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How Children Learn Mathematics (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Three Types of Learning Experiences

The type of learning experience or activity that you choose to use will depend on the objective of the activity or experience. We will focus on three types of learning experiences.

  1. Developmental: Developmental activities are used to develop new ideas and introduce new concepts. Developmental activities should be conceptually based; the students should be able to acquire meaning for the concepts and operations that they are learning. These activities should be designed and presented in a way that will make the math understandable to the students.

  2. Reinforcement: These activities are used to reinforce previously introduced skills and concepts. You may use developmental activities or modified developmental activities as reinforcement activities. You may also find or develop new activities to use as reinforcement activities.

  3. Drill and practice: Drill and practice activities are used to practice or memorize previously learned skills, procedures, and concepts. When many people hear the phrase “drill and practice,” they immediately think “flash cards.” Although you may use flash cards in drill and practice activities, these are not your only option. These activities should not be boring. Pick activities that will engage the students. You can use contests, challenges, games, problems where the solution provides the answer to a riddle, and many other fun activities.

The type of learning experience or activity that you choose to use at a particular time will depend on your objectives at that time. Some activities fit more than one category. To classify an activity, consider your main objective or intent. An activity that is intended to introduce concept A is a developmental activity even if it reinforces concept B and contains practice in skill C. For example, suppose you wish to introduce the idea of calculating the value of a pile of coins containing two different types of coins. This developmental activity reinforces the value of a single coin and contains practice in the skill of skip counting.

In many cases, you will find appropriate activities to accomplish your objectives within the teacher’s manual of your textbook series, in activity manuals that you have available, or in an activity file that you have created. In some cases you will need to modify a given activity so that it better suits your purposes. You may even create activities or learning experiences of your own to serve a certain purpose.

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