Thursday, 13 September 2012

Original Lesson 27: Fractions and why you should always check the back storeroom

I'm sure there's a fair few stories about school storerooms that I could tell that would be far more interesting than this one, but this is a PG blog. Anyway, the point of this post is to emphasise that, especially as a graduate teacher, it pays HUMONGOUS (phenomenal word to kill 'big') dividends to check the resource storeroom at the commencement of a new unit, particularly in regards to numeracy.

I have recently been teaching fractions. One lesson, which my team leader generated, was for students to compare the size of fractions by drawing pies and lines. This worked really well and was a great means to displace the common misconceptions that the largest fraction is the one with the bigger denominator or numerator. Two work samples from my class are displayed below:

I also utilised the posters created during this lesson for my display board:

Although I do not currently have an interactive whiteboard, I came across complete circular and line fraction walls, which I was able to permanently display on my conventional whiteboard, and which was, quite astonishingly, still in its packet in the numeracy resource room. This has formed an illustrative permanent display at the front of my classroom and I often remove the pieces to use the pieces of my fraction wall during modelling.

I also set my extension students a challenge to use LCDs (lowest common denominators) to prove that each circle on the board does, in fact, equal one whole.

E.g. Circle one: 1/8 + 1/8 + 1/4 + 1/2
= 2/8 + (1/4 x 2/2) + (1/2 x 4/4)
= 2/8 + 2/8 + 4/8
= 8/8
= 1 whole

I found some relic fraction/percentage/decimal/visual representation equivalent dominoes in the same area of the storeroom which added a fantastic kinaesthetic element to the unit. A teacher's aide that has worked with the school for numerous years commented that she had never seen these used before by any other teacher, despite that their relic appearance prevented them from being a new resource.

During the recent teacher-union strike day in Victoria, my building was practically deserted so I ran my numeracy session for the day in the corridor, challenging students to make a domino line for the full length (or as far as it could reach) down the school hallway.
In the process, students converted fractions to decimals using the division algorithm evident in the second number line picture below (which was handy because we had just studied division).

Another kinaesthetic task was for students to create number lines using string, paper squares and pegs found in my own classroom storeroom. As with the dominoes, students converted fractions into decimals and percentages and, during reflection, many noted their new understanding that while decimals and percentages appear similar to one another in their numbers, fractions can equal the same amount and look completely different, e.g. 1/4 = 0.25 = 25%. Again, another great display was the added bonus of this task.

As a reward for their hard work during the number line session, which only took 40 minutes, students shot basketballs, counting how many they got in out of how many shots they took instantaneously (3 out of 5 in, 4 out of 6 in, and so on), then converting their final score into a decimal and percentage from fraction form.

What long-lost resources have you found in your resources storeroom?


MSC and MSD said...

Hi Anna,
I am going to try out your lessons next week!
Thank you for sharing once again!


Anna Kapnoullas said...

Hi Vanessa,
That is the ultimate compliment. Please let me know how it goes and anything else you do or modifications that worked well. Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.