NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You

K-12 Professionals

Number Sense & Number Nonsense: Understanding the Challenges of Learning Math

EDUC 600




Instructor: Michelle Kalina

Grading: Letter or S/U

Spring, Summer & Fall (Ongoing)

Instruction Mode: Correspondence

Academic Level: K-12 Professional Development

NDSU Credit Fee: $150

Class Offered Through Northstar Continuing Education

Course Description:

Have you ever wondered why some students struggle at math and how some students seem to naturally excel at it? How do our students learn math concepts and computation? Professionals taking this class will learn how the brain learns or fails to learn math and how teachers can effectively plan interventions to help students succeed. Research findings, classroom applications and student case illustrations are provided to illustrate the best practices in teaching math. By understanding the difficulties children have in the areas of executive function, spatial sense, and how reading, writing and language disabilities can impact the learning of math concepts, teachers can anticipate learning problems and avoid them by using student-specific interventions. Students in your classroom will learn how to build a firmer foundation of number sense, improve their spatial skills, understand the language concepts underlying their math lessons and increase their problem solving and reasoning skills. They will have a better understanding of how to test hypotheses, use inductive and deductive reasoning, understand fraction concepts and improve visual and working memory. This class is appropriate for general and special education teachers.


As a result of this participation in this course, students should:

1. Understand the cognitive abilities needed for students to learn abstract and spatial thinking.

2. Learn how difficulties in reading, writing and language learning can impact the learning of mathematical skills.

3. Increase executive functioning and reasoning skills by improving students’ verbal and working memory, planning and sequencing, mental flexibility and self-monitoring capabilities.

4. Identify areas in which your students have difficulty learning math concepts and create student-specific research-supported interventions to improve those skills and apply them to their math curriculum.

5. Learn how to create formal and informal assessments to identify learning difficulties and provide continuous feedback in order to plan immediate and appropriate interventions.


Belbase, S. (2010). Images, Anxieties and Attitudes toward Mathematics. Online Submission. Graduate Thesis, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/ED513587.pdf

Bingolbali, E. (2011). Multiple Solutions to Problems in Mathematics Teaching: Do Teachers Really Value Them? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36, (1), Article 2, 17-31.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ920004.pdf

Krasa, N. & Shunkwiler, S. (2009). Number Sense and Number Nonsense: Understanding the Challenges of Learning Math. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.

Main, S. & O’Rourke, J. (2011). “New Directions for Traditional Lessons”: Can Handheld Game Consoles Enhance Mental Mathematics Skills? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36, (2), Article 4, 12-35.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov/PDFS/EJ920022.pdf.

Nath, B.K. (2010).  Major Language Theorists Influencing Learning of Mathematics. In: Theories of Language in Learning of Mathematics. Online submission.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov./PDFS/ED512896.pdf

Newcombe, N. (2010).  Picture This: Increasing Math and Science Learning by Improving Spatial Thinking. American Educator, Summer 2010, 29-43.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov./PDFS/EJ889152.pdf.

Tzur, R., Xin, Y.P., Si, L., Kenney, R. & Guebert, A. Students with Learning Disability in Math Are Left Behind in Multiplicative Reasoning? Number as Abstract Composite Unit is a Likely “Culprit”. Online Submission, Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. (Denver, CO, Apr. 30-May 4, 2010.

Article may be found at: http://www.eric.ed.gov./PDFS/ED510991.pdf

Textbook(s) not included in the cost of the course.

About The Instructor

Michelle Kalina
Michelle Kalina

Michelle Kalina earned an M.S. in Speech/Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin, Steven's Point. Michelle also has a B.S. in Communicative Disorders and a B.A. in German and History, with a minor in Russian. Michelle is ASHA and DPI certified in Early Childhood through Adult Populations in Educational Settings. Michelle has over 17 years of experience as a speech/language clinician.


**Registration Instructions:

A minimum $20 processing fee will be assessed per person for cancellations received after the start of the course. Refunds are not issued after the start of the course or after access to the course has been provided.

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