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Discussion: Traffic Jam Applet tool
Topic: Computer Tools at PreK2
Related Item: http://mathforum.org/mathtools/tool/10/


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Subject:   RE: Computer Tools at PreK2
Author: Mathman
Date: Oct 4 2004
On Sep 29 2004, lanius wrote:
> Have you seen the drag-and-drop-type simulations of manipulatives?
> The rubber band-less geoboards? The pattern blocks? The cuisinaire
> rods? I'm not recommending that they should replace the real ones,
> but at times the virtual manipulatives augment the real. If they
> have exposure to both at the same time, students will move
> effortlessly between the "real" and virtual manipulatives depending
> on the task.

Have you seen the Logical Zoombini games from the
> Learning Company that build logical thinking? You are right that
> good software for pre-school is limited, but does that mean that it
> couldn't be effective if it were available. We have several examples
> of good software for those ages.

By the way, when I was  using an
> IBM Selectric, my need for a word processor didn't pop out at me.
> (See I'm an oldie, but goodie, myself.)

Sorry for a late reply.  The site indicates messages having been read [in red]
and they are apparently not.

I'm a proponent of "logical thinking".  It's used exensively in studies in
mathematics and science in particular.  I have not seen any decent software that
will entirely replace pen and paper, and I've been in the computer business for
a long time.

"Manipulatives":
A daughter of people I knew had a "mad-on."  When I asked the problem, she
said, "I HATE geometry".  Cutting it short, I tutored her for only a couple of
hours, and she did very well, ..."Aced" her exam the following week.

Another was caught in a curriculum change and needed review of trig, and
applicaion to calculus.  Another success story.

The 'manipulatives" ...an old school geometry set; all that was needed in both
instances.  Both had been taught using Geometer's Sketchpad and other similar
programs.  They are not to be condemned.  They simply do not replace other
means.  What is important, much more important, is the "way of looking at it",
the manner in which something is taught no matter the medium.  I'm quite up to
date and comfortable with computers by the way.  I just don't see them as being
superior and absolutely necessary. That may be in part because I do possess the
earlier skills as well as the new.  Young people today have just the one
advantage offered.  In fact, in another forum entirely, a few problems were
passed by me, one being an infamous "Pirate Problem" by George Gamow.  I solved
that one readily, and the others, and in a much more elegant fashion than was
done by available software [GSP].  Mind you, that took some "logical thinking".
Unfortunately[?] I did not have today's advantages, being educated primarily
just after WW2.  Neither did Archimedes, Newton, Einstein, Gauss, Euler,
Maxwell, Hamilton,.... an endless list.  Not that I'm implying in any way that
I'm like them at all [I should wish], but that I could understand them without
having a calculator on hand.

My point is that I still question the advantages of these tools, and have yet to
see any real statistical support of their benefit in beginning childhood years.
I do not doubt their usefulness except for the supposed extent, it is the
necessity I question, particularly for the very young.
 
David.

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