HANDS-ON EQUATIONS REVIEW Heidi Anne Spietz American Montessori Consulting Dr. Henry Borenson has masterfully created Hands-On Equations®, a system for helping children understand algebraic linear equations. This visual and kinesthetic teaching system for introducing algebraic concepts to students in grades 3 to 9 is very consistent with Montessori principles.
“The visual aspect is splendid as the child can actually see how the equation is solved.”
By manipulating pawns and cubes children learn how to set up equations on a replica of a balance scale. They achieve “balance” by performing “legal moves”. The visual aspect of this exercise is splendid, for the child can actually see how the equation is solved. Children learn to solve simple equations and progress to learning advanced equations which involve positive and negative integers.
I first became aware of the Hands-On Equations program in 1995 at a NCME Montessori conference in Newport Beach, CA. I was impressed then, and continue to be impressed now with the recently released Hands-On Equations Instructional DVD Manual, which allows the learner to pause any lesson on the DVD at any point in time and practice the concepts presented. I spent ample time reviewing the DVD and the newly released Hands-On Equations Verbal Problems Book. Class sets of materials are also available.
In concert with the Montessori approach, the Hands-On Equations program encourages students to solve new problems but also provides them with the opportunity to review and practice previous concepts as well. Detailed instructions for each lesson are available for the presenter.
The Hands-On Equations Learning System, along with the DVD manual and the Hands-On Equations Verbal Problems Introductory Workbook is a package which is perfect for use in many learning settings. This combination of items is called the Hands-On Equations Deluxe Home Set, and is available for $59.95. Teachers wishing to actually view the Hands-On Equations lessons before presenting them can spend time reviewing and applying the concepts presented. By so doing, the teacher will feel more confident when she provides assistance during the actual presentations and practice sessions.
Montessori knew that students would need to review concepts from time to time. Because the program is very suitable for individual viewing, the student can progress at a rate comfortable for him. The hands-on aspect of the exercises is sure to appeal to children who have participated in advanced Montessori math exercises. If a student progresses with the lessons but finds along the way that he needs to review a concept, he can simply program the DVD to replay the lessons.
Dr. Borenson’s presentations are extremely clear. He has an engaging manner which will be a real relief to the student who has felt intimated by algebra in particular, as well as math in general. Gifted students will benefit by being able to set their own pace. All students will enjoy seeing their peers actually working with the Hands-On Equations materials.
For additional information about this fine, innovative learning program please visit www.borenson.com.
Heidi Anne Spietz American Montessori Consulting