I recently had a customer tell me that her son didn’t understand the idea of factors until she tried Brick Math. When he saw the concept of factors made real with LEGO bricks, she said, he knew what they were! It’s exciting to hear when students finally “get it” because modeling with bricks makes all the difference for them. I started to think about that lesson on factors, and I realized it is the perfect way to demonstrate the power of Brick Math as a learning system. Here’s why Brick Math works so well to teach elementary math: it’s tactile (kids touch the bricks and build the models themselves), it’s visual (kids can see exactly what the numbers in a math problem represent), and it’s conceptual (kids understand the underlying idea behind the math when they discover it for themselves in a guided program). Let me show you how Brick Math works with that lesson on factors: This lesson models all the factors of 16 and demonstrates perfectly the meaning of “factor." Like all Brick Math lessons, it starts with some basic bricks and a baseplate to build on. Begin by placing one brick that has 16 studs on the baseplate (studs are the bumps on LEGO bricks). This can be a 2x8 brick or a 1x16 brick.The model shows 1 brick with 16 studs, so the multiplication fact shown is 1 x 16 = 16. 16 and 1 are factors of 16. Next, take two bricks that each have 8 studs and place them next to the brick that’s already on the baseplate. It’s best if those two bricks are two different colors. You’ll use either two 2x4 bricks or two 1x8 bricks. Now the model shows 2 (bricks) x 8 (studs) = 16, and that 2 and 8 are also factors of 16. Now, here’s where the Brick Math program really becomes a powerful learning tool. For the next step, ask the student, “Are there 3 bricks that are all the same size that you can use to build the next row?” Let your students try with different bricks. They will demonstrate to themselves that there are none, so 3 can’t be a factor of 16. It’s so important that students discover for themselves while they are learning. That’s what helps them internalize what the math is all about. When they move on to looking for 4 bricks, they’ll find that four 2x2 bricks or 1x4 bricks do the trick. Now, they have 4 (bricks) x 4 (studs) = 16, so 4 is another factor of 16. Have them look again for 5, 6, and 7 bricks that work in the model. They’ll quickly figure out that none of those numbers are factors of 16. They’ll move on to modeling eight 1x2 bricks, with the multiplication fact of 8 x 2 = 16. Finally, they can add sixteen 1x1 bricks to the model to complete all the factors with the multiplication fact of 16 x 1 = 16. When you look at the final model and count the number of bricks, the final model clearly shows the factors of 16: 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16. Dr. Shirley Disseler, developer of the Brick Math method, demonstrates this same lesson in the video below. The concept of factors is key to learning multiplication, division, and fractions, so it’s in all three of the Brick Math books on those subjects: Multiplication, Division, and Basic Fractions. And it (almost) goes without saying: students have fun while they learn! If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions.
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Whether you're back to school in person or online, or some combination of the two, this free Brick Math Lesson of the Month is a great way to help students learn math. For September, it's a lesson from Fraction Multiplication Using LEGO® Bricks that shows how the commutative property works when multiplying fractions. Students typically learn about multiplying fractions in grades 4  6, but it is sometimes part of the curriculum when students are learning about fractions in grades 2  3. To get the free Lesson of the Month for September 2020, click here. Students should already understand that a x b = b x a (see Multiplication Using LEGO® Bricks, chapter 5). Now it's time for them to learn that the same commutative property holds when multiplying fractions. This lesson makes it clear to students by using bricks one way to model 1/2 x 6, and a different way to model 6 x 1/2. In both cases, the answer, 3, is the same. This lesson also shows how the two number sentences are used to describe different reallife situations: 1/2 x 6 means "onehalf of six," while 6 x 1/2 means "six sets of onehalf." So in reallife usage, 1/2 x 6 could describe "half of the six crayons in the box, or three crayons." And 6 x 1/2 could describe "six halfpizzas, or three whole pizzas." Using bricks to model these two scenarios really helps students understand the math. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Math is such a foundational subject in elementary school, it’s important to understand how kids learn math during the K  6 years. The way that they are taught really makes a difference in determining whether a student will truly understand the math. Flash cards, worksheets, and memorization are not strategies for teaching kids to develop true math comprehension. Instead, students need to learn math in ways to help them grasp what math is all about, so that they are prepared for all the STEM subjects as they progress through school. Let's look at five of the most important factors that contribute to young kids’ success with math in the elementary school years:
