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Overview of the Course

Number and Operations examines the three main categories in the Number and Operations strand of Principles and Standards of School Mathematics (NCTM) -- understanding numbers, representations, relationships, and number systems; the meanings of operations and relationships among those operations; and reasonable estimation and fluent computation. The course covers the real number system, place value, the behavior of zero and infinity, the meanings and models of basic operations, percentages, and modeling operations with fractions, often with the aid of concrete, physical models that enhance understanding. It also examines basic number theory topics, such as factors and multiples, as well as divisibility tests, at both practical and abstract levels. Accordingly, parts of the Number and Operations course may be more challenging than other Learning Math courses.

The course consists of 10 sessions, each approximately two and a half hours long. Each session contains a half hour of video programming, problem-solving activities provided online and in a print guide, and interactive activities and demonstrations on the Web. The 10th session (choose Video 10, 11, or 12, depending on your grade level) explores ways to apply the concepts of number and operations you've learned in your own classroom. You should complete the sessions sequentially.

Session 1: What Is a Number System?
Understand the nature of the real number system, the elements and operations that make up the system, and some of the rules that govern the operations. Examine a finite number system that follows some (but not all) of the same rules, and then compare this system to the real number system. Use a number line to classify the numbers we use, and examine how the numbers and operations relate to one another.

Session 2: Number Sets, Infinity, and Zero
Continue examining the number line and the relationships among sets of numbers that make up the real number system. Explore which operations and properties hold true for each of the sets. Consider the magnitude of these infinite sets and discover that infinity comes in more than one size. Examine place value and the significance of zero in a place value system.

Session 3: Place Value
Look at place value systems based on numbers other than 10. Examine the base two numbers and learn uses for base two numbers in computers. Explore exponents and relate them to logarithms. Examine the use of scientific notation to represent numbers with very large or very small magnitude. Interpret whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals in base four.

Session 4: Meanings and Models for Operations
Examine the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and their relationships to whole numbers and integers. Work with area models for multiplication and division. Explore the use of two-color chips to model operations with positive and negative numbers.

Session 5: Divisibility Tests and Factors
Explore number theory topics. Analyze Alpha math problems and discuss how they help with the conceptual understanding of operations. Examine various divisibility tests to see how and why they work. Begin examining factors and multiples.

Session 6: Number Theory
Examine visual methods for finding least common multiples and greatest common factors, including Venn diagram models and area models. Explore prime numbers. Learn to locate prime numbers on a number grid and to determine whether very large numbers are prime.

Session 7: Fractions and Decimals
Extend your understanding of fractions and decimals. Examine terminating and non-terminating decimals. Explore ways to predict the number of decimal places in a terminating decimal and the period of a non-terminating decimal. Examine which fractions terminate and which repeat as decimals, and why all rational numbers must fall into one of these categories. Explore methods to convert decimals to fractions and vice versa. Use benchmarks and intuitive methods to order fractions.

Session 8: Rational Numbers and Proportional Reasoning
Begin examining rational numbers. Explore a model for computations with fractions. Analyze proportional reasoning and the difference between absolute and relative thinking. Explore ways to represent proportional relationships and the resulting operations with ratios. Examine how ratios can represent either part-part or part-whole comparisons, depending on how you define the unit, and explore how different representations affect a ratio's behavior in computations.

Session 9: Fractions, Percents, and Ratios
Continue exploring rational numbers, working with an area model for multiplication and division with fractions, and examining operations with decimals. Explore percents and the relationships among representations using fractions, decimals, and percents. Examine benchmarks for understanding percents, including percents less than 10 and greater than 100. Consider ways to use an elastic model, an area model, and other models to discuss percents. Explore some ratios that occur in nature.

Session 10: Classroom Case Studies
Explore how the concepts developed in this course can be applied at different grade levels through case studies of K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 teachers (former course participants), all of whom have adapted their new knowledge to their classrooms. Select Video 10 for K-2 teachers, Video 11 for 3-5 teachers, and Video 12 for 6-8 teachers.


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