Saturday, March 21, 2015

Thinking blocks - scaffolding maths

These apps, based on Singapore maths blocks, are useful for modelling problems and scaffolding children's mathematical thinking and reasoning skills in a concrete way. I aim to test them out quite quickly with my year 2 children to see if they do what I think they will do. You can also use the apps on your computer - visit their website and follow the link to do so

So here's how they work for addition and subtraction.

A problem is shown at the top of the screen, with blocks on the right to drag across.

You are given the opportunity to check after each task.

It then provides the numbers for you to put in the right place, according to the wording of the problem.

Pressing the resize button will automatically size the blocks commensurate to the numbers.

With the numbers in place, you can they think about the calculation needed to find the missing number. The calculator means that the calculation is made easy - the focus is on problem solving skills.

The multiplication and division app works in much the same way. There are two more apps: fractions and ratio and proportion.

I often think that even my able year 2s need strong visuals at times; Piaget's theories ring true in that children seem to start internalising at around age 7. With my group of most able mathematicians, one child is very hard on themself and their confusion (leading to distress) is clearly written all over their face when reasoning about number. It's not that the maths skills aren't there, it's the processes that need internalising and reversing that are tricky. Maybe the blocks will help?

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