Thread subject: The Dyscalculia Forum :: Mental math
Posted by Bonnie on June 15 2007 10:12 PM
Does anyone have any suggestions for books or software relating to mental math for primary-grade age children?
My son and I have been doing lessons from our school math book. Each lesson starts with several mental math problems. As the problems having been getting more difficult for my son, I'm trying to explain how I'm working out the problem and I'm afraid I could be teaching my son screwed-up methods.
My husband (a mental math whiz) sat with us and worked a few problems out loud and I realized he's using tricks I've never imagined. Some of his explanations would make my brain freeze up (and my son was sitting with a glazed look on his face, too) ó everyone has tricks that work for them but not others, so I was wondering if anyone had come across any books that spell out mental math solutions for someone that's math-challanged.
I did a search in books on Amazon and came up with over 1,000 books on mental math. Yikes!
Posted by ALB on June 20 2007 12:52 PM
the best thing to do is to talk to the teacher as nowadays (at least certainly in the UK) children are taught very specific methods for all maths including mental maths and the teaching method is not at all what we were taught (assuming you arent a teenage mum of course in which case you might have come across some!). We got our son's teacher to give us the schedule for teaching maths for the year and the maths co-ordinator has also sent out some leaflets explaining to parents the methods being used. Otherwise your department of education should also have information- usually you can get info on the whole curriculum as well as teaching methods. This may then ensure you dont end up confusing your child by teaching an alternate method to the one being taught in school - although of course any child who finds their own method, (as is often the case for dyscalculics) should be encouraged to continue by their method if it makes more sense to them- though it may help to discuss this with their teacher so they are kept in the loop and don't tell the child they are doing it 'wrong'. Your teacher may even be able to help with suggestions for books.
By the way in case it helps I am NOT dyscalculic (my son is) in fact I would go so far as to say I am mathematically gifted (have grade A at o and a level and now use statistics extensively) and I CANNOT and never have been able to do mental maths. I have to write it down on a bit of paper. A completely different source of the difficulty (oral processing I think in my case) but I use it as an example to try and tell my son mental maths isn't the 'be all and end all' !
Hope this helps
Edited by ALB on June 20 2007 02:24 PM
Posted by dawn on June 21 2007 09:57 PM
My kids (my 7 year old has mild dyscalculia) likes all the cbbc cbeebies web pages (from the bbc)(suggested by toenail) and thinks they are cute games rather than maths and that creates a comfort in playing with numbers whereas the formality of homework puts him off. However, I do know that this is not quite what you are after . You want some learning methods for mental maths and that is not easy to come by .
We get homework in Mental Maths that is actually for the year above and I initially panicked that my son was struggling with it . Questions are in a column of eg 6+2 then 16+2 then 36+ 2 then --+2=58. but he doesn't see the sequence or that the homework which has a section starting with dots adding on 2 ,is leading him forward and trying to teach him. To him, each sum is a separate entity and he gains nothing from the homework .
Now he has homework when the whole page is building up to adding 14 with diagrams of cubes in a column of 10and 4 single cubes to make him write 14.Other questions have coins of 10p 2p and the question How much more do I need to buy a toy for 14p before leading on to the sequencing questions and eventually the language of maths questions based on 14 ie Judy has 10 sweets ,but john has 14 more than her so how manty does jjohn have.
Such fun each weekend.
All you can do is flick back through previous weeks homework and point out the development and explain what he should be gaining . When they get the understanding of what the homework is trying to teach them then you have cracked it .(we haven't cracked anything except my patience)
Mental maths requires a good visual memory and I have described some mad methods that I am using to try and develop this in the working memory bit.
If we get maths this weekend I'll type you the name of the mental maths book used by our school. But I hope we don't get maths!!!!!
Edited by dawn on June 21 2007 09:58 PM
Posted by dawn on June 24 2007 01:55 PM
Hello. the Mental maths book we use at school has the catchy title "Mental Arithmetic" by Schofield and Sims ISBN 0-7217-0798-x
Posted by Bonnie on June 24 2007 09:35 PM
Thank you for all the input and replies.
My son is currently off-track (out of school) and we've been studying the lessons that didn't get covered during the school year. This was the problem that stumped him/me:
Before subtracting, make both numbers larger.
56 - 29 b.
63 - 37
I went back about 10 chapters and found this explanation: Subtracting two-digit numbers is easier to do mentally if the second number ends in zero. By making both subtraction numbers larger, we can sometimes make subtraction easier while keeping the difference the same.
Instead of subtracting
We added 2 to 28 so that the second number would end in zero. Then we added 2 to 45 to keep the difference the same.
I need a smiley with a lit light bulb. ;)
I still have a hard time holding numbers in my mind, but at least this way, I'm not borrowing from the tens column and having all
the numbers "disappear."
I've now gone back to the beginning of the book and started writing down all the mental math problems and having my son work all the mental problems in sequence.
I've always worked mental math problems as though I were working them on paper. Using ways of manipulating the numbers prior to the addition or subtraction is a completely new concept for me.
I've gotten out the "counting bears" and I've reinforced some of the concepts with having my son physically moving the numbers around. Another smiley with a lit bulb.
Edited by Bonnie on June 24 2007 10:23 PM
Posted by dawn on July 02 2007 11:25 PM
My son is being taught to round up or down at the moment but I don't know if they have progressed to making "rough estimates" like 23+46= is close to 20+50= . ...or whether they are doing your method of rounding one number up and the other number up by the same amount as you showed. I like your way but I imagine you would have to have a fair amount of dexterity with numbers to really understand.
