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  • Honora Wall

Using a calculator in math class

Most math teachers agree that a sign of being "good" at math is memorizing the times tables. Not true! Memorizing basic facts can certainly help with speed and confidence, but mathematical thinking is also about pattern recognition, problem solving, being brave enough to tackle unknown problems, art, nature, music.... and on and on. Numeracy is a very small slice of being good at math.

So, why are we still hung up on memorizing facts by the end of second or third grade and letting that define the next 9 years of math? Memorization is a parlor trick, and some people are better at it than others. For students with dyscalculia, it's pretty much impossible. This is because the dyscalculic brain loses math information over time-- all the time.

The right accommodation is to let students use a times tables list or calculator at all times. Even better, train students how to use these tools and require them to check their work. This increases mastery and confidence. It lets the student use their mental energy to focus on steps and procedures and vocabulary. And it teaches them that precision and accuracy are more valuable than guesses.

Should students use calculators in math class? Yes! Find out why in the latest episode of the What in the World is Dyscalculia podcast:

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