By: Chine Okeke, Baylor University Intern
When you think about math, the first thing that comes to your mind may be difficulty or even boredom; so what better way to give students back power in the classroom than allowing them to physically control the mathematical concepts they are being taught?
Master Manipulators, a grant provided to the Woodway Elementary campus by the Midway ISD Education Foundation, helps students learn fundamental concepts of mathematics using manipulatives.
Manipulatives are objects that are designed for learners to perceive mathematical concepts by manipulating it, hence its name. The use of manipulatives provides a way for children to learn concepts through developmentally appropriate hands-on experience.The grant funds have been used to create math manipulative toolboxes for students in the 3rd and 4th grades that are being served in the Response to Intervention, Special Education, and EL programs. Students would have their toolbox of manipulatives available to them anytime they are studying or working on mathematics problems.
The project’s intended outcome is to provide a toolbox of manipulatives for students to easily access. The productive use of manipulatives help students connect ideas and integrate their knowledge so that they gain a deep understanding of mathematical concepts.
Jill Fischer, the primary grant applicant, referenced both learning theories and classroom studies that have shown that using manipulatives to help teach math can positively impact student learning. This is because the objects being used help students clearly picture the math topics being covered.
“Using math manipulatives would help make mathematical concepts real for our students, and it would give them objects that they can move and touch in order to visualize abstract concepts,” said Fischer.
Students sometimes complain about mathematics being boring and not practical, but using the manipulatives allows students to relate what they are learning in these classes to other aspects of their schooling. “The effective use of manipulatives can help students connect their personal ideas and integrate learned knowledge to their classwork,” said Fischer.
The program has enormous benefits not only to the students but to the teachers utilizing the manipulatives in their classrooms as well. “The greatest benefit to staff participants is the availability for individual students to have access to a toolbox of ‘objects to think with,’ ” said Fischer.
This grant was named in honor of Quality Brickworks, Ltd. in appreciation for their long-time support of the Foundation. For more information about the Education Foundation and its programs, you can visit www.midwayisd.org/foundation.