tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-57035688076152638512018-07-19T01:16:46.837-07:00How to Prepare for the Gifted And Talented TestGAT tests measure cognitive skills but schools don't teach them. This site helps parents identify the material, teach the skills, and not only gain GAT entry but succeed in the program.Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.comBlogger246125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-21631249401032256932018-07-14T13:00:00.001-07:002018-07-14T13:10:09.009-07:00The GAT Calculator <div class="gcg-article"> <p>In the last article, I produced a list of common approaches parents take when the parent owns the education. This article formalizes the different approaches into a simple* survey that will show you where you sit on the GAT spectrum. The end result is your child's GAT percentile which you can consider the parent GAT percentile as well since these are nearly synomomous. That's why I alwasy refer to 'we' when we're taking a test or doing At Home Schooling. Standardized tests and the NNAT and WISC require a different survey. (* This isn't simple. The calculation for some activities varies by age.) </p><p>If you review the last article, you'll see that there are different ways to get there. Some ways take longer than others. </p><p>Fill out the table and see how much work you have to do with each child. Scores appear at the bottom. </p><p>If your score is very high and your test scores are low, the raw material is there but it's time to start focusing on test prep. </p><p>We had a great year that is somewhere above 3000, but lately it's been all camp and resting. Our current activities are bordering average, with the exception of theater. Today one of my sons was given two options - math or vacuuming, and the house is now very clean. I think he's taking off the summer after his make or break testing year.</p><table class="gcg-score-table"> <thead> <tr> <th>Topic</th> <th>Max</th> <th>Enter Value</th> <th>Age</th> <th>Impact</th> <th>Score</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> </tbody> <tfoot> <tr class="gcg-error" style="display:none;" > <th colspan="6" style="color:red;font-weight:bold;text-align:center;">You reported too many hours for the week. Please reduce the hours.</th> </tr> <tr class="gcg-result" > <th colspan="2">Total Score</th> <th colspan="4" class='gcg-total-score' style="font-weight:bold;text-align:left;"></th> </tr> <tr class="gcg-result" > <th colspan="2">GAT Percentile</th> <th colspan="4" class='gcg-lto' style="font-weight:bold;text-align:left;"></th> </tr> </tfoot> </table> </div> <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"> </script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('imageanchor', ''); $('.pkp-image').click(function () {$('.pkp-anchor').click();}); $('.sscc-image').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X'); addRows(); }); function gcgChg(elem) { var v = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').val(); // entry var a = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-age').val(); var agemax = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-age').attr('max'); var valmax = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').attr('max'); var valmin = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').attr('min'); $('.gcg-result').hide(); if( v == undefined || v == '') return; if (false == $.isNumeric(v)) { $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').val(''); return; } else { if ( parseFloat(v) > parseFloat(valmax) ) { v = valmax; $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').val(valmax); } if ( parseFloat(v) < parseFloat(valmin) ) { v = valmin; $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-value').val(valmin); } } if (a == undefined || a == '') return; if (false == $.isNumeric(a)) { $('.gcg-age').val(''); return; } else { if ( parseFloat(a) > parseFloat(agemax) ) a = agemax; $('.gcg-age').val(a); $('.gcg-age').prop('disabled', true); $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-age').prop('disabled', false); } var faraw = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-factor').data('fa'); var fbraw = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-factor').data('fb'); var fcraw = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-factor').data('fc'); var s = $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-score'); var age = parseFloat(a); var fa = parseFloat(faraw); var fb = parseFloat(fbraw); var fc = parseFloat(fcraw); //if(age > fa) fa = age; if (fc == 1) { var z1 = fa*v + fb ; $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-score').html(z1); } else if (fc > 1) { var z2 = fa*v + fb ; z2 = (fc - age)*z2; $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-score').html(z2); } else if (fc < 0) { var z2 = fa*v + fb ; z2 = (age + fc)*z2 $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-score').html(z2); } else if (fc == 0 && v > 4 && 4 < 26 ) { var z2 = fa*v + fb; $(elem).parent().parent().find('.gcg-score').html(z2); } //var score = 0; updatesum(); //console.log('v = ' + v); //console.log('fa = ' + fa); //console.log('fb = ' + fb); //console.log('z = ' + z); } function updatesum(){ var sum=0; $('td.gcg-score').each(function(){ //console.log('html = ' + $(this).html()); nval = 0; if ( undefined != $(this).html() && '' != $(this).html()) { nval = parseFloat($(this).html()); } if(nval != undefined && nval != NaN && nval != 0) { sum+=nval; //console.log('nval = ' + nval); } }); $('.gcg-result').show(); $('.gcg-error').hide(); $('.gcg-total-score').html(sum); if ( sum > 3000 ) { $('.gcg-lto').html('99.99%'); } else { var percent = 99.99 * (sum / 3000 ); $('.gcg-lto').html(percent.toFixed(2) + '%'); } sum = 0; $('input.gcg-week').each(function(){ //console.log('html = ' + $(this).html()); nval = 0; if ( undefined != $(this).val() && '' != $(this).val()) { nval = parseFloat($(this).val()); } if(nval != undefined && nval != NaN && nval != 0) { sum+=nval; console.log('nval = ' + nval); } }); $('.gcg-errorv').removeClass('gcg-errorv'); if ( sum > 60) { $('.gcg-error').show(); $('.gcg-result').hide(); $('input.gcg-week').addClass('gcg-errorv'); } } function addRows() { var row_data = '[ \ { \ "name": "Outsourcing", \ "desc": "Number of school topics not represented at home", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "8", \ "datafa" : "-20", \ "datafb" : "80", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "After School Math Programs", \ "desc": "Hours spent in a math center each week", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "10", \ "datafa" : "10", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "9" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Anti-Kumon", \ "desc": "Average number of math problems per week", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "300", \ "datafa" : ".5", \ "datafb" : "-1", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "10" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Sports", \ "desc": "Hours spent weekly in sports", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "5", \ "datafb" : "-20", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "-10" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Music", \ "desc": "Hours practicing weekly", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "30", \ "datafa" : "30", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Music Methods", \ "desc": "Youtub, playing together, self-instruction, plus number of song books and number of instruments", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "30", \ "datafa" : "12", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Music Listening", \ "desc": "Hours each week enjoying music", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "-2", \ "datafb" : "30", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Project Hours", \ "desc": "Number of weekly hours building things", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "12", \ "datafb" : "10", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "15" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Project Artifacts", \ "desc": "Number media to cut, paste and color ", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "30", \ "datafa" : "5", \ "datafb" : "-200", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "-15" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Art Hours", \ "desc": "Number of hours drawing and painting weekly", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "15", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Theater Camp", \ "desc": "Number of hours spent in camp weekly during the season", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "2", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "-6" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Theater at Home", \ "desc": "Number of hours performing at home weekly", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "9", \ "datafb" : "0", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Reading Hours", \ "desc": "Number of hours spent reading each week", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "60", \ "datafa" : "12", \ "datafb" : "5", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Vocabularhy Words", \ "desc": "Number of words on the Word Board", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "200", \ "datafa" : "2", \ "datafb" : "20", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "14" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Number of Graduate Degrees", \ "desc": "Number of graduate degrees of the parents", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "14", \ "datafa" : "100", \ "datafb" : "50", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Uncommon Actvities", \ "desc": "Number of hours working on super hard math or test prep", \ "step": ".1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "50", \ "datafa" : "120", \ "datafb" : "-200", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-week", "datafc" : "1" \ }, \ { \ "name": "Uncommon Problems", \ "desc": "Number of super hard math problems a week", \ "step": "1", \ "min": "0", \ "max" : "200", \ "datafa" : "-20", \ "datafb" : "600", \ "weekhrs" : "gcg-not", "datafc" : "0" \ } \ ]'; var template = "<tr> \ <td><b>NAME</b> <BR />DESC </td> \ <td>MAX</td> \ <td><input type='number' name='v1' step='STEP' min='MIN' max='MAX' class='gcg-value WEEKHRS' onchange='gcgChg(this)'/></td> \ <td><input type='number' step='.1' min='0' max='18' class='gcg-age' onchange='gcgChg(this)'/></td> \ <td class='gcg-factor' data-fa='DATAFA' data-fb='DATAFB' data-fc='DATAFC' >FACTOR</td><td class='gcg-score'></td></tr>"; var tb = $('table.gcg-score-table').find('tbody'); var rowd = $.parseJSON(row_data); for (var i = 0; i < rowd.length; i++) { var u = template; u = u.replace('NAME', rowd[i].name); u = u.replace('DESC', rowd[i].desc); u = u.replace('STEP', rowd[i].step); u = u.replace('MIN', rowd[i].min); u = u.replace('MAX', rowd[i].max); u = u.replace('MAX', rowd[i].max); u = u.replace('DATAFA', rowd[i].datafa); u = u.replace('DATAFB', rowd[i].datafb); u = u.replace('DATAFC', rowd[i].datafc); u = u.replace('WEEKHRS', rowd[i].weekhrs); var fct = ' m * value + b '; if (rowd[i].desc.indexOf("ours") >= 0) { fct = fct.replace('value', 'hours'); } fct = fct.replace('m', rowd[i].datafa); fct = fct.replace('b', rowd[i].datafb); //rowd[i].datafb + '* ( ' + rowd[i].datafa + ' - ' + rowd[i].datafc + ' )'; u = u.replace('FACTOR', fct); tb.append(u); //console.log(u); } } </script> Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com1tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-39655778931425831962018-07-14T06:43:00.002-07:002018-07-14T06:43:55.708-07:00A Child's Education <div class="gcg-article"> <p>Parents have a variety of approaches to education and these approaches will produce a variety of different children. Almost all of my readers fit into one of these categories or are trying to. Survey these approaches and rank yourself on each from 1 to 10. In the next article, I'm going to deliver the approach we all need to get to. </p><div class="gcg-subheading">Outsourcers</div> <p>Most parents think that education is the responsibility of the school and get upset when asked to push the wagon. When I say 'get upset', I mean 'express dismay during a parent teacher conference' when the teacher asks for help at home. Over 77% of parents fall into this category. The best outcome is average.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">Sports</div> <p>The next group of parents is the sports parents. One of my first articles logically stepped through an analysis of sports activities for young children. I observed this group extensively, the whole time wondering if my no sports policy between 3 and 7 was a bad idea. You become better at what you spend time on. I'm now seeing this group moving on to high school and college. I was right. 12 hours a week of T ball at age 5 doesn't produce college ready kids at 18. I love these kids and admire their parents. I would vote for them for political office. They make the world a better place. I wouldn't trust them with my health or finances.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">After School Math Programs</div> <p>The next level up the pyramid is the Kumon crowd. Many of my readers fall into this category. As the inventor of Anit-Kumon, I consider this group my primary competition in the Pedagogy Space. Like the sports group, it's a group of involved parents and really great kids. Unlike the sports group, these kids are college ready. At age 8. This group is split evenly between parents who do after school math programs because they work and are exhausted, and parents who after school math programs because they don't know any better. The tiger parents in this group will push their kids toward medicine, finance or law; end goal is Princeton. Somewhere between 6th and 12th grade the differences between Kumon and anti-Kumon are going to be obvious.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">Activities</div> <p>As we climb up the pyramid, next is the activities group. You can think of this group as Tools of the Mind, Executive Skills, and grit. Their kids take theater, art, and music. I've followed families that do this naturally, like art-theater-music-projects oozing out of their house on a daily basis with no effort. Observing these families is like walking into a musical. You never know when a song is going to break out. Their kids seem to do nothing and then just end up at the top. Recently I cornered a mom and high school sophomore in this category at a party and grilled them. The poor girl got as far as recounting the first few months of sophomore year and she already trounced the Stanford application process. When you go to a garage sale and see toys or games in the 7-9 range, it means the kids are 10-12. There are rarely Halloween costumes there, but they probably made them from scratch. Announce that you are not leaving the lawn until the parent goes back inside and produces some used costumes for sale. They will probably produce baby violins or guitars if you just ask. Once parent told me to walk by their dumpster that evening and I'll find a guitar on it.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">Readers</div> <p>Readers comprise the next group. These kids read 6 hours a day. The parents all say 'She just taught herself how to read'. They are lying. When you walk into the reader house, there are nothing but books and the parents read the same stack of board books over and over and over and over again on demand. Some parents have 4,000 books in their house. One parent has 4,000 books at 300,000 legos in the living room. Plus a couch and a chair crammed in. How do you compete with that? You don't. You get Exploding Kittens or Dungeons and Dragons, not to mention the Halloween costume box, and their kids invade your house like a Zombie Reader apocalypse. I used to open my front door and yell 'Norwood Play Date' and they would stumble out of their reading caves with arms outstretched because they are totally uncoordinated. They bruise easily, but the extra vocabulary exposure is worth the cost of an extra first aid kit for play dates.</p><p>I consider this group my personal Nemeses. I think I put the most time into closing this gap.</p><p>The downside of being in this group is that your kids generally stink at math and have a hard time passing the COGAT. These kids tend to get their revenge in high school and show no weaknesses in advanced math. But the benefits show up someday, not now.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">The PhD Crowd</div> <p>I don't know what to say about the joint PhD parents and their kids. I'm proud of our extra work in science and I think I can produce a grade school child with rudimentary high school science skills. Then I talk to a kid from the PhD family and its obvious that he's already thinking at the graduate physics level. If there is such a thing as a skill that consists of being friends with kids from PhD families, we're cultivating it. Someone has to take their ideas to market.</p><div class="gcg-subheading">Putting it Altogether</div> <p>To be on the safe side, a child needs everything. A little sports - very little, a bit of Kumon worked into Anit-Kumon, hopefully the Kumon part is outsourced to school, as much music-theater-art-projects as we can cram into our schedule, and a social engineering program that puts my kids squarely into the nerd groups. I have a stack of used instruments that we bought at garage sales and a piano, an enormous box of Halloween costumes that I've accumulated by the dozens each October, 4 box cutters, 7 types of glue, a dozen roles of painting and duct tape, and every appliance or furniture box, and an entire closet full of feathers, googly eyes, and anything else I can find at Michaels.</p> <p>Back at age 3, when I was contemplating walking or driving to a soccer camp that a dad put together for 3 year olds, I was also contemplating what type of an education I wanted my child to receive. Age 3 is a good time to prepare for age 4. I tried lots of education at age 3, and none of it worked. We also tried the soccer camp. I spent my time interviewing parents with older kids until my socially awkward skills became annoying. Then I just stood their in the corner finalizing my education goals. I want a child who discovers an advanced book on some arcane math or science topic, reads it on his own, and then explains it to me. </p> <p>In my next article, I'm going to provide the WHAM.</p> </div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('imageanchor', ''); $('.pkp-image').click(function () {$('.pkp-anchor').click();}); $('.sscc-image').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-22447168648761331282018-06-24T09:31:00.000-07:002018-06-24T09:31:18.515-07:00Teaching Styles and Learning Styles<div class="gcg-article"><p>On my other website, I'm working on a piece on grit. There is no formula for grit yet, except for the one I use, so that's what the article is about. The other site is published only once a month, which gives me a few weeks to get every book and research paper on the topic to determine whether or not I'm right. </p><p>Almost all of the research investigates grit for high end private schools for over-privileged children of high strung parents, kids in the bottom quartile, and rats. However, there is some really cool work out there. </p><p>Alfie Kohn demonstrates in The Myth of the Spoiled Child that everything that's ever been written about children is completely invalid. For example, 70% of survey respondents report that other parents are overprotective helicopter parents, but 95% of survey respondents report that they are personally not overprotective. In other words, the myth of helicopter parents is a myth. There is a wealth of literature going back 2700 years complaining that today's generation is worse than the previous one, education standards have slipped, and schools are failing. In other words, the good old days of education involved carbon drawings on a cave. </p><p>Paul Touch does a very thorough job of cataloging contemporary grit research for older kids in How Children Succeed. He mentions Tools of the Mind for little kids in the context of the bottom quartiles. What happens when you apply Tools of the Mind training to kids who are probably going to end up in a GAT program? I think I'm the only one who tried this. The answer is you get a 9 year old who learns Algebra I from final exams. </p><p>I recommend everyone read <a href="https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/2010a_bpea_ramey.pdf">The Rug Rat Race</a> by Ramey & Ramey and start freaking out about college now. I don't think the conclusions of this paper are solid for the broader population, but it's likely that they apply to the authors' cohort, which includes me and my readers. </p><div class="gcg-subheading">On to the topic for today</div><p>Lately, readers have been asking about how I teach. What is the approach? What is my teaching style? Fortunately, no one asked about children's learning styles. A child's learning style is an adaptation to whatever teaching style I happen to be experimenting with. They can apply their own preferred learning style when they follow their own pursuits. They're not going to learn how to learn by sticking with their own preferred learning style. That's called not learning.</p><p>My preferred teaching style is a range between nothing and spoon feeding. </p><p>On the not helping end of the spectrum, I will wait hours while the child flounders over and over again, and over and over again I ask to the child to read the question to me again and explain it. I spend most of my time focusing on this exercise early on because it builds a rare set of skills. With kids who are just starting down the GAT path, kids who are currently at about 50%, we might spend 6 to 12 weeks doing math word problems in this way. It's painful for both coach and child, but it's the fastest way to produce results. It might appear that the child is learning nothing. </p><p>The next step is to help the child by presenting other problems, easier problems, one-step problems, but problems that capture the topic being learned. For example, suppose we're struggling with 1/2 * 20 with a child who doesn't know either multiplication or fractions. We'll start with 'half of one' and 'half of two' and just work our way up to the problem. In this category of teaching, I also like to approach problems by asking 'You do anything you can think of and then we'll find out what the question is asking', especially with all things geometry. </p><p>I may present the problem in 19 different ways. You never know which one will stick. I had to do that a lot with counting, with addition, with anything in Shape Size Color Count. I may take a break, and then that night try yet another approach with beans on the dinner plate, or with the stuffed animals. </p><p>When we did Every Day Math Grade 2, at the wholly inappropriate age of 5, without bothering to do 1st grade math, we would get to a topic and put progress on hold for a week while we did some 1st grade math worksheets to cover a topic more thoroughly until we come back to the 2nd grade presentation. </p><p>On the reading and vocabulary front, I like to throw a whole bunch of content at once to the hapless student, and then spend the next 3 weeks sorting it out. Usually with reading and with vocab, I'm more than happy to provide answers, but the content is about 1000% of what is needed to answer the question, and the child is now on the hook for anything I just mentioned. What does 'tube' mean? The Word Board might get whacked with a dozen plumbing terms and we might spend two days on wiki. </p><p>If I know that the child is going to see the material again (and again and again) later in the book, and if the child is having a bad day, I'll not only tell the child how to do it, I'll do it myself. On numerous occasions, I do have done entire worksheets. Sometimes, I explain the whole topic, as in here's how a fraction works. Sometimes, I don't. I'm not going to run out of challenging topics for the child to figure out solo. </p><div class="gcg-subheading">What I never do</div>Unless we are backtracking, or tackling a new vocab unit, I never do more than a handful of problems. Never more than 5 in math or test prep. My favorite number is one. If the child is working on one big problem, you've got problem solving, cognitive skills, executive skills, grit, and learning all taking place at once. Unfortunately, it's hard to keep a child at that level, but I've managed to find hard but not undoable material with 4 or 5 problems that will exhaust the child' brain in 15 to 25 minutes. </p><p>The two tests we need to tackle are the COGAT and MAP. Neither of these have a time limit. The worst thing you can do is teach the child how to do 20 problems in one sitting; an exercise like this is strengthening the wrong skill set - the go fast and ignore minor details and subtleties. This is no way to teach a thinker how to learn. If a child routinely tackles 3 or 5 problems at a time, they'll have no problem getting the more mundane parts of school work done, but on any decent test or school assignment, there's that one piece that differentiates thinkers. A child speeding along will miss it. </p><div class="gcg-subheading">Putting it all together</div><p>Once we get past the first 6 weeks of crying, and there is usually crying when the child figures out that parenty is not going to do the work for them, then you can put it all together. Start with today's 5 problems. Let the kid do them. Then do them again together. On problems with a correct answer, ask the child to prove it, and with problems that have an incorrect answer, pick one, or more, or all of the above approaches. </div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-1153741360026468362018-06-21T20:00:00.000-07:002018-06-21T20:00:15.189-07:00Math Grit<div class="gcg-article"><p>Yesterday, I stopped by my neighbor's house. The neighbors have 4 boys. The day I showed up to unlock the building and begin moving many years ago, a neighbor showed up to introduce herself and the rest of the block. She pointed to each house and named them. When she pointed to the house with 4 boys, she said 'They have 4 boys', so I walked into that house and offered the 12 year old $100 if he would help me move. Twelve hours later he limped home to die. </p><p>The boys are all out of college. The 2nd oldest returned to his parents home to get ready for graduate school. We chatted. He announced that he intends to teach high school math. </p><p>After a brief moment of silence, I explained what's wrong with education and how I had to create my own pedagogy to fix it. </p><p>All of the top performers have one skill set that sets them above their peers. I'll call it Math Grit. <ul><li>They are not put off by complicated unsolvable problems.