Manipulatives in the math classroom
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The use of manipulatives have been a big debate with math teachers. Are they helpful? Do they distract students? What makes a good manipulative? What are the manipulatives that are distracting? Can the use of manipulatives help middle school students bridge their learning from concrete to abstract? In a middle school math classroom setting, teaching concepts were used in different ways to help understand if manipulatives would help students understand the math concepts better than students did the year before. Test scores were compared from the previous year when manipulatives were not used to the current year when manipulatives (including Montessori manipulatives) were used. A comparison was also made between manipulatives to determine which ones were more effective. Students were also able to choose a pencil and paper method if that is how they considered that they learned best. Results were compared for a the same two month period for the current year with the past year. These results will help guide my teaching in the future. So far tests scores, when compared to last year, have increased. This leads a math teacher to believe that manipulatives can affect a student's ability to retain and use information more effectively on a test with real world problems as opposed to no manipulatives being used.