Friday, August 2, 2013

How to Learn Math #5: Number Sense!

I worked on Session 5 of How to Learn Math yesterday.  This course both affirms my knowledge and practice ... AND it challenges me to grow and learn!  I have long believed that building number sense is huge and that we don't do enough of it in schools.  I have been tutoring young students this summer - students going into grades 2, 3, and 5.  These students in particular needed help with composing and decomposing numbers and in using "friendly" numbers to assist in problem solving.

As I thought about number sense I was remembered that I posted about that topic several months ago.  I am repeating the post below because it has some useful links in it!


Usually when I think of building number sense, I think about primary math education.  I know, though, number sense is something we all must work on all the time!  So I did some Internet research to find resources and ideas for middle and high school.

  1. Knowing how precisely a high school freshman can estimate the number of objects in a group gives you a good idea how well he has done in math as far back as kindergarten, researchers at The Johns Hopkins University found.  This Science Daily article is quite interesting.

  2. One of my first "hits" in my search revealed this book, Building Powerful Numeracy for Middle and High School Students written by Harris, published by Heinemann.  The Heinemann website has a brief description.  I plan to put this book on my summer reading list!

  3. If you are looking for number sense strategies and tricks, this website looks awesome!

  4. The state of Texas has a well-developed academic competition developed by the University of Texas - one of which is number sense.  Practice tests are available online here.

  5. NCTM has published several number sense tasks - with explanation in their Reasoning and Sense Making Task Library

  6. The state of Washington has posted sample number sense writing prompts for all grade levels.

  7. San Diego school system has posted ideas for number sense routines.

  8. University of California also published a workbook on number sense.

  9. Minnesota has published an interesting paper showing the progession of number sense through primary years to high school.
I enjoyed this research ... now ... how shall I build the recommendations and examples into my daily practice?  My students would definitely benefit!

I'm working on a plan for warm-ups ... for when students first enter.  I know I want to incorporate number sense activities, as well as problem solving and review of the daily curriculum topics.  Once a week I want to use Math Munch in some way.  There are so many ways to go ... so much to do ... How do you structure those first 5 - 10 minutes of your class?

I look forward to hearing about what others do to build number sense!


  1. As I was completing Boaler's number sense session I had the same idea, "Let's start incorporating them as warm-ups." You mined some great resources. Thanks for doing the leg work!

    1. Mary - Enjoyed the search! I like the ones from Port Angeles ... and the ones on the TX UIL site for straight up mental math.

      Now how to incorporate all of these good ideas seamlessly!?!

  2. Thanks for this post! I am taking the course as well and have been contemplating this very thing. Your links are great jumping off points - I'll be incorporating a number sense warm-up tomorrow with my students!

    1. Hello! I'm delighted to meet another teacher taking the How to Learn Math course! And I'd love to hear which of the links you use, and how it works out!


    2. I didn't know anoyone else that was taking the course! So excited to find others and to get inspiration from!

      The TechKnowledgey Teacher

    3. Melissa - I believe there are many teachers in the MTBoS participating ... if you aren't familiar with the group, check out this site ...

      There are so many awesome teachers online sharing great stuff!

      I'm excited about How to Learn Math. I'm working on Session 6 ... slow but sure!