1. Building confidence with math Students need to feel confident that they can learn math. You never want to hear a child say, “I’m just not good at math.” Students need to have teachers and parents encourage what’s called a “growth mindset.” Here’s the idea: the student hasn’t learned the math…YET. But they will! Brick Math was created to encourage students to build confidence in their math abilities. The program uses LEGO bricks to model K  6th grade math. Kids love LEGO bricks, so they enjoy learning with Brick Math, and develop confidence in their math knowledge. 2. Learning with handson materials Learning elementary math is, by definition, handson. Kids sort, compare, measure, count objects, see patterns, and make shapes. In everyday life, math activities are all around us when we bake a cake, build a birdhouse, or even comparison shop at the supermarket. Brick Math is a handson program of learning that teaches elementary math using LEGO bricks to sort, compare, measure, count, create patterns, and build shapes. Through the process of modeling the math with bricks, kids learn 11 different math subjects in a handson program. 3. Talking about mathematical terms and ideas Students need to talk about math often as they learn in the early years. When they incorporate mathematical terms into their everyday discussion, it helps them see math as a key part of their lives, not something “extra” that is only a “school subject.” Brick Math includes math terms as part of the program, so students learn to use math terms appropriately as they learn the math. 4. Moving from concrete representation to abstract concepts Math learning starts with concrete knowledge and moves to abstract concepts. Students must learn how to represent math in writing with numbers and symbols. It’s a progression: first, students touch and see the math as they learn, but later, they talk and write about the math, using equations and number sentences. Brick Math makes this concretetoabstract learning seamless. The program starts with students building LEGO brick models of the math, and then students must explain why their model demonstrates the math concept, and they must represent the solutions in number sentences. 5. Becoming a problem solver Math is all about problem solving. It’s not simply rote memorization of math facts or formulas. When kids learn math, they search for answers, maybe make some mistakes, and try again. Knowing how to solve problems is a lifelong skill that extends far beyond math and is essential for 21stcentury jobs and challenges. The Brick Math methods develop students’ problem solving abilities. They use their creativity to find solutions to math problems by building models with bricks. Students quickly learn that there is often more than one way to discover the solution to a problem. If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. We know that play is an important part of a child’s life. In fact, a number of eminent scholars from Jean Piaget to Maria Montessori are credited with originating the phrase, “Play is child’s work.” Kids gain so much knowledge about the world through their play activities. According to Susan MacKay, Director of Teaching and Learning for the Portland Children’s Museum, “Learning through play is about continuity; bringing together children’s spheres of lifehome, school, and the wider world over time and through experiences.” Now more than ever, when children’s social and emotional stressors have risen to an all time high, learning through play is key. Learning tools that engage children and link to the world of play add to student motivation. Brick Math uses a wellknown and beloved toy, LEGO® bricks, as a strategic tool for learning K6th grade math. According to Harvard University research (2016), play in the child’s learning environment enriches content understanding and retention of the material. The combination of learning and play helps students develop a deep understanding of the “why” and “how” behind math when they learn with Brick Math. An important idea in learning today is known as “constructionism.” Students construct their knowledge using real experience with materials. When then build their own knowledge, they learn in a deep and lasting way. Constructionism is at the heart of the Brick Math method. Students learn math by building models, discussing why they show the math, and drawing the brick models. It’s a powerful way to putting play back into learning content. Learning math with simple activities through play is one of the best ways for children to naturally develop a love for the subject. Brick Math combines learning with play to result in building a strong math foundation throughout the elementary years. The Brick Math Lesson of the Month for August 2020 comes from Decimals Using LEGO® Bricks, Teacher and Student Editions. The lesson is a great way to demonstrate the relationship between decimals and fractions. To get the free Lesson of the Month, click HERE. The method using LEGO® bricks starts with building a 10 x 10 square that has 100 studs inside the square (this is called a "decimal grid"). Each of those 