How the Brain Learns Mathematics

How the Brain Learns Mathematics

by David A. Sousa

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To reach all your math students, use your brain—and theirs, too!

The bestselling and award-winning first edition of How the Brain Learns Mathematics quickly revolutionized math teaching and learning. The second edition takes readers to the next level with new brain-friendly strategies backed by the latest research from education and neuroscience and even more ways to seamlessly incorporate what you learn about your students’ developing minds into your math classroom.

In this essential resource, you’ll discover the cognitive mechanisms involved in processing mathematical operations, while exploring the environmental and developmental factors that create learning difficulties. How the Brain Learns Mathematics also presents a unique and simplified four-step teaching model that relates students’ classroom experience to concrete, real-world applications. Features of the new edition include

  • More strategies for motivating adolescents
  • Integration of the arts into mathematics instruction
  • New information on how technology affects attention and memory
  • Expanded sections on number sense and ELL instruction
  • More than 160 new references and a greatly expanded index for readers’ convenience

No matter what grade you teach, your students are growing and changing. Understanding how their brains work is the key to reaching every one of them—and making math a positive part of their lives for years to come.

"David Sousa’s book is a wonderfully readable presentation of how neuroscience and cognitive psychology can inform the teaching of mathematics in elementary and secondary schools. Sousa engages his readers intellectually with recent research on the brain and mathematics learning, and avoids pat answers where the evidence is suggestive rather than conclusive. The book is a valuable text for teachers who want a deeper insight into thinking processes behind the learning and teaching of math."

—Robert E. Slavin, Director, Center for Research and Reform in Education
Johns Hopkins University

"Teaching mathematics without having read this book is like trying to master tennis without a coach. Sousa′s book is a tour de force: It builds a solid bridge from cognitive neuroscience to daily classroom practice. Every teacher of mathematics will benefit from this well-researched, well-organized, thoughtful, and practical approach to making math instruction align with how brains learn."

—Spencer Kagan, Publisher/Professional Developer
Kagan Publishing and Professional Development

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781483368474
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Publication date: 11/13/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

David A. Sousa, EdD, is an international consultant in educational neuroscience and author of more than a dozen books that translate brain research into strategies for improving learning. He has presented to more than 200,000 educators across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. He has taught high school chemistry and served in administrative positions, including superintendent of schools. He was an adjunct professor of education at Seton Hall University and a visiting lecturer at Rutgers University. Dr. Sousa has edited science books and published dozens of articles in leading journals. His books have been published in French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Korean, and several other languages. He is past president of the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward) and has received honorary degrees and awards for his commitment to research, professional development, and science education. He has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and National Public Radio to discuss his work with schools using brain research. 

Table of Contents

About the Author
Everyone Can Do Mathematics
Why is Learning Mathematics So Hard?
Response From Mathematics Educators
About This Book
Questions This Book Will Answer
Chapter Contents
Other Helpful Tools
Assessing Your Current Knowledge of How We Learn Mathematics
What′s Coming?
1. Developing Number Sense
Babies Can Count
What Is Number Sense?
Animals Also Have Number Sense
Why Do We Have Number Sense?
Piaget and Number Sense
Learning to Count
How Language Affects Counting
The Mental Number Line
Expanded Notions of Number Sense
Can We Teach Number Sense?
Quantities to Words to Symbols
Gardner’s Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 1
2. Learning to Calculate
Development of Conceptual Structures
Structures in Four-Year-Olds
Structures in Six-Year-Olds
Structures in Eight-Year-Olds
Structures in Ten-Year-Olds
Dealing With Multiplication
Why Are Multiplication Tables Difficult to Learn?
Multiplication and Memory
Is the Way We Teach the Multiplication Tables Intuitive?
The Impact of Language on Learning Multiplication
Do the Multiplication Tables Help or Hinder?
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 2
3. Reviewing the Elements of Learning
Learning and Remembering
Memory Systems
Rehearsal Enhances Memory
The Importance of Meaning
How Will the Learning Be Stored?
When Should New Learning Be Presented in a Lesson?
Does Practice Make Perfect?
Include Writing Activities
Gender Differences in Mathematics
Consider Learning Styles
Consider Teaching Styles
How Do You Think About Mathematics?
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 3
4. Teaching Mathematics to the Preschool and Kindergarten Brain
Should Preschoolers Learn Mathematics at All?
Assessing Students’ Number Sense
Preschoolers’ Social and Emotional Behavior
What Mathematics Should Preschoolers Learn?
Preschool and Kindergarten Instructional Suggestions
General Guidelines
Suggestions for Teaching Subitizing
Learning to Count
An Easier Counting System
Teacher Talk Improves Number Knowledge
Developing Sorting and Classifying Skills
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 4
5. Teaching Mathematics to the Preadolescent Brain
What Is the Preadolescent Brain?
How Nature Influences the Growing Brain
Environment Influences on the Young Brain
Teaching for Meaning
Using Cognitive Closure to Remember Meaning
What Content Should We Be Teaching?
Teaching Process Skills
Does the Lesson Enhance Number Sense?
Does the Lesson Deal With Estimation?
From Memorization to Understanding
Multiplication With Understanding
Does the Lesson Develop Mathematical Reasoning?
Using Practice Effectively With Young Students
Graphic Organizers
Don’t Forget the Technology
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 5
6. Teaching Mathematics to the Adolescent Brain
What Is the Adolescent Brain?
Overworking the Frontal Lobes
The Search for Novelty
Learning Styles and Mathematics Curriculum
Qualitative Versus Quantitative Learning Styles
Developing Mathematical Reasoning
Instructional Choices in Mathematics
Graphic Organizers
Interpreting Word Problems
Making Mathematics Meaningful to Teenagers
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 6
7. Recognizing and Addressing Mathematics Difficulties
Detecting Mathematics Difficulties
Determining the Nature of the Problem
Diagnostic Tools
Environmental Factors
Student Attitudes About Mathematics
Fear of Mathematics (Math Anxiety)
Neurological and Other Factors
Addressing Mathematics Difficulties
Research Findings
The Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract Approach
Using Process Mnemonics
Numeracy Intervention Process
Students With Nonverbal Learning Disability
Students With Both Mathematics and Reading Difficulties
Other Considerations
What’s Coming?
Reflections on Chapter 7
8. Putting It All Together: Planning Lessons in PreK–12 Mathematics
What Is Mathematics?
Questions to Ask When Planning Lessons
Is the Lesson Memory-Compatible?
Does the Lesson Include Cognitive Closure?
Will the Primacy-Recency Effect Be Taken Into Account?
What About Practice?
What Writing Will Be Involved?
Are Multiple Intelligences Being Addressed?
Does the Lesson Provide for Differentiation?
Simplified Instructional Model
Reflections on Chapter 8

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