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Lesson

4th grade math - Understanding Fractions

Clip 9/10: Lesson 3, Part C

Overview

Michelle challenges her students to individually select one grouping of representations from their chart and move them over to a poster without the justifications. Each student then writes responses to several questions, each of which has a sentence stem prompt:

- Why did you select this grouping? / I selected this grouping because...
- How do you know that all the cards represent the same quantity? / I know that all the cards represent the same quantity because...
- When sharing your work with other pairs, what did you learn from the discussion? / When I shared my chart with another pair I learned... from the discussion.

Teacher Commentary

MICHELLE MAKINSON: I often encourage my students to get up out of their seats and move, to keep them from becoming frustrated. This clip is after we’d begun to do our partner sharing outside, but ultimately they were too distracted by other things that were going on, so we came back in. My thinking was, they were feeling cooped up. I like to move them around to different environments because it kept their interest. It kept them from becoming fatigued and annoyed, and when they become fatigued and annoyed they do especially disruptive things to each other, verbally. I could see the meltdown happening. It was not a very good day. I thought, "Okay, I have a little, tiny window before the younger kids come out for recess.” They’re actually more focused in this sharing than they were outside, maybe in part because they got to move.

Because of all the emotional issues and the turmoil in that class, I had to do a lot of work. Every day was a struggle. There was so much stuff. If one person would calm down, another one would pop off. There were at least 10 of them that were extremely high needs, and few of those had any official diagnosis of special needs.

I see them using academic vocabulary well here. There was some anchoring in that. Just constantly using the same academic vocabulary, insisting on it, not moving forward until they use the right vocabulary and questioning them towards it.

I'm working as a teacher trying to figure out what is the right balance. I also want to create reference books that they have organized, so then it becomes a writing thing, an organization thing, so they can look up content for math. We have a pretty well developed math journal. We're used to documenting our own thinking and then going back and seeing what you have to do in order to make the thing we created viable and useful.