Multiplication with Manipulatives (and a life lesson)

About three weeks ago, my students began multiplication in math. I always enjoy watching as students use manipulatives to show their answers. What I love about math is that there are numerous ways to think of numbers and solve problems, but in the end we all get the same answer…most of the time, anyway! 😉

I took some pictures just to show how differently my students think. Some are very organized, while others are not. Some think in arrays, while some think in groups. I embrace that diversity!!






I guess I like it so much because of an experience I had in college. On one of my tests, we were asked to draw a parallelogram. Well, I drew a square…and the teacher counted it wrong. As I sat and pondered my incorrect answer, I was unable to figure out why it was wrong. After class I approached my professor and asked the question. Her reply: “Because that’s not the way I taught it, and most people don’t know that a square is a parallelogram. I expected you to draw a rectangle.”

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I’m a fighter. I just couldn’t accept that answer. A few minutes later, I had to walk away with a 92. She wouldn’t budge!

Even though I could live with my 92 (because after all, an A is an A, right?), I will never forget that conversation and my teacher’s neglect to see that we are all individuals with our own unique knowledge. I was right, but because she didn’t expect that right answer, it was wrong.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would never be that way. Diversity–bring it on! :)



  1. Stick to your guns! This job is hard enough as it is. Kids need to learn the facts as well as how to think and problem solve. They will always remember that you worked to meet their individual needs and allowed for personal expression.

  2. Wonderful post :) As someone who is currently studying to become an English teacher, I think that this definitely applies! I remember when I was in high school, there were so many potential answers to essay questions, and it was fascinating to see just how different everybody’s answers could be! I love your final sentence too 😀 Thank you

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