My students need manipulatives such as pattern blocks, linking cubes and factor triangles to help build a strong conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts.
Math is an exciting, interactive subject that is too often limited to pencil and paper exercises. Students rarely have the opportunity in middle school to see how beautiful math can be when explored with manipulatives.
The students at my school are curious and love learning when it involves more than sitting and listening.
They are a diverse group of students in terms of ethnicity, interests, learning styles, language, backgrounds, and knowledge of math. They attend a small school that has very few resources to spare. We have limited technology in the classroom and few opportunities to leave the classroom for experiential learning. Aside from a music teacher, there are no other electives or extra activities for the students. With such limitations, it's important that I am able to create a vibrant classroom that allows students to experience math outside the textbook.
After returning from a math institute that focused on in-depth problem solving, I'm excited to bring back many of the ideas into the classroom. The other teachers and advisers had so many great ways to use basic math manipulatives such as pattern blocks, tangrams, linking cubes, pentaminos and area tiles. These manipulatives abound in elementary school, but typically are not used in middle school. However, there are so many ways to use the tools to teach higher level skills, such as algebraic concepts, that students see in middle school. I plan to use these tools for weekly group problem solving activities. The tools are a great way to enter problems that don't have a clear "right" or "wrong" answer. The beauty of problem solving is that students have to use trial and error and watch for patterns to emerge. The tools allow the students to play around with the information given, and use the tools to make sense of the problem.
I am firm believer that math makes more sense when students can construct their own knowledge.
The materials I've requested-from the factor trees to the area tiles to the geometric shapes-all help make math come alive for my students. When I pose questions to further their thinking, such as "What if..." they can try out an idea with their tools and see how that alters the problem. The more students understand the relationships between numbers, the more easily they can transition into algebra.
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|Polydron® Geometry Frameworks® - 138-Piece Large Set • Nasco||$68.95||1||$68.95|
|LL988 - Factor Triangles • Lakeshore Learning Materials||$24.99||1||$24.99|
|RA572 - Pattern Blocks • Lakeshore Learning Materials||$24.99||1||$24.99|
|LL977 - Pentominoes • Lakeshore Learning Materials||$19.99||1||$19.99|
|LL979 - Area Tiles • Lakeshore Learning Materials||$19.99||1||$19.99|
|RA529 - Linking Cubes • Lakeshore Learning Materials||$19.99||1||$19.99|
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