Sunday, January 16, 2011

The use of manipulative

                When the algebra blocks were handed out during class, I couldn’t help but to snicker to myself thinking there is no way that these could be used to teacher students about algebra, especially the quadratic formula.  I remember in jr. high and high school I would sit at the table struggling to finish my math homework and using the FOIL to help me but I never really understood why it worked.
                To my surprise we began to use the blocks and use one side for negative and the other side for positive I started to see something I had not seen.  Then when the blocks were placed on to a graph I wanted to call my old mat teachers to tell them that it makes sense now.  I wish I had seen this lesson before and I wonder if the teachers then knew about it. 
                On Thursday, at my main placement, I sat grading a math assessment only to discover that a lot of the kids were getting the many of the same questions wrong.  I talk to my master teacher who then proceeded to tell me that when most of the class doesn’t appear to be getting something there must be something wrong with the way it was taught and we need to find a different way to teach them.  She had me run of some copies of a one hundreds chart and then pull out some blocks for manipulative. 
                She began to show the kids visually how to solve these problems that seemed to strong with.  It was really exciting for me to look around the classroom and see what I had learned in class just a few days ago go to work.  I watched as students went to work on their own solving the problems.  It seemed as if light bulbs were turning on in their minds.  They began to see patterns with the way the teacher had taught them and it was all starting to make sense.  Many of the students were proud of themselves and wanted to show me what they began to see. 
                One thing that I have learned this week is that it is okay if the students do not get what you are teaching them the first time but it’s important to think of new ways to teach them.  Sometimes giving the students visuals helps them understand what is being taught and it doesn’t matter how old they are to use them especially if it can help the students really understand why they are doing what they are doing. 

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