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Digital Block for Vertical Subtraction

  • Education
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Digital Block is a visual-aid learning tool that is designed for early math learners to easily understand the concept of the base-10 system which consists of the related calculations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Vertical Subtraction works for learners to confidently acquire the knowledge and skills regarding the concept of subtraction and its subordinate calculation procedure of borrowing. They do this by moving blocks back and forth using a digital pen tool for corresponding mathematical numbers. In class, learners can pause and replay their calculation processes which were automatically recorded. In doing so, they can visually review the steps they’ve actually performed. This stimulates productive communication among classmates about the method of thinking they used to actually arrive at their mathematical conclusions.


・Winner of Microsoft Partners in Learning in Japan 2012
・Winner of “Cutting Edge Use of Microsoft Technology for Learning” in Microsoft Partners in Learning in Asia & Pacific Forum 2012.
・Nominated for Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum 2012 to make a world-wide presentation and suggestion for 80 countries.


① 2 digits
② 3 digits

Expected Learning Effects:

【Visualizing thinking processes】
Learners can visually express what they are thinking by moving blocks and writing figures on screen. In class they can learn from each other through showing what they do, explaining what they think, and sharing how they arrive at their mathematical conclusions.

【Understanding the systems of borrowing and carrying using images】
With “Swap” buttons, learners can quickly and accurately understand how the systems of borrowing and carrying work. With visibly repeated use of Digital Block, learners will be able to manipulate the blocks in their mind to solve mathematical problems with a clear image of the calculation through borrowing and carrying.

【Easy transition to calculation by writing】
Since the numbers and positions of blocks put on the form of Digital Block correspond to the concrete meaning of the numbers that appear to be mathematical value, learners can deepen their understanding of the concept of subtraction and its subordinate procedures of calculation in a trial-and-error method with moving blocks. Learners can easily try again and again if they make mistakes so they can maintain their motivation and concentration in calculation activities.

【Easy to review learning processes】
Learners can take a retrospective and objective view on their own learning processes they made in the past, which enables them to nourish their knowledge and skills of calculations by using the “Save” and “Review” buttons when needed.

【Solving problems with a mental image of block manipulation】
Learners can gradually become good enough to make clear images and manipulate the blocks in their mind with repeated use of Digital Block again and again so they can arrive at a mathematical conclusion without using tablet computers as a result.

【Nourishing logical and critical thinking skills】
Learners can logically and critically think to see if they understand and solve problems correctly by visibly checking their calculation processes. Learners can also find something to fix before they reach a final answer and prove it is a correct answer by reversing the procedures of calculation as they move blocks back to where they belong in their original positions.

【Nourishing collaborative problem solving skills】
In classrooms learners’ abilities to anticipate what happens next and explain how it is correct will greatly improve by intentionally using the “Replay” and “Pause” buttons in group activities. Learners will improve their problem solving skills through good communication with their classmates.


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