virtual math manipulatives

Making Math Meaningful with Virtual Math Manipulatives

Use the real world to teach without the mess of physical manipulatives. In brief, virtual math manipulatives are powerful tools for math teachers everywhere. On the whole, many teachers don't understand how to use them. So, today, you'll get a simple tour of virtual math manipulatives from expert David Wees.

In light of the fact that NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) and other organizations highly recommend manipulatives in the math classroom, today's topic is essential for math teachers. At this point, pretty much every standard out there has math manipulatives you can use to teach it. Despite what some may think, virtual math manipulatives AREN'T videos — they are tools that allow students to interact and manipulate objects as they learn.


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Today's Sponsor Matific

[callout]Virtual math manipulatives are awesome. However, finding the perfect manipulative takes time. Matific does the work for you. To simplify the process for teachers, they've aligned their virtual math manipulatives to Common Core and State Standards. You can even look up popular math textbooks and it will give you the manipulatives that will work for you (by chapter and page!)

You can assign students different manipulatives to use. Moreover, if you have ELL students, they have 27 languages you can assign to students. So, you can set the “primary language” for a student and they'll receive instruction in that language. (You can print out parent reports in their native language too.) I took a tour of Matific and came away excited to see the future of math education. It saves time for teachers and makes math instruction easier. Check out Matific, take a tour, and play with the manipulatives that align with your textbook today.

In summary, Matific lets you use math manipulatives without the work of finding just the right one for your unit of study.[/callout]

[button href=”” primary=”true” centered=”true” newwindow=”true”]See Matific in Action[/button]

Show Notes on Virtual Math Manipulatives

  • What are virtual manipulatives?
  • How can I use them in a math classroom to teach math?
  • What are examples of how teachers might use virtual manipulatives to teach math concepts?
  • Can virtual manipulatives be used as formative assessment tools?
  • How do students learn math?
  • Can a teacher's expert bias can cause teachers to make a mistake when using virtual manipulatives?
  • Research on Math Manipulatives as mentioned in the show.
  • What mistakes did David make in the early years of teaching math?
  • The mistakes teachers make when students struggle that can cause gaps in learning.

Places to Find and Use  Virtual Math Manipulatives for your Math Classroom

Who is David Wees?

David Wees is currently a Formative Assessment and Instructional Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools in New York City. He has worked as a mathematics and science teacher in New York City, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver. Twitter id: @davidwees

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Jennifer Clements September 15, 2016 - 11:16 pm

Hello Vicki,
When I came across this blog entry, I immediately grew excited. I am one of those teachers who has a hard time finding the “correct” manipulative to help with the math concept that we are learning. After reading about virtual math manipulatives, I needed to investigate more about them. My school site has 1:1 Chromebooks, so I am curious to see if there is something similiar to Matific that would work on those. Do you happen to know of anything? I looked into Matific and liked the graphics that were used. It would spark a student’s interest. I could also use a program like this to also guide me into using the correct type of manipulative for those students who need to feel and touch. Thank you for your discovery of Matific! I will definately be looking into this further.

Vicki Davis September 19, 2016 - 6:27 am

Yes, I was impressed with Matific and really virtual manipulatives can be useful to all teachers.

Joaquin Partida September 17, 2016 - 7:07 pm


Great post about virtual manipulatives. For the past ten years or so, I have been using virtual manipulatives in my classroom. Our adopted math textbook has virtual math manipulatives to go with the lesson that I am teaching at the time. Each of my students has access to the math book online. Therefore, before I start my math lesson, each student logs into the online math textbook and uses the virtual math manipulatives for the lesson I am teaching. The virtual manipulatives enhance their learning, and every student regardless of their level is engaged in the experience. Through the virtual math manipulatives, I have been able to quickly access my students to see if they grasp or understanding the objectives of the math lesson. Plus, it allows me to help EL student one on one while the other students are using the manipulatives to solve math problems.

Vicki Davis September 19, 2016 - 6:26 am

They work!


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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere
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