Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Understanding Math Learning Disabilities

Why do teachers need to know about math learning disabilities?

Teachers must know about learning disabilities in mathematics in order to understand the difficulties that students with disabilities will encounter in the classroom.  Educators who understand math learning disabilities will be better able to recognize signs of these struggles early, and help to identify and address them.  Knowing how various disabilities affect learning enables teachers to plan lessons that include strategies to ensure that the needs of all students are being met.

These resources provide essential background knowledge to help teachers better understand a student with a learning disability in mathematics. This collection includes numerous videos, articles, webpages, and blogs that are intended to teach educators about math learning disabilities, ways these disabilities may affect learning, and tips on modifying instruction to reach these learners.

What are some of the math learning disabilities teachers may encounter?

The resources in this collection contain the research of several specialists in the area of math learning disabilities: Jane Emerson, Dr. Daniel B. Berch, Dr. Sheldon Horowitz, and Dr. Kate Garnett.  Dyscalculia, basic number processing difficulties, and disabilities related to reading are addressed.  Consideration of the struggles of students learning English as a second language is also included.

How will these resources help?

In order to successfully teach a student with dyscalculia, for example, the educator must understand what dyscalculia is and why the student is having difficulty.  If educators understand the disability then they can better recognize elements of their plans that may cause the individual to struggle and can adequately modify the learning materials.  In the videos by Jane Emerson and Dr. Horowitz, teachers are provided with insight into the nature of dyscalculia and ways in which students with dyscalculia can be taught mathematics.

If a student has difficulty associating numerals with values, then he or she must be provided with modifications that address this specific aspect of the concept being taught.  Students who struggle with reading or with learning English should receive accommodations that will address their needs.  Resources included in this collection suggest strategies, techniques, and modifications that help educators assist these students while enabling all students to progress.

Created:08-17-2012 by bethb
Last Post:12-15-2016 by leesajohnson
Created:09-27-2012 by bethb
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Resource Title/Description

This article by Dr. Sheldon H. Horowitz detailing the importance of understanding learning disabilities in mathematics (dyscalculia). A definition of dyscalculia is provided and links to related resources are listed. Embedded in this article is an 8 minute video by Dr. Horowitz in which he details ten different ways in which dyscalculia has been known to manifest in young learners.
This collection of articles for parents and educators addresses learning disabilities in the area of mathematics. The articles address a variety of topics, including strategies for working with children with dyscalculia, parent-teacher collaboration, identification of disabilities, use of technology, and developing number sense.
In this article Dr. Kate Garnett defines five areas of math learning disabilities and provides suggestions on how adequate differentiated instruction and modifications can help students overcome these obstacles. The five areas are: Mastering Basic Number Facts, Arithmetic Weakness/Math Talent, The Written Symbol and Concrete Materials, The Language of Math, and Visual-Spatial Aspects of Math.
In this brief article the editors of NCLD present a definition for dyscalculia, an explanation of how and when dyscalculia might be diagnosed, and treatment suggestions. Embedded in this article is an 8-minute video by Dr. Sheldon Horowitz explaining the ways in which dyscalculia may present itself.
In this 4-minute video interview Jane Emerson explains the symptoms and effects of dyscalculia. The webpage includes a brief written summary of the interview.
This 28-minute video contains a panel interview with three experts in the areas of math, cognition, and dyscalculia. The panel discusses the nature of dyscalculia, how to diagnose students with dyscalculia, and how to teach students with dyscalculia.
In this 4-minute video Jane Emerson explains how specific teaching methods provide dyscalculic students with a concept of numerosity that will enable them to be successful in math. This webpage contains a written summary of the video and links to other videos on dyscalculia. A related resource from Jane Emerson and this website have been cataloged separately.
In this blogpost Dr. Daniel B. Berch explains the difficulties in identifying math learning disabilities and how math learning disabilities may present themselves in young children. Dr. Berch identifies "transcoding" and "subitizing" as two ways in which math learning disabilities may first become clear to educators and researchers. A related resource,"How Teachers and Parents Can Help Elementary School Students with Math LD" by Dr. Berch, is cataloged separately.
This brief article by Dr. Berch provides some suggestions for parents who may be noticing that their child is struggling with early mathematics. The article contains links to other articles that may be of assistance with engaging your child in early math activities at home. There is also a related resource, "Math LD: Identifying Basic Number Processing Difficulties" by Dr. Berch, that is cataloged separately in our database and provides a more indepth look at what math learning disabilities may look like.