Archive | April, 2017

Fraction Talks

27 Apr

We were very excited to start fraction talks in our classroom to go with our recent number sense unit. Many of the ideas we were using came from “Fraction Talks” http://www.fractiontalks.com/. This site is an amazing source of ideas and activities for engaging in mathematical thinking.

Before we began, we figured that our students were comfortable with the routine of number talks and we knew it would be easy to follow the same format with our fraction discussions. What happened, however, was not what we expected. (Is it ever?) While it started out the same, students were starting to give the thumbs up and getting ready to share their problem-solving, we noticed that not as many students were showing that they were ready to share or seemed much more reluctant to share their thinking. There seemed to be more hesitancy in the group as a whole. When we shared our observation with the class, the ones who were hesitant to share during fraction talks weren’t as shy in sharing why!

Students commented that they weren’t as comfortable with the concept of fractions and some mentioned wanting to talk with someone else before they shared with the class. Others mentioned wanting the shape in front of them so that they could draw on it or do some math calculations. All of this seemed reasonable to us so, after giving it some thought, we decided that it would be best for students to have a page to brainstorm with before sharing. Below is an example of the page we used. We added in the reasonable question as we have been stressing this concept in class.

Students could use them independently or with a partner. We saw an increase in participation with the first attempt. Students felt much more comfortable and would often look back to their page as they spoke about their work.

We plan on using this approach again. We also thought that next time we might want to share electronically and then students could also explain their thinking through an app such as Chatterpix, Explain Everything or Doceri.

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Fractions, Decimals, Ratio and Percent

2 Apr

We’re in the process of looking at how fractions, decimals, ratio and percent connect. We started off with our interactive math journals to set the foundation for these concepts and create a place that would help students find answers or review processes –  we also decided to add in a section on relating these to our benchmark percentages.  During the week, we used an activity wherein students coloured a pattern or image on a 100s grid in order to help students visually see the relationships. It also allows students to see another creative connection between art and math.

They enjoyed the activity and it seemed to help them see the relationships. After this however, when we were working on some pattern block fractions tasks, we noticed that the students were struggling with the some of the key concepts.  We were thinking that one part of the problem is that we do often present students with items such as the perfect 100s grid when looking at fractions. Consequently, we started to use fraction talks, to look at different shapes and how to determine the fractions within that shape.

As a next step, we think we will revisit our grid by changing the size or how it has been segmented to see if students can show the changes in their learning. Not certain if we will do this through a fractions talk or have them complete it and record their thinking.  As well, we may adjust our ratio column to look at part to part ratios versus part to whole ratios. We are hoping the second piece will reflect a greater depth of knowledge.