Background Knowledge: Percentages and Practice

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SWBAT solve basic percentage problems before choosing what else they'd like to practice.

Big Idea

A timed review of percentage problems sets the stage for further development of a growth mindset among all students in the class.

Opener: Percentage Practice #1

10 minutes

For today's class, we're back in the computer lab.  As I mentioned last week, there are certain areas where technology really shines.  Drilling skills and collecting data are two of those places.  

Today's opener meets both of those requirements.  I use the web site to set up a timed exercise in calculating percentages.  Students have 10 minutes to solve as many simple percentage problems as they can.  I give a quick overview of the teacher view of in this video, but it's a pretty intuitive site to use if you decide to check it out.

Students will need to apply their percentage skills in the upcoming "Where Does My Stuff Come From?" project, so this helps them warm up for that.  We haven't discussed this skill yet this year, so this serves as a pre-assessment for me.  The structure should feel familiar, however, because it's just like the three rounds of "Linear Practice" that we completed in recent weeks.  What's beautiful about this is that, by having kids complete quizzes on the online tool, I minimize grading for myself, the kids get instant feedback, and a new data set (of percentage problems correctly solved) is generated.


Work Time: Your Choice of Delta Math Assignments

30 minutes

After the ten minutes of percentage practice, students spend the rest of the period choosing what to practice on Delta Math.  I've set up three Delta Math assignments that students can try.

  • There's a percentage practice in which students can practice the same sort of problems they attempted in the opener.  Actually, the numbers in the problems here add a degree of difficulty, which I think is good.  Students should try to correctly solve 10 in a row.
  • An assignment called "Want to be better with fractions?" begins with two nifty visualizations of ratios and fractions before moving on to representing fractions, reducing them, and fraction arithmetic.  As the title of the assignment states, this assignment will help kids get a better foothold in this topic.
  • For anyone who already feels confident about their percent and fraction skills, there's a "Mastery Assignments for SLT 2.1".  Here, students must solve three consecutive problems (with no errors) on each of the modules related to box plots, frequency tables, and histograms.  I'll consider this a mastery assignment and give anyone who completes within the next 36 hours a 4 on the learning target.

Debrief: What if You Tried Again?

3 minutes

It takes patience to cultivate a growth mindset.  Progress is incremental, and it requires a steady message, delivered in a variety of contexts, day after day.  For today's debrief, I provide a very specific, quantifiable context in which we will spot some growth.

I ask the class to think back to 25 minutes ago, to Percentage Practice #1.  I ask them, "How would you do if you tried this challenge again, right now?"  I listen to what they say, and I commend those students who already feel more confident in their skills.  Many of them will already say that percentage problems are not as difficult as they'd once thought. 

I tell everyone that we'll try this exercise again a week from now, and I expect that when we debrief Percentage Practice #2, we'll see that everyone is making progress.  No matter how incremental that progress is, I'll celebrate it, because that just might be the moment that gets a kid or two to engage.  Incremental growth means that every little moment counts.