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I did my practicum in math unit of division and multiplication of fractions to students of the fifth grade. Before I started teaching the unit, I told the learners to do a pretest to find out their abilities of doing the respective sums. The fifth grade was to divide fractions and mixed numbers as well as finding the reciprocal of given numbers. Later, when winding up, I tested the students by giving a similar test assessing similar skills and some more that we learnt in the lesson.
According to the pre assessment data, I found that most of the students were incapable of finishing the given work in the pretest. A good number of the students were very upset by this inability to perform although I tried very hard to reassure them that the pretest was just to test what they knew. What reassured them was seeing that most of the students were in the same predicament.
Only one student could divide and multiply the fractions although she could not divide or multiply mixed fractions. First, I decided to give this learner an option of finishing the extra exercises on top of the normal class work during the lesson since she had proved her ability. I later discovered that she only knew the algorithm of dividing and multiplying fractions but did not comprehend the reasoning applied in the steps used. I had to focus on making her understand the concept of these problems by solving those using different ways. For this reason, I had to let her stay with the rest during the lesson.
Later, when I had taught them addition, subtraction and multiplication of fractions, I tested them again with a mid-unit test. This was a quick one, and few of them were able to perform well. For this reason, I grouped them and assisted them in the area they were having problems. The students who had done well in the mid-unit quiz were doing extra activities.
At the end of the unit, I gave the learners a final test, and I was happy to find out that most of them performed well. In the test, I assessed other skills, which were not covered during the previous two tests. The following graph shows how they performed in the pretest in specific skills. The numbers of learners are categorized into two groups: those who were able to perform during the pretest (pretest data) and the ones who were able to perform in the posttest (posttest data).
As much as I tried to assist the learners, a number of them could not muster the taught skills. Those were six, and they needed more attention and practice. Only three students could not score well in the multiplication of fractions although the skill had been tested earlier whereby all learners had performed well.
Activities during Teaching
As Burke & Burke (2011) note, using different activities during leaning makes learners actively participate in the learning process. I introduced the idea of serving a cake to the learners. I made them orally estimate in order for them to use this concept to solve problems later. They predicted how much ice cream cake was given out. During this time, I asked various questions about their predictions of sharing the cake. I noted down their reasoning by the answers I was given. It is at this stage that they started to think in groups of smaller units. For in this way, they got the idea of division of fractions. Later I used an example of mint chip ice cream whereby various numbers of learners were served different fractions of the ice cream. I engaged them in a discussion on how they would divide a line into equal portions by labeling it while emphasizing the need for the parts to be equal.
When introducing he fractions in numbers, I went back to the story of sharing the ice cream cake and asked the learners to represent the shares given out in fractions. I grouped them and assisted them to work out the ice cream fractions. Then I defined a fraction as dividing of the numerator by the denominator. I demonstrated how to calculate word problems of dividing whole numbers whose answer is a mixed number or a fraction. Then I extended their past understanding of multiplying whole numbers by a fraction, or fractions. We later tackled word problems, which involved multiplying mixed numbers and fractions. This we did with the use of models of visual fractions for representing a problem.
Collaboration with the Class Teacher
Collaboration among teachers is a very important factor that influences students’ learning ability and academic achievement (Noyce & Hickey, 2011). I made an early contact with the teacher of the school I was intending to teach for my teaching practice. I informed him the date I intended to go there, and the lessons and topics I was planning to cover. When I was in the school, the class teacher that I found was very helpful. He introduced me to the learners and made me aware of their different capabilities. He helped me in assembling teaching materials and sharing them out. He made sure that I understood the work that was already covered by going through his lesson plans with me. He had already arranged the classroom accordingly, and this made teaching in that class easy. We worked together during the lesson to make sure that there was class control. The class teacher assisted me to group the learners as he understood their weaknesses more. We worked together in assisting the slow learners and modified our materials to be able to capture the attention of these slow learners. The class teacher produced his register and other records to assist me in understanding the learners holistically.
How Assessment is Used to Guide Instruction
Formative assessment, which is also called assessment of learning, gives the learners motivation of taking control of their learning and in this way enabling them to increase their skills and confidence. As Redman (2003) suggests, formative assessment may be in the form of effective questions, which probe the understanding of learners. The teacher can also share criteria with the learners so that they understand the meaning of success. Another way of assessing is encouraging peer assessment; these assist learners learn to give and take positive criticism as well as advice which aids them to progress (Iskander, Kapila & Karim, 2010). Their learning can also be structured if the teacher uses the comment only marking type of formative assessment.
Assessment helps quality of learning and teaching in schools in a considerable way (Haugen & Musser, 2009). This is regardless of the age group of the learners. Reviewers have argued that formative assessment is more vital in higher learning institutions than in regular schools. The use of formative assessment leads to substantial profits in learning, especially if there is feedback, learners’ involvement in self-assessment as well as the use of this assessment to modify teaching.
Teachers should understand the way formative assessment works. This is because it needed much commitment to learning just like enquiry based teaching. Teachers should not use common methods and materials but be convinced of the need to experience the alternative practice. Professional development is necessary in this assessment. This development should begin with the teacher’s known skills of assessing and provision of evidence as well as the experience to assist them to come up with the necessary understanding and pedagogical skills of practicing it. The summarizing assessment is also vital, but it is usually used by the teachers to grade learners. They therefore use it to give feedback to parents, other instructors or for selection for job, or to further education.