Think Mentals 1/8/16
We all know that the purpose of mental computation is to solve maths problems quickly and accurately in our heads. But we shouldn’t forget the importance of jotting when teaching mental computation strategies.
Before introducing jotting to students, make sure they know what jotting is – and what it’s not! Jotting is simply writing down numbers to keep track of answers as we work through a multi-step problem in our heads. We can see jotting at work in the example below – a calculation using the Think Mentals strategy Friendly Pairs. But remember, jotting is not the same as writing out the problem in full.
All students will find jotting helpful when tackling mental maths problems. Beginners are often apprehensive about using mental computation strategies because they struggle to keep track of the numbers in their heads. So encourage them to jot the numbers down on paper.
Jotting is also a useful tool for advanced students working through problems with multiple steps or numbers. A good mental computation strategist may still need to jot down intermediate numbers when they’re solving complex problems, such as problems involving three or four-digit numbers.
Even master mental computation strategists may need to jot occasionally, especially with sums involving numbers in the tens of thousands. And that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to jot.
Assessment is on everyone’s mind at this time of year. Assessing mental computation skills is a valuable part of reporting on your students’ overall maths abilities.