Friday, 12 May 2017

Cross-grouping in maths (reflection)

Monday 8th May

Today myself and my colleague (the other year 5/6 teacher) changed up our maths plan and decided to cross-group our students for this fractions unit.

We both have a HUGE range of ability in our classes (stages 3-7 in both classes) and this makes it incredibly difficult to adequately teach each students at all their various levels.
In my own class, I have students who can't subtract from 20 in their heads, and students who can multiply decimals. That gap is just too big to try to get them to do stuff together.

So today I took the stage 6-7 students, and my colleague took the stage 3-5 students and

Even within my group, I still had students who didn't get it, some who were ready for more and a big bunch in the middle who it was a good amount of challenge for. However, by the end of the lesson, most of them had gotten the concept.

It was so much easier to teach them when they were all ready and able to deal with more complex ideas, including comparing fractions (with different denominators) in their heads and telling me which one was bigger, or telling me how many quarters are in 7, or if 1/3 has 3 jellybeans in it, how many jellybeans are in 10? (Etc.)

I felt so encouraged that I could really shift the students and move them into stage 7 for this unit, as I could focus more time and effort on challenging ideas instead of trying to make one thing fit everyone (it just doesn't work sometimes).

Tuesday 9th May

Today we continued with our cross-grouping for maths. We didn't have as much time as did yesterday, so we got straight into it. Man, it makes such a difference being able to say something once and have everybody understand and do it. Teachers, you will feel me on this.

I gave the kids a piece of paper with a number line on it (0 on the left, 1 on the right) and I asked them to show me where 1/2 goes. All the groups put it in the middle of 0 and 1. Great! Hallelujah! Don't need to stop and re-teach what a half is. Beauty. Next, I asked them to put 2/3. This threw them a little, as 2/3 doesn't connect to 1/2, whereas 1/4 does because it's half of a half. However, they knew without prompting that thirds means three groups and so they roughly tried to divide the line into three parts. Not bad! Next, I asked them to put on 1/3 and 3/3, followed by sixths then quarters. Sixths was quite easy, once they understood that half of a third is a sixth (Thanks to my amazing drawing of a chocolate bar lol).

Quarters was much easier because they could half each half, thirds was a bit more abstract. A couple of the kids didn't quite understand why 4/4 was the same as 1 whole, so a bit of explaining was needed here.
I lastly asked them to put on 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5 and 5/5. I was AMAZED as one of the groups put 2.5 in the middle underneath 1/2. Although they hadn't placed the fifth fractions on the number line, by doing so they showed me that they were breaking up the fraction to try and compare them. Yay! I used this to teach all the other groups that if the middle is 2.5/5, then 1/5 and 2/5 must be on the left because they are smaller (closer to 0), and 3/5 and 4/5 must be on the right because they are bigger than 2.5/5 (closer to 1 whole). And of course 5/5 is the same as 1. (This same group even put 0/5 underneath the 0 without prompting - blimey!)

As a warm down I offered tokens to students who could answer my questions, which were
- what is the same as half? (3/6, 2/4, 0.5 - then some kids out of nowhere started saying 4/8, 5/10, 6/12 even though we didn't talk about those, they just noticed and understood the pattern).
- what is the same as 1? (2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 and so on)
and what is the same as 3/4? what is bigger than 2/3? what is smaller than 1/4? how many quarters are in 1?

I loved having the students work in groups today as they were teaching each other without me prompting everything. I can see that they are pushing each other and helping each other understand the content/concept.

(I liked this groups piece of paper especially, because of all the drawings on it. They had been trying to compare the fractions all by themselves.

Tomorrow we are going to use our comparisons to find equivalent fractions, which will lead into adding and subtracting fractions.

Wednesday 10th May

Today I taught the students how to add and subtract fractions. We did a tiny bit of a flipped classroom, where they watched a Youtube clipped that explained the concept, then came back to me to practice and skill. 

Some got it straight away, some needed some practice, some needed 1:1 explanation, but in the end they all got it and were getting annoyed at each other if somebody called out the answer before they could figure it out (they wanted to do it themselves!).

For the ones who were cognitively ready, I challenged them to simplify their answers. For example, one answer was 40/40. They knew from yesterday that 4/4 and 2/2 were the same as 1, so when I asked them if 40/40 would be 1 as well, they all went 'ohhhhhhh!'. Another of the answers was 49/40, and some of them understood without me fully explaining it, that simplified would be 1 whole, and 9/40 leftover. Booyah!

Then they even asked me for homework so they could practice... what is life.

Thursday 11th May

Today we completed a worksheet that had both addition and subtraction, for same denominator questions and unlike denominator questions. As we had jumped to unlike denominators yesterday, the kids were a bit confused by having it given to them with the denominators already the same.. Then came the 'ohhh this is way easier'.

The kids worked very independently and discussed it in their own little groups. I was quite impressed how much they understood it and were able to help each other.

For some of the kids, they understood the strategy/skill but didn't have the basic facts knowledge (knowing their times tables) to be able to do it quickly. So we packed up a little early, and practised our basic facts.

Overall reflection
I think I love cross grouping.
In one way, it was awesome to see my kids from last year (the ones who aren't in my class again this year), and in another, it was so AMAZING to have a smaller range of ability in the class so you could really target learning and push them harder.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ashley,

    I really appreciated this post as I also have stage 3-7 learners in my class and I am finding it very challenging with mixed ability grouping. Cross grouping sounds really interesting!


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