Tips to get Your Student to Use “Blocks”

The Integer Blocks are one of the bonuses of the Math-U-See curriculum. They allow students to work through problems with tangible tools. As a parent and teacher, it may be easy for you to see the benefit of the blocks.  It may be one of the reasons you chose the program. While some students may enjoy using the blocks, others may not see the benefit.

What are the most common reasons students may not want to use the blocks?

The blocks make them feel like a baby

Math manipulatives are often thought to be used for early childhood education.  However, Math U See was designed in a way that uses the blocks from counting through Algebra.  Using the blocks to demonstrate polynomial factoring is one of the most effective ways to learn that topic.  Communicate to your students the importance of building a foundation for more advanced topics and illustrate how the blocks play a role in that.  Many students struggle when reaching more advanced subjects like Algebra, but the blocks can help them develop a better understanding. They connect the subject matter to the student by allowing them to illustrate the problems.

They are disinterested

Each student learns differently.  Some students benefit from repetitive problem solving while others may be frustrated with the process.  Take the initiative when the student is struggling with an area to build the problem yourself as they watch.  Talk your student through the build and allow them to ask questions. This can help your student see the value in building the blocks. Once the student has watched you (as many times as needed), allow them to take their turn.  Observe them and be careful to stop if they seem overwhelmed.

Optimally you want the student to get the practice needed, but not to be excessively repetitive.  Once the student demonstrates mastery of the concept, stop there. The goal is to transition them to independent work, so overdoing it could create a dependency on the blocks.

They don’t “need” the Blocks to Learn

Even if the student learns a concept quickly, it is beneficial to reinforce it with the blocks.  Their ability to illustrate the concept with the blocks is important. Perhaps have them work through a problem in the workbook in each of the Lesson Practice pages.  If they have a younger sibling, have them illustrate the problem to them, as if they are the teacher. This will confirm the student’s understanding of the concept and demonstrate they are ready to progress to the next one.

Encourage your student to understand the benefits of using the blocks. Lead by example and use them as well.

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