LESSON 8 PRIMARY CHILDREN’S LEARNING STRATEGIES IN ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION

Introduction Young children begin learning mathematics before they enter school and when they are formally in early primary school. They learn to count and they can solve simple problems by counting. After the counting stage, they progress towards developing understanding in addition and subtraction as well as related facts and strategies associated with these operations. They develop strategies for adding and subtracting whole numbers on the basis of their earlier work with small numbers. Then the instruction focus shift towards helping students develop quick recall of addition and related subtraction facts, as well as fluency with multi-digit addition and subtraction. “Unpacking” ideas related to addition and subtraction strategies is a critical step in establishing deeper understanding. To someone without training as a teacher, these ideas and strategies might appear to be simple to teach. But those who teach primary school students are aware of the subtleties and complexities of the ideas themselves and the challenges of presenting them clearly and coherently in the classroom. Teachers for primary school students should have an idea of the overarching importance of addition and subtraction strategies and these big ideas will be discuss in this lesson. LEARNING OUTCOMES Upon the completion of this lesson, you should be able to: 1. Determine the type of strategies children use in addition and subtraction. 2. Describe and discuss children’s conceptual understanding in additive reasoning and how to develop them through.

Strategies in Addition and Subtraction The strategies that primary school children use to memorize, conceptualise, reason, and solve problems grow increasingly effective and flexible, and are applied more broadly, with age and

The objective is to understand children’s conceptual understanding in additive reasoning and how they develop them through. which in turn allows examination of what the experience of discovery was like. Good reasons exist for people to know and use multiple strategies. “R” denotes the researcher who was doing the interview. Strategy choices involve tradeoffs among these properties. For example.2. The episodes below gave a descriptive analysis of the strategies.8). the question arises: How do they construct such strategies in the first place? This question is answered through studies in which individual children who do not yet know a strategy are given prolonged experiences (weeks or months) in the subject matter. 1981). that six to eight-years-old add by counting from the larger number (i.. 1988). then back off one …21. The broader the range of strategies that children know and can appreciate where they apply. 5. researchers can study how children devise their various strategies (Siegler and Crowley. in their processing demands. for problems with large differences between the numbers. which has been the subject of a great deal of cognitive research.5. Resnick and Ford.10.7..e. 1985. such as 2+9. Siegler.11"). 1994. meaning small-scale studies of the development of a concept. then 6. These are referred to as "micro-genetic" studies. 22. the more precisely they can shape their approaches to the demands of particular circumstances. To demonstrate the variety. The fact that children use diverse strategies is not a mere idiosyncrasy of human cognition.3.e.experience. in this way. . 1985). / 4. children retrieve answers from memory because they know the answer (Ashcraft. and that from 9 years on. But different strategies are not solely related to age. they are likely to count from the larger number ("9. DeLoache et al. first graders are likely to retrieve the answer. what led to the discovery. Ram : Count on by tens : 12. These are excerpts of pertinent data from primary 2 and primary 3 children’s self generated algorithm. and in the range of problems to which they apply. The adaptiveness of these strategy choices increases as children gain experience with the domain.6. R: What is 12 + 9? Lim : Use 8 from 9 to make 20. Once it is recognized that children know multiple strategies and choose among them. and how the discovery was generalized beyond its initial use. Case Study Of Additive Reasoning In A Group Of Primary Two and Primary Three Children. Children can capitalize on the strengths of different strategies and use each one for the problems for which its advantages are greatest. one can identify when a new strategy is first used. and letters of the alphabet represents the subjects. The data is given in the conversation and graphic forms whenever necessary. in the amounts of time their execution requires. they are likely to count from one (Geary. for an easy addition problem such as 4+1. and this is obvious even in early years (Lemaire and Siegler. 8. 7. such as 6+7. Strategies differ in their accuracy. 1991. it was initially believed that preschool children add up from 1 (i. 1995).. consider the specific case of the addition of single-digit numbers. for problems excluding both of these cases. In this approach.). 1. Given a problem such as 3 + 5. leaving 1 which is added to 20 to get 21. meanings that the children gave to the tasks and the conceptual advances they made as they dealt with tasks involving additive structures.

