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Instructional Strategies

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of Strategy The touch math strategy is an approach teachers use to help students understand the processes of mathematics. This strategy aims at engaging students with a program that incorporates the sense of touch with visual aides for understanding (touch points). With the implementation of touch points on numerical symbols, students of all abilities can grasp the underlying concepts of mathematics and become strategic learners.

The touch point numerical symbols are pictured above. Numbers 6 through 9 have a ring around the touch point. (Difficult to see in picture but the ring encompasses the circumference of the touch point). Strategy Rationale When students do not seem to grasp the understanding that numerical symbols represent a value or an amount, it is pretty difficult to teach them mathematical skills such as addition. Therefore, the placement of touch points on numerical symbols corresponding to the number is one successful strategy for grasping this concept of value. Many of my students struggle with the concept that numbers represent a value. They can recall the name of numbers, they can count, they can say/write numbers, but they just cannot successfully recognize that numbers are the symbol for an amount. This causes my students great stress and struggle when trying to understand and complete addition problems. Therefore, my corresponding teacher decided to implement the instruction of touch math for teaching addition. So far, my students seem to grasp the concept of number value more clearly than before, and they enjoy the ability to see and touch the points on the numbers when completing math problems such as addition problems. According to an article from the International Journal of Special Education, called Effectiveness of the Touch Math Technique in Teaching Addition Skills to Students with Intellectual Disabilities, touch points were found successful for teaching basic addition skills after periods of instruction on the strategy. The results of this study show that three subject students were targeted for instruction and all three students improved their addition skills. Student A increased her basic addition skills success rate from 30% to 100% after 9 teaching sessions and were delivered in line with the touch math technique based on a direct teaching approach (Calik & Kargin, 200). Student B increased her basic addition skills success rate from 40% to 100% and Student C increased his success rate from 30% to 100% after touch math instruction was

implemented. (Calik & Kargin, 200). This resulting data and the mentioned idea in the article that individuals with disabilities may feel more comfortable partaking in touch math than counting on their fingers amongst their more advanced peers was more than enough proof that the implementation of touch math could be beneficial for students with disabilities (and without disabilities). Touch math offers both advantages and disadvantages when it is implemented. Some advantages to incorporating touch math in the classroom include that it can really benefit students who need another algorithm for learning math facts. Touch points located on each number provide students a visual representation of the concept of number value. This visual component combined with students ability to physically touch the touch points provides more engagement for learning math skills. Once students have mastered understanding of what the touch points mean, they will be able to quickly answer math facts like addition facts when they count the touch points on all of the numbers in a problem combined. This efficiency in answering the math problems that touch math provides will be a great skill for students to acquire for timed standardized tests, content tests in classroom, and in natural settings in which the understanding of math skills is required. A disadvantage to the implementation of touch math includes the possibility that students may not be able to decipher how many touch points are on the numbers 6 through 9 because of the points that are surrounded by circular rings. Unlike the numbers 1 through 5 where there are 1 point, 2 points, 3 points, 4 points, and 5 points exactly on each of the numbers they represent, the rest of the numbers are more confusing. For example, the number six has three points on the number, and a circular ring encompasses all three of these points. The three points plus the three rings make up the representation of the number six. Some students may become confused because six points are not located on the number six, and so on for the rest of the numbers through nine. This confusion or inability to understand the representation could cause students difficulty when using touch math for addition (or any other type of math fact). Methods Before actually implementing the touch math strategy, I would spend time talking to the students about the new strategy in hopes that they would be excited about learning a way to complete addition. We would talk about all the ways addition can be used in school, at home, in the community, and how it is important for future success. I would then clearly describe what the strategy looks like by showing the students the numbers with touch points individually:

We would spend time counting the touch points on the numbers together before I introduced what an addition problem would look like:

I would describe to the students that by counting the touch points on each number, then they are essentially completing an addition problem in order to find the total/solution to the problem or the total number of touch points on each number. The next step in the instructional method would be modeling the addition strategy with use of touch math. I would first start this approach as whole-group instruction with the chalkboard. I would introduce touch math starting with easier equations and progressing through the more difficult equations. So on the board, I would have an equation such as 1+0= _? displayed in big letters with the touch points on the numbers. I would go step by step through each individual part of the addition problem. This includes reading the problem aloud, counting the touch points aloud while simultaneously touching the touch points with my finger (or pencil), and writing down the answer to the problem. I would want to make sure that all of the plus 0 family equations are modeled first, and then going onto +1, +2, etc as time went on. After modeling the plus 0 family to the whole group, I would break up the class into much smaller groups and divide the groups among the paraprofessionals and myself present in the classroom. We would work on pre-created worksheets together that correspond to the plus zero lesson just modeled. The paraprofessionals and myself would slowly go through the problems, counting the touch points aloud with the students as they fill in the worksheets, making sure that the students are physically touching the points with their fingers or the pencil. I believe it is important for students to independently practice the strategy as well. Therefore, each night students would be sent home with a one-page homework assignment about the problems modeled in class that day. So after the modeling of the pluz zero family, students would work on guided practice in school, and take home independent practice on their homework to return the next day. This independent practice is a tool for teachers to observe if the lesson was understood and applied to homework problems while the student was working independently. There would be time to go over the nights homework in school the next day if there are any questions, confusions, or if the lesson needs to be reframed before moving on to the next family of addition problems. In order to generalize this touch math skill, the presence of touch points on homework assignments would fade over time. This fading process could be as simple as starting with the bolded touch points, and making them less obvious to the eye over time. By the end of the fading process, the touch points would not be on the numbers and students would have to mentally visualize where they are located on the numerical symbol. The hope is that this process combined with the in-school opportunities to implement touch math would promote generalization. Some in-school opportunities could be when the class is naturally having a discussion, participating in an activity or game, or even could be when reading a book. Any natural situation in which a teacher could implement addition is an opportunity for a teacher to test for generalization. Generalization probes would also occur on daily 1-minute math quizzes, mentioned

