Learning difficulties

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Dyscalculia: Action plans for successful learning in mathematics By Glynis Hannell David Fulton, pound;16

This book offers an introduction to some of the background theory on dyscalculia, followed by advice on teaching strategies. Each section ends with a useful action plan for successful learning, with specific suggestions for activities and approaches. Many of these will help to support the development of pupils' understanding of mathematical concepts.

Teachers may find the suggestions for parents and carers on ways to encourage children to think mathematically at home particularly useful.

However, connections between different concepts and activities are not always brought out clearly. For example, the author argues effectively that pupils should have a sound understanding of the composition and decomposition of numbers - that '8' can be seen as '5 and 3', for example, and that therefore '5 and 3' can be seen as '8'. This can help the pupil to understand addition and subtraction as two aspects of the same concept, so that the four separate number facts, '8 = 5 + 3'; '8 = 3 + 5'; '8 - 5 = 3'

and '8 - 3 = 5', form a coherent and meaningful whole.

However, this approach is not followed up. The two operations are later dealt with in separate sections on addition and subtraction, which draw attention away from the connections between them. Teachers may want pupils who struggle with mathematical concepts to focus on links between them, rather than treating them as disparate, unrelated sets of facts.

Tandi Clausen-May

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