Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Visual Math

Hands, Words, Meaning, Fingers  After reading the paper about visual math, I wanted to know more about it because it explains one reason I should not always get on students when they use their fingers to help them remember things.  It wasn't until I was an adult that someone showed me the trick with your fingers for nines.  I wish I'd known it when I was a kid in school.  It might have saved some frustrations on the 7 x 8 and the 9 x 6 calculations.

I discovered a website dedicated to visual math.  The site has lessons, exercises, and games for mostly Pre-algebra topics.  I checked out the integer chapter which has material spread out over several pages in small chunks. In addition, the pages are set up so a narrator reads each page.  This means someone with a print disability can still learn the material and allows for more independence.  Each page has lovely moving graphics that illustrate the concept presented on the page.  The exercises and games are geared more for elementary students but there are a couple that are worth using because they require the students to use higher order thinking skills. For instance, one game has students choosing the shortest route they can take from start to finish while crossing a square grid with assigned values for each segment.  That game takes a lot of thought.  I don't know if it requires flash because I used the site on my computer.

This site is dedicated to teaching fractions visually.   This site has a ton of material starting with lessons in pdf or power point form showing division, multiplication, addition, subtraction, comparing, renaming, etc of fractions.  The material is all visual and well done.  There are also games that use the help students practice using fractions and come in both a flash and non-flash version.  Each topic comes with worksheets to practice fractions and matching answer sheets. The worksheets use either circles, bars or both so students are able to see everything in more than one way. 

There is a short lesson plan for each topic that starts with an online pretest, the lesson, three online practice sessions, certain worksheets, and a post test so that the teacher does not need to do much planning.  There are additional worksheets available should a student need it to get ready for the post test.

This is a unit that could be used from elementary all the way up to high school age.  I wish I'd known about this at the beginning of the year because my Pre-Algebra class because all of them were weak in fractions and this would have allowed them to work at their own pace through the material. I'm going to keep this in mind for next year.  I'm also going to recommend this to other teachers in middle school and upper elementary as  scaffolding for their students.