Looking for more articles by TERC staff? Search here.
—(2007) The Math Practitioner. Vol. 13, #1.
This article is based on a workshop titled But My Students Don't Know Their Basic Facts, given at the COABE Conference in Philadelphia, PA
Students who have not mastered their basic facts should not be held back from developing deeper critical thinking skills. You can integrate basic arithmetic and algebra, even with students who are working on basic addition facts. Research into how children learn math suggests that one reason students have difficulty moving from basic arithmetic to algebra is because of their notion of what the equal sign means. Rather than thinking of the equal sign as a sign of equality – what's on one side of the equal sign is the same as what's on the other side, students think of the equality sign as an indication to perform an operation.