Welcome to TouchMath! by Francine C and Meaghan N
Picture_1.png

I. Descriptive Information
Team Members: Francine and Meaghan
Name of Specialized Program: TouchMath: The Touchpoint Approach to Teaching Basic Math
Manufacturer / Producer: Innovative Learning Concepts Inc.
Website: http://www.touchmath.com
Copyright: 1991 by Innovative Learning Concepts Inc.
Cost: Cost Varies on Grades Purchased. See Website for purchasing information: http://www.touchmath.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=expressshopping.welcome


II. Brief Description of Program
Primary Audience / How TouchMath helps students with Mild / Moderate Disabilities:
TouchMath supports learners of all ages and all learning styles: visual, auditory and tactile/kinesthetic. TouchMath can be used specifically for students with learning disabilities in math who have trouble memorizing math facts (Andrews). TouchMath capitalizes on the tactile preferences of young learners, helping them to understand the connection between concrete and abstract concepts. TouchMath is designed for all elementary school children (K-6), with specific focuses in kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2. TouchMath emphasizes the connection between numbers and quantities, helping students with special needs and according the webpage, autism as well. Because students can physically touch the number of dots that correspond to each number, students in the concrete stage of math computations find this helpful.

Philosophical Background / Theoretical Framework:
TouchMath incorporates visual, auditory and tactile / kinesthetic activities necessary to build a strong foundation in basic computation. It uses the concrete learning style with "Touchpoints" on each number. TouchMath utilizes a multisensory approach and sequential strategies to improve student math comprehension and mastery. Touchmath is a scaffold and instructional support that students can move away from when and if ready.

Math Skills Addressed:
- Touchpoints (Basic Counting)
- Addition (Beginning Addition, Addition with Continuance Grouping, Addition without Regrouping, Addition With Regrouping)
- Subtraction (Backward counting, Beginning subtraction, Subtraction without regrouping, Subtraction with Regrouping)
- Multiplication (Sequence counting, beginning multiplication, multiplication without regrouping, multiplication with regrouping)
- Division (Beginning division, division with remainders, short division, expanded division)

Type of Instruction:
The type of instruction used in this program is direct instruction with specific scripts that must be followed for each concept taught. The script for the instruction is listed in steps that the teacher should read / say when teaching. Teachers follow specific examples in instruction delivery. Instructional follow-up is used in the form of worksheets and activities. Other activities are also recommended for integration in the school day, e.g. "Have students count backward as they line up for recess or lunch."

For example: When a student is adding 3 + 7, the student ALWAYS starts with the larger number, in this case 7, and counts up 3 "dots" while touching the dots on the 3. The student should verbalize: 7, 8, 9, 10, to get the answer 10 for the problem. The same principle applies for subtraction.

III. Visuals

Picture_2.pngPicture_5.png
Each number has a "touchpoint" that corresponds to the value of each number. For example, zero has no touchpoints, one has one touchpoint, 2 has two touchpoints, etc. Touchpoints with rings around the points are touched twice (numbers 6, 7, 8, 9).

Example problems:
First Grade Addition Problem:

Picture_3.png Picture_4.png
Links to website listed in first section.
No available videos were found :(

Analysis of Program:
Research involving 722 adult respondents, who are successful at higher mathematics, shows that counting and using strategies from the TouchMath program have provided an important foundation for success in math. TouchMath is based on some of the teaching philosophies of Piaget and Bruner. TouchMath draws its instructional methods on Bruner's research of the concrete, pictorial and symbolic levels of representing knowledge, Vygosky's research on scaffolding and the zone of proximal development, Skemp's research on procedural versus conceptual understanding, and Gardner's research on frames of intelligence. The entire program is based on a multi-sensory and tactile mode of instruction.

The math skills taught in this program are taught in isolation. Each math concept (counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) is broken down into sub-skills that the student must master before moving on to the next step. Repetition, activities and other methods of instruction are used to continue practicing the skill being taught. A consistent method is used for the math concepts taught: students always begin with the largest number and either count up, down or skip count (for multiplication). The instruction in this program is highly structured; teachers must follow a specific script when implementing instruction. When students use the Touchmath method, a specific process is followed; students must think about the steps that they take to complete the operation. For example, students must know to always start with the largest number in addition and subtraction, and either count up or down, depending on the operation.

TouchMath is coordinated with regular education curricula because it is a remedial program that re-teaches and reviews all the concepts taught in general education. TouchMath does not include a method for screening for placement, however several assessment methods are used to monitor progress and verify students' competency, including worksheets and progress tests.

Materials used in this program are the TouchMath computational kits segmented into five volumes for the various areas of math computations. Volume 1: Math Concepts, Volumes 2 and 3: Addition and Subtraction, Volume 4: Sequence Coutning, Volume 5: Multiplication and Division. Materials included in each volume are instructional workbooks, activities, flashcards, puzzlers, progress tests. Other helpful materials include TouchMath numberlines, 3-D numbers, Poster and CD activities, foam manipulatives, etc.

Instruction in TouchMath can range from individualized instruction to whole-class instruction, since some schools have adopted this program in general education settings.

A 30-day training DVD can be loaned so that educators may be guided through our step-by-step process for teaching TouchMath addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, learn the benefits of our multisensory approach for reaching students of all abilities and learning styles, and discover the importance of our sequential strategy in bridging concrete manipulatives and abstract symbols.

Strengths of the program include capitalizing on the tactile / kinesthetic learning preference. Because this program associates a concrete representation of the number, students are better able to associate numbers with quantities. One of the weaknesses we have found in the program involve the method for multiplication. Instead of learning multiplication facts, students learn to skip count instead. For the problem 2 x 6, students start with the LOWER number (it is easier to skip count by 2's than 6's), and skip count by 2, corresponding to the number of points. In this problem, students start on 2 and skip count six times 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, to get the answer 10. Even though this method works, students don't technically learn their multiplication facts.


Final Reflection:
We decided that we would like to use this program in special education instruction because it is a method that works for students who operate at the concrete level. In practicum at the resource room in our schools (we both go to the same school/placement), we have seen students "count" touchpoints that are not on the numbers. Students will know to "look" for the touchpoints on the number, even if they are not learning with the program for the specific lesson or assignment. In worksheets that we have seen students work on in class, we have seen students "count" the touchpoints, even if they are not included in the problem. The skills taught in this program stick with the students, since with one particular student, the addition touchpoint skills were taught in spring of 2009, and she still remembered to use them in fall 2009.

Our practicum teacher has told us that this program works especially for students who need concrete methods for computations.

References:
http://www.touchmath.com

Bullock, Janet K. TouchMath Instructional Manual. Fourth Edition. Copyright 1991. Innovative Learning Concepts Inc.

Andrews, Angela G. The Potential Dangers of Teaching The TouchMath System of Computation. (Article)
http://www.emergingmathematics.com/PDF/The%20Potential%20Dangers%20of%20Teaching%20Touch%20Math.pdf