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ERIC Number: EJ1001818
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 9
ISSN: ISSN-1073-5836
Developing Quantitative Mental Imagery
Thomas, Jonathan N.; Tabor, Pamela D.
Teaching Children Mathematics, v19 n3 p174-183 Oct 2012
Moving beyond physical interactions with materials is a significant mathematical step for students that is often difficult to take. Persistent tally-mark use, for example, among older children is a testament to this challenge. For many students, shifting away from tangible tools begins a precarious journey; teachers should support it with thoughtfully tailored instruction. Indeed, this journey begins with helping students "see" math with their "mind's eye" via the construction of quantitative mental imagery. Adapting curriculum materials to support the development of quantitative mental imagery can be as simple as adding a cover to an existing task. For example, if the task involves children adding sections of train cars to determine the entire length of a train, one section might be inside a small tunnel obscuring two or three of the cars. With tasks involving pictorial representations of addition tasks, the picture of the smaller addend could be covered with a sticky note, preventing students from readily counting each perceptual item in the task. However, if needed, the covers can easily be removed to support the development of the quantitative mental image. Given the aim for children to construct an increasingly abstract understanding of mathematics, robust support for mental imagery and re-presentation is of considerable importance. Even a brief series of tasks can afford teachers diagnostic power to design tailored and effective instruction that helps a child transition from materials to mind's eye. (Contains 6 figures.)
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A