Effective use of manipulatives
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Effective Use of Manipulatives. Wednesday Nov. 4 th 2009 Emidio DiAntonio. Agenda. Welcome & Prayer The who, what, where and why of manipulatives. Activity #1: Scavenger Hunt Activity #2: Algebra Tiles Activity #3: Using the Trig Trainer Activity #4: Using Geoboards

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Effective Use of Manipulatives

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Effective Use of Manipulatives

Wednesday Nov. 4th 2009

Emidio DiAntonio


  • Welcome & Prayer

  • The who, what, where and why of manipulatives.

  • Activity #1: Scavenger Hunt

  • Activity #2: Algebra Tiles

  • Activity #3: Using the Trig Trainer

  • Activity #4: Using Geoboards

  • Activity #5: Lets Make a Mess!

  • Activity #6: Virtual Manipulatives Library

  • Activity #7: Exploring Gizmos

  • Lunch Activity

A Prayer for Math Teachers:

  • Lord, as we gather here today, we pray for your guidance…

  • You were there when Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes, and when Moses divided the Red Sea

  • We ask that you be with us now

  • Help us trust that your highest power will be our guide

  • Help us to be a positive influence on our students

  • Help us to be a fraction of the teacher Jesus was

  • Help us to recognize the infinite possibilities that are born of faith

  • Amen

Why use manipulatives to teach Mathematics?

  • A focus on deep learning of particular mathematics topics – through a variety of strategies, including working with concrete materials – leads to greater conceptual depth (Ben-Chaim, Fey, Fitzgerald, Benedetto, & Miller, 1998; Fletcher, Hope, & Wagner, 2001; Siemon et al., 2001).

  • Manipulatives allow students to concretely explore mathematical relationships that will later be translated into symbolic form. The key to the successful use of manipulatives lies in the bridge – which must be built by the teacher – between the artifact and the underlying mathematical concepts (D’Ambrosio et al., 1993). The mathematics is in the connections, not the objects (Kilpatrick & Swafford, 2002).

    Leading Math Success, 2004

Why use manipulatives to teach Mathematics? Continued…

  • “Students need to develop the ability to select the appropriate electronic tools, manipulatives, and computational strategies to perform particular mathematical tasks, to investigate mathematical ideas, and to solve problems.”

  • Students should be encouraged to select and use concrete learning tools to make models of mathematical ideas. Students need to understand that making their own models is a powerful means of building understanding and explaining their thinking to others.

    Introduction Curriculum Document Grades 9 – 10 Mathematics, 2005

Why use manipulatives to teach Mathematics? Continued …

  • Using manipulatives to construct representations helps students to:

    • see patterns and relationships;

    • make connections between the concrete and the abstract;

    • test, revise, and confirm their reasoning;

    • remember how they solved a problem;

    • communicate their reasoning to others.

  • Even at the secondary level, manipulatives are necessary tools for supporting the effective learning of mathematics. These concrete learning tools invite students to explore and represent abstract mathematical ideas in varied, concrete, tactile, and visually rich ways. Manipulatives are also a valuable aid to teachers. By analyzing students’ concrete representations of mathematical concepts and listening carefully to their reasoning, teachers can gain useful insights into students’ thinking and provide supports to help enhance their thinking.

    Introduction Curriculum Document Grades 9 – 10 Mathematics, 2005

Why use manipulatives to teach Mathematics? Continued ….

  • Studies on the use of manipulatives by students described as low achievers, at risk, having behaviour problems, or with limited English proficiency have found positive effects on achievement (Ruzic & O’Connell, 2004).

  • Manipulatives are necessary tools for supporting the effective learning of mathematics by all students. These learning materials invite teachers and students to explore and represent abstract mathematical ideas in varied, concrete, tactile, and visually rich ways.

  • Manipulatives support the conceptual development of important mathematical ideas for tactile and visual learners. Manipulatives allow teachers to provide alternative ways for students to see and think about mathematical concepts. Paper-and-pencil drill does not lead to conceptual learning for at-risk students, but effective use of manipulatives can.

