Conceptual Understanding Before Getting “Mathy”

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All too often math topics are introduced first with the skills and steps. This is backwards. The photo above shows how I introduced solving equations a high school student with autism using the concept as an entry point.

We discussed what was involved in buying a car, including payments (no interest) then I posed the problem seen at the top. I asked him to figure out the monthly payment. He worked out the problem, overlooking the down payment. With a minimal prompt he self corrected. I followed this by “showing him the mathy way of doing the problem.” (Seen in the bottom half of the photo). He conceptually understood why the -1,000 was the first step and x had meaning.

This is a version of CRA.

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4 thoughts on “Conceptual Understanding Before Getting “Mathy”

  1. […] topics, especially for students with special needs. To make these problems more accessible a more concrete approach is possible. The photo above shows how finding a greatest common factor (GCF) is possible […]

  2. […] more concrete introduction which can allow for more in-depth understanding. The photo below shows a CRA approach to factoring. This approach can be used as part of UDL or as an instructional strategy for […]

  3. […] Once the application is presented students can be asked to compute snow levels after 1 hour, 2 hours etc. Then they can be asked to determine how long it would take for the accumulation to reach 18 inches (the prediction for the day this post was composed). After computing the answers WITHOUT the equation the students can be shown how to use the equation – the “mathy way.” […]

  4. […] can collect data and create a graph and convert the data into “mathy” representations like equations (see top photo […]

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