Many students who come into an Adult Basic Education (ABE) program at a very basic level have already done whole numbers and decimals and fractions many times. They are placed in a fundamental class because they don’t understand the concepts or don’t remember how to do the problems, but they resist doing more work at this level. “I’ve already done that,” they say, and either drop out or settle down to do many more pages without doing any more thinking than they did before.
Other students, although not so fixated on the idea that they have already completed the work many times, still feel uncomfortable and resist using manipulatives or doing any activities that they consider to be “not real math,” such as field trips, real-life problems, group work, and measuring.
The material in this book offers a new way to reach such students, if they are parents or act in loco parentis to grandchildren, nephews, nieces, or younger brothers and sisters. Talking and learning about how children learn math (see the introduction for parents, above) bring a different subject into your math classroom, which they have never had before. Choose activities that deal with concepts you are teaching in the class. Prepare the students to use the activities with their kids by doing the activities in class. You can discuss the concepts behind the activities, stress the likelihood that their kids will surprise them with a different way of thinking or doing the problem, and assure them that lots of ways to think about math are okay. If the parents in your class have kids with a range of ages, start at the most basic level, and go up to an elementary school level on the concept so that your whole class gets ready to teach the activities on many levels.
Ask them to do the activities at home with the kids, and then discuss it in the following class. What happened? How did their kids surprise them? What showed them that the kids understood the concept? What misunderstandings happened?
What evidence was there that the kid didn’t understand? All these questions will help your students think about, talk about, and do the math in your class.
Ask them to preview the books and DVD’s listed in the appendices. Which would they recommend? Then ask them to check out their recommendations with their kids.