The question of whether or not younger students should be allowed to use calculators as they learn is a growing debate.
Younger students today have access to all kinds of technology. Many students have mobile phones which in turn have a calculator app. The calculators can easily be used to get the answers needed to solve most all of their math problems.
Some educators warn against allowing students to use calculators in early grades. It is believed that the use of calculators can interfere with their ability to understand the fundamental concepts of math.
A class of elementary students quickly sort small, colored plastic tiles on their desks into an arrangement that will help them visualize a math problem.
“I want you to layout two-thirds on your desk and then we are going to compare it to one-fourth right below it,” Fred Wild Elementary third-grade teacher Stephanie Davis instructed her students.
The different sized tiles — such as the green one-fifth tile and the slightly smaller orange one-sixth tile — along with cross multiplication exercises on the whiteboard, are helping Davis’ students learn fractions.
A new study stresses the importance of an early start in math, showing that students who are behind in first grade will continue to struggle and won’t catch up.
One in five adults in the United States are functionally innumerate; they do not possess the mathematical competencies needed for many modern jobs, according to the study by mathematics researchers David C. Geary, Mary K. Hoard, Lara Nugent and Drew H. Bailey.
The study showed that children scoring in the bottom quartile on the numeracy test in seventh-grade started school behind their peers in number system knowledge and showed less rapid growth from first to second grade, but typical growth thereafter.
School Board of Highlands County math specialist Pat Willard said kindergarten and first grade are basic fundamental classes for mathematical standards.
Students are developing the basic understanding of math at these grade levels so by the time they leave first grade, if they are behind either from an inadequate background from home or a daycare, then they really don’t catch up because they haven’t had the ability to build those foundational skills, she said.
“So they are always playing catch up from then on and we see that every day,” Willard said.
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