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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

VSL Learners Part 5, Math!

Here's the assignment:
Create a blog with at least 8 entries to share resources and/or strategies with other educators, administrators, and/or parents. Be sure to include pictures, links, etc. in your blog. Make sure to describe how the resource or strategy might be useful to you and how it would impact VSLs.
Again, continuing our discussion of VS learners, (Visual Spatial Learners) we look at math.  First, a look at what our author Alexandra Shires Golon says in chapter 9 in her book Visual-Spatial Learners.  She begins the chapter by imagining a 13 x 13 grid which students will memorize with multiplication facts.  That's pretty daunting!  She makes it a little more bearable by doing the ten x tens, and the ones and zeros which takes care of a bunch from the start!  To continue to make the process easier, cut the grid in half, because there is a corresponding fact elsewhere on the grid!  Then add the twos and the fives.  Suddenly the process seems so much easier.  This is a great way to teach facts, and, I believe, to help students overcome their fear of large projects and tasks that seem daunting at first.  The students learn the patterns, and use the patterns to fill in the grid and learn their facts!  She then advocates using humor (You have to be 16 to drive a 4 x 4) and rhymes (6 x 4 = 24) (page 100).  She continues with more patterns for the rest of the multiplication table.  Again, she encourages showing the students the numbers (such as multiples of 12) and having the students look for patterns.  This is good practice for any student, VSL or not.  Dr. Silverman claims that students can learn their multiplication facts in two weeks if they are taught in a similar manner described above.  I would think that frequent review and repetition would help the students retain the material long-term.

For most difficult combinations she suggests using a drawing with the number of items on it.  The item should be something that the student has an emotional tie with.  They should place the drawing where they will see it last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

When I learned multiplying multiple digits, I learned the old fashioned way.  She suggests using lattice multiplication, method I am completely unfamiliar with.  (Since I don't want to run into copyright problems, here's a link to an example.)   You still have to carry in this method, so I'm not sure that it's really any better than the old method done neatly and carefully.

She also praises the use of math manipulatives.  Since I never taught math using manipulatives and don't need to worry about it now, I can't really comment on their use.  The math teachers at my school use them frequently and report that they are very helpful for students.

Whitney Rapp describes in detail the on page five the steps that a VSL must go through to follow a math lesson and learn a new concept.  At nearly every step the student can get lost.  This article also gives many suggestions for the teacher to help the student learn including games, movement, manipulatives, real life problems and others.

So in summary, I think that the aids to memorizing multiplication facts that were described above were useful for all students.  Not only are they useful for teaching the facts, but also in helping students discover, understand and remember patterns.  This is essential in science and math.  There’s no reason that VSL can’t memorize and use facts, they may take longer or need different aids in getting there.

I think new methods, patience, and consistent review are needed until the students have ingrained those facts as part of themselves, just as athletes and musicians build their skills until they are second nature.  We need to ensure that students don’t become discouraged with their difficulties and are taught and encouraged to be persistent.  Real life applications are to be encouraged in math and related topics so that students can better enjoy math and see its relevance to real life.

1 comment:

  1. I always thought lattice multiplication was the worst thing on earth. And are you surprised that I never fully learned the multiplication table? Probably not.