Monday, February 3, 2014

Angle Sorts!

A few weeks ago I shared with you some fraction sorts that I did in my classroom and the response has been so overwhelming!  Many teachers tried them over the last few weeks and have been wow'ed by how deeply their students have been thinking.

Recently we have been working on angle concepts, so I continued with our sorts.  By now, my students have gotten pretty good at the routine, but I thought I'd show you again how we did them.  Again--there is NO right way, but here is how I did THIS sort.

I started by splitting my class into groups of 3.  (I like trios for lots of reasons…because it allows for better dialogue, it helps strugglers, and also allows for one extra person in case a third person gets pulled out of the group or has to leave for any reason!) For this sort, I gave each group a small piece of bulletin board paper for them to do their sort.  They grabbed their sort cards, cut, and started to
organize them!



As my students sorted, I simply walked around and eavesdropped! It was a great time to listen for math language, to listen for any misconceptions, and to see who was feeling confident and who was not.

Students begin to question each other, ask questions of each other, and help one another come to higher levels of understanding.  My role is simply to be an observer—I really don’t get involved at this point…even if I see errors. Trust me on this!



This sort required students to identify whether or not an angle was a right angle…a concept I think many of us assume most students understand.  I purposely filled the sort with angles I thought might be tricky—and my theory proved to be correct!.  I found several misconceptions that needed to be addressed with the class when we finished our sort. For this sort, I also decided to include a “not sure” category which I hoped would encourage students to have quality dialogue.  If they could not come to
agreement, they simply put the card in the “not sure” category.  It prevented the really vocal ones from taking over!  

In order to make the connection between the term “right angle” and the representation of 90°, I asked the students to go through their poster and label each card with the =, <, and > signs. I gave the students a total of 15 minutes to do this job—and there were a few groups that did not get every card sorted.  That’s okay.  If I gave some groups 45 minutes, they may not have finished!  I like to keep things moving—I even had a visual timer up on my Smartboard so they know how much time they had left.


After the time was up, I continued the activity with a gallery walk.  Although actually DOING the sort is a valuable activity, gallery walks can add a whole new level of critique to the lesson!  Each trio took a post it note and cut it into three “tags”.  They were allowed to “tag”  up to three spots on other groups’ papers where they felt an error was made.  Here’s what it looked like!



Finished?  Not yet!  Each group then went back to their “home base” and looked at the results. They then discussed any “flagged” items and even tested them with our right angle tester—a sticky note! We went through some of the most challenging ones as a class.  This was when I went through some of the misconceptions I saw…

Some students needed to learn to extend the lines to really see more clearly what the angle looked like.
Making the rays different lengths fooled some of the students who thought THAT was important.  We got that misconception cleared up!

When the angles are tipped in different directions, it fooled a few students!  Those angles between 80 and 100 degrees sure are tricky!

The entire activity took us 25 minutes from start to finish!  Are you ready to give it a try?  I cannot tell you enough how much I love using concept sorts to really push my students' thinking--I think you'll love them too!  In fact, I'm doing a presentation tomorrow to our high school math department where part of it will be encouraging THEM to do sorts with their math students!

Now that my students are getting so good at them, I took one of their more challenging sorts in the set (dealing with the additive nature of angles) and had students work in pairs to do the sort.  They then captured their final product with a photo from an ipad and this week will be working to add text to the photo to explain what they did.  I told you the possibilities are endless!

Want to check out some ready made sorts?  Here are the links to my fraction sort set and my angle sorts. 
   


The good news? 
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