30. Student was shown a card that read : 32 + 9 = L: Use 8 from 9 to make 40. Sharan (S) has developed this construction of 10 as a unit. 37 – 7 = 30. … then 4 plus 10 minus 5…. R: Why did you break up? S: Because its easy for 10 minus 5. She was able to decompose a unit into tens and ones very efficiently and the unit 10 is a benchmark for her in subtraction or addition. 50 + 20 + 10 is 80. 80 + 7 ( 7 left) is 87. 34 – 4 is 30. . 42 . one less is 87. This strategy is called ‘Making Ten’ which means Sharan has constructed ten as an abstract unit and has the intention of ‘making ten’ in her calculations. Taking eight from nine is compensated for by putting it with thirty-two and this strategy is called Compensation. now add the 4 which is 27. now subtract the 3 which added yielding 27. her From the interview above. R: What is ten minus 5? S: 5. 78. 68. R: How did you do it? S: Same like just now……use the break up method …7 plus 10 minus 9 …(doing in head and after a few seconds) …8! R: Wow. . M: Counts on by tens: 32. (within few seconds) …9. R: I see. which is duly enhanced by thinking in units.3 is 27. Counting up from 58. R: Why not 4 – 5? S: How can a small number minus a big number? … Cannot! R: What about 17 – 9? (after a few seconds) S: 8. B: Subtracting in parts.R: S: How about 14 – 5? You break up 14 into 4 and 10. 30 – 7 is 23. R: What is 29 + 58 (shown on a card) V: Sa : P : D : Takes 1 from 8 to put with the 9 to make 10. 30 + 58 is 88. 87. then back off one …41 Student was shown another card: 34 – 7 = N: Treats 34 as 30 and 4. leaving 1 which is the added to 40 to get 41. you are fast. 70 + 17 is 87. Bo : Adding 3 to make a convenient 37.

So. because taking one from 31 is compensated for by adding one to nineteen. S: R: S: R: S: R: S: R: S: R: S: S was able to split each number into tens an ones and was able to add both numbers by adding both the tens and ones respectively. His thinking strategy was similar to the one used earlier by L. the better they can shape their approaches to the demand of particular circumstances. Ka : 74 – 24 is 50. The broader the range of strategies that children know. These children used a variety of thinking strategies in solving the task given. I am interested in you are thinking about that. in the amount of time taken to solve the task and the type of task to which they can be applied. Case Study of A Primary Three Child in Additive Reasoning R: I am interested in how you think about mathematics. These strategies do differ in their accuracy. See. J : Add 4 at the beginning and subtract it out at the end. They can conceptualise ten as an iterable unit. 46. V and J which is called ‘compensation’. I would like for you to talk to me a little bit how you solve maths problems. now subtract 4. How did you think about that? I just did 30 and then 10 and 9 and 1. 74 + 4 is 78. Where did that 30 come from that you used? 31. without losing the meaning of the number as a . So you took the 30 from 31 and what did you do next? I took the 30 and the 10 from the 19 and put the 9 and the 1 together. Let me just start with : What would 31+ 19 be? 50. 78 – 28 = 50. subtract 8 from 4 which is four in the hole so subtract 4 from 50 …46.R: Ki : What is - 74 28 (shown on a card) Subtracting 20 from 70 which is 50. Great. These children are able to think of a two-digit number as consisting of groups of tens and ones. Now subtract the remaining 4. What would 42 and 18 be? 60. His thinking was from left to right rather than the traditional way of right to left. How did you get that? 40 and the 10 would be 50 and then the 8 and the 2. These children can capitalize on the strength of different strategies and used each one for which its advantages are greatest.

i. They should realise that different children think differently and their thinking must be accepted and respected. so that the number 17 is conceptualise as “one ten and seven ones”. ten is an iterable unit. He used the traditional method of 27 . This one (points to previous question) is straight and this one is horizontal (points to the current question). The following section provides a verbatim of another grade three child’s construction in additve. The rationale for posing these two tasks was based on the researcher’s premise that previous investigation has found that children who have received traditional textbook-based instruction frequently considered horizontal and vertical tasks involving the same numbers as separate.e. He knew that they were the same. a thing that can be counted as a unit. R: K: R: K: R: K: What is 27 + 9 -- It is 36. 36. . he was asked some basic questions pertaining to his idea of mathematics. R : What about 36 +46 = __ K: The answer is 82 ( in about 5 seconds). so I get 36 What about 27 + 9 ? Its the same. so 12 plus 70 equals 82. and that number concept.number. 7 + 9 = 19 and carried 1 up with balance 6 +9  to get 36. These strategies have great impact on teachers. as the other mathematical concepts and skills. Outlined below is the excerpt of the conversation with K. R: O. In the initial part of the interview. Ke Yang was a primary 3 student in a private school in Kuala Lumpur. both give the same answers ? K: Yes. (27 + 9). Question 1 (a) 27 +9  (b) 27 + 9 = ___ These question were posed to analyse his arithmetic thinking. unrelated tasks. is developed over time.K. He was a good natured. for these children. R: Can you explain this ? K: I take the 6 off so 30 plus 40 equals 70 and then 6 plus 6 equals 12. R: So. How did you get that? 7 plus 9 equals 16 add 1 up equals 3. In other words. confident and co-operative boy who answered all the questions posed to him during the interview.

