# Simplifying Fractions

I taught my lesson on equivalent fractions to Mr. Bruss’ fourth period class
on

Monday, September 25^{th}. There were seventeen students in class that day and the
class

ran from 11:45 until 12:50. Going into the lesson I had a few basic goals: to
present

myself as a knowledgeable authority figure, to maintain behavioral control over
the class,

and to deliver the concepts associated with equivalent fractions in such a way
that

students could successfully complete the exit card at the end of class. Prior to
the lesson,

I discussed what I would cover with Mr. Bruss. We decided that it would be too
much to

introduce the greatest common factor method of simplifying fractions, and both
found

value in the extra game playing time. Aside from that small change , I carried
out the rest

of the lesson as planned.

Mr. Bruss and I had discussed giving the period four class
assigned seating the

morning of my lesson because of their constant rambunctious behavior. This
proved to

be a very valuable choice, as the students were extremely well behaved during my
lesson

and have definitely settled down immensely since they began sitting in their
current

locations.

I started off the lesson with the paper folding activity
which proved to be very

beneficial to the students. As we were talking about the number of sections the
paper had

and what fraction of the paper was shaded, I noticed many students experiencing
a “light

bulb” going on. The fact that I had given the students the opportunity to
discover

something from the very start contributed to putting me at ease for the
remainder of the

lesson. I went back to the example of one half throughout the lesson as I guided
students

into realizing that they could both multiply and divide to obtain equivalent
fractions. The

answers I was receiving from students were for the most part correct, which gave
me

reassurance that they were understanding the concepts. After what I thought to
be a good

amount of practice problems, I explained the equivalent fractions go fish game
to the

students. I then had them count off and placed them into five groups. As I
circulated the

room I noticed that many groups were really understanding the concepts and
having fun

with the game, whereas a few students in a few groups did struggle. About two
minutes

before dismissal, I had students write down their homework and complete the exit
card.

Overall, I felt that the lesson went extremely well. I had
the opportunity to

discuss it with Mr. Bruss immediately afterwards, and he helped confirm my
confidence.

I truly thought my lesson had many strengths. First and foremost, I felt one
hundred

percent comfortable in front of the class. This was something that I was worried
about

prior to the lesson—the ability to feel at ease in front of the students. I was
surprisingly

confident at the head of the classroom which confirmed my thoughts about
teaching

being the right profession for me. I also think I did a great job answering
questions and

explaining correct and incorrect answers. I used a tactic that I have seen Mr.
Bruss use

on many occasions. When a student gave an answer, I asked the class whether or
not

they agreed. This was done using a thumbs up or thumbs down system . Whichever I

saw the most of I would call on a student to explain why it was correct or vice
versa. In

some instances I would have to explain the correction again, but the majority of
the time

the peer explanation really helped the incorrect student understand their
mistake. In

addition, I felt like the lesson ran very smoothly. There were no awkward pauses
in my

instruction, and one part of the lesson flowed without hesitation into another.
I had

enough time for the students to actually get into the game yet still managed to
have them

clean up in time for them to complete the exit card and record their homework.

Something else I did at the end of the lesson was ask
students how comfortable they felt

with the material. I asked them to give me a thumbs up for “I get it” a half and
half

thumb for “Eh I think I understand” and a thumbs down for “I have no idea what’s
going

on.” I think that using this technique is beneficial for both the teacher and
the students—

the teacher receives genuine feedback from students and the students have the

opportunity to complete a learning self check. I plan on using this method a
great deal in

my teaching. Finally, I was very thrilled that Mr. Bruss gave me the opportunity
the

following day to review the homework I had assigned. I think that hearing the
student

responses gave me even more confidence because the majority of the students gave

correct answers. It felt rewarding to see that what I had taught was understood
and could

be applied to their homework problems.

Although the lesson was a success, there are a few things
I plan to work on. I had

some trouble with obtaining student responses. Many students were eager to
respond to

my questions but it was the same few students each time. In order to remedy
this, I was

thinking about making a name popsicle stick for each student and pulling a stick
each

time I am looking for a response. I think this will allow me to be less worried
about

being fair and focus more attention on the questions I ask and the explanation
of the

answers I receive. Coupled with this was my apparent lack of wait time. I began
the

lesson making sure to count to at least four in my head, but Mr. Bruss and I
both noticed

that by the end of the lesson I was asking questions and calling on students all
in the same

breath. I think this is just something I need to be more conscious of. Finally,
Mr. Bruss

suggested that I make my lesson objectives clear to the class at the start of
the lesson.

This is something that made me think about my teaching approach. It is clear to
me that

he always starts the class by announcing what is on the agenda for the day which

definitely contributes to structure in the classroom, but I also feel it
necessary to do some

inquiry with the students. I think as I get going with teaching everyday, I will
be able to

feel it out as to which approach I will be taking.

The seating assignments and my own confidence enabled me
to achieve two of

my initial goals. I also believe that I did a fairly good job of teaching the
concept of

equivalent fractions to the students. In looking over the seventeen exit cards I
received,

ten students provided me with the three fractions equivalent to 8/10 that I
asked for. An

additional six students wrote at least one fraction equivalent to 8/10. So, in
total, sixteen

out of seventeen students could successfully name at least one fraction
equivalent to 8/10.

Furthermore, fifteen out of seventeen students recognized that 3/7 and 6/15 were
not

equivalent fractions. This performance data in conjunction with the feedback I
received

while going over the homework with the class the following day leads me to
believe that

for the most part the students grasped equivalent fractions quite well. I can
most

definitely see the value of using exit cards in a classroom, as they were
extremely helpful

in judging the student’s overall understanding of the concepts.

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