Solution to Literacy related Math Difficulties?

  • How does this technology support learning and conversely how might it confound learning? What suggestions do you have for how the Jasper materials or other digital video might be utilized in your context (include suggestions for activities that do not involve the videos)? What research supports your suggestions? How might the video and/or the activities be augmented for children with learning issues in math? How have or can the contemporary digital technologies and/or their websites also support these suggestions for children with learning issues (eg. Prodigy, Desmos, King of Math, Math Bingo, Reflex Math, or others).

Anchored instruction provides instruction that aid in learning by presenting problems that students can relate to or be engaged in through meaningful content like stories or short scenarios. While reading and watching the videos, I actually started to think back on the “Bill Nye: The Science Guy” videos from when I was young, and thought back to how he used to present information in visually rich and meaning context that was easy to “absorb”, though he never really gave us questions/problems to solve, he would post questions that needed answers and would then answer them himself to us(the audience).  Anchored instruction seems quite similar to problem-based learning or inquiry-based learning pedagogies to me. The use of technology in such a learning environment seems to direct “imagination” in some sense by NOT having students imagine the problem.  By presenting problems in a story or scenario that students can understand showing the why, when and how,  then asking students to come up with a solution, this method seems more focused and I can understand why it works.  I have seen many grade school students who struggle with math problems simply because they have trouble understanding the context, and so have trouble “picturing the problem”. Students often read the word problems multiple times but have trouble understanding what the question is asking, and I have seen this occur in students who are Native English speakers or in ELL.  As it’s the form of instruction that works,  even if videos like the Jasper series aren’t used,  activities like hands-on presentations would likely yield similar results.

This instruction method also aids in the development of crucial critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as pointed out in the readings as well, that developers incorporated that into the Jasper series and would have learning goals that “emphasize the importance of helping students -all students- learn to become independent thinkers “. This form of instruction can likely also support children with math learning difficulties as it aids in the presentation of conceptual knowledge in math. Hasselbring(2005) mentioned that students with math difficulties often struggle to make connections in the problems, and would often solve problems from procedural knowledge. Anchored instruction might be able to help them see the connection needed. Math Videos like the ones on Brainpop can likely do the same, though a subscription is needed.



Hasselbring, T. S., Lott, A. C., & Zydney, J. M. (2005). Technology-supported math instruction for students with disabilities: Two decades of research and development. Retrieved December, 12, 2005. Chicago

THE JASPER EXPERIMENT: USING VIDEO TO FURNISH REAL-WORLD PROBLEM-SOLVING CONTEXTS: The Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt University. (1993). The Arithmetic Teacher, 40(8), 474-478. Retrieved from
Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt. (1992). The Jasper Experiment: An Exploration of Issues in Learning and Instructional Design. Educational Technology Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80. Retrieved from



  1. Word problems are a central piece of Math Makes Sense in BC which has been a huge issue for students in my classes. The word problems have no context and are taught in isolation of each other, jumping form topic to topic with no voice, flow or rhythms for the reader. The sentence is mearly window dressing for the underlying problem which is teaching us that Math and LA sit in isolation of each other. We need to look at combining our subjects so that they are indistinguishable. Interdisciplinary teaching will help bring our students to a better understanding in all core subjects as they learn that content and knowledge can be mixed and matched just like in the world outside the classroom.

    1. Hi Nathan,

      I see the problem that you mentioned about the Math Makes Sense books. I see that in my students too. I agree with you that interdisciplinary teaching is probably one of the best solutions right now to build better understanding in all core subjects especially in the limited time educators have.


  2. Hi Wayni,

    You bring up a great issue/problem with Jasper type problems. Especially with students who are ESL, having problems that are issue-based and word-based poses quite the problem for them. This is why I believe that offering a choice of questions to answer (differentiated for the students needs) can be helpful.

    Nathan, you discussed math word problems having “no context and are taught in isolation of each other”. I agree that many math problems today are just that but this is where game-based learning tools, like Prodigy, can help students keep interest in the questions while also practicing math in a fun way. Interdisciplinary teaching is so great and it is something that is not done enough in my opinion, especially with the younger grades. I had class this year (LTO) and the previous teacher had started “Inquiry & Exploration Time”- two blocks that allowed for an open-flow of activities that were mostly intertwined with one another. Many of them were STEM based and engaged the children so much that they really looked forward to this part of the day. It was a great way to get the students engaged with Science, Technology, Math and Language without the monotonous learning that can sometimes happen when these subjects are taught (ie. HANDOUTS!).

    1. Thanks for that resource Kristen, I was referring to Math Makes Sense specifically in regards to word problems, I will check our Prodigy, it sounds like a great program!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *