Why is mathematical literacy important

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					Why is mathematical literacy
Every child can learn mathematics.
                                                    Today, mathematics is often learned through
Mathematically literate students understand         problem solving. For example, students
and value the mathematical information they         discover the value of pi rather than being
encounter in the world outside school, and          told it is 3.14. Students in Grade 8 measure
have the knowledge and confidence to make           the circumference of a number of circular
sense of this information.                          objects, and divide each circumference by
                                                    its diameter. They notice that each of their
To be successful in many occupations and            answers is a little more than 3. The students
function well in today’s knowledge-based            might then use dynamic software, such as
economy, the ability to process and interpret       Geometers Sketchpad™, to measure the
data, communicate effectively and apply             circumferences and diameters more exactly.
mathematical reasoning is essential.                They discover that the ratio of the
                                                    circumference to the diameter of all circular
There are many post-secondary programs or           objects is approximately 3.14, a value the
the work world a student may choose to              Greeks named pi. Through their
pursue. Many of these choices require some          investigations, students develop an
degree of mathematics competencies.                 understanding of the meaning of pi, instead
                                                    of seeing it as a magical number dreamt up
What is taught in today’s Grade                     by mathematicians.
7-12 mathematics classroom?
Problem solving is the most important skill         Technology in
in mathematics. A typical mathematics               the Classroom
problem might look like this:
                                                    Technology is an
         Is there a relationship between a          essential part of
         person’s height and stride length?         our world and,
                                                    therefore, plays a
There is no immediate formula and no                role in
readily available calculation that to solve         classroom. Research
this problem. There is more than one correct        shows that when
answer, depending on the assumptions                calculators are used
made. This type of problem demands                  appropriately in the
thinking and creativity rather than                 classroom, students’
memorization and skills learned by rote.            arithmetic skills do
                                                    not decline and
                                                    students are likely to experiment more and
                                                    become better at solving problems.

The Role of the Calculator

Students must understand underlying
mathematical concepts in order to use a
calculator effectively. A typical calculator
question for students in Grade 7might be:

        x  = 81.
Use your calculator to find the missing
digits. Explain how you found your answer.           The Internet is a rich resource that makes it
                                                     possible for students to go beyond the
The solution could be found through trial            content available in their textbooks. As
and error, but to solve the problem                  well, access to real data, from all over the
efficiently, students must apply the                 world, makes mathematics authentic and
conceptual knowledge they have been                  motivating.
                                                     Computer software that drills basic facts and
Graphing calculators are also used to help           skills benefits students who need extra
students investigate, develop and understand         practice, while appealing to their comfort
a variety of concepts. The graphing                  with technology. For many students,
calculator provides visual representations           computers provide a context that is far more
that afford students opportunities to see the        appealing than pages of drill from their
mathematics they are studying, and allows            textbook.
them to examine new concepts.
                                                     How Your Child’s Progress is
The Role of the Computer                             Assessed

Computer technology provides teachers with           Teachers use many means to gather
the opportunity to teach traditional topics in       information about student understanding of
more visually attractive and interactive             mathematics including:
formats that appeal to today’s students.
                                                        observing and
The use of spreadsheet software allows                   noting the
speed in data collection and computation so              student’s
that students’ time is focused on problem                mathematical
posing and problem solving.                              performance and
                                                         work habits
Dynamic geometry software provides the                   independently or
tools for students to investigate geometric              in a group;
concepts in a visually interactive manner               assigning
and introduces them to the strategies used by            projects of
designers and engineers.                                 varying lengths and topics;

