The researchers found an important difference between the low and high achieving students - the high achieving students used number sense, the low achieving students did not. The high achievers approached problems such as 19 + 7 by changing the problem into, for example, 20 + 6. No students who had been nominated as low achieving used number sense. When the low achieving students were given subtraction problems such as 21-16 they counted backwards, starting at 21 and counting down, which is extremely difficult to do. The high achieving students used strategies such as changing the numbers into 20 -15 which is much easier to do. The researchers concluded that low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly (Boaler, 2009).
These days there is a lot of talk about problem based math and you have heard us speak about the importance of developing number sense in students. I referred to this briefly in a previous blog post about math. Research indicates that students who are successful at mathematics may not be those who are the quickest with rapid recall of basic facts,
Helping children come to understand numbers can help them become lifelong mathematicians; happy to struggle with challenging algebraic equations because of the logic that makes numbers work. This is a link to Dice and Card Games_ that will help you and your children practice basic facts while also considering the number itself.
Updates from the Office
Weekly Updates for December 7 - 11, 2015
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