Sunday, May 22, 2016

Math Toys (1)

So since I've been introduced to this Math Toybox... I've been addicted to these Pattern Blocks.  I started a tessellation in class and spent a good chunk of time continuing it.  The problem is, I will be honest, I think at some point I didn't copy it correctly so it's really (maybe) not a true tessellation... very sadly.  But overall, it looks totally awesome! In addition to it being very addicting, time consuming, and fun... this could also be an awesome tool to use in the classroom! (Everything I do gets connected back to the classroom some how :-P )  One of the things that I love most about this website is that it defies the teacher complaint of manipulatives.

"They take too long to get out" - This takes about 33.4 seconds to load on a classroom iPad/computer/laptop/chromebook/smartboard/whatever!
"The kids play with them and don't do what they're supposed to" mixed with "They're too distracting" - This is on the interweb so you can easily have them "put it away"  or out of sight and pull it right back up!

Manipulatives are SO beneficial to math.  Don't believe me?  Well I did a little research...

By using manipulatives in mathematics, it allows children to be create their own models and commit it to memory.  If we think about the popular "gradual release model", we think about how first the teacher models a new skill.  After that, the teacher will walk through the skill supporting students and asking for them to support her.  Then, the students are to explore and practice the skill on their own.  Just like the practicing of the skill, students must also be practicing new concepts.  And by practicing, many students learn best by using their hands to discover and manipulate.  This is even more important in today's instantaneous environment for students to be required to explore the process before getting to the solution and a "rule" for solving a problem.

This ties in with the book I'm reading, "Mathematical Mindsets."  So far, Jo (Boaler, the author) has talked in depth about the negative attitude toward mathematics that so many people have.  This is including the influence that is being put on students in and outside the classroom.  Where I'm going with this (and Jo) is that overcoming the instantaneous environment that society has created for today's student ties in with Jo's focus on utilizing the growth mindset specifically focusing on mathematics.  Empowering students to learn their own process is key for encouraging growth mindset and also in encouraging a love and understanding of math!


  1. I love that tool myself! The real master is Simon Gregg; check some of these out

    I have a little different view of gradual release of responsibility. I think it operates at two levels. One within a lesson or objective, but the other over the course of the year or semester. The long goal is to get the students to be the ones investigating.

    (complete/content) In this post, I think you need to do a little more to make your point. What does GRR have to do with manipulatives? Manipulatives by themselves don't guarantee learning - what's the difference between lessons that work with them and lessons that don't? There is direct research on them. Maybe a starting point:

    Or argue from your experience with the Toybox. What happened as you played with the pattern blocks?

    clear, coherent, consolidated: +
    C's: 3.5/5

  2. This was a really fun read, Michelle! I really liked your take on how using manipulatives can be beneficial to students. One thing that could make your blog post stronger is to discuss what content you might teach using the manipulatives. Maybe you could find a really cool lesson and describe how you might modify it to work with the pattern blocks