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Frequently asked questions

PRODUCT DESIGN
reading fluency productsHow do the PDF files compare to the printed materials that Reading Manipulatives sold? They are exactly the same. The PDF files include all manipulatives or task cards from each product. In some products, worksheet alternatives for manipulatives are also provided. Guides correlate skills to Common Core State Standards and contain teaching strategies, resource lists, and student recordkeeping checklists.

How difficult is it to prepare the manipulatives and task cards? PDF pages are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11 inch sheets of cover stock. Ideally, printing should be done on a commercial digital printer. Copy shops have equipment that prints on cover stock in perfect alignment, and the ink goes almost to the edge. They can provide a wide array of papers and you would not have to purchase more than you need. Reading Manipulatives used Wausau Astrobrights 65 lb. cover. Most materials are single-sided and can be printed on a desktop laser printer if it handles cover-weight paper.

With all the pieces involved, how durable are the products? If you print on cover stock and laminate your materials, you should be able to use them as often as needed and for years to come. Also, students tend to take care of the materials because they enjoy them.

What if pieces are separated from the sets they belong in? Every single piece in all Reading Manipulatives products has a unique code to maintain set integrity. Any misplaced piece can be tracked to the set it belongs in. The codes are also used for recordkeeping.

How do students know which sets or cards within any product that they have completed? Set codes indicate the product and the individual sets within that product. Students use these codes to keep track of completed sets and cards, as well as to select those that have not been done. Products come with student checklists. Prior to using the manipulatives or task cards, the teacher must copy and distribute these. Students use their checklists to select sets and mark them off once completed. Amazingly, this system increases student motivation and involvement because they see the scope of the materials and want to finish the entire series.

What determines the number of student sets within a product, and do students need to complete all sets? The goal of all Reading Manipulatives products is to provide adequate practice for mastery. In some products, the sets or cards cover a range of targeted skills. In others, all sets are similar, but students continue to perfect skills as they work through the multiple sets. If multilevels of products are available, most students are ready to advance to a higher level once they complete all of the sets in the prior level.

What do you recommended for packaging sets of manipulatives? Zipper bags are the simplest option. The contents can be seen through the plastic, so there is no need to label or affix set codes. Small food storage bags from the grocery store can be used. There are several options, including various weights, sizes, and closures. You can also purchase heavier 4 mil zipper bags online. Reading Manipulatives used 4 x 4, 4 x 6, 5 x 8, and 6 x 9 inch sizes, depending on the product.

What do you recommend for storage and display of the various materials being used in the classroom? Many types and sizes of plastic storage boxes are available. Once the manipulatives are prepared and packaged into individual sets, select storage devices that hold and display the sets most efficiently. Those that offer high visibility speed the selection process. Since students will be choosing sets or task cards that they have not yet completed, classroom organization is important. It works best to spread the various materials that are in use to locations throughout the classroom so students will not have to congregate in a single area.

PRODUCT CONTENT
Are the manipulatives games? The hands-on, student-centered activities are engaging, but they are not games. Products cover all components of the targeted skills and offer abundant practice that leads to mastery. Comprehensive Reading Manipulatives materials are available for all types and levels of literacy skills. When students work at suitable levels in materials that interest them, skills and test scores improve.

Why are there no grade level designations on Reading Manipulatives products? As school populations become more diverse, the ability range of students in any classroom continues to widen. National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) composite reading statistics for grades 1, 4, 8, and 12 for the past decade demonstrate that 25 to 36% of students are below basic, having limited skills, and only 31 to 36% are at or above proficient. Overwhelmed teachers tend to gear instruction toward students in the middle. As a result, students at the top may lack challenging activities and those at the bottom struggle. An important characteristic of Reading Manipulatives products is that most are effective with any age level. Our decoding products, while generally used in the primary grades, are effective in adult literacy classes. By the same token, there are bright young students who can be challenged with the vocabulary and comprehension manipulatives. See Product recommendations by grade for grade-level recommendations. You will notice significant overlap since ability ranges are vast in any classroom.

Can Reading Manipulatives products supplement basal or other structured reading programs? These challenging sets of manipulatives and skills cards can be part of the core instructional programs. The individualized materials work exceptionally well in lab-like classroom environments and free teachers to work with small groups or individuals. However, they replace expendables and complement other programs. Once classes have an array of instructional manipulatives in use, teachers are released from the daily drudgery of preparing seatwork for every reading group.

Are manipulatives suitable for older students? Although educators do not typically use manipulatives with students in middle or high school, they are optimal for a few reasons. Manipulatives suit the multiple intelligences most often demonstrated by adolescents: spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and interpersonal. Active involvement promotes interest and accountability. Finally, the span of abilities gets wider with each passing year. Multilevel sets allow for proper placement, yet they have similar appearances, which takes away much of the stigma that is often attached to remedial materials. Reading Manipulatives offers products that are appropriate for students of all abilities.

Can manipulatives really develop skills as well as more traditional approaches? Based on millions of learning style tests, 70 percent of Americans are sensing types who learn best with hands-on approaches that proceed in a step-to-step manner and are experiential in nature. Students of all abilities and ages are far more apt to stay on task with manipulatives. Their game-like feel motivates students, so they work at higher levels and accomplish more. Active involvement in selection, checking work, and recording progress builds accountability. Plus, manipulatives encourage peer interaction and foster community.

Are Reading Manipulatives products based on scientific principles, and do they teach skills addressed in Common Core State Standards? Extensive brain research of the past 20 years indicates that skills should be taught holistically because fragmented instruction inhibits learning. Reading Manipulatives products employ structured, repetitive strategies to cover skills and achieve objectives. Students identify patterns and connect concepts with previous experiences. Completeness and continuity lead to mastery, making them ideals materials to assure that CCSS skills are covered.

Data from learning-style research validates efficacy of hands-on materials. The majority of individuals, regardless of age, learn best when they are actively involved. Manipulatives encourage team learning and interaction, which are also of great value. Yes, these teacher-developed and tested materials cover critical reading and language arts skills in a scientifically sound manner and are supported by research findings.