Student Created AL-Abacus leads to Place Value Understanding and Mathematical Discourse

Kim Hartweg, Laurie Monical


First paragraph: In an on-line graduate course through Western Illinois University, elementary mathematics teachers were asked to assess their students in the areas of place value, number sense, and mathematical discourse. Laurie Monical, a fourth grade teacher at Hamilton Elementary School in Hamilton, Illinois, discovered that even though her students could perform traditional addition and subtraction calculations, they were still lacking in their basic understanding of place value. After studying various approaches to teaching students mathematics with an emphasis on the constructivist learning approach, Mrs. Monical read an article about using an abacus to help students develop their own understanding of place value. She decided to create a unit where students could learn about the abacus and its history while also addressing the place value needs of her students. This became a cooperative staff development effort that led to the creation of this article that was written by Mrs. Laurie Monical in collaboration with Dr. Kim Hartweg, a mathematics professor at Western Illinois University. Brackets were used to distinguish comments made by Dr. Hartweg regarding the integration of this unit into the elementary mathematics classroom.


Place Value; Teacher Education; Constructivism; Professional Development

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