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Math Problem of the Day for 6th Grade Heterogenous Groups

Posted By: Sarah Elizabeth on December 10, 2002
My eighth grade daughter looked at this problem and said that the vast majority of the kids in her gifted class from sixth grade (2 years ago) would have quickly created a linear equation, y = 0.5x + 0.5 and solved for when y was 26. The teacher probably would have given them only 5 minutes to do the problem as a warm-up exercise, and would have spent the remainder of the period teaching harder math.

My daughter added that even the slowest children in her sixth grade class of gifted children would have realized that 50 had to be wrong, because every time the person had run a whole mile, the answer was an odd number.

In my daughter's school, this problem probably would have been given to fourth or possibly fifth grade students, not sixth grade students. That's because the sixth grade students were learning algebra, geometry, and even being introduced to trig.

More generally, the class you described is a good illustration of how heterogenous classes can prevent gifted students from maximizing their achievement. In the sixth grade class you described, even the brightest students weren't able to figure out how to use algebra I to solve the problem. That's probably because they had never been taught enough algebra I in fourth and fifth grade. If those students had been in tracked classes with accelerated math instruction for third through fifth grades, they might have been able to solve this problem in 5 minutes.
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 Tracking....good or bad? by Christina Rhoades on November 24, 2002
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