October’s MMM is… Base Ten Blocks. They’re not just for place value.

Also, please see this three-part problem-based lesson on Comparing Numbers in Grade 3 using base ten blocks.

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# Tag: problem-based

## Math Manipulative of the Month – Base Ten Blocks

## The more sides you have, the smarter you are.

## Math Manipulative of the Month – Pattern Blocks

October’s MMM is… Base Ten Blocks. They’re not just for place value.

Also, please see this three-part problem-based lesson on Comparing Numbers in Grade 3 using base ten blocks.

**“How does shape affect your place in society?”**

**“The more sides you have, the greater your angles. So, the smarter you are.”**

Two years ago, I created a lesson on Angles in a Polygon. The ‘hook’ was the opening minutes of the animated film *Flatland: The Movie*. In the story, Arthur Square asks his curious granddaughter if she has memorized her ‘laws of inheritance’.

Hex replies “Isosceles triangles have baby equilateral triangles. Equilateral triangles have baby squares. Squares have pentagons. Pentagons have hexagons, like me! And each new generation gets one new side until they get so many sides they look like a circle and become a priest.”

This film interestingly addresses many mathematical concepts, such as points, lines, and shapes in zero, one, and two dimensions as well as larger themes such as critical thinking.

Here it is:

I think it’s a pretty good lesson, but I decided to tinker with it. Here’s the new and improved version:

Yep. That’s it. Blank space.

I learned that from Sandra Ball when planning together for elementary school demonstration or team-teaching lessons. Just one of the many things I have learned from Sandra since joining the team a year ago.

The first activity is overly scaffolded. In the second version of the activity, the scaffolding is removed. Students will ask “How can I solve the problem?” versus “How does Mr. Hunter want me to solve the problem?”. Some students may need scaffolding, but I can better support these students by listening to and observing them. In the first assignment, I assumed *all* students would need scaffolding. And, really, if my students can’t think of using a table to organize information, what does that say about how numeracy is taught in my classroom?

Here are the documents as well as the three-part lesson plan:

Flatland Assignment

Flatland Assignment 2.0

Flatland Three-Part Lesson Plan

MMM September 2011 Pattern Blocks (colour printer, double-sided)

Last year, a group of Surrey teachers suggested having a “Math Manipulative of the Month” at their school. Instantly, I thought this was a great idea. After this conversation, I created the brochure above. My hope is that this series of brochures can be used to generate conversations between teachers (and students, of course!).

Before trying the problems, I would ask teachers to get to know each MMM and list all they know about them. For example,

- “Two reds cover 1 yellow”, “Three triangles make 1 trapezoid”, etc.
- “All sides are the same length, except the base of the red trapezoid. It’s twice as long.”
- “The orange square and tan rhombus do not cover the other tiles.”

The symmetry problem ended up on the cutting room floor. Here it is: Pattern Blocks Symmetry.

Also, please see how the question “How many ways can you make 360 degrees?” becomes a problem-based lesson in Grade 6. Here’s the three-part lesson plan: Angles (format from Van de Walle).

I attempted to have a balance of primary and intermediate problems. How can each problem be adapted for the grade level that you teach?