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Make Math Moments Academy Forums Community Discussion Ask For Feedback manipulatives – tiles or blocks for 8th grade/Algebra 1 Reply To: manipulatives – tiles or blocks for 8th grade/Algebra 1

  • Carla Novreske

    November 2, 2019 at 9:49 am

    I have had great success using algebra tiles with my 7th and 8th grade math students. At first I heard lots of complaints from my 8th graders especially, the ones who “already know how to do this” complained the most. However, I kept going and struggled thru the complaints and the early days where the kids wanted to just play with them and not pay attention. I had my kids at tables of three. They were given one set of algebra tiles per group and I had placed a piece of painters tape down the center of the table to act as the equal sign. I modeled what I was doing with magnetic algebra tiles on my whiteboard. Solving one and two step equations was where we started, I made them model the equation on their table. I could easily see all 9 tables and point out errors to a group until they figured it out correctly. Then I made them show me the visual of creating the zero pairs and doing the same thing to both sides. Then I had them remove the zero pairs to show only the “x bars”. Then we divided up the x bars into rows and evenly distributed the square tiles on the other side to show the division and why it worked to get the solution for just one x. It was a frustrating day and I had to be completely confident and comfortable with the extra noise and the playing because I knew where I was headed. The next day I used the visual algebra tiles game on to show from hands on to a little more abstract. I assigned them problems using the virtual manipulatives so they couldn’t just solve everything in their head without understanding why. This was extremely helpful for so many students, I can’t even tell you!

    However, the absolutely golden moments came when teaching variables on both sides. Because of the work I had done previously with the tiles and not letting them off the hook, I was able to simply model the equation using my magnetic tiles, made them write the equation that was modeled, and let them struggle through trying to figure out how to solve it. None of them could, but because of the struggle, the minute I pointed out that the zero pairs work for the x bars too, they were hooked and there was no looking back! By FAR, the best scores I have seen in the past 3 years of teaching solving equations. I believe 100% that the success came from understanding why, not just following the teacher blindly and playing school.

    Sorry for the super long explanation, but you asked…love, love, love the algebra tiles. If I taught algebra 1 again, I’d use them ALL THE TIME!