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Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Topic: Private Reply
Replies: 2   Last Post: Aug 5, 1995 1:15 PM

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Chi-Tien Hsu

Posts: 144
Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Private Reply
Posted: Aug 4, 1995 10:54 PM
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Lou:

You wrote:
>>>"[The use of calculators in K-4
math] serves nothing and it is harmful for the child math well
being." While MPG's postings are generally puerile and offensive,
he can (and does) offer supporting scientific evidence when he
suggests that something is, or is not, effective. Your postings
have been neither puerile nor offensive--but you don't offer
acceptable evidence to support your opinions, either.>>>

I have not seen anywhere you made a clear
explanation on what a 4-function calculator can serve in K-4 math
class. On the other hand, I and others posted very logical reasons
that also relates to my concern of adding too much inappropiate load
onto K-4 teachers and students in math class. That is my base of
saying "serves nothing". Having students use calculator to perform
2,345,234 + 1,232,554 while they are still struggling with 23 + 35 is
to confuse them. The teacher might in occasion "demonstrate" such
thing to student, but should make them understand that they should
first be able to do 235 + 765 = 1000 effectively before they should
"use" calculator to do such lengthy calculation to get the "answer" in
math work.

To repeat briefly, what I against is a "too easy to use 4-function
calculator" in K-4 math class.

You said:
>>I call your attention to your statement "But I insist that they don't
use it for doing math." What in the world *are* they using it for?
It's designed for use in doing math, and for nothing else! (New
slogan for NCTM: Calculators don't solve problems--people solve
problems!) Perhaps we're using the word "math" differently.>>

They use for different purposes not directly relate to their "math
work". Mostly, they see that as a "toy" that they can explore by
their own freely. Sometimes, they push around to prove that
"calculator is right" because they believe in the math in their
"brain" perfectly. While most other kids who "use" it for "math"
believe in calculator more than they believe in their "brain". It is
a major difference? I emphsize again, it is good this way because they
separate it completely from the "math work" so when they "do math",
they will not think "it is so hard, why not use calculator", so they
can still get the necessary discipline. At the age of 8, my son ask
for a scientific calculator, I gave one to him. He explored a lot with
it. He would come to me and ask what those functions mean. I will
always try patiently explain it to him with thing that I feel he might
understand but "without expecting him to understand at all". If he
could not understand, he himself will say, oh well, I will work hard
on my math, one of this day I will understand it. Yes, he is lucky
that he has me around. But what he can still only learn what he is
ready to learn. About the lengthy calculation, yes, in his fourth
grade, once he was given a science project that involved very
complicated lengthy calculation, he asked me if he can use calculator,
I told him yes and told him that he has a good judgement on when to
use calculator. At that time he could already do all the mixed
arithematic operations with fraction and decimal. I did not need to
tell him too much, with simple rule from the beginning, he get to
understand what he is ready to understand.

My point is, their progress in math is not influenced by the access to
the calculator because, they accept it that math work is math work, (
similarly, "doing word problem" is doing word problem, not "doing
English" ). I have no objection for student to use calculator in
science class or other class. I against using 4-function calculator
for "doing math" in math class.

At this point, I suggest two things, (1) if we want to introduce
calculator and computer to kids, why not create a "computer lab" for
the whole school that student can visit regularly with a scheduled
class ( once or twice a week? ) and they can visit by their own in
free time just as they visit the school library, with supervision.
This will be much more structural and cost effective. (2) (this
suggestion is a little wild but why not?) All math class starting 1st
grade should be taught by a "math teacher". Advantage? (a) this
individual specialize in math teaching and will not be an average K-4
teacher who might be a great teacher but with mathphobia; (b) there
will be continuity in 1-4 kids' math development. ( I have a lot of
students came to me saying that they have not been taught or been
taught just very briefly "in the end of some semaster long ago" on
many topic. They said, the teacher in next grade never bother to cover
those missing pieces.

What the calculator for? to save time to do "lengthy calculation"
which the user are able to do with long effort. I don't believe we
should give such kind of problem to K-4 kids before they have solid
knowledge on arithmatic, "in math class". If you want to teach students
some concepts in word problem, one can always choose those that they
can calculate.

Chi-Tien





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