More Trouble with Maths
A complete guide to identifying and diagnosing mathematical difficulties
By Steve Chinn
Routledge – 2012 – 192 pages
Series: David Fulton / Nasen
There are many factors that can contribute to the learning difficulties children and adults have with mathematics. These include poor working memory, difficulties in retrieving so-called ‘basic’ facts and the ability to remember and apply formulas and procedures correctly.
This highly practical teacher resource is for anyone who would like to accurately and effectively identify dyscalculia amongst their pupils. Written in an engaging and user-friendly style, Steve Chinn draws on his extensive experience and expertise and
The book will guide the reader in the interpretation of tests, emphasising the need for a clinical approach when assessing individuals, and shows how diagnosis and assessment can become part of everyday teaching. This resource also includes pragmatic tests which can be implemented in the classroom, and shows how identifying the barriers is the first step in setting up any programme of intervention.
Spot and solve pupils' maths problems with More Trouble with Maths, the follow-up book to The Trouble with Maths.
What are they?
The books are written by the author, researcher and former teacher Steve Chinn. They are guides to identifying and diagnosing mathematical difficulties, including dyscalculia and mathematical anxiety, and offer practical advice for helping learners with numeracy difficulties.
Are they any good?
The issue I always have with academic research, no matter how credible its findings, is that the recommendations are very rarely accompanied by practical resources and ideas that will make an immediate difference in the classroom. I am delighted to say that these two books do exactly that.
In More Trouble with Maths, Chinn provides research evidence and tests to photocopy for identifying crucial mathematical difficulties that are prevalent in schools. Amid the coverage on conditions such as dyscalculia, there are also fascinating sections about learners' struggles with estimation and the crucial impact on short-term memory.
All these research findings are complemented nicely by The Trouble with Maths, where the focus is very much on practical solutions and strategies. My favourite part is the final section on fractions - a notoriously problematic topic for many pupils. The author pulls apart common approaches to teaching fractions, explaining clearly the misconceptions and difficulties to which they may lead. He then offers an alternative approach, including addressing multiplying fractions through paper folding.
I found these two books fascinating reading, but more importantly I know that they will have a long-term, positive effect on my teaching and my understanding of the difficulties many learners face with mathematics.
Craig Barton is an advanced skills teacher at Thornleigh Salesian College, Bolton. He is the creator of www.mrbartonmaths.com and TES subject adviser for secondary maths. He can be found on Twitter at @TESMaths.
1. Introduction- Dyscalculia, Mathematics Learning Difficulties and the Test Protocol: How the protocol is designed around our understanding of maths learning difficulties and dyscalculia. 2. Diagnosis, Assessment and Teaching: The benefits of interlinking 3. The Dyscalculia Checklist: 31 characteristics that can lead to maths failure 4. Starting the Assessment/Diagnosis: Introducing low stress informal activities that provide diagnostic information 5. Short Term Memory and Working Memory: Two key underlying skills that influence learning. 6. Tests of basic facts - Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division: Their role in maths learning difficulties and dyscalculia. 7. Mathematics Anxiety: A standardised test to explore Which topics and activities create anxiety? 8. The 15 Minute Norm-referenced Mathematics Test: A test of Basic computations and algebra designed to compare performances for ages 7 to 59 years 9. Errors and the 15 Minute Mathematics Test: Recognising and understanding common error patterns. 10. Thinking (Cognitive) Style: How learners think through maths problems 11. Estimation: A key maths life skill to help develop more confidence with maths. 12. Mathematics Vocabulary and Word Problems: Exploring how they contribute to maths learning difficulties 13. Criterion-referenced (Formative) Tests: Focussing on identified problems and showing how to build on-going diagnosis into teaching 14. Speed of working: The ‘do it quickly’ culture of maths and the implications this has for learners
Steve Chinn has previously been founder and principal for 19 years of an award-winning specialist school for dyslexics. He was also head of three other specialist schools and a mainstream teacher for 14 years, and is now an independent international lecturer, writer and researcher. He has also published with Routledge The Trouble with Maths, second edition (2012).