</li><li>They spend more time reading the question than trying to solve it.</li><li>They chug along event after 5 wrong answers in a row.</li><li>Since they get the answer wrong so often they always check.</li></ul></p><p>There is very little in school curriculum before high school that requires these skills. By then it's too late for most kids. </p><p>The only way to teach this skill set is to work on hard material that takes a long time and has a high error rate. I'm a fan of 1 problem a day that requires going to wiki or Khan to find out what a rational number is or how to do square roots, or if your kids are older, what a coefficient of correlation is. In the mistakes and confusion, a host of really powerful cognitive skills are born. I have a running list of these subskills and they are quiet amazing to see in practice. With test prep math we have fun arguing about what the sentence mean and whose answer is correct based on each person's twisted version of the question. </p><p>If you train your child to do math one baby step at a time, like Kumon or another after school program, I don't see how your child will get this skill set. <BR />Lately I've been laying out a program for fourth through 7th grade. The early years provide the foundation. <ul><li>Pre-K - all phonics and shapes, or as I think of it, pre-cognitive skills test prep</li><li>K & 1 - cognitive skills</li><li>Throw in 6 months of a math book that's current + 2</li><li>2nd and 3rd grade - Test Prep Math</li><li>4th grade - snippets of algebra, geometry and trig</li><li>After 4th grade we're going to thoroughly do Algebra 1. I needed to start another blog to do this.</li></ul></p><div class="gcg-ad"><div class="gcg-adclick"><a href="https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=5703568807615263851#clickdest" onclick="javascript:$('.gcg-adclick-target').show();">Click here for references.</a> </div><div class="gcg-adclick-target" style="display: none;"><div style="text-align: center;"><ul><li> <a class="pkp-anchor" href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-2/dp/1530186234" imageanchor="1" name="clickdest"> <img border="0" class="pkp-image" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VimShjs5fUg/WtsnG-OsC8I/AAAAAAAACzA/_HYPbpB-CF4tVO_beSZn5nb-oLjLas5oACK4BGAYYCw/s320/Test%2BPrep%2BMath%2BLevel%2B2.JPG" width="247" /></a> <br /> <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-2/dp/1530186234">Test Prep Math 3</a> </li><li> <a class="sscc-image" href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-3/dp/1547120010" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HimEyQYFHW0/WtsnIWZEJNI/AAAAAAAACzI/-QJKuBkzfUIiOyj4j3CM4ay2Zw_0nc6lwCK4BGAYYCw/s320/TestPrepMath3.JPG" width="248" /></a> <br /> <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-3/dp/1547120010">Test Prep Math Level 3</a> </li></ul></div></div></div><p>Both of these books have a figure matrices section that goes a little overboard. I was frustrated that COGAT test prep books for older kids present material at about the K or 1st grade level. I've never seen rigorous quantitative training at the 99% level, so I created it. There's too much at stake to shoot for 95%. Cognitive skills are the foundation of learning. The COGAT measures these skills, and school districts choose children for GAT programs based on the COGAT. Therefore, it logically follows that children who are prepared for the COGAT, aka have the skills that the test measures, will do well in all subjects, including math. </p><p><div class="gcg-subheading">Next Steps </div><p>My 4th grade curriculum starts with basic alegbraic manipulation, e.g. solving 5(x + 2) = -7(36 - x). According to my 2 foot high stack of algebra books, this is only part of the deal, but it got us beyond the MAP test and opened doors in geometry and trig. By the way, algebra books stink. They all teach the steps to solve each problem instead of teaching problem solving. </p><p>You can't just hand your child one of the new York Regency exams and expect a solution for 'Find the correlation coefficient for the best linear fit...' if your child doesn't know what 'correlation coefficient' or 'linear fit' mean. Unless your child spent 2nd and 3rd grade preparing for this. Yesterday, my Test Prep Math graduate explained how he got 80% of the questions right even though he didn't know what most of it meant. </p></div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('imageanchor', ''); $('.pkp-image').click(function () {$('.pkp-anchor').click();}); $('.sscc-image').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-31741288378797672472018-06-09T12:35:00.001-07:002018-06-09T13:27:13.468-07:00Vocabulary Rich, Math Rich<div class="gcg-article"><p>As I mentioned in the last article, vocabulary has a big impact on test scores and math. It appears to be the single biggest factor. Vocabulary is a thread that runs through all the sections of the COGAT including figure and quantitative programs. In the over the top GAT preparation program, vocabulary is front and center. </p><p>I know quite a few little GAT machines who a) have parents who don't speak English and b) are vocabulary powerhouses. How did they get there? The answer is simple. They read a lot. Plus both of their parents have multiple graduate degrees from the Ukraine or Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. They also do a lot of test prep. But they read a lot.</p><p>Vocabulary occupies most of our time starting at age 3.9. It is one of our core courses at home, the other two being math and cognitive skills building. Once we passed the GAT hurdle, cognitive skills building became cognitively taxing math, we stopped doing normal math, and vocabulary continued until about 2nd grade, at which time the little brains are capable of vacuuming words like the vacuum at the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1281.html">NASA Glenn Research Center.</a>. </p><p>The process of mastering the conceptual use of vocabulary happens simply as a derivative of learning a lot of words. Tests measure conceptual mastery. Kids pick up the individual words. Something happens in between and I am aware of only two exercises that can help. </p><p>I have always put a lot of words out there. I invented the Word Board originally as a reminder for me to use the words that we were learning; the Word Board went on the refrigerator because it's a high traffic area. The fact that it turned out to be such a powerful skills development tool wasn't as important as my attempt to be a more responsible GAT parent. Once my kids got a hang of 10 or 20 weekly vocab words, I started adding synonyms to maintain the correct level of challenge (which happens to be a 50% error rate). At the same time, we started math in Pre-K by plowing through math vocabulary through 2nd grade, with the exception of any concept we would cover later, like multiplication. </p><p><div class="gcg-ad"> <div class="gcg-adclick"> <a href="#clickdest" onclick="javascript:$('.gcg-adclick-target').show();">Click here to see our curriculum at age 4</a> </div> <div class="gcg-adclick-target" style="display:none"> <div style="text-align: center;"> <ul> <li> <a class="pkp-anchor" name="clickdest" href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JubWfNBcK-Q/WuYVhJq-hiI/AAAAAAAAC-M/cLY2uFZ1BBYLSH4-t2lghyyse4BwUGinwCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Thinking.jpg" imageanchor="1"> <img class="pkp-image" border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JubWfNBcK-Q/WuYVhJq-hiI/AAAAAAAAC-M/cLY2uFZ1BBYLSH4-t2lghyyse4BwUGinwCK4BGAYYCw/s320/Thinking.jpg" width="247" /></a> <BR /> <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X">Click here for fabulous phonics</a> </li> <li> <a class="sscc-image" href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t6JfSBMVkA0/Wu9Ruz2pPkI/AAAAAAAADCA/fSQpzca2d08Ufz9twBikZafX3L1EXQp4QCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/sscc.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t6JfSBMVkA0/Wu9Ruz2pPkI/AAAAAAAADCA/fSQpzca2d08Ufz9twBikZafX3L1EXQp4QCK4BGAYYCw/s320/sscc.jpg" width="248" /></a> <BR /> <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X/">The Math Side of the Equation</a> </li> </ul> </div> </div></div></p><p>The first exercise is 'prove' it. If at the Word Board, my child said that 'shaded' means a 'a darker color', but he said this because it's the exact same thing I said the day before, then I'm not convinced he knows what it means, and I want examples, synonyms, opposites and why anyone would shade anything. I would randomly demand 'prove it' like a Word Board despot if a GAT test were approaching. </p><p>The other exercise is to buy an analogies book or do the analogies sections from Building Thinking Skills or similar test prep material. If your child is 6 or 7 or older and struggling with a verbal score, an analogies book is a good place to start. There are no challenging versions of this material on the market. It's at the 50% level. But one or two analogies books are a good start and describe the basic elements of the word matrix and which one doesn't belong questions you'll find on the GAT test. It is up to you as a parent to provide the other 1,000 words your child might need. </p><div class="gcg-subheading">A Note on Math </div><p>Both kids promised to try this year on the MAP test, and both math scores don't appear on the 2015 RIT charts. It's a good start, but I think we can do better. We maintained about 45 minutes of week of math practice going into the test, about 15 minutes a day 3 days a week. We take specific subjects or unusual problems and have a quick discussion, followed by problem solving or possibly arguing. Since Every Day Math grade 2 in Kindergarten, we haven't really studied math. It was more of an exercise in dealing with something new. Once we covered logs because I happened to see it on the web one day. I love logs. It's backwards thinking and extra work, like square roots and Roman numerals. The level of discourse is on par with a graduate level lecture, and I don't hold back on the terminology, syntax, or sentence length. </p><p>When we did Pre-K phonics and Shape Size Color Count, it was all about how hard the kids had to think to get the latest in a stream of age-inappropriate concepts. That's what we practiced, and that's the skill they picked up. I had no idea that there would be a huge payoff down the road. </p></div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X'); $('.pkp-anchor').attr('imageanchor', ''); $('.pkp-image').click(function () {$('.pkp-anchor').click();}); $('.sscc-image').attr('href', 'https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-28119662802575876142018-06-02T08:24:00.004-07:002018-06-09T11:10:20.160-07:00The Big DealI need some catching eye candy for today's article. Something like 'What every lazy GAT parent who want their child to excel at a top school avoiding the work it takes to get there needs to know'.<br /><br />As mentioned previously, I'm trolling for useful research articles on this topic. When I say 'avoiding the work' I really mean 'working a lot and changing how you do things', but for the child it's mainly chores and a few well spent minutes each day. Like 15. Or 25.<br /><br />I was shocked and surprised to see an article entitled <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180517194747.htm" target="_blank">Want to Help our child succeed in school? Add language to the math, reading mix</a> last week. The first time I read this article, I dismissed it because this information has been known since 1911 and I based 2 of my books on it, Pre-K Phonics Conceptual Vocabulary and Thinking or Pre-K Phonics Vocabulary and Conceptual Thinking - don't remember which, and Shape Size Color Count. Both books have vocab up to 2nd grade. Vocab is the key. I've said it about 372 times. Vocab Workshop starts in K. How many times have I recommended this as part of the curriculum?<br /><br />I encourage all of you to read this article. Let me summarize the findings for you. Language predicts success in reading and math and social skills. Language going into K predicts academic progress for the next 6 years. Not much else does.<br /><br />Problem solving skills were not part of this study, nor an emphasis on kids at the 90-95 level, but you can't have everything in one study unless you are desperate to get your child into a GAT program. The article also mentioned that children who entered K ahead showed less gains than children who entered behind. Shame on those parents for dropping the ball.<br /><br />I'm going to extend these results from my own findings.<br /><br /><ul><li>If you overdo language from age 4 to 6, your child will be really, really far ahead in everything. If you didn't do this, put up the Word Board for the next 2 years and catch up.</li><li>If you add problem solving skills to the mix, and you should, you're can get the child to the point where high performance is effortless. This is my new goal.</li></ul><div>I'd like to thank David Lohman for pointing out that vocabulary is 75% of the COGAT, and for making the COGAT a hurdles for GAT programs. I once wrote put didn't publish an article entitled 'Is David Lohman Evil?' When I compare my child's recent scores to the MAP test score chart, the scores are not on the chart. That's what I'm talking about. Conclusion - David Lohman is not evil, he just is not in charge of making COGAT skills part of education curriculum.</div><div><br /></div><div>Lately, the other one has been precalculating the minimum needed to get to his selective enrollment high school and quitting once he gets there. Arrrgggghhh. It looks like he's there with some room to spare, and he was kind enough to blow away the math portion; we had some gaps in this area and he made an effort at my request. Then he turned around and sluffed off on the reading which is his strong subject. More about that in my new blog, competitiveparentmagazine.com. I bought the url next week and will be launching soon. These articles are hard to read on a phone. </div><div><br /></div><div>I'm really excited about the dynamic between reading and math at age 4 as it grows until about age 10. I've got about 20 articles on this topic to write. On the other hand, high school is looming and I have a goal of breezing through a rigorous AP program with a few minutes of homework a night. That's the official goal, but it belongs in another website.</div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-84324892713894073412018-05-19T09:38:00.000-07:002018-06-09T11:12:18.792-07:00100% GAT GuaranteedThere is a 100% guaranteed chance that your child will meet their GAT goals if you just follow the secret formula.<br /><br />Last week, I surveyed the last few years of education and cognitive psych research. Most of this is funded by the NIH and NSF and a few new government acronyms. I did not find a single paper with a research topic that is pertinent to learning, early education, or what it takes to succeed academically. There were a few papers about how to learn cognitive skills by researchers who obviously have never met a child before. An actual parent learns more in 10 minutes of trying to teach their child how to read CAT than any 3 papers on learning.<br /><br />So when I say there's 100% chance your child can become GAT, it's simply due to the depressing situation that the United States is against teaching pre-school kids any useful skills.<br /><br />If you take any paper title, and add 'because we don't teach our 4 year old's to read' you will have an accurate picture of education in the United States. I downloaded the papers from research.gov and found things like 'Comparing a practice based curriculum to an experiential curriculum ... because we don't teach our children to read', or 'Evaluating training methods for teachers...because we don't teach our children how to read.' There quite a few reform minded engineering education papers that should end with '...because we spend too much time spoon feeding math instead of teaching problem solving skills'.<br /><br />When is the United States going to wake up and realize that spending $300 million each year trying to figure out how teachers can make up for lack of reading at home is a waste of money?<br /><br />Jim Trelease, the author of The Read Aloud Handbook and hero to many GAT parents, bemoaned the fact that he went to Washington and was drummed out of town for being an advocate of reading in school.<br /><br />You know that the secret formula for GAT is simply to start acting like a GAT family, make your child read, learning problem solving skills, do some advanced math on a routine basis, and have completely different attitude about the whole endeavor which you can find in my articles. Many parents blow it by confusing lots of work with making progress, when in fact the more classes you go to and the more workbooks you do, the less skills your child will end up with. The irony.<br /><br />I should probably mention this distinction instead of assume it. Non-GAT children score really high on tests and get A's in school because they have memorized and practiced their way to a high level of academic achievement. GAT children score really high on tests and get A's in school because they've learned the skills to figure out things on the spot with no prior work. Think of GAT children as lazy underperformers who know how to cheat without help. I don't know any kids in a GAT program who are simply hard workers, but I know a lot of kids trying to get into GAT programs who spend a lot of time sitting in classes and doing worksheets.<br /><br />This is an important distinction because GAT children, who will invent things and solve unsolved problems need to know where all of the Non-GAT children are so they can hire them to actually do the work.<br /><br />Speaking of GAT, yesterday I found out that my 7th grader is more prepared for college than 63% of high school juniors and seniors in the US. If you've been following my articles recently, you know why I know this and also why I'm reluctant to discuss it. My second thought was 'I need to publish what we did because it was really cool' and my third thought was 'but I can't right now because the little brother wants to go to Stanford'.<br /><br />My first thought was - Oh my gosh, his reading score is higher than his math score. That on it's own is the single biggest determiner of success. I'm really proud. I think I had tears in my eyes. We spent a lot of time working on that over the last 2 years and it's really hard. I wasn't even going to try, but I keep getting emails from someone who is doing EDM Grade 2 with her little one, and it's a constant reminder of why, how, and yeah you can do it. It always pays off. Next year we're going to spend 100% of our time on writing - no math at all.<br /><br />This weekend, we have to fill in some gaps in math, but getting a high score in math is not hard. We have a permanent advantage here, practically cheating. Thanks to Test Prep Math in 2nd, 3rd, and a bit of fourth grade, we spent all of our time at this age on thinking skills and zero time on decimals and long division. There's no question this is behind the reading score as well. This means that I've got a child with the skills to learn 3 or 4 new maths in about 5 days. I know we covered this stuff before, but we don't really practice it. It's more just fun looking at and figuring out confusing things, which is what GAT is all about.<br /><br />We went through each missed question, and here's how the conversation went:<br /><br />What is the answer to this question you missed.<br /><br /><i>It's B.</i><br /><br />Why did you mark A?<br /><br /><i>Because my brain was fried by the half way point.</i><br /><br />Ok, that's fair. Why did you miss this one?<br /><br /><i>Because I don't know what f(0, 3) means.</i><br /><br />I don't either. (If any readers know what this is, please leave a comment. I have no idea. Is it supposed to be a multivariate question? How is a 7th grader taking the SAT supposed to know that?)<br /><br />What about this question?<br /><br /><i>How am I supposed to do that?</i><br /><i><br /></i>We've got 5 days to figure it out.<br /><br />Most of the questions on the math section we're very tricky in a strictly verbal way, as in spending a lot of time reading the question, even for me, and keeping 3 distinct concepts in working memory and coordinated. There was very little in the way of advanced math.<br /><br />Let's back up a little and you can see why I'm not really all that worried about the math section:<br /><br /><ol><li>Son some how gets into GAT program even though his score is 10 points behind cutoff. I'm not kidding. The school was desperate to fill the seat a month after school started. We were dumb enough to accept.</li><li>Parent decides it would be nice if other child could go there to cut down on driving each day. Plus parent frantic about other son surviving his program which turned out to be accelerated by 2 years. What a cataclysmic disaster that could have been.</li><li>Parent reads papers from author of COGAT, notes that working memory and reading are really important.</li><li>Parent reads 5,000 pages of other research on problem solving and determines that heavy doses of confusion also play a role, not to mention core problem solving skills.</li><li>Parent notes that all math books are spoon-feeding and devoid of problem solving skills and working memory.</li><li>Parent writes 4 math books that are all confusion and problem solving. More verbal than math. 4th math book is a phonics book. Now you know.</li><li>Parent's totally unprepared 7th grader does well on college entrance exam, well enough to go to college, just not Harvard.</li><li>Parent looks at test and answers (they do that nowadays) and finds a 100% correlation between early training and current test. I've explained in past articles why this is the case - advanced math is not a good predictor of college success, overcoming trickery is.</li><li>Parent hides good advice on bottom of blog articles and does no marketing at all on books.</li><li>Younger brother who gets all of the benefits of older brother's experiments is going to send his 7th grade test scores to Stanford.</li></ol><div>Then I'll go public.</div><div><br /></div><div>The 7th grader last night asked if he could take AP calculus in high school. </div><div><br /></div><div>He meant freshman year.</div><div><br /></div><div>It broke my heart to tell him 'No, probably not until sophomore or junior year without summer school, but when you take it I don't expect it to be hard.' He's just too darn slow at math to skip high school trig.<br /><br /> </div><br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><br /></div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com6tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-83424741371651141092018-05-06T13:27:00.001-07:002018-06-09T11:12:29.397-07:00Competitive Parent Magazine Issue #1<div style="background-color: #d49a6a; color: #003333; font-size: 3em; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px; text-align: center;">Competitive Parent Magazine</div><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="display: inline-block; text-align: center; width: 45%;">Sunday, May 6 2018</div><div style="display: inline-block; text-align: center; width: 45%;">Issue #1</div></div><div style="color: #404040; font-size: 0.9em; margin: 20 10 30 10;"><br />So little time, so many topics. I've referenced Competitive Parent Magazine in the past because it has an annual award called The Pettie that I usually win after careful consideration by the panel of judge, who is me. This year is probably going to be different, because there are parents out there fighting battles that leave me in awe. But we just sat for the SAT. For fun. Anyway, I've taken this week's articles and added them all to the inaugural issue of Competitive Parent Magazine.<br /><br /></div><div style="background-color: #fff8e8; color: #003333; padding: 5 0 5 0;"><div style="text-align: center;"><b>In this issue</b> </div><ul style="list-style-type: square; margin-left: 10%;"><li>Teaching Half Matrices to 4 Year Olds</li><li>Start Your Rigorous Summer GAT Program Now</li><li>Putting the Skittles and the PS4 In The Closet</li><li>Northwestern & Duke Summer Programs</li><li>Trig at Age 9 - A Bookend</li><li>Developing a Writer</li></ul></div><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">Teaching Half Matrices to 4 Year Olds </div></div>A Power Mom asked me this question: <i>Are 4 year olds expected to 'get it' with the halving and doubling in Shape Size Color Count? My 4 year old isn't getting it.