I Want Some Candy! A Journaling Assessment

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Students will define equal fractions while using accurate vocabulary terms.

Big Idea

Students must acquire an ability to explain their thinking using accurate vocabulary words. Journal entries are a perfect venue for this learning.

Mini Lesson

10 minutes

Begin this lesson by putting a simple question on the board dealing with dividing a whole into fractional parts in order to "fairly" share.  I chose to write:

4 people could share 1 whole candy bar by...

I then ask students to share at their tables as many ways as they could think of to share this candy bar.  After some think time, debate and proving at the tables, representatives from each group come up and list and defend one of their ways. 

Remember in this lesson, one of the goals is to make sense of equal fractions.  It is also an excellent lesson to help the students build their vocabulary capacity through their conversations and journaling.  Try not to push too much other than this, as it may create confusion and misconceptions.

This team representative is making sense of how the total number of people sharing defines the denominator.  What she doesn't know, yet, is that she is working with the multiples of 4!

After some discussion, explain to the students that they will work on a journal prompt of the same type of problem.

Active Engagement

20 minutes

As a writing prompt, I give students a sticker with a situation. I found this on the K-5 Math Teaching Resources website in the journal prompt section and include it here in the resource section. The situation asks the students to find several ways for two people to share a whole candy bar.  I ask the students to work independently on this so that I can assess there learning thus far.

My students go right to work. Here are two examples of their work.

This student is making sense of how to name fractional pieces, which he is just calling "pieces" at this point.  I am confident he understands how to divide a whole into fractional pieces, but his vocabulary in conversation is the area to build on at this point.

This child works to find the vocabulary to make meaning of his understanding.  He uses the words whole, equal amounts, eighths, and half.  If you look carefully at his entry, he writes how many "pieces" each person gets, rather than using the name of the fraction.  I work to prompt him to begin looking at equivalent fractions, while also using the correct vocabulary.

Closing and Share

10 minutes

In closing, I ask the students to trade journals and discuss if they are similar or different from their own. This prompts discussions and some students even revised their work and added more to their responses.

I then assign revision of the above prompt as homework. I explain that I will be scoring them using our class rubric for journal responses, and that they had the evening to construct their best response. This activity helps them dig more deeply into their response and "clean it up" using descriptive drawings and vocabulary.