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Teaching of Elementary Mathematics Part 1

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2012
1.0 Introduction

A childs cognitive development in the learning of elementary Mathematics is very
important as it involves a childs cognitive development, which includes building skills
such as pre-reading, language, vocabulary and numeracy. Mathematics is a very challenging
as many of the concepts are abstract and most mathematics problems require multiple steps
for completion. In Mathematics, there are many rules to remember and students may face
challenges to recall or knowing which ones apply to the skill taught. Therefore, teachers
should be using different methods and approaches in the classroom to enable students to
apply the mathematics skill independently. There are effective techniques and strategies
that teachers can use to assist students comprehend what they were taught, what they have
learnt and at the same time enable them to master Mathematics. An effective mathematics
is to fully utilize an interdisciplinary approach to teaching by giving students enough
experiences that are relevant and make sense to their daily lives usage. It also helps our
students to all the requisite skills that we have acquired in school and in life. Therefore, as
practitioners, we cannot approach a task that we do in a way that separates our math skills
from our reading skills. An integration of various applicable regulations we learned need to
tackle the task at hand. Thus, the use of integrated approach, different structuring activities
is very useful in teaching mathematics.
According to Lynn A. Richbart, January 2001, New York State had developed an
integrated mathematics program in the early seventies whereby the committee that
developed the integrated content. In their integrated mathematics program, it includes an
integration of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, logic probability and statistics. From the
statement, we can say that an integrated approach had been existed since thirty years ago
and it has been going through the changes from time to time but still very effective in the
teaching and learning of mathematics. As a result, various integrated mathematic program
as well as concepts, approach and strategies had been used to make sure the effectiveness of
teaching and learning mathematics.



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2.0 Definition and clarification of key concepts
2.1 Conceptual Knowledge
Many researchers had done researches on conceptual and procedural
knowledge in the teaching of effective mathematics. According to John A. Van De
Walle, Conceptual knowledge refers to logical relationships, representations and an
understanding and ability to talk, write and give examples of the relationship. Hiebert
and Lefevre ( 1986 ) explains that conceptual knowledge is knowledge that is rich in
relationships. It can be thought of as a connected web of knowledge, a network in
which the linking relationships are as prominent as the discrete pieces of information.
Relationships pervade the individual facts and propositions so that all pieces of
information are linked to some network. From the two statements, I concluded that
conceptual knowledge is about teaching mathematics by relating the topics with the
students knowledge and daily lives activities.
2.2 Procedural Knowledge
John A. Van De Walle defined procedural knowledge as generally accepted
and should never be learned in the absence of a concept. Procedural knowledge is
knowledge of rules and procedures used in carrying our routine mathematical tasks
and the symbols used to represent mathematics. On the other hand, Hiebert and
Lefevre ( 1986 ) stated that there are two types of procedural knowledge namely one
kind of procedural knowledge that is familiarity with the individual symbols of the
system and with the syntactic conventions for acceptable configurations of symbols.
On the other hand, the second procedural knowledge refers to rules or procedures for
solving mathematic problems. Many of the procedures that students possess probably
are chains of prescriptions for manipulating symbols.
2.3 Relational Knowledge
According to Skemp R.R., in his book The Psychology of learning
Mathematics, ( 1987 )., Relational Knowledge is related to conceptual knowledge
as it corresponds with the conceptual knowledge. In other words, Skemp refers to
relational knowledge as the ability to know what to do and why. In relational
knowledge, students know how to do the mathematics problems and understanding
the reasons. It is also refers to the performance of procedure with understanding.
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2.4 The necessities to help students make connections-relevance examples
As a mathematics teacher, I always try my very best to teach children
mathematics based on the mathematics concept followed by their abilities to fulfill the
tasks related to the concept taught, then when the children had learnt the concept and
knew how to do the exercises given, only I will relate the mathematic problems to
their daily routines. This is due to the reason that children learn from experience
especially when considering instilling in children knowing, doing and valuing.
Children need to participate and be part of their learning environment especially in the
elementary stage such as year one, two and three standards as they are actually at the
height of developmental potential. Thus, it is very important to make connections by
giving relevant examples for the children to acquire the concept and be able to do the
mathematical problems.
Skemps defines that the difference between conceptual and relational
knowledge is perhaps the most widely used among constructivist mathematics
educator in this recent years. Relational knowledge is the ability to know what to do
and why while the conceptual knowledge as the ability to use the rules without
understanding the reasons. By conceptual knowledge, he refers to the rote
performance of a procedure (knowing how to use it, but not necessary knowing why)
whereas the relational knowledge refers to the performance of procedure with
understanding. Hence, if an educator only uses one of the knowledge without
integrating the other knowledge, he or she might not be able to produce an effective
teaching learning lesson. Thats why; an integration of the knowledge is necessary to
help students make connection in learning the mathematics and problems solving.
In the following task, the two topics chosen to show the importance of
conceptual, procedural and relational knowledge are the topics of money and mass.
3.0 The topic of money
How is the topic money related to conceptual and procedural knowledge? Well,
money is one of the topics in the Year two curriculum specification. The year two children
need to learn the topic of money as money is related to our daily lives. Teacher needs to
teach the children the conceptual knowledge of money before teaching them how to use the
money. Conceptual knowledge refers to an integrated and functional grasp of mathematic
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ideas. It is a comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations and relations. Thus,
teacher firstly needs to let the children understand how the money look like before teaching
them how to use the money and understanding the value of money. This is how the
conceptual knowledge comes in. In conceptual knowledge, teacher will introduce the
money by letting the children take a look at the money; understand the value of the money.
An example of the fake money used to show the children as the teaching aids.


