This Brick Math Lesson of the Month is from a new book not yet out — Data and Statistics Using LEGO® Bricks. The book will be published this spring as part of the expansion of the Brick Math curriculum into grades 6 - 8.
To get the March 2023 Brick Math Lesson of the Month, "Representing Data," plus a new lesson each month, click here.
This lesson is the first one you'll use to teach students what data sets are and how to represent them graphically and with bricks. This is part of the K-2 math curriculum in most schools. The lesson introduces the terms data point, data set, and analyze, which are all important vocabulary words to understand when learning about data. The lesson uses three different colors of bricks to represent attributes of the data, and it uses the studs on the bricks to track the number of data points within each category of data.
The lesson also connects to the math symbols <, >, and = . As soon as they are introduced to the subject, students learn to analyze data both in words and through math sentences.
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.
This year, the program will expand to include grades 6 - 8, with the additional subjects Data and Statistics, Pre-Algebra, and Ratios and Proportions. Brick Math works in many applications: for homeschooling, math intervention, enrichment, and as a whole-school program. Materials are simple and affordable.
If you are a math teacher or a parent with a student at home who is learning K - 8th grade 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 students' math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
A Multi-Purpose Tool!
We like to think of Brick Math as the Swiss Army Knife of educational programs. It’s a versatile teaching tool that works in many different settings.
Whole class: The Brick Math program can be introduced to the whole class by the teacher. In fact, many schools have adopted Brick Math as their elementary math curriculum across the school. Once teachers get accustomed to using the LEGO® bricks as the manipulative tool, they recognize the power of the build-draw-explain Brick Math lesson plans. The teacher works through the lessons in each book, having the students build models at the same time. A document camera is a great help for displaying the brick models to the whole class so everyone can see them. Students share brick sets in pairs and often work together in the lessons, comparing their models and explaining their thinking processes to each other. The Student Edition makes it especially easy for teachers to assess and track students’ progress.
Small Group: Brick Math is often used by a school math specialist in a small-group setting. It’s very well suited to the interactive nature of small group learning.
Intervention: Schools are discovering the value of Brick Math as the perfect tool for math intervention. The modular components of the Brick Math system allow the program to be introduced at any point where a student is having difficulty learning through the school-wide math textbook curriculum. Time and time again, students who have been struggling with learning a concept such as fractions, for example, are successful with the Brick Math approach. We’ve heard kids make comments like: “Finally! I understand the math because I can see it!” and “Why doesn’t everyone learn math this way?”
Gifted: As useful as Brick Math is for students who aren’t learning math through other teaching methods, it’s also great as enrichment for students who already understand and love math.
Centers or One-to-One: Students really enjoy the hands-on nature of Brick Math, making it very adaptable to one-to-one learning or individual centers.
Like the Swiss Army Knife, Brick Math has something for everyone! Learn more about Brick Math at www.brickmath.com.
Brick math and gifted education
The Forsyth County, North Carolina, PAGE (Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education) chapter has recommended Brick Math to parents looking for math enrichment for their gifted students. Here's what they say about Brick Math in their May 2018 newsletter:
The Brick Math Series, by Dr. Shirley Disseler at High Point University. Dr. Disseler is Associate Professor and Chair of the HPU Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education where she also serves as STEM Coordinator. She has authored a series of math books which provides activities which can help students learn the basics of the K-5 math curriculum by modeling with LEGO bricks. Specific math subjects include Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Fractions. When they are taught with the activities in these books, students develop a deeper understanding of the concepts that are the foundation of true mathematical knowledge.
Find the website at http://www.brickmathseries.com.
Dr. Disseler has designed the program to be applicable in a variety of situations: enrichment for gifted students, remedial for struggling learners, in a small-group setting, and as classroom curriculum.
by Dr. Shirley Disseler
Teachers of gifted students need to encourage them to think, create, and problem-solve. Sounds like a perfect use for Brick Math, with its hands-on modeling with LEGO® bricks! But I’ve found that using Brick Math with gifted students can be an interesting challenge.
Teaching Brick Math with gifted students has opened my eyes. Gifted students often want to get right to the answer and check the problem off the list as “completed.” They do not want to show work, write about it, or discuss with others how they got their solutions. I have found that many of these students don’t really know math. They know how to do math procedurally. They can tell you how, but they can’t tell you why! Standardized scores of US gifted students continue to remain stagnant over time because we are not challenging them to think. We are only challenging them to produce.
I served as a teacher of gifted for math at the middle grades level. I often recognized in my students their need to be perfect. When such students were forced to explain how a math problem worked, they worried about being wrong and were afraid to take risks. I began to have them write out everything to explain it clearly. It was difficult for them at first, because they weren’t always earning 100 on every test, and their parents got worried. But over time, their test scores grew tremendously as they became more comfortable explaining the process behind the math, because they were developing a deep understanding.
We can boost test scores and increase 21st-century skill sets if we encourage explanation, justification, and collaboration among our students. Creative play with content helps our brains explore new ideas and solutions. Using methods that are engaging to the mind create a lot of energy in young people. And energy creates a passion for the subject.
So…encourage your gifted students to play with math! When they see that it’s not always about just getting the right answer, they’ll start to develop the true understanding that is the foundation for math fluency and excellence.