Number Sense and Number Nonsense: Understanding the Challenges of Learning Math

Authors: Nancy Krasa Ph.D., Sara Shunkwiler M.Ed.

Format: Paperback, 248 pages, 7.0 x 10.0
ISBN: 9781598570205
Price: $32.95

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How do children learn math—and why do some children struggle with it? The answers are in Number Sense and Number Nonsense, a straightforward, reader-friendly book for education professionals and an invaluable multidisciplinary resource for researchers. More than a first-ever research synthesis, this highly accessible book brings math difficulties into clear focus, helping educators and psychologists get inside students' heads so they can devise the best way to help children learn.

Clinical psychologist Nancy Krasa and middle-school teacher Sara Shunkwiler combine their expertise for an eye-opening exploration of how the brain works during the many complex facets of math learning. Readers will gain a complete, research-based understanding of what it means when students struggle with

  • understanding relative values
  • comprehending spatial configurations
  • reading and writing numerals or other symbols
  • mastering arithmetic facts or algorithms
  • deciphering word problems or fractions
  • paying attention, tracking information, planning ahead, or thinking flexibly and critically
  • reasoning abstractly and arguing logically

Educators will improve their math instruction with the classroom examples and helpful samples of student work, and psychologists will effectively evaluate math learning problems with the assessment guidelines and clinical case illustrations.

With this in-depth guided tour of essential math skills and the difficulties students may encounter with each, education professionals will gain the insight they need to turn number nonsense into number sense for children who struggle with math.


"A smooth read...Communicates clear and commonsense ways that teachers can use mathematical psychology to achieve the monumental task of bringing children to proficiency in mathematics."
"Communicates clear and commonsense ways that teachers can use mathematical psychology to achieve the monumental task of bringing children to proficiency in mathematics."
Review: CHOICE
Review: The Midwest Book Review
"A powerful collection blending research findings, classroom teachings, and student case histories."
Review by: Kelly Mix, Michigan State University
"A thorough and balanced review of the latest research on childhood mathematics and numeracy . . . clear, coherent, and compelling."
Review by: Russell Gersten, Director, Instructional Research Group; Professor Emeritus, College of Education, University of Oregon
"This is a wonderful, imaginative look at mathematics disabilities and a nice introduction to the wide array of research on mathematics disabilities."
Review by: Earl Oremus, Headmaster, Marburn Academy - School for Learning Disabilities, Columbus, Ohio
"A game changer for math educators. Teacher-friendly and comprehensive, this review of recent neuroscience provides critical insights into how the brain learns (or fails to learn) math."
Review by: Nancy C. Jordan, Professor, School of Education, University of Delaware, Newark
"An excellent resource . . . provides many useful directions for helping learners who struggle to learn mathematics."
Review by: Ruth Shalev, Director, Neuropediatric Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem, Israel
"An up-to-date review of everything you wished to know about mathematical disabilities in children . . . This lucidly written book will appeal to sophisticated professionals and lay readers interested in the topic."
Review by: Robert Siegler, Teresa Heinz Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
"Brief and lively . . . Especially interesting are [the] case studies of children with math learning disabilities and ideas about how to help such children learn more effectively."

Table of Contents

About the Authors
  1. Introduction

Section I: Thinking Spatially

  1. Number Sense
  2. Math and Spatial Skills

Section II: The Language of Mathematics

  1. Speaking Mathematics
  2. Reading and Writing Mathematics
  3. The Brain and Conventional Mathematics
  4. More Sharks in the Mathematical Waters

Section III: Solving Problems

  1. Executive Functions
  2. Reasoning

Section IV: Professional Implications

  1. Evaluation
  2. Teaching

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