Arithmetic algorithms are not the only areas of life where means becomeends, so the kinds of arithmetic errors children make in this regard arenot unique to math education. (A formal justice system based on formal"rules of evidence" sometimes makes outlandish decisions because of loopholesor "technicalities"; particular scientific "methods" sometimes cause evidenceto be missed, ignored, or considered merely aberrations; business policiesoften lead to business failures when assiduously followed; and many traditionsthat began as ways of enhancing human and social life become fossilizedburdensome rituals as the conditions under which they had merit disappear.)
If you don't teach children (or help them figure out how) to adroitlydo subtractions with minuends from 11 through 18, you will essentiallyforce them into options (1) or (2) above or something similar. Whereasif you do teach subtractions from 11 through 18, you give them the optionof using any or all three methods. Plus, if you are going to want childrento be able to see 53 as some other combination of groups besides 5 ten'sand 3 one's, although 4 ten's plus 1 ten plus 3 one's will serve, 4 ten'sand 13 one's seems a spontaneous or psychologically ready consequence ofthat, and it would be unnecessarily limiting children not to make it easyfor them to see this combination as useful in subtraction. ()
There are many subject areas where simple insights are elusive untilone is told them, and given a little practice to "bind" the idea into memoryor reflex. Sometimes one only needs to be told once, sees it immediately,and feels foolish for not having realized it oneself. Many people who takepictures with a rectangular format camera never think on their own to turnthe camera vertically in order to better frame and be able to get muchcloser to a vertical subject. Most children try to balance a bicycle byshifting their shoulders though most of their weight (and balance then)is in their hips, and the hips tend to go the opposite direction of theshoulders; so that correcting a lean by a shoulder lean in the oppositedirection usually actually hastens the fall. The idea of contour plowingin order to prevent erosion, once it is pointed out, seems obvious, yetit was never obvious to people who did not do it. Counting back "change"by "counting forward" from the amount charged to the amount given, is asimple, effective way to figure change, but it is a way most students arenot taught to "subtract", so store managers need to teach it to studentemployees. It is not because students do not know how to subtract or cannotunderstand subtraction, but because they may have not been shown this simpledevice or thought of it themselves. I believe that counting or calculatingby groups, rather than by one's or units, is one of these simple kindsof things one generally needs to be told about when one is young (and givenpractice in, to make it automatic) or one will not think about it.
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Can you ? Is something you can do? Can you ? Is there someone outside the window right now? Can you ? Do your obnoxious neighbors keep you up until 2 a.m. because they are ? Can you ? What does a person do when she's ? Can you ? Show me what is. Can you ? Bingo! Sure you can! Run five miles and you'll be panting. Can you ? Of course not! But can you ? You bet—although we don't need a demonstration of this ability. In the sentence above, therefore, there are two action verbs: and .
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Differentcolor poker chips alone, as Fuson notes (p. 384) will not generate understandingabout quantities or about place-value. Children can be confused about therepresentational aspects of poker chip colors if they are not introducedto them correctly. And if not wisely guided into using them effectively,children can learn "face-value (superficial grouping)" facility with pokerchips that are not dissimilar to the face value, superficial ability toread and write numbers numerically. The point, however, is not to let themjust use poker chips to represent "face-values" alone, but to guide theminto using them for both (face-value) representation and as grouped physicalquantities. What I wrote here about the use of poker chips to teach place-valueinvolves introducing them in a particular (but flexible) way at a particulartime, for a particular reason. I give examples of the way they need tobe used to teach place-value in the text. The time they need to be introducedthis way is after children understand about grouping quantities and countingquantities "by groups". And I explain in this article precisely why differentcolor poker chips, when used correctly, can better teach children aboutplace-value than can base-ten blocks alone. Poker chips, used and demonstratedcorrectly, can serve as an effective practical and conceptual bridge betweenphysical groups and columnar representation, because they are both physicaland representational in ways that make sense to children --with minimaldemonstration and with monitored, guided, practice. And since poker chipsstack fairly conveniently, they can be used at earlier stages for childrento count individually and by groups, and to manipulate by groups. (Columnsof poker chips can also be used effectively to teach understanding aboutmany of the more difficult conceptual and representational aspects of fractions,which is another matter about teaching that I only mention here to pointout the usefulness of having a large supply of poker chips in classroomsfor a number of different mathematics educational purposes.) ()
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When my children were learning to "count" out loud (i.e., merely recitenumber names in order) two things were difficult for them, one of whichwould be difficult for Chinese-speaking children also, I assume. They wouldforget to go to the next ten group after getting to nine in the previousgroup (and I assume that, if Chinese children learn to count to ten beforethey go on to "one-ten one", they probably sometimes will inadvertentlycount from, say, "six-ten nine to six-ten ten"). And, probably unlike Chinesechildren, for the reasons Fuson gives, my children had trouble rememberingthe names of the subsequent sets of tens or "decades". When they did rememberthat they had to change the decade name after a something-ty nine, theywould forget what came next. But this was not that difficult to remedyby brief rehearsal periods of saying the decades (while driving in thecar, during errands or commuting, usually) and then practicing going fromtwenty-nine to thirty, thirty-nine to forty, etc. separately.