Math Word Problems! Taking Tests!

Recently, I attended an IEP meeting.  While this is not unusual for me, the team did discuss how one of my sons does not know how to:

  1. Properly work math word problems.
  2. Be successful with multiple choice tests.
  3. Score well on end-of-grade benchmarks/tests with extensive modifications and accommodations already in place.

Possible solutions:

A.  Lift up head and howl at the sky.

B.  Give up and go shopping.

C.  Strong-arm partner to deal with this.

D.  Devise a plan.

I made a plan, of course.  The IEP team decided to try a social story to teach skills needed for multiple choice questions.  We also covered incorporating visual supports when teaching math word problems.

I made a social story about math word problems and a visual aid for teaching or reviewing concepts.  The visual aid is a spiral of ruled index cards handy for travelling to and from home and school.  It makes a flip book for studying, like flashcards, only they don’t scatter and get lost.  It can also sit up easily on a desk or table to help as a teaching reminder.  Although the story and index cards tackle my child’s particular learning issues, use this as a stepping stone for helping your child at home or your student in school.

Before I make anything, it’s important for me to know exactly how my child struggles.  I get feedback from teachers, in addition to using my observations and knowledge of my child’s learning style at home.  The obvious:  my child marks wrong answers and tests badly.  The question is why?  My child is language-delayed, but has a strong drive to finish tasks, enjoys independence, and is a concrete, visual learner.

His Math testing accommodations are:  Alternate assessment (NCEXTEND2), Extended time, Mark in book, Read aloud, and Separate room testing.  It’s possible his reading comprehension is holding him up, in addition to his racing to finish.  I decided to use images from some of his interests to grab his attention.  He likes Rayman Rabbids and Ed, Edd, and Eddy.  I also requested to add a highlighter to his testing accommodations, which we will teach him to use.

The real learning comes when I try something I’ve made on my children.  I then make those parts where a child doesn’t understand more concrete or visual.  For example, my son couldn’t understand in the social story below why the answer wasn’t 9 buses.  The last calculation was not a whole number.  9 was not one of the answer choices.  I had to revise the story to teach that sometimes we need to round numbers up or down to get the closest answer.

I’ll post examples of some strategies for a reading selection with multiple choice questions next week.  These teaching techniques are not just for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but may prove helpful for all who learn visually or need extra support in breaking down multi-step tasks.  The math question in the social story is from the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test sample items.

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10 Responses

  1. Really appreciate you sharing the details. Very similar to what we are trying to solve, will help us a lot. Thank you so much.

  2. Oh that’s genius! Obviously our almost 4 year old doesn’t need the math lessons (save them for the cashier I had the misfortune of dealing with yesterday) but he does respond well to social stories. I love the visual aid of the flip book idea. Genius!

    So I can make little books on various social stories about tasks and behavior issues to share with Ben when he is in a mood to pay attention. It will also develop a familiarity with the process so that one day when math becomes an issue he may be more likely to grasp the idea.

    You’re such a good teacher, mom, and friend! Thanks.

    • Budget cuts have impacted all our families on many levels. I decided it was important to share what I go back to time and again: Research shows that in order for our ASD kids to have the most optimal outcomes, parents must be co-therapists and co-educators. Our participation in all interventions is vital for our children, regardless of the current state of family and government finances.

  3. This is fantastic! I wish I’d had this when Maxwell was struggling with word problems. Hell, I wish I had this when I was struggling with word problems and I’ll just bet that this would help lots of neurotypicals.
    Thanks!

  4. Awesome plan! We have students do a test prep question or two everyday for about 15 minutes. We also have made flash cards with translation words but how you further break down/dissect the problem with marking the sentences is awesome.

  5. momof3au, well said in your comment to bensmyson regarding parents as co-therapists and co-educators!! And thanks for sharing a few of your tricks to help the rest of us learn how to help our own kids.

  6. Wow! How awesome (and intimidating)! Your kids are so lucky to have you!

  7. […] the world of education, tests are unavoidable.  Last week’s post was about using a social story and a teaching aid/study organizer to help with Math word problems […]

  8. That’s a great a idea using the spiral notebook for social stories. My eight year old son (high functioning autistic) has an obcession with rabbids as well. But i think it’s because he relates to their erratic behaviour. The way they communicate, move and act mimmicks autism. Don’t know if this game is doing more harm than good.

  9. this is fabulous. I am struggling with being a “learning coach” with K12 curriculum. I too make my own teaching materials to support my son. An additional idea–I went through the entire math text and pulled direction statements, added singapore math 8 step word problem process…Bravo! We are our children’s greatest teachers–I applaud you!

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