Teacher2Teacher 
Q&A #17459 
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From: To Michelle To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2008021318:15:51 Subject: Re: Re: The Potential Dangers of Teaching Touch Math To Michelle: Dear Michelle: You said that you were taught touch points in the first grade and continued to use them throughout your school years and found it very helpful. First let me congradulate you on your ability to do well in math even though you were taught touch math. The fact that you used touch points throughout your school years is exactly what Angela Andrews was talking about. People have a hard time moving on from the counting points and then they pass it on because that is what they know. You ask Angela Andrews if she used the touch point method or if she was basing her research on theories. If you took the time to read her post she explained that she is a preservice university instructor of math methods and observe the crippling effects of Touch Math™ on students (first hand)each term as they try to break this tiresome habit and, at the same time,develop the missing number sense they know they need to teach mathematics themselves. Angela Andrews is not the only one that has had this experince with possible negative effects of touch math on students abiltiy to understand math. If you took the time to read the other post there is another system called "Dotmath for kids" from 1966 to 1994 that had dots on top of the number symbol. This was many, many years before touch math was around. From 1966 to 1994 the same problems were discovered in the first virson of dotmath because the dots were on top of the number. In 1994 the new version of "Dotmath for kids" has been fixed so there are no negative side effects. The Dots are not on top of the number but are around it on an overlay in a dice pattern. Please take the time to to read all the posts and then go to the "Dotmath for Kids" web site and do some research. You were correct when you said there are other ways to teach other math concepts in the classroom so it would be important for you to know them  and "Dotmath for kids" is one of them. If you type "dotmath for kids" into the google search box you will find the site. I think you should look at the comments by the people who have come to this site looking for help to "recover from touch math  From: Carrie Hubbard <justin_and_carrie@hotmail.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2003022017:13:45 Subject: Re: eventual mastery Lisa! I am so glad you asked that question. I am a senior in elementary Ed and preparing to do my student teaching in the fall. There are NO studies done to date on touch point math and my class just had a discussion on the negative effects of touch point math. I was taught addition and subtraction by touch point in my first grade class. Now as a 21yearold college senior I still can't bring myself to add 7+3 without using touch points. Many students in my college class have the same problems as I do. I would not suggest to any teacher to start using touch point mathematics because it is harmful to the children, because they will be doing touch points for the rest of their lives. I wish I would have learned addition and subtraction from memorization and now touch points are so ground into my thinking process I can no longer unlearn it. If you ever find any studies please let me know. Thank you!  From: Laney <slocket@aol.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2006010320:10:10 Subject: Re: Problems with touch point math. I probably won't be back on this website because I lose track of posts, but since I came across this discussion looking for others having my problem I thought I'd add my fifty cents. I am a senior psych major in A&M, pretty average and maybe above in some areas of education, but there is one place where I still feel incompetent. . . math. I was taught touch math in second grade and I thought it was awesome at the time, but now when my peers and younger kids are quickly doing math problems in their minds, I am much slower because I have done touch math so long that that is how I have to do it. Counting money or even dice is embarrassing. Now I am trying to take the initiative to relearn a quicker method.  From: Bonnie <bsova0305@sbcglobal.net> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2006041722:07:57 Subject: Re: Problems with touch point math My third grade daughter has the same problem as the girl above because she learned TOUCH MATH in 1st grade. I wish like anything that she hadn't, because she was tested for Math three days ago and was told in a timed part of the test she was at the 12 grade level. She's at the end of her third grade year! I wish she was never taught TOUCH MATH. It may help the teacher, it may help the child for a time but then they're stuck on it. She looks at a problem like 6+7 and has to stare at it for several seconds before she can tell me the answer. It was refreshing to see someone else with our problem, that we're not the only ones. If you're reading this message and you're a teacher like myself, don't even consider TOUCH MATH in your school's curriculum. It's wrong and it stunts children's true abilities. B. Sova  From: Mike <mike@cybercal.net> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2003032718:32:02 Subject: Major Problems With "TouchMath" System I am interested in learning how others have been affected, negatively, by the touchmath system. I am a 23 year old that was taught the "touchmath" system back in the early 1980's when I was in first grade. Mind you, this was not a special education class, but a regular class for "developmentallywell" students. After the first grade, my family relocated to another state, and my new school didn't teach the system. The students at my new school had learned math the "real way" (memorization, tables, numerical concepts, etc.), prior to my coming, but I was far behind them. For some reason I was stuck in the "touch math" mode, as it was somehow burned into my brain. As far as I knew, that was the only way to do math. I only learned later that the other students weren't mentally using touch math like myself! I had severe problems with the concept of math for the rest of my elementary and high school career. In elementary, I had severe problems with multiplication, fractions, and even with the concept of time. In Jr. high, I was even