[Numeracy 281] Re: Linking word- and number-based language

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mmanly mmanly at earthlink.net
Fri Apr 2 16:50:11 EDT 2010


Are you suggesting (below) that we use the word "count" instead of
"magnitude" for lower level learners?

I would prefer "the distance from zero" as an introduction to the concept
since it gives the learner (who uses the number line when thinking of
integers) something to visualize. Magnitude is used later when using
vectors which have both magnitude and direction.



From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] On Behalf
Of Michael Gyori
Sent: Friday, April 02, 2010 12:13 PM
To: The Math and Numeracy Discussion List
Subject: [Numeracy 279] Linking word- and number-based language

Hello Carol and everyone,

The word-based and number-based language link can be quite a task, can't it?

There is a fundamental difference between the terms quantities and
magnitude. Quantities refer to count nouns (persons, places, things, and
ideas). 1, 2, 3 people; 1, 2,3 cities; 1, 2, 3 cups of coffee; 1, 2, 3,
insights, etc.). Magnitude(s), on the other hand, can refer both to count
as well as non-count nouns (tons of love - a noncount noun in this case, vs.
tons of coffee beans - a count noun in this case).

One of the characteristics of absolute values, at least for pedagogical
purposes, is the use of numbers (math) to - ultimately - (to be able to)
count, whether it be a sum, difference, product, or quotient that derives
from performing operations on numbers (whether whole, part, or mixed).

The use of the term magnitude might be potentially confounding for a
learner. Magnitude is a lower-frequency word, and to delve into its meaning
while building mathematical awareness might pose a challenge for learners
with limited cognitive underlying proficiency levels. We need to be
sensitive to what we wish to accomplish both by teaching and the learning it
may trigger.


Michael A. Gyori

Maui International Language School

<http://www.mauilanguage.com/> www.mauilanguage.com


From: Carol King <cking at lyon.k12.nv.us>
To: mmanly at earthlink.net; The Math and Numeracy Discussion List
<numeracy at nifl.gov>
Sent: Thu, April 1, 2010 7:30:33 AM
Subject: [Numeracy 277] Re: Is an absolute value positive?

This leads me back to some of the confusion, while I really liked that
example, you have now introduced the new term of magnitude into our
discussion of absolute values which my text defines as the distance from 0
and it does not mention magnitudes at all. While I personally understand
magnitude and I prefer that as the term for what absolute value is showing
in the problem, if my struggling student was to try to use another source to
help them they might also run into this language and they feel rather than
being helped they are led down another rabbit hole. Why are there so many
ways to express in language what this one concept is doing rather than a
consistent method?

Carol King

Fernley Adult Education Center

cking at lyon.k12.nv.us

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