Computational Strategies

"Operation is a mathematical representation of a situation."

Operational sense allows students to make sense of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, and to use these operations meaningfully in problem-solving situations. Students who possess a strong understanding of the operations see the relationships among them and develop flexible strategies for computing with numbers.

As students move from the Primary to Intermediate grades:

  • students’ effectiveness in using operations depends on counting strategies, combining and partitioning numbers, and a sense of place value
  • students learn the patterns of basic operations by learning effective counting strategies and working with various tools and representations
  • students begin to understand that groups of equal size can be combined to form a quantity (a fundamental concept in multiplication)
  • students explore relationships to help with learning the basic facts and to help in problem solving
  • development of operational sense, especially related to multiplication and division, becomes a focus of instruction
  • it is important for teachers to provide meaningful contexts, to help students develop an understanding of the operations, and to connect new concepts about the operations to what they already understand
  • students demonstrate operational sense when they can work flexibly with a variety of computational strategies, including those of their own devising
  • efficiency in using the operations and in performing computations depends on an understanding of part-whole relationship

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