    Leading Math Success, 2004

A list of Essential Manipulatives

  • Algebra tiles (2 colour) – class set, clear plastic organizer trays, overhead or magnetic set

  • Base-ten materials (clearview with interlocking pieces)

  • Circular fraction set and frames (decimal, degree, percentage, time, fraction, and compass points), translucent pieces and overhead set

  • Coloured tiles and overhead set

  • Coloured relational rods and overhead set

  • Connecting cubes (1 cm, 2 cm)

  • Connecting plastic shapes to build 2-D shapes and nets for 3-D solids

  • Full circle protractors

  • Geoboards (minimum of 15 cm by 15 cm dimensions) clear 11 x 11, 5 x 5, circular, elastics

    Leading Math Success, 2004

A list of Essential Manipulatives Continued …

  • Geolegs

  • Graphing calculators, preferably with projection capabilities

  • Measuring tapes (minimum 150 cm wind-up tape in protective case calibrated in centimetres and millimetres)

  • Number cubes: 6-sided in two colours; 10-, 12-, and 30-sided

  • Overhead graphing calculator with projection unit

  • Plastic transparent tools

  • Relational geometric 3-D solids and large demonstration set

  • Spinners (number, colour)

  • Trundle wheels

  • Two-colour counters and overhead set

    Leading Math Success, 2004

Starting Points for Teachers

  • Begin by selecting one major mathematical idea (e.g., fractions) and exploring that idea with students from many different perspectives, employing a variety of manipulatives.

  • Plan how the mathematics concept will be developed from the experience with the manipulatives.

  • Plan the assessment of students’ mathematics knowledge with and without the presence of the manipulatives.

    Leading Math Success, 2004

Activity #1: Scavenger Hunt

  • In your assigned course groups, make a note of the specific expectations that include the language:

    “aided by a variety of tools (e.g., algebra tiles, computer algebra systems, paper and pencil) and strategies (e.g. patterning)”

    (e.g., using concrete materials)

Activity #2: Algebra Tiles

  • Algebra tiles allow students a way to represent algebraic terms using concrete materials. Students are able to solve algebraic problems using concrete materials rather then the abstract concepts they represent.

  • A typical set of algebra tiles consists of a number of small squares, large squares and rectangles of different colour and size.

  • All secondary schools should have at least 1 set of Red/Blue algebra tiles.

Algebra Tiles:

  • Lets use a set of Algebra Tiles to explore each of the following concepts:

    • Adding & Subtracting Integers

    • Solving Linear Equations

    • Expanding Monomials & Binomials

    • Factoring Binominals

    • Factoring Trinomials

    • Completing the square

Activity #3: Using the Trig Trainer

  • Can be used to explore the primary trigonometric ratios.

  • Prior Knowledge: Students should have already completed an activity where they compare the ratios of the sides of different right triangles with a fixed acute angle.

  • On a Trig Trainer, the length of the hypotenuse is set to one unit. The angles of rotation are about the unit circle.

  • I have found that the calculator buttons sine, cosine and tangent become a “black box” where students don’t always know the why and when to press the particular buttons and more importantly that they are ratios of sides.

A short history lesson:

  • The two legs of the trig trainer are called the sine and cosine legs.

  • The significance of those names comes from the historical origin of the words sine and cosine.

  • In the 5th century AD, the sine leg was called “ardha-jya” which means “half-chord”. Eventually shortened to “jya”, and later translated to “jiba” by Arab scolars and then “jaib”.

Fast forward a few years …

  • In 1150, the Italian Gerardo of Cremona translated the Arab works into Latin replacing the word “jaib” with the word “sinus”, from which the English word sine is derived. The word “sinus” means “bend” or “curve” – picture the graph of the sine function.

  • The term cosine comes from the shortened phrase “complementary sine”. Edmund Gunter in 1620 later abbreviated this to “co-sinus” which became “cosine”.

  • Over 1000 years of history in less than 5 minutes .

Trig Trainer: Activities

  • Introduction to the parts of the trig trainer.

  • Finding ratios of angles

  • Using the trig trainer to find angles.

  • Exploring the following relationships:

    • Sin (90°-A)=cos(A)

    • Cos(90°-A)=sin(A)

    • How sine increases and then decreases as angles increase.

    • How cosine decreases then increases as angles increase.

Activity #4: Using Geoboards

  • Geoboards are grids of pegs that can hold rubber bands in position. Geoboards are available in a variety of sizes, styles and colours.

  • The preferred model is the transparent Geoboard as it can be placed on an overhead projector. The best size to use is an 11x11 peg Geoboard.

  • There are three types of Geoboards that are available in varying sizes. Some Geoboards can be “connected” together to form larger work areas.

  • Each type of Geoboard has different applications – you don’t need to have each type – virtual Geoboards can be used as well.




Geoboards: Where can we use them?

  • Exploring area and perimeter (including composite figures)

  • Exploring fractions and operations with fractions

  • Euclidean Geometry – lines, symmetries, congruence, similarity

  • Pythagorean Theorem

  • Analytic Geometry – plotting ordered pairs, slopes, lines

  • Optimization Problems

  • Build 3D objects using 2D materials

  • Other suggestions?

