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Beehive News… Making manipulatives matter!
Sam Dobson / 13 February 2020 / Categories: News

Beehive News… Making manipulatives matter!

Beehive News… Making manipulatives matter!

With fractions being ‘top on the agenda’ this term, the Beehive has been using concrete manipulatives to support a wide range of learners. Fractions are a notoriously difficult concept to master for many and can often result in learners feeling totally disengaged with the subject. However, those children visiting the Beehive have ‘bucked the trend’ and broken down those barriers to achieve their numeracy targets and objectives. Well done everyone!

One of the biggest barriers to learning is that some children do not understand the abstract world of mathematics. In the past, many children have learnt mathematical rules by heart but not necessarily understood what they mean, and therefore cannot apply these rules to problem solving and reasoning questions. Often the reasons for these difficulties is that maths has become too abstract too soon with concrete materials removed prematurely. We know that information is taken into the brain through three main channels: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Many pupils with SEN have a weakness in one or more of these areas. Teaching in a way that uses all three of these channels ensures that weaker areas are supported by stronger ones.

Throughout this term we have acknowledged the creative and interpretive nature of maths. Many children who visit the Beehive have a lower working memory, so having the manipulatives to hand has really enhanced their conceptual grasp and understanding. During tailored interventions, the children have developed their understanding of fractions by working through a range of activities from partitioning pizzas to slicing cakes! Additionally, some children have been creating their own ‘fraction paths’ by cutting up whole pieces of paper into fractions before comparing and writing statements about what the paths showed them.

The Beehive prides itself on achieving mastery for any given concept by stripping back and unpicking the ‘reasons why’ to ensure a firm foundation of understanding is embedded. Intervention sessions in the Beehive this term have incorporation of a vast range of manipulatives to include diene blocks, place value counters, fraction tiles, interlocking cubes plus other resources. This ‘hands on’ physical approach to learning has engaged even the most reluctant learner who may have previously found this subject area difficult or even inaccessible.

Beehive pupils have been encouraged to formalise their own mathematical reasonings and in turn make their own links and connections within the abstract world of mathematics at their own pace. Enjoyment, understanding and overall progress in maths has increased significantly across the school. The children have become more robust in their investigations and less afraid of getting things wrong. Here are some suggested games to support further learning of fractions. The children may wish to give these a whirl over half term! Best of luck, Mr Avis.


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