The Washington Post

Teaching math without words

Do kids learn math better if you take away the words? Schools in the D.C. Public Schools that used a wordless computer program last year increased their math test scores at three times the rate of other schools.

At first, students confronted with the strictly visual puzzles in the ST Math program often get frustrated. “Where are the words?” they want to know.

But if they manage to stick with it, it seems they not only develop a deeper understanding of math concepts, but they also learn the importance of tackling a task over and over again and the satisfaction of figuring something out for themselves.

ST Math is the brainchild of Matthew Peterson, who grew up so dyslexic that he didn’t learn to read until fifth grade. He eventually decided to create wordless math games that would help kids who struggle with language learn math through methods that strengthen their spatial-temporal skills. The “ST” in ST Math stands for spatial-temporal.

Through a process of trial and error, Peterson discovered that the games only worked if kids actually wanted to play them. So he created an animated penguin, named JiJi, who moves across the screen, placidly enduring any number of disasters when kids choose the wrong answer.

[Continue reading Natalie Wexler’s post at Greater Greater Education.]

Natalie Wexler is the editor of Greater Greater Education and a member of the board of the D.C. Scholars Public Charter School. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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