Lesson 9 - Math Techniques for Adult Basic Education (ABE) Learners Illinois State Library

Manipulatives

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Manipulatives are real items, like sticks, beans or checkers, which can be used to demonstrate math concepts. Using manipulatives is a good way to assist learners because manipulatives are concrete things. Using manipulatives allows a learner to see and handle items to illustrate concepts. When a learner understands a concept using a concrete item, it will be easier for them to understand the underlying abstract concept.

The following strategies demonstrate several methods to use manipulatives to teach mathematic principles.

Addition, Subtraction, Division and Multiplication

The concepts of combining and separating are necessary to understand math problems.

Use black and red checkers to distinguish the tens column and the ones column. Line up 20 black checkers and 6 red. Remove 7 to show that one black needs to be removed from the tens column (black). Add four back in to show tens column fills up and the ones (red) column now has three checkers. Perhaps use M&M's to illustrate division or multiplication. Select five of each of five or six colors. Count by fives. Divide whole group by fives. Multiply five times and then tens.

Paper clips are a great manipulative for teaching addition and subtraction. For instance, use 47 paper clips. Place the paper clips into four strips of 10, and one strip of seven. Ask the learner how many will be left if 23 are taken away. Remove 23 paper clips to demonstrate subtraction.

Place Values

Use toothpicks, tongue depressors, or Popsicle sticks bundled in sets of ten with some left individually. Use the bundling to illustrate place values. Write a number from 10-99 and ask the learners to model the number using the above materials.

Addition, Subtraction with Carrying and Borrowing

The same bundling activity can also illustrate addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing. Have the learner unbundle groups of 10 to borrow and create more bundles when adding.

Authentic materials - Addition, Subtraction and Percentages

Use play dollar bills and coins. Use catalogs and store flyers to find prices and sales. Read the prices and show the learner how much the price is using the play dollar bills and coins. Demonstrate how much more one item costs than another using the bills and coins. If there is a sale, show how much the price is reduced (for instance, 25% off means $25 off of $100).

Planning Math Strategies - Reflective Activity

Now that you have read the lesson so far, you should have an understanding of some techniques used to tutor math. Take a few minutes and read the case study below. Submit a reflective email about math strategies that you would choose in this case.

Charlene had a debilitating physical illness and was living in a residential home. As she began to recover from her illness, Charlene started to work with an adult literacy volunteer tutor. She was having a successful experience in reading and wanted to begin working with math. Although Charlene was in her early 40's, her math skills were very basic. Charlene wanted to learn how to manage a basic budget so she could live independently. As a literacy tutor, you know that some basic math concepts need to be covered.

Based on this information and the information you just read, what strategies and manipulatives would you use to help Charlene build basic math competencies?

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title Planning Math Strategies - Reflective Activity in the subject line. Then type in your answer and send it.

Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.