Date: Apr 22, 1995 12:50 PM
Author: Karen Dee Michalowicz
Subject: Mapulatives

According to Tad:

> >
> > This may be a reply that you aren't expecting, but here it goes.
> >
> > I had a chance to talk with someone (who remains anonymous just in case
> > I'm completely mis-interpreting her view) during a conference for math ed
> > researchers. She is a very strong follower of Piaget/Constructivism and
> > she has been involved in curriculum development for elementary grade
> > levels for quite some time. Her curriculum is full of activities/games
> > and very little, if any worksheets (in the traditional sense) or drills.
> > However, she told me (and I think she was making a rather strong
> > statement to emphasize her point) that she did not like manipulatives.
> > Her reason, however, was very sound, in my opinion. She said that she
> > had seen too many teachers use manipulatives in a very
> > directed/prescribed ways so that children were not engaged in
> > exploration or experimentation. Children were simply pushing "blocks"
> > instead of pencils. I think she has a very good point. Too many of
> > pre-service teachers I work with believe manipulatives are so wonderful,
> > but have very little idea why, and they know little how to use them
> > constructively. So, the concerns expressed by "the Omaha Public School
> > are" may be legitimate. On the other hand, I wonder what they expect
> > teachers to do to teach mathematics to young children. I wonder what the
> > definition of "manipulatives" is.
> >

>
>
> Forgive me for taking so long to reply to this note. I thought
> and thought about Tad's remarks and I decided I needed to reply.
>
> For one thing, manipulatives are no more or less than a set of
> objects/things designed to help bridge the gap between the
> concrete and abstract. In themselves, they are neither good
> nor bad. It is how they are used by the educator that makes them good or
> bad.
>
> Having the fortune of being in education for some 33 years, I
> was in on the "new math movement". I learned about
> manipulatives; I learned good ways to use them; I learned how
> to make my own; and I learned to think about how to design
> concrete objects that might help my students "see the light."
> I happened to be in graduate school in the 60's.
>
> You can't say manipulatives are bad if the teachers who misuse
> them, were not trained to use them in their math ed courses.
> I'm sure the people in math ed reading this list have good
> courses. However, being part of our systemic reform in my
> state and talking to trainers in other states, I have found
> that the math ed programs in many states do not give their
> middle school teachers much experience in the use of
> manipulatives with middle school students. We are trying to
> provide this experience in our SSI program in Virginia.
>
> Tad's colleague who doesn't like manipulatives. Is blaming the
> the wrong cause. It isn't the manipulative; it's the
> education. I love them. And, I use the appropriately, in part
> due to my training, in part due to my research.
>
> Because manipulatives may be misused or not understood
> by preservice teachers,
> help them to understand the appropriate uses in their math ed
> programs! The why.
>
> Children need to manipulate objects (I believefrom the Latin for
> hands) not only in math but across the curriculum.
> --
>
> Cheers!
>
> Karen Dee
>
> Math History Lives!
>
> Karen Dee Michalowicz VQUEST Math Lead Teacher/Trainer
> Upper School Mathematics Chair Virginia Quality Education
> The Langley School in Sciences and Technology
> 1411 Balls Hill Rd, McLean, VA
> 22012 USA
> 703-356-1920(w) E-Mail: kmichal@pen.k12.va.us
> Fax: (703) 790-9712 --or-- KarenDM@aol.com
>
>
>



--

Cheers!

Karen Dee

Math History Lives!

Karen Dee Michalowicz VQUEST Math Lead Teacher/Trainer
Upper School Mathematics Chair Virginia Quality Education
The Langley School in Sciences and Technology
1411 Balls Hill Rd, McLean, VA
22012 USA
703-356-1920(w) E-Mail: kmichal@pen.k12.va.us
Fax: (703) 790-9712 --or-- KarenDM@aol.com