Make Math Moments Academy › Forums › MiniCourse Reflections › The Concept Holding Your Students Back › Lesson 53: Notice & Name – Absolute vs. Relative Thinking – Discussion › Reply To: Lesson 53: Notice & Name – Absolute vs. Relative Thinking – Discussion

Absolute thinking results in a quantity (either more or less) that stands on its own – it is absolute. It needs no reference to another quantity or value. (It can be expressed using the language of addition or subtraction).
Relative thinking results in a relationship to describe one quantity in reference to another quantity. It requires a reference to another quantity or value. It can be expresses using the language (and symbolic notation) of division or multiplication.
I enjoyed the sorting activity. This transition from additive to multiplicative thinking is such a critical, and fragile one for students. This shows up so often in grades 5 and 6 when students are reading a table and not able (yet) to read the table in both directions. When they look vertically (if headings are at top), they’ll say that “it is going up by 1.” I’ve had to show them to read the relationship of the horizontal cells. The number of miles is 8 times greater than the number of minutes, for example.