Next, as the children can identify the money, teacher will proceed with the procedural
knowledge. In procedural knowledge, it means skills and knowledge in performing a
procedure appropriately. This include when, how and what to do with the methods of
calculation. So, when the children understand the concept of money, teacher will teach
them how to count, how much they have to pay and what is the balance of their money that
they need to get back. So, conceptual and procedural knowledge is very crucial in the
teaching and learning of the topic money in Mathematics Year two. An example of
questions that involve the procedural knowledge is:
a. RM 25 + RM 13 =
b. RM 50 - RM 5 =
c. RM 0.30 + RM 0.80 =
When the children know how to find answers for these questions, it means that they
have acquired the concept and be able to apply the concept in the questions given. Thus,
teacher can proceed to the next stage by providing children with their daily lives problem.
This is where the relational knowledge comes in.


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3.1 Why is it important to have relational knowledge on the topic of money?
It is very important to relate the topic of money in our daily lives because
money plays an important role in our daily routines. Children need to be taught on
the important of money in our daily lives as we use money every day. Parents are
busy working to get more money and children need money to buy the food, toys,
books and other things in their daily lives. Therefore, children need to learn the value
of money in our daily routines, thats where the relational knowledge comes in. The
relational knowledge refers to what the children should do with the money and why
they are doing the action. In the topic of money, children need to be taught on how to
use money wisely in their daily lives and why they are choosing to use the money that
way. In that way, children will learn that although they have money, they must know
how to value it, what to buy, when to buy, how much money they need to save and all
these knowledge is related to their daily lives not only for now but until they grown
up in future. Thus, relational knowledge plays an important role when they children
are taught on the topic of money.
3.2 The connection of the topic to our daily lives
To teach the topic of money to our year two children, a teacher must first
introduce money to children that is by showing them the money from coins to paper
money and asks them on the value of money. When the children know the value of
the money shown, then teacher will proceed to the next step of money by assessing
whether children know how to add the value of money, how to convert the value of
money, how to subtract money and other general knowledge on money. Once the
children acquire the skills, then only teacher will proceed by giving children questions
that involve their daily lives activities.
In teaching the problem solving questions involving money, it is the best way
to use the student centre strategy. This is because in the student centre strategy,
children get to do the activities in their peers and activities are centre to them. An
example of activities that can be carried out when teaching the topic involving money
among the Year Two children is to create a grocery stall inside the class. Children
can act out the activity by being the storekeeper and some become the customers. In
this activity, children who acted as customers will be given fake money to purchase
items from the grocery store. It will be like in the grocery store whereby some are
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buying and some are selling. Apart from that, children will learn to count money
which involved addition and subtraction. As for the grocery store items, children are
encouraged to collect the items such as plastic cover from their groceries item at
home. This activity is very useful in the teaching and learning activities especially in
the topic of money as it is what they will experience in their daily lives routine when
they go shopping with their parents. Besides that, in this activity, teacher can also
instills moral values on how the children should behave when they are buying or
selling things. Teacher can also guides children on what they cannot do when buying
or selling things. Therefore, the topic of money in Mathematic is related to our daily
lives activity.
In addition, by carrying out the activity such as having the grocery store in the
usage of money, teacher actually has fostered the constructivism approach among the
year two children. Teacher has used the five phases in the constructivism approach.
Firstly, teacher explores childrens knowledge by oral questioning to find out their
prior knowledge on money. Then, teacher asks children to collect the items for their
grocery store. When the children had collected the groceries items, teacher will
reconstruct the idea by setting up the grocery store. Then, teacher carried out the
activities with the children so that the children had the idea and at the same time,
applied the idea to their new idea that is counting money, paying and need to learn
how to count the balance money to their customers. Finally, teacher will guide the
children in instilling moral values that is by adding their new ideas to the old or prior
ideas that they have.
4.0 The topic of mass
The second topic that I chose for this assignment is mass. In teaching the topic of
mass, there is a need for the teacher to introduce the concept before teacher can ask the
