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Le Roy's numeracy coach finds creative ways to get students thinking about numbers

By Howard B. Owens


A rekenrek is a tool to help elementary-age children build a better sense of numbers, Stacie Wilson, the new numeracy coach in Le Roy Central Schools, explained to the Board of Education on Tuesday evening.

Students use it to help them grasp the concept of how numbers work together.

For example, take the number seven, if students are told to arrange the pieces on the rekenrek into groups that ad up into seven, they might move four pieces on one line and three on another, or two and five, or one and six, etc.

There is no wrong answer, said Wilson (top photo), which both helps students see how numbers work together and develop confidence in thinking about numbers.

The rekenrek, similar to an abacus but it is not based on place value columns, is just one tool to help students grasp a better concept of numbers.  

Wilson also uses, for example, a jar filled with items -- changed regularly -- that encourages students to guess how many of those items are in a jar.

"(These things) help students generally understand numbers and how numbers work and connect," Wilson said. "They can place values on things and it weaves into so many connections they will make through the years."

Teachers engage students in math classes in "number talk," Wilson said, so they can better grasp the concepts of numbers. They can develop flexible thinking about numbers, especially through us of the rekenrek where numbers can be combined visually in multiple ways to create new numbers.

"Some students are more resistant to math and they fear the wrong answer," Wilson said.  "This allows all kids into the experience and allows for them to really push their thinking about numbers."


Newly appointed trustee Jason Karcher.

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