Reading Difficulties Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2488 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … difficulties impact students performance in solving math problems?

Reading and math were historically thought to be in no way connected. Much time in primary math classes are spent memorizing math facts. With the exception of the occasional word problem, reading skills were virtually ignored as a component of math success. However, the role of inquiry in mathematics is gaining importance as the role of critical thinking becomes tied to the job skills needed as an adult. The new technology paradigm requires the adult to be able to analyze complex situations and to develop solutions to the problems that they encounter. The following will explore the connectivity of math and reading skills. It will explore the problem of how to improve both skills in students.

Why is Reading Important to Math?

Borasi and Siegel explored the connection of reading and math skills. They explored how enrichment of the student's reading skills would lead to improvements in math inquiry skills as well. One of the difficulties cited by the authors is the difficulty that low performing math students have in relating the problem to every day life. For instance, they may get the correct numerical answer, but they do not know what the correct answer is in units or time. For instance they may know that the answer is 8 O'clock, but they may not know if the answer is AM or PM. They do not have the skills to logically figure out the alternative that makes sense in the context of the problem. This is a major frustration that Borasi and Siegel found among math teachers.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Reading Difficulties Assignment

The ability to make sense of the information in the problem is essential to the application of math to daily life and the improvement of critical thinking skills. This reflects a change in the role of math in everyday society, but one that has not found its way into popular society as of yet. Math is more than simply a set of rote memorization skills, it involves the ability to reflect, analyze, and postulate. Math gives us a way to order our world and make sense of the things around us. Borasi and Siegel feel that math has been detached from everyday life through the years. It is this critical connection that they wish to restore.

Much of the evidence presented in Borasi and Siegel's work was derived from classroom observations. They presented the information as a series of vignettes that were intended to serve as examples of how to apply integrated reading strategies into the math lessons. A majority of the work consisted of commentary regarding classroom observations. It relied on qualitative research and analysis, rather than empirical research. This is a key weakness in the work. However, it did achieve its primary purpose of bridging reading skills with math skills. Borasi and Siegel present a useful theoretical model for the application of implementing strategies that were discovered as a part of their study.

Center for the Education and Study of Diverse Populations at New Mexico Highlands University explored a similar concept. They postulated that children who have an early sense of numbers learn the "Bid ideas" of math easier than children that are not as versed in numbers. They suggested that math teachers apply some of the same techniques to math teaching that they use in reading instruction. Their work mirrored that of Borasi and Siegel in that it stressed the importance of applying mathematics to real world situations. This theoretical model supports the use of journals in math class to encourage the connection between reading, writing, and math.

According to the Center For Education and Study of Diverse Populations, students should be provided work that is challenging, but not too hard. They should be encouraged to read and understand a variety of reading materials in a number of genres. The Center points out that if the child is used to reading narratives, then they will be likely to have difficulty reading and decoding technical materials, such as a math or science book. Students must not only be able to understand what they do, but must be able to explain why they do it.

This theoretical model suggests that math learning should include both concrete and abstract learning experiences. Math involves computational skills and problem solving. The most important concept for a math teacher to keep in mind is that the purpose of math is to solve real world problems. Computational skills are an important part of this process, but they are not the end. The application of the knowledge gained is as important as the knowledge itself when it comes to math skills.

Policy makers now place an emphasis on the development of early reading skills. They also recognize that American students are lagging behind in math as well. However, they failed to make the connection between math and reading (AutoSkill Academy of MATH, p. 9). A review of recent policies and initiatives found that there is a heavy emphasis placed on reading, but little is begin done to improve math scores. There are a number of programs and software to help children develop their reading skills.

The AutoSkill Academy of MATH points out the on the surface reading and math are different. Recent research indicated that students that struggle with reading also struggle with math. The opposite is true as well. Those that struggle with math will be likely to have difficulty with reading as well. Using Ohio Ninth Grade Proficiency Test Scores, it was found that students either passed math and reading, or failed both of them (AutoSkill Academy, p. 10). It has been suggested that brain morphology and function may be a factor in this phenomenon. It may be that the same areas of the brain are used arithmetic and phonological units (AutoSkill, p. 10). The Academy found that instruction that balances a combination of computational and conceptual learning are the most likely to produce a proficient math student.

Strategies for Improvement

It should be apparent by now that the connection between math and reading are more than mere suggestions. There is significant empirical evidence pointing to a connection between math and reading skills. Several theoretical models have been examined that help to not only document and explain this new idea, but to help in the development of a program that will provide all of the skills necessary to develop computation and conceptual skills. There are a number of programs being introduced that propose to do just that. The following will explore a few of these programs and their potential as a solution to the problem of improving math skills by linking them to reading skills development.

Solving the problems of poor, rural schools in meeting the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act has proven to be a challenge (O'Connell and Phye). According to this study, finding quality teachers is a key to meeting this challenge. Some states, such as Iowa are using technology to help resolve this problem. A teacher will be faced with many different types of learners in their daily practice. They must have a number of techniques in their repertoire to help them deal with the different types of students that they will encounter.

One of the problems encountered by O'Connell and Phye is that teachers receive staff development training, but they do not receive the support that they need to implement the strategies into their classroom. O'Connell and Phye found that when teachers did not receive the support that they needed, the strategies would become diluted and mutated. This reduced the effectiveness of the strategies and they did not have the effect intended. Some strategies were eventually abandoned as teachers lost faith in them. O'Connell and Phye's findings are disturbing considering the need to change teaching strategies in the previous section.

If new strategies are needed that integrate reading principles into math, it is necessary that the mechanisms be put in place to assure that the strategies will be carried out. It does little good to develop strategies and then have them fail to be implemented in the classroom. The students are the ones that suffer the most when this happens. The needed changes cannot occur until teachers receive the support that they need to make the necessary changes in their daily teaching strategies.

Iowa is requiring administrators to attend staff development activities so that they will understand the types and amount of support needed for the success of new teaching strategies (O'Connell and Phye). Connell and Phye discussed several technology strategies that may help new strategies become a part or regular classroom curriculum. They found that videoconferencing was an excellent tool for offering support to teachers that wished to try new strategies.

Thomas Gunning addressed the need for assessment-based reading instruction in his book Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties. Gunning stressed the need to develop benchmarks in a number of areas that were not already addressed in the curriculum. This approach stresses phonological awareness, phonics and word… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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