The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Education » math-teach

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: Manipulatives
Replies: 2   Last Post: Apr 11, 1995 8:44 AM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View   Messages: [ Previous | Next ]
Joan Reinthaler

Posts: 110
Registered: 12/6/04
Posted: Apr 10, 1995 4:55 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

I agree with Linda Coutts that working with manipulatives can become as
rote as other excercises, and certainly one would not want to become
"dependent" on them in the sense that you had to carry them around with
you. I do have a couple of other thoughts about manipulatives, however.

1. Too often they are contrived and become an end in themselves - their
connections to the mathematics they are to represent just never really
get made.

2. Where well used, however, they can enable students to visualize the
mathematics they are doing in ways that pushing symbols around does not
do. I think that a student who is dependent on *visualizing* pattern
blocks when working with fractions probably has a far better sense of
what is going on then the student who has just learned some procedures.

For older kids -
When I teach trig, I give my students large unit circles on graph paper
with a radius of ten graph units of .1 each. They approximate the
coordinates of the points on the circle at the intersections of the radii
at pi/6, pi/4, ... etc and write these on the circle. From then on they
can visualize the important symmetries by referring to the circle and
they use the circle on tests and in doing work involving trig for several
years afterward. For these kids the unit circle is a manipulative - they
depend on it, not for values (they have calculators for these if
necessary) but for visualizing and understanding the nature of circular
functions. A kid who doesn't happen to have her circle available will
often sketch it quickly when working on a problem - which is exactly how
I would hope she would think

Joan Reinthaler
Sidwell Friends School

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.