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It is the hope of the researcher to find that reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition strategies are effective in teaching math to students who struggle with mathematical word-problem solving. The children participating in the study all come from a low socioeconomic home/area and background; these students are also at a disadvantage because they do not have access to the resources and technology that are available to students of a middle/high class home, which makes the educational gap wider. There will be a total of 25 students and 1 teacher involved in this study. The participants are fifth grade students at Name A Elementary School.
Not only do the students in the study struggle with solving mathematical word-problems, they also struggle with reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition (reading below grade level); this is presumably the reason they struggle with the word-problems. The students in the study lack the motivation in reading but have a genuine desire to learn math, so it is imperative that the students not only memorize the necessary vocabulary or types of word-problems, but it is important that they learn skills for reading comprehension so reading word problems can become that much more fun and enjoyable for them, and in return they grow a desire to read more because it will seem easier and less stressful.
At the beginning of every week the students are given new math terms, and a math vocabulary quiz at the end of the week. The vocabulary words are words that come from their math lesson for the week. These are the words that have/will be used throughout the week in their "math language". From August 16, 2010 to October 18, 2010, word-problem quizzes will be administered, every Friday, after the students have engaged in a week-long of multisensory strategies for reading comprehension and vocabulary. The grades that are recorded will be a part of their math grade and it is the hope of the researcher that every student has an increase in math grades. Hopefully the students will better understand the math language and reading the words problems will become less frustrating.
Along with the new math terms given each week, the students will be required to turn in a weekly project that displays their knowledge of two or more of the vocabulary words from the previous week. These projects will not count towards their overall math average; however, it will be an observation tool for the researcher to use to assess the vocabulary acquisition. The weeks of August 16th, 23rd, 30th, September 6th, and 13th, the students will be required to simply copy the definitions of the new math vocabulary words, and their knowledge and comprehension will be evaluated through their vocabulary tests/quizzes and word-problem tests/quizzes. The weeks of September 20th, 27th, October 4th,, 11th , and 18th , the researcher will engage the students in multisensory strategies and activities ( K-W-L journals, Frayer Model graphic organizer, word wall, and Think-Aloud) to help with vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension; the students will be tested over their knowledge.
After the researcher tests the students' knowledge of the vocabulary words through given word-problems, their results will be compared to test results from when the students were simply looking up the definition of given math vocabulary words. In addition to reviewing the scores from math, the researcher plans to compare the math scores with the weekly Reading/ELA scores to see if the students are applying the skills in all other content areas. The researcher will keep a journal of how each day's lesson goes. The researcher will journal the visual observations of how the students are responding to the methods being used in the classroom. The journal will also contain information about which methods are working best for the class, if any. All test/quizzes given will come from the Teacher's Edition of the Harcourt Math book, Think Math Teacher's Edition, or GPS Frameworks. The vocabulary quizzes will be matching quizzes that require students to match the textbook definition of a term to the correct term to assure its validity.
The researcher hypothesizes that the use of reading comprehension and vocabulary acquisition skills will increase the mathematical word-problem solving success rate; it is also the hypothesis that where the math scores increase, the reading scores will increase and the students who are below their reading level will start making progress to being on level. So, it is the hope that these strategies will influence the acquisition and not the subject. If all goes well not only will the scores in reading and math increase, but hopefully the scores in science and social studies will increase as well (not to be recorded in research).
The multi-sensory strategies that will be used include the frayer model graphic organizer, word walls, Think- Alouds, and K-W-L journaling. The students will complete a frayer model for each new vocabulary word, and the class will create a window pane word wall for the weeks' words. Vocabulary words will be placed on the window pane word wall and each new word will have a picture of a word-problem to demonstrate or exemplify the word, and the students will also write in their math K-W-L journals daily. These strategies will be used with the intention of increasing the students' knowledge of vocabulary words and meanings, in turn making it easier to read and understand word problems.
In addition to administering tests, students' parents will be asked to complete a survey detailing how they review vocabulary words with their children. The researcher will compare the surveys/scores of students whose parents; A- do not go over vocabulary, B- simply review words and definitions, and C- use any multi-sensory method. In an effort of receiving reliable data from the parents, the students will be given the same survey before it is sent home to the parents, and because it hard enough to get parents to sign/fill-out and return things, the students will be offered extra credit if they can be sure to make certain that their parents fill out the survey and return them on time.
The following chart will be used to arranged and analyze data.
Note: The Pretest and Post test are identical; Weeks 1-10 are the weekly tests given
Purple scores: are the scores from the weeks of simply copying the definitions.
Orange scores: are the scores from the weeks of engaging in multisensory activities.
Green scores: are the pre and post test scores.