Honestly, I could have made this topic all about math lessons and students. But, since I was a little girl, I’ve noticed how people associate counting fingers to being dull in math. That’s why I’m not going to make this about teachers and students alone. I want everybody to understand that there’s nothing wrong about calculating with fingers. Even as a teacher, I’m not stopping my students from counting with their hands. I know for a fact that different people have different levels of learning. Besides, the most important thing is getting the answer right.

Importance of Visuals

It is stated in various sources that there are 12 ways of learning. One of which is focusing on visual tools to teach students. Other examples include verbal and auditory learning. Studies suggest that the human brain can interpret what the person sees 60,000 times faster than reading words. Now, fingers can definitely serve as visual tools. Some people even use their hands like abacus.

Learning math is hard enough. Why not make it easier by letting the young ones count using their fingers? Funnily enough, our fingers are the most accessible visual tools we can count on.

Why the Hate?

People who dislike counting with fingers consider the act to be unhealthy for the brain. They even believe that a kid’s brain development gets weaker if the finger technique is continued. They also consider the technique to be unhelpful in making the child understand math. To them, counting fingers is just giving answers with no regard to the mathematical concept behind. In fact, some schools all over the world prohibit counting fingers during math class.

Studies Supporting the Technique

Despite the negative implications of finger counting, several studies actually support this technique. One study claimed that representations and strategies using fingers help students to learn and understand math. In my case at least, whenever I attempt to solve something in my head, I visualize my fingers. I could even feel my fingers slightly moving while I’m calculating in my mind.

Another study stated that first graders who are good in finger counting have better skills with numbers when they reach second grade. More studies emerged to prove that well-trained children regarding finger representation can end up with achievements related to math in the future.

Advanced Calculations Using Fingers

Many people consider finger counting ridiculous and childish. Counting 1 to 10 through each finger seems to be the easiest thing in the world. Wait until they get to see these unusual and more advanced techniques:

Finger Partitions

Many people resort to counting their finger partitions to calculate. On one hand, there are already 15 partitions. For sums up to 30, finger partition counting is faster than the basic one.

Chisenbop Counting

Now, let’s turn up the heat! Interestingly, Koreans have this finger counting technique called Chisenbop Counting. This is useful for calculations up to the sum of 99. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place your hands on a table as if you’re playing a piano.
  • On the right hand, the fingers represent units. The thumb represents 5.
  • On the left hand, the fingers represent tens. The thumb represents 50.

Are you starting to get confused? Well, take a look at this diagram below for reference:

10 Billion Counting

Yes, you’ve read that right – 10 billion in just two hands. Even I can’t understand this technique! Facts stated that this is an ancient finger counting method from the Chinese. I’m sure Chinese forefathers didn’t invent this technique just for fun. It must have worked.

Multiplication by 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10

I have to admit, I encountered this technique when I was a kid. This is a fun way to learn multiplication – I swear! Here’s how it goes:

  • Raise your hands in front of your face with palms facing towards you.
  • The fingers represent numbers 6 to 10 starting from the bottom or pinky finger. Same goes with the other hand.
  • To multiply, let two fingertips touch each other. For example, if you want to solve 6 x 6, connect your two pinky fingers.
  • To calculate, the two fingers touching and the fingers below them should be counted by tens. Since there are no fingers below your pinkies, you only have 2 x 10 which is 20.
  • For fingers above the two, multiply them based on their actual quantity. Since you have four fingers on each side, it means 4 x 4 which is 16.
  • Now, add 20 and 16. You have 36, right? Try it with other equations. I assure you that you will always get the right answer with this technique.

Finger Abacus

Like the 10 billion finger counting technique, the finger abacus is also an ancient calculating method in Asia, specifically in India. It was a very useful tool to calculate complex equations without an abacus, especially for blind people. In fact, the method was too complex that it could take years to master it. Some of the complicated equations the finger abacus could solve were multiplication of numbers up to 10 digits, and getting the square root of up to six-digit numbers.

Even to this day, the Universal Concept Mental Arithmetic System (UCMAS) still teaches the finger abacus to some schools. Its program started all the way from 1993. It already invaded 57 countries including the United States and the United Kingdom, and taught millions of kids. Actually, even top universities like Harvard, the University of Chicago, Stanford, the University of California San Diego, the University of Manchester, and the University of Khartoum did some researches about the finger abacus. All universities agreed that the method is still useful for students from 4 to 13 years old.

The Express Tribune

Final Thoughts

If you were confused when I mentioned some advanced calculations using fingers, then that’s the reaction I was hoping for. Finger counting is definitely not something we should underestimate. Using fingers as visual tools is not different to using images to understand things. If some people still find using fingers as a dull move to calculate something, then maybe they should also prohibit pictures in articles, books and other learning materials. We must never hinder a child’s preferred learning process just because the society says so.

