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Math Teachers Should Encourage Their Students to Count Using Their Fingers in Class

Math Teachers Should Encourage Their Students to Count Using Their Fingers in Class
A few weeks ago I (Jo Boaler) was working in my Stanford office when the silence of the room was interrupted by a phone call. A mother called me to report that her 5-year-old daughter had come home from school crying because her teacher had not allowed her to count on her fingers. This is not an isolated event—schools across the country regularly ban finger use in classrooms or communicate to students that they are babyish. This is despite a compelling and rather surprising branch of neuroscience that shows the importance of an area of our brain that “sees” fingers, well beyond the time and age that people use their fingers to count. In a study published last year, the researchers Ilaria Berteletti and James R. Booth analyzed a specific region of our brain that is dedicated to the perception and representation of fingers known as the somatosensory finger area. Give the students colored dots on their fingers and ask them to touch the corresponding piano keys:

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Number Lesson Starters and Online Activities Number Starters: A Very Strange Game: Four different actions depending on the number which appears. Abundant Buses: A game based around the concept of abundant numbers. Joel David Hamkins My recent talk, Playful Paradox with large numbers, infinity and logic, was a romp through various paradoxical topics in mathematics and logic for an audience of about 150 mathematics and philosophy undergraduate students at Fudan University in Shanghai, and since Fudan is reportedly a top-three university in China, you can expect that the audience was sharp. For a bit of fun, and in keeping with the theme, we decided to hold a Largest-Number Contest: what is the largest number that one can describe on an ordinary index card? My host Ruizhi Yang made and distributed announcement flyers for the contest a week before the talk, with a poster of the talk on one side, and a description of the contest rules on the other, and including a small card to be used for submissions. The rules were as follows: Example submissions: The population of Shanghai at this moment.

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Algebraic thinking Developing algebraic ideas and language Number tricks are fun for children. The fun, all by itself, is valuable, but is not mathematics. But understanding how the trick works is good mathematical, often algebraic, learning. you clever monkey: One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab I've used the picture book One Is a Snail, Ten is a Crab: A Counting by Feet Book (affiliate link) a few different ways now. It's such a great book with beautifully bright illustrations, many different number uses and a sense of humour making it a great read aloud book for all ages. I love using books in lots of different areas other than English and this one is perfect for Maths. This term I used it to help support number sense in the classroom. I knew that both year levels had done some work around skip counting (counting by 2s and 5s) last term so I used this text early in the first week of term as a review.

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