# [Numeracy 253] Re: Knowing your facts / Reducing stereotype threat

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Linda Szabo lszabo at mail.centinelaschool.org
Tue Mar 30 15:47:10 EDT 2010

One of the problems that we face today is that many times children are allowed to use a calculator rather than learning the basic facts ahead of time.  We serve high school students who are failing math classes, as well as, adults who need to upgrade their math skills.  When students attempt the GED, they need to know be able to do math with and without a calculator.  There are two parts to the tests.  So I feel that even though the calculator is a very helpful tool, it doesn't always work in all situations.
Linda Szabo
-----Original Message-----
From: "Lauri Schoneck" <SchonecL at seminolestate.edu>
Sent 3/30/2010 9:53:50 AM
To: "The Math and Numeracy Discussion List" <numeracy at nifl.gov>
Subject: [Numeracy 248] Re: Knowing your facts / Reducing stereotype threatI will have to agree to disagree with Kerry... I believe math facts are
not the ABC's of math, but rather another code in the seemingly unending
plethora of codes that work together to help us understand all kinds of
math. Proof that you can have math understanding and not have your math
facts is in the TABE applied math section. Time and time again,
students score FAR better on the applied math portion (with a
calculator) than they do on the calculation section (without a
calculator). There are a few simple rules to keep in mind when setting
up problems on a calculator, and students who are not math fact savvy
are not also necessarily math concept inept. More students understand
the concepts and could work the problem if it weren't for multiplying
and dividing sitting in their way.
With that said, my 7 year old *will know his times tables and division
tables*, I will see to it that he does. I use those facts everyday!!
But...adult learners learn differently than children. And when I see a
32 year old single-mother of 4 struggling to make it past her math GED
test b/c her rote memory of the times tables eludes her, I get so
frustrated with "the system". This same 32 year old has passed every
GED subtest, and a promotion is riding on her passing her GED test...it
begs the question...if she understands the concepts (and she does), why
hold her back b/c she lacks the rote memory skills to have rapid recall
of her math facts?
This single mom is but one of the hundreds, if not thousands of stories
around the country. I would **definitely** hold children responsible
for learning their math facts (dycalculia aside), but adults may be past
the point of learning them with fluency or reliability.
I certainly welcome others' opinions on this subject. Especially if
there is anyone out there who is consulting or writing tests such as the
TABE or GED... I'd personally like to see more calculator use available
on these tests.

:-), Lauri (PS: Being that I'm a math teacher, I'd rather not be held

accountable for my writing/language skills... ;-))))
Lauri M. Schoneck, M.Ed
Professor, ABE/GED
Seminole State College of Florida
Sanford, FL
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