We are all different, no doubt about that. That’s why some of us are contented with silence while focusing on something important during work or study time. But, in my case, I can’t concentrate without music. Silence is distracting for me because after all, we can’t achieve total silence unless we’re in a scientifically altered room for it. Without music, I can hear even the slightest sounds which distracts me. As a teacher, I need to read a lot to have smooth discussions in my classes. That can’t happen if I’m easily distracted by sounds. I need music to consistently play the whole time until I don’t notice it anymore.

Music for Deep Focus

Now, what exactly is the perfect music so we can focus or concentrate deeply? Well, there’s no exact music for it. The perfect deep focus tracks for you totally rely on your personality and mindset. I am a type of person who easily gets distracted. So, I need to set the ambience with instrumental music that’s consistent – no sudden highs or lows such as loud bass, electronic dance beats, etc. The type of music I’m listening to conceals sounds from my environment but, at the same time, doesn’t overpower everything completely. When I hear birds chirping, it seems that they are just part of my music.

But, not everybody likes instrumental music. My husband, for example, tends to get sleepy when he listens to tracks without lyrics. So, he listens to his favorite rock songs at work. Of course, he needs to use earphones. Meanwhile, my kids want to listen to their favorite cartoon songs during study time and homework. They say they get bored with silence, my tunes or my constant blabbering.

My Top 11 Tracks for Deep Focus

I don’t expect everyone to like the type of music I listen to during mind-based activities. But, there’s no harm in trying. Maybe you would like it anyway. I discovered these tracks on Spotify. I hope you’ll find the following tracks useful:

“Requiem” (Lights & Motion)

This track is a smooth journey for the ears. It starts low for quite some time until you get used to the music despite all the violins, bells and louder volume in the middle and last part of the track. I, for one, haven’t noticed the intense progress this track gives until I listened to it on purpose. Isn’t it amazing how my ears become fully accustomed to the tune without me being conscious about it every time I’m busy?

“Daylight Goodbye” (Message To Bears)

A piano plays softly at first with an ambient sound in the background. Later, more repetitive, clinking sounds join in. Even human hums are added to the track. But, the extra sounds are added smoothly. No sudden noise at all. Everything blends perfectly. The clinking sounds even figuratively tickles my brain. For some reason, I read or write faster with this track.

“Supernovas” (William Roud)

The vibe of this track at first is similar to “Daylight Goodbye.” But, as the track progresses, soft drum beats join the dreamy melody. It is an instrumental song with a hint of spice. I never get sleepy with this track.

“Branches And Constellations” (The Echelon Effect)

The Echelon Effect’s smartly composed track is quite similar to “Supernovas” because of the drums in the last part. But, the first part is much quieter. Sometimes, you need tracks that almost have a similar vibe when you make a playlist for deep focus. That enables you to have a smoother progress in your playlist.

“Losing the Light” (Explosions In The Sky)

The whole track focuses on ambience. You won’t notice its progress, which is great. “Losing the Light” has some extra sounds but all are subtle. These sounds just put texture into the track.

“Silver Lining” (Lights & Motion)

Another track from Lights & Motion, “Silver Lining” reminds me of some Coldplay songs. It sounds nostalgic and psychedelic. It is more upbeat than the previous songs I’ve listed. But, it is still not distracting. The powerful vibe just makes you want to think and move faster.

“Bless Those Tired Eyes” (Clem Leek)

The title hits me hard. Just kidding! This track also focuses on ambience but has extra guitar sounds for texture. The guitar is more on being plucked, not strummed. The track is relaxing and clears your mind from other thoughts.

“An Old Peasant Like Me” (Explosions In The Sky/David Wingo)

This time, Explosions In The Sky collaborates with David Wingo to compose a relaxing ambient music with minimal piano and violin sounds for texture. It sounds similar to “Bless Those Tired Eyes.”

“Petrichor” (At The End Of Times/Nothing)

If you’re into rock music, “Petrichor” has that sort of vibe. It has a lot of electric guitar sounds. It also has that continuous marching beat of the drum in the later part. But, it is amazing that the whole track remains soft to the ears. The ambient sound really helps in balancing everything out.

“Hypersleep” (65daysofstatic)

Now, we have the combination of ambient and drone sounds in this track. The result is a surreal and out-of-this-world music, as if you are transported into the outer space. Personally, this belongs to my top three go-to songs whenever I need to concentrate on a certain task.

“Igelstorp” (Fellows)

When it comes to sophistication, I think this track nails it. I can’t even identify if the sounds are electronic or from musical instruments. “Igelstorp” has so many elements that you can’t predict what the next sound is going to be. I associate this track to memory because of the reverberating sound effects. So far, this track never fails to make me memorize stuff.

Final Thoughts

There’s always science behind anything, and music is no exception. Basically, music helps the brain waves to achieve a certain frequency. The brain wave frequency conditions the brain to handle specific tasks. Obviously, some songs can make you alert while some aim to relax you. Music is a trigger to help you with what you need to do. That’s why music is definitely not just for fun and entertainment.

