# Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I

Category: Teaching Published: Friday, 05 June 2015

## T101 Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I

This is a course offered by the Math Department at Indiana University. The course's intended audience are pre-service teachers that will teach at the elementary school level. This is a -somewhat- rigorous course on the foundations of all mathematics: the whole numbers and their arithmetic. The course also covers integers and rational numbers with their respective operations. The idea is for students to be able to understand why the math works and explain them to others. The textbook used for this class is Elementary Mathematics for Teachers by Parker and Baldridge that follows the Singapore Math method. The book is a nice resource for elementary teachers to have. Next I will provide some resources I think are useful for this course and finally, some advice of my own -based on my experience teaching this course 3 times- before taking this class.

## Class Activities

• Activity Notes: all prepared by Serife Sevis (some may contain errors, be careful!)

## Some advice before enrolling in this course

The goal of the course is that students build upon their previous arithmetic foundation to understand why the fundamental operations (addition, multiplication, subtraction and division) on numbers (whole numbers, integers and rational numbers) work, and be able to intuitively explain them to others. And here in lies the biggest obstacle for students in this class: a weak arithmetical foundation. Even though students know -in principle- how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers/integers/fractions, some do not have a practical knowledge, i.e., the kind of knowledge that would allow them to do these operations in a heartbeat.

Since students lack this practical knowledge, some of the more advance (and interesting!) material, such as elementary number theoretical proofs (for example, show that the sum of two even numbers is even) gets lost in the way. This is a clear example of Mathematics as a subject that builds upon itself where previous material is essential to grasp more advance material. If students cannot add properly, it is nearly impossible to fully grasp the beauty of elementary proofs or even be able to understand the algebra needed for said proofs.

My advice: make sure you have a clear understanding of the elementary operations before enrolling in this course. And by that I mean: throw away the calculator and start doing the math in your head. In particular, you should be able to add fractions (I found this to be the more challenging of the operations). The course is intended for you to understand why the operations work and be able to explain them to others. However, there is rarely time to go over the mechanics. You have to take care of that before class. This is a really fun class that sheds light on many things we do routinely in our daily lives. The only way to get the full out of the class is to come prepare for it!