placed in the learning disabilities class for a short while but only for math. I was finally able to "retrain" my brain, somewhat, and returned to regular math classes by the time I started of high school. But then, I barely even squeaked through my math classes in high school and college it must have been a miracle of God. Ashamedly, to this day, I continue to have severe struggles with math. I am just now learning to add and subtract without imagining the "touch points" on all of the numbers. Because I had so many problems with even basic match, my ability to perform algebraic and geometric problems never really developed. I get by totally fine in life because my career as a minister and youth counselor doesn't require muchadvanced math like algebra and calculus (how many careers out there really require those, anyway?). While I am an otherwise intelligent man when it comes to other subjects, I have lagged far behind all of my life in math. This is a shameful secret that I hide and keep to myself. For some reason, none of my educators caught on or attempted to investigate what my problem was; they just thought that I was an extremely poor student in math. Just a couple of years ago, I began to question whether or not the touchmath system had caused me to have the problems that I do. After much research, I am now convinced that it was my problem all along, as it prevented me from developing a true concept of mathematics. Considering that I passed all other subjects without problems throughout my entire school/college careers, there should be no other rhyme or reason for me to have done so poorly in this one single area. The problem may have started when I changed schools perhaps my first school had planned on teaching us "real math" the next year by integrating it with, and weaning us off of "touch math". Who knows? But my new school's system was so drastically different (real), that I was never able to make the transition. As far as I know, my new school had never even heard of touch math, so they had no way of correcting me. I would advise all parents to ensure that their children learn math the "right way", and spare them the problems that I have had all of my life. I am interested in hearing from others! Good Luck, Mike  From: C Wells <ccwells@netcom.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2004121617:46:21 Subject: Re: Major Problems With touch math My daughter is now 12 and was taught touch points as well. She wasn't developmentally challenged. All of the kids learned the same method. She continues to struggle with addition. She actually multiplies better than adds. We have no idea how to retrain her! It's an ongoing problem. Touch points should go the way of a failed experiment. Like the movement away from phonics, it has been a dismal failure.  From: M McGinnis <niallmcginnis@mac.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2005040614:57:53 Subject: Touch Math I just read your message about touch math from a couple of years ago, when I began to research the subject. My child was just placed in first grade at age 5, following an assessment for what would have been kindergarten in the fall. So this was an acceleration of almost two grades. Last night my child brought home a math paper: touch math. She explained it to me, then proceeded to complete the page of twocolumn subtraction problems. A few were wrong. Problems that were easy for her just a month ago. It was so obvious that she had lost track of the actual values in the problem. For example, when she subtracted 8 from 18, she got it wrong. Never before a problem with understanding the base ten concept. Now she was very focused on those little dots. So,thank you, for sharing your testimonial. I plan to look into it further, and, very likely ask my school board the following questions: How does a child transition from these dots to normal computation with real numbers? Who sold us this idea, and why? Have there been any studies to confirm that it delivers positive outcomes? Sorry you had to deal with it. My older child is currently trying to unlearn another fashionable math program, "Chicago Math". Sincerely, M McGinnis  From: Becky C <mrtlnp@comcast.net> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2005072211:25:36 Subject: Recovering from Touchmath My twin boys came home halfway through third grade and they were still using the Touchmath method to calculate answers to addition and subtraction problems with very small numbers. Like 4 + 3. Which was not the right place for them to be when it was time to move on to multiplication. For it to make sense that 24 + 3 = 27 when skipcounting 3's, a child needs to know without counting that 4 + 3 =7. It was as weird for my boys to consider that they should "see" or "sense" how true it was that 4 + 3 = 7, as if I had asked them to consider that dog + cat = lollipop. We had little choice except to have them memorize the times tables by rote, to qualify for the ice cream sundae party at the end of the school year. The boys' first grade teacher taught them Touchmath. My husband recognized it from when he was a kid, and I didn't like the looks of it, literally, but I thought it would turn out to be a harmless way station. I expected that with lots of practice in addition and subtraction the boys would naturally migrate to more efficient methods, e.g. counting on from the higher number. That with lots of practice, they would know when they saw 3 + 4, that it is 7 without further thought. But with Touchmath, the children are taught to visualize each numeral as having a specific number of points that are touched, one by one, as the child counts up the total, going from one numeral to the next in an addition sentence. The number three is the most obvious numeral to "point", but the rest of the numerals 1 through 9 are pointed in a way that is not robust. Touchmath is like having counters embedded in the printed numeral on the page, that can never be broken apart and put back together. My boys mastered this method of seeing numerals as collections of points very quickly, but they didn't move on from it. It's a method of counting by ones, much less obvious than if your child is still counting on their fingers. But every addition and subtraction sentence they ever saw for the last three years looked just like a work mat with counters fixed on it. These counters, arranged as they are along the stems of