New research shows that students can improve their test results by learning math with a hands-on method.
The research was done in conjunction with the Brick Math Series, a new program developed to help students learn math concepts using of LEGO® bricks as a hands-on manipulative. Author Dr. Shirley Disseler, education professor at High Point University, developed this program based on prior research showing that many students learn math more readily with hands-on techniques. (For a summary of the studies see: http://www.brickmathseries.com/how-it-works.html.) In the Brick Math Series, teachers and students build mathematical models with LEGO® bricks to help them understand concepts such as counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions.
Students who used the Brick Math Series showed impressive improvement in their comprehension of math concepts. Test sites include four elementary schools with students in grades 3 – 5 that used the program for the math subjects of multiplication, division, and fractions. The data includes 534 students in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Significant improvement in areas of engagement and time on task as related to performance was noted across all three math subjects.
Sites using the fractions curriculum report strong testing results from pre- to post-assessment. The average gain from pre-test to post-test is 7 – 9 points for those utilizing the Brick Math Series program versus more traditional teaching methods.
These preliminary results back up teacher and student enthusiasm about this new program. Kelli Coons, an instructional coach, says the program "breathes life back into math instruction." Fifth-grade teacher Jamie Piatt says, "The activities are easy to follow and make learning fun!" Teacher Tina Lupton calls the program "hands-on, engaging, and overall an exciting way to learn math." Students are equally enthusiastic about the Brick Math Series. One student said, "I finally know what a fraction is. I can see it!" Another student asked, "Why doesn't everyone learn math this way?"
For more information on the Brick Math Series, go to www.brickmathseries.com.
by Dr. Shirley Disseler
Have you ever been in a room where you did not understand what the presenter was saying? Not just because it was difficult information, but because it was in another language? That’s what your ELL (English Language Learner) students may be experiencing in your math class.
Students who have limited English proficiency struggle with vocabulary that teachers often see as ordinary. This is particularly true with math because words that are math terms are often something else, too. For example: pie and pi are homophones, product can be something you purchase or the answer to a multiplication problem, and terms like plus sign are used even though they are no longer acceptable in the math world. Because the words are confusing, ELL students need a more hands-on approach. When they have tools to model the math, can draw to show understanding, and view pictures to see how to do things, they have a better chance of math success. They need the three-step process for true math retention — Do-Draw-Write/Explain — to truly comprehend the content.
Many teachers are not aware that some ELL students are born right here in the United States. Students living in poverty or in those who do not learn to read well can be part of the ELL category. Some kindergarteners come to school knowing less than 3000 words, and this greatly inhibits their ability to learn math through word problems in context.
Using LEGO® bricks to model mathematical thought reduces the stress for ELL students. The universally known product puts students on a more level playing field with their same-aged peers and provides a common conversation for modeling math content. I have seen many ELL students learn to do math with bricks. As they progress, they demonstrate true understanding of mathematical processes and conceptual ideas. Using the bricks is a great way to put students at ease with the learning process to build their confidence and spark engagement and motivation in the classroom.
Thanks to Feedspot for naming the Brick Math Blog one of the top 50 LEGO blogs!
Most are ways to build fun things with LEGO bricks, but ours is the only one on the list that uses the bricks for an educational purpose.
We love celebrating with our authors, which is why we're super excited about the coverage Shirley Disseler is receiving from her Brick Math Series.
Dr. Shirley Disseler, associate professor in the School of Education at High Point University, published the first title in a 10-book LEGO series aimed at helping teachers and parents teach math in an engaging and accessible way. Disseler is currently hosting a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Camp at HPU for children in the community.
See the video below!
Dr. Shirley Disseler, Associate Professor at High Point University in High Point, NC, is the country's leading expert on using LEGO® bricks to teach math. The first three books of her new ten-book Brick Math Series showing how to teach math using her hands-on methods are now available:
Each teaching book has a companion student edition that gives additional practice to your students to reinforce the math concepts as well as assessments for the teacher to gauge student progress.
This new hands-on method to teach fractions, multiplication, and division has been successful for students in North Carolina and other states. The books offer step-by-step guidance for teachers and students, making it very easy to start teaching math using LEGO® bricks as the perfect manipulative.
Research has shown that manipulatives such as LEGO® bricks help students learn. The Journal of Instructional Pedagogies and the NRICH project of the University of Cambridge have both found that a hands-on approach to teaching math is one of the best ways for students to learn.
As the school year begins, you may be searching for better instructional methods for your teachers. The new Brick Math Series is an effective, hands-on teaching method that will get your students engaged and excited about learning math.