Five Keys for Teaching Mental Math

  • Five Keys for Teaching Mental Math

    James R. Olsen
    A comprehensive look at mental math in the light of technology, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, and brain-based learning.
    For a number of years, I have been teaching mental math strategies as part of my mathematics courses, and my students have found (sometimes to their surprise) that the strategies are useful. As students develop mental math proficiencies, they complete homework assignments faster, their confidence increases, and their overall understanding of numbers, operations, and algebraic thinking improves. After studying the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSSM) and brain-based learning research, I believe we need increased attention to mental math instruction in secondary school mathematics (grades 7-12) and in teacher education programs. The purpose of this article is to share some keys for teaching mental math. Before doing so, I will share my rationale for my recommendation to increase mental math instruction in secondary school mathematics and in teacher education.