Virtual Manipulatives to Teach Math by Joshua L Davis III

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Mathematics is a subject that many students find difficult to understand and perform well at. There is a simple explanation to this. The reason why most students find it difficult to understand mathematics is because Math is based on abstract concepts which need to be well understood and put into practice in order for a student to get it right. A lack of understanding of these concepts is what makes it very difficult for students to understand even the simplest Math problems. To make a student understand these abstract concepts, it is very important to use concrete materials which are commonly referred to manipulatives. Using manipulatives to teach math enables the student to represent the abstract concepts in Math on a concrete manner and they are also able to link the Math concepts to the knowledge they have.

With the advancement in Technology, I find it very easy to tutor and mentor children in getting better in Math. This is because the internet has made it possible for Math teachers to have access to numerous virtual manipulatives. Using virtual manipulatives to teach Math is easier compared to the physical manipulatives teachers had to use in the past. Virtual manipulatives are simply digital tools that are made to resemble the physical tools used in teaching Mathematics. Some good examples of these manipulatives include: tangrams, bBase-10 blocks and Cuisenaire Rods. The problem however is the fact that not many Math teachers utilize these tools. This is why you will observe a good number of students who are finding Math very difficult and are performing poor at it. It is however possible for students to get better at Math if the right approaches are used to achieve this.


I have been using these tools to tutor students in Mathematics and there are several benefits I have realized students get. One of the advantages students get is the fact that they are able to understand the different abstract concepts in Mathematics. Using virtual manipulatives to teach Math makes the process very easy and basic. Therefore, students are able to understand the most important things about Mathematics. Apart from just being familiar with the concepts, students get a complex understanding of these concepts. This is very important because it puts them in a situation where they can solve even the most difficult math problems. Last but not least, the students are able to make a connection between representations and different concepts. This is very important because a lack of connection is what makes students unable to understand Mathematics. Virtual manipulatives make it easy for the students to differentiate and make a connection between the symbolic and visual representations.


Practice always makes perfect in Mathematics. I always want all of my students to practice on their own after we have gone through various examples.  I direct them to tackle different problems and know exactly how they are supposed approach the problems in order to solve them. Using virtual manipulatives to teach Math makes this possible. The manipulatives gives the student a chance to try different examples since they can be changed. Apart from this, the student can easily practice on their own without a teacher around. This is a very important thing because it enables the student to challenge themselves and practice on their own. Through repetition, they are able to get better and better as the days go by. Before you know it, the student will have a liking of Mathematics and their grades will definitely go up. The great thing about these features is the fact that they make it possible for students who speak foreign languages to understand as well.


To ensure success in the use of virtual manipulatives, it is very important to ensure the tools you pick match the concepts you are trying to teach your students. I always make sure to do this in order to enable my students to easily understand what I want them to be able to do. It is also important to make the manipulative progressive. This means they should move from  simple to more complex concepts in order to make it easy for them to understand.


In conclusion, it is possible for students to get better at Math. You just have to get the right tutor who utilizes the latest and simplest technology to help the students enjoy math and have an easy time studying Math.


Copyright: 2016, by Joshua L Davis III, Applied Success Education Center
No part of this article may be copied or transmitted in any way
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