It was observed that K constructed the solution in his head.19 = __ K: This should be easy. This shows that he has a good understanding of abstract units of tens and ones. R: Now. I count it backwards. He could conceptualise the one ten and the unit of 7 he added as 17. He said that one ten should be added (30 + 10 = 40) and then 6 to 7 (6 + 7 = 13) and finally added them up (40 + 13 = 53). Throughout the process. The following task (36 + 46 + 10) was solved by comparing it with the previous task and adding 10 to it. K: Yes. R: What do you mean by mental math ? K: 60 minus 19. but I can double check (and he did the following work steps ): 53 36 17 He verified his answer in the traditional way.R: K: What about 36 + 46 + 10 = ___? Same thing. K puts out 10 fingers and then folds each finger (from the viewing of the video tape recording . R : Can you try the last question ? 60 . R : All right. what about 36 + __ = 53 K: The answer is 17.19 ----41 . (In matter of seconds) R: How did you get that ? K: Mental math. This is 41. so I can do it here. it was observed that he just looked at his fingers for about 1 second or less). (in a matter of seconds) R: Did you do that mentally ? K: Yes.9 = __ K: Its 41. K: 41. He did 36 + 46 mentally by 30 + 40 + 6 + 6 = 70 + 12 = 72. R: How do you do that ? K: In my mind and I use my fingers. ( points to his worksheet) 60 . can you attempt 50 . He could see a relationship between the two tasks. R : How do you get that ? K: Because 50 minus 9. R: Can you explain? K: One ten should be added and 6 to 7. he did not use the worksheet at all to record any calculations. 82 plus 10 equals 92.

19 = __ . Using this analysis. it should be noted that in the task of 36 + 46 = __ . And furthermore in the task of 36 + __ = 53. He did not have to create or rely on situations of specific imagery to solve the tasks. Basic operations of addition. It might be that he wanted to show the researcher his mental prowess. so I cross that out. it can be observed that. He was able to routinely partition two-digit numbers and maybe three-digit numbers if we had probed further. 60 minus 19. As further clarification of collection based solutions. the outcome of this research indicates that children enter school with a great deal of informal or intuitive knowledge of mathematics that can serve as the basis for developing understanding of the mathematics of the primary school curriculum.and 70 and 12 are 82. many educators and parents cling to the belief that mathematics is about becoming skillful at performing paper and pencil computations rapidly.1 = 4 (for the tens place) so it is 41. however. Even though research has suggested broadening of mathematics curriculum. children can construct viable solutions to a variety of problems. Instead. subtraction. Hence. I have attempted to detail the evolution of children’s thinking strategies for solving these problems as a) Double + 1 b) Making ten c) Compensation . By using this partitioning algorithm. algorithms. very quick. Ke Yang’s tasks in solving this problem was to find how many tens and ones would have to be added to 30 and 6 to make 50 and 3. The discussion starts with an analysis of addition and subtraction problems. Thinking strategies analysis are one way we can encourage students to build fundamental relationships and develop efficient ways of adding. in the questions of 50 . his construction was not image-supported. multiplication. What he did was actually 10 . His mental construction suggests that Ke Yang might be a conceptually advanced student and could objectify numerical part-whole relationships. and symbolic procedures can be developed as extensions of them.9 = 1(for the ones place) and 5 .R : How do you do that ? K: I put this in my mind. he related the latter to the former by stating that “I just have to add 10” These solutions are consistent with his construction of the collection-based thinking strategy. he need not create either numerical composites of ten or abstract composite units. and division can be defined in terms of these intuitive problem-solving processes. or procedures. and I’m left with 5. The metaphor implicit in the solution seems to be that of manipulating collections. it’ll be 10 minus 9 equals 1. I can’t do it that fast in writing. it could not be said that he could not see the relationship with the previous task. he reasoned it by stating that 30 and 40 are 70. so that it can be done without thought. it is suggested that the emphasis should be on making sense to make learning more meaningful. However. Furthermore. In this arithmetic task situation. These analyses provide a framework for understanding the thinking strategies that children use to solve problems. This is because typically. Actually the researcher was anticipating that he would see the relationship with the previous task and just subtract 10 from it. 30 and 40 could be unitary conceptual entities.9 = __ and 60 . his solution involved partitioning two digit numbers into a “ tens part” and a “ones part”. So. Mathematics in the elementary school often has computation as a focus. six and six are 12 . Without formal or direct instruction on specific number facts.

