10 January 2017

Number Sense?

  • Number Sense?

    Why is it important and how do you teach it?

    These questions are addressed and answered in the articles listed below. These are also questions that guided the development of the NumberSense Mathematics Programme.

    For further discussion around this in relation to the NumberSense Mathematics Programme, visit the our website (www.NumberSense.co.za).

    The following is a summarized extract from the article Number Sense: the most important mathematical concept in 21st Century K-12 education written by Keith Devlin (Access the full article here).

    Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

    Why is number sense important? Number sense is important because it encourages students to think flexibly and promotes confidence with numbers. How do you teach number sense? A large body of research has shown that number sense develops gradually, over time, as a result of exploration of numbers, visualizing numbers in a variety of contexts, and relating to numbers in different ways.

    • Model different methods for computing;
    • Ask students regularly to calculate mentally;
    • Have class discussions about strategies for computing;
    • Make estimation an integral part of computing;
    • Question students about how they reason numerically;
    • Pose numerical problems that have more than one possible answer.

    For further guidance on how to teach number sense, our Counting, Manipulating Numbers and Problem Solving Handbook is available for download from our website.

    The following two articles take a look beyond the school years, and emphasize the need for sense-making in mathematics teaching, and the curriculum changes that are recommended to support this.

    • All The Mathematical Methods I Learned In My University Math Degree Became Obsolete In My Lifetime Dr Keith Devlin (Access article)
    • Stop Teaching Calculating, Start Teaching Math—Fundamentally Reforming the Math Curriculum Conrad Wolfram (Access article)

    Conrad Wolfram is a mathematician, technologist and entrepreneur. Strategic director and European co-founder/CEO of the Wolfram group. Founder of Computer-Based Math.