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Proposed Teaching Strategies and Some Developed Materials
Anna Baccaglini-Frank & Maria G. Bartolini Bussi
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia
Hands and the “FingerCounter”
We propose a series of activities that involve all fingers and use of a “finger-counter”, cardboard hands with fingers that can be raised and put down to represent numbers and computations.
Abstract PerContare is a 3-year project aimed at developing effective inclusive teaching strategies and materials to help primary school teachers (in grades 1, 2, and 3) address learning difficulties, especially of students who are potentially at risk of being diagnosed with developmental dyscalculia. The teaching strategies and materials developed involve the use of digital and physical artifacts to help students construct mathematical meanings in a solid way. Each year the materials developed are pilot-tested in 15 experimental classrooms, and tested the year after in 5 new experimental classrooms whose results are compared with those of control classrooms. In this poster we describe some of the proposed teaching strategies and material that has been developed within the project.
Bee-bot (Fig.7) is a programmable robot that can also be used in a virtual version on a computer and/or an interactive white board (Focus on Bee-Bot software, see Figs 8,9).
Fig 7: Bee-Bot
Fig 1: The “finger-counter” built by a first grade class.
One of the games we propose is “memory with hands” in which pairs are made with any two cards that represent the same number.
Fig 8: The virtual world “Focus on Bee-Bot”.
Starting from year 3 of primary school developmental dyscalculia (DD) can be diagnosed, and according to international data the estimated population affected is between 2% and 6% (Butterworth, 2004; Badian, 1983; Gross-Tsur et al., 1996; Kosc, 1974). Moreover, in Italy, about 20% of children in the first year of primary school present learning difficulties in mathematics (Lucangeli, 2005). Therefore, to lower the number of children with learning difficulties in mathematics, and to avoid the diagnosis of “false positives” in early dyscalculia screening tests, it is important for teachers to offer all children adequate resources for developing numerical competence. The field of cognitive psychology has studied the incidence and characteristics of developmental dyscalculia and has developed computer-based training tools for remediation of dyscalculic learners (for example, Wilson et al., 2006; Butterworth et al., 2011). On the other hand, mathematics educators have developed theories and teaching strategies that enhance students’ construction of mathematical meanings (for example Bartolini Bussi & Mariotti, 2008; Bartolini Bussi & Boni, 2009). However the two fields have seldom related to one another and enriched the others’ perspective. In this context, the scientific directors of the PerContare project1 (see percontare.asphi.it), Maria Giuseppina Bartolini Bussi, and Giacomo Stella of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy) decided to collaborate and received a 3-year funding to guide the PerContare Project, aimed at achieving the following goals: • to develop appropriate teaching strategies and materials for teachers of grades 1-3 to help all children build numerical competence; • to support teachers in learning to use these strategies and materials effectively; • to develop early screening tools to be used in grades 1, 2, and 3; • to develop intensive training tools for children who continue to exhibit difficulties in building basic number competence.
Fig 2: The “memory with hands” played at recess in first grade class.
Fig 3: Examples of pairs of cards from the “memory with hands” game constructed for first grade classes.
Fig 9: the “shapes activity map”.
We propose individual and whole-class activities that involve planning and programming the real and virtual bee-bot.
We use straws to introduce counting by 10, place value, and addition and subtraction calculations.
Results and Conclusions
In the present poster we intend to describe some activities that have seemed to be particularly successful during their pilot-testing. It is premature to discuss other preliminary results of the study. PerContare is an innovative project with great potential, as it is characterized by the fruitful collaboration of cognitive psychologists and mathematics educators who are attempting to find a combined approach for successfully overcoming learning difficulties in mathematics.
Most activities make use of a number line. We use an evolution of different representations as shown below (the last representation is extended to 20).
1 The project is directed by Fondazione ASPHI onlus; supervised scientifically by the Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia; and with support from Compagnia di San Paolo and Fondazione per la Scuola della Compagnia di San Paolo. 2 For more information visit page 19 of the Quercetti catalogue at: http://issuu.com/arcastudio/docs/cat_scuola2011_12?viewMode=ma gazine&mode=embed 3 See http://www.ttsgroup.co.uk/shops/tts/Products/PD1723538/Bee-Bot-Floor-Robot/ or http://www.terrapinlogo.com/bee-botmain.php
Children construct their own abacus out of play-doh, wooden skewers and pasta, and/or they use a monochromatic plastic abacus of the teacher’s, as The abacus is used to discuss place value, and addition and subtraction algorithms. These are developed by the children and shared during classroom discussion before being formalized.
Badian, N.A. (1983). Dyscalculia and nonverbal disorders of learning. In H.R. Myklebust, Progress in Learning Disabilities Volume 5. New York: Stratton. pp. 235-264. Bartolini Bussi, M.G. & Mariotti, M.A. (2008). Semiotic mediation in the mathematics classroom artifacts and signs after a Vygotskian perspective. In L. English (Ed.), Handbook of international research in mathematics education (2nd ed). New York: Routledge. pp. 746-783. Bartolini Bussi, M.G. & Boni, M. (2009). The Early Construction of Mathematical Meanings. Learning Positional Representation of Numbers. In O.A. Barbarin & B.H. Wasik (Eds.), Handbook of Child Development and Early Education: Research to Practice. New York: The Guilford Press. pp. 455-477. Butterworth, B. (2005). Developmental Dyscalculia. In, J.I.D Campbell (ed.), Handbook of Mathematical Cognition. New York: Psychology Press. pp. 455-467. Butterworth, B., Varma, S., & Laurillard, D. (2011). Dyscaclulia: From Brain to Education. Science, 332(27 May 2011), 1049-1053. Gross-Tsur V, Manor O, Shalev RS (1996). Developmental dyscalculia: prevalence and demographic features. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 38, 25-33. Kosc L. (1974). Developmental Dyscalculia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 7, 164-177. Lopez, M. & Stella, G. (2004). Lo Studio del Calcolo Mentale nella Scuola Elementare. Dislessia, 1(2), 219-236. Lucangeli, D. (2005). National survey on learning disabilities. Rome: Italian Institute of Research on Infancy. Wilson, A.J., Dehaene, S., Pinel, P., Revkin, S.K., Cohen, S., & Cohen, D. (2006). Principles underlying the design of “The Number Race”, an adaptive computer game for remediation of dyscalculia. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 2006, 2:19. Retrieved online September 1, 2011 from: http://www.behavioralandbrainfunctions.com/content/2/1/1 9 Wilson, A. & Dehaene, S. (2007). Number Sense and Developmental Dyscalculia. In D. Coch, G. Dawson, & K. Fischer (Eds.), Human Behavior, Learning, and the Developing Brain: Atypical Development. New York: Guilford Press. pp. 212-237.
Fig 4: the abacus used in one of our classes.
PerContare is currently in year 1 (of 3). Each year teaching materials are developed and pilot-tested in 15 classes (we refer to these as basic experimental classes); the following year the most recent materials developed are tested in new experimental classes whose results are compared with those of the same number of control classes. The project will be able to complete two cycles: one for a package of materials for grade 1, and one for a package of materials for grade 2. In addition a package for grade 3 will be prepared and pilot-tested. The teaching strategies and materials to develop children’s numerical competence involve the use of the activities and artefacts described in the following sections.
We introduce the pascaline, as a tool for counting, representing numbers, and understanding addition and subtraction. During discussions this tool is compared to the use of straws or of the abacus.
Fig 5: the pascaline.
Fig 6: a first grade child explaining her understanding of how the pascaline works.
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