By the time students reach the middle grades, many have picked up a long list of "tricks" that have helped them survive math classes.
They see math as a collection of isolated topics that don't relate to each other.
- Addition is separate from subtraction,
- Multiplication is separate from division, an
- Fractions are in a world of their own!
By going back and working with visual models, students can reconstruct their understanding and start making sense of math.
Don't get us wrong. It may not be easy. You may find that you're trying to correct a made-up rule from their second grade teacher or a trick someone told them would make math easier.
But in the long run, it's more than worth it. Success in math has been found to be highly correlated to school and college success and employability. And remember, the more students play, the more benefit they get. So let's get playing!