Lesson 9 - Math Techniques for Adult Basic Education (ABE) Learners Illinois State Library


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Karen was a literacy tutor trainer. She had a group of volunteers ready to be placed with adult learners upon completion of their basic literacy tutor training. As the volunteers were progressing through the training, they often asked for examples of specific strategies that could be used to teach reading, math, writing, and ESL concepts. As Karen is preparing her training information, she is compiling a list of examples that can be demonstrated with her class.

Question for consideration as you work through this lesson

What strategies can Karen use to teach math?

Key Point

In Lesson 9 you will be introduced to a variety of strategies that can be used to help you teach basic math to the adult learner. The lesson covers such tools as manipulatives, math readiness techniques, games and real life applications. The strategies presented in Lesson Nine can be used to help adult learners on beginning math levels. Check with your tutor trainer for tips and techniques for helping learners needing intermediate or more advanced level math. As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will want to participate in continued training to learn additional strategies.

Math, the use of numbers, is a language in itself. Math is a language with a specific vocabulary that includes functions referred to with specific words. In addition, individuals will process numbers very differently than they process letters and words. Math is an abstract concept that causes difficulty for some learners. Difficulty with math can cause high levels of anxiety. Math difficulties can be as disabling as reading, writing, and oral communication problems.

Math tutoring will help the adult learner recognize the concrete aspects of math and then transfer that knowledge into an ability to understand the abstract concepts. Tutoring should proceed from the simplest level of number recognition to the simpler concepts and on to the more abstract.

We all use math in our daily lives. We use math to shop or to measure ingredients in a recipe. We use math when we measure our windows for curtains or decide how much to pay for an item on sale. We also use math when banking, when writing checks, and even when we keep score in games. Learners may want to improve their everyday math skills as one of their goals. They may need math skills to assist them on jobs that include cashier responsibilities or carpentry responsibilities. They may want to be able to help their children with math homework. Whatever the reason, helping an adult learner to improve their math skills is appropriate to adult literacy tutoring.