Print, Solve, & Explain: Equivalent Fractions

One of my main goals this year has been to really get my 5th graders writing about their mathematical thinking. How can they explain a certain math concept? What strategies do they use to solve a problem? How can they show something to be true mathematically?

I knew I wanted my students to write about their thinking in regards to our latest unit on equivalent fractions. I also knew they already had the tools they needed to do so. My students could model equivalence in a variety of ways (folded paper, manipulatives, and drawings). They could also create equivalent fractions by multiplying the numerator and denominator by the same number. Many were comfortable with simplifying fractions through division.

Now I wanted my students to take it to the next level and use their knowledge to explore the equivalence of multiple fractions...and write to explain their thinking.

So I gave them an assortment of fractions, along with five sorting mats:


Working in partners, the students began to classify these fractions into five categories of equivalence. There were 25 fractions cards, but there were not five fractions per group, in order to keep things challenging. :)

Some equivalences were easier to spot quickly:

While others took a great deal of thought and discussion among partners:


I stepped back for this part and watched my students explore and explain to one another. They made calculations, sketched out diagrams, debated over certain fractions, looked to the simplest form for several of the categories (I was over the moon when I heard that last one!). 

It was a beautiful thing to witness!

Once my students were sure of their categories, they glued their equivalent fractions in place. Then it was time to share our findings.

Groups came up to the computer projector to share a group of equivalence they found, as well as their strategies for finding the equivalence:
We kept a list of strategies that could be used to find equivalence and added these strategies to our math notes.

The next day, we came back to the activity...it was time to get it in writing.

I asked my students to choose one category of equivalence (one that challenged them!) and write an explanation.

We used two reflection sheets, a blank one for diagrams and visuals:

And a lined one as well, to write out their explanation of equivalence:

As in all other subjects in class, my students referred to our Transitional Word Posters to help with their explanations:


(I cannot tell you how much my students use these posters for all of their writing pieces, and math is no exception!)

I was delighted to read responses like "Likewise, 20/60 is equivalent to 1/3 just 35/105 is equivalent to 1/3, as shown in the diagram on the next page." 

It worked out so well my class, so I put everything together (with lesson plans, a writing rubric, student writing samples, and more) and listed it in my store. You can learn more about Print, Solve, & Explain: Equivalent Fractions here:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Print-Solve-Explain-Equivalent-Fractions-1117234

You can also see the Transitional Word Posters here (they really are the perfect complement to our mathematical writing projects):
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❤ Editable Valentine Coupons ❤

We are actually not in school today because we are digging out of a big snowstorm. Well, to be totally truthful, I haven't gotten to the "digging out" part yet as I am blissfully working in my comfy pants (also known as pajamas).

So I realize today is the big day, but I do have a Valentine's gift all ready for my class when we head back to school next week and I would love to share a copy with you...just in case you are snowed in as well and needing a little present for your lovelies.


This gift features four editable coupons to create those dearly-loved (and money-saving) presents that will warm your students' hearts. 

Here is the set I am using for my class:

These coupons are available in a Powerpoint slide. Simply click on each text box and type in the prize of your choice, as well as the expiration date (I find this really helpful to include on my coupons):


As students cash in the homework coupons from this set (those other two prizes are more of my decision) I will just cross them off...or mark them as "void" ;)

If you would like to download this file, please click on the preview image below:


What kinds of money-saving gifts do you like to give your students?
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Utilizing Those Nonfiction Text Features (file to share)

 photo nonfictionfeatures1.png
We are deep into our nonfiction units in both Reader's and Writer's Workshop. In Writer's, my students will eventually create their own informational text. In Reader's, it's all about reading and comprehending a variety of nonfiction texts.

Speaking of that, those nonfiction text features have a huge part in the comprehension of advanced texts, don't they?

featuring...features!

Well, not so much maybe.

My 5th graders know them all by name, they know their various purposes within a text. But were they always utilizing nonfiction text features for information?

I wasn't so sure after a recent benchmark assessment.

Student after student read fluently through the running record book...but completely gliding past numerous charts, diagrams, and captions, all carefully designed to support their comprehension.

vital visuals

So I decided to turn to our science text which is chock-full of important text feature visuals...especially in the section on ecosystems.
 photo nonfictionfeatures12.png 
This section was actually perfect for such an activity, as the features are key in understanding consumers, producers, decomposers, food pyramids, and so many other terms the students must learn.

I photocopied selections from the chapter, then blocked out all of the regular text, leaving all of the text features alone on the page:
 photo nonfictionfeatures10.png
I then asked my students our Essential Question for the lesson:

how do nonfiction text features help with our comprehension of informational texts?

(nothing better than the combination of Reading and Science, right?)

After a quick discussion of what we already knew about this question, I handed my students the text-less (new word for you!) chapter selection along with a graphic organizer.

I asked the students to find as many facts from the nonfiction text features as they could and record them in the organizer.
  photo nonfictionfeatures9.png
My 5th graders got to work, highlighting and recording all those facts. I watched them study the pictures and captions very closely, sharing out what they discovered with their teammates.

As they recorded facts, students also demonstrated facts they had already known versus new information:
 photo nonfictionfeatures11.png 
(I'm sure you can guess which column had more checks, as was the intent!)

Then we shared out and recorded facts we had discovered on a chart. There were quite a few facts we had learned, and all of this information came before we had even read the chapter! (can you hear me exclaiming this to my class?)

what does this mean to us as readers 
of nonfiction texts?

We then took some time to reflect on the experience and what it meant to us as readers.
 photo nonfictionfeatures3.png 
I have learned from my dear friend Jen over at Runde's Room the immense value of reflecting over everything we do in class, so I knew this would be an important closing to our activity. (thank you Jen, I can't tell you enough how you helped me evolve my practice!!!)
 photo nonfictionfeatures6.png 
My students realized how much information could be gained from the text features and were able to share this nicely in their reflections.

And, as an added bonus, it turned out to be a wonderful frontloading activity for Science, as we hadn't even read the chapter yet! 

features in the future

In our reading groups, my students now take the time to look all over the page at the various features, remarking on their findings before reading a particular selection.

And to help continue this practice of utilizing features for information and comprehension, we continue to examine and identify our learning from text features across all subject areas. 

would you like to try this? 

I designed the graphic organizer used with my students to be pretty general, in hopes some of you may be able to use this as well.

If you would like to download this file, please click on the image below:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ARzMSbNzXNRFJNb2hqNkl4b1E/edit?usp=sharing

facebook friends?

Before I dash off to plan for the week (don't be impressed, I'm bound to get distracted by something more pressing!) I did want to say I've been making a concentrated effort to share happenings in our classroom on Facebook, since I've been such a intermittent blogger this year. I would love to see you there if you would like to follow!! :)


Thanks for visiting, I hope you can use the file!
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