Learning Math Conceptually

Why are students taught conceptually before moving to the procedure?

  • To understand the meaning, the use and connections between addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division;

  • To understand the "why" and "how" of operations and not just memorizing steps (what most of us learned in school);

  • To select from a repertoire of computational strategies (including mental computation) for each operation;

  • To be proficient mathematicians;

  • To promote students' capacity to think flexibly of numbers as sums and differences of other numbers with all mental and written calculations.

When do we teach procedurally?

  • The procedure, also known as an algorithm, is sometimes a more efficient strategy for students when in written form.

  • As students make connections and show understanding of the operation conceptually, they begin using an algorithm.

  • Differentiated instruction in small group provides the flexibility for teachers to assess children's readiness to move to the procedure.

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