100 studs represents 1/100 (one hundredth), or 0.01, in decimal notation. Within the grid, 25 studs are placed to show 0.25, and then 50 more studs are placed within the grid to show the addition of 0.25 + 0.50. It’s easy to understand that the resulting 75 studs show both 0.75 as well as 75/100, since they cover 75 out of 100 studs in the grid. The physical nature of the Brick Math methods helps students clearly understand the underlying math. In this lesson, the relationship between decimals and fractions is obvious by looking at the model built with the bricks. As a student said, “Now I understand math. I can see it!” If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and are not shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. We’re all agreed that students must get a strong math foundation in elementary school if they are to go on with success in STEM fields in upper grades. It’s not about rote memorization of math facts or formulas anymore. The kids who grow up to become computer programmers, scientists, doctors, tech developers—they all get excited by math at an early age and gain a deep understanding of math principles early on. But students differ in their learning styles, and math programs differ in their methods. There are 5 keys to learning elementary math, though, that help students develop that true understanding of math that will carry through to later years. Brick Math uses these strategies in its program that teaches math using LEGO® bricks. It’s easy to teach and fun to learn. Get more information now. Here are five keys to learning math in the elementary school years: 1. Handson Math When young children can see and touch the math, they become far more engaged in learning. Kids are by nature tactile beings who learn by doing. The essence of Brick Math is handson: the program uses LEGO® bricks to model math in subjects that range from Counting, Addition, and Subtraction, through Multiplication, Division, and Fractions, to Measurement, Geometry, and Decimals. When students are able to manipulate the bricks themselves to build models of math problems, they enjoy learning. 2. Teacher Shows the Concept An important start to learning math is for the teacher to show the concept first, and explain it using correct terminology. This sets the students up for learning. In Brick Math, every chapter starts with “Part 1: Show Them How.” The lessons in Part 1 have the students working along with the teacher as he/she shows the math concepts. This works no matter where the students and teacher are physically—students can watch in person or online and work along with the lesson whether they are in the classroom or at home. 3. Students Work on the Concept Learned It’s important that students get practice with the math and quick teacher feedback. That’s how concepts get truly learned. Part 2 in each Brick Math chapter is “Show What You Know,” which gives students many opportunities to work on problems that build on what they have just learned. In the classroom or online, the teacher can review the model the student has built and offer immediate feedback to guide the student toward complete understanding. This is a teaching strategy that works well with elementaryage children: The teacher shows the new idea first, then the students show what they have learned. 4. Students Explain Their Thinking
When students are learning new math concepts, the way they are thinking about the math is critical in their understanding. A key learning strategy is for students to explain their thinking about their math answer in words. This way, the teacher can easily tell if the student is getting the concept. In the Brick Math program, students are frequently asked to explain their thinking, orally or in writing. When students must explain how they arrived at an answer, it’s clear whether or not they have really understood the math. 5. Connect Math to the Real World How many times has a student complained to a teacher, “I’ll never use this kind of math in real life!”? Math is abstract, and its importance to the world around us must be demonstrated regularly when kids are learning in elementary school. Math is far more meaningful when its use is shown through realworld examples. Brick Math includes many problems that show how math is used in everyday life, including the relationship of decimals to money, the measurement of area and perimeter when building a playground, and the division of a pizza to feed a group of people. When students learn early on that math is useful in many common situations, they get comfortable with math in a natural way. That’s the start of a long and happy relationship with math! If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. Contact us with any questions. Area is the subject of the July 2020 Brick Math Lesson of the Month—specifically, helping students discover the formula for area using LEGO® bricks as the manipulative. It's from the Brick Math Teacher and Student Editions of Advanced Measurement and Geometry Using LEGO® Bricks. To get the free Lesson of the Month, click HERE. As you read through the teacher lesson guide in the first three pages of the Lesson of the Month, you'll see that the teacher is not simply telling students the formula for the