[Numeracy 70] Re: Introduction, fractions and percents

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Linda Shilling-Burhans lshilling at cvabe.org
Tue Jan 26 10:16:09 EST 2010

Hi Claire,
I'm Linda from Vermont also teaching ABE/GED and I appreciate your take on
math as a foreign language. I think I have a volunteer who knows your finger
trick only I would need someone who explains it better because I become
totally confused.
I also join Steve that bringing empathy for what the adult students are
experiencing (fear of math) is important. I, too, spent my life avoiding it,
and truly learning as I teach. One thing the students do see from me is that
if we stick with the problem and don't give up, use all resources available
till we get it, we feel a sense of victory and satisfaction. Then, of course
we make a special note to remember how we got it: what was the rule or
formula and how can we make sure to remember? Other than that, I'm lucky to
be one step ahead of them. However, every student that has taken their math
GED has passe!

Linda Shilling-Burhans
Community Coordinator
Central Vermont Adult Basic Education
Bradford Learning Center

-------Original Message-------

From: Claire Ludovico and/or TJ DeLuca
Date: 1/26/2010 7:07:23 AM
To: The Math and Numeracy Discussion List
Subject: [Numeracy 69] Re: Introduction, fractions and percents

I'm Claire Ludovico, here in Phoenix, Arizona. I have been teaching ABE/GED
for 16 years and was a Physical/Earth science teacher for seven years before
that. I was part of the state's original TIAN training. If the state doesn
t defund adult education (a distinct possibility if the governor gets her
way), I hope to go on teaching adults for a few more years. Most of my
students (better than 90%) start with poor math skills.
I teach parts, also. I cannot seem to separate fractions, decimals,
percents because each has its place...often in the same problem. A few
things I add for fractions are that the word numerator sounds like a number.
.and is one, the line is the division symbol...and that is probably the way
they will see division denoted in the future, and the word denominator has
the Latin word nomin (nomen) in it, which means "name". And that is how the
denominator must be treated when adding or subtracting fractions...as its
name. I'm big on math as a foreign language, so I also always point out
that percent means per hundred...and how that concept easily "translates"
the percent both to the fraction and to the decimal.
I don't like to be negative, but I am not a fan of tic-tac-toe math. The
first students I ever showed it to never came back to class. There is a
finger trick for 6x6, 6x7...includes the sevens, eights, nines, tens
(starting with times 6 always)...the worst part of the times tables for most
students. (I tell them they had better not be using it for their tens
though!) They do have to know their 2's, 3's, and 4's times 2, 3, 4 but
that is not usually a problem.
If anyone would like a description of how this works (not why...I haven't
quite explained that to myself yet...but one of these days I will), I will
be glad to share.
I have students who want to ridicule other students who use their fingers to
do math...but I say if it works, don't worry about it.

Michael Gyori wrote:
Hello Charlie and everyone,

When I teach "parts" (vs. whole numbers), I introduce a range of values less
than one but greater than zero. I introduce parts in the three ways they
can be denoted in basic math: fractions, with the denominator being the
total number of parts, and the numerator, the number of parts out of the
total number in question. Dividing the numerator by the denominator will
yield a decimal. Percentages represent a value of a particular number of
parts over 100 (thus, a fraction). Dividing the numerator by the denominator
(100 in this case) will yield a decimal.

Perhaps such a holistic approach will assist in rendering partial values
more comprehensible. As you haven't mentioned struggles with decimals, you
might make decimals your starting point in teaching the other two


Michael A. Gyori
Maui International Language School

From: Charlie <charlie at durangoaec.org>
To: The Math and Numeracy Discussion List <numeracy at nifl.gov>
Sent: Mon, January 25, 2010 9:24:19 AM
Subject: [Numeracy 54] Introduction, fractions and percents


My name is Charlie Love. I have been teaching a wide range of levels of
math for several years in various tutoring settings, improvising most of the
lessons and using hands-on manipulatives as often as I can. Recently, I
began teaching an ABE Math class. Engaging and supporting a group of
students is quite a different challenge from working one-on-one. The
concepts that I have had the most difficulty teaching are fractions and
percents. I have had trouble conveying the meaning and the mechanics of
fractions and percents. I am looking for new ideas to try the next time I
teach these concepts in class.

Charlie Love
GED/ESOL Instructor
Durango Adult Education Center
701 Camino del Rio, Room 301
Durango, CO 81301
phone: 970-385-4354 970-385-4354 ext. 110
fax: 970-385-7968
charlie at durangoaec.org

On Jan 22, 2010, at 12:36 PM, Shannon Klasell wrote:

Hello All,
My name is Shannon Klasell, and I am one of two Adult Program Coordinators
at Mason County Literacy. We’re a community-based adult literacy
organization located in Western Washington State . We use trained
community volunteers guided and supported by paid staff to provide most of
the instruction we provide. We offer Basic Skills, GED Prep, Financial
Literacy, basic computer skills, and ESOL to our adult student community.
Our services reach across two counties; each with its own distinct
demographic and issues. I am also the lead GED instructor at a class held
at our main site. Over the last couple of years I have found myself
struggling with the issue of teaching math effectively. Almost every
student we serve “hates math” or is “freaked out by math” or “can’t do math”
Many of our volunteers also carry the same negative attitudes regarding
math and numeracy.
I hope to listen and learn from this list. I am a bit isolated – located in
a small town in a primarily rural county and the only Basic Skills
Instructor and Coordinator for the entire organization.
Currently I am trying to “change how we think about math and math
instruction” around here. I have been fortunate to have some great
professional development experiences through the Washington State Board for
Community and Technical Colleges (a major funding source for us). I have
been working with the EMPower series of math books by Key Curriculum. I am
finding that mentoring and guiding people to improving numeracy and math
skills in EMPower’s inquiry-based style is difficult to sustain in an
environment where students tend to come and go, attendance can be spotty,
almost everybody wants a GED tomorrow, DSHS puts pressure on students to
complete their studies in what they think is a timely fashion and get a job,
and many volunteers come from the days of drill and kill.
The topics I will be most interested in are those that will help me be more
effective in helping both students and volunteers not only meet their
specific educational goals, but become confident problem solvers and doers
of math.

Shannon Klasell
Adult Program Coordinator
Mason County Literacy
360-204-4680 360-204-4680

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Email delivered to charlie at durangoaec.org

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