Friday, March 22, 2019

That Quiz: Teaching Surprise

Sometimes what we expect is different than what we get in school. Recently I asked students to complete a set of That Quiz exercises which included lots of addition and subtraction of fractions and mixed numbers.

We had reviewed how to do these problems in class and practiced, and these exercises were meant to provide a bit more exercise. I thought the students would fly through the exercises, however, most found the exercises very difficult and they needed a lot of help.

As I sat with many students helping them with the assignments, I noticed the following:

• It was challenging for them to find the common denominator which made me realize once again just how important factor/multiple knowledge is. We reviewed that information throughout the year, but if time permits, it would be great to do some good, deep review before the fraction unit.
• It was challenging for them to complete the many steps including finding common denominators, changing improper fractions to mixed numbers, and adding whole numbers with mixed numbers.
• It was still challenging for most of them to visualize the amounts and think about the reasonableness of their answers.
One challenge with our fifth grade math program is the sheer quantity of concepts we have to cover--there never seems like there's enough time to go over each concept with enough depth. Every year I try to manage the curriculum a bit differently to fit it all in, and I always come up a little short with respect to the depth and success I'd like. Of course, I want every child to master every concept with depth and ease.

I'm thankful to the many families, colleagues and teachers before fifth grade that support this study well. This is a consistent goal of the fifth grade math curriculum.