Inside Mathematics Advanced Grouping's

In my general ed 6th grade math classes I had a need to separate out the top tier students. These students understood basic concepts of fractions and as my class was structured would finish problems much quicker than a majority of students. The students never off task would either help those around them or read their books as we waited to review the problems.  (The problems we would be working on were very basic understandings transitioning from models to rote - typically this top tier found the patterns/rules on their own)

To separate out these students I found the inside mathematics problems of the month and dug one up on fractions. The problem of the month has levels A - E, each getting progressively harder.  I then placed them into small groups and they were told to work through them together.  I missed most of this action as I sent them with a classroom assistant, but my 2nd period class I did this task with all students since I do not have an assistant then.  

The inside mathematics task can be found at this link:

Here is an example of what one of the problems in the second level looked like:

In this level they were to match the doors to the shirt pockets.  What was most interesting about the students thinking is many tried to take the pocket numbers and make them equivalent with the doors.  Very few students thought about simplifying all the fractions then matching them.  
Similarly in the first level all students cut the pieces of the fraction vertically as the picture had illustrated in the first few series of pictures.  No students, I saw, had illustrated cutting the fractional pieces horizontally. 

Some of the discussion quotes I heard from around the room included:
"That ones actually pretty tricky"
Two students when one multiplied and the other added. This conversation went on to determine that it was actually the same process "Oh I get it you can multiply by two" "or you could just add them together"

Many students only made it through the second task which was about 5th grade level.  I would love to spend more time on these tasks, but struggle with the amount of time to give up to the task at hand and them grappling with mathematics.  Additionally I would love to find a better tracking process for them to show their work, group work, and ideas besides what I had heard and a group picture/poster they presented to me at the end of the class period. I will be trying another problem today with my Math Support class of 7th and 8th grade students and plan to use Robert Kaplinsky's Problem Solving Frame work outline to help guide them / organize their work.  (I'll keep you posted I'm predicting a success or total flop at the amount of self thinking that will occur)


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