Grade 4 is perhaps one of the most important years of elementary school. Primarily, in grade 4, students and school districts experience the “4th grade slump”. This slump is caused by the increased difficulty of material, which is presented at the erratic rate.
Most North American students (U.S. and Canada) are taught long division for the first time in the 4th grade. A single unit, which spans 2-3 weeks, introduces multiplication tables and long division. At the end, students are expected to memorize time tables up to a 100 and be able to complete long division with remainders. Cramming this much new material in the single unit overloads cognitive capacity and does not allow the sufficient time for learning to be internalized and properly processed in the long term memory. To make things worse, students are not taught a traditional way to complete long division. They are taught how to use sticks and circles to solve long division problems. This is a fact in both U.S. and Canada. Since both countries use the same mathematics curriculum. To be able to fully understand the inadequacy of this type of instruction, an educator or a parent has to observe this process first hand. It is obvious to all that students will eventually have to be taught the right way of solving long division and that using sticks and squares will only confuse young learner and hold them back. Many of course wonder why children are taught long division in this unusual way, and why don’t we allow the 4th graders to figure mathematics on their own? The answer I got is that teachers fall back to primary elementary teaching techniques at the first sign of students struggling. Disregarding at the same time that when true learning takes place it is often frustrating and time consuming. Deciding to take the easy way only harms students. There is no shortcuts in math.
The “Successfully Learning Mathematics – Grade 4” app is a great math app, but it is not an app that students in North American schools can do. And chances are they are not going to be able to complete this app before middle school. This at the same time can be a good app for the mathematically gifted.