Number sense

Number sense is the need for students to:

  • understand the calculations they make
  • be flexible in their use of methods
  • apply their understanding to unfamiliar situations.

You can develop number sense in the following ways.

  • Encourage students to develop their own mental strategies for solving problems.
    Students should record how they solved the problems and evaluate the validity and efficiency of their strategies.
    The premature teaching of written algorithms, before students have understanding of the quantities involved, is known to inhibit flexibility.
  • Connect words, symbols and physical or diagrammatic representations.
    Use representations that reflect the manipulations performed on symbols.
    For example, use place value materials that are based on bundling of ones, tens and hundreds before using non-proportional materials like money.
  • Use contexts that are meaningful to students as opposed to using 'naked numbers'.
    Identify common features of different contexts that involve the same operations.

You can read more in the articles Is Your Classroom Mental? insert link and Put Mental Computation First? on the AAMT website.