Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blog Entry 6 - Teaching of Number Sense

What came to my mind at the mention of Number Sense? Counting. Recognition of numbers. Knowing its quantity.

Number sense simply means making sense of numbers; and it does not end by just knowing how to count - it is the ability to make sense of numbers by creating meaningful connections with the environment. Howden (1989) defined number sense as: "good intuition about numbers and their relationships." It is a process of making sense of numbers by being able to visualize its use in a variety of contexts.

Teaching number sense requires that the teacher has a great deal of understanding on how the topics pertaining to number sense are taught. It is not something that can be taught by reading and planning: The teacher may have good theoretical knowledge about a topic but is unable to execute the delivery of the topic effectively. With this, I would like to emphasize on the fact that teachers should pre-teach themselves the topic that they want to teach children, and put themselves into the shoes of the children to anticipate how they may approach the activity. The following are some listing of number sense activities that were taught, and not taught in my experience as a preschool teacher; and why:

Activities in practice:
1. Count by Ones
A commonly facilitated practice that I have been doing, it teaches children to concentrate on the quantity and at the same time, develops their one-to-one correspondence counting. Children are encouraged to point to each manipulative/object/item that they are counting, so as to focus their attention on the task. One of my favourite practice to enhance the children's ability to count by ones is the use of songs and rhymes.

2. Two-digit Number Names
Children are taught the number names for single-digit numerals first, before they move on to learning two-digit number names. However, a challenge when I teach children two-digit number names: Single-digit number names are straight forward; 1 is one, and 2 is two. However, certain two-digit number names can be quite confusing for the children to acquire - 5 is five, but when it is in the tens value, it becomes a two-digit number name fifty. As the children generally note a pattern in the spelling of the number names from single-digit to two-digit, having them conceptualize a new knowledge not applicable within their "general knowledge" may create some disturbances as the children try to accommodate the new knowledge to be learned.

Activities not in practice:
1. Partitioning strategies in teaching Multiplication
I have not introduced this strategy before, as I find it quite confusing for the children to master. The children can easily get confused with the requirements of the task if understanding of Multiplication is not strong enough.

2. Doubles and Near-doubles
Unless the child is absolutely good with his addition, otherwise, it would be too difficult for the children to conceptualize the skills to work on multiplication tasks such as Doubles and Near-doubles, as it requires the accomodation of multiple addition tasks.

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