Thursday, December 10, 2009

Candy canes and fractions

Yesterday was even more miserable than in my previous post. I woke up to snow on the ground, which quickly progressed to blustery wind and freezing rain. I went and bought candy canes for my tutees because this is the last week I'll be working with them until the beginning of next semester. Walking to my schools, I think the candy canes comforted me more than my soaking socks and wet pants.

Working with my horseshoe group, we had a handout that reviewed lots of fraction work, converting to decimals and the like. I thought the session went incredibly well because my kids are warming up to me and we talk about other things in between problems. When I told them I wouldn't see them for a few weeks, one of my students got worried. I reassured them I would be coming back in January and she seemed ok with it.

Working through the worksheet, I showed them a shortcut for making fractions into decimals when the denominator is 5. They can just multiply the original fraction, both the top and bottom by two to get a fraction over 10, which is a lot easier to change into decimal form. After showing them the shortcut, I came up with problems not on the worksheet.
"But that's not on the worksheet!"
"Yeah, I know. I'm trying to challenge you."
And they really stepped it up and applied what they had just learned to the new problems. It was nice to know that they could adapt to new math rules and tricks.

When working with fractions, I find it really helpful to draw a fraction circle and ask them to color in sections. We also had a set of decimals they needed to change into percents which involves moving the decimal point. Once they understood the rule, they raced each other to finish and I 'quizzed' them on their answers afterwards.

I was so impressed and told them they were superstars (I even drew stars on their papers) because we finished early. I let them choose candy cane flavors and said bye for now. I'll miss them while I'm on vacation, but I'll have something to look forward to when I get back.

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