Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy

By Jenny Houssart | Go to book overview

7

Calculators and computers

Year 5 children were working on a calculator investigation which involved dividing multiples of 3 by 3. Some children also carried out calculations not suggested by the teacher and there was some unofficial swapping of decimal answers. Adrian did 100 divided by 3 on his calculator and proudly showed it to me, saying, 'Got another one.'


Introduction

This chapter deals with tasks for which the children used calculators or, in a few cases, computers. The background reading section suggests that at the time of the study, use of calculators and computers was low in many English primary schools. My observations confirm that this was the case in the schools I worked in. Despite this, some conclusions about calculator use are possible. The first is that many children had difficulty carrying out apparently simple tasks with a calculator. The second is that calculator use sometimes led children to investigate apparently complex aspects of mathematics and to make discoveries. Calculators particularly suited some children and my limited observations suggest that this was also true of computers.


Background

History of calculator use

Calculators have had a chequered history in English primary schools, resulting in a fairly low level of use at the time of this study. The Cockcroft Report, published in 1982, drew attention to the impact that the availability of calculators might have on the mathematics curriculum, suggesting the possibility of a 'calculator aware

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Low Attainers in Primary Mathematics: The Whisperers and the Maths Fairy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Children 8
  • 2 - Maths Talk 24
  • 3 - Mental Work 41
  • 4 - Number Equipment 57
  • 5 - Practical Work 74
  • 6 - Written Work 91
  • 7 - Calculators and Computers 109
  • 8 - Easy Tasks, Hard Tasks, Elastic Tasks 127
  • 9 - Assessment Tasks 145
  • 10 - Conclusion 163
  • Index 177
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