I teach resource mathematics classes at the high school level. Our district has a high level of need, with all schools in our community currently eligible to offer free lunch and breakfast to all students. Although it can be difficult to learn in light of such need, my students work hard and respond well to differentiation through the use of manipulatives as well as technological tools.
Being able to bring print off the page and make it tangible is one of my favorite ways to make the connection between numerical, algebraic, and geometric concepts that are more often presented only on paper.
This can be a crucial strategy when a student just isn't getting the gist of a concept. I've done this with like terms, shapes, and counting depending on the need, and I would like to be able to access appropriate tools and materials more effectively as the need is observed.
Struggles with math symbols can often be bridged by making those symbols movable. Magnetic variables, numbers, symbols, and other physical representations of concepts can provide a hands-on way for students to better visualize these ideas. Paper representations allow for folding, sorting, drawing, and other manners of processing that allow students to explore important concepts as well. An example would be folding a figure to find a line of symmetry.
A die-cutting tool makes it easy to create sets of these paper symbols and shapes in varied colors to provide opportunities for making sense of ideas that can be tough to grasp.
Additionally, having the die cut system in the classroom means that students can have a role in deciding what colors and symbols are needed and can take part in making them. This slate of tools will ensure that students in all of my resource math classes have opportunities to better access the curriculum, take ownership in directing their learning, and prepare for a future in which math is not the enemy.
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