      having students maintain a                   Students need to develop skills in
       portfolio of work samples;                   reading, interpreting and analyzing
      having students reflect on their             charts, tables, and graphs to be
       performance. Self assessment                 successful in the OSSLT.
       and the planning of next steps for
       personal growth are valuable                 More information on provincial testing
       skills to develop and foster;                can be found on the Education Quality
      considering the work of                      and Accountability Office website, listed
       classmates. Peer assessment                  in the ‘Where can I find more
       provides a broader perspective of            information’ section of this guide.
       what is expected and what is
                                                 How students are encouraged
                                                 to approach mathematics
                 Assessment of students’
                 skills and knowledge            The skills,
                 involves more than              knowledge, and
                 simply assigning a mark         understanding
                 through chapter tests and       gained by students
                 quizzes. Effective              through
                 assessment is designed          mathematics
                 to improve the students’        instruction, as
learning and adapt teaching techniques           well as the
to the students’ learning needs.                 disciplines they
                                                 learn for
Teachers place an emphasis on the                mathematical
processes associated with learning               problem solving,
mathematics, such as analyzing, making           is useful to
conclusions and exploring alternative            students across all
solution strategies, as well as the              subjects in the
products associated with learning                curriculum.
mathematics – the answers. Assessment
practices provide opportunities for all          Mathematics students are problem
students to be successful.                       solvers

Provincial assessment                               Math involves solving problems and
                                                    investigating mathematical patterns and
Students in Grade 9 are required to write           relationships. A successful problem
a provincial mathematics test, the Grade            solver questions, investigates, and
9 Assessment of Mathematics, before the             explores new situations to gain new
end of the school year. In Grade 10,                understanding of a problem.
students write the Ontario Secondary
School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Literacy           Mathematics students persevere
includes mathematical literacy. Reading
mathematics text is different from                  Students who persevere through a
reading fiction and narrative texts.                problem when the answer is not readily

  available have a greater chance of                  advanced exploration and problem
  success. Students are encouraged to                 solving.
  recognize that there is probably more
  than one way to solve a problem and that
  there might be more than one correct                How can I support my child’s
  answer.                                             mathematics learning?
                                                                     Everyone can learn
Mathematics students apply what                                      math. First and foremost,
they have learned
                                                                     believe in your child’s
                                                                     ability to learn
  Students need to be able to apply                                  mathematics. Everyone
  mathematics to everyday situations and                             can improve when
  recognize that mathematics is present in                           provided with good
  the world around them. Students who                                teaching, coaching,
  are able to make links with their prior                            encouragement and
  knowledge to help solve unfamiliar                                 practice.
  problems have a greater chance of being
  successful in mathematics.                          Do have high expectations for your
                                                      child. Research shows that when you
Mathematics students communicate                      believe your children can learn, they will
effectively.                                          rise to
  Students need good                                  expect
  communications skills to explain                    ation.
  mathematical ideas, listen to other
  people’s interpretations, and to use those          Do
  ideas to increase their own                         talk
  understanding. Students who know the                with
  answer but cannot communicate their                 your child’s teacher about how you can
  solution strategies, usually have a                 help and support your child’s
  limited amount of knowledge and are                 mathematical development.
  likely to be unsuccessful when working
  with new or more involved problems.                 Do talk about mathematics in a positive
                                                      way. Your positive attitude and valuing
Mathematics students have solid                       of mathematics are infectious.
foundational skills
                                                      Do share your day-to-day math
  Certain mathematical skills have to be           experiences with your child, and discuss:
  automatic in order to successfully
  investigate relationships and solve              • video and computer games
  problems. Students must have a                   • television shows, e.g., the learning
  thorough grounding in basic skills and              channel
  concepts e.g., the ability to perform            • travelling (calculating distances,
  simple operations such as multiplication            destination estimation, budget, gas
  and division - as a foundation for more             prices)