</i> <br /><br />I've been delaying answering in the hopes that he gets it. I've worked with this boy before and he's extremely bright. The answer is of course no and yes, and it is a very good example of what it takes to develop cognitive skills at any age. <br /><br />For starters, let's jump ahead in Shape Size Color Count to lesson 85. The premise behind half matrices is simple:<br /><br /><ul><li>They're on the COGAT. We needed a score of 99.8 to get into a GAT program.</li><li>My 3.92 year old didn't get it the whole multi-step matrice problem, not even the counting.</li><li>The COGAT loves ambiguity, and a numeric transformation of 2 could in fact be a numeric transformation of double, but you won't know until you check the answer set.</li><li>Doubling is good for 90%. A higher score needs to delve into tripling and quadrupling. Not that quadrupling is on the COGAT, but that level of thinking is.</li></ul>Here's what I'm talking about. I had double up on the quant questions because the color printing costs are so high, and it's worth it.<br /><br /><div style="background-color: #fff8e8; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; padding: 20 5 20 5; text-align: center;"><div style="display: inline; max-width: 500px; min-width: 380px; padding: 20 5 20 5; text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r3ObE05Kel8/Wu9L8mviddI/AAAAAAAADBk/iJE0ZUER14U4D0ZmoLWLym6mTXeAWM1TACK4BGAYYCw/s1600/SSCC1.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="max-width: 500px; min-width: 380px;"><img border="0" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-r3ObE05Kel8/Wu9L8mviddI/AAAAAAAADBk/iJE0ZUER14U4D0ZmoLWLym6mTXeAWM1TACK4BGAYYCw/s320/SSCC1.JPG" style="max-width: 500px;" width="100%" /></a> </div><div style="display: inline; max-width: 500px; min-width: 380px; padding: 20 5 20 5; text-align: center;"><a href="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uZ0M82Bwum4/Wu9L_lt0tbI/AAAAAAAADBs/UjrbTdiwBdsVH06t2hMNAGaHhYV4sjS_ACK4BGAYYCw/s1600/SSCC2.JPG" imageanchor="1" style="max-width: 500px; min-width: 380px;"><img border="0" src="https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uZ0M82Bwum4/Wu9L_lt0tbI/AAAAAAAADBs/UjrbTdiwBdsVH06t2hMNAGaHhYV4sjS_ACK4BGAYYCw/s320/SSCC2.JPG" style="max-width: 500px;" width="100%" /></a> </div></div><br />By this time, the child knows what -2 and thirds mean, as well as what a blob fish is. The problem is getting there. Here are some ground rules: <br /><ul><li>A single problem like this for a 4 year old might be a 20 minute affair, but could also take multiple days.</li><li>We practiced halving and doubling in our spare time with pennies, fingers, stuffed animals.</li><li>As soon as a 4 year old really gets it, he will crush you tomorrow by totally forgetting it.</li><li>Something is going on in that brain and none of us know what.</li><li>I've never worked with a child who struggled as much as my child did, but if you want to see the outcome, read the article about Trig below.</li></ul>Cognitive skills don't increase unless the work taxes the skills. Work that taxes cognitive skills results in floundering, forgetting, wrong answers, and multiple attempts.<br /><br />This is hard on most parents. It's much more gratifying to watch your child blow through 20 easy Kumon problems. Most parents won't get their kids past the 98% cuttoff to get into a GAT program because they take the easy route. I think this book took us 2 passes and will take at least 3 months. Maybe 6. It depends on how early you start and how far along your child is counting on her fingers.<br /><br />Like all material, eventually the child gets there, and when he gets there, he has a formidable skill set. In this case, we ended up with a Visual Number sense, which I didn't even know was possible. Ideally, SSCC graduates will do arithmetic on sight. This will create a foundation more more advanced skills that is super powerful. <br /><br />For the first half of the book, we really struggled. After that, we really struggled to get through a single question in 15 minutes. There was lots of discussion and taking breaks to review halving and doubling. If you are looking for an easy repetitive book that magically puts your child above 97% on the COGAT, keep looking. Until then, if your child is in the early months of age 4, this is it:<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t6JfSBMVkA0/Wu9Ruz2pPkI/AAAAAAAADCA/fSQpzca2d08Ufz9twBikZafX3L1EXQp4QCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/sscc.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-t6JfSBMVkA0/Wu9Ruz2pPkI/AAAAAAAADCA/fSQpzca2d08Ufz9twBikZafX3L1EXQp4QCK4BGAYYCw/s320/sscc.jpg" width="248" /></a><br /><div text-align:center=""><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X/">Click here to super charge quantitative skills</a></div></div><br /><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">Start Your Rigorous Summer GAT Program Now</div></div>Summer is a good time to start your GAT training program.<br /><br />Get a stack of material, including:<br /><br /><ul><li>Rigorous, challenging cognitive skills building thinking material</li><li>Some age-inappropriate math to struggle through, like something your child will see in school in a few years</li><li>Some easier workbooks for backtracking, a bad day, or for doing alone because you're busy.</li></ul><div>Create some ground rules and goals. In this house, the ground rules are 'No math, no computer', where math can be anything. I've added chores to the daily regimen because kids who do chores have a better attitude toward academic work. (Someone explain to me the relationship between vacuuming and problem solving.) My goals are simply 15 to 25 minutes of hard core thinking each day on something.</div><div><br /></div><div>Once you've got that together, you're ready for the next step. Summer is a good time to start your program, but immediately is even better. I'd like to do a study on GAT outcomes for children of parents who start immediately, as in open the box from Amazon assign the first page. The control groups would be parents who start the 1st day of summer school. I already know what the conclusion of this study will look like. </div><div><br /></div><br /><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">Putting the Skittles and the PS4 In The Closet</div></div>The approach to academic work varies between age 4 and graduate school only in the amount of quality concentration and thinking that the child is capable of. A 4 year old is good for 15 minutes a day, maybe 3 or 4 days a week. A 4 year old has a lot of bad days where thinking is thwarted by hunger, sickness, exhaustion, and the parent accidentally yelling at the child for curling up in a ball under the table. A 3rd grade child is good for daily work, maybe 20 or 25 minutes a day.<br /><br />The approach and methodology for problem solving does not change between age 4 and graduate school. I announced this definitively a few years ago based on working with a 4 year old and a 7 year old. It was a bold assertion.<br /><br />Here is the logic underneath my assertion. My cognitive skills research started with problem solving with IT engineers, graduate school work, and worked backward through high school geometry proofs (thanks Poyla) and down to age 3.9. It was all the same: be baffled, make mistakes, ignore the solutions (it's about thinking, not finding out the answer), trying again.<br /><br />Here I am thousands of hours and hundreds of kids later, with kids covering the age range, and two of my own that are 5 years older, and I can announce with much more confidence that in fact there is no difference at all. Older children are only good for 25 minutes of really hard core top notch thinking. But the material needs 90 minutes of start up time and more routine work. They only appear to work for 2 solid hours, but when they've gotten through the 25 minutes of really challenging problem solving, they are worthlesss.<br /><br />This week, the PS4 went into the closet. I discovered that I have a 13 year old who follows me around - brace yourself for this - talking to me.<br /><br /><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="font-weight: bold; text-align: center;">Northwestern and Duke Summer Programs</div></div>I wish I had a picture of the 14 grade school kids who took the SAT last week, but security escorted me out of the building. I think 13 of these were there to qualify for the programs at Duke and Northwestern.<br /><br />Duke has an online program now. If you ask me if you should enroll your child in this program (assuming you pass the rigorous qualification) my answer is definitively yes.<br /><br />The reason we're not personally interested in these programs is because our GAT program is rigorous enough. I think it's the top program in the country. I personally know many graduates who are breezing through one of the top 10 high school programs in the country without really trying. The other reason is that my kids would rather shoot arrows at camp during the summer and I'm more interested in a path to graduate school than advanced chemistry at Northwestern, which we're doing on the side anyway as needed.<br /><br />If you ask me how you get your child past the entrance criteria and into the program, you're asking how do you hone your child's cognitive skills to a very high level.<br /><br /><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Trig at Age 9 - A Bookend</b></div></div>Let's revisit the very first graduate of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/154130375X" target="_blank">Shape Size Color Count</a> and both <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1530186234" target="_blank">Test Prep Math Level 2</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1547120010" target="_blank">Test Prep Math Level 3</a> because he's bothering me while I'm trying to type. I hate having to go to amazon to get these links because of that 1 star rating from a plumber (I'm not kidding) on TPM who said that the solutions were wrong. You're not going to get to 99% on the MAP test for the rest of your life with solutions that are obvious in a book that spends 6 pages explaining why each problem is designed for mistakes and repeated attempts. Either he needs to do the problem again or the author does. That's the nature of cognitive skills building<br /><br />In order to keep my 9 year old out of my hair, I drew a few triangles, introduced him (once again) to the sine/cosine unit circle do-it-yourself-with the Pythagorean theorem-calculator, and asked him to tell me everything that is missing. When I say 'calculator' I mean 'without a calculator'.<br /><br />You'd think he'd remember this from 6 weeks ago when we did the exact same thing. It's like age 4 all over again.<br /><br />I like trig. You can teach it in a single 1 hour session.<br /><br />Draw a unit circle on graph paper and draw a line anywhere you want. sin(a) is the y and cos(a) is the x. You can use A<sup>2</sup> + B<sup>2</sup> = C<sup>2</sup> to calculate common values, like 30<sup>o</sup>, 45<sup>o</sup>, 60<sup>o</sup>, 135<sup>o</sup> etc. It helps at this age to always use capitals for line lengths and always use lowercase for angles. A is opposite a, B is opposite B. A calculator could help with 25<sup>o</sup>, but we don't use calculators and just guess on SAT type questions where they deviate from common angle values.<br /><br />Then I ask for the Law of Sines and the Law of Cosines. If you forgot, here they are respectively:<br /><br /><ul><li>A/sin(a) = B/sin(b) = C/sin(c)</li><li>A<sup>2</sup> + B<sup>2</sup> - 2ABcos(c) = C<sup>2</sup></li></ul>For kids in middle school or near middle school, you can find triangle stacks on the web to practice these equations. For age 9, we discuss cos(90) = 0, and stick with the Pythagorean version of the Law of Cosines.<br /><br />Here's the unit circle on the left, and the problem on the right in case you want to try it<br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BpaIzFc2XH0/Wu9f4Pgq5YI/AAAAAAAADCc/pA7SxW4wozsmWiaVqoLg86eT4Z3D6rt5QCLcBGAs/s1600/Triangle.jpg" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" data-original-height="282" data-original-width="589" height="153" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-BpaIzFc2XH0/Wu9f4Pgq5YI/AAAAAAAADCc/pA7SxW4wozsmWiaVqoLg86eT4Z3D6rt5QCLcBGAs/s320/Triangle.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />Here's the view of the daily math that bought me 60 minutes of free time, minus the 25 minutes I had to backtrack and re-explain the unit circle and help with mistakes (help as in 'Wrong. Do it again')<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D8oM8zFcDx0/Wu9bAjkeIlI/AAAAAAAADCQ/Z1IAP7MF91YHafTP1Z--VARS3FQmZZQ_wCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/doritos.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="240" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-D8oM8zFcDx0/Wu9bAjkeIlI/AAAAAAAADCQ/Z1IAP7MF91YHafTP1Z--VARS3FQmZZQ_wCK4BGAYYCw/s320/doritos.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><br />You'll note the Dorito bag. At age 4, this was a bag of skittles. I found that snacks are a useful inducement for ridiculously hard age-inappropriate work, especially if your child is crying because you are a mean parent by making them do all of the work. It is important to remember that 20 skittles are no more motivating than 5 skittles, and you can stop giving snacks at any time. Or you can walk 3 miles a day with your child on what I like to call 'Math Talk Walks', but privately I think of these as 'Don't End Up Being A Chubby Videogamer Walks'.<br /><br />We do a trig problem about every 6 weeks. This gives my children 5 weeks to forget what they learned so that trig becomes an exercise in thinking and not an exercise in applying memorized formulas without thinking. That is why I refer to my approach as Anit-Kumon. I don't want a child who get's a 1600 on the SAT because they've trained to get a 1600 on the SAT and then doesn't get into Stanford. Stanford has a method to weed out these kids that I haven't reverse engineered (yet). Instead, I want a child who get's 1600 on the SAT because they can figure out trig on the spot - because they've learned the cognitive tools to do so. Presumably they'll use this toolset for something else during high school and Stanford will notice.<br /><br /><div style="background-color: #ffd1aa; color: #003333; font-size: 1.2em; margin-bottom: 10px; padding: 20px 10px 20px 10px;"><div style="text-align: center;"><b>Developing a Writer</b></div></div>I've been asked often how to develop a writer. I've got a child who will be some kind of a writer, possible a director or advertising media creator who spends his time researching astrophysics websites looking for the galaxy shaped like Yoda. The other one, who we refer to in this house as The Math Guy, also writes a lot, as in songs, books, and posters to sell stuff.<br /><br />The starting point for writing is art, crafts, and projects. The number one skill writers have is that they dream up something that has multiple pieces and which takes a long time to finish. Art is important because it has setbacks. You have to do it a few time to get it right, whatever it is. You want a writer? Sign her up for an art class. Chores are important because they are boring and repetitive. Chores make writing seem like fun.<br /><br />This stage of writing continues from age 7 to 12 while they develop grammar, vocabulary, and articulation skills.<br /><br />At some point around age 11 and 12, you can start (slowly) two activities: The first activity is daily writing, like a journal, and the second activity, at least at the GAT level, is a 4 hour marathon of pain that I like to call 'Crafting Sentences'. We sit down with some school work and take each sentence at a time and fix it. What are you trying to say here? Is 'fix it' good enough, or do you mean 'recraft the dependent clause', 'elaborate on a undescriptive pronoun', 'match the syntax of the sentence to the logic we are trying to convey', or what? During this process, the child says what they are trying to say, and I explain why I'm not clear what they are trying to say and that inadequate sentence that they only spent 2 minutes on sure as heck isn't saying it anyway.<br /><br />I refer back to Test Prep Math, which was as much convoluted logic and vague words as math, and the main reason they do well on the reading comprehension section of the MAP, and think of each sentence as a math problem on its own, as in a 10 to 20 minute exercise of work, mistakes, and trying again.<br /><br />So here we are back to foundational cognitive skills. The little writer slowly realizes that it wasn't about math at all back then. It was about being confused, making mistakes, and trying again. I have mentioned this to both my kids numerous times. Someday they'll leave math in the past; it might be after winning a Fields medal or a millennium prize form the Clay Institute, but some day they'll have to write. <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-86556576777313043192018-05-05T12:19:00.000-07:002018-06-09T11:12:39.115-07:00The Little TestToday was a practice test. <br /><br />Practice tests are an important part of a test prep regimen. In the past, we've sat for GAT practice tests, staged GAT practice tests (when none were available), staged standardized tests. <br /><br />Normally, our prep pace is just a few ridiculously hard questions a day. This maximizes learning. But a real test has lots of questions that are easy and a few that are hard (the ones that count if you're trying to meet a cutoff score are the hard ones). A real test is a different dynamic, and one more thing to practice.<br /><br />My favorite practice test was a 2nd grade ITBS where I read the questions and the answer choices to my 4 year old and he pointed.<br /><br />In most cases, the practice test is the real thing, like it was today, with a score that doesn't count.<br /><br />Like always, I grilled my son on the test. What was it like? Who was there? What was on the test? Did the calculator I gave you that only does arithmetic prevent you from getting a trig question correct? How many people were there? This is what I learned:<br /><br /><ul><li><i>I don't remember anything from the test. I only remember one question from my K GAT test. Which rhymes with boon? Moon, spoon, monkey, something else.</i></li><li><i>All the 7th and 8th graders had to sit in a room together. There were only 14 kids in this room and they were all nerds.</i></li><li><i>There were 4 sections, no essay (for kids not in high school) and a mystery section.</i></li><li><i>We had 3 breaks.</i></li></ul><div>He then went on to explain the breaks in detail. I asked what was on the mystery section:</div><div><ul><li><i>It was like a GAT entrance exam, sort of. I don't remember any of the questions.</i></li></ul><div>Now you know everything I know about the taking the SAT in 7th grade. I'm interested in this mystery section. Is it because the SAT is used to qualify kids for the Northwestern and Duke summer programs? I wonder if we'll see our scores on that section.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>I asked one last question. How did you do?</div><div><ul><li><i>I ran out of steam on the last section and didn't finish it, but on the rest I think I did OK.</i></li><li><i>I felt like I was prepared, like I have been preparing for 3 years.</i></li></ul><div>Which he has. Of course, we prepare in a completely different fashion than everyone else, and I expect results from our innovative and rigorous approach.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>The big test, the one that counts, is in a few weeks.</div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-80017171610049814032018-04-29T12:53:00.002-07:002018-06-09T11:12:49.549-07:00The Calm Before the StormNext Saturday is our big day. The rest of Chicago has been getting scores in the mail with test results for K to 4 entry, and it totally stresses me out. Next week I will be a wreck as usual. It's hard enough when one of the kids or parents I coach takes the test. Vicarious test taking is just as challenging to prepare for as actual test taking.<br /><br />A while back, a Power Mom asked for a retrospective what I did wrong. I'm elevating this PM to PMYL, which stands for Power Mom Yoda Level. He questions was some sort of Plato or eastern mind trick to make me reflect. My articles are long enough when I barely have 20 minutes before work to type frantically and check for typos. Brace yourself.<br /><br />The approach I took didn't result in any mistakes of lasting impact. Some of was intentional and most of it was not. The approach can be split into a few categories.<br /><ul><li>I read the papers and presentations of cognitive skills experts and test authors and did exactly what they recommended.</li><li>I read the articles of intelligence researchers, education researchers, and psychologists and did exactly the opposite of what they recommended. From this effort, I can explain exactly what's wrong with education in the US, but I didn't gain any actionable strategies for my own children.</li><li>I bought all books in print and tried them out. Only a handful were useful as busy work.</li><li>I wrote my own test questions, attempting every permutation possible in a desperate attempt to pass the test by brute force. Somewhere at about the 60% mark, the light bulb went off and I realized it wasn't about shapes. It was about thinking.</li></ul><div>Except vocabulary. Vocabulary is about vocabulary. My favorite researcher of all time pointed out that when a child is learning to read, all cognitive skills - math, whatever, all of them - are actively deployed by the child's brain. He also stated that each vocabulary word doesn't just increase a child's knowledge by a single word, it spurs cognitive growth. Red is not just the name of a color, it is a member of various classifications, has a hue and brightness and other qualities, is used to represent concepts like stop and danger, works in some situations and not in others, looks good on some people but not others and comes out of your finger when you cut yourself. The magic happens with the cognition left over after the word red is worked, cognition that is then applied to other things, like math.</div><div><br /></div><div>So I discarded phonics books from the last decade that look more marketing and fun than learning and thinking, and listed out every word 5 letters or less that would appear in a scrabble championship. After a few years, the result was a Pre-K Phonics Conceptual Vocabulary and Thinking which I sometimes right as Pre-K Phonics Conceptual Thinking because that's how most people google it.</div><ul><li style="display: inline-block; list-style-type: none; width: 45%;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JubWfNBcK-Q/WuYVhJq-hiI/AAAAAAAAC-M/cLY2uFZ1BBYLSH4-t2lghyyse4BwUGinwCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Thinking.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-JubWfNBcK-Q/WuYVhJq-hiI/AAAAAAAAC-M/cLY2uFZ1BBYLSH4-t2lghyyse4BwUGinwCK4BGAYYCw/s320/Thinking.jpg" width="247" /></a></li><li style="display: inline-block; list-style-type: none; vertical-align: top; width: 45%;"><h2>What's inside</h2><ul><li>Phonics through 2nd grade</li><li>Instructions for a solid reading program at the 99% level</li><li>Math vocabulary through 2nd grade, just in case</li><li>The reason my 13 year old is sitting for the SAT on Saturday</li><li>The reason why I use terms like incredulous, inculcate, and fallacious with my kids and they don't roll their eyes</li></ul></li></ul><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/154045620X" style="display: block; text-align: center;">Click here for fabulous phonics</a><br /><br />While Math House is called Math House because I have many wasted years studying graduate math and trying to solve the Riemann hypothesis, the phonics book is the gem of the collection. Guaranteed high math scores on advanced material is not enough to crush the reading section. I think my kids spend 2 or 3 hours a day reading - on a good day, and we don't have nearly enough good days. Last week was mainly band concerts, baseball games, the school play, and me working way too much.<br /><br />Speaking of last week, here is a question from the SAT from last week's article.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 20px;">The author uses an extended quote in lines 61-69 as part of a larger attempt to </div><div style="margin-left: 30px;">a) convey the impact of an unexpected discovery<br />b) illustrate the suddenness of a decision<br />c) simulate a child's misconceptions<br />d) criticize the artificiality of the "young adult" classification<br />e) describe a young reader's sense of history<br /><br /></div>As I mentioned in the prior article, after a few years of research, we reduced all reading comp exercises to a simple mathematical proof. It's almost long division now. But there is a prerequisite that I didn't mention. These questions are packed with vocabulary. I should have chosen one of the harder questions but even in the question above you can see convey, misconception, artificial, sense, and not the 2nd grade definition of sense.<br /><br />Somewhere in the Pre-K Phonics introduction, I might mention that opposites are not very useful, but synonyms are extremely valuable for the COGAT. This applies to the SAT as well.<br /><br />One Power Mom did Pre-K Phonics with her 4 year old and asked me <i>do you really expect kids to know 'due' and 'dew'?</i> Ha. No I don't. I expect them to figure out that there are things like dew and due lurking out their, which is a cognitive gold mind, but mainly I expect parents to read these two words in a phonics book, freak out, and raise the bar in their house. Some words strike the imagination of one child, some strike the imagination of the other child. You never know. Some times we would just burst out laughing and move on. Sometimes the word went on the Word Board for the 112 days it took to get it because I thought it was important for the COGAT.