Why leave the visuals behind?

Posted on June 6, 2016


On my twitter feed, Steve Wyborney posted an awesome little graphic which I am stealing and posting below: wyborneypic

He asks that if somebody uses it in K-2, to “take a pic of your board and send my way!”

Then there’s the awesome Donna Boucher who has all kinds of resources on her site for making math visible and understood.   She’s all about K-5.

What about the rest of us?   There are, in fact, lots of math instructional materials trying to facilitate learning of exactly these concepts … oops, my mistake.   They’re materials to help students memorize the procedures for answering those kind of “math book problems.”  Once you get past a certain point, even if the ‘skill’ being ‘taught’ is basic, we abandon the concept building.

I just wonder whether the folks doing the “Algebra for All” recognize that there’s room in the world to use those kinds of visuals (especially when they’re well-connected with math symbols and verbal language) to make algebra accessible for so many people who, I’m afraid, are too often very quietly and discreetly left out of the definition of “all.”   You know, the ones who have an “LD” stamp…

(and reading comments on her blog from a post from last year is not encouraging.   People post that there are different kinds of errors:   ‘arithmetic’ errors (“multiplying incorrectly, dropping a negative”) and ‘process errors’ — missing a step in the procedure.  Another poster added “copy errors” to that.   Nobody mentioned what the blog post actually focused on —  if they get a decimal problem wrong, figure out whether they are missing out on place value or the operation in question, and tackle the concept.  Nope.   They need to target the right part of the procedure.)


Posted in: GED, math anxiety