As teachers, we often notice that our students have strange misconceptions that they can’t quite explain to you. For example, my students can tell me all day what 1/2 is – they can draw me a picture of what it is, and even what it isn’t… however, they often can’t do multiple representations, and typically their ‘concept’ of 1/2 is a circle cut into two pieces with one side shaded in. I had been thinking about ways to play around with some concepts with my kiddos in a different way, but hadn’t quite put my finger on a awesome way that would work for all of my kiddos. Enter the amazing Meg Anderson!! Meg has recently been working on a series of Concept Sorts for trying to pinpoint misconceptions and I absolutely LOVE them!!
In my resource class, we have completed three concept sorts so far:
Right or Not Right?
Greater than, less than or equal to 1/2? and
Is it exactly 1/2? (photos below of this specific sort)
As our classes are pretty short, and I knew that a sort would take multiple days with the amount of discussion our resource class would have, we made booklets to keep ourselves organized. I created and printed out a quick title page and the kiddos chose a piece of construction paper (I LOVE HUGE construction paper that is basically the size of two sheets of paper! We use it ALLLLLL the time in our classroom!)
After adding our title page to the front, we added the show me what you know page to the back. This was a great place for students to keep all of their thoughts and bring closure to the activity.
For each sort, Meg includes various headings/topics that students may want to use to sort their cards into. For some students I gave them the headings “exactly 1/2” and “not 1/2”.
For other students I used “examples of 1/2 and counterexamples of 1/2”.
I gave the students 10-15 minutes to do a “quick” sort of what they thought went into each category.
After having each kid do their initial sort, I took a “poll” of how each kiddo sorted the pieces. By taking the poll I could see where the class misconceptions were and what we specifically needed to target.
It became apparent very quickly that number lines and strangely shaded pictures were the 1/2 misconceptions. We ended up doing a choose your side activity and turned the lesson into a debate. Anyone who chose ‘exactly 1/2″ went to the left side of the room and anyone who chose ‘not 1/2’ went to the right side of the room. Then each side had to convince the other why they were correct. It was wonderful because it reinforced why the students were correct AND when a student said something wrong, the students did a great job trying to help their peers understand why they were wrong. Only on the number lines did I need to step in and help a bit.After working through the misconceptions, the students had a chance to make changes in their booklets and write a brief description of WHY they placed each piece. The kiddos loved that they could help and influence each other AND they loved sorting and making a booklet of their newfound knowledge. All three lessons were pure ‘WIN’ in my opinion!
Want to try some Concept sorts with you kiddos? Check these out!