<br /><br />From then on, it was 3 years of the Word Board and vocab workshop. By 2nd grade, words just became the fabric of Math House.<br /><br />By the way, I owe this Power Mom an article on how to get a four year old to internalize halving and doubling, tripling and cutting into thirds and make it part of their visual-spatial cognition. Maybe next week.<br /><br />In the mean time, for the last week, we've done zero to prepare for the SAT on May 5. I first came up with this idea 8 years ago, when a Mentor Mom told me that her 7th grade daughter got a 700 on the SAT and Stanford sent her a letter asking her to apply in 4 years. Since then, I've been asking the question, what if we could crush the verbal section? Our incremental preparation could fill about 30 pages if I included all of the setbacks, 3 pages with just recounting the how to.<br /><br />Well, we probably can't crush the SAT because we go so very slow on our work, both math and verbal. It's tempting to change gears and shoot for speed, but the MAP test is in June and we need 99% to get into high school. The MAP and the SAT are not the same thing, and I don't want to negatively impact the MAP. So the SAT has been relegated to MAP practice. Still, it's the SAT.<br /><br />Last night I was out with Power Dads on a biking brewery research tour and we were discussing how preparation is going for the MAP. All of their kids are genuinely smarter than my kids. Officially, it was just a biking brewery tour, but I don't drink much, I ask a lot of questions, and dads talk a lot when they drink. So putting that altogether it was prime research. One dad said his daughter was in a prep course and she recently had a grueling 4 hour MAP test prep session. The SAT is our prep, but it's only 3 1/2 hours so I kept my mouth shut. We might have the edge, however, in the grueling department. <script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-27513427936637081372018-04-21T06:17:00.000-07:002018-06-09T11:13:00.378-07:00Tiger Mom RevisitedSome of my readers complained that when they google Test Prep Math they get GMAT results. This is totally offensive to me. If a result came up with the GRE math, chemistry or physics subject, that would be OK. After all, 99% on the MAP tests year after year in grade school is going to be a waste of time if Stanford turns down my children's graduate applications. At the risk of looking like every other test prep website:<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><ul><li style="display: inline-block; list-style-type: none;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VimShjs5fUg/WtsnG-OsC8I/AAAAAAAACzA/_HYPbpB-CF4tVO_beSZn5nb-oLjLas5oACK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Test%2BPrep%2BMath%2BLevel%2B2.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-VimShjs5fUg/WtsnG-OsC8I/AAAAAAAACzA/_HYPbpB-CF4tVO_beSZn5nb-oLjLas5oACK4BGAYYCw/s320/Test%2BPrep%2BMath%2BLevel%2B2.JPG" width="200" /></a><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-2/dp/1530186234" style="display: block;">Click here for 2nd Grade</a></li><li dp="" est-prep-math-level-3="" event.stoppropagation="" https:="" onclick="" style="display: inline-block; list-style-type: none; margin-right: 20px;" window.open="" www.amazon.com=""><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HimEyQYFHW0/WtsnIWZEJNI/AAAAAAAACzI/-QJKuBkzfUIiOyj4j3CM4ay2Zw_0nc6lwCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/TestPrepMath3.JPG" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-HimEyQYFHW0/WtsnIWZEJNI/AAAAAAAACzI/-QJKuBkzfUIiOyj4j3CM4ay2Zw_0nc6lwCK4BGAYYCw/s320/TestPrepMath3.JPG" width="200" /></a><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Test-Prep-Math-Level-3/dp/1547120010" style="display: block;">Click here for 3rd Grade</a></li></ul></div><br /><b>On To Tiger Mom</b><br />In the famous seen in her book, Amy Chua recounts a 4 hour ordeal of screaming and crying while she forces her daughter to rehearse an impossible piece for an upcoming piano recital. Chua is presented as an overbearing evil mom with unrealistic expectations for her child and no concern for her child's long term mental health.<br /><br />This scene replays itself over and over in Math House, usually on simmer instead of full boil. There are two important difference between the Evil Overlord of Math House and Tiger Mom. These differences are why I am not a Tiger Dad, and beyond criticism, and Chua took a lot of flack for her book, even though Chua and I think and act in nearly same way.<br /><br />The first difference is that I have assumptions, not expectations. My expectations for my kids are abysmally low. I strive for zero expectations. I expect that a 7 or 8 year old would rather play video games and watch TV instead of worry about his future. I expect that a young child will cry when presented with a problem that exercises grit and cognitive skills. Maybe he'll just complain at first, but as soon as it's clear I'm not doing his work for him (because then he won't get the benefits), he might try crying. I expect him to not know what he's doing, to make lots of mistakes, to do far less than I've assigned, and to end up with wrong answers. That's where the skill set is born, and that's why he's doing this work. If I gave him something he could do, like 30 easy math fact problems, he'd look good but fall far short of the goals I have for him.<br /><br />On the other hand, I have assumptions. I assume my kids will get the work done one way or another because I'm withholding all fun activities until it is done. I assume that I can't withhold food because his performance will suffer (tried that, it doesn't work). I assume that he'll learn key skills that other kids don't learn and that a year from now, he'll be scoring in the top 1% on everything for the rest of his life and be 6 years ahead of other kids in key subjects, even subjects we don't do at home, all because I stayed focused on grit and cognitive skills during 2nd and 3rd grade.<br /><br />I like to say 'Of course you don't want to do this. You're 8 years old. I'm an expert at being an 8 year old. I was an 8 year old for an entire year'. Seems like a good thing for a dad to say.<br /><br />I expect the first 6 weeks are going to be really tough because school just spoon feeds easy work and the parent is used to helping and answering questions when the child falls short. Scaffolding is great when you want your child to memorize and master a bunch of new concepts in a short period of time, but the child never learns the thinking and learning skills tackle learn pre-algebra on his own.<br /><br />4th grade was a blur of algebra. You can't do algebra without pre-algebra, and that means you either have to learn it on the spot or get assigned backtracking material by The Overlord before you can move on. I threw in some functions, a little geometry (prove everything starting with a line is an angle of 180 degrees), a little trig (everything you need to know in 30 minutes or less), and it's on to SAT test prep books.<br /><br /><b>Test Prep Math Level 4</b><br />SAT test prep is surprisingly easy compared to the real thing. I generally assign 5 problems at a time, from the math section, with no time limit. A few years later, we've not only completed all the math problems but learned high school math on the way, with the exception of advanced trig topics and calculus. Again, my expectations are really low for this exercise. I expect almost nothing. I assume we'll get through it and come out on top.<br /><br />In a few weeks, my 7th grader is sitting for the real deal, all 3 1/2 hours of it. I gave him a few timed versions of certain sections, but our real goal is the 6 hour MAP test ( 3 hours of math on one day, and 3 hours of reading comp on another day). I figure 3 1/2 hours of SAT brutality should be good practice for the 7th grade MAP.<br /><br />After we licked math, we had a book full of reading comp questions. The reading comp was really hard. It didn't go well.<br /><br />I traveled to the planet Dagoba to be trained by the Jedi Master Yoda of reading comp. A high school English teacher, he coaches SAT on the side. He told me things like "When the question asks 'which answer reflects the tone of the passage', count words in the passage, you will". He also told us to 'figure out an answer wrong, why you got'. His advice got us past Baffled; it gave us things to do instead of crying and yelling at each other, but ultimately it's not for 99% and its not for an 11 year old.<br /><br />Once again, I'm stuck with an area of cognitive research that is unexplored and undocumented, so as the Foremost Expert in the Field of Real Cognitive Skills, The Kind That Actual Children Have, Not The Useless Made Up Crap That Fill Education Journals, I took on the challenge.<br /><br />So I applied the learning framework outlined in Test Prep Math. After all, the math word problems in TPM target reading comp. This isn't obvious how a math problem prepares a child for reading comp until you see the SAT. Here's why reading comp = math and math = reading comp.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 10px;">The author uses an extended quote in lines 61-69 as part of a larger attempt to<br /><div style="margin-left: 10px;">a) convey the impact of an unexpected discovery<br />b) illustrate the suddenness of a decision<br />c) simulate a child's misconceptions<br />d) criticize the artificiality of the "young adult" classification<br />e) describe a young reader's sense of history</div></div><br />Step 1 - look at lines 55-60 and 70-75 for the answer. This is more of a geometry thing that I'll cover later.<br /><br />Step 2 - Notice each answer has 3 concepts. You simply take each concept (like convey), and if the author complains, states, recounts, but does not <i>convey</i>, cross out the answer. Test Prep Math hammers away at the 3 bucket limit of working memory, and here it is in action on every single question in the SAT reading section. The iterative permutations of solving these questions are identical to Section 3 of TPM, which is why figure matrices are such good predictors of academic success.<br /><br />That's it. There are no other question types. It is really helpful if the child can tell you about the author and the type of passage (propaganda, argument, description, memoir, what ever) because the first 2 questions are going to require this knowledge. But all questions require the same mathematical approach. If a question looks like its a different type, it's just disguise.<br /><br />Once we got this, I went from assuming that reading comp questions are impossible to assuming that I'm going to be disappointed if my kids miss any. 'Convey' went on the Word Board.<br /><br />I think somewhere in the intro to Test Prep Math I might fess up to targeting reading comp. I should have said targeting 99% on reading comp.<br /><br /><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-87483907375746495302018-04-16T04:44:00.000-07:002018-06-09T11:13:09.816-07:00Step TwoI've lost count where I am on Steps. This article is about the book end and reading comp. That leaves a reading program, whole language math, miscellaneous topics. how to write a sentence, and then I can get back to math. I'm much more excited about reading because this is Math House. In reading, it's us against them.<br /><br />Speaking of us against them, the Chicago Tribune took a swipe at Houston recently. Found in this article is perhaps the best crafted sentence I've ever seen. As you know, Chicago is basically crime, corruption, and debt. 50% of our taxes go straight to debt service and corruption, not to mention filling pot holes and dealing with 100 year old infrastructure. That doesn't leave a lot for education. Our gifted programs, at least 5 of them, are perhaps the best schools in the world across all measures, but we have quite a few neighborhood schools that are just trying to keep up with ELL with almost no budget.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chicagoinc/ct-met-houston-bean-0328-chicago-inc-20180327-story.html" target="_blank">The article, which you can read here</a>, snipes Houston for stealing our bean idea and gradually supplanting Chicago as the 3rd largest city in the country. Here's the sentence I find so impressive:<br /><br /><span style="font-size: large;">If being surrounded by a cultureless abyss insufficiently communicates to confused tourists that they are in Houston, the beanโs verticality will therefore act as an additional reminder of their poor life choices.</span><br /><span style="font-size: large;"><br /></span>I think I have more readers from Houston than Chicago. At least I used to.<br /><br />I get a lot of questions about writing. Writing a single sentence like the one above is going to require all skills including the foundational math skills. Therefore this will be the last topic I explore. If you're wondering why math and sentence writing are identical, so am I.<br /><br />For those of you who wish to continue reading my beanless discussion of Reading Comp, I am wrapping up 3 years of research and experimentation and I'm pretty excited.<br /><br />I've mentioned Reading Comp in the past as a good way to prepare for a cognitive abilities test. Everything is the same - concentration, looking back, resolving ambiguities, dead ends and mistakes, working with material that is new, advanced and confusing. Everything except for the shapes.<br /><br />In the last few months I've been approaching Reading Comp from a more direct angle - how to crush the heck out of it and then back over it a few times just to be on the safe side.<br /><br />Our TTWBN score in reading is always 4 points shy of victory because my kids refuse to read the passage when answering questions. The older one got an advanced passage in 1st grade on a Magic Tree House subject, got all the questions right from memory, was scored in the 4th grade, and decided from then on to deal exclusively with questions. The other one liked that approach. Eventually they tried reading the passages at my request, and the scores didn't budge.<br /><br />3 years ago we started SAT test prep for math, one question per week. I shoot for 5 questions, but it's all backtracking in the 4th grade. (It just occurred to me that my definition of 'backtracking' usually means 'covering a topic you've never seen before'.) There are 10 practice tests and 30 practice essay questions (short, normal, anything goes). We made progress in math, but the reading comp did not go well despite doing Test Prep Math. By go well, I mean a 10 year old making a decent showing on high school level work. Vocab was a killer. SAT test prep books aren't all that hard, especially the first edition of the College Board book, which I love, and we have no time limit. I figure that this approach aligns perfectly with the TTWBN test. (Note to google search engine - I am not talking about the MAP test.)<br /><br />I traveled to the planet Dagoba to be trained by the Jedi Master Yoda of reading comp. A high school English teacher, he coaches SAT on the side. He told me things like "When the question asks 'which answer reflects the tone of the passage', count words in the passage, you will". He also told us to figure out an answer wrong, why you got. His advice got us past Baffled; it gave us things to do instead of crying and yelling at each other, but ultimately it's not for 99% and its not for an 11 year old.<br /><br />Once again, I'm stuck with an area of cognitive research that is unexplored and undocumented, so as the Foremost Expert in the Field of Real Cognitive Skills, The Kind That Actual Children Have, Not The Useless Made Up Crap That Fill Education Journals, I took on the challenge.<br /><br />I tried to refocus my children on the reading passage. Let's get into the question and worry about the answers later. This is the same approach used to teach EDM 2 to a five year old. We backtracked a lot on vocab, we made mistakes (<i>of course it's disparate regimented perspective, you can see it hinted at right in the passage</i>).<br /><br />Then the light bulb went off. In the same way that Whole Language Math uses language to convey graduate level statistics to a 13 year old, Analytic Reading Comp applies math to reading comp. It's a huge win. You want to get from 50 to 99 on the verbal portion of the SAT? This is the way to go. <br /><br />Let me show you an example.<br /><br />The author uses an extended quote in lines 61-69 as part of a larger attempt to<br />a) convey the impact of an unexpected discovery<br />b) illustrate the suddenness of a decision<br />c) simulate a child's misconceptions<br />d) criticize the artificiality of the "young adult" classification<br />e) describe a young reader's sense of history<br /><br />Here's our journey. It took us 3 years to get here.<br /><ul><li>In order to determine what larger attempt means, you probably have to look at 55-60 or lines 70-75. It would have saved us a lot of trouble if someone just told me that. (Checking the intro, they did.)</li><li>After that, it's a matter of 3 words in each answer choice. There's the magic number for working memory once again - thanks Test Prep Math.</li><li>So we take them one at a time, marking off no, maybe, no, no, maybe. If the passage doesn't criticize, I don't care if it discusses the artificiality, young adults, or uses the term classification. Cross out that one. In other words, be extremely picky, hypercritical, rules oriented, logical.</li><li>Then we have to start all over again with the 2 maybe's. This isn't 'cross off wrong answers and guess'. This is 'methodically go through each and every detail like a Reading Comp Shredding Machine'.</li><li>Usually there are a half dozen words that need to go on the Word Board and discussed at length.</li><li>Maybe we get it wrong and say 'Darn it.' Maybe we're tired or sick and can't concentrate. It happens. My fallback plan is just to give up and quit. </li><li>There are a few other questions types, like what would the author of passage 2 say about lines 61-69 in passage 1, which take longer, but same approach and more discussion.</li></ul><div>The best part is my fascinating conclusion. There are no other question types. That one question is it. We do lots of these. I can see tricks, techniques, subkills, etc. and none of it matters. Week by week something is happening in that little brain that does what it needs and subskills bloom. I don't care. I'm just in charge of being the other team member and enforcing the Big Five skills.</div><div><br /></div>What about actually reading the passage? The approach above is more about reading the question and then going back to analyze the passage. <br /><ul><li>I want to know after the passage is read, who is the author and why is he writing this passage? Do this before answering the questions. There are so many questions that require this knowledge, you might as well do the work the first time.</li><li>When you read the passage, read it to find out who the author is, what type of mood she's in, and what type of writing this is (narrative, descriptive, argument, propoganda, etc.). We don't need the Word Board for vocab at this point, but a framework of writing styles (types?) would be useful. </li></ul><div>The other best part of this is that it takes us 45 minutes to get through a single passage + 10 questions, a big improvement from 60 minutes. There are 2 passages and a 20 minute time limit. We do one passage in 30 to 45 minutes. I am enforcing the most powerful skills of all - concentration and learning unencumbered by a time limit. This skill alone guarantees learning and improvement.</div><div><br /></div><div>The third best part is the conversation that follows. He reads the passage and then answers. I read the passage and we go through each question one by one while I grade. Sometimes we each read the passage and answer the questions together. Since I'm totally useless, this is more just for conversation and motivation. Working together is more fun. It's all adult level academic conversation. We should do more of this, but we don't. Thanks SAT for the help being a GAT parent.</div><div><br /></div><div>How can I grade? I don't have the solutions since I threw them away. Having solutions reduces the outcome from 99% to 85%. Not having the solutions requires brain work. Having solutions ends brain work. How do I know if my child got the correct answer? It is hard work for me. Asking your child to do work that you don't want to do sends a very clear message of how unimportant this work is for the child. Working the solution puts me in a position to articulate things I see that he missed and he'll make a note of that. I ask questions - real ones because I'm stuck and need help - and he joins in the adult level process of figuring things out. We're never 100% sure on all questions, but we're 100% sure on the process to get there.</div><div><br /></div><div>If you read the introduction to Test Prep Math or Shape Size Color Count, this is exactly the same foundational process starting at age 4. The introduction to Pre-K Phonics and Conceptual Thinking is a bit more over the top and kind of the opposite advice, but it's consistent. I think TPM is more directly applicable to reading comp, but of course Pre-K phonics is about reading and vocab, which is a prerequisite. </div><div><br /></div><div>With effort, we perfected the House Rules that underpin an effective learning environment, and now we're reaping the rewards. Most of this effort involved me learning how not to help, not check solutions, not to have expectations, not to show emotion one way or the other when I announce the correct answer, not get impatient and frustrated with a subpar performance, and 5 other nots. High performance learning is counter intuitive, which is why only 1% fits at the top. The result was unencumbered learning.</div><div><br /></div><div>There's the book end.</div><div><br /></div><div>There is one more best part. Both the SAT and the TTWBN test prep are a boot camp of analytic reading skills. It's just like studying for the COGAT, which is a good way to pick up cognitive academic skills. It's not about passing the test (it is - I just lied), it's about your child performing better in writing and chemistry. Which it is.</div><div><br /></div><div>A final note for the 2 readers who made it this far. The TTWBN stands for the Test That Wont Be Named. It's the test that my 7th grader takes every year, but this year it counts toward high school enrollment. Competition is brutal. This test has nothing whatsoever to do with the mappy thing, and I'm not the least bit interested in showing up on a google search.</div><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-64558095462156734312018-04-13T22:51:00.002-07:002018-06-09T11:13:23.973-07:00Now Is The TimeOver the next few months I'm going to be unleashing some really powerful test crushing material that I've been working on diligently for the past few years. All of this fits under the head of 'well, we did that stuff, let's see if it will work elsewhere'. It does work elsewhere.<br /><br />I've noticed that interest in GAT material drops off after the test scores are released in the spring. I suppose this is normal. Normal as in not the top 1%. When I was in eighth grade, I read the biography of the world's greatest athlete. He used to have really intense workouts after the year-end tournament was over. Like right after. That night.<br /><br />Giftedness is going to be born in the next few months.<br /><br />Have you ever heard the expression 'Fake it until you make it'? There is a great Ted Talk on this subject from Amy Cuddy. My idea of giftedness is similar. My idea of giftedness is to take the skills of the gifted and use them. It's not profoundly gifted, but with a little practice and change it's enough to get into a gifted program. <br /><br />An odd thing happened on the way to giftedness.<br /><br />The difference between a gifted child and a profoundly gifted child is that the profoundly gifted child has so much practice exercising gifted skills that she does it quickly, so quickly, in fact, that neither she nor her parents can explain how she actually does it. It's like magic.<br /><br />It's not magic if you look closely.<br /><br />Last week I doled out more SAT test prep to my 9 year old. I've been working a lot and it's good for a few minutes without distraction. Here's one of the questions I gave him. Take a minute to solve it.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wMXzq9E3pU8/WtGOnI9lnHI/AAAAAAAACd0/k7iXCZF5h-0VPQApd1rpnaLoRHddHWMewCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/MVIMG_20180414_000855.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="320" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-wMXzq9E3pU8/WtGOnI9lnHI/AAAAAAAACd0/k7iXCZF5h-0VPQApd1rpnaLoRHddHWMewCK4BGAYYCw/s320/MVIMG_20180414_000855.jpg" width="240" /></a></div><br />He asked me what the area of a circle was. I thought kids learned that by this age, but whatever. Before I could leave the room, in the space of about 15 seconds, he solved it. That was freaky. I asked him how he solved it, and he showed how he subtracted one half circle from the other, etc., and nailed it.<br /><br />We spent 18 months learning the skills from the ground up with Test Prep Math. There were 2 types of questions. The first type required a long discussion and argument. The second type required 4 or 5 attempts. A year of weekly math later and the discussions have dissipated.