## Jon Molomby

### Hands-on Mathematics Teacher

Hi

I have taught Mathematics both at the Upper and Lower Secondary levels, and I believe they should be taught differently.

While Upper Secondary is all about preparing for important exams at the end of Year 12, lower secondary should be less about test results, and more about understanding concepts … laying the foundation, and one the best ways to do that is to use hands-on materials. These are fun and challenging , and appeal to young teenagers. The understanding gained through hands-on activities is deep and permanent, and not easily forgotten like many formulas.

The majority of the lessons presented here are for the Lower Secondary level. They use tools like geoboards, paper models, compass and straight edge, (for Geometry), and blocks and dice (for Probability). In most cases, there is a video to watch on YouTube, and a PDF worksheet to download from the website. So for an individual student, the idea is this : the student completes the worksheet while watching the video. This often involves doing something, e.g. a constructing with a compass and straight edge, making a paper model, or manipulating blocks. Then the student keeps the worksheet as a record of what they have learnt.

What should follow are exercises of a more standard kind, where the concept is applied and problems are practiced on worksheets. Following that, students can be tested in the normal way. I hope it’s clear that these hands-on materials work primarily as introductions to topics, so students get the conceptual understanding they need, before they gain procedural competence using formulas and algorithms.

For classes, the materials here are designed to be used within one regular lesson, or in a few cases, two. No special seminars, meetings or discussions are required, just the materials and the worksheets are needed. Even a computer and a projector are unnecessary : just a whiteboard will suffice.

But if teachers are to use these materials for classes, they must be taught how to do so : that is one of the reasons for this website. In my opinion, the great twentieth century teacher Caleb Gattegno, the man who introduced both Cuisenaire rods and individual geoboards to the classroom, did not do enough to explain exactly how to teach with his materials. I think he assumed that teachers would take them up when they realized how effective they were, but many of his materials, particularly Cuisenaire rods, lay unused in Mathematics classrooms and school libraries for decades.

I have presented workshops about this way of teaching at the following training institutions. (They are the source of the photos in the gallery) :

• Roiet Rajabhat University
• Kalasin University Faculty of Education
• Sisaket Rajabhat University
• Ubon Ratchathani Rajabhat University
• Udon Thani Rajabhat University
• National University of Laos
• Songkhla Rajabhat University
• Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University, Phitsanulok
• Maha Sarakham Rajabhat University

This website does not discuss games or competitions in the classroom, or project work, or the value of homework, but just deals with hands-on learning and teaching. And not every topic from the Lower Secondary Maths curriculum can be covered in a hands-on way. For example, lessons about the rules of algebra, or the Laws of Indices, would probably require a more traditional approach. But every year, I develop new hands-on exercises which increase the number of topics that can be covered. I then make videos and worksheets and add them to the website, and YouTube channel. All lessons are free, are they are free to re-use under the Creative Commons rules.

If you have a question, or you would like to arrange for me to give a free workshop here in Thailand, simply contact me by email. I look forward to hearing from you.