  • Frisbee

Geoboards: Tricks and Hints

  • Be sure that you have the right type of Geoboard before you go to class! There are three types of Geoboards – Square, Isometric and Circular.

  • Pass out the Geoboards with a set number of elastics already on the pegs. This makes it easier to ensure that all the elastics have been handed in at the end and should cut down on misuse.

  • Longer elastics are preferable to shorter ones since they can be doubled around the shape if necessary.

Geoboards: Tricks and Hints

  • Use transparent Geoboards whenever possible – at a minimum the teacher should use a transparent one. Transparent Geoboards can be used on the overhead or can be stacked to check congruence.

  • Bring a stack of overhead acetates and markers so that students can more easily count areas.

  • Count spaces NOT pegs. When creating a 4 by 4 square, elastics should go around 5 pegs in each direction.

  • The distance between diagonal pegs is not the same as vertical/horizontal pegs. Create a 4x4 square using vertical pegs, and then using horizontal pegs. Compare for congruence.

Geoboards – Working With Fractions

  • Geoboards are great to use when introducing the concept of fractions or providing remedial assistance to students having difficulties with fractions.

  • Lets explore the following concepts:

    • Equivalent fractions

    • Lowest Common Denominator

    • Adding fractions

    • Subtracting fractions

    • Multiplying fractions

    • Dividing fractions

Geoboards: Model Areas with Same Perimeter

  • Problem:

    • You have 12m of rope to fence off a rectangular play area at a summer day camp. (MHR: Principles 9).

    • Use a Geoboard to explore the different rectangles that can be formed with a perimeter of 12m.

Geoboards: Maximizing Area

  • Problem:

    • Carina wants to build a rectangular play area for her new puppy. What dimensions will maximize the enclosed area if she is to use 24m of fencing?

Geoboards: Maximizing Area - Extension

  • Problem:

    • In hopes of creating a larger play area for her puppy, Carina decides to use the side of the house as one of the sides of her puppy’s play area. What dimensions will maximize the rectangular play area using only 24m of fencing?

Geoboards: Analytic Geometry

  • With the aid of an Overhead marker, a Geoboard can be used to investigate slopes and equations of lines.

  • Draw a Cartesian Grid on the back of a transparent Geoboard with overhead marker.

  • When using a Geoboard for slopes and lines, count pegs.

Geoboard Resources

  • Virtual Geoboard:

    • Rectangular Geoboard:

      • http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_279_g_4_t_3.html?open=activities&from=category_g_4_t_3.html

    • Isometric Geoboard:

      • http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_129_g_4_t_3.html?open=activities&from=category_g_4_t_3.html

    • Circular:

      • http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_285_g_4_t_3.html?open=activities&from=category_g_4_t_3.html

    • Co-ordinates:.

      • http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/frames_asid_303_g_4_t_3.html?open=activities&from=category_g_4_t_3.html

  • Some Classroom Examples:

    • http://mathforum.org/trscavo/geoboards/contents.html

Activity #5: Lets Make A Mess!

Using Relational Solids

  • Investigation A:

    • Using a rectangular prism and pyramid with the same height and base area, compare the relative volumes of the two containers by filling the pyramid repeatedly and dumping it into the rectangular prism.

  • Investigation B:

    • Using a cone with same base radius and height as a cylinder, compare the relative volumes of the two containers by filling the cone repeatedly and dumping it into the cylinder.

  • Investigation C:

    • Using a sphere with the same radius as a cylinder, and whose diameter is equal to the height of the cylinder, can we find a relationship between these two volumes?

    • Fill the sphere with sand or water, and dump it into the cylinder. What fraction of the cylinder is filled with sand/water?

Activity #6: Virtual Manipulatives Library

  • Amazing website for both students and teachers to use manipulatives. http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/vlibrary.html

  • Virtual Manipulative Library is also available for download for non-internet connected machines.

Activity #7: Exploring Gizmos

  • Each school was allotted a bank of user ids and passwords to the website: http://www.explorelearning.com/

  • Lets explore what is there!

    • Maximize Area with given perimeter: http://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm?method=cResource.dspView&ResourceID=73

    • Let’s not make a mess! http://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm?method=cResource.dspView&ResourceID=193

    • More fun … http://www.explorelearning.com/index.cfm?method=cResource.dspView&ResourceID=349

Finished ….

  • Where do we go from here?

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