## Saturday, March 23, 2013

### My Trick for Teaching Order of Operations to a Severe Dyscalculic Worked!

We hit "order of operations" in math yesterday. The equations combine addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. You have to figure out what to do first, because it doesn't go in a left to right sequence. It took me a few minutes of Celeste completely blanking as I struggled to explain that some things you did first, and then you boiled those numbers down.....Giant Sea of Blankness. Celeste's most severe learning disability is the dyscalculia. She scored in the 2nd percentile in math. This January she scored in the 4th percentile, after years of professional, one on one "intervention". I also want to remind you I have dyscalculia, so I generally suck at math too. I got 20% one semester in grade nine math. The trick I came up with was to explain it as if the operations were waiting in line for a great new movie. Multiplication and division have VIP passes, so they get to jump the line and get "let in" before addition or subtraction. I told here there was no preference in the VIP or regular lines, division didn't have more VIP status than multiplication, once they were in the VIP line, it was first come first serve. Same thing with the regular line where poor old addition and subtraction are waiting. One doesn't trump  the other, it is first come first serve again. She got it! I kept asking over and over, "who has the VIP pass?" and she consistently answered correctly. It is interesting that physical math manipulative are totally ineffective for her, but "real world concept" manipulatives, that she can relate to from her day to day experience, seem to work. Now I have to see if she retains it. That is another huge issue, is that she has never built an understanding of basic operations. She really seemed to get division, we just finished that section and she passed with a 87%. We never could have gotten to this level if she still didn't get division.