We have made it to our fourth and final week of this book study! It has been a great summer learning about fractions and I am excited to be back in the classroom putting what I have learned to good use. If you have missed previous posts, you can check them out by clicking on the links below
July 22nd Part 3: Multiplication and Division with Fractions
Chapter 8 Developing Awareness: Six Strategies for Fostering Student Talk About Fractions
This section of the book steps away from the ideas about developing fraction reasoning and instead focuses on how to structure your class so that you can provide opportunities for kids to talk about fractions. A lot of the strategies presented in this section are good teaching strategies that are also very beneficial classroom practices in general.
Strategy 1: Using Strategic Tasks
If you want your students to build conceptual knowledge about fractions rather than just learning the steps of a formalized procedure, you need to make sure you are giving them tasks that have something worth talking about. They might be open ended, able to be solved in multiple ways and will make your students think. Selecting a task that they can use some prior knowledge to build up from is also a good idea. I think the ability to pick strategic tasks comes with time and practice. If the task you pick isn't working the way you want it to, try something else!
Strategy 2: Creating Records of Thinking
Having students record their thinking or ideas in some way is a great way to share their thinking with classmates and to help organize their thoughts. I used to have kids copy down their thinking on an overhead transparency or on the board when it was time to share ideas. Now that I have a document camera in every room, this has gotten so much easier to share what kids are thinking. Some kids might need help recording their thinking when they are first starting out but it is a great strategy for building student talk.
Strategy 3: Building Visual Models
Get great math tools into your students hands! Fraction manipulatives such as fraction strips, or Cuisenaire rods as well as number lines are a great way to build conceptual understanding and engage kids in a hands on way.
Strategy 4: Reasoning with Benchmarks and the Number Line
I love how using benchmarks helps kids think about their calculations and the reasonableness of their answers. Thinking about how close a number is to 1/2 or 1 can really help kids see if their answers make sense. This is estimation at its finest.
Out of all the talk moves described in this chapter, wait time was the one I needed to work on the most. I was one of those teachers who would ask a question and expect an immediate response. Since purposefully working on my wait time, I have noticed a huge difference in the number of kids who are ready to participate. For a lot more about talk moves, check out this book.
Strategy 6: Asking Students to Turn and Talk
This is one of my favorite strategies as a teacher and as a learner. When I have a chance to talk to someone about my ideas, it helps me organize them, develop them and be better able to articulate my thinking. I find the same is true for my students and I use turn and talk many times each day.
How do you incorporate student talk in your fraction lessons?