Thursday, 17 March 2016

Differentiating & Student Ownership for Ratios & Proportions

Differentiating & Student Ownership with Ratios

Like most classes, we have a large range of conceptual and skill understandings when it comes to ratios & proportions.  We have been tuning in as a whole class with the following learning experiences: 

° Creating Colours Using Ratios

° Smarties Ratios

° Visualising Ratios

° Rabbit Proportions

and have been differentiating by selecting YouTubes at home to learn and record findings: Flipping our Classroom to Find Out About Ratios

During these experiences, we have been creating wonderings we want to explore and it's been useful to informally assess where each of my students are at.

Today, I felt we were ready to start embarking on our own enquiries and to facilitate this, I created a progression line chart of strategies we use for ratios / proportions / rates.

We discussed the strategies briefly and then each child write their name and a brief reason for selecting a strategy they feel they should learn next to help with their understanding. (see below)

This is a really useful way to help gain a sense of where each child is at and it empowers children to take ownership of their own learning.  This also ensures each child's learning needs are being met - differentiation plus!

Children now find others in our class who are using learning about the same strategy and applying it to word problems to learn together with or they can select doing this individually.  This, I think, helps accommodate not only introverted and extroverted personalities, but it also caters to particular moods we might be having each day.  Some days, we are feeling really sociable and other times we feel we need some quite time.  Giving children the opportunity in how they want to learn in these situations honours who they are at that particular time. 

As we continue with our unit, the children will move their post-it note along the line once they feel they have a good understanding of how the strategy works and explain this on their journey map: Ratio & Proportions Assessment

To help gain a better insight, we did a quick Google form survey:

 Where do you feel you are at with your understanding?

Understanding ratios526.3%
Understanding proportions15.3%
Finding strategies to find proportions Eg, 3 : 5 brown to white If 21 brown, how many white?315.8%
Ready to start learning how to solve rates problems Eg, km/hr 4 francs/kg etc631.6%
Continue practising rates problems and ready for complex word problems421.1%
Being able to see who responded let's me know who is ready for what stage and so I can help cater to those needs to.


  1. Thanks for this! We're just about to start some work on scaling with our Year 4s (8 & 9 year olds) so this is really timely Graeme. I love all the ways you've approached ratio and proportion, and how you've got them reflecting about their understanding, and taking it on from where they are.

    We did a series of lessons last year - blogged here - and we'll repeat some this year, and try some different things too. It's an important topic, and yet a bit slippery, perhaps because it's so big and many-faceted, and also the vocabulary is unfamiliar. Though I liked the lessons, I still felt something was missing - perhaps the reflection to bring it all together is part of it. Perhaps too that the students just need so many different pathways into this to really get a good feel for it. And then, like you say after they've oriented themselves a bit, they need to be taking the initiative too.

    1. Thanks Simon! Your message was really timely for me too. I am constantly questioning whether I'm approaching this unit in the right way for all the different levels of understandings in our class, so your feedback helped me breathe a bit better. As you said so succinctly - it is a slippery concept!

      I freely admit, their are children in my class more confident than I am when it comes to complex rate word problems and others who are happily enquiring using manipulates. Catering to all and making it effectively enquiry-based feels like a mega juggling act at the moment, but then I have to remember the power of student ownership!

      I really love your blog link and we try out some of your ideas too - I especially like the paper squares / rectangles idea!

      Thanks again- your comment really did help me exhale.......


What do you think? ...........