Here you will see students as young as 4 and 5 years old doing algebra and "advanced" math, without ever knowing it's supposed to be hard.
You are invited to learn how to use this method...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Algebra With Base Ten Blocks For Addends And Multiplication

Trying to get people to understand that you can use algebra to teach addends and multiplication can be a little frustrating. People (including teachers) are so stuck with the rigid and foolish way we have structured mathematics instruction in the USA that using algebra to teach addition or subtraction or fractions to teach multiplication are practically inconceivable. Compound teaching is; however, a very effective method for teaching math and base ten blocks definitely help.

In the picture above she has to tell me the whole rectangle...x² + 16x + 63...she has to add the x and multiply the 9 and 7...and we do it fast. There are only 45 addends, they need to be mastered. There are only We go through lots of problems quickly as you can see here:

This is video from an actual tutoring session. The little girl has all manner of distractions and yet we cover more math in an hour than she'll get in several days at school. And it's fun. Rather than spending days and days doing the same multiplication problems amd filling out works sheets, why not use base ten blocks and do lots of problems quickly. Remember the brain likes to work quickly. And the more impression it get the more likely the information is to be transferred from short term to mid term memory and finally into long term memory and with more impressions the info is available for instant recall. It is more likely to get there if you are having fun than if you are drilling and it's drudgery. The child is engaged, the brain is engaged learning is taking place.

By the time this video started we'd been playing for a good 10 or 15 minutes. Also it was self directed: she could use any two multi ten blocks she wanted, (these are base ten blocks that make building super fast because we don't have fool with getting out tens or x one at a time).

Also note you still have to work with them to get them to add two numbers instead of counting each block, and the more they do it, the faster they get. Same with the multiplication. All it takes is pratice and it's kind of fun to have the control of making up your own problems. She showed her little brother how easy it was to do algebra..."all you do is count," she says triumphantly.

With drill work and work sheets the brain eventually shuts down and it's boring you may even see them begin to yawn. Be careful with worksheets. Using base ten blocks engages all the senses. It's fun an you get more work done in less time. They learn more, faster.

base ten blocks, manipulativesWhen you can do your math and you get it, it's fun and it makes you feel good because learning is fun and sets off all manner of endorphins in the brain. Declaring yourself queen of math never hurt anything anyway. I am especially aware of little girls having their self esteem damaged when they fail at math. The psychology of the female is to take it personally, more so than boys as it was explained to me by a person who had a degree in the psychology of mathematics, little girls tend to think something is wrong with them when they don't get it, little boys tend to think there is something wrong with you if they don't get it. This is an over simplification and generalization but it is backed up with direct observation and anecdotal evidence during my travels.

You can play want to be a ten with the multi ten blocks...only it's actually, "want to be a hundred." 3 tens wants 7 tens...etc...7 ten and 6 tens is 13 tens...same blocks we are playing in algebra so 7x plus 6x is 13x...simple.

You will need a password but you can see the same principles at work when we work with negative factors: and we end up practicing adding integers. They learn about hero zero too, and they will often freestyle their way into concepts like the difference of two squares compare them to square algebraic expressions like (x+1)² and SEE what to do. [Soon there will be a link to a page and vid where a ten year old boy does so called, "advanced algebra." Meantime use the links below for more on using algebra to teach basic math.]

Here is another blogpost Algebra For Addends and Multiplication. You can also use algebra to teach remedial math, I have a student who has a hard time with multiplication and subtractions and fractions we do algebra and then evaluate the polynomials for various numbers. This "tricks" him into doing his remedial work while he learns algebra and he doesn't realize we are doing stuff he should have learned already because he likes algebra, it makes him feel smart. Thus preserving his self esteem AND getting the work and practice done that he needs.

And here is a Video just learning about addends and playing and we don't do any algebra. But we could be doing algebra if we wanted and this student liked playing in algebra but in this vid she opted for building a town instead. This vid is about 30 minutes long. We just play blocks. I have been told this is a great video, might be worth your time:

The point is you can use algebra for teaching right along side, concurrently with, so called simple, basic lessons on addition, addends and multiplication.

More on using algebra to teach other operations:
Using Algebra To Teach Multiplication.

Algebra its many uses.

Here is an older post, contains no video just words and pictures:

Using Algebra To Teach Basic Operations.

And here is a pile of screencasts on various topics:

Crewton Ramone on Screencast-O-Matic.

and if you liked this page which is basically Algebra for little kids you should also like Trig For Little Kids too.

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