These vignettes illustrate the value of color and the simplicity of Compute-A-Color math design. There is energy and satisfaction in the exclamation “I get it!”
Most kids are pretty good at telling things like they are. One of those kids is Julie. She is a sweet looking teenager who came for tutoring in a remedial math period. When asked “How many 3's do you think are in the number 12?” Julie answered “I don't know. And I don't really care. I hate math.” Those are not unfamiliar words. She is not alone. Compute-A-Color addresses this problem by making math simple, color-coded, familiar and fun!
Four international students in Switzerland were grouped together for a Compute-A-Color introduction. Ebele, a child newly arrived from Angola , came clutching a fistful of crayons. Students first talked about codes – among these, stop lights. “Ebele, what do you think the red light means?” “STOP” she said. The next question: “Does the red light talk?” “No.” Color-code was discussed, and class ended, but Ebele hung back. “Can I help you, Ebele?” “You have my red crayon.” There it was under my chair. She was challenging me, a teacher at a school new to her, that I had something of hers. Several days later, her home room teacher asked me, “Has Ebele said anything yet? She doesn't speak English you know.” Did color give courage? Color carries many emotions. Energy?
This tells about a surprising turnaround for a girl named Amy, who needed remedial help.. She was busy playing with her tool bucket numerals in the corner. She noticed a visitor at the door; got up, and extended her little hand in invitation. “Come here! I'll show you how it works!” Amy's classroom teacher replayed the scene, adding, “I was thrilled! Here was a child who as timid, rarely spoke, and was way behind in number skills...wanting to show a stranger ‘how it works.'” Then her teacher laughed and continued, “It was the curriculum director. How could I be so lucky?”
Jeff worked as a professional guitar player in a small band. He did not understand even the concept of number, but he wanted to learn. Jeff began by stacking numerals, for example two + two = four. Later, he moved to the multiplication board, using strips of two, four and eight. Aha! Numbers have patterns.
We experimented a little bit and went to the piano to ‘plink out' eight beats, using one finger as a counter. Jeff used the multiplier board to repeat placing strips of eight, one after the other to equal thirty-two – one finger for each strip. Jeff ‘caught on' that beats per finger, could give an accurate count. His comment: “Compute-A-Color gives me confidence.” ...and the band played on.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
A cup of tea with Esther always leaves me with bits of her ‘teacher wit…and wisdom.' I want to ‘pass it on' – and think about her words until the next ‘cup of tea'. Just a few of these…
Esther smiled and said “Teachers may prefer quiet, but kids learn from each other. You can tell them to do that without talking…but they can't. Or teach them to whisper (Ha! Ha!) There is something about authority that desires quiet. But kids need to learn autonomy…which does not happen with whispers. You don't want to cut out rules, but autonomy is a word that says you have confidence; that you can learn something; that you yourself know something.”
HERE ARE A FEW MORE ‘ESTHERISMS'
Peer interchange is ideal. Children need to enjoy the delight of discovery, along with the pleasure of social interaction.
Compute-A-Color is a math system . A system is logical and orderly...a system is not a heap.
Freedom loosens creativity. Children may learn best from one another in play and interactions. Manipulatives and games give this opportunity.
Questions and discussion accompany all activities. Kids can think about what they are seeing and feeling, and share their thinking and discoveries.
Our highly technological environment is not conducive to spontaneous curiosity, creativity and individual needs in ‘growing'. We may be in too much of a hurry.
A love for numbers grows or sinks in at an early age. This may be true for many types of learning.