[Numeracy 255] Re: Knowing your facts / Reducing stereotype threat

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Chip Burkitt chip.burkitt at orderingchaos.com
Tue Mar 30 17:41:56 EDT 2010

I find that students know more than they think they know. Sometimes it's
all in how you frame the question. For example, I will ask my class to
multiply 7 times 25 in their heads. Before anyone answers, I ask them
how much money they would have if they had 7 quarters. They always find
it easier to think in terms of money, even though the problems are
essentially identical. They can very quickly and accurately group the
quarters in their mind as 4 quarters + 3 quarters = 1.75.

Chip Burkitt

On 3/30/2010 11:53 AM, Lauri Schoneck wrote:

> I 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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