I understand what type of book you want now- one with mental maths tricks. If you find one tell me .
Posted by Bonnie on July 08 2007 09:36 PM
Well, wish us luck ó school starts on Tuesday.
Thanks to the merciless testing and reliance of threats to schools due to No Child Left Behind, my son will start 4th grade and they'll be using the 5th grade math curriculum. One of the few positive measures of NCLB, keeping classroom sizes at 20 students, will no longer apply. The official class list has 31 students in his class.
His 3rd grade math program consisted of ďcompressing or acceleratingĒ the entire 3rd grade curriculum into the first 6 months of the school year (if that wasnít homework hell!). Then, they were taught only 60 lessons out of 141 lessons of the 4th grade math book for the last 3 months of the school year.
Hereís a description of our curriculum, Saxon Math, from Wikipedia: Saxon math, developed by John Saxon, is a teaching method for incremental learning of mathematics. It involves teaching a new mathematical concept every day and constant review of old concepts.
So what happens when more than half of a year's lessons are not ever given to the students? This will help the school's scores?
My math problem for the day: If 180 third-grade lessons are compressed in 2/3 the time normally spent on lessons and 81 of the fourth grade incremental learning math lessons (57%) are totally ignored, how many students will be LEFT BEHIND??
This is criminal, not only for dyscalculic or math-challenged students but for all the students. I volunteered a lot in my sonís classroom and could see the panic and confusion that some of these 9 year olds are already experiencing and they havenít even hit ďthe gapĒ of missing lessons and increased classroom size yet. Many of the people posting introductions write that problems with math started in 3rd or 4th grade, couple that with haphazard math instruction and itís just frightening.
Edited by Bonnie on July 08 2007 11:14 PM
Posted by eoffg on July 09 2007 07:49 AM
Bonnie, that is disgusting:@,
An appalling situation!
It seems that you have all of the figures on what they are doing, or rather not doing?
Perhaps you could contact your districts School Supervisor/ Superintendent and inform them of situation?
Also other Parents.
They can't be allowed to get away with it!
Posted by Alunasa on July 09 2007 07:27 PM
I agree with Geoff -
It seems like you have a lot of information and evidence, so why not try to go to the school about it? If you can get other concerned parents to go along with you, it will be even harder for them to ignore you and something good will happen.
Keep us posted if you do decide to do something. I dunno, maybe we can write letters of support or something?
Posted by Bonnie on July 10 2007 02:02 AM
This is a district-wide decision. Over the course of years of NCLB, our failing high schools blamed their low scores on the middle schools not teaching to the level that a student has to have entering high school. Of course, the middle schools blamed their low scores on the elementary schools. The scores seem to support this. Math scores do fall way off at the middle school level and never come up.
So the elementary schools have had to come up with action plans. This is where the accelerated math comes in among other things. (Math is not their main priority -- we have many limited English students and the majority of remedial programs target English Language Arts, not math.) After-school tutoring programs have been started much earlier in the year. The district has implemented a program called HOSTS. (Helping One Student To Succeed) Volunteers from the community come to school and help one student one-on-one. But there are so few of us volunteers that, again, only English Language Arts is stressed. (I learned about dyscalculia from the coordinator of the program.)
Our third grade teacher said sheís been told to skip the third grade curriculum completely and start the 4th grade book from the start this year. Last year some of the 2nd grade classes also accelerated to 3rd grade curriculum, but some didnít. Another retired teacher told me that another elementary school in our district has implemented an independent study program in math. Six elementary schools funnel into two middle schools. Iím trying to imagine when all these different teaching methods in the elementary schools hit the middle school.
Many teachers and administrators dislike the Saxon math curriculum taught at our schools. The beginning chapters review to the point of boredom for those who are talented at math. Even my son says there arenít enough practice questions when learning a new concept. With both my son and I being slightly dyscalculic, the constant reviewing and the incremental lessons are actually easy for us to follow on our own. No degree in math is needed to do these lessons. :) But, Iíve noticed gaps. My son struggles with time and there is only one lesson in the entire 4th grade book devoted to time. I just looked through 10 lessons, each having 30 problems and only there were only 2 problems about time. (Rather involved story problems with elapsed time and analog clocks.)
Whatís scary is the majority of the lessons that will be missed by the students in his 3rd grade class are the lessons at the end of the book where most of the new skills are presented. You canít review successfully if you didnít learn it in the first place. (See the top of the thread, we were struggling with the mental math problems until I started back at the beginning of the book and followed the incremental steps that he missed.)
Iím probably the only parent that bought the school math books (on E-bay, one book was 99Ę plus shipping) and continued covering the lessons. But we couldnít cover all 81 lessons in the 6-week break.
Posted by Bonnie on July 17 2007 04:35 PM
The first week of school went well. My son has a big smile on his face every day. The math has been review of things he's comfortable with.
Husband and I talked briefly to his teacher on Friday. Another teaching opportunity for us ó she's never heard of dyscalculia. She said she would talk to the special education teacher and get more information.
Posted by Alunasa on July 18 2007 07:32 PM
I'm so glad to hear that the first week went well for your son. If the teacher still needs some convincing, I'd print out that article we were talking about here, the one titled "Numb in Numbers", and take it to her so that she can see that it is in fact a real problem.
Edited by Alunasa on July 18 2007 07:37 PM