So today, we gave the same test again, only this time, I read each test question aloud. The hope was that students would better understand the questions if they were read aloud and thus they would be able to show what they really understand about the topic.

I still have about 5 more tests to grade, but right now, the vast majority is scoring the exact same as they did on the previous test. I am at odds with what else I can do. If students do not do their homework and do not focus on the content presented during the lesson, how can they show an understanding of the information? I do not know what else I can do outside of providing interventions and working diligently to engage students in the lesson each day. Any suggestions?? All are welcome!


  1. Some ideas that you can try... (1) get the students physically involved (have them determine how many "footprints" the perimeter of the classroom is by walking around the room... use sidewalk chalk to draw objects on the playground and have them measure the perimeter of these objects with their "footprints"...), (2) use manipulatives such as Cuisinaire rods or just everyday objects and string to measure perimeters, (3) use rulers to measure perimeters of objects drawn on paper... and go the opposite way - have the students draw objects with given perimeters, (4) have the students make up their own perimeter problems. Do similar activities with area (use tiles or graph paper or carpet squares...). These activities take time, but you may find your students understanding better. Good luck!

  2. I was an eled/Spanish double major in college! I now teach 7th grade math. I think anything you can do hands on with the kids will help them with understanding. I have a SMARTBoard in my class and that has really helped me to be able to give great examples (and color code things if needed). Does your school have a subscription to Discovery Streaming? They have excellent short video clips that I show my student on different topics. National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is also a great website that has virtual manipulatives. I am not sure what they have for perimeter and area, but I have found some excellent things there. Good luck!