Helping my students organize their
thinking and learning in different ways is very important to me. 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.
In fact,
two of Marzano's effective teaching
strategies--cooperative learning and identifying similarities and
differences--are utilized
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! 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!

Check out the order of the headers...that led to a great discussion! |

This sort was a review sort for my
students: They needed to sort the multiplication

facts by product. We had great discussions about what the different headers meant and how students could best organize their work.
In fact, many teams put the headings in random order at first; we talked about how the dictionary is arranged in alphabetical order to help us find things easily.
In math we often
put
information in numeric order. 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 think more deeply so I had them
also use the blank cards to make some
additional facts
that
would fit in each category. This is a GREAT way to extend each sort—especially for students needing enrichment.

Some of my students even asked if they could use fractions. I granted permission to one team once they proved they understood what they were doing.

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 time is up, I typically continue 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 can take a post it note and cut it into three
“tags”. They then are allowed to “tag” up to three spots on other groups’ papers
where they felt an error was made. I did not do this gallery walk with
this sort because it was a review sort.
Here is what it would look like! (This is from one of my fraction sorts.)

Were we 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? This new resource includes FIVE different
multiplication
sorts
for you—including the one pictured earlier in this post. From sorting multiplication facts to prime numbers to extended multiplication facts to estimation, this set of sorts should help deepen your students' understanding of multiplication.

What a terrific idea & I like how you have blank cards for kids to write their own examples!! Love the accountability with other students using post-its!! As always, thanks for sharing your knowledge!! I wish I could be in your class!

ReplyDeleteYou are too kind!

DeleteDo you have this sort for us to snag? It looks great!

ReplyDelete