It is critical that teachers make the link for students between an activity and the concept that it illustrates. A teacher should use hands-on activities to model concepts in geometry and measurement and to help students better understand the concepts of mathematics. Children grow to understand concepts when they have first experienced concepts on a concrete level. Manipulatives bring a range of senses into play. Students' long-term use of concrete instructional materials, at both the primary and secondary grade levels, supports achievement in mathematics.
However, using concrete materials and manipulatives also requires that a teacher frequently intervenes to help students connect the materials with the mathematics concepts.24 By presenting an activity with various components (using manipulatives and technology to formalize the concept), a teacher addresses an array of learning styles and provides additional time for students to process a concept.
For a further discussion of these issues (and a suggestion for classroom use), see the Concrete Representations section.
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