Models help promote mathematical thinking and facilitate an understanding of key concepts and mathematical structures. By seeing and moving objects, students engage their senses to better understand and reason with abstract concepts, or to make sense of and solve problems. Teachers can support students who struggle with abstraction by differentiating instruction using models. Virtual models provide a different sensory experience, which can be helpful for students who have difficulty with physical objects.

View an Introductory Presentation on Modeling Strategies

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Read the Complete Modeling Teaching Strategy Guide

Struggling students may miss the important step of connecting the physical model to the more general, abstract concept. Some students may also have difficulty translating from the problem to the model and back again to provide an answer. Implementing the strategies below can help you differentiate instruction.


  1. Provide Clear Explanations
  2. Give Students Strategies and Models
  3. Provide Ongoing Formative Assessment