children to carry out activities related to mass. Therefore, the conceptual knowledge and
the procedural knowledge is introduced before the children and applied to the relational
knowledge. In the conceptual knowledge stage, teacher will have to introduce the weighing
scale and the symbol involving mass. Teacher needs to show children different types of
weighing scales and different weighing scale is used to weight different types of thing.
Teacher will have to show the children the items that can be weigh so that children know
the logical relationship or representation of mass with the weighing scale.
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As the children acquire the concept of mass, teacher will proceed to the rules and
procedures that involve mass. Children will also learn to weigh and write the symbols
involving mass that is used to represent mathematics. The activities is weighing
themselves, weighing items such as vegetables, fruits, packet of flour and also beans.
4.1 Why is it important to have relational knowledge on the topic of mass
Why is Mass important to be teach to the children? It teaches children on how
to weigh and read the weighing scale. Apart from that, children need to learn mass
because mass is part of our routine life. In our daily lives, as we buy things from
supermarket or market, we need to know how to read the weighing scale. If not, we
might get cheated from the sellers. Apart from that, children need to learn to read
weighing scale as we not only use in the market or supermarket but also at home
when we want to bake cake. An example of it is when we want to weigh the
ingredients for our cake. Therefore, the relational knowledge on the topic of mass is
related to our daily lives activities.
4.2 The connection of the topic to our daily lives
One of the ways to demonstrate the connection of mass to our daily lives is by
doing simulation. Pupils will be divided into groups and they were to do the
simulation on how to weigh the items listed. Teacher will give every group a list of
items and pupils will take turns to weigh and write down the weight showed on the
weighing scale. In that way, children will learn that they have to know how to read
the scale and at the same time, say and write the correct readings shown on the
weighing scale. This activity is similar to the situation whereby children follow their
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parents to the market to purchase wet or dry food. Hands on and doing the weighing
themselves will help the children to remember and use the weighing scale correctly.
5.0 Discussion Importance of relational knowledge when learning the topic of
money and mass
In the teaching and learning of Mathematics, it is related to our real life
situation. As we can see from the topic of money and mass, children learn what
money is, how money look like, what is the value of the money, when to use, how to
use and why do we need to use it. As for the mass, children learn how to read the
weighing scale and write the correct readings. In other words, Mathematics teaches
children not only for the purposes of counting alone, but how to relate what we have
learnt into our real life. So, the relational knowledge here is to teach children on how
to relate their mathematics skills, the procedures in finding answers with the real life
problems.
It is indeed very important for the children to apply the relational knowledge
when learning mathematics because they are actually building their ideas and trying to
solve the daily lives problem based on the conceptual and procedural knowledge that
they have acquired.
6.0 Conclusion
In Mathematics, the conceptual understanding is the key for development of
procedural understanding. It is the essence of learning with understanding and not just
memory work. As for relational knowledge, it is actually the combination of the conceptual
and procedural knowledge. It is so because children need to build their conceptual
knowledge before proceed to the procedural knowledge and with both knowledge acquired,
it is believed that it can help the children especially the Year Two children to build their
relational knowledge. Nevertheless, the approach, strategies, activities and sources for the
children to acquire the relational knowledge also play an important role. Thus, an
integrated of all will be able to help the children to boost their confidence in learning
mathematics plus building their interest in every topic that they learnt. In conclusion,
Mathematic deals with our daily lives routine and children learn mathematic not only for the
purpose of counting but it is a knowledge that they should acquire as the mathematics skill
will be used throughout their lives in future. (2923 words)
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R e f e r e n c e s
Adnan Baki., Educating Mathematics Teacher. Karadeniz Technical University, Trabzon, Turkiye.

Bennett, A. B. Jr., & Nelson, L. T. (2001). Mathematics for elementary teachers: A conceptual
approach (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Boby Ojose (2008). Applying Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development to Mathematics
I nstruction. The Mathematics Educator (2008)


Chinnappan, M., Relational Knowledge and successful problem solving in algebra: Journal of
Science and Mathematics Education in S.E.Asia Vol 27, No.2 112., University of
Wollongong, Australia.











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2012