area of a rectangle. Instead, the teacher and students model a 6x8stud rectangle with LEGO® bricks and together discuss the attributes of the shape and the two dimensions of rectangles. Students are led to understand the formula L x W = A through the process of modeling the rectangle, then drawing their model and labeling it to correspond with the formula. In this Lesson of the Month, the pages from the student workbook, with questions to answer and space for drawing the models, follow the teacher lesson guide pages. As with all the lessons in Brick Math, this one builds deep understanding of the underlying mathematical principles. The handson nature of the lesson encourages the process of math discovery, which helps students learn far beyond rote memorization of a formula. Brick Math is a K6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a wholeschool program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction. For more information about Brick Math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program. Contact us with any questions. Many elementary schools are planning for a combination of inschool and online learning for the upcoming school year. But studies show that students have missed about half the math they should have learned this spring. It’s important that the math instructional methods for the fall carry through from the classroom to the home. Steven Blackburn, writing for District Administration, talks about two key needs for learning math: the use of manipulatives, and the ability for students to share their thinking with teachers and peers. He quotes Trena Wilkerson, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM): “Making math meaningful involves providing tasks and opportunities that allow students to engage in ways that make sense in their world to build upon whatever understanding they have at that moment to do meaningful work.” That’s how Brick Math works. Students build models with a familiar and fun manipulative, LEGO® bricks. Then they share their thinking about the math, both orally and in writing. Wilkerson is clear about the need for communication in math instruction: “There needs to be an open dialogue in learning just to ensure students are engaging with the mathematical principles and making sense of it in their world.” Schools can use the Brick Math curriculum and brick sets on site at school and also send brick sets and student workbooks home for students’ use there. Even students without Internet access can discuss their Brick Math work with teachers via phone or text. Whether in our new virtual classrooms or in real life, students need to learn along with the teacher, using a model to explain and describe the math. Dr. Shirley Disseler, author of the Brick Math curriculum, recently found that most parents of elementary students don’t feel qualified to work with their child in the area of math (23% of 250 respondents). In contrast, 65% felt they could help their child with reading tasks. For math, students need to see the teacher, hear the teacher, and work alongside the teacher whether online or in person. No matter how it is delivered, instruction must provide student engagement that is rooted in manipulative and handson work that is not solely worksheet and app based. Brick Math is a curriculum that helps students learn K6 math in any learning environment. June's Lesson of the Month is from Division Using LEGO® Bricks. The lesson shows students "Equal Shares" division, which is also called "partitive" division. One of the most basic ways to explain division is to show how a number can be portioned into equal shares. This lesson starts with students learning how to share 12 pieces of candy with one friend, then modeling how to share the same 12 candies among 4 friends. The LEGO® brick models really help students understand what division is all about. The lesson starts with 3 pages from the Teacher Edition of Division, and then 4 pages from the Student Edition of Division. Print the Student pages to give your student a place to draw the models and answer questions in writing. Try the lesson with a student who is beginning to learn division, or who has been having trouble understanding the concept of division. Modeling with LEGO® bricks makes division easy to teach and fun to learn! Sign up here to receive a FREE Brick Math Lesson of the Month every month! The Brick Math Lesson of the Month for May shows how to use tenframes to teach counting. It is taken from the Brick Math curriculum for Counting and Cardinality Using LEGO® Bricks. The method helps students understand numbers within the context of 10. That’s a foundational concept that students need to learn early in their math education. This Lesson of the Month shows 3 pages from the Counting and Cardinality Teacher Edition first, and then the corresponding pages for students to use from the companion Counting and Cardinality Student Edition. Sign up here to receive a FREE Brick Math Lesson of the Month every month! PS – Check the Videos section of Brickmath.com to find more teacher training in the area of Counting and Cardinality: lessons on teaching Jump Numbers and teaching the concepts of More Than/Less Than. 
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