I had to send a comment out about our introduction to division of fractions yesterday. It always seems the best teaching hits you in the moment. Well, it does for this teacher. The resource teacher is in my room for math. We have a great co-teaching relationship. We bounce off each other and add to the lesson as it progresses with ease. I love it!
Yesterday afternoon, I started with a quick bingo math terms game. In the last few weeks, the emphasis of warm up has been math vocabulary. I believe a few terms are starting to sink into their brains. The lesson set was simply one review problem for adding, subtracting and multiplying fractions. Excellent! We are making our way through the fast paced 5th grade Saxon math. After the review problems, I asked the students which opperation were we lacking. A resounding "division" was offered. So, I asked if they thought they were ready to give me a "Woowhoo!" I am sure there were a few voices missing, but most enthusiastically responded.
I would like to take a side trip here about the verbal responses. However, I think I should use that for another longer post and keep to the subject at hand, division of fractions. We use our personal whiteboards to extinction each year. The students copied the problem presented on the mimio board (similiar to a smartboard). Then it hit me....cartwheels! And I have a former cheerleader/cheer coach in the back of my room. What more did I need?!?! I called my co-teacher forward and whispered that I needed her to do a cartwheel. She happily, with a "what are you up to now, Kim?" look, fullfilled my request. The students LOVED it! It is great to have someone who will be insane with you as these thoughts POP into the brain.
Luckily, she is an expert mind reader as well! She then explained how to divide fractions. To do a cartwheel, you start standing tall. The first fraction stands tall or stays the same. She rewrote the first fraction below the original. Students do the same on their boards. Asking the students, "What does operation does a cartwheel look like?" demonstrated the changing of the division sign to a multiplication sign. Below the division sign the multiplication sign is placed. Finally, the question of what does the person performing a cartwheel have to do to be successful was posed. Thumbs went up right away to explain they have to turn or go upside down. The second fraction does the same. Again, the "upside down" or reciprocal fraction was written beneath the original. Finally, asked the students if they could successfully complete the problem that was now on their board. "Yes!"
As we worked in small groups, I noticed how the vast majority of the students were having no issues with division of fractions. That is a first! Usually, it takes a few reteaching lessons for them to completely comprehend the steps. I just hope they remember it today!
THOUGHTS: Not everyone has a cheer coach in the room to demonstrate a cartwheel. However, we all have access to the internet. I am sure there are videos of how to do a cartwheel or at least some fun clipart somewhere to use. Not as engaging as a teaching flipping in front of the room, but it still may help connect braincells.