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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Would You Do? Struggling Student Case Study

I fabricated the scenario below to represent the kind of situation many teachers face with children who struggle in school with math learning. I'm wondering what you would do to help this child.


Ambrose is an eleven year old boy. When he was young he suffered from a significant illness that made school attendance and effort minimal from ages six to nine. Then at age nine his medical condition improved. He was able to attend school, but not surprisingly he was significantly behind his peers with regard to most academic areas.

During his years of illness, Ambrose had developed significant talent with drawing and telling stories. He used to entertain all of the hospital staff with his magnificent tales and tremendous, detailed illustrations.

When Ambrose landed in a typical sixth grade classroom at age eleven, he had an educational plan, yet the teachers, both special educators and regular educators, were at a loss as to how to begin to build Ambrose's skills, particularly his skills in math. Also the teachers themselves were rated on Ambrose's scores on district and State standardized tests that he had to take at the grade level even though he had missed so many years of traditional learning.

In an ideal world, the teachers would sit down together with family members and craft a program based on Ambrose's strengths and interests as well as available staff and resources. Yet there was little time for this kind of work and lots of pressure to get Ambrose up to sixth grade level in a few short months. Plus Ambrose was one of many students each teacher was responsible for. It was clear that the team felt the pressure.

What's a teacher to do?

How would you teach Ambrose?

What would you do as a teacher, teaching team, school, parent, classmate to help Ambrose? How would you help him to develop skill while also not defeating his ego and sense of self after all this is a time for celebration in Ambrose's life now that he's well again.

How do you and your colleagues meet a challenge such as the one the fictitious Ambrose presents?