In the Spring of 2014, it was determined by our staff and School Planning Council that as a school goal, we should focus on improving numeracy for all of our students by focusing on the concept of Number Sense and Problem Solving by utilizing specific strategies for instruction to differentiate learning.
Number sense can be thought of as flexible thinking and intuition about number. In order for students to develop deep understanding of many math concepts, flexible and fluent thinking with numbers is necessary. Number sense cannot be taught –it is a result of rich mathematical tasks connected to each person's own experiences.
A true sense of number is much more than being able to write numerals, count objects, memorize facts and follow steps to solve number problems. Mastery of number facts will develop as students increase their number sense. As students learn their facts, they are able to extend their mathematical thinking to larger numbers and more complex computations. Facts should not only be memorized; students should understand the affect that the different operations (+, -, x, ÷) have on numbers.
Number sense develops when students connect numbers to their own real-life experiences. When students use friendly numbers (like numbers that end in zero, such as 10, 30, or 100) or numbers that they are familiar with (for example, 27 is almost 25), this helps them to understand how numbers relate to one another. This results in students who are confident that they can make sense of mathematics. For example, students with number sense know what 10 is in a variety of situations, including how 6 and 4 or 7 and 3 make 10, or how 10 can be presented in a variety of formations.
Number sense typically comes as a byproduct of learning rather than through direct instruction. Teachers can promote number sense by providing rich mathematical tasks and encouraging students to make connections to their own experiences and their previous learning.