Hole Math

By Hanson, Elizabeth | Teaching Children Mathematics, January 1996 | Go to article overview

Hole Math


Hanson, Elizabeth, Teaching Children Mathematics


"'Holey' cow! A million is a lot."

"Today we are going to work on hole numbers."

"There are a hole lot of ways to use your math manipulatives."

Students need concrete materials to manipulate in their study of mathematics. Teachers, therefore, need classroom sets of manipulatives that require limited storage space; are interesting to the students; require little time or energy to ensure that pieces are not lost, broken, or used in hazardous ways; and are flexible enough to be used in teaching many different mathematical concepts. School boards need to show concern for public money as they provide funding for such instructional materials.

Filling such a big order could be difficult, but our school has found a manipulative to do all those things and more, such as inspiring creative-writing activities, supplying material for art projects, and improving the environment by decreasing the amount of material sent to the local landfill.

This mathematics manipulative of the nineties was in the school computer laboratory waiting to be discovered. Once recognized, it spread throughout the K-6 building, leaving few curricular areas untouched. The material, in case the reader has not yet guessed, is the strip of holes that moves computer paper through a printer.

Students routinely remove these strips from the sides of their printouts before turning in assignments. By the end of a typical day, the computer laboratory trash can overflows with these strips of holes. Cleaning up at the end of one day sparked an idea.

When a fifth-grade mathematics class visited the laboratory to work on a spreadsheet assignment, the teacher began to muse aloud. "I wonder how many holes are thrown out on an average day in the laboratory? How long do you think it would take to collect a million holes? How much room would we need to store a million holes? Would they fill a shoe box? The hall showcase? The whole computer laboratory?"

The challenge had been issued. Energy immediately began to surge through the room. Charts were quickly drawn up to record random guesses on the various topics. Random guessing was soon set aside as data were collected. Calculating and serious estimating began. Cooperative groups formed naturally as students with similar ideas for conducting tests or similar hypotheses on results began discussions and research. The numbers of holes per sheet, students per class, and sheets per box of paper were used in calculations. Strips of holes were counted, stacked, and measured, as were shoe boxes, the showcase, and the room. Mathematical discussions, sometimes bordering on arguments, were impossible to contain in one room or class.

The project had begun! Students rapidly began using "holes" in these discussions to refer to the strips with holes in them - we will use their terminology throughout, when appropriate. A special "in" basket on a counter in the computer laboratory replaced the trash can when students began saving the holes from their work. As the basket filled, it was emptied into a plastic grocery bag. The plastic bags filled quickly, and shopping bags were found to hold more efficiently the growing collection of holes. While regular computer lessons went on in the laboratory, groups of students came to conduct further research, measuring or weighing the collection.

The computer-laboratory teacher met with teachers at different grade levels, and a plan was developed for counting the holes. The entire school was now involved - or was soon to be. Learning place-value concepts was the mathematical objective of the activities.

Counting Begins

Counting began in earnest in March. First graders were the first to get involved. They practiced their counting skills by cutting the long strips of holes, many several pages long, into strips of ten. The ten-strips and any leftover holes were stored in separate containers labeled "tens" and "units," which were placed in each classroom.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hole Math
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.