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 6x8-stud 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 hands-on 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 K-6 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 whole-school 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 in-school 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 hands-on work that is not solely worksheet and app based. Brick Math is a curriculum that helps students learn K-6 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!
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