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Algorithms in Everyday Mathematics

# Algorithms in Everyday Mathematics

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06/16/2009

Algorithms in
Everyday Mathematics
What is an algorithm?

An algorithm is a well-defined procedure or set of rules used tosolve a problem.

A good algorithm is efficient, unambiguous, and reliable.Why do we teach students algorithms?

To give them important problem-solving skills

To build computational confidence

To develop sound number sense, including a good understanding ofplace valueWhat are some examples of algorithms that have been taught in the past?

Long division

Subtraction with regrouping

Multi-digit multiplicationOur new math curriculum,
Everyday Mathematics
, teaches a number ofdifferent ways to do grade-level computations. Some of them are hundredsof years old, but simply aren’t the way we have traditionally taught in U.S.schools. A few of these algorithms are emphasized more than others, andthey are called “focus algorithms”.What are the new “focus algorithms” in
Everyday Mathematics
?
Mathematical Operation Name of Algorithm

First, add these numbers any way you’d like:6,907 + 485 =In
Everyday Math
, students are taught the Partial Sums algorithm, whichrelies on deep understanding of place value, and of what each digit in anumber truly means:6,907+ 485Add the thousands: 6,000 + 0 6,000Add the hundreds: 900 + 400 1,300Add the tens: 0 + 80 80Add the ones: 7 + 5 + 12Add the partial sums: 6,000 + 1,300 + 80 + 12 =
7,392
Discussion Questions:What do you notice that’s different about this method?Do you think it will help students better understand the addition of largenumbers? Why or why not?To firm up our understanding, we’ll do one more sum using the Partial Sumsalgorithm:15,384 + 3,602 =

First, subtract these numbers any way you’d like:9,062 – 4,738 =Traditionally, students are taught to regroup, or “borrow” as needed in orderto solve the problem. This can lead to confusion, and to unnecessaryregrouping when students don’t understand when regrouping is needed.
Everyday Math
teaches students the Trade-First Algorithm, in which
all thetrading (regrouping) is done before all the subtraction
:There are three steps:1.

Examine all columns and trade as necessary so that the top number ineach place is as large or larger than the bottom number. (The tradescan be done from left to right OR right to left!)2.

Check that the top number in each place is at least as large as thebottom number.3.

Subtract column by column.9, 0 6 2- 4, 7 3 8Discussion Questions:How might this be less confusing for students?Where might they most need support when learning this method?Let’s try one more:4,826 – 3,934 =

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