Friday, October 30, 2009
Putting It All Together...
A couple of us got to talking and thinking last week. This was not at a planned meeting, but one we chose to have in the hallway. (This is how most good meetings happen!) We have a decimal unit. We have a fraction unit. We try to deal with percents here and there. Later in the year ratios and proportions units roll around and we have to re-teach the fraction stuff which we should have been working on all year but didn't have time for. One colleague said, "Why do we refer to these topics as units?" His point was that we use all of these skills all of the time and they are all significantly interrelated.
We end up connecting the decimals to fractions and percents in the decimal unit.
We connect the fractions to decimals and percents.
We connect the ratios and proportions to fractions, decimals and percents.
So I'm sure you can guess the question. Why not teach it all at the same time?
That's what we are going to do.
We started this week. Here's the plan:
Start with teaching them the "how" of it all. They will learn how to convert between fractions, decimals, and percents, to see the relationships. They will become very proficient at this. (They did a great job)
Next, probably the most important step. Teach the "what" and "why". What is it that you are doing and why would you ever do this. They will use the newspaper, advertisements, baseball and football statistics to see how this all applies to most math they will ever do in their lives. We will use percent circles, fraction bars, human beings, whatever it takes to make sense.
Money, money, money! The students know all about it. What better frame of reference! We will even dabble into the stock market, hopefully the stock market game at some point this year.
They will be experts at adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing fractions and decimals. Fractions of a set, fractions of one, fractions of fractions. They will be able to apply these skills to all problems that arise.
We will use current topics. Today we listened to a Marketplace report from American Public Media which airs on NPR. This report about the assembly of the iPhone and the estimate of percent profit that each country involved in the design and manufacture earns. This lesson involved estimation, converting percents to decimals, decimals to fractions, simplifying fractions, adding decimals, adding percents, and adding fractions. This all came from a four minute audio news report. Did I forget to mention a good practice in listening skills. I was really proud of them today! This was followed up by a trusty old favorite "Maths Mansion". This is a british television show that students love. I can access it through Discovery Education. The students learn in a fun and silly way how math works. If you can watch it with your students.
By December 23rd they will be proficient and confident. They will possess the tools to handle any problem thrown their way. We will be sure stop and review but then push on! It should be fun.
We are ready.
We will keep you posted!
Please check back for our progress.
Any suggestions...please, send them our way!