Thursday, July 14, 2011


I was thinking about manipulatives. 

As I was thinking about manipulatives, I began to wonder whether or not they would be helpful for math beyond the elementary and middle school years.  Does it not make sense that, even with more advanced math, students would benefit from moving from the concrete, to the pictorial, to the abstract?  I decided to Google “using manipulatives in high school math” and found the article, “Manipulatives: The Missing Link in High School Math”, by Marilyn Curtain- Phillips, M. Ed.

In the article, the author notes that children in the U.S. scored high among nations in fourth grade math assessments.  However, by the time they graduated from high school, they were last.  Hmmm...I wonder...  Could the use (or the absence of use) of manipulatives come into play here?   The author also notes  that the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has long pointed to the value of using manipulatives in all grades.  In spite of this, the use of manipulatives in high school math is rare.

The article goes on to give a few reasons as to why the use of manipulatives in high school math is rare.  It also goes on to talk about the value of manipulatives in bringing abstract concepts to life, and in engaging students by addressing multiple learning styles.  Let’s face it, math is just as abstract (perhaps even MORE abstract) in the later grades.  Manipulatives seem like the perfect tool for learners of all levels. learning styles, and math genres.  Here is a link to the article.  It is definitely worth reading.

Manipulatives: The Missing Link in High School Math

Here is another link I found in my Google search.  This paper talks about the effectiveness and natural use of manipulatives in elementary school, middle school, high-school and (Yes! Even ADULTS use manipulatives in the "real world"!) beyond.

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