Dr. Cotter on Language

In mathematics we can’t do much without using language. Even though the mathematician may write a mass of equations, she needs words to explain their meaning. Good math instruction requires careful attention to the terms used. We don’t want students … [Read more...]

Dr. Cotter on Development

The terms development or developmentally appropriate are frequently used, but finding good definitions is difficult. A dictionary defines develop as growing and becoming more mature or advanced. We see physical development in the young child. We know … [Read more...]

Dr. Cotter on Fractions

Fractions have a bad reputation in the world of arithmetic as being incomprehensible and unpredictable. Cartoons exploit this fear of fractions for amusement. Believe or not, it’s all a huge misunderstanding. Fractions are necessary and amazing. They … [Read more...]

Dr. Cotter on Division

Long division used to be considered the ultimate goal of arithmetic. An earlier division algorithm was so complicated it wasn’t taught until college. Even today some students learn a mnemonic in order to remember what to do next. One example is DMSB … [Read more...]

Dr. Cotter on Multiplication

Multiplication has been the mathematical downfall of many children, not so much because of the algorithms, but memorizing the 100 facts. Before expecting the child to learn the facts, we need to teach the meaning of multiplication. Describing it as … [Read more...]

Dr. Cotter on Math Anxiety

Math anxiety can be thought of as a learned fear of numbers or anything to do with math. It results in feelings of tension and fear at the sight of numbers or math symbols, causing poor performance in math, especially on tests. Sadly, in the U.S., … [Read more...]