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5th Grade Math - Proportions & Ratios

Clip 19/24: Proportions Debrief - Part B


In this clip, Linda Fisher asks Jean Liu, the classroom teacher, to reflect on the lesson.

Teacher Commentary

COMMENTARY BY HILLARY LEWIS-WOLFSEN: After hearing Sabrina’s comment about who was participating and who was not, it got me wondering. Why were the higher students not speaking out as much as she’d expected? They’d understood the problems. I wonder if they were afraid to make a mistake on camera. I’ve noticed with some high achievers, they are afraid to make mistakes; they don’t take risks. We need to take risks and be willing to make mistakes. How else will we learn?

COMMENTARY BY LINDA FISHER: In my years teaching mathematics, I've learned that kids need to have their misconceptions confronted head-on. With re-engagement, we thought, let’s take that and pose them as dilemmas for kids to think about – get them talking about why some of these common things don’t make sense. That way, we can bring a focus on the mathematics and the concept, rather than solely on the solution and the answer.

When I work with teachers, they want to know what to do in terms of remediation. Teachers usually confront student mistakes by going back to a clean slate and start at ground zero. But there’s something profoundly different about reteaching than teaching it for the first time. When you go back to do a re-teaching leson, you don’t want to start as if people have never learned things. You want to get students to let go of why what they’re doing doesn’t work. Teachers need to find a way in to facilitating the conversation, to helping students see why what they’re doing doesn’t work. That’s one kind of reengagement: having kids reach the conclusions.

One of the critical things is that kids have a lot of mathematical ideas that teachers don’t see. My “hidden” agenda is to get teachers to be able to read student work and make sense of what they’re not understanding. Everyone with the wrong answer doesn’t need the same kind of help. In learning to classify student errors, we want teachers to tease out what are the different kinds of help, and why are they different, because they’re based on different mathematical ideas.