Every classroom needs a bulletin board. Open communication is important in the classroom environment. So, as a teacher, I make sure that new announcements must not only be disseminated vocally. I always post a follow-up on the bulletin board to ensure that my students will not forget.

Other than announcements, I use our bulletin board to motivate my students. I post inspirational quotes and anecdotes there. I also put the names of my best-performing students. You can actually post anything on a bulletin board, as long as it is relevant to education and the students.

Bulletin Board Background Suggestions

Having a bulletin board, however, is not a foolproof way to inform students. Why? Some bulletin boards look so dull that students would not even bother looking at it. When our bulletin board was still plain, just a simple corkboard with no designs at all, I print papers for nothing. My students would not even stay there for a minute and read all the papers.

When I started designing our bulletin board background with some enthusiastic helpers, my students flocked there once it was finished. Most of them stayed longer to read each post. Since then, I change our bulletin board’s design every month. Before I even run out of ideas, thank goodness I stumbled upon this article from Organized Classroom blog. I was blown away with some ideas I never thought of before.

Fadeless Paper

With Fourth Grade Florida Fun as inspiration, bulletin board backgrounds can be covered with fadeless paper. Meanwhile, burlap ribbon is used on borders. Bandanas are added for extra decoration. The overall result is one unique bulletin board.

Fourth Grade Florida Fun

Fabric

For a wide range of colors and designs, I commonly use fabric. After reading the blog, I started using my old bed sheets. I just make sure to cut them perfectly. If ever I would run out of ideas again, I’ll just resort to fabric. Another good thing about fabric is how easy to remove tapes from it. If you don’t want to tape your posts, you can attach strings across the board and just clip papers there. I do that sometimes. Attaching the strings may be challenging but once you start clipping your posts, everything gets easier. I use pins to attach the strings. The strings may also be put in different directions for style. For a simpler one, just straight lines would do.

Burlap

This is one of my favorite ideas. Who would have thought that burlap looks so nice as a bulletin board background? Burlap may look rugged. But, colorful papers and decorations would definitely pop. The best part? The material would tolerate the aftermath of staples and pins. It is also very inexpensive. It is perfect for themed bulletin boards, specifically rustic or western.

Wrapping Paper

I already used wrapping paper as a bulletin board background several times before. Still, it’s my go-to material until now. Like fabric, it has a lot of colors and designs. But, it is cheaper than fabric.

Aluminum Foil

Using aluminum foil is clever! I would start using this in my future bulletin boards. Aluminum foil surely attracts attention. With a shiny background and colorful posts, my students will be thrilled.

Plastic Tablecloth

Putting plastic tablecloth over the whiteboard is unique.  It is simple yet effective.

Contact Paper

For a plain background, contact paper can be a good accent. It is also easy to cut and attach to the board.

Newspaper

Another favorite of mine is using old newspapers as bulletin board background. I can save money with this material. The board looks sophisticated with this cover. I just make sure to put more color into it by decorating the borders and posts.

Wax Paper

For bulletin boards with lots of cutout images and colorful accents, wax paper is perfect to use as base. It almost has the same effect with aluminum foil. It is a shiny white material. That can surely catch attention.

Paint

I don’t resort to this much because I’m the type of teacher who pays attention to resourcefulness. But, painting the bulletin board background makes everything so easy. If you want a wrinkle-free board with one permanent color, this is perfect for you.

Scrapbook Paper

For me, scrapbook paper is kind of expensive than most of its kind. But, the final result is so beautiful. The patterns on scrapbook papers are just so beautiful and elegant to look at. Mrs. Teachnology blog shared a clever way to utilize this material. Cutting smaller squares from various patterns and lining them up is a nice idea. It is one of the most sophisticated bulletin board ideas I’ve ever seen.

Mrs. Teachnology

Shower Curtain

I will definitely use this one: shower curtain. The material has a big coverage and smooth texture. I will surely have fun using this material. Some shower curtains have intricate patterns which is perfect. I think the end result is one clean, smooth background.

Tissue Paper

Genius idea alert! The final result photo from Cross Curricular Corner is jaw-dropping. I’m going to use this one as well. Tissue papers are so thin and colorful that when overlapped, they make one amazing background. The overall look is trendy and youthful.

Cross Curricular Corner

Plain Corkboard

I know some teachers would still prefer the traditional corkboard. So, I suggest a level-up on the corkboard by putting colorful and creative borders. Also, you can put colorful papers and headers. I have to admit, corkboards look clean and simple. Added with colors, the total look would be easy and warm on the eyes.

Final Thoughts

Let’s never underestimate the purpose of bulletin boards. Other than the fact that it’s a source of class information, teachers can establish rapport with their students. How? I love working with my students. In some instances, my students are the ones suggesting some ideas. Once the students know how to talk openly with you, there would be no class conflict in the long run. Sometimes, I even hold simple group competitions on who gets to pitch the best design. Have fun decorating your bulletin board!