Reflection: Trust and Respect Percent Intro - Section 3: Task

 

One of the best moments in teaching occur when students show genuine interest in their learning paths and ask for help in specific areas. Over the past week, as we ended our work in Unit 5: Ratios and Proportional Relationships, students began to share out in class that they still felt weak about their skills in division, specifically when one or both of the numbers were decimals. I started laughing after I heard one student whisper to another, “but don’t tell her that, then she’ll give us a ton of problems like that to practice!”. After seeing me laugh, others felt comfortable doing the same. I then asked, “who here would actually appreciate a full day’s lesson on problems like those?” and 75% of the class showed interest.

It’s taken a while for us as a class to get to this point. Cultivating an environment where students feel comfortable admitting what they need help with takes time. To that end, I decided to begin the percents unit with a lesson that reviews division of rational numbers. I am attaching the materials I used for the classwork section. I shared this decision with this particular group of students. The student who made the initial comment scrunched up her face, and then a nearby friend giggled and explained, “don’t do that! It’s going to help! Ok, I promise I’ll help you” and then smiled wide. At this comment the unhappy student smiled and turned to me to ask, “we can do group work right?” Yes, they will complete the word problems in groups. They will also be expected to complete the skill of long division independently so that I can identify the students who need additional support and review.

Moments like these happen a few times each year and they always serve to remind me how important the cultivation of trust is within our class. Students have to feel empowered to take charge of their own education and to face the thing that gets most in the way. By encouraging my students to discuss their misconceptions and by sharing their work on a daily basis through the use of a document camera, we can begin to normalize errors and math struggles. This has to happen even if the “skill” or “concept” needing review is deemed “too low” or from a lower grade level. This is why I try not to mention the grade level attached to a skill. It’s not easy to do this – I catch myself at times saying things like, “this is a 5th grade skill”, to impress upon my students the urgency with which we must learn these concepts, but in the end it just hurts students who cannot perform. We can talk about growth through the use of whole class average and totals (i.e. “75% of our class got # correct!”, “we went up by 12 points as a class in our sprints today”, etc). By changing the language to “this is a skill we need to work on”, we can teach our students to focus on their own growth, rather than making them self-conscious about their level compared to others.

 

  Trust and Respect: Identifying Skills to Remediate
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Percent Intro

Unit 6: Percent Applications
Lesson 1 of 17

Objective: SWBAT convert fractions to decimals, decimals to percent and percent to fractions and decimals.

Big Idea: Students will work independently and with neighbors to practice converting fractions, decimals, and percents in order to compare and visualize them

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day 104 percent intro
 
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