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  • Mary Olsen

    March 15, 2022 at 11:03 am

    I tried this yesterday with my Algebra Readiness 6th and 7th grade classes. It did not go well. The students just really could not grasp what the question was asking. They kept going back to the 1/3 for the second shoveling and the 2/3 of that portion is left not shoveled. After letting them work for a while and questioning their thinking..trying to get them to understand I had them draw the area rectangle showing the 1/4 that was shoveled first. Then I drew attention to the portion of the driveway that was not shoveled. Students could understand that 3/4 of the driveway was not shoveled. But getting that 1/3 or the 3/4 that was not shoveled did not go anywhere. I know in 6th grade they drew models for fraction multiplication when learning about fraction multiplication but not one of the students went there. Not even my 6th graders that actually have done that recently in their math class.

    My question is what do you do when none of the groups is on a real track to solving the problem. One group drew a picture of the fourths and then a second picture of thirds. But they could not see any connection. I thought I was asking good questions to get them to think about strategies. When nothing I was asking was going anywhere I asked what it would look like if they drew the fourths picture and the thirds picture on the same rectangle. What they ended up doing was not even close they just kinda smooshed them together.

    My classes are made of struggling students. Some love trying things and have a positive attitude and others are more negative and just want to goof off. I know doing the tasks will be great for them once they start meeting with success.

    I wanted to use them to intro the concepts before I reteach them. Since it is the second semester most of the concepts I cover they were taught in their regular math class earlier this year. But maybe I should look at using lower grade tasks that may or may not be what we are learning. Any task that helps them learn how to struggle through is great. But if their struggle is not getting them anywhere near understanding how to solve a task I feel I might be reinforcing their negative ideas on math.

    Suggestions greatly appreciated.