In yesterday's lesson, the students engaged in a dramatization of creating fractions of cookies for three people to share two cookies. The energy in the room was high and focused. I am capitalizing on this for today's lesson with another real-world problem. Today, students work in groups of four today to create a dramatic production depicting the solution to a real world problem.
As I call the students to the carpet, a video clip from yesterday's lesson has been selected, and is ready to play. As we watch an example of one of yesterday's "rough draft" skits, we have a conversation about what is important in stage performances so our audience can understand the teaching. As the students turn and tell their partners what they think, I display a checklist I have already developed for them…like I can read their minds!! Or at least I can guide their thinking.
This clip is the one we use to discuss what would make a good film:
I then display the pre-determined group arrangements. The groups decide on the jobs each person will have, but one of the jobs must be director/cameraperson. I also remind students of the materials that are always available in the room to assist them. I have pattern blocks, white boards, fraction circles, Cuisenaire rods, and iPads set out.
Next, I send students to the four corners of the room with a printed problem and checklist so they have space to create, solve, and, film.
As the teams work on the solution to their problem, figure out how to display their solution, and write a script, I will move around the room assisting and inserting prompts to ask them to go more deeply. I will also pay close attention to their use of the vocabulary terms, because, as we all know, finding an answer is different than precisely explaining a solution and thinking.
The common core prompts us, and rightly so, to engage students in opportunities to make meaning of their world mathematically and then to apply and precisely communicate that meaning. In third grade, activities like this do just that.
Another one of my tasks during this part of the lesson is to help the "directors" and the teams in their viewing of their own work. In this phase, the teams will need to watch their work on the iPad and decide if there are any revisions to be made, whether they are with the skit itself, or in the math.
Following ample time to produce a response to the problem, I ask teams to pair up in order to "check in" and review what they may need to do next.
This task focuses the students on what they have accomplished as well as guides me in my planning for the following day. I expect that most of the work will be done and the groups, if any, will feel they need some "clean up" time. However, I will not treat this time as a "report out", but a time to again insert a little push to go further. It may mean suggesting the use of vocabulary words, or modeling, or even presentation skills.
Whatever it may be, there is always a next step or a plunge deeper than where we are at. Try not to miss it during these small moments.
As a close, I will remind the students that their work today was to explore ways to make a fraction by partitioning a whole, or several wholes, in order to solve a problem.
I will then let them know that I heard and saw great work and recognize what needs to be accomplished at the beginning of tomorrow's session before we view the "Oscar Award-Winning Films" that they have created!
For home practice, I will ask them to watch the dinner table and see how the food is shared among the people sharing the meal. They are to watch for evidence of fractions and times when things are not served in that manner and have a reason why.