<br /><br />I maintain a slow pace of a few problems here and there. I've been worrying a lot about how our slow pace in Math House is going to thwart the SAT. The MAP test requires a slow pace, and we need a perfect score this year, so I don't want to add risk by practicing timed tests. Last week, I wondered if we should just switch to Kumon and drill boring useless math facts. I know that slow, careful, and lots of mistakes produces award winning mathematicians so I'm going to stick with principles. But I gave a 55 minute practice test to older brother and he only finished 30 questions out of 38. In 70 minutes. He'll be lucky to break 1200. I'm beginning to feel the same way I felt watching them being led away to the COGAT at ages 4 and 5. It was excruciating. How am I going to survive 3 1/2 hours of waiting while my baby takes a college entrance exam? Older brother is only 13 and is the subject in one of my diabolical experiments yet again.<br /><br />The younger feakazoid learned his visual spatial skills from Shape Size Color Count. He does an adequate showing on reading comp within the official time limit as well. That skill set started with Pre K Phonics and Conceptual Vocabulary & Thinking and was fully developed by the Test Prep Math Series. Those 4 books (there are 2 Test Prep Math books) stand out for two reasons. There is a 2 foot high stack of test prep material for K and 1st grade. I have a four foot stack, but only recommend about 2 feet of it. There is almost nothing for children who aren't in K or 1st grade. Secondly, these 4 books are the only books on the market that present material at the 99%, at least by the end of the books. What is the secret to doing work at the 99% if you're not actually there yet? It's slightly different than fake it until you make it, but in the same spirit. Go slow, do less, and make more mistakes. Until you make it.<br /><br />If you want a permanent showing at 99%, step out of the crowd. Work diligently when the rest are taking a break. Work differently (think Anti-Kumon instead of Kumon). K and 1st are extremely competitive years but scores drop off after that because the interest drops off. If your child hasn't reached the magic age of 4 yet, think about SSCC and phonics. If K and 1st grade were a struggle, double the effort in 2nd and 3rd grade. It's worth it in the long run.<br /><br />In my next article, I'm going to describe how Math House crushes reading comp questions. It's going to be a let down for my readers. Math House built math from the ground up with foundational skills and ignoring routine practice and memoriation. We didn't get around to worrying about reading comp until all the math parts of the practice tests in the SAT book were finished and we were looking for the next challenge. By this point, foundational skills were used and not discussed. We ended up with a simple reading comp formula that works. No wisdom, cleverness, counter cultural pedagogy wars. Just a simple formula.<br /><script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function(){ $('.descriptionwrapper').addClass('desc-noshow'); }); </script>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-80845695605421530042018-04-07T17:57:00.001-07:002018-04-08T09:02:40.114-07:00My Latest Insane PlanBefore I announce my new plan, and freak everyone out, I'm going to issue disclaimers.<br /><br />Math House is very low pressure. Our bar is pretty low. I think a day is successful that has no video games. I have zero expectations. I never know if the next paper I grade will be all wrong or all lucky.<br /><br />Let's go through plans of the past and how they generally turned out.<br /><br /><ul><li>I spent 2 years carefully crafting a phonics book that includes phonics through 2nd grade. Every word that could possibly be relevant to a cognitive skills test and can be sounded out. The last shred of expectation were crushed out when it took 3 weeks to get past CAT.</li><li>We jumped into 2nd grade math midway through K. 3 weeks again to get through the first page.</li><li>I've got 6 or 7 other plans that I presented on this website in the last 7 years.</li></ul><div>Of course, a little here and a little there paid off. Within 4 or 5 months, the little ones were zooming along adequately. The bar raised itself.</div><div><br /></div><div>The new plan is to take the SAT in 7th grade. This is where you feel bad as a parent and panic because things are so competitive and you're falling behind. </div><div><br /></div><div>We'll, it's not about the SAT. I read an article this week that explains why 1600 on the SAT won't help you get into Stanford. Stanford only accepts 4% of applicants. I couldn't help but think a) 1600 on the SAT won't help and b) 4% is a easier to achieve than the 2/10th % that we faced for 1st grade.</div><div><br /></div><div>The SAT plan began in 2nd grade with TPM. If you've ever seen it, and you think 'this isn't school math' your right. It's the base of the mountain. School math is more of a detour through the foothills. This doesn't mean TPM is super hard (some of it is), it's just super different. Different will get you into Stanford, according to the article. I started experimenting with SAT books with older kids when TPM was written.</div><div><br /></div><div>My last insane idea was to start assigning work from an SAT test prep book after 4th grade. Here's your SAT question: How long will it take to get through a 600 page book if you only do 4 or 5 problems a week? The work accelerates on it's own, by magic, just like my other insane ideas.</div><div><br /></div><div>Back to the new new bar. On May 7, my 13 year old will spend the morning in a high school taking a 3 1/2 college entrance exam. What fun. I'm not sure how he's going to do, but here's what's going to follow:</div><div><ul><li>First, we get to see the whole test and his answers. This is a new service by the college board. I can't wait. I'll be able to compare our practice to the real thing and prepare little brother appropriately.</li><li>Then in a few years, he'll be sitting for the PSAT, the shorter easier version of the SAT. Will he be stressed taking a test that is easier than the one he took in 7th grade? I don't think so.</li><li>But even more importantly, a few weeks later he'll sit for the Test That Won't Be Named for entrance into high school. How can you expect a child to do well without practice? I don't consider a test prep course practice. You don't practice sky diving jumping off the stairs onto a mattress. You practice sky diving jumping behind enemy lines in the dark while the plane is buffeted by flak.</li></ul><div>I gave him his first timed test today - one 55 minute math section. I think it was section 7. He did awful, as usual. I let him go 90 minutes and I think he quit after 75 minutes on his own. (He's on to my trickery.) Awful is a normal performance going into the test, as I have pointed out to many, many parents worried about COGAT prep.<br /><br />Adendum<br /><br />This morning - a day after the timed math test, and the day after I published the article above - I'm assessing our situation. I don't like timed tests and he needs to get every single answer correct no matter how long it takes for that other test. So I'm going to do only one timed reading test and then we're going back to our normal program for that other test. The SAT is going to an endurance exercise of concentration. I had this idea that we will 'prepare for the test' if you know what I mean, but this doesn't really work for our plan, so instead we're just going to sit for the test and I'll find out how ready my 13 year old is for college. In other words, he's not going to get an extra 150 points because we made a concerted effort to get an additional 150 points. <br /><br />I know kids at this age who are ready to sit for an SAT type test. They've had the right training. They are nearly at the peak of the mountain. Math house is working toward a much much higher mountain and we're only at about the 40% mark right now. It's really hard for me to be competitive and patiently hold back at the same time.</div></div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-72569392941606718802018-04-01T05:06:00.000-07:002018-04-08T08:47:42.362-07:00The Word Board<br />At a young age (like 4 to 6 or 5 to 7), each of my kids made trips to the Word Board a few times a week to see if any of the words from Vocab Workshop or phonics were mastered. Of course, if 'organize' appeared, I couldn't help but throw in 'organization', 'organic', 'origami' or anything else I could think of, so it was hard for them to keep up. The best part of this exercise was that it made up for a lack of discussion in the house, because we were usually reading or doing math or cleaning or eating. It turned me into a vocabulary parent. Our nightly reading time became more question and vocabulary oriented.<br /><br />The Word Board started simply to track which words from the Vocab Workshop book were mastered. If I got a slow response and some thinking, the word stayed. If it was a really important word, the bar was raised and I wanted synonyms as well. There are two reasons for delay. First, if you zoom through Vocab Workshop, you get to a level that's too hard, or you have to use Wordly Wise, Vocab Workshop's more boring cousin. Oppositely, some words are really hard, and you can leave the word on the board and move to the next section.<br /><br />Recently, a Power Mom suggested that I advertise. While I'm not interested in monetizing my blog, I will gladly include an ad for my favorite toothbrush, even if I don't get paid and their graphics leave little to work with. Also, currently only available on eBay. But they are soft, grippable, and counter cultural. Here is my ad.<br /><br /><a href="http://compostableplates.com/product/panda-smiles-adult-bamboo-toothbrush-soft/" target="_blank">Click to buy.</a><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-loEvVqpK6DE/Wr_Jtld_yqI/AAAAAAAACEg/H29UwBHBzoI_s-khlaes5dUhsijzkHd8ACK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Ad.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="136" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-loEvVqpK6DE/Wr_Jtld_yqI/AAAAAAAACEg/H29UwBHBzoI_s-khlaes5dUhsijzkHd8ACK4BGAYYCw/s320/Ad.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div style="text-align: center;"></div>The Word Board saved us in phonics. Phonics at a young age go really slow. At one point, we had 100 words on the board, including 'CAT', the very first word, which was never read adequately. I know from experience in any subject that a child may take 3 weeks on the first page and 2 weeks on the next, but if you stick with it and wait for their brain, suddenly they get it and zoom through everything. You just have to be patient and keep reminding yourself that you are reading the blog of an insane person. But once it happens in reading, math, COGAT test prep, you see the process and can relax. Until that delay happens in science, writing, pre-algebra, and everything else advanced you do, then it's just annoying.<br /><br />I think that the Word Board was mainly about me learning to be a parent in an educated household. It raises the level of expectation and it raises the level of the discussion. More importantly, it trains a parent to let the child do the work with no help. It trains the parent to wait for a correct answer, even if it takes 4 weeks. It trains the child that mommy won't help. The child realizes that he actually has to do the work. But there is no penalty, no time limit.<br /><br />By no help, I mean this:<br /><ol><li>"What's this word mean?" (Let's say ambidextrous is the vocab word.)</li><li>10 minutes of silence later, <i>Live on water and land</i>?</li><li>"No, that's amphibian. Last time, I said an amphibian is an animal that lives on water and land. 'Ambi' means both. Phibian probably means tell a small lie or something to do with habitat. It's greek from about 2500 years ago. Or latin. Small break for daddy to wiki phibian. Ambitdexterous means that you can write with both hands because you either have brain damage or you practice writing with both hands. Let's take a break to write our names with both hands at the same time.</li><li><i>I know what habitat and amphibian mean.</i></li><li><i>"</i>Those words aren't coming down until you get ambidextrous"</li></ol>Then mommy will come by and ask why I'm subjecting our 5 year old to ambidextrous. By 4th grade, he will have forgotten what this word means.<br /><br />Once we both got past the training, I could raise the bar as high as 'Stand and Deliver' while I challenged them on word meanings. Since I didn't care whether the word came down this week or next month, it was all them. Nor do I give a fig about their self esteem. They can earn it if they want it. Which they did. The hard way. I've got 2 kids with enough self esteem to fill a class room.<br /><br />We retired the Word Board after about 3 years. The Word Board only came back sporadically. Three years defending at the Word Board produces a child who will acquire and retain word definitions on sight, and this makes the Word Board less useful except for advanced math and science.<br /><br />I speculate that bilingual children are going to get a permanent advantage for the same reason. The first few years of their lives are a big Word Board to sort through.<br /><br />Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-15403501598999533142018-03-31T01:29:00.000-07:002018-03-31T04:43:09.065-07:00Step OneI see a strong correlation between what we're doing now at the end of grade school to make gains on the TTWBN and what we did years before simply to gain entry into a special program.<br /><br />In the this series of articles I'm going to rehash the groundwork and put a bookend on it. I think reading is the foundation, so I'm starting with reading.<br /><br />In the last article, I stated that success in education is highly correlated to the level of discussion that takes place in the home. There are only 3 areas of research that have identified a cause of intelligence (roughly defined as permanent academic skills that manifest themselves in a strong, accelerated academic performance).<br /><br />The first is summarized in Welcome to Your Child's Brain and concludes that if you maintain an ongoing one way discussion with your infant, your infant will reach age 4 reading at a 6th grade level. I've see parents do this and it's breathtaking. <br /><br />The second area of research is more important because most of us are too busy being a parent to talk. This line of research concludes the level of vocabulary used in the house will determine you're child'd education potential. I like this line of research better because it allows for a late start.<br /><br />The third area of research is presented in The Read Aloud Handbook and states that reading to your child will put them permanently ahead of the crowd. I like this approach even better because I was never good at having an ongoing discussion with my child because he was always knocking something over, and 'Please refrain from disassembling you're brother's block tower until he has indicates disinterest' didn't seem as appropriate as shouting 'Stop it right NOW!'. During nightly reading, however, we could have some fairly productive Q & A. Nightly Read To is good parent training.<br /><br />What I like best about reading, however, and the reason I put it number one is that many kids get into special programs simply because they do nothing but read. They struggle mightily with figure matrices, and it takes them extra years to finally get past the test. But once they do, they generally end up permanently at the top of the academic heap. Whereas my approach is simply to cheat with lots of logic and problem solving. Why spend 6 years reading when you can just spend 3 months in thinking and working memory boot camp? Being the underdog and trouncing readers is quite satisfying. Then I stepped back and wondered 'What if a child did both?' Light bulb.<br /><br />In the introduction to Pre-K Phonics and Conceptual Vocabulary I lay out a reading program that goes way beyond over the top. It was the most fund* I had with my kids. I probably only need a few changes to my advice:<br /><br /><ul><li>'Pre-K' is somewhat misleading because it goes straight through 2nd grade material.</li><li>No child will ever grasp the difference between 'dew' and 'due', but presenting a fairly advanced and confusing concept at such a young age pays dividends for test prep. (I should write a whole article on this bullet, but in short a child who knows there is a concept lurking out there that is extraordinarily complicated and thought consuming is on the verge of some serious thinking when faced with cognitive skills workbooks.)</li><li>You will definitely want science and nonfiction represented in your reading list, but do not show any enthusiasm or push this in any way. As soon as you hand your child the Magic School Bus and indicated that it is really important to know science, science will become uncool automatically and you may discourage a future scientist. Same with history. Try to look at science books nonchalantly. </li></ul><div>*Fund is a typo. It was supposed to be 'fun'. But I'm going to leave it as is because I think fund is just as appropriate. However, reading was a lot of fun.</div><div><br /></div><div>When we read, I'm more than happy to short circuit the learning process and define words, share background and history, point out logic. The child will get enough time testing their skills in silent reading and picture books. As a bonus, eventually you will lack all credibility and merely stating the obvious becomes an exercise in your child pointing out why you are wrong. But that comes later. In the meantime, this is the best of all times to make up for the fact that you didn't carry on a lively discussion at ages 2 and 3.</div><div><br /></div><div>The classical approach to education reserves this time in your child's life, maybe up to 4th grade, for packing their brain with as much information as possible. Pack it in. Then jam some more in there. Reading together will help you do it. This is a low pressure exercise. Throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. You can do this a little at a time or use a spaghetti cannon like I did. It's not really about gaining anything but just having fun.</div><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-25137315327603233902018-03-28T22:43:00.000-07:002018-03-28T22:43:12.808-07:00The Covert BlogI'm trying to minimize the SEO on my blog. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it means that you put key words in your articles so that it shows up on search engines. If my editor finds out, then I'm in trouble.<br /><br />In this article, I'll answer a common question that I get. Where is this heading?<br /><br />From the beginning, I've found summarizing my research for the public allows me to scrutinize my evidence and edit out failed experiments so that what's left is reliable advice that you can bank on. In the first year, when I was competing for a spot in a "special school program" (you know what I mean) I nailed that test for that program. As I was writing, and reviewing past articles a month or so later, I would see things I missed, obvious things, and the door was opened.<br /><br />I feel like this special test (you know what I mean) is 100% crushable way beyond the required cutoff score. The pedagogy to get there is counter cultural and counter intuitive. I don't see evidence that it can be replicated in a school setting except in a few standout programs led by visionaries. Most parents will never meet success because they can't let go of 'learning something'. 'Something' always interferes with 'learning'.<br /><br />I'm turning my attention to that other test that 40,000,000 kids take every year in school. My research is sneaking into my blog whether I like it or not. Our target is this year and then again in 3 years. It is much more competitive than the first test mentioned above, and the approach is almost identical with the exception of shapes being replaced by advanced math and the pictures replaced by unknown vocabulary words. I refer to this test as the TTWBN (the Test That Won't Be Named test).<br /><br />Most parents face both the special test and the TTWBN test for entry into a special program. Before 2nd grade, the best way to prepare for the TTWBN is just to be 2 years ahead in school. Somewhere around 2nd grade, other bright kids catch up, and it's not enough to be ahead. A child has to master academic skills at a very high level. I'm going to write more about this test without giving away the most critical competitive element - its name.<br /><br />The common view of special programs is that that the children of wealthy parents will always have a competitive advantage. The skill set behind this test is almost always attributed to inherited or genetic intelligence, a myth which has been dispelled. The genetic link only makes sense to researchers oblivious to the scientific method and who have never met an actual child. 'Intelligence' is not definable let alone measurable, and you can't correlate an unmesaruable variable to anything else no matter how much wishful thinking is passed off as results. If you sit in a wealthy household, you'll observe educated parents maintain an environment rich in vocabulary, discussion, and reading. Education is highly correlated to wealth. Vocabulary is the foundation of the whole enterprise. Thus wealthier households are much more likely to produce gifted children. The research on vocabulary as the predictor is strong, compelling, and generally ignored. If you sit in the house of a poor science teacher, you'll see the same dynamic in action and the results are the same. If you don't have a stack of data on household discussion and test scores you'll miss the dependent variables.<br /><br />So my first long term goal is to put vocabulary and reading into the poorest households at the level that my children experienced. It's unlikely I'll do this, but one of the children who went through my program (thanks to a parent who found out it's possible) will decide on a career in education.<br /><br />The other long term goals, in order of priority, are for bright thinkers of the next generation to tackle poverty, violence, and the propensity of governments to spend the money of the next generation and bankrupt their educational and social systems. This makes me a liberal and a hard core conservative at the same time, so I'm throwing in a forth goal that one of our future leaders will get democrats and republicans to work together, something along the lines of 'let's spend money on poverty by doing something effective' subject to 'we can't steal money from the next generation to do it'. Sounds like a republicrat program to me.<br /><br />I've been watching young people step up in two areas recently; both areas have been in the news. They are beginning to touch on the core arguments but are not tackling the lies and fallacy and mislogic and ingrained misthinking that need to be overcome . They're close and they're hearts are in the right place, but we really need a few young John Locke's to step up and transform the world in these areas. <br /><br />I'm too busy to do it myself. I have too much education research to do.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-23046390086372947412018-03-24T11:53:00.002-07:002018-03-24T11:53:35.085-07:00Really Bad AdviceMy google news feed has delivered articles from the SAT experts. I've been reading how to solve the hardest math problems on the SAT to see if I can improve my super secret strategy for the TTWBN test. I'm learning that the experts don't know anything useful.<br /><br />The goal of an expert is to dissect the problem down to steps that lead to the solution. This teaches nothing, of course, except for a memorized list of steps for a problem that will never be seen again. The solution advice has an element of time management, as in narrow down the problem to the work that has to be done in the shortest time possible. This approach will backfire, because once you short circuit the analysis with time pressure, it's much harder to find the right path. Dead ends will be stress inducing. Unless you are an expert and already at the 1600 level, in which case it's easy. <br /><br />The TTWBN test has no time limit, and we're going to take full advantage of that fact, like 4 hours per topic. The difference between preparing for the TTWBN test now and the SAT in high school is that we'll spend one or two sessions under time pressure before the SAT . The prep process is going to be identical, including spending 10 minutes per question.<br /><br />I've rarely mentioned one of George Poyla's strategies for solving geometry problems. Rarely mentioned it, but we do it all of the time and it's behind 'Read The Question' for little people preparing for the COGAT. He warns readers that geometry proofs will need to use prior results, maybe from the last proof or from last week, to solve the current problem.<br /><br />The version that I use for grade school is that if you see a geometry, solve everything before you read the question. I want every line labelled with a length and every angle with degrees. If it's an algebra problem, be prepared to rearrange and transform. I've written before about this in the context of verbal analogies. Here's what inevitably follows:<br /><br /><ul><li>We get stuck because someone forgot that a + b + c = 180 or adjacent angles sum to 180 or something else that we didn't cover yet. So we cover it.</li><li>During this process, the characteristics of the problem at hand become clear.</li><li>The solution strategy presents itself and the answer usually becomes known before the pick list is surveyed.</li></ul><div>This is a much better approach than "What I am supposed to do?" followed by me explaining solution steps. I might as well talk to the wall.</div><div><br /></div><div>Before 4th grade, this skill is called 'Read The Question' and involves me asking lots of what if questions about a figure matrix or verbal analogy for 20 minutes before we actually pick an answer. I originally did this because really challenging COGAT test prep questions take me a long time to create and aren't found on practice tests so I wanted to get the most out of each question.</div><div><br /></div><div>I'm currently experimenting with similar approaches to Reading Comp. When I get to the end of a boring passage, I remember very little about the passage, maybe 2 nouns like bridge and engineer. Then I get a list of questions that ask who the author is, what type of writing is this, how are they feeling, how many arguments are in the passage. Then I go back and reread the passage to find out. 3 years into this, it dawned on me that I'm going to be asked this stuff anyway, so I might as well look for it.</div><div><br /></div><div>A parent might be fooled by the engaging quality of most reading comp passages. Don't be fooled. You're an adult now. Everything is interesting to you. Your child is totally bored beyond comprehension. So I announced that after the passage is read, and before we begin work on the questions, I want be told a lot about the passage, like who's writing it, what type of writing is it, what's the point of each paragraph, when did it happen? I'm inching our way toward not having to read the passage a second time thoroughly (thinking ahead to a timed test). I'm the same way about the questions. Was line 32 about eclectic dissension? Exuberant facilitation? Ascetic abnormalism? If we're luck, the answers will have about 20 words that need definitions analysis in the context of the narrative. Unless it isn't a narrative.</div><div><br /></div><div>Will the child take the hint and adopt this approach to reading or math? Certainly not in my presence, out of spite, but probably in the classroom and when it counts on the test. I've caught them both doing things properly when they thought I wasn't looking.</div><div><br /></div><div>So here's my bad advice. If you follow my approach properly, your child will get through very little material, probably do it wrong 5 times, forget the next day what was learned, and not have any academic knowledge to show for it. All the while, the important skills will be forming. Then one day they will magically know everything and things will be really easy. The first few months are a struggle.</div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-14247862306411663862018-03-17T09:57:00.000-07:002018-03-17T10:35:38.320-07:00The Test That Won't Be NamedIn this article, I'm going to jam 7 articles into one because I'm really pressed for time on the weekends.<br /><br /><b>Review of Home Schooling Literature</b><br />I've been reviewing home schooling guides lately to see if there's anything that I can add to my At Home School curriculum. "At Home Schooling" means doing a little extra work weeknights and weekends to make up for the slow pace of learning at school.<br /><br />Home school curriculum guides are pretty disappointing. If I were full time home schooling my child, I would be planning to send the child to Stanford at age 14 because home schooling is so easy. The curriculum guides shoot for something more average.<br /><br />As most curriculum guides point out, trying to teach anything to your child is really hard. What they don't point out is that your child will learn at an accelerated pace once you stop teaching. The impossible becomes the easy. The secret is in the approach, which I will describe in the next article (below).<br /><br /><b>The Secret to Learning</b><br />Almost every week, I have to remind my kids that they have to slow down. I had to tell the younger one this story again.<br /><br /><i>There were two equally bright, equally capable children. One was dumb and one was a genius. The dumb one looked at a hard problem, became frustrated because he didn't know it, and started guessing. He got the wrong answer. The genius looked at the same problem, became frustrated because he didn't know it, and started to work on it slowly one step at a time. He tried 3 times to do it, and finally chose the answer, which was also wrong.</i><br /><i><br /></i><i>A third child who was equally bright and capable also struggled with this problem. He was smart. He also took a long time to work through this frustrating problem, and after his fifth try, he bothered to check his answer, found a mistake, and fixed it. The smart child got the correct answer. </i><br /><i><br /></i>The smart child is getting 99% on the Test That Won't Be Named, but the genius is stuck between 85% and 95%. Both are learning about the same amount. Maybe the smart child is getting a bit more out of the learning process because he's checking his work. What's the problem here? The problem is that the smart child is fixated on the goal of a solution, especially the correct solution, and the genius is more interested in the learning process. Eventually, the smart child is going to be in an advanced accelerated course (or maybe pre Algebra) and the work is going to be really hard. Both the genius and the smart kid will make lots of mistakes, and this will bother the smart kid so much that he drops out. But the genius, who doesn't care about the answer in the first place, will just plod on as usual until he has a PhD in a joint Law Medicine Chemical Engineering Medieval Slovakian Literature.<br /><br />I've warned the genius that he better start checking answers because if he doesn't get a perfect score on the TTWBN test he can forget about AP courses because he won't get into a good school.<br /><br /><b>The Secret For Parents</b><br />Among equally capable parents, we find dumb, smart, and genius parents. The problem that parents need to solve is that you have a child doing a problem - whether it's a cognitive skills exam, or one of the 2 main sections on the TTWBN test - and your child is totally not getting it. Dumb parents expect their child to get it, smart parents expect their child to get it after a long struggle, and genius parents really don't care.<br /><br />Once you see a child go through this process, you get it as a parent, and work and frustration is replaced by work and learning. For this reason, the 2nd child should always end up twice as smart as the oldest sibling, given a fraction of the learning time.<br /><br />When I was a dumb parent, I came up with the parent skill set in order to survive the first few rounds of my ridiculous At Home School curriculum goals. The very first goal was to skip first grade math and do 2nd grade math starting on winter break in Kindergarten. This was the worst and best idea I ever came up with. (Tip - if you do hard core COGAT test prep at age 4, 2nd grade math at age 5 isn't all that challenging).<br /><br />As a reminder, my survival steps include start every problem by acknowledging that you are totally baffled, take a long, long time reading the question, going so far as to do a workbook on the topic before you get to the answer, make a lot of mistakes and go out for ice cream any time the child gets 100% wrong, and if a test is coming up, check the #%$!!!! answer. The parent will encourage these steps. For the parent, I'd like to add 1) set your expectations at zero, 2) I really mean zero, not .0001 but zero, and 3) stop looking at the solutions.<br /><br />You can't practice learning skills (see prior paragraph) if your child is doing a 30 question timed worksheet or knows the material or doesn't make mistakes. That's why we have a pace of 1 to 5 super hard problems in Math House.<br /><br /><b>Reading</b><br />I always considered reading to be a filler activity. I'm beginning to think differently. Competition for GAT seats is between kids who read 6 hours a day, and those of us who will just become really good problem solvers (aka shapes, math and logic) and cheat our way into the program. Cheating is much more satisfying and is the basis for higher order math.<br /><br />To be on the safe side, we did lots of vocab (vocabularyworkshop.com) and 2nd grade phonics starting on day 1 (Pre-K Phonics Conceptual Vocabulary and Thinking). But it was always primarily silly and fun. Why discourage a life of reading by putting pressure on the first year?<br /><br />I think my casual approach to reading is the reason language arts thrived in Math House.<br /><br />Yes, I grilled the kids at the Word Board (<i>How would a commander on the battle field use the word 'dispersion' in a sentence?</i>), but they didn't actually have give me a proper response and I didn't want to take the words down because I was going to quiz them on the synonyms in a few days anyway.<br /><br />But mainly we went slowly and had fun. When I say slowly, I mean when you try to slow down to nothing the child learns at a highly accelerated rate. That doesn't make sense until you see it happen, but it always does.<br /><br /><b>The Magic of Slow</b><br />I've decided that I'm no longer teaching math in Math House. Once again, I want to teach How To Figure Out A Problem. We lost that last summer trying to tackle high school math. Figuring out a concept is a much more useful skill than getting a correct answer on known material. That was the whole point of TPM. If your child masters Figuring Out A Concept, then At Home Schooling is more productive.<br /><br />In order to prepare for TTWBN, we've been working with an SAT test prep book. This doesn't mean that we're tackling high school material at a high school level. The SAT is more like grade school material for an advanced child in really convoluted problems. This characterization of the SAT motivated Test Prep Math and it's been paying dividends ever since, until we started doing high school math last summer and started to focus on knowing match concepts.<br /><br />Here's a problem that demonstrates the full range of skills, those listed above, and the skill of Seeing (aka take time to look at every element of the problem and see the things that other kids miss for lack of vocabulary or patience). No matter how old your child is or how long he's received this training, he still forgets to practice the basic skills because he's in a hurry to finish math and get on to something more enjoyable, like going to the dentist.<br /><br /><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zGTNqFB1cNs/Wq04dffOShI/AAAAAAAABvs/ubA0SSJcPswof4SaRcfoo7wN5WQZwQJaQCK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Untitled%2Bdrawing%2B%25288%2529.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="188" src="https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zGTNqFB1cNs/Wq04dffOShI/AAAAAAAABvs/ubA0SSJcPswof4SaRcfoo7wN5WQZwQJaQCK4BGAYYCw/s200/Untitled%2Bdrawing%2B%25288%2529.jpg" width="200" /></a></div><br />The triangle above is isosceles and AB > AC. Which of the following is false?<br /><br />I'm going to omit the answers because of an important technique Poyla's How To Solve it (1945). When I translated Poyla for 5 year old's preparing for a gifted exam, it becomes 'Read the Question'. The translation applicable to preparing for the TTWBN is 'if you see a geometry problem, solve everything before you look at the actual question.' (If this were age appropriate SAT test prep, then I'd take Poyla at face value because the topic of the book is geometry proofs for high school students and we'd be working under time limits.) The version for algebra is 'you're going to transform the equation so stop trying to solve it in your brain' and for trig, 'get out the basic formulas and be prepared to do geometry or algebra on top of that'.<br /><br />Anyway, we reviewed the definition of an isosceles triangle (totally forgotten since age 5 training), the sum of the angles in a triangle, and a hint where the base of the triangle is. There are the 3 steps that require Working Memory. Love this problem. Don't care about the solution.<br /><br />Initially, this problem resulted in guessing so I had to jump in and 'help' by asking questions. When I work with other people's children, they are more than happy to work thoroughly and patiently, but when I work with my own children they get frustrated and guess. Am I exaggerating? No. This is why it's so much work for a parent. Other kids just assume that I'm a teacher and therefore this will be a doable problem or else I wouldn't teach it, and things go well, but my own kids assume I'm an Insane Tyrannical Cruel Math Despot and am torturing them. You will face the same problem with your own children, which is why the survival skills above are so important.<br /><br />We've been working consistently at a pace of about 5 problems per day, and over time the child might do 3 problems on his own (incorrectly) and only need help on 2, and before you know it, he's back to needing help on all 5 problems because I had to switched to much harder material.<br /><br />Anyway, it was this problem where we ran into guessing and I decided I would much rather have him just work the question than try to solve it until he substitutes his subpar approach with '15 minutes of reading the question and 1 minute of getting it right'.<br /><br /><b>Reading</b><br />I've been happy to ignore reading until now, just doing the minimum lots of vocab and a couple hours of reading a day, an approach that paid dividends, but this year the older one has to take TTWBN for real and the younger one would rather do the verbal sections than the math sections to spite me. So it's time to get serious.<br /><br />When I bought the SAT books a few years ago (2nd dumbest and smartest idea ever), we had a lot of success but my 5th grader and I failed at the reading comp. We never made it past baffled.<br /><br />I knew a high school English teacher named Yoda who taught SAT test prep classes and begged the little green guy for advice. He said, 'Ask why you got the question wrong, you must'. I'm not kidding, aside from the Yodese accent; this is the only thing he said because we were sitting in a Boy Scout meeting whispering and then got shushed, and I haven't seen him since. For a year, we kept coming up with the answer 'Because neither of us know what the heck we're doing trying to do with SAT reading comp questions in 5th grade' and then gave up.<br /><br />Now I've got a 4th grader and a 7th grader with identical books (each have a copy) and I'm starting to get it. If you've got a 99.6% GRE level in vocabulary (because on the pre-test you got a 50% so you did some serious test prep back in the day) or a good dictionary, the reading comp section boils down to...but first I should point out that given the age difference, it's a totally different experience with each and the 4th grader finds those small passages that ask about sentence structure - saving the long passages for 6th or 7th grade.<br /><br />By the way, to overcome the vocab deficit, I've found that about half the time if you just add a 'y' to a word it's good enough. Decisive becomes Decisiony and we can move on. The rest of the time its a longer discussion.<br /><br />Anyway, it once again boils down to Math. It boils down to math. It's all just logic, one word at a time, counting sentences, iterating. If Math is 100% language based (I've said that before) it's only fair that reading becomes 100% math based. The left-brain-right-brain theory turned out to be totally wrong.<br /><br />Or, if you don't like that answer, it boils down to math in the sense of be baffled, spend a lot of time on the question (including the pick list), go slow, make mistakes and try again, and check your work.<br /><br />It's also patterns. By the time we're done, I'll know every technique, aspect, variation, and trick of the SAT. For example, when an answer choice is 'the author reluctantly agrees partially', you need to find concrete evidence in lines 30-33 of reluctant, agreement, and partial not whole. Applying Poyla to this material, you better be able to tell me the author's life story after you read the passage and before you start answering questions. It took me a year to figure that out, but now it seems obvious.<br /><br /><b>The Danger of Test Prep Classes</b><br />The problem of a classroom of any type is that to serve all 20 or 30 students, you have to TELL them the material. All kids are paying the same amount, and they'll all come out KNOWING the material and performing well on a test if you just tell them. This will work on a standardized test or even some gifted tests for some kids with specific learning styles. I worry about the longer term impact (jury is deliberating).<br /><br />The problem of TTWBN is that there isn't enough time to teach all of the material that the test covers at the level we need to be each year, and this is the big year. So I'm back to focusing on figuring things out.<br /><br />How important is At Home Schooling? Is it important enough for me to set aside a few hours a week, maybe a few more for research and preparation? Is it important enough for me to go through the frustration and headaches?<br /><br />What will the child think if I say 'This is not important at all to me to spend any time on it, but I'm going to make you go to this totally unimportant class'. The child cannot visualize money and he doesn't visualize you sitting in traffic. If you are not physically there going through the same pain, a bright child will conclude you do not value this activity at all that you are making him do. You won't see an impact with little kids, but you will see it later.Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-79926587295775160362018-03-11T09:21:00.003-07:002018-03-11T09:21:36.094-07:00The Kindergarten ChallengeHere's a challenge I received from a reader. <br /><br />The 1st grade child scores 99% on the NNAT one year than falls to 80% the next. Reading and math scores also fall. All scores have to be near the 100% mark in three months for GAT entry.<br /><br />The child is going to be home schooled. I'm very excited about this. It only takes a few hours a day to give the child 8 hours of education, and the child can sleep in every day which is critical for intense instruction. This leaves about 50 minutes for test prep and 2 hours for art, crafts and projects every day and 3 hours of reading. I consider science to fall under crafts and projects at this age. Think sorting rocks, vinegar and baking soda. First grade will take about 4 months under these conditions, and second grade another 4 months.<br /><br />The parent needs to find out the times of day when math works. Is math first thing in the morning, or is it morning painting and Read To? Test prep needs 2 times, one in early, late or mid morning, and one sometime in the afternoon.<br /><br />There are a few reasons why the scores fell year-over-year. I could write a whole article just on that topic. For now, the things I care about are a) anything score 50% is not a bad starting point, b) three months of prep is better than eight weeks, and c) we need to slow down the pace of learning, probably by about 90% and ramp up the complexity of the material. If the child did not do well on the test because the parent teaching methods and attitude are a total disaster (been there) then we need to fix this, which will be a separate article.<br /><br />Yes, I said slow down the pace of learning. This is probably the biggest factor in GAT preparation. My pace when I coach is 1 problem in 20 to 30 minutes (depending on the child's age) and 5 or 6 problems when the child works alone. We're just as slow in math, and I've managed to get two kids into high school math at age 9 or 10 on 5 problems a day. Not that they're especially talented in math.<br /><br />The premise of "slow" is slightly counter intuitive under a deadline. Here's the explanation. When you build an academic culture where a little work goes a long way, you're using the skills measured by the GAT tests, skills that are also critical to standardized tests like the MAP. Unless it's a timed test, but we can account for that after the learning takes place. When you have a culture where problems are easy, correct answers are expected, and worksheets are long and fast, the child is going to totally bomb on a test like the COGAT and NNAT.<br /><br />I would make time for Vocabulary Workshop because it's so much fun and children learn how to eliminate answer choices as they quickly progress toward harder material. I would have a Word Board for something because it's where adult discussions take place and where the child has to stand up and deliver. Or fail. There's always the next day.<br /><br />For math and test prep, let's teach this child so that he or she gets to 99%. I've been going back through my articles thinking about my teaching methods. I don't think articles are clear on my preferred approach:<br />1. Give the child super advanced material and let them flounder. Eventually they will pick up the skills to work with super hard advanced material.<br />2. Give them advanced material and let them do all the work before you don't grade it. (No typo, read that again.)<br />3. Walk through the super hard material together, one question at a time after they do it.<br />4. Do it with them, one question at a time, mostly just asking questions.<br />5. Give them simple material on a super advanced topic so that they can learn one step at a time on their own.<br />6. Give them last year's workbook (last year may actually be next year depending on the circumstances) so that they can catch up on material they need to know in order to keep up with 1 to 3 above. They can do this on their own, or with some starter help.<br />7. Lay 5 skittles on the table, one of each color, and provide a skittle each time your child gets a correct answer.<br />8. Give them a skittle just for making an attempt.<br />9. Do the problems yourself while they watch.<br /><br />Lately I've been doing 4b, which is to break down a problem entirely and a class or rules, but I didn't do this in first grade. I did say Shape Size Color Count over and over when they were stuck to remind them not to look at a problem for 15 seconds and announce that they were stuck, because that's called 'The Beginning of the Work'. <br /><br />Which approach do you use? I used them all.<br /><br />I used a variety of material, not because of the Spaghetti approach, but because sampling is the best way to find out what works, a child needs to learn from all materials, and a child needs to learn all learning styles and accommodate all teaching styles. It's not a matter of what the child likes best (aka the easiest), but what works best on which day to meet our goals.<br /><br />Finally, both cognitive kills tests and the upper levels of standardized tests in math and reading require deep, careful thinking over an extended period of time, mistrust of answers, tackling something unknown, surprising, new, with subtle, hidden complexity. How to you train a child to have these skills? #1 through #5 on the list above. It works the best with 1 super hard long 25 minute mind numbing problem, but in practice, this is a total disaster with crying and yelling, so I've settled on 5 medium really hard problems in 25 minutes. After that, brain exhausted.<br /><br />I almost forgot. We also did music starting in Kindergarten. I gave my child an electric piano and the Piano Adventure series, and no help what so ever except for tempo. <br /><br />Remind yourself that the child will be sitting in some advanced class someday without your help. The child will be taking a test without your help. This is what you are preparing them for. So many people get hung up on them having to know math because they have to get above 95% on the math section. It's so much easier to train them to think and then math comes really easily after that.<br /><br />What would this take? I think a few reading comp books, about 10 to 15 each, maybe 3 math workbooks, judicious use of the web, 2 vocab workshop books (current followed by current + 1 for starters), maybe one reading comp book, but lots of reading of all kinds. I would go to Michaels and buy lots of cheap crafts and things like that bead thing, concentrating and creativity activities, painting, and then whatever test prep books you want. <br /><br />Origami. Almost forgot. Origami is really good for visual spacial and fun, and the test we're challenged with in this case is the NNAT after all. You can create all sorts of animals. Do not let you're child do an activity that requires you to do it. It's kind of the opposite of test prep and how I do math. <br /><br />Totally excited about this. The thing I got out of this time period is a) I learned how not to be impatient or expect anything or care about correct answers and b) I ended up with a much closer relationship with my children and some credibility with them. a) led to b). a) also leads to a boatload of learning in a short period of time.<br /><br /><br /><br />Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-42592442784695003442018-03-03T12:09:00.001-08:002018-03-03T12:09:20.341-08:00Putting Skills To The TestI've been working with a few hypotheses since about 2011 based on my research into the COGAT. Six years later, it's time to see how these hypotheses faired over time.<br /><br />Since I am the only person in the universe who a) believes skills exist, b) believes that skills are learnable and c) isn't making you buy a product or service to learn about skills, this website is pretty much your only resource. It would be nice if it were accurate as well.<br /><br />Here are my hypotheses.<br /><ol><li>The COGAT measures the skills that predict academic success.</li></ol><div>This hypothesis is based on the simple observation that school districts pay a lot of money for the COGAT in order to populate their gifted and talented programs. I read the research of the current test author and determined that he stands apart form cognitive skills researchers - all skills and no genetic intelligence.