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Book review by Angela Weeks
Dyscalculia: Action Plans for Successful Learning in Mathematics by Glynis Hannell In 137 easy to digest pages, Glynis takes the reader deep into the world of the child or adult for whom aspects of mathematics, that we often take for granted, present frustrating hurdles. Through actual conversations with children we learn how a different way of thinking can sometimes lead them astray. We learn how to identify the points of weakness and are presented with practical action plans for overcoming each hurdle.
The book is divided into six sections:
1. Introduction to dyscalculia – what dyscalculia is, possible causes and how to identify students with dyscalculia (see box below)
2. Effective teaching – effective learning – presents new ways of looking at and assessing difficulties in mathematics
3. Understanding the number system– looks at areas of weakness and offers action plans to address them
4. Understanding operations – looks at areas of weakness and offers action plans to address them
5. Measurement and rational numbers – look at areas of weakness and offers action plans to address them
6. Teacher resources - includes student and parent questionnaires to elicit the child’s feelings about mathematics and their parents’ perspective
Sharon Ellison in her review of this book (SPELD Victoria Journal, June 2006) made the following comment: I have taught remedial maths for many years, yet have never felt as close to knowing what the child (or adult) is really feeling or seeing as I did after reading this book…(My colleagues) and I agreed that we had never read or heard such enlightening material. Reading this book can only improve one’s teaching technique at all levels.
The following extracts provide a window into the wealth of information and practical guidance covered in Dyscalculia: Action Plans for Successful Learning in Mathematics. This book is recommended reading for every junior and middle school teacher, and all senior mathematics teachers, in particular those who teach vocational maths or Maths A.
Throughout this book, Glynis provides pratical action plans with strategies and activities for addressing areas of difficulty.
The following example is taken from 1. Identifying pupils with dyscalculia (Section 1, page 14) [top]
There are a range of warning signs that a particular child or adolescent may have dyscalculia. Some of them are outlined here.
Reliance on tangible counting
Difficulties with the language of mathematics
Difficulties with memory for mathematics
Difficulties with sequences
Difficulties with position and spatial organisation
Reliance on imitation and rote learning instead of understanding
The following example is taken from Section 2, pg. 31, Understanding the Purpose of Mathematics [top]
ACTION PLANS FOR SUCCESSFUL LEARNING
Making mathematical connections
There are 3 parent information sheets with practical ideas for developing mathematical understanding on the home front.
The following example is a selection taken from section 6, pg 127, Parent Information Sheet: Maths on the move [top]
Did you know that you can turn the car, bus, train or ferry into a great maths classroom for your children?
Maths is not just about ‘doing sums.’ Maths is about thinking mathematically, seeing numbers around you, and understanding what those numbers mean.
LOOK OUT THE CAR WINDOW
LOOK INSIDE THE CAR
DISTANCES AND MAPS
STOPPED ON RED
The book Dyscalculia: Action Plans for Successful Learning in Mathematics by Glynis Hannell is available through the SPELD SA Shop for $61
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