One thing that I really like to
work on with my students is organizing their learning in different ways. One
method I have found to be very successful is to ask students to take work
samples or problem types and sort them into categories. People who use
Words Their Way do this all the time with students as they look for sound or
letter patterns that help them understand how words are put together.

I find concept sorts particularly
useful in math and the content areas as well--and I really believe it helps
students make connections among ideas and help them to see how things are
connected. In fact, two of Marzano's
effective teaching strategies--cooperative learning and identifying
similarities and differences--are addressed with this activity. If research has shown solid evidence that
categorizing and finding similarities and differences works—I’m all for it!

Here is how I tend to use these
sorts—although please know that there is no RIGHT way! (And another way will be blogged about soon) Get creative and let the students guide you
as you go. Here is one example of a sort
I did with my students. I started by splitting my class
into groups of 3. (I like trios for lots of reasons…because it allows for
better dialogue, it helps strugglers, and
also allows for one extra person in case
a third person gets pulled out of the group or has to leave for any
reason!) For this sort, I gave each group a
small piece of bulletin board paper for
them to do their sort. They grabbed their sort cards, cut, and started to
organize them!

As my students sorted, I simply walked around and eavesdropped! It was a great time to listen for math language, to listen for any misconceptions, and to see who was feeling confident and who was
not.

Students begin to question each
other, ask questions of each other, and help one another come to higher
levels of understanding. My role is simply to be an observer—I really don’t get
involved at this point…even if I see errors. Trust me on this!

This sort was an
example/counterexample sort…I wanted the students to
decide if the

fraction card I gave them was an
“example” of 1/2 or a “counterexample” of
1/2.

This group was getting their
T-chart all set up.

Now…it would be plenty easy to have
the students stop at this point, but I am working hard with mine on to get them
to use their writing skills in math and to work on that “critiquing reasoning”
standard. So I had my students actually
write on their posters to explain why all their “counterexamples” were NOT 1/2!

I gave the students a total of 15
minutes to do this job—and there were a few groups that did not get every card
sorted. That’s okay. If I gave some groups 45 minutes, they may not
have finished! I like to keep things
moving—I even had a visual timer up on my Smartboard so
they know how much time they had left.

After the time was up, I continued
the activity with a gallery walk.
Although actually DOING the sort is a valuable activity, gallery walks
can add a whole new level of critique to the lesson! Each trio took a post it note and cut it into
three “tags”. They were allowed to
“tag” up to three spots on other groups’
papers where they felt an error was made.
Here’s what it looked like!

Finished? Not yet!
Each group then went back to their “home base” and looked at the
results. They then discussed any
“flagged” items and we went through some of the most challenging ones as a
class. The entire activity took us 25
minutes from start to finish! Are you
ready to give it a try? I have included
FIVE different fraction sorts for you—including the one pictured above.

I really find these activities to be meaningful, and I hope you do as well! Have a great weekend.

UPDATE: Now also available in a "Teaching Tandem" where it is paired with my Fractured Fractions resource at a reduced price!

Looking for an entire fraction unit? Check out this best seller!

Wow! I'm so amazed at the this activity. We don't get into fractions until February, but I will definitely be using this activity! Awesome!

ReplyDeleteRissa

Keep Calm and Hoot On

Yay, more fractions! We've started too. I love how you have a variety of ways to represent fractions here! Part of me is saying, "Try this for comparing and ordering fractions" and part of me is saying, "No, that would create a misconception that you can compare apples and oranges, so to speak." Hmm.

ReplyDeletePerfect timing! We are doing fractions now too! Thanks for sharing. I agree with you about the value of groups of three. It especially drives me crazy when we are in partners and one gets called away.

ReplyDelete-Lisa

Grade 4 Buzz

I love this idea because it also allows the students to put one of their mathematical practice to use by critiquing the reasoning of others.

ReplyDeleteI love this idea! I really like that they have to defend their reasoning, and I love the gallery walks. Thanks for sharing! #fcc3_join

ReplyDelete