Digitize Math Manipulatives!

I have recently shared the following apps as math curriculum resources in the Cube for Teachers database. Each app has been organized into the database based on what math strand that particular manipulative supports. Images below of all the apps and screenshots. 

Why not combine hands-on activities with the digital world? Clarity Innovations has created a set of free high quality math manipulatives for the Math Learning Center. These apps still provide the visual/symbolic representations of math concepts that traditional manipulatives have for years, but they do so in a virtual space. With the math manipulative apps, educators can support the unique learning needs of students today in the 21st century! 

All of these math manipulatives have a whiteboard feature built in. This means students can not only use the digital manipulatives, but they can also write numbers, equations, or explanations of their thinking as they work with the manipulatives. This is an important feature of math education as teachers are realizing more and more the importance for focusing on students' ability to think and communicate their understanding of math concepts. Today's mathematician can not only memorize and solve equations, but they can further communicate their understanding of the math and why it is important in the real world. 

The Math Learning Center manipulative apps also enhance pedagogical documentation. After students have demonstrated their understanding of a concept with the manipulatives and whiteboard writing tools, teachers can then save the image of their work to review and formatively assess later. This would be a great image to upload to the assessment portfolio Sesame Snap app that is designed for educators to easily document students' progress. 

Structurally, these apps would make great math centre activities. I would further suggest incorporating them into your next problem-based learning activity. After posing a math question for students to solve in pairs, this app provides a digital platform for students to work with manipulatives and come up with their own strategy to solve the problem. Furthermore, since the image of students' work can be saved, teachers can then review students work to pick out a few groups who solved the problem differently. This would then support the teacher in deciding what groups to have present during the math Congress or Bansho. 

The following math manipulatives not only enhance curriculum concepts, but they also enhance students' ability to demonstrate their understanding in mathematics. Here is an overview of each math manipulative and what mathematics strands it could be integrated into. You can further see a visual of the potential math thinking and communicating that could be demonstrated by students within these apps. These screenshots are what could then be saved for later assessment.

Number Frames
Number Sense & Numeration
Number Sense & Numeration. Geometry. Measurement

Number Line
Number Sense & Numeration
Pattern Shapes
Number Sense & Numeration. Geometry. Patterning

Number Rack
Number Sense & Numeration

 Number Pieces Basic (Primary) & Number Pieces
Number Sense & Numeration

Overall, these apps are extremely easy to use and are very versatile for integration into multiple math strands across all grades. I have currently been teaching with the Pattern Shapes app for patterning and fractions, Geoboard app for sorting quadrilaterals, and the Number Line app for addition and subtraction with the grade 6 student I am tutoring. These math manipulatives are something my student looks forward to and asks to go on before I even start my math lesson! I find that students in general respond very differently to digital-based learning compared to traditional methods, and I truly believe that EdTech has the natural ability to intrinsically motivate students and make learning more meaningful and relevant for them. 

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