below. Data Mastering the Strategy (Touch Math): After the implementation of touch math instruction begins, the teacher collects data on how well the student is progressing on learning the strategy. There are multiple processes for which this data is collected. Since students work on guided practice during the course of the instructional period, teacher is aware/makes mental notes/writes notes on how student appears to be progressing on mastering the strategy of the touch points. Since the strategy is a breeze once it is understood, it is pretty clear to a teacher which students are struggling just by observing the student and their worksheets/probes. Throughout the course of instruction, the teacher will provide direct instruction to monitor students strategy acquisition combined with whole group mini-probes such as asking students to do math facts on the board using the touch points. However, the physical/tangible proof that a student is mastering the strategy is through the practice worksheets completed in class and for homework. It is simple to determine which students are using the touch math strategy by looking if the points are drawn on the numbers. Furthermore, it is simple to determine if this strategy is beneficial by looking to see if students achieve the correct answers to the math problems. Mastering the Skill (Addition): The students in my class take daily 1-minute math tests. These assessments allow the teacher to interpret the students initial understanding of addition in the beginning of the year and monitor their progress over the course of the school year. This initial data serves as the baseline data/pre-test data prior to strategy instruction. As instruction on the touch math strategy begins, these daily 1-minute math tests serve as a reliable way for teachers to interpret how well the instruction and the strategy seem to be working and generalizing to natural situations where a student would be independently answering math problems. These daily tests start with the most basic 1-digit addition facts and progress to the more challenging facts. Data will be collected in this order as well; depending on a students individual IEP goals, he or she will move onto the next set of 1minute probes after they correctly answer x amount of problems on x number of trials. For example, one students IEP goal may be that he answers at least 10 problems correctly within the minute on 5 trials (this assumes mastery of this particular computation level). If he attains this goal on the most basic plus zero family, he will then move onto the plus one family, and so on. The collection of this daily data allows teachers to determine how well the touch math strategy seems to be generalizing. The goal is that students will remember the strategy they have learned for addition and apply it to their addition problems on the daily test (even though the touch points are not labeled on the numbers on the test). Since students had not been introduced to this strategy prior to instruction and have not learned any other strategies for addition, any progress a student has made on addition skills can be attributed to the touch math strategy of instruction. Reflection

As with any instructional strategy, I believe that the results are situational and depend on each students individual learning abilities. However, I think that if implemented correctly, consistently, and adaptations are made when necessary, any student could eventually achieve correct addition answers when using the touch math method. Many (if not most) students will be able to apply the touch math method on their own individual practice of addition successfully. These students will indeed be able to independently look at a math problem, picture (or even draw their own) touch points, and come up with the correct answer, but I dont think this can be said about every student in the classroom. Some students may lack the visual perception or memory skills to picture touch points on a numerical symbol when they are not pre-drawn. This would hinder their ability to generalization the skill in independent practice/testing. I definitely think that teachers are aware of this possibility, but they teach this touch math strategy in hopes of making gains in addition with a strategy that a student may not have been introduced to before. Like mentioned above, some students might need adaptations to this strategy in order to be successful at it. An adaptation I would make includes creating little picture symbols as touch points instead of simple dots. For example, if a student could process 4 little apple pictures on the number 4 instead of 4 little dots, this could be an adaptation that could be made with the use of a computer when these worksheets are printed. For example, the blocks below contain little acorns as touch points on some of the numbers:

These acorns could be easier to mentally picture and understand for some students. Other adaptations include printing larger numbers/touch points to begin instruction with so that these students can eventually generalize to normal sized numbers on worksheets. The larger numbers could be easier for a student with visual impairments or for students who have trouble with fine motor skills (for pointing to touch point). Many times students can point to the touch points with their pencil as well. During instruction, touch math numbers can be incorporated on worksheets, tests, quizzes, games, clocks, dice, or any situation in which numbers are seen. These adaptations will allow students to become more familiar with touch point numbers across various settings, and hopefully promote generalization. Personally, I do think that touch math is a great strategy for teaching addition (and other mathematical skills). I think it is easier for students to conceptually think about number value and solve math problems independently. I think the strategy is great for older students who may still be struggling with addition who do not want to be seen counting with objects or their fingers by their peers. I also think that once the skill has

been acquired efficiently, that it quickly generalizes and students can independently complete math homework, worksheets, and problems on tests. Overall, I definitely think that it is a strategy that teachers should try implementing if other more traditional addition strategies do not seem to be working. Students learn and mentally process concepts in different ways, so the incorporation of a strategy that involves a multisensory approach could hopefully be beneficial for a student.

Bibliography

Calik, N. C., & Kargin, T. (2010). Effectiveness of the touch math technique in teaching addition skills to students with intellectual disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 25(1), 195204. Retrieved from http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ890578.pdf

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