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I have a student who has dyscalculia. I need some suggestions for helping him with two-digit addition. He mixes up the numbers, placing them in the tens place when they should be in the ones place. We work on this skill every day, but he seems to forget every day how to accomplish this task.

Color coding is a low tech but very effective strategy to use with students who have difficulty keeping their numbers in the right place. Use a different color for the ones’ column and the tens’ column, and give the student a crayon or pencil of each color. Help him add the numbers of the same color, then write the solution in the appropriate place with the matching color.

As he improves, you can begin to omit the color from one column at a time until eventually he can perform the task without the assistance of color-coding. Strategies to Facilitate Math Concepts and Homework contains a visual and detailed explanation of this method.

Consider showing him one of several free, online videos that visually demonstrate two-digit addition, as well. Simple Flash files or videos, like those from Math Is Fun(opens in a new window) or Math Mastery(opens in a new window), show the continuity between steps better than we can using pencil and paper. Seeing the big picture and the movement of the numbers may help your student catch on. A free, online game, like Callum’s Addition Pyramid(opens in a new window) or Who Wants to Be a Mathionaire(opens in a new window), is also a great way to encourage him to practice this skill.

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