</div><div><br /></div><div>Any parent who forgoes COGAT test prep (or a similar cognitive abilities test) has no interest in a child with cognitive abilities. </div><div><br /></div><div>Unfortunately, future academic success is dependent on a child who has continued interest in academic pursuits. If the child lives in a house that devalues academics or goes to a school that devalues learning (aka most schools governed by No Child Left Behind) then hypothesis #1 may be undone. What started as an assumption is now ongoing research. So far, so good.</div><div><ol start="2"><li>The skills are age independent.</li></ol><div>Another way of stating this hypothesis is that once the skills are learned, the child has them forever. A child could pick these skills up at age 3, or age 15. Everything I've seen in the last 6 years supports this hypothesis. A corollary to this hypothesis is that the probability that the child will pick up these skills decreases every year after 1st grade, probably because of NCWLB, with the exception of age 15 (which I haven't personally researched yet.)<br /><br /></div></div><div>I first came up with this hypothesis while reading a description of the classical education in the Well Trained Mind. The classical education has a breakpoint every 4 years and is based on the development of the child, brain or otherwise.<br /><br /></div><div>I've noticed leap in skills around 5th/6th grade academic material, certainly by middle school, which I've had some fun with recently and describe below.</div><div><ol start="3"><li>The list of skills is boring and unremarkable.</li></ol></div><div>I'm not going to restate my skill inventory here, but if you read the list in prior articles, it's not really earth shattering. I think I would have more readership if I could come up with clever sounding names for the skills or write articles like '10 Things You Didn't Know About Skills', but there are only 4 or 5 things you didn't know, and those are the skills. </div><div><br /></div><div>What I find more interesting is watching a child go through the transition from not using the skills to overcoming very difficult material by applying the skills. Take Mistakes, for example. A child doesn't need this skill, and is not incented to use it because it requires some effort and controlling emotions. The reason the child doesn't need this skill is because parents and teachers are willing to explain the mistake, show the solution, explain the solution. There is a high price on making mistakes in the first place. Once the support structure and penalties are removed, the child has to go through the process of proving to himself the value of mistakes, as in make one, learn something, try again and again, and achieve the solution with no help. It's like military boot camp. Not fun when you're there, but it pays off.</div><div><br /></div><div>In practice, I observe the emergence or application of about a dozen sub-skills during this process. The sub-skills are germane to the subject and child specific. I've never seen a reason to discuss most of these (except the big 5) because we'd end up just replacing spoon-feeding-training subject matter with spoon-feeding-training sub-skills and be back to a helpless child who's not getting it. Right now I'm tackling middle school reading comprehension with a vengeance and we are heads down on the sub-skills, but that article will wait until we get past the high school entrance requirements.</div><div><br /></div><div>Recently, a 4th grade buddy came over to play Minecraft. In Math House, the rule is no math, no computer. In this case, 'math' meant learning algebra from scratch in 25 minutes or less. This child is solidly at the top of the gifted spectrum. I don't know why his parents didn't bother to teach their 9 year old algebra yet - probably because they are not insane - but it qualified him for my research.<br /><br />During this experiment, I noted that there is a leap in skills required of algebra. I'm not talking about- abstract thinking or a new language in the form of different syntax or seeing pre-algebra for the first time. Because of this leap, the child went from 99% in skills to 0% in skills before working his way back. Also, note that parentheses alone work a magic spell on children that makes them forget everything they've ever learned. <br /><br />Here's a transcript of the experiment.<br /><br />Me: Solve this equation: 3 + 5 = ? (He responded 8, then looked at me like I was a moron.)<br /><br />Me: Solve this equation: 3 + 5 = ___ Does it matter that I changed the question mark with a blank? (He responded no.)<br /><br />Me: Now solve this equation: 3 + ___ = 8. Is it totally confusing that the blank has moved? (He answered no.)<br /><br />Me: Not solve this equation: 3 + x = 8. I am replacing the blank with an x. Instead of telling me what goes in the blank, tell me what x is. Is this to confusing for you? (He answered no.)<br /><br />Me: Now I want you to use algebra. Instead of just solving for x, you have to transform the equation one step at a time. You can either add a number to both sides, subtract a number from both sides, multiply both sides by a number, or divide each side by a number. (There are a few more transformations, and I didn't mention expressions, but we're keeping it simple because we only have 25 minutes for this experiment.)<br /><br />Me: Here is everything you need to know about algebra. Look at these 2 equations and tell me what is wrong with the second one:<br /><div><ul><li>x = 2</li><li>3 + x = 8 - 5x</li></ul><div>Me (after a brief discussion): The first one is perfect. I know the answer immediately. The second one is broken because it doesn't have a letter on the left side and a number on the right side. Fix it. You can only use 1 of the four transformations, and you can only do one transformation at a time.</div></div><br />Rules: a) apply one of the 4 transformations to both sides, b) only apply one transformation at a time.<br /><br />We took a break at this point to remember the scale problems from 2nd or 3rd grade math (which he forgot) and assure ourselves that the 2 sides stay equal when these transformations take place. Then he had to tackle these 2 problems:<br /><br /><ul><li>3 + x = 8 - 5x</li><li>7x - 15x = x(x + 5)</li></ul><div>It's really fun to watch what happens next. First of all, rules a) and b) from above are both violated repeatedly. "Both sides" is forgotten. Gifted kids are gifted in part because they can solve complicated expressions in one shot. In practice, they combine steps. Doing only one step and writing it out is like eating broccoli. When I teach algebra to young kids, I'm always battling them trying to figure out the answer in their head, which they can do. I'm asking them to stop doing things in the way that they are good at, and start doing things in a way that they are not good at and will likely lead to an incorrect answer. It's more than Baffling for this reason. </div><div><br /></div><div>Next, they forget how to add and subtract single digit numbers.</div><div><br /></div><div>Any pre-algebra kids learned up to this point is also forgotten. This includes parenthesis and not adding x to 5, because you can't and x to 5 and get 5x or 6.</div><div><br /></div><div>I made some really cool observations during this experiment. The subject wondered what 5x means, and then realized why dot means multiplication - because writing 7 x x to mean 7 times x doesn't make sense. His skills of analyzing the question were strong. Analyzing the question in algebra, at least initially, means learning quite a bit on the spot that was not previously known (which I minimized in the problem above). It's a leap in this skill. Once we get beyond simple one variable equations, the question analysis takes a leap.</div><div><br /></div><div>It's hard to make the leap to 5x + x. What does this mean? It means that you have 5 x's, and I give you another x, how many x's do you have now? It's like working with a 3 year old on addition. Did you forget to add? Do you want to do it on your fingers, butter bean? Do I need to invite the 3 year old down the street here to teach you how to count on your fingers? I really need a control group where I don't antagonize the subject.</div><div><br /></div><div>The most remarkable observation for this experiment is that the child typically (100% of the cases) get's stuck on what to do even though according the rules, the only thing to do is apply one of the four transformations to the equation. Maybe they can clean up the expression by making 7x - 15x equal -8x, but that's not what they are stuck on. Without doing enough of these problems, it is not clear which arithmetic operation to apply to each side. Addition? Multiplication? Subtraction? Division? These kids break the transformation down to a simple question & answer, and they don't know the answer. The correct approach is to try all 4 and see if the resulting equation is getting fixed (aka easier) or more broken. Algebra has the skill of Mistakes build right into the process.</div><div><br /></div><div>That is the biggest leap in skills.</div><div><br /></div><div>At age 5, a gifted child will make a mistake, not be bothered, and try again until the solution is correct. Really gifted children (on standardized tests, anyway), check their answers to verify that they didn't make a mistake.</div><div><br /></div><div>With algebra, initially, on each step there is a 75% chance that you will make a mistake, and you may have to try all 4 to see where the equation is going. That is a 25% error rate built in to each and every step. Sometimes you might even have to do 2 or 3 steps, trying a series of transformations, before you know you are on track, and you've ended up with a score in the single digits before you get past the first problem.</div><div><br /></div><div>I've occasionally mentioned that I think drawing is a valid way to teach a child to be gifted in math. Hand your child a 2 inch stack of paper and a dozen pencils, and ask them to draw a realistic looking horse. All of the cognitive skills are used to their extreme in this exercise. Children who draw for a living should become math powerhouses*. </div><div><br /></div><div>*It depends on what they draw. Horses aren't good enough. Needs something with lines and circles in it.</div><div><br /></div><div>I prefer crafts for math training to prepare for algebra.</div><div><br /></div><div>Anyway, the subject passed the 25 minute algebra lesson and his parents didn't complain yet about any signs of psychological damage.</div></div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com3tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-8603296718896808752018-02-28T21:11:00.000-08:002018-02-28T21:11:02.230-08:00Skills In PerspectiveIn the last article, I went a little overboard on the technical detail with some middle school competitive math. I tried my best to lay out problem solving so that you can see it is consistent with little children and consistent with the high school, college, graduate school and post doc experience.<br /><br /><hr />Let me explain this bluntly.<br /><br />You want your child to have problem solving skills. This is much better than having to help with math or hire a tutor to spoon feed your child steps from question to answer.<br /><br />But if you try to teach your child problem solving skills in the hopes that these spur cognitive growth, you will fail. It's as bad as having your child memorize formulas and rote practice applying them.<br /><br /><hr /><br />Here's a brief history of skills. In 1945, a researcher at Stanford named George Poyla took 3,000 years of research into how mathematicians solve problems from philosophers, ancient Greeks, and mathematicians themselves, and wrote a book called How To Solve it to help high school teachers mentor their students on solving geometry proofs. The emphasis of How To Solve it is 'mentoring', not doing any work for the student or teaching problem solving algorithms or heuristics.<br /><br />By the 1970's problem solving was turned into a pre-packaged, spoon feeding program to help students apply problem solving methods to pre-algebra and more advanced maths without the need to understand anything that they are doing, let alone math.<br /><br />The #1 problem in problem solving is that the defective learning approach that emphasizes a speedy, correct answer that has been memorized and practiced has evolved into a defective learning approach that emphasizes a speedy, correct answer using a problem solving technique that has been memorized and practiced.<br /><br />When I finished translating How To Solve it into a method suitable for parents of 4 year olds, I was stunned to find a solid approach that also works for graduate school. I added a step that researchers at Berkeley identified as the #1 success factor for surviving their first year calculus courses. The first experimentee of the program is now 9 year's old, and needs about 10 minutes to get a score of 50% on SAT reading comprehension tests. Obviously, we have a way to go, but the method is so general that if pretty much works everywhere, including assembling Ikea furniture and fixing plumbing issues. I would recommend it simply for the benefit of not having to call a plumber.<br /><br />Here is the short version of the problem solving method:<br /><ol><li>Be Baffled (thanks Berkeley math department)</li><li>Spend a lot of time thinking about and exploring the problem</li><li>Make mistakes and try again</li><li>Check your work (I added this because it raises test scores)</li></ol><div>In between #2 and #3 sit the process of problem solving. In the last article, I demonstrated the most powerful problem solving techniques from the standpoint of a baffled parent trying to help their child learn some new material that is way beyond the child's skill level. Think figure matrices, multiplication, fractions, exponents, algebra, trig or whatever. I'm going to continue the numbering from the above list and explain why shortly.</div><div><ol start="5"><li>Start with a much, much easier version of the problem, like 1 x 2 = 2 and just keep adding to it and iterating until you are back to the original problem. This can take weeks if you're trying to teach multiplication to a 5 year old. In some cases, the child is missing something fundamental from material we skipped, so we just backtrack to an easier math book to practice the prior material and then come back to the problem. Backtracking happens a lot in Math House. Ironically, I can teach basic Trig in about 30 minutes, but it takes months to teach basic alegra.</li><li>Translate the hard problem into 2 easier problems and solve the easier problems instead. This approach usually involves decomposition or regrouping in the early years, and gets trickier in high school math.</li></ol><div>There are other good approaches for more advanced topics outlined in Poyla, like solving the problem backwards, applying some theorem or proof that you just learned in the prior problem (which works for both Geometry and the COGAT), filling in the missing word or shape. If you give the child enough space to explore the problem and make mistakes, the child will learn these methods on their own, or even better, make up their own methods however inefficient.<br /><br />When I combine the two lists, which is why they are numbered contiguously, I end up with 90% of my teaching method for math until we get to Algebra and Geometry.<br /><br />There is a great deal of contemporary discussion on the topic of why students are struggling in Physics. The consensus of physics teachers is that students are more interested in getting to the solution (using the internet to find the method) and less interested in learning physics. You can find many, many books written to demonstrate the step-by-step approach to solving every class, subclass, and subsubclass of algebra problem if you wish to be an algebra expert without knowing what you are doing. If a parent would just take a step back from Teach To The Test, you'd find that it takes a fraction of the time to get a 99.9% based on thinking and learning than a 90% based on practice and memorization. To emphasize this point, we tend to do 2 to 5 problems a day and make much more progress more quickly than children who do 30 or 40 easy problems a day.<br /><br />Learning happens from the start of the first problem until the student realizes that there is a formula or method that can be used to solve problems of this type. When the child struggles with 2/3+ 5/7, lots of learning is happening. But once the child realizes that each fraction has to be transformed to share common denominators, we're done with learning. Learning also stops when the solution is checked as well, right or wrong.<br /><br />The biggest complaint I receive from parents who start down the path that I recommend is that it doesn't work. By 'doesn't work', it means that their child is frustrated, lost, and getting nowhere. To me, this is a description of the initial stages of the process a not a defect or shortcoming in the approach. Some stubborn kids need about 6 weeks to undo the programming from school, programming that you must know what you are doing, do it quickly, and obtain the correct answer without effort or challenge. It takes a while for the child to realize that expectations have changed. <br /><br />Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 weeks on a half dozen problems to teach the child that we are going to go slow, think a lot, be confused, hit dead ends, have to backtrack, and get things wrong a lot. To accelerate this process (meaning show the student that the rules have changed), I'm usually confused, get the wrong answer, and don't check the solutions. Once the child gets past this hurdle, the pace begins to go very quickly, and if you stick with this approach, the child will in a few years teach themselves entire subjects very quickly, or if you insist on teaching your 9 year old algebra, not very quickly but adequately.</div></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div><div><br /></div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-414815082458240142018-02-24T16:14:00.002-08:002018-02-24T16:14:31.860-08:00Skills in ActionA reader challenged me to explain how to do competitive math. I'm excited about these problems because they demonstrate a fundamental skill set that is developed during learning to read at age 4. It's very similar to the skills that cognitive skill sets like the COGAT teaches. It's 100% learnable.<br /><br />What I like about this problem set is that a parent can work through these and have the exact same experience that your child goes through. I'm hoping that parents who take the time to work through this material will have better training when your child shows you a figure matrix that is baffling. It's also a good opportunity for the parent who discovers this website 6 or 7 years too late so that I can show that it's never too late.<br /><br />I've gotten numerous questions about what follows Test Prep Math 3. I like competitive math as a warm up for SAT test prep. We dabble with pre-algebra, but usually only in a Algebra 1 setting. Sounds hard, but this is the skill set.<br /><br />Here we go. Picture a competitive math worksheet with 40 problems on it, that has a 45 minute time limit. I suppose if we were serious about competition, we'd train for learned strategies to address the time limit, but we're not serious about competition, just doing a bit of daily math. I think 5 problems is asking a lot of an 11 year old.<br /><br /><b>Question 1:</b> F - T - L - T - ? - ? Find the last 2 letters in this series.<br /><ol><li>I have no clue how to do this. Anyone you has seen this question type probably doesn't have any clue because it has unlimited subjects. But I have the most important skill of all, which is the proper way to be Baffled, which is to not care that I'm clueless.</li><li>I think for a minute about adult IQ tests. Friday, Tuesday, Something That Begins with L, Thursday. Fail.</li><li>F = 6, T = 20, a difference of 14. L = 12, T = 20, - 8 + 8? Fail. Skill 2 - don't care how many incorrect answers I get.</li><li>I stop and think about the question a bit. Kids only know arithmetic, language, geometry, and a tiny bit of algebra. Pre-Algebra is fair game. In the real world, I should have used Skill #3 which is to spend more time thinking about the question and less time getting incorrect answers, but in competitive math with no time limit, lots of learning can happen in dead ends.</li><li>Going the geometry route, all the letters have a single vertical line. F has 2 vertical lines and T has 1. That's 3. L has 1 vertical line and T has 1. That's 2. I forgot to look at the answer set. My skills are rusty because the answer set is part of the question.</li><li>The answer set is:</li><ol type="A"><li>L - T</li><li>L - B ( I think this B has no vertical lines.)</li><li>L - M</li><li>T - P</li></ol><li>If B is the answer, using counting horizontal lines in the series, we get 2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 0, but if we take pairs of vertical lines, we get 3 - 2 -1. B is the answer, I accidentally stumbled on it, and I have no clue why I am correct. But it was the best of a bunch of confusing bad answers.</li></ol><div>This problem took me about 15 minutes. It's very similar to the type of work I do on a daily basis. I wonder if competitive math tests are structured so that super duper problem solving kids prioritize the questions and their time before answering and just skip this one. Probably. </div><div><br /></div><div>When you work with your child and do a problem that is really hard for their age and skill set, just like the one above, here's the benefit you both gain:</div><div><ol><li>You get used to working with baffling things and don't get put off.</li><li>You make a lot of mistakes and don't get put off. In fact, in my failed attempts (attempts not include above), I learned a lot of interesting things and picked up a few mini-skills on the way to dead ends.</li><li>The solver is forced to think creatively and view the problem from different angels. It will take a lot more problems to learn creativity, but since I am making a habit of baffled and mistakes as skills by force feeding my child these problems over and over again, we'll get their eventually.</li><li>I never looked at the clock or the solutions. This problem is kind of tricky and fun. The solution will end the learning process and reinforce the Rule #1 that it's not about learning or getting better at something, it's about being right or wrong. Rule #1 will destroy your child's ability to learn. Rule #1 is an anti-skill.</li></ol><div>When I work with kids, a team will really help, and I'm the only one available for the other team member, so in practice I ask a lot of questions (as needed) and make suggestions for the next attempt (as needed). I'm always baffled. In practice, I'm suggesting skills and approaches from my toolset of exactly 5 approaches to any math problems. </div><div><br /></div><div>Why is it that when your child comes to you and asks what 'dispersed' means, you're more than happy to tell him, in fact you're so happy your bright little child has an interested in vocabulary and is not skipping over unknown words when reading, but when your child gets a math problem wrong, you're disappointed? What a horrible destructive way to teach children to hate math. Adding a time limit makes it even worse, because then a teacher can mark of a series of unanswered questions. This is why schools can completely eliminate tests through Junior year in high school and produce kids who blow away college entrance exams.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>OK, let's see what we get out of more baffling problems.</div><div><br /></div><div>What is the remainder when the 15-digit number 444444444444444 is divided by 9?</div><div><ol><li>Are you kidding - this is too big to fit in the calculator. Curse you competitive math test author. The answer pick list is irrelevant. Again, I have no clue.</li><li>Too hard of a problem. So I fall back to how we tackled any math - starting at age 4, when it's too hard. We start with the easiest version of the problem and work our way back to the harder problem:</li><ol><li>4/9 ~ r 4</li><li>44/9 ~ r 8</li><li>444/9 ~ r 3</li><li>4444/9 ~ r 7 this is good practice for division but a fail in solving the problem.</li></ol><li>Then I remembered that when I teach division, I always make the student turn 36 รท 9 into 3*3*2*2/3*3. Now were trying to turn this problem into a more solvable, easier version of this problem. Here's goes:</li><ol><li>4*111111111111111/9 = ? Still hard. Fortunately, I can look back on the first fail and continue.</li><li>1/9 ~ r 1</li><li>11/9 ~ r 2</li><li>111/9 ~ r 3. Get it? Light bulb. </li><li>Continuing, I get to r 0 at 1111111111 which puts 111111111111111 (15 digits) at r 5.</li></ol><li>Unfortunately, I'm stuck having to multiply the whole thing by the remainder. This stinks, I stink, and your child stinks, so we're going to have to take baby steps.</li><ol><li>Since 1/9 = 0 + 1/9, 4*(0 + 1/9) = (0 + 4/9) ~ r 4, which is what I got in the first fail. Notice I'm checking the answer, which is skill #4 at the base of the cognitive skills pyramid. I suppose this requires some pre-algebra.</li><li>11/9 = (1 + 2/9), so 4*(1 + 2/9) ~ r 8, again, just like above.</li><li>111/9 = (12 + 3/9) but 4(12 + 3/9) is going to give us 48 + 12/9, slightly confusing, and I have to go read the question yet again. Oh yea, we're dividing by 9, and trying to find the remainder, so I can write 48 + 1 + 3/9 ~ r 3 just like expected.