1992. students have a variety of ways of determining the sum. and that number concepts. without losing the meaning of the number as a number. A student might find 6 + 7 by thinking 6 + 6 and one more. Children’s present form of learning subtraction in school is solely based as “take away” but if we scrutinise the problems in daily lives. Activities should also allow for children to respond at different levels. Using this thinking strategy. she or he will not see this strategy as a possibility and may instead. If a student has not constructed ten as a mathematical object. Thus. ten is an iterable unit. a student might determine 23 + 17 by shifting three from 23 to 17 making 20 + 20. 1992). which can be seen as 16. These students seem to have stagnated in their construction of numbers with an inefficient procedural method (Wheatley. In other words for these children. They should realise that different children think differently and their thinking must be accepted and respected. children model the action and relations in problems. When considering 9 + 7. This is called the doubles-plus-one thinking strategy. Another thinking strategy is compensation. They can conceptualise ten as an iterable unit. a thing that can be counted as a unit. Children seem to take in only those new ideas that they are prepared to” hear” at that moment (Davis. the task is changed to 10 + 6. 1999). A double minus one thinking strategy is equally useful. so that the number 17 is conceptualised as “one ten and seven ones”. 16 can be determined. these physical modelling strategies will . have to count-on or rely on memorised facts that may have little meaning. equalizing and comparing (Fuson. In a similar manner. it occurs in situations involving changing. p. 235). as the other mathematical concept and skills. ten has become a benchmark number that has special significance. Making Ten is one thinking strategy that has proven to be quite powerful. This strategy is called compensation because adding one to the seven compensates for taking one from the nine. From my observation. Knowing doubles can be a basis for solving many problems by converting a task to one involving doubles. These children are able to think of a two-digit number as consisting of groups of tens and ones. Since many students know their doubles. many students (even higher grades) rely on counting as a primary method of adding. 9 + 7 could be solved by “moving” one from nine to the seven making 8 + 8. The outcome of this research on children’s thinking is that we cannot expect children to make sense of a technique or method that is beyond their zone of potential construction. reflecting the distinctions portrayed in the analysis of problem types. Initially. for such students. Over time. A student who uses this method has obviously constructed ten as an abstract unit and forms the intention of making ten. a student might reason that by taking one from seven and putting it with the nine. which can then be easily be renamed as 40.Many students find it easy to learn doubles because of symmetry. These strategies have great impact on teachers. This is not to say that counting cannot be meaningful but that for many children it becomes a substitute for sense making. The task considered in the paragraph above. is developed over time.

which are supported by a foundation of number sense developed through using modelling and counting strategies. Activity 8. number word or set of objects and can flexibly use the unit in adding or subtracting and can decompose the unit into singleton units. briefly describe how it can be utilize in your classroom teaching.1 Based on the case studies provided above. children may at first only form static images but as they continue to construct ideas about numbers. Thinking in collections is a promising alternative as shown by these children from the interviews. The development of thinking strategies such as compensation (6 + 8 is 14 because 7 + 7 =14. Thinking in collection strategies is one way we can encourage students to build fundamental relationships and develop efficient ways of adding or subtracting. It can and should be built upon an understanding of number relations. but the learning of number facts is not necessarily a rote skill. In a collection approach. this image can become dynamic and quite useful. By a collection approach to early number development means focusing on children’s construction of units. _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________ _________ . which are generally more abstract ways of modelling a problem. Eventually children will come to rely on number facts. taking one from eight is compensated for by putting one with six) is enhanced by thinking in units.give way to more efficient counting strategies. A child has developed an abstract concept of numbers when he/she has mental imagery associated with a numeral.