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Learner-Centered Math Instruction Using Manipulatives (3-6)

Do your students seem to flounder in math because they just can’t “see it” in their heads? In mathematics, manipulatives provide the perfect segue from the unfamiliar to the familiar. They help students transform their mathematical reasoning so that problems become less confusing and much more clear. This online course is designed for teachers in grades 3-6 who want to learn how to incorporate manipulatives such as linking cubes, color tiles and counters, number lines, Cuisenaire rods, base ten blocks, place value chips, fraction strips, algebra tiles, Algeblocks, pattern blocks, pentominoes, attribute blocks, tangrams, Anglegs, dice, geoboards, and even virtual maniplatives into their everyday teaching in order to guide their students to take ownership of their learning so that they can become critical and logical mathematical thinkers. Information on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics is shared together with distinct suggestions for how to incorporate specific manipulatives into your math instruction in order to improve the way students approach math problems. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"As an elementary teacher, I felt this course covered a topic that is essential in the math classroom - manipulatives, both tactile and virtual. I developed ideas that I am ready to implement." - Kristine Jordan


Enrollment Options

Register] Course Registration Only $120 with the discount

Register]Course Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $304


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Guided Math: A Framework for Math Instruction” by Laney Sammons

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 60T02

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41616

Unit One

  • Learning Theory and Mathematics
  • The Role of Math in Problem Solving
  • Introduction to the NCTM Standards and the Common Core Standards for Mathematics
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1

Unit Two

  • Linking Cubes
  • Color Tiles and Counters
  • Number Lines
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2

Unit Three

  • Cuisenaire Rods
  • Base Ten Blocks
  • Place Value Chips
  • Test #3
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise

Unit Four

  • Algebra Tiles and Algeblocks
  • Pattern Blocks and Pentominoes
  • Attribute Blocks
  • Test #4

Unit Five

  • Geoboards
  • Tangrams
  • Anglegs
  • Test #5

Unit Six

  • Working with Fractions
  • Probability with Spinners and Dice
  • Virtual Manipulatives
  • Assignment #4: Develop lesson plans that are specifically taught using manipulatives
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)