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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Additions to our Fraction Unit!

I'm popping in quickly to share a few additions I've made to our fractions unit this year that have really brought some added depth to student learning.  Before (or after) you browse here, make sure you stop by my original blog post about all of my fraction unit activities.  It's HUGE and has so much information!  Click the image below to read all about it!
The Ultimate Collection of Activities to Teach Fraction Skills
Now, moving on to a few new ideas!

This year, I was looking at adding in more inquiry-based activities.  One of my big focuses this year is allowing students to draw conclusions themselves so that they are more meaningful in the long run.  Fractions are so conceptual, and sometimes I feel like student understanding is left so surface level.  This year, I wanted to make sure there was no chance of that happening.  I decided to invest in a great unit from Meg at The Teacher Studio.  She has a great constructivist approach to teaching fractions, with a lot of hands-on activities that really get kids thinking!  You can see the unit HERE, and I highly recommend it!  Many of the activities I talk about today are straight from her unit.  It's SO worth it!


Since I teach fourth grade, most students already have a basic understanding of fractions.  I started by asking each student to find something circular, square, or rectangular to trace.  Then, they traced and cut out their shapes 3 or 4 times (they all had to be identical, of course).  I put these small posters up all over the room with different fractional amounts of them (halves, thirds, fifths, eights, etc.).  They had to FOLD their shapes into each of these amounts, then they traced the fold lines and glued it on the page.  It yielded SUCH a rich discussion, especially about forming fractions and what is/is not a properly formed fraction-- check out some of those totally inaccurate thirds!


The next day, I gave each student this prompt (also from Meg's unit).  They discussed their answers with a partner and each pair wrote a written response justifying their response.  We recorded their votes, and then had another huge discussion about it.  It was so eye-opening!


It's no secret that I'm a HUGE fan of Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6.  Her ideas are always so meaningful, and they have very little "fluff," which I always appreciate.  She posted on Instagram about creating a concept chart for specific units, adding to it each day as they reveal new learning.  I absolutely LOVED this idea and got started on ours right away.  We can even record misconceptions to be figured out later.  It's amazing how full this chart got over the course of the unit!


I always love to incorporate some Skittles fun into our lessons!  When we were working on equivalent fractions, I used my Skittles Math activities in combination with Meg's Skittles activities from her unit, and we had a blast!  It's always so hard for them to wait to eat the Skittles, but when they have successfully completed their activity, it's such a sweet treat and feeling of accomplishment!

 

 Last year, I created these free fraction concept exit tickets (you can download them from THIS post).  Most of the time last year, I used them just as they were intended-- as exit tickets.  This year, though, I decided to use them for some reflection time.  Instead of just having them turn in the exit tickets, we shared several different ways of constructing answers.  All of these students are solving the same exact problem, but look at how different their explanations were!  I have done this with three different exit tickets, and I just LOVE hearing them explain their reasoning and seeing how excited their peers get, too.

 These next two activities are also from Meg's unit and provided such great practice!  The top one they are working on comparing and ordering numbers.  They had to make a "train" as big as possible.  They LOVED this and begged to do it again.  Success!

This was another activity that was very telling.  I could see very quickly which students were successful in reasoning about a fraction's relative size and which were still struggling.  They loved this activity as well!


So, this activity LOOKS so lame, I know!  BUT, it is the activity that my students have loved the most so far this entire unit!  Isn't it funny what kids end up loving?  I dreamed it up about 13 minutes before my plan time was over (right before math), I typed it up quickly, and off they went.  The room was completely silent as they worked on drawing their bakeries, writing the fraction of each goodie that they had drawn, and then ordering the fractions.  I spruced it up a little bit when I got home, and you can download the differentiated activity for free HERE.  The first page is significantly more difficult than the second, so take a look and see which students can handle the first page!

This was a great stepping stone to starting our HUGE fractions bakery project, which is coming up soon in our unit.  I can't wait to kick that one off with some chef's hats and goodies!


As we had finished practicing all of these skills (ordering fractions, comparing fractions, modeling fractions, equivalent fractions, etc.) I wanted to be sure to review them all together.  So often we teach these skills in isolation and once we move on, kids just seem to forget all that we had done!  We decided to have a slumber party day, and I put together a sleepover fraction challenge to review all of these concepts.  It was so much fun!




That's it for now!  We are only about half way through our unit, so I'm sure I'll be updating more soon. :)

1 comment:

  1. And this is why you are one of my favorite "go to" sources for new ideas! Thank you for always sharing such easily doable activities that not only get my 5th graders excited, but also get me excited to teach something in a new way~

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