</li><li>At some point, the lightbulb goes off, and I can just jump to 15 ones's/9 = (something big + 5/9), and I multiply by 4 and get 4*something big + 20/9 ~ r 2, which is not even on the answer list. The choices are 4, 5, 6, and 7. </li><li>So starting over, which I'm totally used to because we do it all the time, I note that the 9 digit number 111,111,111/9 = 12,345,679 r 0, duh, should have thought this though. This makes 111,111,111,111,111/9 = something big 6/9 (since 15 digits is 6 more than 9 digits), and 4*(something big + 6/9) = 4*big + 24/9 = 4*big + 2 + 6/9, giving me the correct answer of 6.</li></ol></ol><div>We've got 3 big solutions approaches that we start using when the child is about 3 years old. </div><div><br /></div><div>At some point, your child is looking at * * * * * * of something and you ask her to count. She answers 12 or 5 or gives up, so you start small, like *, then * *, then * * *. I teach addition, fractions, and multiplication this way. It works in graduate school and it was by experimenting that I found it works really well at the youngest ages. It works on pre-algebra. It works on all forms of high school math. It's required for competitive math. Math books do this from chapter 1 through chapter 15, but we do it in 5 minute increments and don't really need a math book.</div></div><div><br /></div><div>Next, when a problem is too hard, turn it into an easier problem. This is the foundation of algebra. You might as well start now.</div><div><br /></div><div>Finally, notice that there are 3 steps to this problem. If you've seen TPM, you know why I think 3 is so important. It builds working memory. For the age group for the problem above, we're probably beyond working memory, and if not, doing these problems will bring it back. But the working part in 3 steps is where the little brain turns itself into a big brain by defining relationships and patterns and working abstractions into algorithms from one part of the problem to the second to the third. You see all three in the solution above. A genius can do it in one step only under one condition: the genius worked through enough of these problems to get really good at devising and applying algorithms. Don't be fooled into thinking it's genetic. The rest of us are happy doing the 3 steps one step at a time. One step at a time is good for 99%.</div><div><br /></div><div>Moving on, how about this problem. What is the value of 1 - 2 + 3 - 4 + 5 - 6 + ... + 81 - 82?</div><div><br /></div><div>This problem not only demonstrates the value of spending way more time exploring the question than trying to answer the question, it also demonstrates the value of what I call "Seeing". I learned it from the COGAT. It involves looking at the problem from different perspectives. </div><div><br /></div><div>I checked to see that there were an even number of elements to this equation, all equaling negative one when paired, and came up with -41. Eight minutes of thinking about the equation and 4 seconds deriving the answer. With 40 questions and a 45 minute time limit, I would have come in last on the competitive math exam. Can you picture me sitting with a bunch of 6th and 7th graders? </div><div><br /></div><div>This next question is my favorite and a really great exercise on it's own to teach exponents. I love this question. This differs in an important way from the math I would give a younger child but is identical in nature to the non-verbal section in TPM. It involves doing a lot of work, organizing and thinking about it, and then answering. </div><div><br /></div><div>If a and b can take on the values in [0,9] (meaning that they can each be 0, 1, 2, ... 9), then the expression a<sup>b</sup> can take on how many different odd number values?<br /><ol><li>To start, I just created a grid with 0-9 on the rows and 0-9 in the columns and started calculating the expression based on inputs. In a competitive math situation, this is a waste of time and requires thinking, but with most kids (and 9 year olds), I make them use the brute force approach because they usually have never seen a<sup>b </sup>outside of 4<sup>2</sup>. I've got a whole exponent crash course (including negative and fraction exponents), but this seems to be a good starter exercise. </li><li>The rows are a and the columns are b. I didn't calculate the *'s but I could have. <table><tbody><tr><td>*</td><td><b>0</b></td><td><b>1</b></td><td><b>2</b></td><td><b>3</b></td><td><b>4</b></td><td><b>5</b></td><td><b>6</b></td><td><b>7</b></td><td><b>8</b></td><td><b>9</b></td></tr><tr><td><b>0</b></td><td>?</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td><td>0</td></tr><tr><td><b>1</b></td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td><td>1</td></tr><tr><td><b>2</b></td><td>1</td><td>2</td><td>4</td><td>8</td><td>16</td><td>32</td><td>64</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>3</b></td><td>1</td><td>3</td><td>9</td><td>81</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>4</b></td><td>1</td><td>4</td><td>16</td><td>64</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>5</b></td><td>1</td><td>5</td><td>25</td><td>125</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>6</b></td><td>1</td><td>6</td><td>36</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>7</b></td><td>1</td><td>7</td><td>49</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>8</b></td><td>1</td><td>8</td><td>64</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr><tr><td><b>9</b></td><td>1</td><td>9</td><td>81</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td></tr></tbody></table></li><li>This seems to be a fail. Too hard. I did notice that only one zero in the top row and one from row 2 and column 2 are going to be included. What is zero raised to zero? It's either one, zero, or undefined, but if you read the question again (and you should because it's a skill), it doesn't matter to the answer.</li><li>After rereading the question yet again, I noticed that I only have to deal with ODD numbers. With the exception of '1', the rows with 5, 7, and 9 qualify, and since 3*3*3*3 = 9*9, the row of threes where the exponent is odd also qualifies but not when the exponent is even. And we can add 1 only once and ignore zero. And that gives the correct answer of 27 (the whole row of 5,7,9) + 1 (from the one) + 5 (from 3 row where it doesn't repeat a value from the 9 row) = 33.</li><li>It's possible to jump to step 4 as a competitive math coach, but not a regular bright kid doing competitive math coach.</li></ol><div>I'm guessing the question needs about 5 readings before this work can begin. I've watched little mathematicians create charts to answer questions and it's very gratifying.</div></div><div><br />Finally, the last question is this. If x and y are integers and 360x = y<sup>3</sup>, what is the minimum possible value for x + y? At this point, we left all kids under 4th grade behind and we're just looking at algebra. Or are we? Yes, I'm running out of steam and have already covered all the really great problem solving techniques. <br /><br /><ol><li>After 30 minutes with the question, I decided that x is just a function of y, so forget about x. Just find the smallest possible value of y. Or do algebra. It's late, I've exceeded the maximum good thinking time of a grade school child of 25 minutes, and the Olympics are on.</li><li>But I don't like 360, so I wrote 2*2*3*3*2*5x = y<sup>3</sup>. Then I rewrote it to be 2*2*2*3*3*5x = y<sup>3</sup>. You can see that if y is an integer, x has to be 3*5*5, making y = 2*3*5. So x = 75, y = 30, and the answer is 105. </li></ol>I got the entire solution correct by following these steps:<br /><br /><ol><li>I had no clue what to do.</li><li>I went off in the wrong direction by trying to use algebra, which I can, but doesn't solve the problem for a kid who doesn't know algebra. Fail.</li><li>I tried again.</li><li>I spent more time looking at the question and eventually started to rearrange it in the hopes of finding an easier problem. (I.e., I used one of the big five 5 math problem solving techniques.)</li><li>I looked at it, specifically looking at the root primes against the exponent on the other side of the equation. I used my power of seeing things differently.</li><li>The answer emerged with no effort.</li></ol>This is why studying for the COGAT is so critically important. It's the easiest way to get the skills. If you missed this opportunity, there are other opportunities including competitive math. It seems harder and more complicated because your child is older and the math more obscure, but it's about the same. If you did this when your child was younger, you would have blocked out all of the tears and frustration by now and just remember how it all worked out. Same with bed wetting in the middle of the night. Remember that? Of course not.<br /><br />Is there anything different between a child who does this problem successfully and one who gives up? Not mathematically. It's all in these base skills which are 100% learnable and needed for high school math. If you want a strong competitor in a math contest, you'll need interest and a lot more practice, but if you just want a five on the BC Calculus without having to nag your child or hire a tutor, do a few problems and focus on the skills.<br /><br /></div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-24285755285232039592018-02-17T08:14:00.003-08:002018-02-17T08:22:46.174-08:00Totally Doable If Done RightIn the last few weeks, I've stumbled across a whole new group of people who are suddenly concerned about their child's education either because they decided it would be nice to have an actual child in the next few years, or they have an actual child and just found out about the COGAT, or they are getting COGAT scores back and deciding that it's time to get serious.<br /><div><br /></div><div>My Power Mom's Group, or PMG, from last year is officially demoted to Last Year's Power Mom's Group because your kids all met their ridiculously high cutoff goals (and are solidly on their way to additional goals). There's one more item on the todo list for the next few months and then I'll declare a 100% success rate based on selection criteria that includes a) great parents and b) capable kids. The new members of LYPMG are going to get heavy doses of my super secret program to crush the MAP test in the coming years. How similar are the COGAT and the MAP? COGAT skills are a prerequisite of the MAP, but the COGAT type math isn't what people generally consider to be math and the MAP has way more math than anyone realizes. If you are not in LYPMG, then you'll read about my super secret MAP program but you won't realize that you're reading about it until I can get everyone in the house past the 7th grade MAP.</div><div><br /></div><div>For newbies, I've been working on a less insane sounding description of my math approach, with a nice sounding title like Easy Fun Math*. (*Also known as Ridiculously Hard Insane Math until you get it, and then it's just Ridiculously Hard Math.)</div><div><br /></div><div>Here goes.</div><div><br /></div><div>First, read read read read. If your child only has 60 minutes per day of at home schooling, devote 40 minutes to reading. If your child has 6 hours a day because it's Saturday, devote 5 hours and 40 minutes a day to reading.</div><div><br /></div><div>Secondly, do not, under any conditions, every teach math. The skills your child needs to excel in math are organizing, seeing patterns, trying again, iterating, comparing, trying out different options, defining, extending, explaining, rethinking, simplifying (ie organizing), decomposing (ie organizing), and not being put off by mistakes, lack of information and clarity, and total confusion because if your child isn't working in on a math problem that starts with mistakes, lack of information and clarity, and total confusion then they are not working on a math problem that will develop the skillset. The super advanced skill set for math includes good executive skills and a lot of Grit. If your child develops these skills under your guidance, your child will excel in math. If you teach math, your child won't need any of these skills, won't develop them, and then someday will fail at math.</div><div><br /></div><div>Look at 'First' and 'Second' again. Higher order math skills are developed by reading. This really matters when your child is 2 and 3. By 4th grade, it will be assumed but not a major factor in the program.</div><div><br /></div><div>Third, at the 99.8% level, which is totally doable if done right (Totally Doable If Done Right, my new motto, and this just replaced the original title for this article which was Advice for Newby Math Parents), there are a lot of parent skills involved. While the child is learning each new skill, you will be learning a new skill. Your child will see math in a different way, and you will see coaching math in a different way.</div><div><br /></div><div>Forth, your child's math score is going to be constrained by working memory. I can't stress this enough. School math needs one or zero working memory buckets in the brain. Think 'Ann has 2 apples and Bob has 5 apples. How many apples do they have together.' Test Prep Math starts with 2 and ends up with 3 working memory buckets - or more - on every problem. I've settled on 3 since it appears after 3 a pencil is needed. </div><div><br /></div><div>Test Prep Math emphasizes messy, sometimes unanswerable problems (in clumps of 3, all mixed up and interspersed with vague words and ridiculous plots). Now you know why.</div><div><br /></div><div>There is an ongoing debate on whether or not children should memorize their math facts. Teachers who need to get all 30 kids in the class past arithmetic errors in 2nd or 3rd grade are generally stuck with memorization exercises - even in GAT classes. Researchers who are figuring out how to get kids to the upper levels of math excellence can explain why memorization is counter productive. </div><div>If you search 'Boaler Memorize Math Facts' you should find a few really good articles explanating why memorization is a bad idea by the leading researcher in this field. You may also come across an <a href="https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/jo-boaler-is-wrong-about-multiplication-tables/" target="_blank">counter argument from Greg Ashman</a> that totally misses the point, but get's so close with this diagram that he's one sentence away from solving his own problem. Look at this diagram:</div><div><br /></div><div style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4er-FaL1jsk/WohLlqGxh_I/AAAAAAAABP0/GiT1FVB1xIY6Xru5RRFHo-IhQMnFdhxVACK4BGAYYCw/s1600/Ashman.jpg" imageanchor="1"><img border="0" height="234" src="https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4er-FaL1jsk/WohLlqGxh_I/AAAAAAAABP0/GiT1FVB1xIY6Xru5RRFHo-IhQMnFdhxVACK4BGAYYCw/s320/Ashman.jpg" width="320" /></a></div><div>Note to Ashman, the goal here is not to use long term memory to help with the math facts but to triple working memory. Also note that this diagram makes me want to sneeze.</div><div><br /></div><div>Boaler attributes number sense to strong math skills. Number sense and math fact memorization are two exclusive roads to math, and memorization falls short. In my ground breaking research I found that use of working memory isn't just a tool for math, it's a math skills generation factory. The child learns the next level of math skills while working arithmetic in working memory. When people see the term 'Working Memory', they see 'working MEMORY'. It's more accurate to view this as 'WORKING memory AND MATH SKILLS GENERATION FACTORY'. Please note that Boaler's research concerns making math accessible to everyone, but my research concerns a child who just blew away the COGAT and is looking for the next big leap in skills. </div><div><br /></div><div>Maybe groundbreaking doesn't cover it. Here's what we got out of the workings of working memory in action: an 8 year old who is solving problems off of middle school competitive math tests.</div><div><br /></div><div>When I wrote, and rewrote, and refactored and added to Test Prep Math, I met my goals to tackle working memory, base skills, and no math if it can be helped. I failed on the no math part because I couldn't help sneaking in math. A little geometry, a little algebra, and if you look closely, you'll see the makings of other maths, but I generally avoided division, and avoided decimals and anything else that is on a Common Core list. This approach doesn't work for everyone. Some people are short sighted and think of math as topics from a math book. Others already taught their kids math and the horse already left the barn.</div><div><br /></div><div>One of my favorite exercises is to do Every Day Math Grade 2 in K. For those that missed the opportunity in K, it's simply known as Current+2. I think of this as an exercise in Grit and not math, kind of a warm up to the challenge that will follow. Last week, a reader shared her child's current math situation which sounds so dire, what with mistakes, frustration, and not getting it. Once again, my children are even worse in comparison, but we manage to score consistently in the high 90's (like 99, which is what I expect) and do almost no work at all. One year ahead in math for us and maybe 40 to 60 minutes during the week. That leaves plenty of time for reading, crafts, and projects. My secret isn't smarter kids but kids who don't quit. And we do things totally different, like work smarter and not harder.</div><div><br /></div><div>After successfully avoiding the memorization of math facts, I've extended the counter cultural approach with not really ever learning math or being remotely competent in any one math topic. Focusing on underlying skills for years at the expense of math has really paid off in a big way.</div><div><br /></div><div>You'd think the next step after Test Prep Math would be learning actual math, maybe tackling Pre Algebra. Instead, we took a detour into competitive math, not really like school math at all, and then I've opened up 7th through 12th grade math topics for any given weekend. I think we have about 3 20 to 30 minute sessions each week, and the topic could be a first look at derivatives, exponents, polynomial zeros, 'What is sine and why am I making you go through this pain?' or anything else. One week it was exponents, and the next week my older kid saw logs for the first time and had to invent and derive formulas for logs that corresponded to the exponential formulas that we worked in the prior week. When this child sees logs again in a month, he will have remember exactly zero of it, but he's got the tools to make short work of it.</div><div><br /></div><div>After 4th grade, the little one will spend the next year or two working through SAT books. Other parents will try this and find that it's a disaster. Our experience will be even worse, but we'll plod on come out with 2 completed books, about 18 practice tests in all, and then move on to the reading comp sections. I've recently summarize the parent coaching skills needed to get through this approach successfully. When the 9 year old gets through the first page, 3 problems attempted, 3 wrong answers, and a lot of complaining and tears, I'll wonder why the heck I'm doing this. Then I'll remember that I've done this type of thing many times before, and it will magically work out in the end.</div><div><br /></div>Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-5703568807615263851.post-73186882225368901442018-02-10T19:47:00.000-08:002018-02-10T19:47:31.197-08:00Visual Math Et CeteraFor years, I have been asked for a recommendation for 4th grade math. I now have one, and one for 5th grade as well. It's called <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Mindset-Mathematics-Visualizing-Investigating-Ideas/dp/111935871X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517965885&sr=8-1&keywords=mindset+mathematics+grade+5&utm_source=Youcubed+Updates&utm_campaign=dffbcc2fb8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_04&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_230e567c40-dffbcc2fb8-133942873" target="_blank">Visual Math</a>. These are not expensive books. The authors are from a ground breaking group of researchers that I've been following since the beginning of getyourchildintogat.com. Back in January, I wrote an article where I said that our current math curriculum needs to be flushed as an artifact of the Industrial Revolution. There is equally challenging, more engaging, more pertinent math to the information age. Visual Math.<br /><br />Except that I'm stuck on fractions, polynomials, mononomials, exponents, algebra, trig and calculous because darn it, they show up everywhere in math and all fields whether you're doing machine learning, number theory, or Hollywood CGI. I guess I'm always one rebellion ahead of the next trend.<br /><br />I don't face the same broad classroom education challenges that the authors of Visual Math face. I face the challenge of a single kid. My idea of visual math starts with COGAT test prep, Building Thinking Skills, and the rest starting ASAP, like age 4. See my curriculum page. In a house enriched with crafts followed by Minecraft, visual skills are overdeveloped.<br /><br />But the genius of Visual Math isn't just a much better more appropriate visual (and thus more timely) curriculum, it's the approach outlined by Jo Boaler years ago that is question heavy and solution light. In other words, spending time understanding and defining the problem, whatever that may be, in the process really learning math, and as an after thought deriving a solution. You've heard it before from me, and this is where I got it. There is much more to the approach beyond this.<br /><br />I'm a big fan of a single problem that is hard, multi-step (working memory intense) and requires a lot of time to solve, preferably something goofy or non-sensical, if that's what it takes to turn a predictable answer into an argument. I don't want a child to come out of this having mastered 3 x 5, which is useless, but having mastered getting there from the unknown, or better yet, an unknown mess.<br /><br />And that brings us to 1/2 and 2/3. A few months ago, a reader asked what to do about struggling with fractions. I offered to get on Skype, but since I'm insane, and can turn any 30 second problem into a 30 minute challenge, the reader declined. Too bad.<br /><br />There are 2 parts to a good fraction problem. <br /><br />The first part is 1/2 takes about 3 brain clicks to understand. I think 98% of the problem with fractions is that kids expect 1 click, they don't get it on one click, and they are frustrated or worse. I watch this with the brightest children trying to tackle fractions at a totally inappropriate age. The second part is the fraction in a more complicated setting of a pre-algebra problem. Too hard for younger kids, but doable at a pace 10 times slower than a 5th or 6th grader. Solving a fraction problem is multi-step. When I work with fractions and children, or algebra, or exponents, I expect a few weeks to get them to admit that they have to work the problem step by step. They are determined to do one single step, because it's one problem after all, and if they have to do 3 steps, then it becomes three times the work.<br /><br />Kids who are trained in math hit a wall with fractions. Kids where are 99.9% wizzes hit a wall for the opposite reason. Both groups underestimate the problem.<br /><br />Lately I've been working on the next challenge. How quickly can I get kids to be adept with pre-algebra, exponents/logs, functions, geometry proofs, algebra, trig and calculus? By quickly, I mean a small number of problems and weeks per topic. My group is 4th to 7th.<br /><br />In each case, a few problems can be used to explore the basics. During this time, there is wonder involved with the new syntax and the concepts that it articulates. Like the first time a child stumbles on negative numbers or square roots. A few problems get the job done. To take the next step requires a special problem solving approach for each field. We avoid the complicated applications that fill 90% of a decent text book and just stick with the basics. <br /><br />I've come up with a one session introduction to trig that addresses many of the questions (about 25%) on a good trig final. One session for a 9 year old. I remember struggling with this exact same material for about a month in high school, trying to remember formulas. I'm really disappointed about how bad the course was and how unprepared I was (not having studied math between 1st grade and trig). But I'm mainly disappointed with the approach to math from the 1920's which I used in high school. <br /><br />The last thing I'm going to do is explore the other 75% or so of each of these topics. I think this will be an 8th grade exercise. Is it possible to send a child to high school prepared to be bored with A/B calculus or chemistry? Can this be done with almost no work whatsoever? I'm starting to think so. <br /><br />I enjoy getting articles from readers that include an age and a topic and a description of how much they are struggling. I think, wow, we struggled much worse. I can tell them that and actually solve a problem. I can also state, if needed, 2 or 3 ways to get past it and how long it will take (longer than you think.) In some ways, this is just like potty training. Some parents wring their hands over every trip to the potty, and others let their kids poop all over the place until the problem takes care of itself. The only thing I did differently was discuss plumbing while cleaning the poop off so that I'd have someone I could count on someday to clear clogs.<br /><br />Someday is almost here in math. In plumbing, my 13 year old routed the pipes right before his birthday.Norwoodhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/09462923179883891369noreply@blogger.com0