PhiloMath: A Website for Studying Math Manipulatives

Student Design Lab Collective

We created a direction-based website called "PhiloMath" to improve third-graders' understanding of math manipulatives using instructional videos.

By: Kaitlin Buono, Mary Korol, and Olivia Heinrichs

At William Tennent High School, our Student Design Lab class was challenged to identify a problem with math manipulatives for third graders. We were able to personally visit Willow Dale Elementary School and observe a third-grade classroom to discover how we can help math manipulatives become more effective in the learning process. What we saw was that Mrs. Davis, the third-grade teacher in the class we observed, was having trouble applying the manipulatives directly to the lesson.

When directly interviewing Mrs. Davis, she told us that the instructions provided within the manipulative box were very vague and hard to follow. She had no time to sit and figure out the manipulatives for herself without any guidance, which would make it difficult for her to understand how to incorporate them into lesson plans. Teachers don’t have enough time in their day to watch hours worth of YouTube videos or read a bunch of articles in order to understand one manipulative.

We deduced that it was important for our team to help her, as well as other third-grade teachers to the best of our abilities! Our idea was to create a website that can be used throughout the Centennial School District Elementary Schools. This website, available on Classlink, provides teachers with instructional videos on how to use the manipulatives provided by Eureka, an option to do a quick lookup to find the manipulatives easily, and clear instructions on how to use each of the manipulatives. In creating our website, we really wanted to have a name that captured the essence of learning. So, we came up with “PhiloMath.” By definition, this word means a lover of learning and studying, in this case, math. Our goal is to improve the education of our third-graders, without any confusion.

When creating the website, we took many things into account such as accessibility, convenience, and clarity. We wanted to make sure that the website achieved everything that teachers needed it to in order for them to be able to use manipulatives in their lessons. Throughout the website we created, you will be able to see that it is very direction-based and aimed towards helping with how to use manipulatives.

We are so grateful for the help of Ms. Davis as well as Mr. D’Andrea. Mr. D’Andrea was able to provide us with information on our challenge and answer all of our questions. When we finally incorporated everything from our idea, we pitched it to Mr. D’Andrea, who responded with very valuable insights as well as some suggestions that could help us to improve and further our website. Throughout the whole process, we were also aided by our lovely teachers, Mr. Jayo and Ms. Friedant. They were able to lead us in the right direction and were encouraging us on our idea–even through some tough spots.

Success is defined as students being able to complete assessments using the manipulatives without aid and with little to no computation errors. Results suggest that there was a 70% success rate in third grade students.

~Lantz, Jenifer, and Caitlyn Miller. “The Effectiveness of Mathematical Manipulatives in One-on-One Intervention for Third and Fourth Grade Students.” Senior Honors Projects, Bridgewater College, 2019.

We are now awaiting to see if our website can be taken to the next level! Thank you for taking the time to learn about our experience!