•    banking (loans, mortgages, interest              Do build on your child’s strengths and
    rates)                                            what he/she already knows. Make links
                                                      between math and daily life.
    Do encourage your child to use a daily
    planner to record projects, assignments,           Do engage in math-related home
    and test dates.                                activities:
                                                             Play games - Chess, Checkers,
    Do encourage personal responsibility for                   C
    learning. Emphasize that effort is as                      r
    important as ability.                                      i
    Do talk with your child about the                          b
    importance of homework. Encourage a                        a
    regular time and place for completing                      g
    homework. Even when homework has                           e
    not been assigned, encourage daily                         , Bridge, Euchre, Memory
    review and practise of mathematics.                        Games, Backgammon…
    Encourage your child to check the                        Make puzzles.
    answers and ask for help when they are                   Involve your child with
    having difficulty.                                         shopping.
                                                             Engage in the mathematics of
    Do support your child through                              cooking and baking.
    homework by listening and asking                         Plan and execute home
    questions:                                                 renovations.
        Allow your child to struggle
           through the process of problem             Do explore your child’s thinking
           solving.                                   process:
        Discuss mistakes as learning                     Why did you…?
           opportunities.                                 What can you do next?
        Help your child by asking                        Do you see any patterns?
           questions:                                     Does the answer make sense?
           – What do you need to find                     Tell me in a different way…
               out?                                       What would happen if…?
           – Tell me what you know…
           – Show me what you started…                Do appreciate the value of not knowing
           – What can you try first?                  and use these occasions as opportunities
           – Can you make a drawing or                for growth rather than anxiety. Develop
               picture?                               strategies and resources for getting help
           – Will a list or table help?               with the problems.

    Do encourage persistence. Some                    Do provide help to your child with
    problems take time to solve. Taking a             strategies, not answers. Provide as much
    break often provides fresh enthusiasm             support as is necessary, e.g., peer
    and alternative strategies.                       support or tutoring. Encourage a variety
                                                      of problem-solving strategies:
                                                           Guess and check

       Look for a pattern                           For the
       Make a diagram or model                      mathem
       Act it out
       Work backwards                               um, go
       Simplify the problem                         to
       Eliminate possibilities                      www.ed
       Make a systematic list                       u.gov.on.ca or call
       Get advice or research                       1-800-668-1938.
       Sleep on it
   Do find a balance between your child’s            Education Quality and Accountability
   school work and other activities such as          Office (EQAO)
   sports, clubs, part-time jobs, and friends.       For information on provincial testing, visit the
                                                     EQAO website at
   Do invite your children to share their            www.eqao.com
   thinking and understanding - or lack of it
   - in a safe and relaxed atmosphere.               Your child’s teacher
                                                     Speak with the teacher about ways to work
   Do talk with your child about long- and           together to help your child. Teachers can
   short-term goals and achievements.                provide exemplars, samples of student work that
   Help choose a pathway that fits their             demonstrate the provincial standard expected of
   goals, strengths, and talents.                    students at each grade level.

   Do talk with your child’s teacher about           Your child’s school
   difficulties that arise. When teachers and        Many secondary schools offer peer tutoring in
   parents work together, children benefit.          mathematics, as well as after hours and lunch
                                                     time math help. Encourage your child to take
   Do correct wrong answers in a positive            advantage of these opportunities.
   fashion. The goal is to help build your
   child’s confidence and develop positive           Other helpful websites
   attitudes toward math.                            http://mathonline.peelschools.org is a Database
                                                     of selected math links sorted by the strands of
   Do encourage your child to experiment             the Ontario Curriculum. This Peel DSB website
   with different approaches to a problem.           created to support teachers, students and parents
   We learn a lot from our errors when we            includes the Best of the Web, Math Tools,
   examine them.                                     Homework Helpers and a page especially for
   Do encourage your child to do his/her             www.ilc.org/cfmx/AAT (Ask a teacher)
   best on tests and assignments.                    provides access to Ontario’s Independent
                                                     Learning Centre with more than forty Ontario
                                                     teachers who are ready to provide assistance.

                                                     www.purplemath.com provides lessons and
Where can I find more                                homework guidelines.
Ontario Ministry of Education.                       http://www.curriculum.org/occ/tips
                                                     /index.shtml provides current
                                                     mathematics education research for

parents with children in Grades 7 to 9 and offers
parents a collection of online resources and ideas
for assisting their child.

Several Ontario school boards have created
websites for parents, e.g., the Peel District
School Board website at

www.figurethis.org supported by the National
Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Its Family
Corner provides support for parents and tips for
assisting children with homework.

www.nea.org/parents/math.html is the United
States National Education Association Parents’
Guide website.

shtml has a Parent Homeroom with facts for
parents about the mathematics. It also contains a
Glossary of those math terms.