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mathmom-nc

Math + Dysgraphia

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mathmom-nc

Hi all!  I am a math teacher (I tutor and teach in a co-op, I actually have my PhD in math), and I firmly believe that one of the ways people learn math is by writing out the steps and making a logical argument, whether it is the calculations in a multiplication problem or solving an algebra equation or doing a problem in geometry or calculus.  I am forever telling my students to "write it down!"  I have often seen that when a student doesn't know how to start a problem but writes down a few ides, the rest will follow. When I grade tests I give lots of partial credit for work shown, and very little credit for just having the right answer.  I know that many quick math students in the early years (up through algebra) can just get to the answer without writing anything down but in future math classes it will become important to keep track of their work.  Your brain is good, but paper is better.

That said, I am starting to homeschool my 6th grade son.  He has dysgraphia and illegible writing---it is painful for him to hold a pencil for a long time.  I really don't want to evaluate him on his writing, but I am having trouble coming up with ways for him to do pre-algebra that don't involve him crying because he has to write down all the steps or me crying because I can't interpret his (probably correct) work.  Here are some ideas I've come up with:

  • writing down the steps for only a few problems and letting him just do the rest in his head.
  • doing some orally (to check that he understands the logic).
  • typing answers---this would let him show me the steps, but typing math can be a real pain.  He's a medium good typist for his writing.

Does anyone out there have any other ideas? He's definitely a 2E kid and loves science and engineering.  He'll get the concepts for the math, but being able to express the ideas seems really important.  Thanks for any feedback. 

Kim

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Heritage of Sons

I totally agree with you that math work needs to be shown -- and my boys would rather tell me that they just figured in out in their heads.

The ideas that you have already mentioned are great.

My boys don't have learning challenges like you are describing, but because my almost 9 yo is advanced in math showing the steps to each problem is often way more work than the average math student his age... sometimes I scribe for him.  He talks me through the problem and I write it down... then he can see what he's told me and look it over if need be.

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Willow

 My ds, now 18 and starting college, has dysgraphia and dyscalculia, along with dyslexia. He was two years behind in math in 9 th grade. We had tried about six different math curriculum over the years. Math was a horrific part of the school day.

We tried Mr. D Math and it was a game changer. Mr. D is an online course that has video and live sessions. He could rewind and see the steps at his own pace. He could retake quizzes until he understood everything, doing the problems over and over again. My son says Mr. D thinks like a dyslexic. He has summer courses that are a full year of math. My son took Pre-Algebra through Pre-Calc with Trig, taking three summer classes. He finished math a year before high school graduation, making all A's. It was an amazing turn around.

Yes, he still struggles with math. No, he is not looking forward to his college math. But the Mr. D Math classes gave him an opportunity to be successful. He worked out so many problems, writing more than he ever did. He also could use logic and common sense in his math, which he is strong in. He knew if he kept trying he could get an A, which was important for him. Hope that helps. Blessings!

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Willow
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mathmom-nc

Thanks so much for the encouragement.  It is useful to hear what has worked for other folks.  Mr. D looks really interesting! =)

Kim

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OhElizabeth

You have a few issues there. One, if it's actually painful for him to write, he needs an OT eval and possibly a vision eval. Sometimes people are straining (due to developmental vision issues, convergence issues) and so their hand hurts. OT can find issues like core strength, retained reflexes, etc. Dsygraphia does NOT = hands hurting. 

Next is the question of curriculum, sounds like you've got that nailed.

Finally is the issue of accommodations. Dysgraphia at this stage for an IEP will be a scribe and software to type his math. I agree with you that being able to show their steps is important and being able to slow down and use their language to explain what they were thinking is important. I haven't had to use software yet with my ds (because he has dyscalculia on top of his dysgraphia and dyslexia, sigh), but it's out there. Just google and you'll find stuff. The people I know at this point are typing their math using software and apps made for it. For my dd, who had ADHD and working memory deficits, scribing was the way to go. We used modified scribing in high school for things like geometry, where I would scribe while she explained to me the jist of where she was going with her proof, and then she'd go back and take her time and write out the proof on the whiteboard. But there was no dysgraphia there, just significant working memory and processing speed deficits that made it hard to hold her thoughts and get it all out.

There may be better apps for typing math, which might help. He may need to work on his typing to get it up to functional. Can you use dictation with math apps now? Seems like you ought to be able to. Typing was a bear for my dd, and she really wasn't functional even after years of working on it. I moved her over to a different keyboard layout (Dvorak) and paid her $1 per wpm any month she increased by at least 5. People thought it was horrible at the time, but it worked.

I *have* heard stories of people who did VT, worked on retained reflexes, etc. and boom the writing came in. It's at least worth checking. Like I said, my ds has a confirmed dysgraphia diagnosis and it should NOT equal pain. That's an additional, physical problem that could be treated.

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mathmom-nc

Thanks so much for reminding me that pain in pencil holding is different from dysgraphia---he has the actual diagnosis, but we can work with an OT on the pain.  We had done that for a while and it was ineffective, but we can try again.

I think working on typing will help as well.  Thanks, everyone, for the advice.

Kim

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Hearthstone

dyspraxia. It is a fine muscle problem that many kids with poor handwriting and fine motor skills that don’t improve have.  

Notes are taken on computer or not at all.  These kids write as little as possible.  

 

Edited by Hearthstone

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kolamum

What does his specialist recommend? Have they mentioned any tips/ideas? What about using a computer based math programme {like Teaching Textbook} & an app like Math U See's app to help him work out the problems without having to make the job painful & frustrating for him? 

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