numerals, don't lend themselves to any sense of distance or length or dimension. Unlike fingers which can line up in a ragged row, or loose counters which can be set shoulder to shoulder in a line. Last December when I figured out there was a problem, I quizzed my boys really carefully. I asked them, "Do you ever see 3 + 4 as a length? As stacking 4 blocks on top of 3 blocks? As climbing 3 steps up a ladder and then climbing 4 more steps? As moving 4 inches beyond 3 inches?" And the answers were no; no; no; and never. In kindergarten, first, second, and third grade, they successfully participated in mathematics units on data representation, and on measurement. They had successfully created bar graphs with data and answered questions correctly using the graphs. They had successfully measured objects using many measures  paper clips, crayons, a ruler. But these and many other experiences of dimension were not informing their practice of addition and subtraction. They had never been assessed for speed in adding and subtracting, before third grade. I thought speed would just happen. But they were still counting touching points in third grade. This summer, our math boot camp is all about dimension in whole number operations. Visualizing linear distances. I am preaching the gospel of PartPartWhole, and we're studying one whole number at a time. I want them to start fourth grade knowing by heart that 3 + 4 belongs to 7, and it will never belong to 6, and it will never belong to 8. They are learning that 7  4 gives the same information as 3 + 4 and 4 + 3 and 7  3. We are playing Go Fish and War and Memory with wholenumber fact families on playing cards I created. We are using Legos as our manipulatives. I also made up numeralfree, mathematicallytrue, basetenfriendly distance flashcards that illustrate addition and subtraction. The boys now can illustrate their own addition and subtraction sentences. No more touch math counters distributed arbitrarily yet rigidly imbedded into the number.  From: Lisa <lehnegil@yahoo.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2003040123:27:31 Subject: Re: math touch point system I am a specialed teacher(elementary)and a parent of a 17 year son, Abe, who has Down syndrome. Twenty years ago I worked in a group home and attempted to teach money skills to adult women with mental retardation. Teaching money skills has been on my mind for many years! I found you because I am looking for some ideas I can embrace about teaching money. I have been a long time follower of Lou Brown, U of Wisc., who often says "Don't waste my kid's time!" Abe will learn fewer things than most of the population so the things he is taught must be the most important things in his life! Counting coins is quite difficult, teaching Abe to count coins And make change would take an enormous amount of time, time which could be better used, on top of that  he may never be successful heck  Abe NEVER will be successful  at 17 he still can't count by 5s! So..."Don't waste his time!!" I believe firmly in the "PlusOne theory" or "One more" for Abe. Functional, functional, functional! unfortunately I have never gotten any of Abe's teachers to buy into the idea. As a sophomore at the regular high school, Abe's math continues to consist of asking him how much change would he get back if...yada,yada. I do not care for the touch math point system. I believe it is even a further abstraction to students with less than average math intelligence. I also believe it is functionally ridiculous! You said the students would not be deprived if other strategies are use as well as the touch math. You are not allowed to mix "DotMath for Kids" and touch math. These are the rules of the site and the copyright law. You must choose between them. Also when you mix multiple systems they can be too much information too fast and you can confuse the child. If you read Angela Andrews post again you will see that she has a heading called: "Can’t I teach Touch Math™ along with other strategies" She points out: Can’t I teach Touch Math™ along with other strategies? With Touch Math™, the foundational concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division are ignored. The method ignores the student’s need to: • Develop a visual image of how sets are joined and separated. • Develop noncounting strategies for adding and subtracting, such as partitioning, using doubles, using the commutative principle, etc. • Develop strategies for doing mental mathematics. (Without visible “touch points” children trained in this system have few options for solving mental problems.) • Develop the concept of multiplication as repeated addition or as an array of objects. • Understand both the subtractive and partitive concepts of division. • Understand the relationship of numbers as defined by our base ten place value system. This technique bases computation on arbitrary rules rather than on the foundations of the base ten number system. In fact, the authors of Touch Math™ state that they have no intention to teach place value, which should, they say, be taught only after students master computation skills. In reality, by the time students master the increasingly complex Touch Math™ rules, they have little patience for learning to understand place value. • Think about numerals as representations of quantity. The number 38, for example is not thought of as “almost 40”, which would be helpful for estimating an answer, or as 3 tens and 8, which would be helpful for understanding place value concepts. Instead 38 is thought of as an 8 which requires 8 taps and a 3 which required 3 taps. I hope you take the time to do the research. You said that you were going to be a teacher and plan on teaching TM. If you want to be the best teacher you can be I recommend that you look at as many systems as you can. There are a lot of math sites recommended on the "dotmath for kids" web site that do not conflict with the "DotMath" See posts: From: Angela G. Andrews <angela.andrews@nl.edu> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2007092615:47:36 Subject: The Potential Dangers of Teaching Touch Math From: owen <owenbprince@hotmail.com> To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion Date: 2007092621:59:37 Subject: Re: The Potential Dangers of Teaching Touch Math I hope this info is helpful in your research on what to teach
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