Thursday, 19 October 2017

Fractions and Decimals with Jo Knox


Today Team 5 had the opportunity to watch Jo Knox in action with two different Maths groups (one at Stage 6 and one at Stage 7). The aim was to see her teach students to convert fractions into decimals.

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING Jo asked a series of quick questions to gauge the groups understanding of fractions and decimals based on examples from the Numeracy  Development Project (NPD) resources or ‘Pink books’.

MATERIALS - Decipipes are a really effective tool to help support students to understand the basics of fractions and decimals. They are also easy for students to manipulate, able to break/build up both representations of both fraction and decimal numbers. 

STRATEGY MODEL Start students off using materials then progressing to Imaging and then Materials as students show greater fluency in their use of a given strategy - see NPD Book 3 p5 

 - Number equations were recorded 
in a modelling book in plain view of all students. A handy reference point for the teacher to guide students in their thinking and to record in themselves (see next note).
STUDENT THINKING - Jo regularly asked students to explain their answers. The focus was on how they got an answer, helped to highlight can be more than one ‘correct’ solution; extended this to give specific roles to members of the group - split group into three - one group explained their answer, while a second group modelled the answer using materials (decipipes) and a third group recorded answer in modelling book - this approach ensure all students were fully engaged!

PLENARY - at the end of each group’s session, Jo asked the students to reflect on what they had learned and together they co-constructed the WALT for the lesson in kid’s language - she feels that sharing the WALT at start of lesson isl ike giving away the punchline of a joke upfront

Example 1: WALT Convert fractions and decimals by turning them into tenths, hundredths and thousandths

Example 2: WALT by add numbers by taking one off one number and adding to another to make a whole number

So many golden nuggets from this session! I would like to try out co-constructing WALTs with my students - it will be interesting to see if what I had planned to teach matches up with what students feel they have learnt.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Inquiry Update: Rich Learning Activities

In Term 3, my priority students changed and I revamped my inquiry focus question to investigate the extent to which the format of maths problems will influence the problem solving abilities of my target students.

My latest hunch was that the format of the questions I gave to the students was impacting on their ability to be successful in problem solving.

A PD session with Jo Knox highlighted the benefits of using open ended, rich learning tasks (like the 'Giant's Hand' activity to the right) as a way to engage and challenge students. She explained a resource bank is available on the nzmaths site. 
I chose rich learning activities that matched the term topic of Geometry & Measurement. To explore the concept of perimeter further, I chose the Parking Cars task for my priority group. Students needed to work out a new car park layout for a specific number of vehicles.

First we unpacked the problem in our group session and clarified key details e.g the dimensions of the parking lot and the required car spaces. I was explicit in telling them that there may be more than one possible result. Despite some initial hesitation to this 'new' kind of problem after the discussion, the students were all super keen to head off and be the first to work out a possible solution. Working with a buddy or on their own, some made a screencastify recording to explain their 'solution'.
Samples of student work are below:

Click here for Junior's full blog post

Click here for Kerstein's full blog post

The open ended and real-life nature of the rich tasks totally engaged the students and without any prompting from me. They willingly took longer to work through different options and were less focused on finding the 'right' answer. Their end solutions highlighted how students had interpreted (or misinterpreted) a problem and so provided me with a useful starting point for a discussion to find out more about their thinking process.

I was really pleased with the students' positive response to the 'rich' task and would like to use them with all the groups. The challenge will be to find tasks that are appropriate - not too hard or not too easy - and linked to the given maths topic being reviewed.

As Term 4 kicks off, the next hunch I would like to explore is how modelling books can be used to effectively scaffold my priority students in problem solving strategies.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Google Exam - Success at last!

Google Exam Post Script: After a disappointing first effort, I was keen to take another shot at the Level 1 Google Exam.

I lined up a test date with others from the course on the second week of the holidays but unfortunately, a slight hiccup with the retake process from Google foiled my retake  plans! Not to be defeated, I finally resat the test on the last weekend of the holidays - no pressure.
Well, I am pleased to say the wait was worth it - I passed! This success has really made me appreciate just how much I learnt on the DFI course last term - again a huge thank you to Dorothy, Gerhard and Matt! Hmmm, is it time to think about Level 2? Watch this space...